68 entries categorized "Travel"

How Virgin turned a difficult gig into a near-impossible one!

Yesterday morning I headed off to the airport ready to do a 30 minute show at a dinner dance for a mining company in Dysart, Queensland.

For such a short gig, the travel was quite extensive.

Head off early for a 9.15am flight on Virgin to Sydney. (When I arrived, I looked at the departure board and thought my flight had been cancelled, but that was the 8.15am flight). From Sydney I was to take the 11.15am flight to Mackay, arriving at 1.40pm where I would pick up a rental car and drive three hours to Dysart arriving around 5pm. That gave me enough time to check in to my hotel, freshen up and get ready for my 8.15pm performance at the Civic Centre.

However... the first sign of trouble was when I arrived in Sydney and found the 11.15am departure was delayed "10 minutes" due to "the late arrival of the aircraft from Albury".

After about half an hour the arrival of the light from Albury was 'cancelled'... I have no idea what happened to it... did it vanish mid flight over the Goulburn Triangle?

Another plane arrived at our gate and we were told engineers were on board checking the plane, and there would be a "short delay".

Finally, we were told to board, almost two hours late. At this stage I was very anxious because my preparation time before the show was being cut dramatically. My booking sheet had me arriving at the venue at 6.30pm - now I'd be lucky to arrive in Dysart by 6.30pm.

But Virgin had another surprise for me... and this sounds unbelievable but they actually made this announcement... apparently, because the plane didn't have enough fuel to make it to Mackay, they had to offload half the baggage to make it lighter!!!

I tried to explain to the Virgin staff that I really needed my bag, but they were adamant they had no control over which bags would stay or go, but assured me they would courier it direct to me as soon as it arrived in Mackay. 

I arrived in Mackay at 3.30pm and, you guessed it, my bag didn't arrive. 

The Virgin staff explained that my bag would arrive at 5pm and they would rush it to me. I explained that even if it arrived at 8pm, it would most likely be too late... but I did need my clothes and toiletries so it was agreed they would send it.

After I'd lined up to get my rental car, then lined up to let them know where to send my bag, it was after 4pm before I was able to leave the airport. That meant I would arrived just over an hour before I was due to go on stage... but without any props. 

A quick stop at Woolworths on the way and I had $50 worth of "props" ready to create a show with, which is what I did during my 3 hour drive. 

Just after 6pm I got a phone call from the Virgin baggage staff saying my bag had just arrived and they could get it to me by 10pm or 11pm, where did I want it delivered? I explained, in my nicest voice, that I'd be asleep at that time because I had to be up at 6am to leave Dysart and drive back to Mackay. 

They suggested they would hold the back at Mackay for me to pick up when I checked-in the next morning. They saved on courier costs and I had no toiletries or change of clothes, but at least I didn't have to stay awake waiting for a bag that may or may not arrive.

Finally, after a few wrong turns as the rental car didn't come with a map and 3G coverage for Googlemaps was limited, I arrived with just an hour to spare.

The crew were fantastic and gathered up the few extra items I needed for the show plus they had an extra radio mic for me to replace the one that was in my suitcase.

Luckily I had my costume as carry-on (except for my belt and shoes...) so the show was able to go on.

My "supermarket show" ended up running 45 minutes and consisted of:

  • CARD IN MOUTH - (Borrowed cards & sharpie)
  • TOAST ROUTINE - (Pepsi Max, crushed can, paper bag, plastic glasses, pin, marker)
  • BALLS OVER HEAD - (Toilet paper roll, chair)
  • STAND ON CHAIR BARBET - (Chair, $50 bill)
  • CUT & RESTORED ROPE - (Borrowed rope, scissors)
  • BILL SWITCH - ($20 bill, no tip)
  • BILL TO BANANA - (Bills, no tips, lighter, envelope, tray, bananas, marker, tape, scissors)
  • BUNDY RUM APPEARANCE - (375ml bottle of Bundy rum) 
  • NEWSPAPER PREDICTION - (Newspaper, scissors, tape, huge paper sheet, marker)

After a little bit of mingling magic after the show, I packed up and headed off to the hotel, which was closed. 

Half an hour later I was finally in, and very grateful for shampoo and a hairdryer.

This morning it was a 3 hour drive, return of the rental car, and time to be reunited with my bag. Ironically, the client had bought a top dollar Virgin airfare for me which included 32kgs of baggage... a bit pointless now. I asked the Virgin check-in guy who I needed to write to to lodge a complaint. He asked around and came back telling me to go the website. He said there was no point telling him as they were only contractors, not Virgin.

What an adventure...


Travel update

After our visit to Denny & Lee's, Sue-Anne and I lectured for the Long Island Mystics and the Parsippany club in New Jersey and had a lot of fun at both events. (First time we've ever lectured in front of a camel too!)

[You can keep up with our travels on a more frequent basis on FaceBook].

Now we're here at FFFF and last night Shawn Farquhar (filling in for Nicholas Einhorn who couldn't make it due to some volcano somewhere....) gave the opening lecture and was very well received. He had some extremely innovative idea which were eagerly snapped up during the sales session after his presentation.

Now it's the morning of the first full day of FFFF events and it kicks off with a lecture at 11am by Antonio Romero. 

By the way, this is the 40th anniversary of FFFF and they've gone all out with an amazing array of goodies and souvenirs PLUS they've promised surprises galore over the next few days as tribute to the Head Forker himself, our guest of honour, Obie O'Brien


V Australia & US Airlines

We flew over to the USA on the new airline V Australia. We usually fly Qantas but, since they seem to be doing everything they can to discourage our loyalty, we made the change.

I'm glad we did.

V Australia's service was exemplary, the plane was fresh and new with coloured, mood lighting and a light up sign telling us when we could use electronic equipment replacing the old no smoking sign.

It was a long flight from Sydney to Los Angeles and, sadly, they didn't give us any little prizes like toothbrushes or razors or anything. But they did give us eye masks, ear plugs and headsets in a variety of bright colours and towels that actually kept us warm and cosy. 

The meals were even yummy!

Travelling to the USA we had the "two bag per person" luggage allowance. We took three bags in total. However, as a warning to fellow Aussies heading over Stateside, once you are in the USA the domestic luggage allowance has completely changed.

You can take carry-on, but ANY additional bags cost money. You can take up to two per person at an average (depending on airline) of $25 per bag. PLUS you get up to 50 pounds per bag weight or you pay an extra $90 per bag! 

If, like us, your travel agent doesn't warn you about this you'll be in for a nasty shock. They charge for everything on the airlines over here now. Extra leg room seats and exit row seats, head phones, snacks, drink, videos or movies, and texting, phoning and wifi all come at extra costs so what ever you do DON'T fly without your credit card! (And I just heard that one airline is now charging for carry on bags too!) How do the American magicians cope getting from gig to gig...?


Ellis & Webster USApril

We finally have our USA tour dates set - though we do have two more slots free for lectures - if you're in the New York/Pennsylvania/Ohio area and would like a visit, drop an email to Tim@MagicUnlimited.com 


April 13 - Fly Melbourne, Australia to Orlando, Florida (29 hours and 15 mins travel time) 
April 14 - Arrive in Orlando at 6am. 
April 15 - Orlando 
April 16 - Orlando 
April 17 - Fly to Virginia to see Barbara Eden in 'Love Letters' 
April 18 - 5pm Lecture at Denny & Lee's in Baltimore 
April 19 - Available for lecture 
April 20 - Available for Lecture 
April 21 - FFFF Magic Convention, Batavia, New York  
April 22 - FFFF Magic Convention 
April 23 - FFFF Magic Convention 
April 24 - FFFF Magic Convention 
April 25 - MAWNY Magic Convention 
April 26 - Lecture at Big Flats, New York 
April 27 - Lecture at Rochester, New York 
April 28 - Lecture at Syracuse, New York 
April 29 - Canadian Association of Magicians Convention 
April 30 - Canadian Association of Magicians Convention (Close up show & Lecture) May 1 - Canadian Association of Magicians Convention (Stage Show) 
May 2 - Fly from Buffalo, New York to Melbourne, Australia (Travel time 29 hours and 14 mins) 
May 4 - Arrive in Melbourne 8.00am


Melbourne to Sydney

With airfares so low I'm flying up to Sydney in October to do a show and it's $140 return. Amazing.


But next week we have some illusion shows to do so we decided it would be cheap enough to hire a van and drive up, as opposed to two airfares and freight costs (which would be about $650).

Hi-ace van

We contacted a few car hire firms (Budget, Thrifty, Europcar etc) and the lowest quote was over $1,000. Extra costs of about $30 a day to reduce the insurance excess to only $1,000. Plus petrol of course...

The problem is the kilometres. You only get 100kms a day and extra kms are charged at 25c each. Melbourne to Sydney is about 1200kms each way.

How weird that it's cheaper to fly than drive nowdays...

This didn't make any sense to me at all so, after wasting so much time AGAIN I Googled "Unlimited Kilometres" and discovered another option.

Van4

A Campervan is the same vehicle, fitted out with beds, kitchen etc but still enough room to take what we need. (Just!)

But, you get unlimited kilometres, a much cheaper daily rental rate, and you can drop the insurance excess from $1,000 all the way down to nil.

You do need to book the van for a minimum of seven days, but total cost ends up being only $420.

And if we really wanted to save money, we wouldn't need accommodation either!  

So if you're planning on taking a lot of gear interstate for a show, give the commercial van rental companies a miss and try a campervan.

Or just fly and book road freight... (it's much quicker and I think it still ends up a little cheaper.)






Airfare or not so fair?

I saw an ad in The Herald Sun for Flight Centre.

Return flights from Melbourne, Australia to San Francisco, USA for only $895. Pretty amazing. What was even more amazing was the price to travel Business Class on the same plane - $6889.

So, for the price of a small car, you could instead have a wider, reclining seat and nicer meals for 12 hours or so?

The same went for other destinations:

  • Hawaii $1075 vs $5725

  • Los Angeles $969 vs $5369

  • Paris $1725 vs $5059

  • Bejing $915 vs 3975

I'm amazed that, in these times of KFC (sorry, GFC) people still have money to throw away like that.

Oh, and First Class from Melbourne to San Francisco..?

On the same flight some people are paying $895 you can pay anything from $15,420 to $33,723


TV #1

My last day in Taiwan was spent at the Star Television studios.

I got picked up from the hotel early in the morning and taken across town to the studio where 'MAGIC', Taiwan's top rating weekly TV show is filmed. The studio was huge with dozens of people on set working hard to prepare for the filming of two episodes.

DSC00347 

It was quite an amazing scene with at least a dozen other magicians from all over Asia (including one of Lee Eun-Gyeol's students) preparing their routines for the show.

The host, filling in for magician Lu Chen, was a famous TV personality, and there was a panel of Taiwanese celebrities on hand to watch, and comment on, the magic. There was even a live band, wh basically provided rim shots to the many funny comments.

What got me most was the huge respect that everyone on set had for magic. When I filmed 'Runaround Sue', the director thought he got a flash of something he shouldn't, so we reshot rather than run the chance of exposing when the show went to air.

I performed 'The Six Card Rap' and 'Runaround Sue' (both requested) as well as a close up set featuring 'Ring Link', 'Broken and Restored Rubber Band' and '7D'.

Happily, they were thrilled with my style of magic, the host even called me back after 'Runaround Sue' and said it was "The best ever".The show goes to air tomorrow in Taiwan and should end up on YouTube soon after that.


Day one in Taiwan

After departing on Saturday night after midnight, I arrived here in Taiwan around 2pm. A long trip, made worse by being seated next to Sir Snore-a-lot. But it's almost 11pm here now so if I go to bed now I should avoid jetlag despite having stayed up for 42 hours straight.

I'm doing a guest appearance on a Taiwanese TV Magic show. It airs 9pm on Saturday nights and is, apparently, one of the top rating TV shows in the country and has been for several years!

I had a little wander around the city today (Mos Burger in Taiwan doesn't taste as good as Mos Burger in Japan) and, unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera because I did spot a few examples of Engrish:

One coffee shop with, of course, a very 'Starbuckian' logo is called 'IS COFFEE ALWAYS FRESH'.

And another shop has a huge sign with the rather unfortunate name 'LADY JUICE'. I have no idea what they were selling, but the shop seems empty and locked up, so maybe the store name sounds just as bad in Mandarin.