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Thread: The Travel Thread

  1. #331
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    Hey!

    Im a big couchsurfer actually, drove across US by myself and couch surfed the whole way. If you have the right mindset its Amazing. Problem is now with its popularity there are a lot of people using it for the wrong reasons. Just make sure you check referances etc..

    Anyway I was a single female from Australia taking on America and I never once had a bad experiance. I stayed with guys, girls, anything inbetween. Haven't surfed in South America yet but im heading there after Coachella.

    http://www.couchsurfing.org/people/spero2/ If you have a look at all my referances you can see how fantastic my time was with everyone. Honestly I find it hard to travel any other way.

  2. #332
    old school whynotsmile99's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Ajaxe View Post
    Hey!

    Im a big couchsurfer actually, drove across US by myself and couch surfed the whole way. If you have the right mindset its Amazing. Problem is now with its popularity there are a lot of people using it for the wrong reasons. Just make sure you check referances etc..



    Anyway I was a single female from Australia taking on America and I never once had a bad experiance. I stayed with guys, girls, anything inbetween. Haven't surfed in South America yet but im heading there after Coachella.

    http://www.couchsurfing.org/people/spero2/ If you have a look at all my referances you can see how fantastic my time was with everyone. Honestly I find it hard to travel any other way.
    Very cool Ajaxe, glad you had a good time with it. I'm quite excited to try it out. I'm unfortunately unable to offer a couch/bed to travelers at this time, but I would love to show people around Los Angeles. I'm setting up a profile, i'll send you a message when I'm done. If you or your friends are looking for a place to crash before/after Coachella (or even transportation down to the festival) I'd be happy to help you out.


    I'm going to repost my message again, just so it doesn't sit at the bottom of the last page. I'm also interested in going to Portugal but that might be pushing it with my two week time frame. Anyone been to Lisbon?

    I have two weeks vacation time from my job and very much looking forward to some time off. I've went back and forth for weeks as to where I wanted to go. I was looking at Boliva, Brazil, Nicaragua, World Cup South Africa and even volunteering in Nepal. For a two week vacation however it all felt a bit too much, that I would be stretching myself too thin.

    I'm now 90% sure I want to go to Spain next month. I was in Barcelona for 3 or 4 days when I was a teenager and loved it. It remains my favorite city I have ever stepped foot in. I've yet to see any other areas of Spain and this seems to be the perfect time. As I said, I'm looking at going in February, clearly not the best time to go to Spain. I like winter however, I get enough sun in LA and it's not like my pale ass is going to sunbath anyway. Plus airfare is cheap and it's not filled with tourists.

    Any tips/advice, things to see/skip, festivals, concerts regarding Spain in February would be appreciated. I'm looking at flying roundtrip out of Barcelona, hitting Madrid, Seville and Cordoba. is Bilbao in the north worth going to?
    I'll most likely give Ibiza a miss unless I hear otherwise.

    Also, I'm looking at traveling exclusively by couchsurfing. I heard all about the website when I was in Thailand and it seems like a great way to save money and get out of shitty hostels, while meeting cool locals that could take you around.. Any experience with the website?

    cheers
    Then I will hold you down and spit her percolations all over you until you're as greasy as the day she regrets pushing your big fat ass out her big fat cunt.

  3. #333
    old school whynotsmile99's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    yea, i'm going to bump this.

    for anyone interested flights to Europe are cheap cheap cheap right now.

    Just bought my ticket to Spain $613 after taxes round trip. very excited

    anyone else have upcoming trips planned?
    Then I will hold you down and spit her percolations all over you until you're as greasy as the day she regrets pushing your big fat ass out her big fat cunt.

  4. #334

    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    Nice! When and what part of Spain? I'm going soon. Might wait until festival season starts.

  5. #335
    old school whynotsmile99's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by jazzz View Post
    Nice! When and what part of Spain? I'm going soon. Might wait until festival season starts.
    i'm flying into madrid and out of barcelona. i'll have two weeks to travel around. Not sure where else i'm going, i'll be planing it out the next few weeks and of course weather could be a big factor. I believe southern spain is a bit warmer/dryer so I might stay around there. We shall see. I'm very excited. I'd love to go to a music festival there, but it looks like I'll have to settle on Carnivale in Madrid, which I'm sure will still be a hell of a party
    Then I will hold you down and spit her percolations all over you until you're as greasy as the day she regrets pushing your big fat ass out her big fat cunt.

  6. #336
    Peaceful Oasis TomAz's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    I loved Andalusia. Should try to get down there if you can. Spanish trains are fast.
    Quote Originally Posted by efrain44 View Post
    Anyone know who the guy in the Cardinals jersey is? I've seen him in pictures on the board and I thought I saw him this year.

  7. #337
    Coachella Junkie sonofhal's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    Valencia, also, kicks ass.
    Quote Originally Posted by JustSteve View Post
    well, for all intensive porpoises it is, will sell out within seconds tomorrow.
    Quote Originally Posted by korbinn View Post
    It's jsut dawned on me that I'm overly confident and a extremely ocd perfectionist.
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    I don't give a flying fuck about the Kardashians, I doubt they know who Belle and Sebastian are.

  8. #338
    Coachella Junkie chiapet's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by whynotsmile99 View Post
    i'm flying into madrid and out of barcelona. i'll have two weeks to travel around. Not sure where else i'm going, i'll be planing it out the next few weeks and of course weather could be a big factor. I believe southern spain is a bit warmer/dryer so I might stay around there. We shall see. I'm very excited. I'd love to go to a music festival there, but it looks like I'll have to settle on Carnivale in Madrid, which I'm sure will still be a hell of a party
    I did the reverse (in Barcelona and out of Madrid) a few years ago - I spent November there and the weather was lovely in the south. Just as you mentioned, I was going to suggest you spend less time in Madrid, surrounding areas, and further north, since the weather will not be nice, and hit the south (which would be -- to me any way -- too hot in a summer trip).

    My best advice would be not to plan it too much, though if you are using couch-surfing you'd probably need to plan at least a couple of days in advance. I used hostels and cheap (mostly) hotels, and booked my first few nights' accommodations in advance but did everything else on the fly. I just got one of those cheap pre-paid calling cards at a news stand and then when I got to a city, called around from the train or bus station to find someplace to stay. I only had one time in ~5 weeks when it didn't work out, and I just got on the train again and kept going.

    Anyway, Spain is amazing and is probably the best 'value' places I've visited, meaning the food, drinks, entertainment, sites were incredible for the $$ I spent compared to anywhere else I've been in Europe. Walking a few blocks away from a tourist attraction, in pretty much any city, will result in finding plenty of very affordable places to eat. Spaniards are very social and even tiny towns will have a relatively large number of restaurants. I also went grocery shopping quite a few times instead of going to a restaurant. Even in very urban areas there will be Corte Ingles department stores, many of which have a full grocery store (usually basement level).

    If you are planning on doing sightseeing, I'd suggest Rick Steves's guide to Spain which might help you explore the options and also give you some ideas on what to avoid.

  9. #339
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    I agree with the Rick Steeve's advice. His books are easy to decipher and are broken down nicely.
    Odi profanum vulgus et arceo. I hate the unholy rabble and keep them away - Horace.
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  10. #340
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by efrain44 View Post
    Anyone know who the guy in the Cardinals jersey is? I've seen him in pictures on the board and I thought I saw him this year.

  11. #341
    Coachella Junkie chiapet's Avatar
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    Okay, my post was getting kind of long. Here are some specific recommendations (though I don't really know your interests):

    Barcelona -- if you can afford it, plan to spend proportionately longer here and also spend the most money here. Tons of great restaurants, bars, clubs, museums, and even just being in the city doing nothing in particular is thrilling.

    The barcelona "City Pass" could be a good value if you were planning on using public transit a lot and also visiting a lot of the things that are discounted in the booklet; otherwise, skip it and just do your own thing. Public transit there is great. There is a subway as well as buses, which cover the city extensively. There is also a huge network of commuter trains going outside to the suburbs and nearby cities.

    To me the must see things: la Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell. The Picasso museum is interesting but unless you are a big fan you may skip it and see the major works on display in the Reina Sofia in Madrid. I really enjoyed the Fundacio Joan Miro, which I visited later in the evening - it has an amazing view. It wouldn't be worth it if you're not interested in his art. MACBA wasn't bad. Casa Batllo is by far my favorite place and a must visit. Casa Mila (La Pedrera) is also nice but less interesting aside from the roof. Spend lots of time wandering around the Eixample for modernisme architecture and Barri Gotic for crumbling medieval buildings. Window shop for crazy fashion and art. If you have the time/money/scheduling and interest, catch a performance at the Palau de la Musica. Do go see bands playing at random nightclubs.

    Note that in Barcelona, people peak Catalan, and while everyone there speaks Spanish too, they will be thrilled if you speak a few phrases (such as greetings) in Catalan. I also expected Catalan to be very very similar to Spanish, and while it's similar it's more like some sort of Spanish-Italian-French blending.

    Madrid - I did not enjoy much at all but the museums were incredible, namely the Prado and Reina Sofia. It's also an incredible place for night life, whether eating, drinking or dancing, these people seemingly do not sleep. You also may find yourself chain smoking and downing coffee every hour.

    Granada - my favorite place second to Barcelona, the Alhambra is the obvious attraction, but I also enjoyed the various cathedrals and churches I visited (Columbus's body is (allegedly) entombed in the Catedral). Wander around the Sacromonte neighborhood, browse vendors amongst the alleys (though watch your wallet), find someplace out of the way to eat, and though they are produced for tourists explicitly go to flamenco shows.

    Sevilla - I liked the alcazar, the catedral courtyard, but mostly walked around the santa cruz neighborhood and nearby areas, did a lot of eating, drinking, and window shopping. Also a good place to see flamenco. This is also a great city for going out, they like to drink and dance, and these both could go on most of the night. I don't think I ever went out before midnight. The food here was pretty decent (though Granada was my favorite for food). I hopped on a city bus and went to nearby Italica, which is a ruined Roman city. It would not be worth the effort unless you are really into that sort of thing, or have never seen roman ruins and do not plan to go somewhere where they are more common. That being said, I think it's the most impressive and most accessible ruins in Spain. There is a bus that literally takes you to the entrance of the site.

    Cordoba - I didn't spend a lot of time there but the mosque is absolutely worth seeing. I also liked the jewish quarter, and it was an interesting place to window shop (or even buy once you get away from tourist areas) for leather goods especially. What I remember of Cordoba is exceptionally good food and nice little tea houses with comfy courtyards with trickling water/fountains.

    Toledo - eh. I did not like much. If you have time to route through it from Madrid, the main site is the catedral; otherwise it's shopping and tourist restaurants mostly.

    Ronda - Tom also liked Ronda a lot, I think. It's a nice large town / small city in Andalucia which makes a good stop over as you're traveling from city to city. It's main points of attention are a very impressive gorge which separates the 'old' and 'new' parts of the city, with the 'old' part being populated since roman times. It also has the oldest bullfighting ring still operating in Spain.

    Other than these, there are a ton of little towns and small cities, particularly hill towns in Andalucia that are interesting to visit for a night or two, though I'm not sure how well it would work with couchsurfing since there may not be many people registered from those areas.

    Some side trips I made on my trip --

    - to go hiking around Montserrat near Barcelona (there is a train that takes you to the nearby village, and then you can take a tram partially up the mountain). It is famous for a 'black madonna' (Virgin of Montserrat) statute that apparently people think grants wishes or prayers. It is also one of the alternative locations in Holy Grail legend. I skipped most of the church stuff at this one and just hiked. When it's clear you can see for ages. The rock formations are these strange long shapes ('serrated', hence the name) and a lot of the rock is pinkish due to some mineral within the composition. Would recommend if you have plenty of free time in barcelona, get tired of the city, and like to hike. (It was an easy 1/2 day trip but would turn into a full day if you went on a long hike).

    Figueres - Dali's birthplace and his museum to himself. Uh.. this is really only for the absolute most obsessive fanatic, since very little of his art is actually on display here. But I loved it. It was so obnoxious. Like, penny-operated carnival machines crucifying christ, kind of obnoxious (to cite a specific example ).

    note also that barcelona is very close to the french border and you can easily take public transit to the Languedoc-Roussillon region (though I did not).

    I also took a side trip to Gibraltar which was absolutely worth it to me. It was a nice breath of (not very) fresh air, a couple of days with English speaking people, cider and ales instead of awful cava, and pub food. Plus typical high street shopping. And standing at the top of the 'rock' and looking to africa = awesome. As well as being at the light house point that I can't remember the name of.... you are on a rocky beach with a mosque and a light house looking at the end of the 'world' basically. Incredible at Sunset. However, as it operates on British currency, pricey. One of the cool (?? heh) things to get there is that you arrive via a series of buses and trains and cross the border on foot, and provided you are the holder of a US passport, just show the color of your passport rather than going through any security. Which is the case a surprising number of areas, actually.

  12. #342
    Coachella Junkie chiapet's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    One final post with some general advice.

    If you speak Spanish even somewhat, you will have a very easy time, and find that people are very VERY friendly and happy to have conversations and point out their favorite restaurants, bars, play tour guide, etc. If you do not speak Spanish, people will still be very friendly and try their best to help you, but English was not as prevalent as I'd thought it would be, especially in the south and in smaller towns. My Spanish is awful but it helped a lot.

    For transportation, trains are obvious, and they have a great number of high speed trains, however, if you have less $$ and more time, there are the train equivalent of the slow boat to China, which I -LOVED- because you are buying destination tickets rather than specific seats/schedules, so you can just jump off the train if, when pulling into a town, you want to check it out. I did a lot of that. Also the scenery goes by at a pace you can absorb. I brought lots of books and spent many hours going from train to train, especially in Andalucia.

    Further on public transit, if cost is a factor, check buses too. They are generally pretty nice, and for some routes, the bus will actually end up being a shorter overall trip if there is not a direct train.

    Other than that, enjoy yourself, drink lots of wine, try cava, eat your weight in olives, have more coffee than is healthy, smoke because everyone else does, etc.

  13. #343
    Coachella Junkie chiapet's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    Geezus, I just noticed you said you'd be in Madrid for Carnivale. Carnival celebrations were suppressed during Marco's regime, and Madrilenos will seemingly take any excuse to party, so that should be rather insane.

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    Peaceful Oasis TomAz's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by chiapet View Post
    Ronda - Tom also liked Ronda a lot, I think.
    Yes. only spent an afternoon there though.

    Your takes on Barcelona and Madrid are good ones. I would add Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza to the Prado and Reina Sofia as something to see in Madrid. Also, the Palacio Real.
    Quote Originally Posted by efrain44 View Post
    Anyone know who the guy in the Cardinals jersey is? I've seen him in pictures on the board and I thought I saw him this year.

  15. #345
    Coachella Junkie faxman75's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    Your description of Sevilla has made that a priority for me when I go to Spain. Nice write up Heidi.

  16. #346
    Coachella Junkie chiapet's Avatar
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    Heh. My Ronda story is that I stopped there initially because I'd been taking trains to various places for more than 24 hours and hadn't had anything to eat. I disembarked in Ronda in late afternoon and thought I'd go get some food. There is almost nothing open food-wise in that interim period between lunch and dinner, and places don't open for dinner until 6? or later. (I'm exaggerating a bit. There were a couple of awful tourist places open all day). I camped out near this restaurant and went in right when they opened, and I was the only person there the whole time (it became crowded later as I was leaving - around 8PM or so).

    At this point in my trip, I was starting to be a bit off meat in general, but especially pork. In southern Spain, it starts to feel mandatory that you eat pork or shellfish, and occasionally both in one dish. I was really desperate for fresh vegetables. I went over the menu several times, with its usual array of porks, and found something that sounded like it was a vegetable platter, to be eaten as an appetizer, but it was the -only- vegetarian thing on the menu. I asked the waiter about this, and in retrospect, I should have just asked him what it was, because my leading questions about whether this was a vegetable platter or salad or something ... lead him to describe to me all the vegetables -- that were in the dish. It sounded bland but free of pork.

    It turned out to be a platter of pork sausages of various types, including blood sausage, a tripe sausage, some sort of brain sausage, ..... with lettuce and herb garnishes.

    (It was actually pretty good -- and once I got past the appearance of the brainy one, it was the best).

  17. #347
    Coachella Junkie chiapet's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    I also accidentally ate bear in spain, after a temporary lapse in recall of the meaning of the word 'oso', which I could not find in the menu/food dictionary I was carrying. It was a 5 meat meal. (castellana soup which is chicken, egg, and ham; my bearmeat; and some sort of little bird that I have never identified). This is part of my bias against Toledo.

  18. #348
    Member CuervoPH's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    My next European trip will be to Ireland on or around my birthday next year. However, after reading the last page or so of this thread, I really want to visit Spain soon. With any luck, I'll discover a money tree this weekend.

  19. #349
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    Thank you guys very much, especially chiapet. I really appreciate the tips. If I have any questions I now know who to turn to. I'll post my travel writing and photos whenever I get a chance on the road
    Then I will hold you down and spit her percolations all over you until you're as greasy as the day she regrets pushing your big fat ass out her big fat cunt.

  20. #350
    old school orbit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whynotsmile99 View Post
    yea, i'm going to bump this.

    for anyone interested flights to Europe are cheap cheap cheap right now.

    Just bought my ticket to Spain $613 after taxes round trip. very excited

    anyone else have upcoming trips planned?
    i'm probably going to spain too. couchsurfing as well, but it'll be in may for primavera. i plan to spend most of my time in barcelona, valencia and sevilla, and hopefully can make it to portugal.

    this bus company is offering unlimited trips passes valid only within spain:
    link

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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by whynotsmile99 View Post
    yea, i'm going to bump this.

    for anyone interested flights to Europe are cheap cheap cheap right now.

    Just bought my ticket to Spain $613 after taxes round trip. very excited

    anyone else have upcoming trips planned?
    what site did you use to book the flight. Still trying to sort out my flight for Primavera, and thats the best deal I have heard at the moment.
    Last edited by suprefan; 01-22-2010 at 08:08 PM.

  22. #352
    Coachella Junkie chiapet's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    I wish I'd made it to Valencia. I didn't spend much time on the coast because of the time of year. (The weather was pleasant but not nice enough to spend much time hanging out at the beach.

  23. #353
    Milkshake suprefan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whynotsmile99 View Post
    yea, i'm going to bump this.

    for anyone interested flights to Europe are cheap cheap cheap right now.

    Just bought my ticket to Spain $613 after taxes round trip. very excited

    anyone else have upcoming trips planned?
    ??? question above? where did you get the deal?

  24. #354
    old school whynotsmile99's Avatar
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    oh, i'm sorry totally missed it the first time. My mom is a travel agent (though specializing in group tours & cruises) she has a co worker friend who knows what she's doing with airfare and was able to pull it up.
    I've never bought tickets online, but I really like Kayak.com. Easy to use and searches through all the major sites. There's another one I always check my mom recommend, but the name escapes me. I'll get that tonight.

    A quick search on Kayak for next month and the prices seem pretty comparable to what I bought, though with some shitty layover times. Flights in May seem to be in the $900-1000s. You might consider flying into Madrid a few days before and then heading to Barcelona. The flights on Kayak seem similar in price, but consider the layover times. Also, when I was figuring out my schedule, Barcelona had less flights flying into it, many were fully booked, and was about $200 more.

    if it means anything, i'm flying British Airlines, with a layover in London each way.

    good luck
    Then I will hold you down and spit her percolations all over you until you're as greasy as the day she regrets pushing your big fat ass out her big fat cunt.

  25. #355
    Peaceful Oasis TomAz's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    Looking at Machu Picchu/Galapagos combo trip this summer w/ the family. I'd be interested in tips, experiences, etc in Peru or Ecuador.
    Quote Originally Posted by efrain44 View Post
    Anyone know who the guy in the Cardinals jersey is? I've seen him in pictures on the board and I thought I saw him this year.

  26. #356
    Gummi bear sultan miscorrections's Avatar
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    Be sure to try the cuy and report back how it is.
    Quote Originally Posted by bmack86 View Post
    Has anyone gone on a date with a sandwich recently? What base did you get to? Ham?

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    MENACING Courtney's Avatar
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    Ooh. Tom, I haven't been to Ecuador, but I can talk with you about Peru.

    Key tips:
    1) Give yourself at least a day to get over altitude sickness when you arrive in Cuzco. Possibly more. That altitude sickness medication doesn't work on everybody. People who are in good cardiovascular shape generally acclimate more quickly.

    2) Don't even think about driving from Lima to Cuzco. Take a plane. And schedule your flight for first thing in the morning, because the afternoon flights get canceled at least 50% of the time due to weather conditions.

    3) Lima is awesome, take some time to explore if you can instead of just breezing in and out on your way to other parts of the country.

    4) Inca Kola is pretty gross; pisco sours are not.

    5) Choose a hiking group that gets you to Machu Picchu at sunrise if you can. You'll miss the hoards of tourists that arrive by train later in the day, and you'll also get the best light conditions for photos. It's pretty magical.

    6) Schedule in a side trip to Lake Titicaca and La Paz if you can. It's absolutely breath-taking. When in La Paz, don't go on the Most Dangerous Road in the World unless you like heart attacks.

  28. #358
    Peaceful Oasis TomAz's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by miscorrections View Post
    Be sure to try the cuy and report back how it is.
    Yes. it's on my list.
    Quote Originally Posted by efrain44 View Post
    Anyone know who the guy in the Cardinals jersey is? I've seen him in pictures on the board and I thought I saw him this year.

  29. #359
    Peaceful Oasis TomAz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Courtney View Post
    Ooh. Tom, I haven't been to Ecuador, but I can talk with you about Peru.

    Key tips:
    1) Give yourself at least a day to get over altitude sickness when you arrive in Cuzco. Possibly more. That altitude sickness medication doesn't work on everybody. People who are in good cardiovascular shape generally acclimate more quickly.

    2) Don't even think about driving from Lima to Cuzco. Take a plane. And schedule your flight for first thing in the morning, because the afternoon flights get canceled at least 50% of the time due to weather conditions.

    3) Lima is awesome, take some time to explore if you can instead of just breezing in and out on your way to other parts of the country.

    4) Inca Kola is pretty gross; pisco sours are not.

    5) Choose a hiking group that gets you to Machu Picchu at sunrise if you can. You'll miss the hoards of tourists that arrive by train later in the day, and you'll also get the best light conditions for photos. It's pretty magical.

    6) Schedule in a side trip to Lake Titicaca and La Paz if you can. It's absolutely breath-taking. When in La Paz, don't go on the Most Dangerous Road in the World unless you like heart attacks.
    Thanks Courtney. tentative itin is 2 days in the Sacred Valley, then Machu Picchu, then Cuzco. Sacred Valley is ~1000 ft lower than Cuzco so it's supposed to be a good itin to get acclimatized.

    And yea, no driving, I've already learned the roads are pretty awful.
    Quote Originally Posted by efrain44 View Post
    Anyone know who the guy in the Cardinals jersey is? I've seen him in pictures on the board and I thought I saw him this year.

  30. #360
    MENACING Courtney's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Travel Thread

    Sounds like a good plan. I skipped Sacred Valley, but in retrospect I wish that I had scheduled it in.


    On an unrelated note, United just announced a sale: flights to or from Hawaii to the mainland for 32,000 miles from now through May 12. I have 200k+ United miles sitting around at this point, so I need to think of a good trip or two.

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