London is shit for NYE. Everybody leaves the city. It will be a ghost town. Just so you are aware.
Arman and everyone else - thank you so much for the advice and guidance. You're really leaning me towards a Spain/Portugal/Canary Islands adventure, and the more I look into it, the more I like. I have many more questions but will post them once I've had time to do more research.
So, in the meantime, here are some pictures from my recent adventure to Iceland. I've included a few descriptions on all of these too. This is a long post - please do not quote it!
Hveragerđi geothermal park - natural hot springs!
Don't speed in Iceland, or you'll get a frowny face!
Very nice! Iceland is on my must-see list. And thanks to those pics, and the Portugal discussion, I think my next European trip will include one of the two.
Matt... when were you in Iceland? You say "recent" but there's snow on the streets of Rekjavik. It doesn't snow there in June does it?
Hey, has anyone done Global Entry (I'm assuming Tom and Wes have)? How long did it take to get your interview, do you remember? I signed up and paid yesterday; figured that it's worth it with me traveling twice a month...hoping I can get it all sorted before we go to Spain.
So Arman and other travelers, I've got a few newbie questions about doing a possible Spain & Portugal trip.
1) Traveling - I may be looking to visit Lisbon, Seville, Madrid, and Barcelona. Maybe the Algarve area in south Portugal if time allows it. If I'm planning to do all of this, do you folks recommend a rental car or a different mean of transportation? If I do the rental car route, do I need to apply for a foreign driver's license? Id cruising through Spain/Portugal pretty easy?
2) Canary Islands - I want to do Tenerife so I can check out Teide Nat'l Park. I could set aside 1 day for the park, how long otherwise do you recommend someone stays here?
I'm sure I'll think of something else soon.
Your American DL should be fine in Spain from what I've read. Madrid and Barcelona have really great public transit options; it's my understanding that you can also get around pretty easily in Seville without a car. Not sure about the rest. We're taking trains between the cities, but you can also fly really cheaply between MAD/BCN on some of the low cost carriers. Might end up being cheaper than renting a car. Gas is a bit pricier over there too.
OK noted. How much were the train prices, if you don't mind my asking?
It depends. We bought our train tickets really early from Seville to Barcelona and got a really great early buyer price (35 euro each)....I think I have seen them for up to 115 euro each. I was having a hard time getting Renfe to take my credit card for the other purchase we needed (Madrid to Seville) so I gave up...and then forgot. I actually just got our tickets for that route this week and I still got a good deal, just not a great one. I think I paid 30 euro each for those. Anyway, the Renfe site is a huge hassle and many Americans have problems getting their credit cards to go through. I highly recommend using an American booking site, Petrabax , instead. No muss, no fuss, and no booking fee. Only downside is that you might find a super cheap special deal fare on Renfe that is specific only to their direct site. In any case, I have heard not great things about RailEurope (mainly due to their high booking fees...I've also read that Renfe doesn't like Rail Europe so they might give you shit when getting on board).
You can get a lot of info about their train system on Seat61.com. Lots of great Euro train info there. Vueling is a low-cost carrier for trips from Madrid to Barcelona. You might be able to get a really nice cheap flight if you book early enough. We opted for the trains because I'd like to experience a different form of travel...I spend so much time in airports and airplanes as it is.
Q: What's the difference between Americans and yogurt?
A: If you leave yogurt alone for 200 years, it'll grow a culture.
I think Americans have the most beautiful, diverse, and dynamic culture in the entire world. I think that is evident from our constitution and the ideological foundation of our country, to the pot smoking, big wave surfing, computer programmers in Silicon Valley, to the beautiful Walt Disney concert hall located in the heart of the creative Capitol of the world, to the big sky Montana my own Idaho slums of Beverly Hills barrios of the Angels and so many YOGERT eaters in Queens NY yadda yadda yadda
I echoed captncrazy's recommendations. Nice works and researching, Jen! I will try to send you a PM later today, Matt.
For now, install the following travel apps in your smartphone if you do not have them yet or check their web sites for planning purposes or travel deals hunting:
and many more that tremendously helped me personally in the past. I will explain in the PM why etc else this post will get really long again.
Thank you for all of the advice Jen and Arman, If I have more questions I'll post them Checking out those sites now.
Captncrzy, I just read your travel advice post and wow am I glad that most of that has never happened to me. Once, i think in Brazil, the friendship bracelet thing happened to me where a guy came up to our table and started making conversation. he asked my name and then started making a wire like thing with my name and then he gave it to me (all of it unprompted and unwanted by me) and gave it to me and asked me to pay for it. I knew he would not leave me alone if I didn't pay and he would keep coming back to our table. So I gave him enough to just satisfy him.
I was also cursed by a gypsy in South America for not wanting her fortune telling services. She spit on the ground near me and then proceeded to walk around the grassy plaza we were in, take a squat, hike up her long skirt a little, and pee in the middle of the plaza. I was amused, but probably more horrified.
Sorry. I got off topic.
I hate the obligatory forced sales push! It happens everywhere unfortunately. There is a Hutterite or Mennonite colony near where I live that drop in on businesses with blankets and pillows and stuff. They came into my former work one day with personalized pillows they had sewn. I was just looking at them casually, and one lady says hello, chats me up and asks my name, so I told her, thinking she was just being nice. Two weeks later she shows up with a pillow with my name on it and wants 50 bucks for it. Needless to say I disappointed her.
Most of those are common sense but they're good reminders. It never occurred to me that they may be watching where you are keeping your wallet...I guess because I don't carry my wallet in my pockets.
I'd pickpocket the hell out of Bryan.
But I wouldn't be reaching in for the cash.
Awesome Iceland pics.
I am also feeling validated in my discomfort about flying over Ukraine the other month on my way home from Doha...
Hunting has been part of our society since the first Europeans came over and shot buffalo and Native Americans and whatnot.
The Dive Poets
I got my Global Travel authorization number over the weekend and was able to utilize pre-check finally. So nice to not have to take my shoes off or deal with my laptop. Well worth the $100.