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  #1  
Old October 13th, 2010, 09:23 PM
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Default Back from Australia. My thoughts.

I just spent 19 fabulous days in Australia and wanted to share my experience with those who might benefit. I wasn't on a cruise (and can't imagine only having part of a day in each of the amazing cities I visited) but maybe some of my opinions will help.

First City - Sydney

Cool looking Opera House and Bridge - make for great photos.

The Bridge Climb is a must do - really! Fantastic!

The city itself wasn't all that impressive IMHO. It's a big city with a lot of people who always seemed to be in a big hurry. There are also a lot of very pushy tourists from a few certain countries who seemed to outnumber the Aussies in some places.

An early morning jog from The Rocks, past the Opera House and out to Mrs. McQuaries Chair was fabulous. The best photos of the Opera House and Bridge should be taken at sunrise, when you can get that sunrise glow on both. At midday the sun is too harsh.

A day trip to the Blue Mountains was a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Unfortunately I discovered that rude teenagers on trains exist in Australia just like in the U.S. Too bad for both countries - I weep for the future.

Darling Harbor is worth a visit. The aquarium and Maritime Museum are both worth seeing.

The Manly ferry is an inexpensive way to get a great harbor cruise. I did it twice, once at sunset, and got some fabulous photos. I will post a few on a new thread when I have them uploaded to Flickr. I took 2,500 photos and haven't sorted through them yet.

The Taronga Zoo is awesome, but construction made it a bit difficult to get around parts of it.

Hang on to your bags or they may disappear at a bus stop

Bondi Beach is nothing special.

Second City - Cairns

Apparently I had to suffer with "unseasonal" weather, according to the locals. Usually weather in early October is wonderful but I had three days of wind, two of which also came with rain.

I went to the reef twice, first day was with Ocean Freedom. I'd recommend this company to anyone - they were fabulous. Too bad it was so darn windy - the reef was clouded with all the sand kicked up and the swells tossed me around a LOT.

Day Two I took a tour with Australian Day Tours to Kuranda on the scenic railway, to the Rainforestation, and back on the skyrail (cable car). Did I mention the weather was horrible? I was in the clouds for most of the ride back and it started to pour in mid-afternoon as well. At least the Rainforestation was just cloudy and not rainy. It was a bit touristy with an awful Aboriginal Dance show. The Koalas and Kangaroos were cute though. I'd give the Rainforestation a miss if I ever go back though and just spend my extra time in Kuranda. I did like the train ride and cable car (would have been great in nice weather).

The next day it was back to the reef on Ocean Free. This was a sailboat and (did I mention it was windy) we had a very rough ride out to the fishes. I (and another girl) was quite seasick by the time we got there. This was the day I'd chosen to do my first ever SCUBA dive and let me tell you, seasickness and SCUBA do not mix. I could only stay down for about 15 minutes when my stomach had had enough. I didn't really recover until I got over to Green Island, a fabulous beach spot but unfortunately it just poured rain while I was there. The crew of the Ocean Freedom and Ocean Free were great though and I'd sail with them again.

Third City - Brisbane

I arrived around noon and immediately hopped on the train to Surfers Paradise. I was on a mission to get a Hard Rock Cafe pin and I did just that, then walked down to the beach. You guessed it, it was pouring rain and the beach was deserted with red flags and warning signs up and down the beach. The waves looked pretty awesome - pro surfers would have loved it.

The next day I took a city tour, a trip to the Dandenong mountains, and a tour to the Koala Sanctuary. I LOVED the Koala sanctuary. I just think Koalas are the cutest things and this was where I chose to get my photo taken with one of them. I just had a wonderful afternoon here and I finally started to see some sunshine again.

My last day I went to the Tangalooma Resort which was OK. I went snorkeling at the Tangalooma wrecks, trying in vain to make up for my poor GBR experience. The water was really cold and there weren't as many fishes as I would have liked to see but it was still a nice time. I spent a little time on the beach and then headed back to the city.

Fourth City - Melbourne


I saved the best for last. I'm not sure why, but I didn't expect much out of Melbourne. Boy was I surprised. I LOVED it!!!! The people were SO friendly. The city was easy to get around, either walking or on the trams. There was so much to see and do. My hotel was the best ever (Hotel Windsor).

The day trips were incredible. I spent one day on a bus trip to the Great Ocean Road which I decided was one of the three most beautiful places on the planet. The penguin parade was well worth the long drive I think - I loved being so close to them.

Unfortunately my cursed weather continued and my Yarra Valley hot air balloon ride was canceled so I can't comment on that.

On my last day I ran in the Melbourne half marathon and had the best weather of the whole trip. Go figure!

So, if I had to do it all over again I'd visit the same cities but spend less time in Sydney and more time in Cairns. My time in Brisbane was enough I think, and Melbourne was my favorite.
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98 Nights at Sea and Counting

7/1997 Carnival Jubilee - Mexican Riviera
12/2004 Empress of the Seas - Southern Caribbean Photos
12/2007 Sovereign of the Seas - Bahamas Photos
4/2008 Carnival Destiny - Southern Caribbean
4/2010 Serenade of the Seas - Southern Caribbean
9/2010 Majesty of the Seas - Bahamas Photos
1/2011 Ruby Princess - Eastern Caribbean Photos
2/2011 Navigator of the Seas - Cozumel Photos
8/2011 Star Princess - Eastern Mediterranean/Greek Isles Photos
4/2012 Jewel of the Seas - Western Caribbean
4/2012 Caribbean Princess - Southern Caribbean
3/2013 Monarch of the Seas (farewell cruise) - Bahamas Photos
11/2013 Caribbean Princess - Western Caribbean Photos
1/2014 Jewel of the Seas - Southern Caribbean Photos
1/2014 Allure of the Seas - Western Caribbean Photos


Next cruise(s)
4/2015 Serenade of the Seas - Caribbean
10/2015 Serenade of the Seas - Canada/New England Snowbird Migration
4/2016 Regal Princess - Western Caribbean


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  #2  
Old October 13th, 2010, 09:37 PM
room010 room010 is offline
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Thanks for the review and I'm sorry about the grotty weather in Queensland. It's been a "bad" winter all over Oz this year with lots of (much needed) rain and cooler than average temperatures. Just bad luck I'm afraid so better luck next time.

I'm delighted you "discovered" Melbourne. Friends from overseas all agree that while Sydney may have a "wow" factor and it's a great place to visit, they would prefer to actually live in Melbourne and I understand their point of view completely!
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  #3  
Old October 13th, 2010, 09:39 PM
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Thanks for the info.
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Old October 13th, 2010, 09:51 PM
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My husband is really interested in the bridge climb in sydney.... how fit do you need to be?
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  #5  
Old October 13th, 2010, 10:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodley View Post
My husband is really interested in the bridge climb in sydney.... how fit do you need to be?
Not so much. It's just a fair number of steps, but the whole thing is expanded over a few hours so no need to race! You're fully secured as well, no loose items so it's a very protected environment.
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  #6  
Old October 13th, 2010, 10:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodley View Post
My husband is really interested in the bridge climb in sydney.... how fit do you need to be?
I don't think you really need to be perfectly fit, although if you can't climb a few flights of stairs without huffing and puffing then it's not for you. The guide takes you up really slow, with a lot of breaks to enjoy the view. The top part of the bridge is the easy part. For me the worst part was the catwalk at the beginning which was rather long and narrow (and high), and then the four ladders you have to climb. I hate heights and those parts were the worst. Once you climb the ladders and are at the top part of the bridge it's nice and wide and just a gradual ascent.
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98 Nights at Sea and Counting

7/1997 Carnival Jubilee - Mexican Riviera
12/2004 Empress of the Seas - Southern Caribbean Photos
12/2007 Sovereign of the Seas - Bahamas Photos
4/2008 Carnival Destiny - Southern Caribbean
4/2010 Serenade of the Seas - Southern Caribbean
9/2010 Majesty of the Seas - Bahamas Photos
1/2011 Ruby Princess - Eastern Caribbean Photos
2/2011 Navigator of the Seas - Cozumel Photos
8/2011 Star Princess - Eastern Mediterranean/Greek Isles Photos
4/2012 Jewel of the Seas - Western Caribbean
4/2012 Caribbean Princess - Southern Caribbean
3/2013 Monarch of the Seas (farewell cruise) - Bahamas Photos
11/2013 Caribbean Princess - Western Caribbean Photos
1/2014 Jewel of the Seas - Southern Caribbean Photos
1/2014 Allure of the Seas - Western Caribbean Photos


Next cruise(s)
4/2015 Serenade of the Seas - Caribbean
10/2015 Serenade of the Seas - Canada/New England Snowbird Migration
4/2016 Regal Princess - Western Caribbean


Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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  #7  
Old October 13th, 2010, 10:28 PM
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moyaroo moyaroo is offline
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Great review Glad you loved it. the folks in Victoria are going to miss those Dandenong mountains though, hope the Queenslanders give em back :-)

Last edited by moyaroo; October 13th, 2010 at 10:29 PM.
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Old October 13th, 2010, 10:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moyaroo View Post
Great review Glad you loved it. the folks in Victoria are going to miss those Dandenong mountains though, hope the Queenslanders give em back :-)

Oopsie - got things mixed up. I blame the jet lag. Brisbane was the city tour and river cruise. Melbourne was the city tour and Dandenongs. I feel pretty dumb, but I also feel pretty tired - just got home 48 hours ago.

Honestly, both city bus tours were just sort of "there", the best sights were seen later.
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98 Nights at Sea and Counting

7/1997 Carnival Jubilee - Mexican Riviera
12/2004 Empress of the Seas - Southern Caribbean Photos
12/2007 Sovereign of the Seas - Bahamas Photos
4/2008 Carnival Destiny - Southern Caribbean
4/2010 Serenade of the Seas - Southern Caribbean
9/2010 Majesty of the Seas - Bahamas Photos
1/2011 Ruby Princess - Eastern Caribbean Photos
2/2011 Navigator of the Seas - Cozumel Photos
8/2011 Star Princess - Eastern Mediterranean/Greek Isles Photos
4/2012 Jewel of the Seas - Western Caribbean
4/2012 Caribbean Princess - Southern Caribbean
3/2013 Monarch of the Seas (farewell cruise) - Bahamas Photos
11/2013 Caribbean Princess - Western Caribbean Photos
1/2014 Jewel of the Seas - Southern Caribbean Photos
1/2014 Allure of the Seas - Western Caribbean Photos


Next cruise(s)
4/2015 Serenade of the Seas - Caribbean
10/2015 Serenade of the Seas - Canada/New England Snowbird Migration
4/2016 Regal Princess - Western Caribbean


Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Last edited by Cruzin-K; October 13th, 2010 at 10:49 PM.
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Old October 13th, 2010, 11:44 PM
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Hey Karen, so glad you enjoyed your time over here. Are you sure they were pushy tourists and not just some of our new immigrants, we are getting to be one of the most diverse multicultural nations in the world.

Yes the Manly ferry is by far the cheapest harbour cruise you can get. Back in 1988 on Australia Day (26 January) when we had our bicentennial; Sydney Harbour was the only place to be if you had a boat; with tall ships and everything else that was going on. We got the ferry over and stayed on to come straight back. The round trip took almost 3 hours instead of the normal 1 hour, it was sensational.

The Ocean Freedom/Free crew are exceptional and we have been out twice now on Freedom. DW has never snorkelled before and she is now hooked because of the way they looked after us.

And though we live and work in Sydney, Melbourne is my favourite city too, DW hates the trams and that is probably the reason we don't live there now.

Thanks for visiting and thanks for the great review.

p.s. where did you stay in Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney?
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Last edited by stanc61; October 13th, 2010 at 11:45 PM.
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  #10  
Old October 14th, 2010, 12:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanc61 View Post
Hey Karen, so glad you enjoyed your time over here. Are you sure they were pushy tourists and not just some of our new immigrants, we are getting to be one of the most diverse multicultural nations in the world.

Yes the Manly ferry is by far the cheapest harbour cruise you can get. Back in 1988 on Australia Day (26 January) when we had our bicentennial; Sydney Harbour was the only place to be if you had a boat; with tall ships and everything else that was going on. We got the ferry over and stayed on to come straight back. The round trip took almost 3 hours instead of the normal 1 hour, it was sensational.

The Ocean Freedom/Free crew are exceptional and we have been out twice now on Freedom. DW has never snorkelled before and she is now hooked because of the way they looked after us.

And though we live and work in Sydney, Melbourne is my favourite city too, DW hates the trams and that is probably the reason we don't live there now.

Thanks for visiting and thanks for the great review.

p.s. where did you stay in Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney?
Well, the pushy people I noticed were at touristy spots in large groups, and also on the plane from Sydney up to Cairns (I felt sorry for the flight attendants). I guess we have the same issues here in the U.S. - I just rarely go to touristy spots over here any more

I stayed at the Cairns Hilton which was fabulous. I had a room on the executive floor and was spoiled rotten.

In both Brisbane and Sydney I stayed at Holiday Inns. I stayed in Old Sydney (The Rocks) and at the Brisbane Transit Center. Both hotels were nice, clean and comfortable but they were very "no frills" and both had issues with noise late at night and early in the morning when I would much rather have been sleeping. Still, I'd stay at both hotels again because they were so convenient to what I wanted to see/do.
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98 Nights at Sea and Counting

7/1997 Carnival Jubilee - Mexican Riviera
12/2004 Empress of the Seas - Southern Caribbean Photos
12/2007 Sovereign of the Seas - Bahamas Photos
4/2008 Carnival Destiny - Southern Caribbean
4/2010 Serenade of the Seas - Southern Caribbean
9/2010 Majesty of the Seas - Bahamas Photos
1/2011 Ruby Princess - Eastern Caribbean Photos
2/2011 Navigator of the Seas - Cozumel Photos
8/2011 Star Princess - Eastern Mediterranean/Greek Isles Photos
4/2012 Jewel of the Seas - Western Caribbean
4/2012 Caribbean Princess - Southern Caribbean
3/2013 Monarch of the Seas (farewell cruise) - Bahamas Photos
11/2013 Caribbean Princess - Western Caribbean Photos
1/2014 Jewel of the Seas - Southern Caribbean Photos
1/2014 Allure of the Seas - Western Caribbean Photos


Next cruise(s)
4/2015 Serenade of the Seas - Caribbean
10/2015 Serenade of the Seas - Canada/New England Snowbird Migration
4/2016 Regal Princess - Western Caribbean


Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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  #11  
Old October 17th, 2010, 07:10 PM
graceinmelbourne graceinmelbourne is offline
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Hi,

Thanks for your report It's a shame about the weather as that can make so much difference to your experience of a place. It has been very wet lately especially in Queensland when it is supposed to be the dry season.

When I was in Sydney recently I had a similar impression to you of very busy city streets with people rushing around madly. I think in Sydney once you have seen the main sights it is good to get out of the city centre and do things like the cliff top walk from Bondi to Coogee. Bondi is fun in summer and it is a good people watching place.

Glad you liked Melbourne. We enjoy living here. I have never been to Phillip Island to see the penguins and I was born here! I agree the Great Ocean Road is very scenic. Maybe next time you could spend a few days driving along and staying at some of the small towns along the way. You could also visit places such as Tasmania which is beautiful or some of the smaller inland and coastal towns in Victoria, NSW and Queensland which would give you more of a feel for Australia.
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Old October 18th, 2010, 06:22 AM
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Default Don't Blow Our Secret .

SSSH ! We don,t want everyone to know what we Victorians have known for years that Melbourne is Australia's best kept travel destination secret.

A wonderful cosmopolitan City with a lovely blend of old and new with a distinctly European feel . Great Parks and Gardens, Art Galleries and Australia's Arts capital . Add to that great shopping and Australias Gourmet capital, and also Major Events Capital . Nearby the Great Ocean Road and nightly penguin Parade at Phillip Island, and at Royal Park one of the great Zoo's of the World.

Major airlines fly from Europe, UK, Asia and USA direct into Melbourne - Tullamarine Airport daily .

DAWN PRINCESS does 14 day round trip cruises from Melbourne to New Zealand each year between November and March the following year .
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Old October 19th, 2010, 11:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kuldalai View Post
SSSH ! We don,t want everyone to know what we Victorians have known for years that Melbourne is Australia's best kept travel destination secret.

A wonderful cosmopolitan City with a lovely blend of old and new with a distinctly European feel . Great Parks and Gardens, Art Galleries and Australia's Arts capital . Add to that great shopping and Australias Gourmet capital, and also Major Events Capital . Nearby the Great Ocean Road and nightly penguin Parade at Phillip Island, and at Royal Park one of the great Zoo's of the World.

Major airlines fly from Europe, UK, Asia and USA direct into Melbourne - Tullamarine Airport daily .

DAWN PRINCESS does 14 day round trip cruises from Melbourne to New Zealand each year between November and March the following year .
LOL, you sound like you work for the Victoria Tourist Bureau or something

Yes, I loved Victoria and got the most fabulous photos of the Great Ocean Road. I'm just about ready for my Australia in Pictures thread.
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98 Nights at Sea and Counting

7/1997 Carnival Jubilee - Mexican Riviera
12/2004 Empress of the Seas - Southern Caribbean Photos
12/2007 Sovereign of the Seas - Bahamas Photos
4/2008 Carnival Destiny - Southern Caribbean
4/2010 Serenade of the Seas - Southern Caribbean
9/2010 Majesty of the Seas - Bahamas Photos
1/2011 Ruby Princess - Eastern Caribbean Photos
2/2011 Navigator of the Seas - Cozumel Photos
8/2011 Star Princess - Eastern Mediterranean/Greek Isles Photos
4/2012 Jewel of the Seas - Western Caribbean
4/2012 Caribbean Princess - Southern Caribbean
3/2013 Monarch of the Seas (farewell cruise) - Bahamas Photos
11/2013 Caribbean Princess - Western Caribbean Photos
1/2014 Jewel of the Seas - Southern Caribbean Photos
1/2014 Allure of the Seas - Western Caribbean Photos


Next cruise(s)
4/2015 Serenade of the Seas - Caribbean
10/2015 Serenade of the Seas - Canada/New England Snowbird Migration
4/2016 Regal Princess - Western Caribbean


Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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Old October 22nd, 2010, 01:30 PM
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We are taking our first crusie to Australia and New Zeland of March 2012. On the Oceania Regatta.
Just a question on hotels in Sydney.We are looking at the Park Hyatt the Rocks but using our points only gets us a city view room.Is it worth paying the hotel to book the Opra house view?
Also looking into the Marriot Haarbor hotel.
Any advise would be welcomed.
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Old October 22nd, 2010, 03:34 PM
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The Park Hyatt has wonderful views. They will be closing for renovations in April but the hotel is in excellent condition. The Park Hyatt Opera house views are stunning, relative worth is an individual thing. I am not fond of the Sydney Harbour Marriott, but it is a personal thing. The Park Hyatt is much quieter and elegant. If I could afford it that is where I would be every time in Sydney.
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Old October 22nd, 2010, 04:16 PM
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Thanks,But what if i cant get the oprea view at the Park Hyatt .Only there harbor view .Does it view out to the water also?
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Old October 22nd, 2010, 05:13 PM
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Harbour view at the Park Hyatt would look back at the Overseas Passenger Terminal IIRC. Still a better hotel than the Marriott. Right under the bridge and near lots of restaurants in the Rocks.

Last edited by moyaroo; October 22nd, 2010 at 05:17 PM.
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Old October 23rd, 2010, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moyaroo View Post
Harbour view at the Park Hyatt would look back at the Overseas Passenger Terminal IIRC. Still a better hotel than the Marriott. Right under the bridge and near lots of restaurants in the Rocks.
I am taking your advise booking the Hyatt Harbor view.But will I see the harbor lol?
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Old October 23rd, 2010, 01:22 PM
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IIRC, every room at the Park Hyatt has some view of the water at or near Circular Quay, although not all of them can see the Opera House.
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Old October 23rd, 2010, 01:30 PM
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I was just checking out comments on FLYeRTALK. And someone mentioned room 007. Also to request a room with 2 twin beds the room is larger.
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