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Old 03-16-2014, 12:34 PM   #1361
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Sounds fine, but be aware that some countries require that your passport be valid for six months after the end of your visit.
Road Scholar said that it only had to go to 3 months after the date of my trip. I have to say that the person I spoke to was very professional, efficient and thorough when I signed up. They have been doing this a long time with old people so they probably have all these issues accounted for.
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Old 03-16-2014, 04:46 PM   #1362
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I've got a Road Scholar trip to Berlin planned for May 16-24. I was in Germany for a w*rk conference in 1997 and spent a couple of nights in Berlin and loved it. This particular Road Scholar trip is being coordinated with our Osher Lifelong Learning Program. Our OLLI got to pick the traveling faculty from the UC Berkeley faculty. It has been nearly 10 yrs since I've travelled out of the country. Looking forward to this.
I too spent some time in Berlin attending a w*rk conference, in 2009, and added an extra day or two to explore. I thoroughly enjoyed the city and think it would be worth visiting again. Berliners are quite frugal and down to earth, and I found them to be very friendly. Things work efficiently and there is a lot to see. My favourite spots were the Bauhaus and DDR museums.

It will be interesting to hear your feedback on the Road Scholar trip, in particular, whether you feel you fit in with the group. I attended one RS program and found that I was at the extreme young end of the age spectrum.
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Old 03-17-2014, 02:23 PM   #1363
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And get registered in the trusted traveler program if you have time. It will save you a lot of hassle at airports.

https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/main/goes
I should also mention that this is a general recommendation, not a specific one.

We were VERY pleasantly surprised in January when we flew out of a small airport in a small (population under 6,000) town. Despite the fact that the TSA website said the program was NOT in effect there, it really was. We bypassed the normal "Take your shoes off, etc." security and were treated like human beings, simply because we had the Pre-Check designation on our boarding passes.
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Old 03-19-2014, 02:27 PM   #1364
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Getting restless, since winter doesn't want to let go of our throats, and it's still 182 days until we head out for Copenhagen...........so we're at the tire kicking stage of where to go in the next little while.

One possibility is Budapest. Anyone been? Was it enjoyable? Day trips? How long a stay is optimal? Stuff like that.

Thanks.
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Old 03-19-2014, 02:38 PM   #1365
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Getting restless, since winter doesn't want to let go of our throats, and it's still 182 days until we head out for Copenhagen...........so we're at the tire kicking stage of where to go in the next little while.

One possibility is Budapest. Anyone been? Was it enjoyable? Day trips? How long a stay is optimal? Stuff like that.

Thanks.
I'm going to Budapest later this Spring to start a cruise up the River Danube and will be spending two days there. If you can wait I will be happy to share my impressions.
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Old 03-19-2014, 03:06 PM   #1366
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I'm going to Budapest later this Spring to start a cruise up the River Danube and will be spending two days there. If you can wait I will be happy to share my impressions.
Love to hear them.....but we may have "been and gone" by then.
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Old 03-19-2014, 03:52 PM   #1367
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I'm going to Budapest later this Spring to start a cruise up the River Danube and will be spending two days there. If you can wait I will be happy to share my impressions.
hmmm, We're taking a similar cruise next month. Amsterdam to Budapest in 15 days.

This will be our second river cruise and are very much looking forward to it. Hungary and Slovakia will be new countries for us.
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Old 03-19-2014, 03:59 PM   #1368
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I too spent some time in Berlin attending a w*rk conference, in 2009, and added an extra day or two to explore. I thoroughly enjoyed the city and think it would be worth visiting again. Berliners are quite frugal and down to earth, and I found them to be very friendly. Things work efficiently and there is a lot to see. My favourite spots were the Bauhaus and DDR museums.

It will be interesting to hear your feedback on the Road Scholar trip, in particular, whether you feel you fit in with the group. I attended one RS program and found that I was at the extreme young end of the age spectrum.
Oh good. I was thinking about the Bauhaus and DDR museums for my free afternoons.

I pretty much know the type of people who will be in my RS group. This RS trip is in collaboration with my Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UC Berkeley. I've been active with this OLLI for 3 yrs. The "experts" are profs from UCB.
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Old 03-19-2014, 04:01 PM   #1369
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Just got back from a road trip down to Florida to get a little sunshine. We stayed in Miami Beach for four nights and had a great time. The weather was perfect.

Then we drove US-41 over to Naples. We stopped in the Everglades N.P. and took a boat out on the water where we saw a bunch of dolphins - two solitary ones that liked to follow in the boats wake and a pod of five that seemed to be having a lot of fun. We also stopped at Fakahatchee State Park and saw a Bald Eagle on a nest.

After a quick stay in Naples we drove up the gulf coast (new to us) and had dinner in Sarasota where, again, we saw a couple of dolphins in Sarasota Bay swimming a few feet from our bayside dinner table.

The drive was fun in the (relatively) new car. EXCEPT that driving home through Atlanta I hit a giant pothole and blew out both right side tires. Of course this was late Saturday afternoon and we ended up staying in Atlanta until Monday morning to get new tires. Not fun, but we actually meet a number of very nice folks in Atlanta.
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Old 03-19-2014, 04:04 PM   #1370
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Berlin is on my short list of places to visit.

When I was younger I was on a business trip in Germany and had a free weekend. Me and another one of my fellow travelers hopped on a train from Hamburg and went to Berlin for the weekend. It was very interesting to pass through East Germany (getting inspected and all) on the train. I also took a tour through Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin. That was a very bleak place back in the mid 80's.

I really want to see the place well after reunification and all the new building.
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Old 03-19-2014, 04:09 PM   #1371
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Berlin is on my short list of places to visit.

When I was younger I was on a business trip in Germany and had a free weekend. Me and another one of my fellow travelers hopped on a train from Hamburg and went to Berlin for the weekend. It was very interesting to pass through East Germany (getting inspected and all) on the train. I also took a tour through Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin. That was a very bleak place back in the mid 80's.

I really want to see the place well after reunification and all the new building.
I saw it (on a business trip) in 1997, seven yrs after the wall came down. At that time the real estate where the wall used to be was just being developed. I could see a line of construction cranes at work. I'm looking forward to this return trip to see the city in some more depth.

This will be a little different than past trips to Europe. Typically I would only allocate 4-5 days for a major city. I'll be there 8 days this time. Shouldn't be much different than my week in NY City last year though.
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Old 03-19-2014, 04:31 PM   #1372
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Getting restless, since winter doesn't want to let go of our throats, and it's still 182 days until we head out for Copenhagen...........so we're at the tire kicking stage of where to go in the next little while.

One possibility is Budapest. Anyone been? Was it enjoyable? Day trips? How long a stay is optimal? Stuff like that.

Thanks.
If you hurry, you can catch this:

Budapest Spring Festival 2014

I was there at this time of year for 10 days a few years back with a buddy of mine who likes to travel (DW is afraid of flying). Their Spring Music Fest is great if you are into that kind of thing. Classical, traditional ethnic, jazz.

We had tickets for a few key items we wanted to see, then found that it wasn't hard to get tickets there (if you can find the little second story ticket outlet, while trying to match the letters on the pamphlet with the signs in the building), and there was a ticket outlet on one of the squares that sold discounted tickets for performances that day that were not sold out. Some of those last minute bargains were among the best we saw.

We never did make any day trips, between eating, sightseeing, walking around, eating, music, eating and drinking, music, and drinking and music (there were some great jazz and blues clubs that were not part of the festival) we kept busy (a lazy kind of busy, which is what we wanted). The local beer is pretty good, and cheaper than water, and good Belgium beer was easy to find (not so much on other beer styles). The food was fantastic, and very cheap, so we ate gourmet almost every night - why not, when it is less than an average meal at home? Duck, goose were common and wonderful. Pastries are fantastic. Good thing we did lots of walking.

It is early enough in the year that it didn't seem real crowded, but the festival attracts enough so that it doesn't feel like you are somewhere in the 'off season'. The Basilica, Parliament, the park on the island at the north end, just walking around, observing - each of the many bridges is a different design (Technically, Buda and Pest are different municipalities, one on each side of the Danube).

Rained a few days, but some very nice sunny days also. It's spring so you get what you get.

-ERD50
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Old 03-20-2014, 02:33 PM   #1373
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Berlin is on my short list of places to visit.

When I was younger I was on a business trip in Germany and had a free weekend. Me and another one of my fellow travelers hopped on a train from Hamburg and went to Berlin for the weekend. It was very interesting to pass through East Germany (getting inspected and all) on the train. I also took a tour through Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin. That was a very bleak place back in the mid 80's.

I really want to see the place well after reunification and all the new building.
I had a similar experience. I was consulting in Berlin for work and went to Hamburg for the weekend with a colleague to stay with his family in probably 1987. I was in my late 20s and we cut through West Berlin around 11pm on a Friday to drive to Hamburg. I saw all these young people in black clothes waiting in line to get into the dance clubs. I really wanted to jump out of the car and get in line.

Berlin is way up there on my bucket list, though I'll probably pass on the dance clubs this time around.
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Old 03-21-2014, 01:52 PM   #1374
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Berlin is way up there on my bucket list, though I'll probably pass on the dance clubs this time around.
Not me. I'm a salsa dancer. I've got the name of a couple of salsa clubs to check out.
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Old 03-21-2014, 01:58 PM   #1375
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If you hurry, you can catch this:

Budapest Spring Festival 2014
Won't make it in time for that, but we fly out May 06.........stay in Budapest until May 15, then spend three days in Paris on the way back.
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Old 03-21-2014, 04:46 PM   #1376
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Won't make it in time for that, but we fly out May 06.........stay in Budapest until May 15, then spend three days in Paris on the way back.
Budapest and Paris: sounds like an awesome urban trip for a culture vulture!
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Old 03-21-2014, 06:29 PM   #1377
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Budapest and Paris: sounds like an awesome urban trip for a culture vulture!
Not sure about the 'culture', but the rest fits.
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Old 03-21-2014, 10:14 PM   #1378
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Just got back from 4 days in San Francisco, finally got around to touring Alcatraz, which was mildly interesting and well organized. Walked 20,000 steps a day with lots of hills, which was great. Now looking for another city to do 4 days in in late April. We usually look for last minute deals, but very open to suggestions!

San Fran, Portland, Vegas, and San Diego are all recent destinations.

Where else should we try? We usually only get 4 days, so Western US or Canada is best.
4 days? Fly to Phoenix then drive to Sedona-Flagstaff. Take 1 or 2 days and go to Grand Canyon.
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Old 03-21-2014, 10:18 PM   #1379
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Should I get travelers insurance? I haven't traveled much recently but I did a fair amount before. My inclination is not to.
I vote 'no.' I've heard a lot of complaints about coverage.
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Old 03-22-2014, 07:50 AM   #1380
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Just got back from a short trip to Merida and Chichen Itza. Merida is a very nice city with wonderful colonial architecture, museums and restaurants. We stayed at a small hotel/B&B that was centrally located a short distance between the historic city center and the southern end of the Paseo de Montego. Great place for only $79/ngt with taxes and gourmet breakfast included. Room also had a mini fridge stocked daily with 2 bottles of water, 2 soft drinks and two beers free of charge.

Chichen Itza just boggles the mind. I got the feeling I was on a Hollywood movie set in between takes.

Avoid both during the summer though. It was 93 the day we visited Chichen Itza and that was the hottest 93 I've ever experienced. Hotel owner says it is regularly 105+ during the summer months.
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