Saturday, 1 October 2016

Where to go for winter?

Our time in North America finished in mid-October so I needed to work out where we would spend the next few months. While we were in Puerto Vallarta (PV) last winter we booked an apartment for this coming northern hemisphere winter for December to the end of March, but where to go beforehand? Greece has been on my wish list for many years, so was a great choice for October as the weather is in the low 20°'s, so still warm. For November I decided on the south of Spain as it's warmer than the rest of Europe. While I have heard that northern Spain is nicer, it will have to wait for another time.

We paid a deposit for PV in February when we had only spent just over a month down there. By the end of our stay in mid April I was wondering if four months was going to be too long. In September when we were due to pay the rest of the fee the owner cancelled the booking saying that he wanted it for himself. The good places get snapped up many months in advance, so it was going to be difficult to find something else we wanted. I looked for a place but didn't find anything and put it in the too hard basket. It's not easy planning other holidays while you are still travelling. Oh I know what you are thinking, life is tough, how do you cope (when of course you don't mean that at all). Travelling full time is not all roses and champagne though, it can get very tiring and sometimes you just want to stop; get off the merry-go-round as it were.

A week later Expedia sent an email for us to contact them. Our flights to Europe needed to change on the return trip from Madrid to Los Angeles. There would only be a two hour layover in Istanbul, not ideal but we accepted, we didn't think we really had a choice. A day later another change. We would have to change the date we flew and have an overnight layover in Istanbul. Now I wasn't happy as that would also mean an extra $A130 in visa fees, nor was I happy about going into Istanbul after the bombing a few months ago. We rang Turkish Airlines and they said that we could choose another flight with one of their star alliance programme airlines. I found a flight with Air Canada that went via Toronto with good flying times and an acceptable layover. A week later we get another email, even this one was changed - to a six hour layover! Not happy, but what can you do? I have to wonder if we are meant to go on this trip at all....

Seeing as PV had fallen through I took the opportunity to move things around. We had only been in the USA for 5 months out of the 6 as we had spent a month in Canada, so we could come back in for a month after we came back from Spain. We could do 2 months in PV which is more than enough in one place and then do a month in Ecuador.

The PV rental company had said that they would refund our deposit but it hadn't come through. Our agent found a place but it was only available for December & January, so I said I would take it for January but I was waiting for the first deposit refund. After many emails and a phone call, it turned out that the bank wouldn't refund the money as it had been more than six months, so it would have to be done through Paypal. Initially I wasn't pleased as Paypal charge a withdrawal fee in Australia. PV said that through family and friends we wouldn't get charged, I still don't know what they were talking about. According to the US Paypal website though, they don't charge a withdrawal fee if it goes into a US account, so this would have been acceptable.

Getting annoyed at the prices on the normal websites - because remember this isn't a two week holiday where you don't mind splashing out. Or in the case of Australian's, a 4 week holiday because it takes us so long to get anywhere we have to make it worthwhile. So I decided to look on Craig's List and I saw the one I had just placed a hold on. After a number of emails it turned out to be the sister company of the real estate agent we had been dealing with and they offered me another condo for January and February. I asked if they could transfer my original deposit over, which they did. It had been advertised as a 6-12 month rental but they obviously decided it was better to get some money than none. The previous renter had to go back to the US for surgery, so maybe he was coming back in a few months. So it pays to ask.

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