Around the world with Traveler

Discussion in 'Life After Brown' started by DS, Aug 29, 2007.

  1. DS

    DS Fenderbender

    Traveller,WOW 113 countries,thats impressive,please share some of your experiences .Maybe some of your favorite memories from abroad.I was in the paradisio bar in Amsterdam Holland smoking hash legally in 1977 ,and I visited the Dachau concentration camp memorial
    in Germany,both of which will stick in my mind forever.
    When I was 22 we did a 10 wk tour of europe in a leased renault .I fell in love with castles, , and it was worth the year and a half of living in the basement eating popcorn and listening to John Prine and Jim Croce.Lets make this your thread.Everyone can chip in about different places they`ve been.Whuddya say?
  2. traveler

    traveler Where next? Venice

    Re: Around the world with Traveller

    You will have to bear with me on this. I was away (big surprise huh?) when you posted this and without my laptop.

    Here's an incident that just happened on this last trip...

    We were in Las Vegas visiting my money that I previously left there and stayed at a major hotel. I generally don't like to valet park but we were tired and just wanted to get checked in and get to bed. The day after we had the rental car valet parked we went to retrieve the car. We were the only folks at the time to be waiting after I gave the ticket to the valet. He soon pulled up with the silver PT Cruiser rental, or so I thought. Before my wife and I got in, another couple proceeded to get in the car. Being just a bit concerned, I had the presence of mind to quickly ask the valet what the slip he had said. Sure enough, it was my rental. The other couple got out and apologized to which I said, "I guess all these rentals look alike." Before we could buckle up and leave, another valet pulls up in an identical silver PT Cruiser. On our ride out, I wondered how much trouble it would have caused if I wasn't alert.
  3. DS

    DS Fenderbender

    Re: Around the world with Traveller

    About 25 years ago my buddy and I took a road trip through part of the USA.We stopped at a roadside restaurant somewhere in Tennesee to get a bite.My friend was getting gas and I went in and asked for 2 ham and cheeze on a kaiser.The dude looked at me and said,what's a kaiser?I said its a round bun.He said well why didn't yall just ask for buns?
    I said sorry,I'm from Canada.I paid for my sandwiches and said,could I please get some serviettes? Again,that look...survy-whats? he said.I said,napkins,and he said,why didn't yall just ask for napkins?
    We had some laughs after and realized that when in Rome....

    BLACKBOX Life is a Highway...

    Re: Around the world with Traveller

    Reminds me of the movie "Deliverance".
  5. over9five

    over9five Moderator Staff Member

    Re: Around the world with Traveller

    Traveler, what worries me whenever I'm outside the US (all 4 times), is wandering into some trouble spot.

    Have you ever been in any danger?
  6. DS

    DS Fenderbender

    Re: Around the world with Traveller

    When we were driving our little Le-car through a mountainous part of France,we mistakenly blew by the Italian border police(it was a little hut) and these two guards started running after us waving thier arms hysterically.They let us go after screaming at us in Italian though.
  7. UPS Lifer

    UPS Lifer Well-Known Member

    Re: Around the world with Traveller

    My travels pale in comparison to 113 countries! I have been to around 20 countries and a few more when you look at individual islands in the South Pacific and Caribbean. We have been traveling a lot of this year since I retired in March. We have one more big trip this year....Maui around Halloween. Next year we will cool our jets and get our California house sold so we can spend more time in Sedona...but we will go to Maui for the month of February!

    I have been off traveling the Med for the past three weeks and really missed the Brown Cafe. I thought I would share some experiences that I had.

    We were traveling all day Monday from around 2am MST to 1700 MST....It actually wasn't a bad flight other than you are in the daylight the whole way you only catch catnaps. My wife woke up at 3 am today. I woke up around 4 and stayed in bed until 5:30 am. So it looks like we will still be going through some adjustment. it took 2 weeks for me to adjust back when I was working. I think I will be back to normal by Wednesday or Thursday.

    I bought some jet lag pills that you take every 2 hours while flying, and I actually feel pretty good today!

    I took around 1000 pics between 3 cameras so I will be spending time going through all the shots. I will let everyone know when I get something up on the web. I will put up some pics initially and then add to it.

    We had a wonderful time. This was a Princess Cruise and it was well worth every penny and all the energy we spent going on tour after tour after tour. Here are the areas we visited. this will give you an idea of how busy this trip was. There was no relaxing! It was go - go - go !! - the only rain we encountered was in Florence. It poured. We (and 14 others) stayed on the bus and did not tour. The folks that toured were sopping wet at lunch and seemed miserable.

    Areas visited include:
    Rome-Vatican-Monte Carlo-Nice-Cannes-Liverno-Florence-Pisa-Naples-Sorento-Positano-Amalfi
    In Greece - Santorini-Mykonos-Athens-Katakalon-Corfu
    Turkey - Kusadasi - The Vigin Mary's final home, Ephesus ruins - This is a city of 50K plus and they are still discovering and renovating. The streets are marble and are original. This was most impressive to me.
    Venice - the island of Murano (glass art), Burano (lace products).

    It really is hard to pick favorite areas we visited. They were all very special. However....
    Places that deserve an encore visit. Monte Carlo - Nice - Sorrento - Positano - Santorini - Corfu - Venice - and of course Kusadasi Turkey.

    This is a trip that my wife and I will remember for all time. The food was fabulous, the tours were enlightening, the accommodations on and off the ship were relaxing and first rate. One of our private tour guides just recently was the tour guide for Bill and Linda Gates and last year....Oprah! The weather was about as close to perfect as you could get. We did a lot of shopping and have many remembrances that will be with us to re-kindle the spirit and memories of this very special region!

    Here are some additional observations...

    Tours - quick note...Pre-plan your tours and book early - this is how you are going to spend the bulk of your time and money....really think it out. You should think about placing relaxing or less activity type tours or days in between high activity tours. Also look at when the sea days are. Count a sea day as a low activity day. Some tours actually include time spent at resorts or beaches. This can be a welcome break.

    We were very happy with the Emerald Princess and the itinerary. However, it was jammed pack and there were only 1.5 sea days. The rest of the time you were in a port. The biggest decision you have to make after booking the cruise are you going to spend the time in the ports. Are you going to go on organized tours or roam around on your own? Believe me do not want to fight the tourists on your own going to see the Vatican. You will waste time spending it in lines that are 4 times that of the organized tour lines, obviously this depends on the time of year you go. Problem is you won't know until you get there.

    Not counting buying stuff...the tours are going to probably be your biggest expense other than the air and cruise (lodging). Remember that the dollar is weak (right now) in comparison to the Euro. So every thing is expensive relative to the dollar. Don't expect any deals!

    Conversion rate was $1.43 to 1 Euro when we started. We bought 1000 Euros 2 weeks before we left. At the end of the trip the rate was $1.28 to 1 Euro. This is what you do not want to experience! You want it the opposite! Dollar strong when you buy Euros and weak when you sell brainer!

    If you plan on using a credit card, check with the credit card company to see what type of charge is imposed for conversion to $$ from the local currency you charged on.

    Eating - WOW WOW WOW - the food was great everywhere we went. I suggest that you eat out for lunch when you can to experience the flavor of the local area. We took some tours that included lunch at high end resorts and this was a wonderful way to spend time with the friends you are traveling with.

    Scams and Customs
    Turkey - they expect you to bargain. If you don't they are offended. They have the "real" fakes there. The Rolex watches with good guts that will last and the fake exteriors that are very close to the original. They do follow you around and it is hard to get rid of them.
    Also - if you accept food or drink they expect you to buy something. It is like entering a contract!

    Greece - if you look in the store windows you will have a salesperson come out of the store to help you!
    They will ask you where you are from and tell you that one of their brothers lives in that city etc.!!

    italy - Watch your valuables. We did not have any problems but they do work in pairs or triples. If you get bumped you probably had a hand in your pockets so keep valuables secure. This is more prevelent in tourist areas and transportation areas such as airport and train or bus stations.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2007
  8. moreluck

    moreluck golden ticket member

    Re: Around the world with Traveller

    UPS Lifer.....sounds like you had a great time. Welcome back to the REAL WORLD !! :)
  9. UPS Lifer

    UPS Lifer Well-Known Member

    Re: Around the world with Traveller

    I could see the happiness in my wife's eyes and that made everything worth it. But getting back to the real world.....there is nothing like the good old USA! I am glad to be back on American soil!!!
  10. traveler

    traveler Where next? Venice

    Re: Around the world with Traveller

    That was a good post UPS Lifer. I am sorry I haven't been more active posting here but we just returned from Las Vegas (got out before the OJ thing happened). We are leaving for Vancouver, BC for a few days and then sailing on the ms Statendam to New Zealand via LA, Hawaii, the South Seas Islands and then to the north island of NZ. I will surely have some stories after that voyage.

    Just a couple of notes on the things you wrote about. The best way to get euros or most any other currency is to use your ATM card when you arrive in another country. That will usually give you the best exchange rate. There are a few exceptions, Peru comes to mind, where it is better to use a cambio (money exchanger) and trade Dollars for Nuevos Soles. Either use up the money during your trip or change it back to dollars in a foreign bank or cambio. The exchange rates in airports and on ships are one of the worst way to change money back. Never try to exchange foreign money back in the USA. The banks will kill you with fees.

    Most all credit cards charge a conversion fee. That will range from 2% to 5%. The only card I've found that does not charge a conversion is, yep, you guessed it, Capital one. Love their commercials too! If you travel out of the country, that's the one card to have.

    I enjoyed your description of Turkish customs and bargaining. That used to bother the heck out of me but now I've come to enjoy it like a sport of sorts. The one suggestion I do have is that if you do bargain and reach a price for an item you should (must) buy it. Otherwise you will be just another ugly American. That especially holds true in the Middle East and Asia.

    As I get time, I will post more tips and some stories too.
  11. DS

    DS Fenderbender

    Re: Around the world with Traveller

    Maybe I should have called this thread "places I've been"
    I love reading about this stuff.When we went to Mont Ste Micheal on the north coast of France we camped a few miles away and survived on wine, bread and cheeze and I swear there was aliens nearby.
    Some of my early childhood memories are not so exotic,yet I recall them with the newfound joy that I felt at the time.My parents used to go to
    chenango valley(sp)...camping ,in Pennsylvania every year and I collected milk bottles full of orange salamanders...we dont have any up here...whats up with that? no snakes in Ireland no lizards in Canada?
    One thing about travelling is you never forget it.
    I wish I had the money to see the world.
  12. over9five

    over9five Moderator Staff Member

    Re: Around the world with Traveller

    It's amazing how a memory of a place can stir you. My favorite birthday was spent on a Mexican beach (down in Mexico!). It was awesome, we loved it. The kids were there, my mom was there. Thong girls were there! Forget the name....

    Playa Del Sol, I think?

    Wifey sez Playa Mia.
  13. UPS Lifer

    UPS Lifer Well-Known Member

    Re: Around the world with Traveller

    over9five - you hit it on the head. You travels pay dividends every time one of your senses hit on something familiar!

    traveler - keep up the great tips! They become invaluable when you are in an unfamiliar place and unsure of all the customs.

    DS - sharing the stories of places you have been helps to keep those precious memories alive and it is enjoyable to hear them!

    One of my favorite channels on the tube is The Travel Channel. I get ideas where to go. I only wish I would have started traveling in my 20's but better late than never! The cool thing is that you can travel on any budget!!! The more you travel the smaller the world becomes and that is something we need to share with more people!
  14. tonyexpress

    tonyexpress Whac-A-Troll Patrol Staff Member

    Re: Around the world with Traveller

    This is a great thread and, as Cheryl mentioned on the "Cruises advice" thread, we've been on a few cruises.

    Lifer's advice above is so true. In areas in Europe there are lots of pick pockets and in Italy we were warned by both the cruiseline and our tour guides.

    We had an incident in Florence, Italy where we were on a tour with a group of about 25 or so people from the cruise. We were just enjoying the sights walking through the main square where there are wonderful statues, ancient buildings and some shopping and just about ready to stop for lunch at this really nice hotel. The area was crowded and our group was a little spread out with other people in between. I was lagging a little behind mesmerized by all the interesting things to see. All of a sudden two young Italian men, locals, maybe 18-20 years old... dressed nicely to fit in with the tourists, got in between me and Cheryl, my daughter and mother in law who were a few steps ahead of me. These young men blended into our crowd without suspicion. They had no idea that I was right behind them when I saw one of them reach into Cheryl's backpack and came out empty, a smooth move that Cheryl didn't even notice. For a split second I said to myself that SOB just put his hand into our backpack:mad: I immediately yelled and shoved the one who had tried to steal something from us. Both of the pick pockets tried to make me look like the bad guy for shoving them but after demanding that they get the hell away from us and several more of our group backing me up by surrounding them they walked off.

    While the culprits were still in view I found our tour guide (a real hoot of an Italian woman herself, she sang to us on the bus and was quite a source of entertainment) and explained the situation and asked if we should get the police involved. She said it wouldn't help because they'd be right back on the street before you knew it. She had warned us previously on the bus that if you see a pickpocket hit them, kick them and yell and scream and said I did the right thing.

    We were lucky that the pocket of the backpack that was exposed only had some trash in it. We were warned before on what kind of items to bring to avoid being a target. I think Cheryl was actually setting up a sting operation just to get some excitement generated.:laugh:

    We were lucky, unlike one of the ladies on our tour that had her expensive watch taken right off her wrist. She didn’t notice it was gone until much later.

    Be careful. don't wear expensive jewelry and don't put things you want to keep in your backpack or back pocket.
  15. my2cents

    my2cents New Member

    Re: Around the world with Traveller

    If all goes according to plan, I'm hoping to make it to New Zealand in 2009, so whatever you could post on your trip there Traveler would be greatly appreciated. I'm more of a backpacker type though, although after reading thru all the posts on cruises, I may reconsider that. At any rate, I hope to spend 5-6 weeks touring North and South Islands. My itineraries are usually a mixture of joining tour groups, doing stuff on my own with a car rental and visiting relatives if there are any in the area I'm visiting.

    I have a stack of guidebooks on New Zealand and working out the itinerary for this trip will take much planning. There are actually too many places in NZ I want to visit, so I believe I will eventually have to make more than one trip there. I'm thinking about buying an inflatable kayak I can bring with me and use while there. I will probably join tours which will include tramping, kayaking and camping, although I'm sure I'll see an area on my own where I'll just want to launch the kayak and go.

    Early next year, I'm headed back to Australia for five weeks. I have relatives there and I'm spending tens days of it touring Tasmania with one of my Aussie cousins, which is something both of us are looking forward to. My other stops on this tour will be Kangaroo Island, the Barossa wine valley, while using Adelaide as the tour base. I'm also booked on a trip on the Great Ocean Road along the South Australia/Victoria coastline. I also have stops planned for Melbourne and Sydney. My tour finishes with a visit to Fraser Island and some time spent with relatives in the Brisbane area.

    I was in Australia this time last year and I wrote a recap of that trip on this thread a awhile back:

    In regards to currency, I'm still stuck on using travellers cheques. I usually buy them in the currency to the country I will be visiting and cash them at local banks. I was able to cash my Aussie Dollar cheques at WestPac Bank branches in Australia without any fees. I still have plenty of cheques left from my last trip and I'm using them for this upcoming trip. This has proved to be a windfall for me because of the current weakness in the U.S. Dollar. I did however, purchase a modest sum of cash from Travelex so I could hit the ground running without worrying about a trip to the bank. I'm tempted to use my ATM card, although I admit to being concerned about some rogue ATM machine eating my ATM card at some odd hour that the bank isn't open.
  16. traveler

    traveler Where next? Venice

    Re: Around the world with Traveller

    We just got back from our cruise from Vancouver, BC to New Zealand via LA, Maui, Oahu, the Big Island, American Samoa, Western Samoa and, Fiji. A really great trip, again on Holland America.

    Before I get into the meat of the post, let me say that I read another post about Holland America being good particularly if you're over sixty. Well, that is a bit true but you will meet others if you get into the right venues. Although I am 63 now, I tend to hang with a younger group. They are generally easy to find since one of my first activities to get to is a Volley Ball game. That brings out a group of folks from their twenties to the seventies but all are in reasonably good shape and act like thirty to forty year old people. Friends are quickly made here and that makes for a much better cruise.

    Now to the cruise itself:

    LA was just a stop to pick up additional passengers. After they arrived the population was about 75% Americans, 20% Canadians and 5% other nationalities.

    Hawaii was great, as usual. We rented a car at Lahaina and drove to road to Hana. A wild ride with many hairpin turns and one lane bridges. I would much rather been driving a sports car that the rented sedan but it was still a great ride. Average speed, about 18 MPH for the trip and I tend to be a fast driver! The scenery is extraordinary. Good stop is at mile marker 16. Cut off to Keanae and follow the road to the end for great views and photo ops. There is also a Fruit Stand that sells cold drinks, good chili dogs and banana bread. You will need a break from the winding road at about this point. We then proceeded on to the Hana Lava Tubes. A most interesting walk through a long old lava tube. The owner supplies power lanterns and a flood light too for taking pictures of the inside. The tunnel is dark, except for those lights you carry until you get to a huge rock that blocked the lava's path. Here the lava shot upward, making a large hole that is still there and that lets some light in. You then duck under the rock and proceed on a few hundred more feet where you can explore a side tunnel caused by a lava back-up. Takes about an hour to explore all together. We talked with the owner for a while. It seems he bought the property when it came up for sale about 11 years ago and he cleaned out debris (cow bones) from an old slaughter house that used the tubes for their garbage pit! That evening we went to a "cirque d solei" (sp) type show in Lahaina. If you do this show, book it through the Internet and save money over the ships tour that does the same thing! Good local show too.

    Hilo, The Big Island - Unfortunately, it rained, on and off during that day. We did rent a car and go to the Volcanoes National Park (second time there) and drove around the crater. The prior time we went to the end of the lava field near the sea and walked the lava fields as far as permitted. Very interesting formations and quite a strenuous walk.

    Oahu, Honolulu - We have been there a few times before and so we jut took a walk into and around town. One thing I would strongly recommend is the Cultural Center. It describes the history of most South Seas Islands and their culture with song and dances for each. Interestingly, it is run by the Mormons and the majority of the staff comes from the local college. A bit of a ride out of Honolulu but worth the trip. Don't skimp on the time as you could easily spend a full day there and barely see it all. Pearl Harbor and the Arizona are also worth the time and effort. I'm not sure how much time you will need for that since the last time we visited that site was before 9/11. I'm sure there is much tighter security now.

    In a day or two, I'll post again on our next two stops at American and Western Samoa.
  17. UPS Lifer

    UPS Lifer Well-Known Member

    Re: Around the world with Traveller

    Hey Traveler!
    I go to Maui a couple of times a year usually in Oct and Feb. In 3 days we will be on a plane for another 2 week stay. I did the Road to Hana once and it almost cost me my marriage!!! My wife was done after about an hour of the winding road. I wouldn't let it go ...I had to see Hana. if we ever do it again, we will take a helicoptor!!!

    The Hawaiian Islands have always been my favorite US destination. It is what a real relaxing vacation is all about. We have an ocean front Marriott Vacation Club ownership that allows us to spend one month in paradise. Next year, we are going to take the whole month in February. I can't wait. I love the whales! Can't wait to hear about American and Western Samoa.

    After Feb, we are going to cool our jets and get the SoCal house on the market. So we will have to live vicariously through you and others who are traveling....and maybe the travel channe!!

    I am in the process of going through about 1500 pics I took on our med cruise. I should be able to get a nice sample posted while I am in Maui.
  18. traveler

    traveler Where next? Venice

    Re: Around the world with Traveller

    UPS Lifer,

    The previous time we were in Maui I convinced my wife to take a bicycle ride down the slopes of Haleakala. That was a hoot! They put the slowest rider (my wife of course) in the front of the pack. There is a rider from the tour group in front and the van that carries the bikes to the top of the mountain rides in back of the pack so no cars interfere. The group pulls off the road, periodically, to let the cars go by. You can get up some real speed going down the mountain and a few of us held back from the group so we could let the brakes go and coast at high speeds until we met up with the slower riders.

    I don't think my wife would do it again but I sure would. It's a great scenic ride but due to the changes in climate as you go down the mountain you often need a jacket and/or rain gear. Great fun, overall.
  19. traveler

    traveler Where next? Venice

    Re: Around the world with Traveller

    Well, since my wife is catching up on her sleep after an eleven plus hour flight from Auckland, New Zealand to LA, and overnight there (the plane from NZ was late and we missed our connection) and then a six plus hour flight back to Orlando, I will write a bit on American Samoa.

    Pago Pago (pronounced /ˈpɑno ˈpɑno/ by native Samoan-speakers and sometimes /ˈpɑngou ˈpɑgnou/ by others). That's a quote from Wikapedia and true. I don't know where the "n's" come from but we were told that Samoans put and "n" in many words that don't show them in writing. This is our second time in American Samoa. The first time we simply explored the capitol city (town) and accessed the internet there. This time, we were determined to do more. For the shoppers out there, this is a very inexpensive place to be. You can buy nice Hawaiian-South Pacific type shirts from the vendors on the pier for $8.00 or so each. I bought a few last time and they are well worth the price. American Samoa is apparently heavily subsidized by the US Government, which accounts for the low prices on goods there. Beautiful flower arrangements of tropical blooms are available from these vendors at the pier too. Average price is about $10.00 but at the end of the day, when the boat is about to leave, you can negotiate. My wife picked up on this skill quickly when we took our first trip to China. There is it is all but mandatory to negotiate for everything one might purchase. She bought a $10.00 arrangement for a paltry $3.00 at days end.

    American Samoa is not a particularly good place to swim (few beaches) or snorkel their claim to fame is the magnificent scenery. So, we decided to join the locals on the tiny, brightly colored busses. After watching a few go by the bus stop I noticed there was a sign on each as to their destination. We first picked one with Leona on a cardboard sign in the window. Leona is a town on the west end of the island so we figured we would have a good ride. I believe these busses are privately owned since at times, the driver will pull into his driveway for lunch or just to finish his day or take a break and will direct the remaining passengers to the nearby bus stop to catch the next bus to arrive. All the busses have thinly padded wood seats and a wooden body on what I believe is a pickup truck chassis. Each has Plexiglas windows that can be manually opened and closed and are held in, up and down by an ingenious gravity system. More on their use later. I asked the driver the fare but couldn't make out his answer. I handed him $2.00 and he seemed pleased so we took a seat near the front to watch the scenery and perhaps, take a few photos. After our entry, I found that everyone that got on, paid nothing but left their payment when leaving the bus. There were one hundred or so quarters on a large indent in the dashboard and people just tossed in 50¢ or if they only had a dollar, they tossed that in and took their own change. The bus driver would scoop up the dollars before the wind could take them, putting them in a cash sack attached to the dashboard next to his left side. Very interesting honor system. At that point I knew why the driver was pleased with our double payment, and in advance too. We were the only non-locals on the bus but everyone smiled at us as they entered or left. That's part of the enjoyment of independent travel. The bus followed the road along the shoreline past the flower pot rocks, a small island covered with foliage that actually looks like a big flower pot and guards the Pago Pa go Harbor. All this with the CD player blasting a tune by the Eagles. Guess the driver was a fan. We then went into the hills, inland, passing local homes and the community college with its open sided gymnasium. I guess that's to let the breeze in and keep the rain out. We traveled back to the oceanside and then looped through the town and started back to the capitol city (town). On our return we decided to stop for a drink and shop at the local grocery/everything store. Some of the smaller size sneakers were on a table out front at a mark-down price of $1.00 a pair. Couldn't find any that fit me. We returned to the ship with our goods and for lunch. My wife is up and has breakfast ready so - to be continued...
  20. traveler

    traveler Where next? Venice

    By the way, when we exited the first bus, I gave the driver another $2.00 since this was a cheap ride to start with.

    After lunch we were back on land for more. We walked about a half mile this time to the bus station itself. I had in mind to travel to the north side of the island over the mountains to Vatia. There were four aisles for passengers to wait for busses but I didn't see any markings on the aisles so I asked one of the drivers waiting for people to fill his bus about the one I wanted. He happily told us that that bus would be in the third aisle but none was there now. After waiting about ten minutes, a bus arrived and we boarded with the knowledge we would pay on exit this time. We drove around the long harbor to the other side where we smelled and saw the canneries for Starkist Tuna along with three other canneries. There were no entry signs on most unguarded doors but we found out later that a good hard knock on the door and a request for a tour would probably be honored. Another Volley Ball player did just that and was treated to a tour of the facility. He did say that the bad smell was all on the outside, the inside was quite clean. Back to the ride... We began to climb the mount letting off and picking up just a few passengers along the way. The CD was playing local tunes and some US oldies in native Samoan language! Most had groceries bought in town. After the bus labored up the hills we reached the top and were treated to a wonderful view of the beautiful north shore. I snapped a few pictures as we traveled down the mountains. When we reached the end of the line in Vatia what looked like a sandy beach from the mountain was actually a pebble covered beach like area. The bus driver was a bit confused when we didn't get off. He insisted that the ride was done but I explained we were just tourists and on for the round trip ride. I did observe that the cost of this ride was $1.00 per person. He notified us that it would be $2.00 each to complete the circle to Pago Pago and then asked if I would like him to stop at the top of the mountain for a few photos. I said yes and in a few moments, after loading up the bus with new passengers, we were on our way. As we started back up the mountain, the rains came with a vengeance. Passengers on the windward side began to close the windows and one young fellow helped me as I fumbled with the Plexiglas, showing me how it operated. All he did was manually pull up the glass and worked the bottom outward so it rested on a slanted ledge that held it closed in place. Ingenious folks, these Samoans. As promised, the driver stopped twice near the top so I could take some quick photos as the rain let up a bit. When we reached the canning facilities, all the passengers but the two of us exited at the four entry gates to the canneries. I guess this was he night shift going to work. Next stop for us, the bus station (gave the driver a $10 for the ride and his kindness) and a short walk back to the ship and dinner. Tomorrow, Western Samoa, a new country and new adventure for us.