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Thread: The Travel Thread

  1. #2551
    The Encyclopedia bmack86's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    Aww, I missed all the love for my dick.
    Quote Originally Posted by canexplain View Post
    Remember Hitler? I don't but here we are again .. cr****

  2. #2552
    Coachella Junkie PlayaDelWes's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    We just got back from a bunch of random places that involved some plane, some train, and some cruise ship. Before getting into each, I have some honorable mentions regarding travel providers:

    We flew to Europe and Back on Norwegian Airlines, aboard the “787 Dreamliner Experience”. I can’t speak highly enough of Norwegian. For starters, even with low fares, they allow you to book transatlantic one-way travel with no premium (unlike so many other international carriers). This allowed us to piecemeal together a very flexible trip. The cabin itself lives up to all the hype. The seats are spacious and accommodate long legs nicely, the window technology is awesome (you can see through them without letting light in, keeping cabin light down), it was very quiet inside, and I totally believe them when they say the Fresh Air and Cabin Pressure technologies allow for minimal jet lag and eye, nose, and throat issues. I give Norwegian an A+.

    We used booking.com for all our hotel reservations and would give each of them the highest ratings possible. We completely trust the booking.com reviews, the variety is spectacular, prices are typically great, and we like the fact you can book directly (unlike some other travel review sites).

    We sailed on the Celebrity Equinox from Venice to Istanbul, which is a sister ship in the same class to the Silhouette, which was the SS Coachella. It remains a spectacular ship and is rated a 93% and 4.5 stars on cruise critic for good reason. We didn’t spend much time on the boat because the cruise was so port-intensive. It was like renting a house at Coachella and using it only to sleep in. You really appreciate it after a long-day of exploring new places. We originally booked the cruise through Celebrity itself, but cancelled and rebooked through Costco who included a second cabin, free premium drinks, and gratuities for the same price. I don’t understand the whole travel agent industry, but Costco really came through strong.

    As far as scams and annoyances go, the only thing we encountered were the overly abundant, overly helpful, helpers at Rome Termini. They spoke perfect English and acted like they were customer service agents directing you to where you need to go and then asking for compensation for their efforts. They’d get in front of you and ‘Lead’ you to your train or whatever. There were SO many of them, even on the trains before leaving the station to help you with your luggage and find your seat. When we couldn’t find a safe place for our suitcases, I finally broke down and allowed two of them to show me where our bags would fit above the seats. I gave them a total of 2 and 3 Euros and they wanted more. Needless to say, I kept a very good eye on our bags until the train started moving (and at all times I guess).

    Norway (cont.)
    To close off Norway, it’s a beautiful country with friendly people, and lots of outdoor activities. We spent four days in a valley carved out by the incredible rushing Otta River. We closed off with Oslo, which was nice, but doesn’t really compete with other larger EU cities. The value of visiting Norway is heading North.

    Geirangerfjord (from below the clouds)
    One of the days we drove to the source of the Otta river and then down a steep mountain down into this amazing fjord with waterfalls flowing down into it from all directions.


    Village at the end of Geirangerfjord


    Geirangerfjord (from above the same clouds)



    Italy

    Vatican Museum
    We spent two days in Rome doing all the normal sites, but one of the highlights for our entire family was the Vatican Museum. The day before, our kids bored themselves to death with the Audio tour of the Coliseum and Forum. We heard good things about the kids audio tour of the Vatican, so we decided to give it a try. The kids program was set up like a combination treasure hunt and history lesson. Only our kids know what was coming through their earphones inside the museum, but it was working. They didn’t want to leave. After each piece, they’d turn to us to teach us about it, which sounded much more interesting than the adult version we were listening to.

    Also, we made Vatican Museum reservations the prior night at 11PM on their website. 13 hours later, we walked past the enormous line and right into the museum. Hot-tip: the reservation system is awesome!


    Burano
    Steph and I have been to Venice, so we wanted to kick it off with something different by buying a 36 hours vaporetto pass and heading straight to Burano. Very nice and relaxing to get away from the crowds of Venice. We walked around the island over the course of a couple of hours and found ourselves alone on many of the canals surrounded by brightly colored homes.



    View of Venice from Giudecca Canal
    We left Venice in the midst of an amazing Thunderstorm with 360 degree views of lightning strikes (wish I was sharp enough with the camera to capture some). Regardless, it was a surreal trip down the canal with incredible views; one that won’t be around for much longer as they dredge another entrance into the cruise ship terminal.




    Dubrovnik
    Pretty easy to get around via busses and walking. It had a feel much like Tallinn or Riga, but with a warmer, Mediterranean feel.
    View of Walled City from Mount Srd


    Stairs within Walled City


    Corfu and Katakolon
    We took a couple days to break up the trip and relax on beaches. In Corfu, we rented a car and “Snorkel-hopped” the island. We decided to skip Olympia and do the same the next day in Katakolon, taking the “tourist-train” to a nearby beach for the day.

    Santorini

    Route to Fira

    Quote Originally Posted by HowToDisappear View Post
    Take the cable car. I am not a senior, a member of PETA, or weak, but mule rides can be very very uncomfortable affairs if you do not ride horseback regularly. And if any of those horror stories about how those animals are treated are true, it's not something you would want your children to be part of. I'd also cross off the hike as well, because you travel the same path as the mules. And as anyone who has ever hiked any heavily traveled horse/mule trail can attest, the smell, flies, pile dodging, and stepping aside for the mule trains to pass gets old real quick.
    Thank you for this advice. Our plan was to take one of the high-speed boats from the base of the cable-car over to Oia as soon as we got to shore. We woke up so early though and got the first priority tender pass to shore from the ship at 7AM that the boats weren’t operating yet. This paid off WELL however. We were in the first group up the cable cars and headed over to the bus station, only to find out that the first bus to Oai wasn’t for another 45 minutes, so I walked across the street and rented a car (45 euro including gas and Insurnace). By 7:30 we were driving to Oia, to find the most peaceful paradise that Santorini could ever be.

    The way back down was a different story. With two cruise ships leaving that evening, the cable-car line was an hour long. We walked down the donkey steps. You are absolutely correct about the treatment of the mules / donkeys. In such a frequented spot, it’s unthinkable that they are still a viable option to get up and down the steps. The walk down was a quite memorable 45 minutes.
    Quote Originally Posted by york707 View Post
    I agree, you will value your time in Fira and Oia more than you will value your time climbing there, either on a mule or not. I can't remember the name of it, but there is a volcanic black sand beach on the south end of the island that is pretty cool. Especially if you have never been to a black sand beach.
    We made it to the black sand beach, which was cool. There, we had one of the worst meal experiences ever. We ate at the first place that allowed us to park our car for free, which was a huge mistake. The restaurant staff was selectively plucked from South Beach Tow, Kitchen Nightmares, and Jersey Shore All-Stars. We ordered just in time for group-play of one-on-one staff fist fighting. 75 minutes later, we left after finishing one of our four meals, our waitress had been fired and literally KICKED out of the restaurant, and the bartender attempted to steal our rental car. But the black sand was nice.

    Oia
    When we arrived in Oia, we were the only people in town not in their bathrobes on their terrace. It was beautiful, peaceful, and empty. We found a boutique hotel and sipped coffee poolside for an hour enjoying the view and serenity. We explored Oia the rest of the morning and drove down to the fishing village before heading South to the Black Sand Beach.




    Ephesus
    Ephesus was the most amazing set of ruins of an ancient city I’ve come across. Just refreshing the history books before we left was enough to get me excited. It did not disappoint. They’ve done a fabulous job restoring the theaters, temples, terrace houses, and streets from thousands of years ago.

    Terrace Houses
    The Terrace Houses are a section of the city that has been covered with a shade structure and crisscrossed with a set of tourist friendly platforms with see-through floors. There is so much active restoration, the place was buzzing with archeologists restoring frescos and mosaics, walls, floors, columns, and arches.


    View from Memmius Monument throgh Hercules Gate towards Celsus Library & Agora


    Library of Celsus
    The reconstruction of the 2000 y/o façade makes for an amazing site, as do the walls inside.


    Turkish Food Spread (Country Farm House)
    For lunch, we stopped at a traditional country farm house about 10 minutes from the ancient city for the best meal of the trip. There were 30+ Turkish and Ottoman dishes with some tasty clay-pot recipes.



    Istanbul
    It was Ramadan in Istanbul, which added to the already bright color of the city. There were additional markets set up around Sultanahmet, festive lights set up around town, and a buzz of activity once the sun set each evening. The coordinated echoing of the prayers throughout the top of the loudspeakers of each Mosque was surreal.

    Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet) and Hagia Sophia view from Bosphorus


    Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque view from Hotel


    Inside Hagia Sophia


    Inside Sultanahmet


    Ramadan Picnics
    At night, thousands showed up to public areas to celebrate the end of fasting with elaborate meals on real dinnerware.


    Grand Bazzar
    61 covered streets and 3,000 shops


    Egyptian Bazaar (Spice Market)
    Best combinations of scent imaginable.


    And finally,
    Obligatorily Cliché European Vacation Photo
    Last edited by PlayaDelWes; 08-05-2014 at 10:17 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by dj12inches View Post
    What makes me qualified? I've watched EVERY fucking episode of American Idol, and every single episode of The Voice...Forget that I won departmental music awards when I was in the 8th grade choir.

  3. #2553
    old school JorgeC's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    Awesome Wes!!
    Quote Originally Posted by guedita View Post
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    old school ThatGirl's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    Excited that I've booked a two week trip to Costa Rica in February. My boyfriend owns a house in the mountains there, which is near the Panamanian border, so we'll spend a few days there and then go traveling along the coast and exploring nearby. Also going to spend a day sightseeing in San Jose when I first arrive. Can't wait!!!
    Quote Originally Posted by M Sparks View Post
    It's all riding on this. You've got big dreams to ride to the top of the Flash Mob world. Well internet fame costs. And right now is when you start paying for it...in sweat.
    Quote Originally Posted by TomAz View Post
    hey. get your own colonoscopy thread, bitch.

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