Archives for February 2007


Only in Vancouver!

What do you look for in a potential travel destination?

Comfortable hotels, friendly people, a variety of sights activities and value for money usually rate well on a traveller’s list, and they all describe Vancouver, British Columbia. Voted the most livable city in the World by The Economist in 2005, Vancouver hosts the Winter Olympics in 2010 but I’d visit now for a great value, fun vacation.

The cultural diaspora of Vancouver can satisfy punks, art lovers, classical music lovers or use it as the gateway to your Canadian wilderness trip. Take the gondola to the top of Grouse Mountain for a snow fight with the kids or to polish your shredding style before heading out to Whistler/Blackcomb.

The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia houses a fantastic collection of First Nation’s artifacts including totem poles, modern sculptures and cultural items. Inspired to buy a similar First Nation art object head to one of the many galleries like Eagle Spirit Gallery on Granville Island.

First Nation Carving Raven

Whatever your passion, take advantage of the holiday packages from Tourism Vancouver and experience British Columbia.


Travel Tech – Archos 604 WIFI

Archos 604 WIFIPack light, it is my travel creed but I always needed a laptop to hold the hundreds of photos I take on a trip. It pulled double duty to check email or watch a video but mostly it is 4lbs extra to carry everywhere. I needed a smaller device that handled those tasks with at least a 20Gb HDD, and much lighter. Enter the Archos 604 WiFi.

Weighing less than a pound, the 604 WiFi can fit in the side pocket of my camera bag ready to download photos directly from the camera. The 30Gb hard drive can hold up to 40 movies, 300 000 photos or 15000 songs, enough to satisfy my entertainment needs and store all my photos.

Archos kept the unit cost down by selling the various connectors as accessories, you pick and choose what you need. I bought the docking adapter to download photos from our cameras, and it included a recharger for $30.

Video playback is excellent on its 4.3 inch TFT display, and the handy kickstand allows hands free use. My only gripe is that I had to buy additional software to play MPEG-2 files.

The WiFi connects easily with any available network and the Opera browser displays the majority of websites without difficulty. Navigation using the buttons is simple but some highlight on the icons would help in most lighting conditions. Alternately, the touch screen provides access to all functions as well as a keyboard for data entry. If you want to write long emails find an Internet cafe but it is adequate for short inputs.

Recommended retail price is US$449.99 but check your favorite technology supplier for better prices. Save up to US$100 by purchasing the standard 604 if you do not need a Web enabled device.


Should you Fly with JetBlue?

JetBlue Airways JetBlue, the low-cost carrier who stranded thousands of passengers last week, is working hard to restore their reputation for low-cost but quality air travel. The recently announced Customer Bill of Rights is a step in the right direction but should you put your travel karma in their hands?

While other airlines toss you peanuts, and charge $5 to watch a movie on a screen three rows away, JetBlue has leather seats, free in seat DirectTV and a range of snacks. Their commitment is to provide customers ‘more for less’, and prior to the Valentine’s Day meltdown, JetBlue had a superior reputation in an industry mired in mediocrity. They reacted quickly to ensure they can handle similar situations in the future, and reaffirmed their commitment to excellence.

For my money, I’ll take a JetBlue flight. What’s on the History Channel?


Direct Seattle to Paris Flights with Air France

Named the ‘Best Trans-Atlantic Airline’ by Global Traveler magazine, Air France begins direct flights from Seattle to Paris in June. Pacific Northwest Francophiles can emerse themselves in the French experience as soon as the cabin doors are closed on the Air France Airbus A330-200 for the ten hour flight.


Ask the Seat Guru where to sit on Your Next Flight.

Every aircraft is subtly different…‘, a common warning used to capture your attention for the flight attendant’s safety briefing. To the average passenger, the subtle differences are different seat fabrics and the content of the mini snack pack that has replaced a meal on most US domestic flights. Regular travellers understand the those subtle differences include leg room, seat recline, in-seat power and better views but how do you select the right seat?

Seat Guru makes you an informed traveller by providing detailed descriptions of airline seating, in-flight amenities and other airline information. Using the colour coded seat maps, you can select the best available seat when using your airline’s web check-in facility.

I checked Seat Guru before booking flights to Europe and discovered American Airlines still had more legroom on our flight route. That extra leg room only cost a small premium (less than $50 per ticket) and a long trip to Rome much more pleasurable.

Which seat did you select? by Charles HaynesWhich seat did you select?

Photo by Charles Haynes