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f13.net General Forums => General Discussion => Topic started by: Abagadro on January 05, 2019, 03:33:44 PM



Title: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Abagadro on January 05, 2019, 03:33:44 PM
EDIT: THREAD HAS BEEN MODIFIED TO GENERAL TRAVEL ADVISE THREAD.

Have 8 days in Japan in early May and need some advice. I know there are folks here with lots of experience, so throwing it out there.  Flying into Narita and out from Haneda.

Need advice on:

What area to stay in.
Things to do (its me, my wife, and my 14 year old)
Stay all 8 days in Tokyo or do a few days in another part of the country?

Any tips appreciated. Thanks.


Title: Re: Traveling to Japan-Need advice
Post by: calapine on January 05, 2019, 04:28:48 PM
I know a non-F13 person I could put you in contact with. (German ex-pat that married Japanese).

But let's wait first, sure we have some Weebos here.


Title: Re: Traveling to Japan-Need advice
Post by: Ceryse on January 05, 2019, 06:13:36 PM
I went to Japan last year with my mother (she'd always wanted to go, so I took her, in part to help her cope with my dad's passing). Can't give a ton of advice for Tokyo, as most of our time there was wasted when my mom got pretty sick (side note; the hospital we went to was actually pretty decent; although their English was terrible, and was surprisingly cheap). Also, our time in Japan was mostly spent going to temples and the like, with limited shopping and zero nightlife exposure.

However; we found staying at the Tokyu Excel hotel in Shibuya to be worth it; almost literally on top of the Shibuya subway station (we could actually see the famous Shibuya crossing from our rooms) which allowed for some good transportation options, and a good chance to expose ourselves to the 'oh my fucking god there's a sea of endless people everywhere' part of Tokyo; it also had a decent western and Japanese morning breakfast buffet, and a decent restaurant (really good beef dish there, but expensive) we tried once for dinner. A lot of shopping in the area around it, as well. So, I'd recommend there.

I would recommend the Oriental Bazaar for your touristy-souvenir shopping. Saw some amazing things there, even bought a few, including a gorgeous hand-made wall hanging. Other than that.. I'd say hit the main tourist spots, but also consider the Robot Restaurant (don't go for the food; it isn't good, but the experience was hilarious and very.. Japanese). Can also see the giant Godzilla head nearby that spews fire every hour, which I found to be amusing as a Godzilla fan.

As for travelling outside of Tokyo; with the possible exception of a day trip or 2 down to Kamakura.. 8 days isn't a lot of time just for Tokyo, much less anything else. So, I wouldn't really recommend bothering to cram a lot of other cities/towns in with just 8 days. I'm going back late this year (spending about 37 days in Japan this time), and I've booked about 12 of that just for Tokyo.

To be fair, though, when I went with my mother we couldn't see a lot because of pace (she can't walk far or quickly and the sheer number of stairs everywhere and steep hills took their toll on her; Japan is a country that actually does let you go up-hill, both ways).

What to see largely depends on interests, imo. We tended to really enjoy the temples, graveyards and smaller shops we found in the country. If you're going to a main tourist attraction, however, go close to opening or closing, however, as otherwise the places can, quite literally, be jam-packed with people. In Kyoto when we saw the Golden Pavilion there was almost no room to move and you had to shuffle along at the speed of a tortoise. I have heard good things about the Disneyland or whatever park near Tokyo, but that it is extremely busy (common to get hour+ wait times for rides) so I'd take that into consideration if you and your family had any interest in that.

Kamakura is pretty close to Tokyo, and can be a decent day trip to hit the main high-lights there, though. Even better if you can spend a night there, though. Given your schedule it is about the only place I'd recommend considering if you want to see. Otherwise, I'd say spend all your time in Tokyo and pick a couple key places you want to hit as a tourist, and a few shopping districts to just get lost in for a day.

Lastly; don't be afraid of the roads in residential areas. They don't tend to have sidewalks and both cars and people use them freely. I saw a lot of tourists hesitating to use them when we were there because of the lack of side-walks. Additionally; we fell in love with the Suica card (though the Passmo cards serve the same purpose) for ease of use in using the subways, taxis, even some convenience stores and vending machines. Helps a lot considering how common cash use is in Japan if you don't want to end up lugging around tons of change (fuck the 1 yen coin.. worse than the god damn penny).


Title: Re: Traveling to Japan-Need advice
Post by: Khaldun on January 05, 2019, 07:27:22 PM
First off, budget appropriately: the country is super-expensive.

Tokyo reminded me of New York City in this respect: it may be a better city to live in or near even than it is as a tourist destination. There are staggeringly good restaurants at almost all price levels, there are some very good museums, there are some fun shopping areas, there are some really interesting intense experiences of urban life. But it also at a certain point gets exhausting and a bit confining--a whole world that is a city, or vice-versa, and you still end up feeling like you don't know the place as much as you ought.

If your budget can stand it, consider going to Kyoto. I had two days there and it was a stellar experience, even in the horrible humidity of summer.


Title: Re: Traveling to Japan-Need advice
Post by: Big Gulp on January 10, 2019, 06:53:59 PM
If you dishonor your daimyo make sure that you're up on the proper way to commit seppuku.  Getting it wrong would be...  unfortunate.


Title: Re: Traveling to Japan-Need advice
Post by: Teleku on January 10, 2019, 08:31:38 PM
Budget is your biggest thing here.  As mentioned, Japan can be pricey (especially for hotels).

Find a place anywhere in Tokyo that looks nice and affordable to you.  Try to make sure itís near a rail station (especially a JR station if you can), and you can get to pretty much anywhere (when youíre looking at options, I'd be happy to tell you if that area is too far away from anything to be worthwhile). 

Food:
I want to emphasize, this should be your top priority in Japan.  Japan, IMO, has the single greatest eating out culture on the planet.  They go all out on even shitty restaurants to give great atmosphere, have a lot of special traditions around eating, and of course the food is amazing.  Hitting random places on the fly for lunch is fine as youíll be walking around, but make the most of your dinners.  Iíll assume you are familiar with Japanese cuisine (if not, happy to go over the top things), so just google up top places.  Actually, Schild has compiled extensive lists of places to eat for his future trip to Japan.  Hopefully he can provide some suggestions.  But again, donít skimp on food.  This includes desserts.  The Japanese go all out on cakes, pastries, ice cream, and random other things they've come up with.

Izakayas Ė On that note, one of the more unique to Japan eating out experiences is an Izakaya.  Basically a place where you will often sit on the floor in a big room or your own, and can order all sorts of small plate dishes to share as a group.  And drink a lot.  Really fun and atmospheric.  I see places in the US use the work Izakaya for their Japanese restaurant, but very very few are anything like them.  I found this article on the net to give you an idea of places to go walk at night:
https://jw-webmagazine.com/5-best-izakaya-alleys-in-tokyo-2f0720eb6454

(https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1000/1*jSYPcJNvoU8mfPIdn25hxg.jpeg)

There are alleys like that all over Tokyo (and Japan in general) just filled with tons of places.  Not just Izakayas, but Raman, Sushi, Yakitori, and any other restaurant you could want.  Have fun walking around these at night and going nuts.

Stupid theme restaurants Ė Again, Japan is all about over the top dining out experiences.  I went to a bar in Osaka one time where the entire inside was made to look like you were in a WW2 era submarine (appropriate for how cramped space can be for bars).  It might sound silly, but Japan probably has the highest concentration of over top theme bars anywhere on the planet.  To give you an example, here is another list I pulled from google, but there are plenty more than just these:

https://tokyocheapo.com/food-and-drink/tokyo-themed-restaurants/

May consider doing that one night as Iím sure the family will probably get a kick out of it.  Or just go for broke and drop $70 a person to get into the Robot Restaurant.   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLFaNX4WkZ0

:awesome_for_real:


Things to do: 
Akihabara - Your 14 year old will love this entire district, and you may get a kick out of it also.  Itís basically several major blocks of giant buildings filled with nothing but Arcades, Anime/Manga stores, hobby shops selling literally every kind of model or toy or nerd memorabilia ever made, and weird as theme cafes.  Lots of cos-players running around.  Basically nerd mecca for Japan.  Itís always amusing.

Harajuku - Fun urban district with a lot of cool cafes and hip/boutique shops.  Lots of cos-players and young Japanese people dressing to show off hanging around also.  Worth a walk through.

Temples Ė There are a number of temples through the city.  Asakusa/Sensoji is the most famous (and most tourist visited) and is pretty cool.  You can google up other major ones and visit what looks neat.  Honestly though, many other cities in Japan are better for that sort of thing (but Tokyo has a few nice ones).

Tokyo Tower Ė Go up here one night.  Great view, and unless your kid is terrified of heights, he should enjoy also.

Odaiba Ė Man-made island in the harbor.  It just has a lot of random new tech focused attractions, malls, arcades, and random things that can be fun for tourist.  Here is a random list:
https://livejapan.com/en/in-odaiba/article-a0000132/

There are also a lot of big major parks and museums, but you can google those up and pick what you want.  Those sorts of things are always very dependent of the people visiting, so youíll know better than I if the family would enjoy going to any of them.  Also a ton of famous districts like Shibuya (which has the giant crosswalk they show in every single movie about Japan ever) and Shinjuku.  Both are just big famous shopping/business/dining districts.  Lots of things like that to see around the city.

Outside of Tokyo:
I would recommend that you do spend some time outside of Tokyo.  While Tokyo is huge and there is a lot to do, I think it would be worth your time to get a break from it and see something else.  Depending on your budget, the best option would probably be to buy Shinkansen (bullet train tickets) to Kyoto and back, which takes 2 hours each way.  If you did that, Iíd probably stay 3 nights so you have two full days to explore.  If you wanted to do that, Iíll write up a whole post on Kyoto as its filled to the brim with temples and cultural stuff. 

If thatís a little too much for you, then there are some good day trips from Tokyo you guys could do.

Kamakura Ė Peninsula south of Tokyo.  Seat of one of the old shogunate rulers.  Iíve never actually made it down there, but Iíve heard a lot of nice things in terms of scenery and cool temples to visit.  Has a giant Buddha statue.

Nikko Tosho-gu Ė Located near the town of Nikko, this is where Tokugawa Ieyasu (the guy who eventually came out the victor from Japans warring states period, unified the country, and founded the Tokugawa Shogunate) is buried.  I went up there a few years back with friends on another trip, and thought it was a pretty neat shrine.  Itís actually a huge complex, with multiple temples, spread out in the woods.  Very pretty overall. 

Either way, even if just a day trip or two, I suggest you get on a train and head out to see the countryside and some of the charming and less urbanized areas of the country.


Title: Re: Traveling to Japan-Need advice
Post by: Abagadro on January 10, 2019, 08:50:49 PM
Thanks for the info.  Booked a room at the Hilton Tokyo which is in west shinjuku about 15 minutes walk from the big rail station.  Seemed like a highly recommended area for first time visitors, allowed easy travel, and is a decent hotel.

Only time I reasonably expect to make it over there for quite a while, so budget isn't really a concern.  I want to blow this out.  :awesome_for_real:

I doubt we will stay out of Tokyo but we do want to do at least a day trip out to somewhere just to experience the train and a bit of the country.


Title: Re: Traveling to Japan-Need advice
Post by: Teleku on January 10, 2019, 09:09:49 PM
So, A5-12 Wagyu every night it is then!

Also, yes, that's a nice spot.  That ally from the picture above is at Shinjuku station.  But again, there are places like that all over Tokyo.

Kamakura is less than an hour train ride.  Nikko is 2.5 hours.

Another day trip I forgot to mention is Hakone.  Its about 1.5 hours each way from Tokyo, but Hakone is a popular hot spring resort on the lake of a big lake.  Very pretty out there and another good day trip option.


Title: Re: Traveling to Japan-Need advice
Post by: Surlyboi on January 10, 2019, 11:49:57 PM
The addition of a kid kills some of the more fun places Iíd recommend, and Iím about five minutes from calling it a night but Iíll toss you some stuff to do tomorrow. Telekuís list is pretty damn solid, though.


Title: Re: Traveling to Japan-Need advice
Post by: Khaldun on January 11, 2019, 07:12:11 AM
Yeah. There's just so many good restaurants. The food in Tokyo makes you realize that you've never really eaten Japanese food in your life if you've just had it in the US, with a few exceptions. You'll want to go to at least two ramen places; definitely an izakaya or two. A full shabu-shabu service is also great. I came back from my trip just absolutely lit up about trying to cook some of what I'd eaten and I've kept exploring the cuisine ever since. I was taken at one point in a smaller city on the west coast to a little country restaurant where they brought us out these towers with little dishes in each drawer, all of them incredibly interesting and tasty. I had simple buckwheat noodles in a cleaner broth than your typical ramen at a place in Kyoto that remains one of my favorite meals anywhere. The only bad meal I had was actually a fancy one and I should have known better.

In Tokyo, the museums that I really enjoyed were the Edo-Tokyo museum (historical, about the city itself), the National Art Center (you can combine that with walking around Roppongi, which has some swanky shops and nice restaurants, and if you want, hit the Mori Art Museum in the same day, which apparently is connected with this very cool new experience called TeamLab Borderless). Also a good view up the tower, though not as amazing as Tokyo Tower. The Ghibli Museum is good, but it's a long haul out of the city center and buying a ticket can be kind of complicated, if I'm not misremembering. I wanted to go to the Bunkamura Museum and the Miraikan Museum but I didn't have time.

Akihabara was amusing, certainly. I remember not liking the Meiji Shrine very much though I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe because I saw it after I came back from Kyoto, which I just found to be one of my peak tourist experiences ever.

My Japanese friends took me to a fantastic restaurant in this newer shopping district--I don't remember the name, I think it was west of Shibuya--that was very focused on innovative/original presentations. Lots of extremely fashionable young people in the area as well as lots of young professionals with their families. Afterwards we did karaoke, the real deal--I don't think I would have tried that without local folks, because it looks and feels a bit more like going into an adult book store with little porn booths and you pretty much had to speak and read Japanese to navigate your way around in this joint. But it was hilarious fun.

I also found it just an amazing city to walk in generally. And I know this is kind of a stereotypical comment, but it's still how I felt: it's the safest I've ever felt in a big city, and I've travelled a fair amount. Every other city I've been to, it feels like you could make a mistake and walk in the wrong neighborhood--though you can usually spot the signs before you do. I'm sure there's a bad neighborhood somewhere in Tokyo, but I honestly never felt menaced or wary or worried--I never had a sense I was being shadowed or sized up. I'm sure in the crush in Shinjuku someone could pickpocket you or whatever, but still.


Title: Re: Traveling to Japan-Need advice
Post by: Teleku on January 11, 2019, 07:28:43 AM
Dude, you are the most dangerous thing walking on the street.  It was so awesome.  I'm just some tall skinny white dork studying in Japan, and when walking home at night, on coming couples would walk to the other side of the street to pass me.  Cab drivers wouldn't pick me up.  I got rolled by the cops one night in an a side ally who went through all my stuff and even every pocket of my wallet because I was suspicious.

Every time I was like "Yes!  I'm a dangerous immigrant now!  People discriminate and are afraid of me!  This is so cool!"

So yeah, that's about how dangerous Japan is.

But yeah, AGAIN, make sure you eat as much as possible.  Food and the culture/ritual around it is best in the world there.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Abagadro on January 28, 2019, 09:30:42 PM
Renaming based upon Discord discussion to general travel thread.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Rendakor on January 28, 2019, 09:40:18 PM
So, I'm getting coerced into taking a road trip from NJ to Birmingham, AL. I haven't really been to the south much, so I'm not really sure what's to do down there. We'll have the kids (11 and 9), so kid friendly stuff is good; I'd also like to hit some BBQ joints so food recommendations would be great. This is probably happening in April at some point.

I think the plan is to grab a hotel for a night somewhere halfway down the drive (so like, southwestern VA/eastern TN), so suggestions for food in that area would also be good. Anything cool that can be seen in 15-30m along the way would also be appreciated; the drive is long enough that I don't want to drag it out any longer than necessary.

General road trip tips would also be appreciated; haven't driven more than 4 hours in one shot in ages, and this looks to be about 8 hours day 1/6 hours day 2, give or take.

I do not need reasons why I should not go on this trip.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Chimpy on January 28, 2019, 10:11:10 PM
Make sure to watch Deliverance before you go to prepare you for the kind of people you will meet along the way.  :why_so_serious:


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: schild on January 28, 2019, 11:02:57 PM
So, I'm getting coerced into taking a road trip from NJ to Birmingham, AL. I haven't really been to the south much, so I'm not really sure what's to do down there. We'll have the kids (11 and 9), so kid friendly stuff is good; I'd also like to hit some BBQ joints so food recommendations would be great. This is probably happening in April at some point.

I think the plan is to grab a hotel for a night somewhere halfway down the drive (so like, southwestern VA/eastern TN), so suggestions for food in that area would also be good. Anything cool that can be seen in 15-30m along the way would also be appreciated; the drive is long enough that I don't want to drag it out any longer than necessary.

General road trip tips would also be appreciated; haven't driven more than 4 hours in one shot in ages, and this looks to be about 8 hours day 1/6 hours day 2, give or take.

I do not need reasons why I should not go on this trip.

You should go on this trip to experience the absolute fucking rock bottom of America.

You can't say you've been to America until you've had a sherman-tank sized broad with 4 teeth, a crooked smile, and a lisp explain to you in southern drawl what sort of magic sauce they use on their bbq. You can't say you've seen America until you've seen a small town at any stretch between Virginia and Alabama that looks like it's the memory of a war that was never fought.

Enjoy Interstate Dumpster Fire.

edit: Fuckit, I'll help you with southwestern VA because UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH i know Roanoke. On the way through the blue ridge mountains, stop here: White's Travel Center (https://www.whitestravelcenter.com/). It's the best gas station on the east coast for just about everything. Also, it's a great people watching place. When you hit southwest VA, I guess stop in Roanoke, as mentioned. There's nothing further southwest with hotels that won't make your skin crawl. If someone says Blacksburg, don't trust them, they're lying.

In Roanoke, if you want garbage Americana eat at Jack Brown's Beer & Burger Joint. If you want something weird and out of place, eat at Blue Ridge Burrito. Remember, these people are just on the wrong side of Appalachia, so talk low and slowly and don't bring up politics because they're all pretty fucking stupid. Anyway, if you want biscuits, Scratch.

Don't do eastern TN. That way lies racism, bigotry, and awfulness. Worse than Roanoke. Roanoke isn't actually so bad for being an unimportant nothing on the east side of the Blue Ridge.

Moving on to TN. In Knoxville, stop at Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken. Like, if you're only gonna have one chance to eat it, it's worth eating. It's not the legend it's made out to be, but it's a landmark. Or Sweet P's BBQ if you want some of that. Chattanooga actually has a shocking amount of decent food, just yelp it. Get biscuits or something.

Do not stop in Alabama until you hit Birmingham. Don't ask me why. Just trust me.

In Birmingham eat at Hattie B's (where they have a location I believe) so you can have Nashville hot chicken without having to go to Nashville. It is ALSO overrated. But again, you're not making this godawful trip again.

Otherwise, eat burgers, bbq, or fried shit. Bama cooking isn't what I'd call The Edge.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Father mike on January 29, 2019, 10:24:32 AM
Do not stop in Alabama until you hit Birmingham. Don't ask me why. Just trust me.

In Birmingham eat at Hattie B's (where they have a location I believe) so you can have Nashville hot chicken without having to go to Nashville. It is ALSO overrated. But again, you're not making this godawful trip again.

Otherwise, eat burgers, bbq, or fried shit. Bama cooking isn't what I'd call The Edge.
Chattanooga to Bham is a straight shot down I-59.  No reason to stop but gas.

Hattie B's is incredibly overrated.  But if you're travelling with kids, they do have plain chicken fingers.

In Brimingham, there's several notable places to hit.  Notable, not amazing.

Milo's Burgers -- it's just a hamburger with chili powder in the ground beef before cooking, but it's a local institution.  Their sweet tea is bottled diabetes.

Dreamland BBQ -- used to be famous for having a server walk up and tell you how many ribs he was going to bring you, no argument.  Menu consisted of pork ribs, wonderbread, and sweet tea.  Operates a bit more like a normal bbq place these days.

Full Moon BBQ -- lots of folks love it, but I was never overwhelmed.  never had a bad meal there either, tho.

Jim 'n' Nicks BBQ -- a decent lunch stop on your way to something.  Wouldn't try to build an evening around eating there.

Highland Bar and Grill -- $$$$, but excellent

Tourist stuff includes the Vulcan Statue, Bham Zoo, a decent kids Science museum, and the botanical gardens are very nice.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: schild on January 29, 2019, 10:31:38 AM
I like that Father mike's post is literally just a very specific way of agreeing with me.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Father mike on January 29, 2019, 10:36:24 AM
Completely, I just provided some specifics


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Rendakor on January 29, 2019, 02:32:10 PM
Appreciate the suggestions, thanks!


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: justdave on January 29, 2019, 04:43:25 PM
You know that when a truck stop is on a list of sites to hit along the way, mistakes have been made somewhere.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: schild on January 29, 2019, 05:23:23 PM
You know that when a truck stop is on a list of sites to hit along the way, mistakes have been made somewhere.

Whites is pretty fantastic. It's no Buccees but it's pretty good. Or at least it used to be.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Chimpy on January 29, 2019, 05:57:15 PM
You know that when a truck stop is on a list of sites to hit along the way, mistakes have been made somewhere.

 :Love_Letters:


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Mandella on January 31, 2019, 03:09:24 PM
Don't forget to visit the statue of Vulcan in Birmingham, especially if you watched American Gods.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulcan_statue


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Draegan on February 02, 2019, 11:15:27 AM
I'll be in bermingham in a few weeks. Thanks for the tips.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on February 04, 2019, 10:26:57 AM
I don't know the larger area well, but I have been to Chattanooga a few times. For non-food recommendations, Rock City is a nice tourist attraction if you like rocks and cliffs and shit like I do.

I can't recommend BBQ with confidence. Everyone who enjoys or recommends it has their own tastes and biases. If you know what yours are... well, it doesn't matter because outside of chains like Jim n Nick's you're just going to get what they have. I'll stop at any building selling BBQ, though, just to try it.

When I eat at Jim n Nick's lately, I have been getting anything with the Carolina sauce.

I'm leaving for Iceland in less than two weeks. I can answer questions after that.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Chimpy on February 06, 2019, 06:03:03 PM
Quick question for you guys that have traveled to Japan:

Should I take the exchange fee bite and grab 5000-10000 Yen at the currency exchange place before I fly there to have some on hand, or can I expect to be able to just hit up an ATM at the airport like I always have when I have traveled to other places overseas?

I am leaving for Sapporo in two weeks.  :drillf:





Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on February 06, 2019, 07:23:16 PM
You can use the ATM's, but for some reason Japanese banks have always been sort bad about taking US ATM cards compared to other developed nations in my travels.  Some do, but you will run into several that don't.

But have no fear, Japan's post office is also its largest bank.  Every single post office has a post office ATM, and those always take US ATM cards.  And they have post offices everywhere.

So if all else fails, just look for this symbol on google maps or buildings near you:

(https://usercontent1.hubstatic.com/6366546.png)



Edit:  And regardless, you should be able to just use whatever at the airport on arrival.  I've had zero problems there, usually.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Chimpy on February 06, 2019, 08:21:13 PM
Arigatou, Teleku-san.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on February 08, 2019, 11:44:29 AM
Ok, two things to add.  Further Japan travel advice, and my own questions.

I KNOW I've gone off about this in other threads and in discord, but hey, it's now an official generic travel advice thread, so let's get it written in stone.

For all of you looking to travel to Japan, one of the coolest souvenir things I think you can do is Goshuinchou.  Which is buying a special little blank notebook (which is actually made to unfold like an accordion so you can show all the pages) and present it to the monks at every temple you arrive at.  For a small fee of usually about 300 yen ($3), a calligraphy master will do a big awesome calligraphy drawing of the current date into your book, and stamp the temple unique stamp over it.  You're going to visit the temples anyways, and many tourist don't know about this, so do yourself a favor and grab some.  Hell, they'll write it on special pieces of papers and sell it to you if you donít want the awesome notebook.  But it's a totally unique souvenir to get and I think one of the greatest momento's you can bring back with you vs other standard tourist shit.

Some examples from my last trip where I played a real life game of Tokaido:
(https://i.imgur.com/9UyVbbW.jpg)

(https://i.imgur.com/wFIF0yI.jpg)

Just fricken do it if you are walking around and seeing any temples at all.  Better momento than you will find anywhere, and the 'gotta catch em all' aspect will eventual get to you.


Now, for the second part.  I have decreed that Iím not just going to spend my entire time with my family when Iím on home leave this summer.  This may sound bad, but my last few times back Iíve been dragged around between all my family members desperate to see me, and Iíve had no time for myself.  Iím forcing myself to take 1 - 1.5 weeks at the end of my home leave as I make my way back to DC for training to see some of America.

SOME TIME IN THE MIDDLE OF JULY.  My boring but basic plan right now is to fly to Vegaís, so I can eat stupid things and gamble stupid things.  Then maybe to Austin because Schild never stops talking about the food.  After that, I donít know.  Chicago?  Utah (I do love the National Parks)?  Florida(hahahahaha)?  Anywhere else somebody can convince me? 

I have to do two weeks in DC for manditory training and meetings before I run back into the jungle to disappear from life and die from curry overdose.  Happy to hear suggestions.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Polysorbate80 on February 08, 2019, 12:04:49 PM
Quick question for you guys that have traveled to Japan:

Should I take the exchange fee bite and grab 5000-10000 Yen at the currency exchange place before I fly there to have some on hand, or can I expect to be able to just hit up an ATM at the airport like I always have when I have traveled to other places overseas?

I am leaving for Sapporo in two weeks.  :drillf:


Seems to me you'll be paying the exchange fee anyway, as well as the ATM/cash advance fees?

I plan to head down to the local bank branch in May to order maybe $3000 of Yuan before I hit China in June.  My credit cards don't tack on foreign transaction fees, but since it's a group tour hotels are prepaid and there may not be a lot of other chances to pay anything by card since China's apparently pretty much a cash economy.

Meals are also included in the package, but if they keep it too tame I'm going rogue on dinner plans.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on February 08, 2019, 12:13:18 PM
Neat.  Where will you be going in China?


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Polysorbate80 on February 08, 2019, 12:38:59 PM
The typical Beijing/Xi'an/Shanghai "golden triangle" tour.  I'm going along with my daughter and the local high school student group.

Ordinarily I hate tour groups; I find the scheduling a little stifling and prefer more flexibility in my travel plans but it'll be good regardless.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Trippy on February 08, 2019, 01:17:31 PM
I plan to head down to the local bank branch in May to order maybe $3000 of Yuan before I hit China in June.  My credit cards don't tack on foreign transaction fees, but since it's a group tour hotels are prepaid and there may not be a lot of other chances to pay anything by card since China's apparently pretty much a cash economy.
Actually it's all a WeChat Pay economy now so good luck buying anything without it :awesome_for_real:


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Chimpy on February 08, 2019, 04:48:35 PM
SOME TIME IN THE MIDDLE OF JULY.  My boring but basic plan right now is to fly to Vegaís, so I can eat stupid things and gamble stupid things.  Then maybe to Austin because Schild never stops talking about the food.  After that, I donít know.  Chicago?  Utah (I do love the National Parks)?  Florida(hahahahaha)?  Anywhere else somebody can convince me? 

Chicago will be fucking miserably hot and muggy (well, maybe not as much as it will be in DC) in mid July. But there is always a lot to do in the summer there. If you do decide to visit, let me know and I can get info about what the best restaurants are from a crazy foodie guy I work with that lives up there.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Samwise on February 08, 2019, 04:58:55 PM
I would recommend New Orleans, but... July.   :ye_gods:


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: schild on February 08, 2019, 06:27:16 PM
We've got a room in Austin with enough advance notice.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Strazos on February 08, 2019, 08:16:24 PM
I'm sure we can do whatever you'd want to do when you're in DC.

I also fully endorse going to Vegas. And even though Chicago will have shit weather, maybe catch a Cubs game?

I'm generally not a fan of summer in general - most of my hobbies and interests are either weather-independent, or are winter sports.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Abagadro on February 08, 2019, 09:11:04 PM
Where can you buy the cool temple stamp notebooks?


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Brolan on February 08, 2019, 09:14:24 PM
In July?  How about Colorado?  Rocky Mountain National Park, Mesa Verde, Pike's Peak, Garden of the Gods, Royal Gorge bridge, and the US Air Force Academy come to mind.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on February 08, 2019, 10:10:24 PM
Where can you buy the cool temple stamp notebooks?
If you go to any major temple, they'll be selling them at the same area you can get them printed in.  Also all over at various books stores and where ever as well, but the temples all sell them.  It's easy peasy, and again, I think one of the cooler and unique souvenirs you can bring back.
In July?  How about Colorado?  Rocky Mountain National Park, Mesa Verde, Pike's Peak, Garden of the Gods, Royal Gorge bridge, and the US Air Force Academy come to mind.
That's actually very tempting.  When I was in third grade we did a family vacation for two weeks across the western US hitting almost all the national parks.  Hit most of those and would love to go back.  Unfortunately, I think I just have to prioritize some urban exploring this time around.  There are many great cities in the US I haven't seen, while I live in rural jungle country where I go on amazing hikes all the time anyways (or fly to Japan and spend thousands of dollars for the privilege of trying to kill myself hiking 25 km a day through very steep mountains on the same path insane mountain worshiping Buddhist did).  I'm just going to fly into some place and stay for 2-3 nights, not sure I'd really have all the time I need to go out and do all that.

On that note, thanks for all the suggestions everybody.  I'll have at least a week for travel, but I hope more.  To me, this means probably fly to Vegas, fly to Austin, and then with time, hit a third place before going to DC.  Both Chicago and New Orleans are great suggestions, as I've always wanted to see both.  I've been around New England so would probably skip something there, but I've only ever spent about 8 hours running around NY.  Wouldn't mind also going to see that crazy place with more time on my hands.  Hmmmm. 

You all also need to remember I literally live in the jungle, so humidity it just whatever to me, not going to avoid it.  Especially since I'll be moving to a place even more humid after I leave here.   :awesome_for_real:


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Abagadro on February 08, 2019, 10:47:32 PM
If you don't mind heat (and it would be a dry heat), the National Parks in Utah are great and could be a bridge between Vegas and Austin.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: cironian on February 09, 2019, 04:10:19 AM
Heading to Japan myself for 2.5 weeks in April (2 weeks in Tokyo with a 4 day trip to Kyoto in the middle), so this thread has been super helpful so far. Keep em coming!

My current  idea to not be overwhelmed by the thousands of things that I might do is to plan out every other day to check off sights in a certain district, with the days in between for free roaming.

I still get the feeling I'm not going to get to see anywhere near everything I want to, so making the most of it with details like that temple notebook is great.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Chimpy on February 09, 2019, 07:45:13 AM
While the temple notebook looks cool, I wonít be visiting any temples in my trip as I am going to be skiing pretty much the whole time. I guess there is probably a temple in Sapporo I could visit on my one free day but I probably will miss it.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on February 11, 2019, 12:46:23 PM
I'm going to recommend Yellowstone in July. It might not be snowing at that time, and it ranges from incredible to mind-boggling, if you're into nature at all.

Good luck with the reservations, though. You won't get anything for 2019.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Brolan on February 11, 2019, 08:43:50 PM
Yellowstone traffic is epic in July and August.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on February 12, 2019, 01:40:03 AM
While the temple notebook looks cool, I wonít be visiting any temples in my trip as I am going to be skiing pretty much the whole time. I guess there is probably a temple in Sapporo I could visit on my one free day but I probably will miss it.
Yeah, I figured as much based on what you said.  Just wanted to throw it out there for anybody who is visiting.

Seeing some of the national parks in that region (Utah, Colorado, Yellowstone) is really tempting.  I'll have to think it over, and also see if its even possible (I know reservations can be a bitch).  The logistics just may be to tricky for my time frame, but I'll see what options I have.

In other travel news, I'll be heading to Ethopia and Kenya for my official R&R to visit some friends the last week of March.  We're going to try to go see Erta Ale, doing this fun tour:

http://www.ethiotravelandtours.com/tours/danakil-03-days/


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on February 12, 2019, 12:26:35 PM
Yellowstone traffic is epic in July and August.

I'd expect so.  I went during the first week of June and it was tolerable. Only some snow, varying by location within the park.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Khaldun on February 14, 2019, 10:26:28 AM
The bad traffic in Yellowstone is concentrated on the loop between Gardiner and Canyon Village and then the big loop that goes from the lake around to the exit to West Yellowstone and back up to Gardiner. If you go down from Canyon Village to Tower Junction and then down the Lamar Valley, that's not so bad. The road from the lake out to Cody WY is also much less crowded, and Cody itself is kind of an interesting town. (Rodeo many nights in the high summer.)


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: rattran on February 14, 2019, 11:07:29 AM
Denver in July is pretty nifty, I've got a foodie friend for suggestions if you end up there. Best part of my travels are June/July in Colorado for all the parks/hiking, and Denver for food. And legal recreational pot for the wife.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Hoax on February 16, 2019, 06:50:59 PM
SOME TIME IN THE MIDDLE OF JULY.  My boring but basic plan right now is to fly to Vegaís, so I can eat stupid things and gamble stupid things.  Then maybe to Austin because Schild never stops talking about the food.  After that, I donít know.  Chicago?  Utah (I do love the National Parks)?  Florida(hahahahaha)?  Anywhere else somebody can convince me? 

I have to do two weeks in DC for manditory training and meetings before I run back into the jungle to disappear from life and die from curry overdose.  Happy to hear suggestions.

I think Colorado is a winning suggestion it even makes sense or could be a road trip from Vegas before Austin. But thanks to Netflix I kind of want you to go to the Lake of the Ozarks...


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Khaldun on February 24, 2019, 09:29:50 AM
As long as this has become the general travel thread, here's a question:

1. Which place that you thought would be really great turned out to be seriously disappointing?
2. Which place that you had no expectations of liking turned out to be great?


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: schild on February 24, 2019, 12:18:34 PM
As long as this has become the general travel thread, here's a question:

1. Which place that you thought would be really great turned out to be seriously disappointing?

France. Specifically Paris. Whole place blows. The people are worse than anyone could even begin to say. If it weren't for the art, I'd consider it a flyover country.

Quote
2. Which place that you had no expectations of liking turned out to be great?

North Vancouver.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Hawkbit on February 24, 2019, 02:23:29 PM
North Vancouver.

Why? We didn't venture up that way, ran out of time. Now I feel like we missed a good opportunity. My only complaint about Vancouver is they don't do Lyft/Uber and public transportation was very poor in off hours. Otherwise it is a pretty cool place.

My disappointing trip was Portland. I'm used to navigating around the homeless in Seattle, but the homeless there is on an entirely new level. We wanted to hit the food trucks and breweries in the Pearl but there was so much food and trash all over the street that I couldn't actually get hungry enough to go do it. So we ended up staying only at the breweries where there was a 2+ hour wait to get in.

I did not expect to like the Oregon Coast as much as I do now. I appreciate the little pockets of liberalism in the middle of the country on the coast. Too cold and powerful to swim, but I could spend the rest of my life on those beaches.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: schild on February 24, 2019, 04:05:36 PM
Yeah, Portland can't get over being a dump. They need to stop assuming gentrification is a slur. Though, prices are going up even though it's got its shitty parts.

As for North Vancouver - the people. the food, the general feel of the place. It all came together just right. There's nothing notably unique about it like "oh boy the museums changed errything."


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Khaldun on February 24, 2019, 06:41:07 PM
In Portland environs, though, I loved Hood River OR. Not sure why exactly. Felt like it was just enough of a place to like it for itself, but also to like it for what it was near.

I'll extend the North Vancouver: I fucking LOVED the Sunshine Coast further up. I don't know exactly why: it just lit up everything in my head. At the level of, "I would live here if I had the $$$ when I was done working".

I am always surprised at how much I don't like New York City now, even though it's objectively more inhabitable than it was when I was a young person. It annoys me for reasons I can't fully articulate.

I sort of hear what Schild is saying about Paris though I do actually love a lot of it. I love the interior south of France, not the coastal south which is trash for trash rich people.

I did not like Berlin at all on two visits. I am prepared to be told I fucked up, though.

I used to love Yosemite when I was a kid. I fucking hate it now. No fault on the place itself per se but fuck it is so awfully mismanaged that I can't love it really.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: schild on February 24, 2019, 08:57:15 PM
I'll extend the North Vancouver: I fucking LOVED the Sunshine Coast further up. I don't know exactly why: it just lit up everything in my head. At the level of, "I would live here if I had the $$$ when I was done working".

I have said the exact same thing. I've never had an answer for "why." I don't even like nature.

Quote
I sort of hear what Schild is saying about Paris though I do actually love a lot of it. I love the interior south of France, not the coastal south which is trash for trash rich people.

I realize it's absurd to say "if you remove the fine art portion of culture" in any sort of sentence about a city as old as Paris, but without the fine art, I find none of France palatable. Yes, the art is ingrained in the culture, and yes I loved it, but I hated every last wretched bit of everything else.

Fuck I've even had better French food outside of France than in France. Of course, there's also the whole "Japan literally does French food better than the people that trained them." Again, have not been there yet, but I fully believe it, they do everything better.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: lamaros on February 24, 2019, 09:29:15 PM
I'm with schild on France. I've been a few times now to different places, coast, Paris, driving around the interior. Nothing has ever really clicked for me. Even Corsica is mostly a bore.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on February 24, 2019, 10:35:09 PM
Yeah, it just doesn't do much for me either.  Compared to every single other country around it, it just seems to have the most bland towns.  Only exception is when I went out to Alsace for a week.  Really beautiful towns and countryside with amazing wine.  But that's probably also because the people a hybrid French/German cultural group and the towns all look German.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Zetor on February 25, 2019, 12:13:05 AM
I'm pretty sure my choices mean I'm broken in some way... that, or incurably Eastern European :awesome_for_real:. Anyway:

Disappointing: Los Angeles -- it just didn't do anything for me despite having a friend who's been living there for 10+ years show me around. I enjoyed NYC (especially Brooklyn), San Diego, and even Minneapolis WAY more.

Unexpectedly great: Ottawa. I probably lucked out by visiting it around Canadian Thanksgiving, but it just felt... pleasant? Even with the Rideau Centre being a bit on the eldritch side with its strange angles and non-Euclidean passageways. That said, I haven't been to any other Canadian cities, so yeah. One of my friends who moved to Vancouver said a lot of great things about that place, I should probably visit one day...


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Cyrrex on February 25, 2019, 01:18:51 AM
I motherfucking LOVED Rome the one time I went there for a 3 day weekend.  The sense of history I got there was just overwhelming.  There is all of the obvious stuff to see, but then you walk into some random, empty church and find something nearly on par with the shit they have in the Vatican.

The Vatican itself....I mean, you gotta do it while you're there, but it is a big hassle, there are a trillion people moving about in a swarm, and the whole experience ends up feeling a bit hollow.  The kind of place you'd want to experience in a more peaceful setting, impossible as that may be.



Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: NowhereMan on February 25, 2019, 03:35:10 AM
Not sure if this was covered with my skim reading but for travel abroad: Transferwise offers their own debit card that permits you to basically use their platform for direct card payments overseas in the local currency. I think revolut offer similar (and I'm sure there are others too) but I've had experience with Transferwise and it works well.

Basically transfer money from your bank to your Trasnferwise account (which is then available for you to use on the card). My advice would be keep it in your home currency unless you're expecting some kind of exchange rate collapse, if the currency isn't one you can sell on their platform you won't be able to change it back as well (say, if buying Chinese RMB) so you can avoid having foreign money left at the end of a trip.

It's a mastercard type debit card in the UK at least, so usable pretty much everywhere. They do charge for ATM withdrawals but in the civilised world where we don't use cash anymore, it's amazing for travelling. With decent internet home banking you can also top up the account at any time, free of charge.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Chimpy on February 25, 2019, 04:35:17 AM
All of my credit cards give me the spot exchange rate at time of purchase on foreign transactions and my bank only charges a 1% exchange charge for foreign ATM withdrawals.

Are banks in the UK charging asinine exchange rates to their customers or something?


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on February 25, 2019, 07:54:09 AM
Yeah, that bares repeating.  If you have any sort of travel card (not some cheap shit one they hand to college students) from the US, you can literally use it anywhere.  I've used my Chase Sapphire Reserve in random places across Laos, Cambodia, and the Philippines, and if they have the ability to take a credit card (that's the bigger challenge) it will work.  The given exchange rate is always pretty spot on as well.

Is this a brexit thing?   :awesome_for_real:


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Strazos on February 25, 2019, 06:31:56 PM
Most disappointing - Los Angeles, but we were really only there for a day anyway. Big swaths of downtown were dead in the evening.

Most surprising - either Tucson AZ or Minneapolis MN. It was not difficult at all to have a good time in either.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Khaldun on February 25, 2019, 06:43:12 PM
LA is definitely a "live there or you won't get it" place. I don't think it's a good tourist destination.

My sibling freaking loved Laos and hated Vietnam, which I thought was interesting, because I really trust his gut reactions.

I still have great affection for Chicago after some years since I lived there. I think you can spend a great weekend or week there.

I want to go back to the Okefenokee Swamp--my sibling and I went on kayaks through there a while back and had a great 3+ days.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Khaldun on February 25, 2019, 06:46:11 PM
Oh, also, I love camping at Acadia National Park, because it's really not camping--there's a town with good food, you can eat lobster every night in camp if you want for $2/lb, it's beautiful, there's great hikes, it's the best.

We hated the White Mountains, in contrast. That's for people who really want to climb on ropes or whatever up a shitty piece of granite that the West Coast mountain ranges would call "a boulder that fell off the real mountain" and the towns around are fucking shit and it's just no fun at all.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Brolan on February 25, 2019, 10:58:52 PM
We actually loved France.  Stayed a few miles north of Paris and got to know the locals.  Put in the time to learn to speak some French and learn how the they like to communicate.  The only issue we had was one really rude waitress in Paris.

I can't say I've ever really been disappointed in a new place i have travelled to, there is always something unique and interesting to do. You just need to research or ask the locals to find it.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on February 26, 2019, 12:29:34 PM
Since I don't get my hopes up before a trip, I generally am not disappointed. This is just a expectation-management technique. I use it for games as well.

I liked Iceland a lot more than I thought I would.

I spent two days tromping around Paris (walked over 13 miles). I am not an art lover in the art-degree sense, and found the Louvre impressive/interesting for all the wrong reasons. The painting on the opposite wall from the Mona Lisa was quite engaging and I suspect was put there on purpose to highlight what a joke the Mona Lisa is.

About food in Paris, I assume that depends entirely on which restaurant you duck into. My experience was basically the discovery of good bread with everything else being simply decent. Notre Dame was overhyped (I've been in A LOT of cathedrals). Gypsies with clipboards are annoying.

The Parisians themselves are probably the most controversial part of the whole "did you like Paris" question. My personal experience was fantastic but of course I did the whole "Bonjour!" thing and - as previously stated - have low expectations of any person's reaction to me. I'd rate all the Parisians that I interacted with as "very friendly". Contrast with Germany....

Haven't been many places in France but Strasbourg was super nice.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Khaldun on February 26, 2019, 09:16:00 PM
I like Chartres much better than Notre Dame, for example, and it's in striking range of Paris.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: NowhereMan on February 27, 2019, 01:26:48 PM
All of my credit cards give me the spot exchange rate at time of purchase on foreign transactions and my bank only charges a 1% exchange charge for foreign ATM withdrawals.

Are banks in the UK charging asinine exchange rates to their customers or something?

Exchange rate isn't too bad with bank cards (probably comparable with Transferwise) but there's a non-sterling transaction fee for every single transaction. So paying 2 Euros for a coffee can cost a similar amount in transfer fees. It's fine if you're happy to just take out a large amount of money from an ATM and stick to cash but I feel a lot safer having money on a card and know I won't get hit with extra charges if I need more. The ATM fees with it are the same (I'm guessing because most countries' banks charge them) but for cashless payments it's just cheaper. Over the course of a whole trip it's probably not a huge difference but I prefer it to carrying around a lot of local currency or (far worse) going through local exchange places.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Chimpy on February 27, 2019, 02:54:33 PM
So your banks suck worse than ours? Wow.

I have never seen a US card that charged a flat rate for foreign transaction fees. The worst cards might charge a low percentage (1-3%) on every transaction but usually it is just they give an unfavorable exchange rate rather than the market rate.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Samwise on February 27, 2019, 05:15:44 PM
1. Which place that you thought would be really great turned out to be seriously disappointing?
2. Which place that you had no expectations of liking turned out to be great?

1. Washington, D.C..  Not that I had super high expectations for it, but I'd rather go back to Paris than D.C., and my opinion of Paris largely mirrors those expressed above.
2. Athens.  Everyone tells you to skip Athens when you go to Greece, but I loved it.  After the crisis it's still in that stage of economic recovery before the hipsters and artists get displaced by yuppie scum.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on February 27, 2019, 07:13:02 PM
Interesting.  I'm not going to say DC as a whole is something amazing, but I do really enjoy it.  The monuments and museums in the core area are beautiful, and there are several area's now where you can go find all the hipster restaurant/bars you could want.  It's also funny hearing from the other side.  I've known a number of people in Europe I've worked with (local staff) who have gotten to travel to DC for work, who have told me its one of their most favorite cities in the world.  That made me chuckle, but I guess it all depends on where you are coming from.



Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Chimpy on February 28, 2019, 03:53:25 AM
They love it because they can be those shitheads we all hate with the fucking diplomatic license plates. (Anyone who has ever lived  in the DC metro area will know what I mean.)

I think the biggest ďlet downĒ was probably Venice. I came out of t realizing it just is a sinking city in a sewer.

Biggest ďbetter than I expectedĒ is definitely Salt Lake City. Outside of the shit around Temple Square, I never really even noticed the Mormon stuff.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on March 04, 2019, 09:38:36 AM
There are a lot of places which are great for a visit but would be terrible to live in. This applies to most places I've been, not that my homestead is without flaws. A great example in my case is Budapest.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Zetor on March 04, 2019, 11:29:33 AM
There are a lot of places which are great for a visit but would be terrible to live in. This applies to most places I've been, not that my homestead is without flaws. A great example in my case is Budapest.
Can confirm. Spent like 1/2 of 2015 abroad holding workshops etc in US/Canada/Sweden/Finland/Germany/Israel/Italy/UK, all of those places were significantly superior.

Self-deprecation and self-loathing are the #2 and #3 national sports in Hungary (#1 is of course 'tax evasion'). Also, read stanzas 4-5-6-7-8 of our anthem (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himnusz#Lyrics) and tell me it's not straight out of some 1990s goth emo song.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on March 06, 2019, 07:25:57 AM
One signal that a country is awful is if your software development contractors live there.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on March 06, 2019, 07:26:58 AM
Barely advice, but I'm slowly posting Iceland pictures with terse comments on Instagram/FB.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Cyrrex on March 06, 2019, 07:39:48 AM
Terse comments....?  It sounds like you are angry at Iceland.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Paelos on March 06, 2019, 10:21:42 AM
Booked cruise on Royal Caribbean. It will be my 3rd. Done Carnival and Norwegian.

Anybody with regular cruise experience want to tip me off about what to do in Nassau and/or how not to get robbed apparently? The state department seems to have raised the warnings on that place.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on March 06, 2019, 11:14:53 AM
Funny, was just reading a diplomatic security dispatch saying in the last month in Nassau an embassy employee was robbed at gun point, and a local staff member was also taken hostage at their house temporarily.  Wonder if thats related.   :awesome_for_real:

I am actually curious what people think about cruises.  It was something that seemed like it would be amazing when I was 8, but now sort of associate it with an old persons thing to do.  Some people have raved about it to me though. 


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Paelos on March 06, 2019, 11:42:09 AM
On the two I've done, I've had a great time. You can basically get an all-inclusive floating resort if you get the packages on the ship for around $250 per person per day on a 7 day cruise, and hit 3-4 ports. And in many cases you can get a nice balcony room for that price in the off-season.

Are there old people? Yes, however it's becoming a younger person's way to travel due to the low cost and the easy access of alcohol compared to going to an island resort. If you go when school is out of session you'll see a ton of younger people and families. If you go when it's in session, the prices will be much lower, and you'll get more retirees.

What I love about it is you unpack once, you don't have to deal with "resort fees" and airline travel all over the place, and you can choose how fancy you want to make your dinners. Want the buffet all the time and go casual? Go for it. Want a more upscale dining experience? Do the Main Dining Room. Want the premium experience, do the specialty dining restaurants on board and pay a little more.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Reg on March 06, 2019, 04:04:43 PM
One of my university friends is doing cruises in his retirement. He has a condo in Ottawa but he spends 6-8 months of the year especially the winter on cruise ships. I think I'd come to hate it myself but he's been doing it a few years and is happy with it.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Trippy on March 06, 2019, 05:07:15 PM
I am actually curious what people think about cruises.  It was something that seemed like it would be amazing when I was 8, but now sort of associate it with an old persons thing to do.  Some people have raved about it to me though. 
The average age of cruise ship passengers has dropped significantly and cruise ship designs and excursion packages have changed to match. Google images/videos of the Royal Caribbean "Oasis of the Seas" to see how things have changed to appeal to younger people now.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Samwise on March 06, 2019, 05:23:42 PM
I've set a goal for myself of doing one of the Norwegian transatlantic cruises the next time I'm between jobs.  They seem ludicrously cheap as long as you don't have to factor in time missed from work.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: schild on March 06, 2019, 11:03:45 PM
I am actually curious what people think about cruises.  It was something that seemed like it would be amazing when I was 8, but now sort of associate it with an old persons thing to do.  Some people have raved about it to me though. 
Check out the Celebrity Edge.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on March 07, 2019, 08:42:30 PM
Terse comments....?

"sparing in the use of words"
Are you on my Instagram or FB? Still posting pics at a trickle. You'll see I'm not angry at Iceland, and in fact am all over its knob.

Cruises suck and people who love them are orthogonal to my thought processes and existence.  Well... sure, I can appreciate a buffet of any quality. I'm also really good at spending ALL NIGHT at the blackjack table. However, the last several cruises have been less and less interesting. The Alaska cruise with Princess was great except for everything within the ship. Meaning AK was super awesome, evident on my Instagram perhaps.

We were being tailed by a SWEET looking Norwegian ship. Might try that next.

In fact, that was the worst cruise I've been on, after a steady decrease in quality.  The buffet actually closed, the casino was smaller than a Chuck-E-Cheese, the food was MEH, the activities were pretty shitty. I am going to try to avoid boarding a Princess boat ever again. My first 2 or 3 cruises, I remember being able to abandon my wife at any hour to snack on the buffet, smoke a cigar, or drink too much whiskey. Not so this time. This was the Ruby Princess, which I called the Rubby Princess.

Ultimately I've found something lacking on every cruise I've been on, even the Disney ship. However tickets are really cheap so give it a try, maybe you won't get sick or bored.

Nassau. Wife took a cruise there last year without me, didn't get robbed. We are kinda into pirate shit and I believe she had a decent time in a short excursion. How to not get robbed? I don't know, keep your main shit in a strap under your shirt? Don't duck down alleys?  I'm possibly going to get robbed one day, might have more pointers then.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Chimpy on March 07, 2019, 09:16:35 PM
I don't do cruises. I am not a fan of contracting norovirus  :why_so_serious:


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on March 07, 2019, 09:24:58 PM
That's really not the worst of it if you find the buffet is closed.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Brolan on March 07, 2019, 09:27:15 PM
I've taken one cruise on the Celebrity Summit, which is one of their oldest and smallest ships.  

I enjoyed myself, but my wife and I sometimes felt a little cooped up on the ship. We liked the food and the balcony cabin we had.  The shows and activities on the ship were so-so.

I would do it again, my wife not so much.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Zetor on March 07, 2019, 11:51:25 PM
My best friend from highschool / university is a musician on a ship of the Holland America Line. The things he told me didn't exactly inspire me to go on cruises in general.

Though obviously what happens below deck stays below deck. :grin:


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on March 08, 2019, 08:10:23 AM
Potential new destination hit the radar today: http://www.americansouthwest.net/new_mexico/bisti_badlands/index.html


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Paelos on March 08, 2019, 08:42:07 AM
Cruises suck and people who love them are orthogonal to my thought processes and existence. 
...
Nassau. Wife took a cruise there last year without me, didn't get robbed. We are kinda into pirate shit and I believe she had a decent time in a short excursion. How to not get robbed? I don't know, keep your main shit in a strap under your shirt? Don't duck down alleys?  I'm possibly going to get robbed one day, might have more pointers then.

I like the snark and you used a word I've never heard of. Kudos.

I am also into pirate shit which is the only reason I'm getting off the ship in Nassau. I want to go to Pirate Republic Brewing, drink flights of beer, and get stupid Pirate swag to take home. I feel I can do this without getting held up at gunpoint in the morning, but beyond that it's a shitty stop which is why I asked.

My proclivity to cruise over other forms of travel is the cost given my CPA cheapness. Also the fact that I love the Caribbean but can't stand the constant price gouging. I want to pay once, but the all-inclusives there have gotten to the point where you're paying $6k for a week on the lowest level of rooms in a decent all-inclusive resort. And that's not even counting the flights. Fuck that.



Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on March 08, 2019, 08:56:11 AM
Ah, yes, Caribbean. We have managed to get our fill of the islands for now, cruising through the Keys twice and random other ports-of-call. Plus a nice week in Belize. Cruises are indeed cheap, but then you end up paying in other ways. However we are considering a Norwegian cruise meaning a cruise up the coast of Norway (since we didn't see aurora in Iceland), and I don't regret the AK cruise.

Cancun doesn't count as Caribbean, since that's the one trip where we go as a couple to decompress and let staff wait on us while we get soused in the pool.

If you like pirate shit: https://piratepalooza.com/
The Pirate rabbit-hole goes surprisingly deep in the ATL.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on March 08, 2019, 08:59:38 AM
Next up for us is Jekyll Island. Activities and length of stay TBD.

After that is a school trip to Barcelona, Monaco, and Florence.

I'm still not sure what is going on with the family trip to Ireland. My wife refuses to plan it, which means the idiots are floundering and might not get it set up properly. I think I'd be fine staying home.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Samwise on March 08, 2019, 12:03:29 PM
However tickets are really cheap so give it a try, maybe you won't get sick or bored.

I take it as a given that if I went on a cruise I'd be bringing projects to work on that I want to do but have been otherwise unable to motivate myself to carve out time for.  I can see a couple of weeks of enforced boredom at sea being a great way to get shit done.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Paelos on March 08, 2019, 12:49:17 PM
If you like pirate shit: https://piratepalooza.com/
The Pirate rabbit-hole goes surprisingly deep in the ATL.

Amazing! I'll have to check that out, it's near my house. Also I'm hanging a Jolly Rodger on the house this weekend because I'm that guy.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on March 11, 2019, 02:19:14 PM
It is pretty easy to get yourself invited into the Nocturnal Pirates of Atlanta, and once you do, you'll be able to walk in lots of parades and attend regional events with like-minded individuals. We don't have the time just now but once we get rid of the boy, we plan to get more involved.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: justdave on March 11, 2019, 10:04:43 PM
However tickets are really cheap so give it a try, maybe you won't get sick or bored.

I take it as a given that if I went on a cruise I'd be bringing projects to work on that I want to do but have been otherwise unable to motivate myself to carve out time for.  I can see a couple of weeks of enforced boredom at sea being a great way to get shit done.

I can'st help but feel that thou art Doing It Wrong.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on March 12, 2019, 12:39:40 PM
I don't really know Samwise IRL but from what little I gather, he's not a cruise man.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: 01101010 on March 12, 2019, 12:55:12 PM
Dunno, my friend went on a board game cruise and fleshed out her idea for the game she is creating, so it might help with projects.  :why_so_serious:


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on March 12, 2019, 01:09:27 PM
Ah, I suppose themed cruises are a different animal. That's how my wife met Thomas Dolby and the drummer from Berlin. I've only been on plain ones with normals.

On a separate themed trip, she and a friend dressed as female Bill & Ted and were surprised by a very excited Diane Franklin.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Samwise on March 12, 2019, 01:43:21 PM
I don't really know Samwise IRL but from what little I gather, he's not a cruise man.

From everything I've heard of the "activities" on board a cruise it sounds terrible, but I like being on boats so I figure I could just ignore all that stuff.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Paelos on March 12, 2019, 02:20:24 PM
I don't really know Samwise IRL but from what little I gather, he's not a cruise man.

From everything I've heard of the "activities" on board a cruise it sounds terrible, but I like being on boats so I figure I could just ignore all that stuff.

I've done everything on cruises, from trivia, to stupid competitions, to napkin folding, to drink tasting, to you name it. They are all supposed to be stupid. It's stuff to keep you occupied while you day drink if you're opposed to sitting on a lounge chair and day drinking.

Getting ripped on tequila and folding napkins into a swan is pretty hilarious btw


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: NowhereMan on March 13, 2019, 01:23:15 PM
I've got a friend who went through a phase of doing an annual cruise for a few years, he absolutely loved it. What he described sounded to me like a very expensive way of doing a few things that I enjoy (drinking and eating) combined with a relatively cheap way of doing some other things that I enjoy in a way I really don't like (visiting new places but limited to a few hours so only doing the most touristy of touristy things). There was also some other stuff that, as Paelos said, seemed more like random activities to keep people entertained and possibly stop them drinking themselves to death.

I'm curious what people with significant others do regarding travel arrangements. I ask because my fiance and me are basically complete opposites when it comes to travel. Both of us enjoy visiting new cities but she wants to hit basically every tourist spot, museum, attraction, etc. that she can physically fit into a day and I really want to hang out in cafes, drink coffee until it's late enough to drink beer/wine and sample every local food item I can find. I'm happy if I've passed a museum on the outside, she's happy if she can find a Subway to grab a sandwich from between galleries. We're slowly getting better at the joint travel but I'm honestly curious if other people have found they accommodate each other or if they travel separately? Or if we're just weirdly incompatible in that area of life.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Paelos on March 13, 2019, 02:14:43 PM
My wife and I area similar to you. She's a D) All of the above, type traveler, and I just want to make sure I'm eating and drinking at places that are cool.

Here's what we do:

You arrange vacations around doing both of those things. You plan the dinners first, and pick out the times. She plans the places she wants to see. You both agree you can't do EVERYTHING, because that's exhausting and stupid. It's a vacation, not a forced death march to the next museum or some out of the way brewery.

If your vacation is long enough, you include some optional time. For example, one afternoon she gets to do the museum you have no interest at all in, and you sit on your ass in a cafe somewhere. You meet for dinner.

The second thing you do is define certain vacations if they are shorter. For example, if you're going to Utah to see the national parks? That's going to be an intense vacation. If you're going to say New Orleans? That's going to be a food vacation. If you're going to Florida? Sitting around and doing nothing on the beach vacation.

Essentially deciding to trade off the adventure vacation with the relaxing vacation can be good for you both. You convince the run around partner to relax a bit, and you convince the relaxed partner to get off their butt a little more.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Samwise on March 13, 2019, 03:53:11 PM
I'm curious what people with significant others do regarding travel arrangements. I ask because my fiance and me are basically complete opposites when it comes to travel. Both of us enjoy visiting new cities but she wants to hit basically every tourist spot, museum, attraction, etc. that she can physically fit into a day and I really want to hang out in cafes, drink coffee until it's late enough to drink beer/wine and sample every local food item I can find. I'm happy if I've passed a museum on the outside, she's happy if she can find a Subway to grab a sandwich from between galleries. We're slowly getting better at the joint travel but I'm honestly curious if other people have found they accommodate each other or if they travel separately? Or if we're just weirdly incompatible in that area of life.

My girlfriend likes to go on a trip every year and we've been dating for a little over two years, so we've already had to work out a system.   :awesome_for_real:  We take turns being in charge of deciding where we'll go (she likes warm places, I like cold places, so our first trip together was to Greece and our second was to Scotland), come up with lists of what we're each excited about doing in that place, and try to come up with a schedule that lets us both do all of our things.  We tend to have a lot of overlap in the kinds of things we want to do once we're in a place, but to the extent there's divergence there we'll just split off for a bit.

To take your example, if your'e both excited about traveling to the same city but she wants to hit 3 museums in one day and you want to hit 1 museum and then spend a few hours chilling, my advice would be to join her for the 1, let her tackle the other 2 on her own while you chill, and meet up at the end of the day for dinner (or, if you have wildly different dinner tastes too, bed).  That way you don't have to take completely separate trips (which seems like a solution of last resort if you liked traveling to completely different places and couldn't find a compromise) and get to spend some time together without her dragging you through museums you don't want to be in (which I have to imagine is stressful for both of you).


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on March 21, 2019, 07:39:03 AM
We compromise. She plans everything about all vacations, while I drive and carry her bags. Win-win.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: lamaros on March 24, 2019, 11:28:19 PM
So what's good about Barcelona that might stand out to someone who last went there 13 years ago?


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on March 25, 2019, 10:30:04 AM
Ask me after mid-June.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: NowhereMan on April 09, 2019, 04:09:45 PM
Thanks for the tips all! I think Yeg's will be the easiest to implement but we're getting comfortable enough with each other to manage Sam's. When we started dating she definitely was more on the end of wanting to spend as much time together as possible and I wasn't really comfortable enough to tell her I was going to go do my own thing (which produced one of our first and most memorable fights in Paris :awesome_for_real:). The general compromise thing sounds good with a 'focus' for a vacation.

We're just finishing up a 'holiday' in Argentina. Seeing as she's got a business here and all her family (and I'm still doing a few hours at least of emails and crap per day) it's turned into basically work or family events. I still contend weddings shouldn't finish at 6am but I can't really argue with eating a cow per week. Also being able to get top shelf wine for £12 a bottle would kill my liver if I spent more than a couple of weeks here I think. If anyone is planning a trip that far south I can offer tips!

Finally, looking at visiting Coppenhagen in the near future as there's a good friend there. Her boyfriend is in the foodie scene (co-founded a super hipster distillery operation) so probably fine for that kind of recommendation but this board is international enough I figured there might be a few recommendations for things to do/best times to go?


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Cyrrex on April 10, 2019, 02:05:35 AM
I have lived and worked in/around Copenhagen for nearing 20 years now.  Best single piece of advice:  Come during the summer months.  It sucks ass most of the year, but transforms in the summer.  Really nice city for kicking around as a tourist for a week.  During the summer.  Try not to stare too much while with your better half, because there will be an unbelievable number of attractive girls out and about.  And don't plan excursions away from the city.  The rest of the country fucking blows.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on April 12, 2019, 08:49:56 AM
I think Yeg's will be the easiest to implement but we're getting comfortable enough with each other to manage Sam's.

Pro Tip: I've been married for 20 years.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: NowhereMan on April 15, 2019, 02:15:25 AM
Both solid advice  :awesome_for_real:


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Abagadro on June 02, 2019, 01:24:36 AM
Tokyo is too fucking hot.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on June 02, 2019, 07:09:52 AM
That's why they invented Asahi.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Abagadro on June 02, 2019, 07:46:16 AM
Just drank one alongside a Hibiki 21 Year.  :drill:


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on June 02, 2019, 07:50:34 AM
Niiiiice.  How was your trip in?


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Abagadro on June 02, 2019, 07:57:58 AM
Was all good. Been here four days and we have had fun with just a few rough patches typical of a family traveling together. 


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on June 02, 2019, 08:00:33 AM
Well be sure to give us a summary of what you've been up to when you have the time!


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Chimpy on June 02, 2019, 08:01:50 AM
Have you had the Lawson's salt fried chicken yet?


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Abagadro on June 03, 2019, 08:47:02 AM
Havenít had the opportunity. Did some pretty serious damage to an all you can eat/drink shabu-shabu place tonight though.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on June 03, 2019, 09:40:58 AM
(https://i.giphy.com/3orieUU3kxqNFUwgFO.gif)


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Abagadro on June 03, 2019, 06:31:39 PM
That episode, um, did come up during dinner.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Abagadro on June 05, 2019, 12:35:13 AM
Narita Sky Club has a machine that takes the glass and pours a perfect draft beer.  I want one for my house.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on June 07, 2019, 03:29:58 PM
Regarding Barcelona, the reason to go there now would be to go inside the nearly-completed Sagrada Familia. The outside might look like a tacky kid's toy, but the inside is the most amazing cathedral I have ever been inside, and I've been inside quite a few. Pictures can often be inadequate to convey a place, but this is one of the most extreme example of that which I've seen. Included in that list is a glacial cavern. Pictures will be on IG and FB eventually.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Abagadro on June 07, 2019, 08:13:56 PM
That place is insane. Was there 10 years ago and they were still working on the inside but even then it was amazing.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Polysorbate80 on June 08, 2019, 01:24:00 PM
Narita Sky Club has a machine that takes the glass and pours a perfect draft beer.  I want one for my house.

Takes like 5 minutes of practice, 10 if your tower isnít refrigerated  :oh_i_see:


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on June 09, 2019, 06:22:38 AM
They invented it because nobody in this country knows how to pour a beer.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Stewie on June 10, 2019, 03:17:43 PM
The Wife and I are heading to London in September for 7 full days.

We will see most of the the obvious sights around the city + the wife wants to do a day tour to Bath/Stonehenge/Windsor castle. 

Beyond these I'm sure that we will have plenty of time to explore the city. Any recommendations?



Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Samwise on June 10, 2019, 05:23:16 PM
Probably included in "the sights" already, but the Tower of London is a really good time as tourist attractions go.  I've been a couple of times and it was just as entertaining the second time.

Camden Town is a fun area to wander around for an afternoon and shop and people-watch and hear music.  I stayed there the last time I was in London and ran across a place called the Spiritual Bar (https://www.spiritualrecords.co.uk/) which reminded me of the San Francisco of my childhood.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Chimpy on June 10, 2019, 05:38:48 PM
See if you can get spots on one of the evening tours of Stonehenge where you get to actually walk up near the stones. The number of spaces are limited and they only run them on a few dates. You might even be able to have it as part of a package deal with Windsor/Bath beforehand. I didn't make it to Stonehenge on my super short trip last October because they were only running morning tours and that would have cut too tightly into my schedule.

Don't bother with the "view from the Shard" unless you have free entry through something like the London Pass (which is actually a decent deal).

The tour of Shakespeare's Globe is pretty cool, in September you can probably catch a show there too if you are into being a 'groundling'.

Pretty much all of the "historic English pubs" in London are owned by the same company and sell the same beers/food and have very similar decor. Think TGI Friday's, but in older buildings.

Definitely seconding the Tower of London.



Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Paelos on June 11, 2019, 12:38:09 PM
The Wife and I are heading to London in September for 7 full days.

We will see most of the the obvious sights around the city + the wife wants to do a day tour to Bath/Stonehenge/Windsor castle. 

Beyond these I'm sure that we will have plenty of time to explore the city. Any recommendations?

If you're eating in Bath, I really enjoyed an Indian restaurant called the Eastern Eye there. It won a slew of awards and was very good in terms of the food I had in England (admittedly the non-ethnic food was mostly awful unless they fried it).


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Stewie on June 11, 2019, 05:31:25 PM
Thanks for the advice.

I will pass these on to the wife!

I've heard that any pub in London that advertises Authentic or historical on the front is to be avoided.  We will definitely be ordering our Oyster pass ahead of time and will take the stonehenge evening tour under advisement.

I do like some Indian food but living in Surrey, BC makes finding good Indian food ridiculously easy.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Chimpy on June 11, 2019, 06:25:27 PM
Thanks for the advice.

I will pass these on to the wife!

I've heard that any pub in London that advertises Authentic or historical on the front is to be avoided.  We will definitely be ordering our Oyster pass ahead of time and will take the stonehenge evening tour under advisement.

I do like some Indian food but living in Surrey, BC makes finding good Indian food ridiculously easy.

There is really no difference between buying an Oyster card ahead of time and just grabbing one when you get there. The fares are the same regardless.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Samwise on June 11, 2019, 06:28:39 PM
The evening tour of Stonehenge is a good tip.  I was really excited about seeing Stonehenge and did the day trip out there, but Stonehenge itself was a big letdown since you're squinting at it from pretty far away.  Something that let us get closer was much more what I'd had in mind. 

Bath was great, though!


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on June 12, 2019, 11:08:30 AM
Going to Ireland next month.

Considering a tour of Chernobyl before the crowds catch on, possibly in summer 2020. There will of course be some amount of Kyiv on the itinerary.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Paelos on June 12, 2019, 11:53:27 AM
Going to Ireland next month.

Considering a tour of Chernobyl before the crowds catch on, possibly in summer 2020. There will of course be some amount of Kyiv on the itinerary.

If you're going to the Western side of Ireland, the area around Ennis, Shannon, and Limerick is very cool. Totally different view of Ireland from the Eastern side. Also there's great coastlines and countryside.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Chimpy on June 12, 2019, 12:41:52 PM
Galway is a really cool little city. Definitely go to the Burren and Cliffs of Moher (Insanity) if you are losing western Ireland.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Abagadro on June 12, 2019, 07:15:39 PM
Quote
the wife wants to do a day tour to Bath/Stonehenge/Windsor castle. 

We did this one two years ago. You see cool stuff on this but it is a LOOOOOOOOOOOONG day tour from London and you don't get much time in Bath which is a shame because it is really cool.  I'd say just do Stonehenge/Bath rather than one that does all 3. And if you must see Windsor do that on a different day as it is relatively close. 

If you or the wife are into Harry Potter at all the studio tour is really cool and only about a hour north by bus.

The Churchill Bunker museum is a must see and relatively new.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Chimpy on June 12, 2019, 09:09:12 PM
The Churchill Bunker museum is a must see and relatively new.

Yeah it is pretty cool. It is also right in the middle of a lot of stuff since it is in the basement of Whitehall.

Oh yeah, the British Museum is worth going to see how the Victorian era Brits literally plundered the cultural landmarks of large swathes of the planet. The pamphlet they give you about how they won't give the marble facades off the Parthenon back to Greece because they stole them fair and square is quite fun.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Khaldun on September 07, 2019, 05:32:48 PM
Anybody here ever walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain? I'm considering doing it next year, the "French Way" from St.Jean-Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela. About 30 days of walking, give or take. Seems more reward than the Appalachian Trail etc.--history, food, wine, a bit of spiritual exploration and cleansing.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Samwise on September 08, 2019, 11:31:59 AM
Anybody here ever walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain? I'm considering doing it next year, the "French Way" from St.Jean-Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela. About 30 days of walking, give or take. Seems more reward than the Appalachian Trail etc.--history, food, wine, a bit of spiritual exploration and cleansing.

My sister did about two thirds of it last year with a group of friends.  IIRC they just gave themselves a few weeks to walk as much as they could, and didn't make optimal time due to having cheapass shoes and needing occasional breaks to let blisters heal, but it was by all accounts a very rewarding experience even though they didn't finish the entire trail.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on September 08, 2019, 12:18:36 PM
Ever since I did the Kumano Kodo in Japan (the only other UNESCO pilgrimage trail other than Camino de Santiago), I've been looking into it.  Actually met some people who had done it while I was hiking Kumano Kodo.

You should have plenty of opportunity for good food and wine as you say.  I think the main downside (from my own personal point of view) is that apparently the vast majority of the trail is walking alongside road.  This is understandable as the ancient paths people walked on were the main roads, so obviously they are now paved highways.  Same thing on the Kumano Kodo, but I'd say maybe only 20% of the hike was along what is now paved roads, with the rest original trails and stone paths in the mountains.  It skews in the other direction I'm told, which is unfortunate because I enjoy the isolation and natural beauty (though again, scenery is supposed to be great anyways on the Camino).  Other issue to be ready for is that, especially for the route you are choosing, it will be filled with 1,000 of your best tourist friends along for the hike.  If you are happy to be staying in hostels every night with random people from around the world though, obviously this probably wont be a downside for you.  But you'll probably want to try hitting the transitional seasons between off and tourist seasons to avoid everything being sold out and expensive.  The trail isn't hard at all by all by most accounts, and is just across flat or hilly land, which is a plus.  Kumano Kodo was founded by insane mountain worshiping Japanese monks in a very rugged area of Japan, so of course the trail just goes straight up and over mountains instead of going around them like a sane person would do.

I can say from my only week long experience of doing the Kumano Kodo that this sort of hike is super fun and really rewarding, and despite some of the drawbacks I see for my own personal enjoyment, I'm still considering the Camino some day (though I don't think I'll ever have 30 fucking days of time to blow for it while I still work for a living).  Though, one great thing about the Japan trail was that they have a system in place where I just hand a delivery company my main backpack of stuff and tell them the places I'm going to stay.  I took a small tiny day backpack that I just threw my toiletries, some underwear, and an extra shirt or two, plus some bottles of water for the hike.  At the traditional in's I stayed at, you're provided a yukata and basically lay around on tatami eating and drinking like a samurai all night, so you don't need sleep cloths or anything.  So I hiked with almost zero weight being carried around.  When I got to the Onsen at my mid way point, my bag was waiting for me in my room.  I swapped my dirty stuff out for my clean, and when I checked out, my bag went on to my end destination point.  When I checked in, it was there waiting for me, and then I packed it all up and got on the train the next day out.  Not sure if the Camino has similar services (And its a lot more tricky over the course of a month than just one full week), but let me tell you that its a lot more enjoyable to hike 30 KM in a day barely carrying anything than it is carrying a months worth of clothing.   :awesome_for_real:



Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Samwise on September 08, 2019, 12:53:55 PM
IIRC the smart way to handle laundry on the Camino is to bring only a couple spare set of clothes and rotate/wash each night (generally in a sink at a hostel, hang-drying overnight).  My sister did the walk in the summer so they had no desire to carry a month's worth of clothes...


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Khaldun on September 08, 2019, 09:54:08 PM
If I can swing this, I'd probably start around May 15, which I gather is before the big crush of people. I also might choose to do the alternative northern route that goes along the coastline, which isn't as crowded, apparently.

Another alternative thing I'm mulling over that is less dramatic is doing the Kerry Way in Ireland. Just something that's 15-20 miles a day that isn't just about mountainous isolation, I think.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: lamaros on September 09, 2019, 07:29:46 PM
Everyone who knows I'm going to Spain in a few weeks keeps recommending it.

Friends partner is currently walking it, she's paying someone 4 euro a day to deliver her bag to her next stop and just walking along taking instagram photos.

There are so many different routes possible, I'm sure you could do some part that's enjoyable and not too long if you didn't think the French Way would work?


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Yegolev on September 10, 2019, 10:37:14 AM
I've never had a lot of luck with drying my clothes in Europe. YMMV.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Cyrrex on September 11, 2019, 01:08:05 AM
I've never had a lot of luck with drying my clothes in Europe. YMMV.

I live in Europe and also own a clothes dryer, and yet I agree with this statement.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on September 11, 2019, 01:26:31 AM
Yeah, the dryers in my apartment in both Poland and Russia took like 3 hours per load.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Samwise on September 11, 2019, 01:40:18 PM
Are most European dryers condenser models (as opposed to vented)?


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on September 11, 2019, 08:07:27 PM
Yes.  When I first got to Warsaw legit took me hours to figure out I had to drain my dryer to get it to start working again.   :awesome_for_real:


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Cyrrex on September 12, 2019, 02:50:53 AM
Yep, condensers.  They are fine when they work, but not great.  Sometimes 3 hours to dry stuff, and then it isn't super dry.  Mine is currently pissing me off, something must be stuck in the internal plumbing somewhere....I guess it collects the water that is cast off and pumps it into the container (that you have to empty).  Well, something is wrong with mine so that it is not really pumping the water into the container.  No idea where it's going!  I doubt this will end well! 


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Mandella on September 12, 2019, 12:09:29 PM
Curious question from a naive American, do you Europeans favor the condenser models due to energy use, or some other reason?

 :headscratch:


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on September 12, 2019, 12:32:37 PM
I always assumed it was just that none of the apartments are built with the infrastructure for it.  Fewer people live in modern houses than America, and even when they build something new the momentum is already there for everybody using the condenser models, so they don't.  Advantage of those is that you can just take the dryer and plug it into the wall in any room, instead of having to setup a special 'laundry room' like we do.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on September 12, 2019, 12:42:24 PM
On another note!

This thread reminded me that I would love to do another hike like the Kumano Kodo.  While the Camino is tempting, god knows when I'll have enough time to do it.  So I was wondering if anybody has suggestions for a 1-2 week hike like that in Europe (or elsewhere)?  Main goal is that I'd like to just hike all day (can be 30K or more) and stop to sleep in whatever little town, at an Inn/Pub, instead of camping.  Seems like there should be a lot of cool places in Europe for that.

Khaldun already mentioned the Kerry Way, which is an awesome suggestion.  Though I've already done a day trip around the ring of Kerry before via car, so it would be nice to see something different.  Are there any great paths in Scotland like that?  Seem like it would be pretty.  I haven't dived deep into this yet, but curious if anybody has any suggestions or feedback.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Cyrrex on September 12, 2019, 12:42:55 PM
Yeah, the only reason that can be called an ďadvantageĒ is for the very reason you state:  shit just wasnít built for stuff like this.  Last place I live before this, we installed a normal dryer...and the way to do that is by drilling a fucking hole through your external wall.  And that dryer still sucked.  Condensers are something you buy because you have no choice.  No way are they more efficient in the real world, it takes fucking hours to dry a small load.

It can universally said that the following things absolutely fucking suck in Europe:
-Household appliances of every sort
-Plumbing and sewage
-Electrical installations
-Flooring
-the average car



Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Khaldun on September 12, 2019, 01:33:35 PM
There is a really short way to do a version of the Camino, by the way--you walk for four days through southeast England and get on a ferry that goes almost to Santiago itself. It's an actual pilgrimmage route so that's not cheating per se. The Portuguese route is also short(er) than the French Way if you start from Porto--about 14 days.

There's a walk along Hadrian's Wall in northern England/southern Scotland that takes about six days. West Highland Way in Scotland takes about six or seven days and that's supposed to be great. Was thinking about that one too.

Tour du Mont Blanc in the Alps is more demanding--I've had some friends do it. Popular too.

You can also always do a section of the Appalachian Trail--say, just through the Smokies or the Blue Ridge. That mixes being in the wilderness with occasional town stays for restock plus cabins. Have to carry a heavier pack though. Pacific Crest Trail in the Sierras is almost pure backcountry and really challenging in most segments.

I think there's a couple of coastal trails in British Columbia/Vancouver Island.

If you had enough money to get a guide and a system for being supplied, there are groups that hike the Skeleton Coast in Namibia along the edge of the Namib Desert. That's always seemed like an amazing trip but it's expensive.





Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Samwise on September 12, 2019, 01:41:20 PM
I spent a day in Carlisle once to break up a long train ride and walked about an hour's worth of that Hadrian's Wall trail before circling back to town.  Could definitely see myself going back and doing the whole thing someday.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on September 12, 2019, 01:53:53 PM
Rad, thanks Khal.  And yeah, Hadrians wall has been in my sights.

Though just to be clear, Iím interested in..... I donít know what he term for it is.  Town hiking?  Multi day non-camping hiking?  I grew up in California and hiked a lot growing up.  For my entire life, hiking was going deep into the mountains and camping away from any civilization (I have hiked portions of the pacific crest trail, yeah). 

This is awesome and I loved it, but as I age and also enjoy civiliazation/sight seeing, I started to wonder about combining the two.  Just hiking without some big backpack all day until I got to some village and then sleeping in a comfy bed with an awesome local meal.  I finally did this just 2 years ago in Japan when I hiked the Kumamo Kodo, and loved it.  So Iím interested in more things like that.  Trail can be as rugged as possible (Kumano Kodo was just up and down the sides of mountains the whole way), but want to be able to end in some town for the night.  As an American, this mostly cuts out the US, heh.

I donít actually care much about completing an official pilgrimage.  I just walk everywhere in my normal life, so the thought of walking 30 kmís a day in one direction, getting drunk in the evening, then doing it again for a week straight is oddly appealing to me.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Mosesandstick on September 12, 2019, 04:03:50 PM
I've done the West Highland Way (photos (https://www.flickr.com/photos/27727892@N06/albums/72157676097997061)) and thought it was an amazing experience. I've also done most of the North Downs Way (photos (https://www.flickr.com/photos/27727892@N06/albums/72157671443459634) and more (https://www.flickr.com/photos/27727892@N06/albums/72157687426796146)), which runs close to and crosses over parts of the historic Pilgrim's Way. Both of these trails are "National Trails" and happen to have towns along the way so you can have the day-packing experience and have your gear ferried. Happy to answer any questions on both trails if you have any!


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Khaldun on September 12, 2019, 06:30:39 PM
Yeah, I did backcountry hiking when I was young, and I had been contemplating doing the Appalachian (not the whole thing, I don't have the time and maybe not the desire/will/feet) but I suddenly realized: I don't want to be up in the fucking mountains 3/4 of the time for that long a time. Or if I did, I'd want it to be really fucking serious mountains like the Sierras or the Rockies--and I know from a three-day backcountry thing not that long ago that that really might wipe me out, that's for super-fit older men. I want to walk and see a place at ground level and I have the time, but I want to be among people, in cities and towns and villages, etc. Hence the Camino. But the Kerry Way and some other loops in Ireland have you in pubs every night almost, and so do most of the other UK trips.

There's also a pilgrimmage route through France to Rome that apparently doesn't have the great accommodations that the Camino routes have (great meaning "hostels where you aren't going to get murdered or leave with bedbugs") but that some people recommend, the Via Francigena. If I were going to do a segment of it, I'd say that Reims to Bensancon might be wonderful--that cuts through Burgundy, lots of small towns, great food, etc. After that you're up into the Alps, you'll have to deal with the insane price of things in Switzerland, etc.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Samwise on September 12, 2019, 06:35:12 PM
There's also a pilgrimmage route through France to Rome that apparently doesn't have the great accommodations that the Camino routes have (great meaning "hostels where you aren't going to get murdered or leave with bedbugs") but that some people recommend, the Via Francigena. If I were going to do a segment of it, I'd say that Reims to Bensancon might be wonderful--that cuts through Burgundy, lots of small towns, great food, etc. After that you're up into the Alps, you'll have to deal with the insane price of things in Switzerland, etc.

I wonder how similar it is to the route Hilaire Belloc took in The Path to Rome (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/7373/7373-h/7373-h.htm).  Which is easily my favorite work of nonfiction about somebody walking a lot.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Khaldun on September 12, 2019, 08:22:39 PM
Yeah, I'm not sure if he walked the same route exactly? But kind of similarly I think judging from what I can see about the book, which I haven't read.

It's the complicated thing about these modern-day versions of pilgrimmage routes. Basically there were a few major destinations (Santiago de Compostela because allegedly St. James' relics were there, Rocamadour, Rome, and if you were a really big boy, Jerusalem), etc. So the routes that we talk about today were the result of people basically walking out their door at a point in their lives where they felt they had some money/resources and some need to go on pilgrimmage. Not the same level of singular commandment as in Islam, so the economies and routings were a bit more disparate. But as such, there is no single 'route' in any of these things--just some common points where pilgrims tended to come together and follow some sensible common routings.



Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on September 13, 2019, 11:14:13 AM
I've done the West Highland Way (photos (https://www.flickr.com/photos/27727892@N06/albums/72157676097997061)) and thought it was an amazing experience. I've also done most of the North Downs Way (photos (https://www.flickr.com/photos/27727892@N06/albums/72157671443459634) and more (https://www.flickr.com/photos/27727892@N06/albums/72157687426796146)), which runs close to and crosses over parts of the historic Pilgrim's Way. Both of these trails are "National Trails" and happen to have towns along the way so you can have the day-packing experience and have your gear ferried. Happy to answer any questions on both trails if you have any!
Wow, that does look great!  Also ideal, as its a length I can do within a week or so.  I had seen some mention of it when I was first looking around at this stuff, but never really looked that closely.  I do believe that may be my next hiking vacation.

I guess main questions are:  1.)  How much of it is path and how much of it is hiking along road?  2.)  How crowded was it when you went (is it super touristy?)  3.)  I'm sure I can look this up, but in case you know, what are the ideal seasons to hike it?

Whole thing looks exactly like what I was hoping to find.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: IainC on September 13, 2019, 01:21:02 PM
There's also the Pennine Way (https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/pennine-way) which takes you through some of the best scenery in England and a brief bit of Scotland too after it crosses Hadrian's Wall. It's all footpath, mostly fell walking terrain, no roads. It's reasonably popular in the summer, and stretches of it in places like the Peak District and Lake District National Parks will be more touristy with day trippers rambling along the more easily accessible bits.


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Mosesandstick on September 13, 2019, 03:44:33 PM
Wow, that does look great!  Also ideal, as its a length I can do within a week or so.  I had seen some mention of it when I was first looking around at this stuff, but never really looked that closely.  I do believe that may be my next hiking vacation.

I guess main questions are:  1.)  How much of it is path and how much of it is hiking along road?  2.)  How crowded was it when you went (is it super touristy?)  3.)  I'm sure I can look this up, but in case you know, what are the ideal seasons to hike it?

Whole thing looks exactly like what I was hoping to find.

1. Most of it is on paths. There is one extended bit that is on an old cobbled road, but there is no road traffic. You'll occasionally have to criss-cross roads and maybe the odd rural road.
2. Nope. Apart from both ends, it's reasonably quiet. There are more crowded bits, but also places where you'll feel pretty isolated. At one point you walk through the area that inspired Skyfall.
3. Usual preference is as hot as possible, but avoiding the midge season. Which I think means either early Summer or once it starts hitting Autumn.

The usual route also finishest at Fort William. From there you can go on a day hike (or less if you're quick) up the UK's talllest mountain, Ben Nevis.

The West Highland Line, a train route, which goes a similar path to the West Highland Way, is often considered one of the world's most beautiful rail journeys. It's a perfect way to return from Fort William to Glasgow.

Penine Way is definitely on my to-do list. There's never enough time for hiking :)


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Teleku on September 16, 2019, 09:56:24 AM
Thanks for all the info!  In the back of my head I knew there had to be some great path to hike in Scotland like that, but hadn't actually looked into it because I knew my next trip would be a long way off.  Pretty sure that will be it, as it checks off every box I'm looking for.  God knows when it will ever happen, but certain I'll do it!


Title: Re: Traveling Advice/Tips/Suggestions
Post by: Mosesandstick on September 16, 2019, 11:34:36 AM
Sounds like a plan! If you have any other questions, now or later, I'd be happy to help.