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Old 06-12-2014, 10:28 AM   #1501
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Next Friday the 20th is my last day of work.
On Sunday the 22th We are heading for a two week driving trip visiting Baltimore, Myrtle beach, Washington DC and NY city.

In August we're taking the Ferry from Portland Maine to Nova Scotia for a week.

Then in late September we plan to visit San Fran, Seattle and Vancouver.
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Old 06-21-2014, 05:40 PM   #1502
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Woohoo! Finally!

After months of planning, research, and a few unrelated obstacles and delays thrown into the mix.......

We've booked most of our late summer trip to Bavaria and Austria - stopping to visit family in Amsterdam first. Munich, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Vienna, Melk and Fussen here we come!

It's been a head banging exercise!

Still can't book the overnight train we need from Amsterdam to Munich as the overnight train time tables are blocked after Aug 22nd, but there is plenty of time for that to resolve or make other arrangements.
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Old 06-21-2014, 05:45 PM   #1503
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Figure out where most of your money is going (evaporating) and modify your behavior so that you (mainly) enjoy what you went there to see/do, and cut back on things that are not 'necessary' to attain the desired result.
The answer would be hotels! European hotels are outrageously expensive, and after that the restaurants - also outrageously expensive.

But that's what the accumulated money was saved for!
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Old 06-21-2014, 05:52 PM   #1504
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The answer would be hotels! European hotels are outrageously expensive, and after that the restaurants - also outrageously expensive.

But that's what the accumulated money was saved for!
I recently visited some of the places you are planning to go to, but my accommodation was on a cruise ship. Melk Abbey is amazing. Another beautiful abbey is Weltenburg, and there is a guesthouse there. I haven't investigated the cost of such places, but I wonder if they might be more reasonable than hotels?
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Old 06-21-2014, 05:58 PM   #1505
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I recently visited some of the places you are planning to go to, but my accommodation was on a cruise ship. Melk Abbey is amazing. Another beautiful abbey is Weltenburg, and there is a guesthouse there. I haven't investigated the cost of such places, but I wonder if they might be more reasonable than hotels?
I looked at a cruise first. It's probably going to be about the same although I haven't looked at the river cruise prices in quite while. I remember it wasn't cheap.

Basically, we wanted to spend more days in specific cities. We are going to cruise the Danube Wachau Valley section between Melk and Krems after visiting the Melk abbey. It's all available as a day trip "kombiticket" including train fare out of Vienna.
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Old 06-21-2014, 06:11 PM   #1506
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I looked at a cruise first. It's probably going to be about the same although I haven't looked at the river cruise prices in quite while. I remember it wasn't cheap.

Basically, we wanted to spend more days in specific cities. We are going to cruise the Danube Wachau Valley section between Melk and Krems after visiting the Melk abbey. It's all available as a day trip "kombitiket" including train fare out of Vienna.
That sounds wonderful, Audrey. You will love the Wachau region. Durnstein was one of my favourite stops. Check out the apricot liqueurs and the hilltop castle where Richard the Lionhearted was imprisoned.

I agree with you about spending more time in specific cities. I spent 1.5 days in Vienna during my cruise, but it was not enough time to get acquainted with such a large cosmopolitan city. OTOH, I did a day trip to Salzburg and the Austrian lake country, and it was perfect. I was pleasantly surprised to find that many people in rural Austria and Bavaria still wear traditional clothing.

The cruise was expensive but I managed to find one without a single supplement and in my mind the outstanding service completely justified the price. I sailed with Avalon Waterways. I know that not all cruise lines offer the same service.
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Old 06-21-2014, 06:17 PM   #1507
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The answer would be hotels! European hotels are outrageously expensive
Have you tried House Trip and/or Wimdu?
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Old 06-21-2014, 06:22 PM   #1508
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Have you tried House Trip and/or Wimdu?
Not looking for hotel alternatives. Just amazed at the prices.

If we were spending months in Europe with a week or more in various cities I would definitely be looking at alternatives.
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Old 06-21-2014, 06:30 PM   #1509
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Not looking for hotel alternatives. Just amazed at the prices.
One money saving idea is to choose a 3 or 4 star hotel in the suburbs, close to public transportation. For example, a few years ago I stayed at a Mercure hotel in Berlin, at Siemensdamm. It was clean, pleasant and economical (~€75 per night IIRC), with an excellent restaurant and pleasant staff, and the entrance to the U-Bahn was right outside the front door.

http://ca.hotels.com/hotel/details.h...-03-2014&rooms
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Old 06-21-2014, 06:32 PM   #1510
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That sounds wonderful, Audrey. You will love the Wachau region. Durnstein was one of my favourite stops. Check out the apricot liqueurs and the hilltop castle where Richard the Lionhearted was imprisoned.

I agree with you about spending more time in specific cities. I spent 1.5 days in Vienna during my cruise, but it was not enough time to get acquainted with such a large cosmopolitan city. OTOH, I did a day trip to Salzburg and the Austrian lake country, and it was perfect. I was pleasantly surprised to find that many people in rural Austria and Bavaria still wear traditional clothing.

The cruise was expensive but I managed to find one without a single supplement and in my mind the outstanding service completely justified the price. I sailed with Avalon Waterways. I know that not all cruise lines offer the same service.
My neighbors all did the Viking trip, so that's the one I looked at.

For Austria, we're spending 5 nights in Vienna, 3 in Salzburg, three in Hallstatt up in the alpine Lake District. And taking trains between. Basically there was enough to do in each place to justify the length of stay and from Vienna do a major day trip on one of the days.

The Kombiticket is pretty nice. Go by train to Melk as early as you want, take a 11:30, 1:30pm, or 4:30 boat cruise to Krems - you can get off at Durnstein if you want. Return to Vienna from Krems whenever you want that evening.

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Old 06-21-2014, 06:35 PM   #1511
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One money saving idea is to choose a 3 or 4 star hotel in the suburbs, close to public transportation. For example, a few years ago I stayed at a Mercure hotel in Berlin, at Siemensdamm. It was clean, pleasant and economical (~€75 per night IIRC), with an excellent restaurant and pleasant staff, and the entrance to the U-Bahn was right outside the front door.

http://ca.hotels.com/hotel/details.h...-03-2014&rooms
I guess we're just going to splurge on the hotels ! Hey, at least it's not as expensive as staying at the Hotel Sacher or Coburg Palace!!!

We're probably going to stay at the Hotel Am Parkring.
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Old 06-21-2014, 06:42 PM   #1512
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I guess we're just going to splurge on the hotels ! Hey, at least it's not as expensive as staying at the Hotel Sacher or Coburg Palace!!!

We're probably going to stay at the Hotel Am Parkring.
It looks like a nice hotel and a good location. Price does not seem outrageous to me (for Europe). I predict you will have a wonderful time!
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Our big trip to the PNW
Old 06-21-2014, 07:14 PM   #1513
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Our big trip to the PNW

DH & I just returned from a trip we had planned to take a couple of years ago, but family matters prevented us from taking it until now*. Which is just as well, we celebrated our 25th anniversary while on this trip!
*I'm such a pessimist, I didn't want to mention this trip ahead of time for fear that something would go wrong and we'd need to cancel this trip yet again -- we had to cancel it three times over the last couple of years on account of the family matter. In this case, fourth try was the charm!
We first drove from the SF Bay area, overnighted in Ashland OR, and then continued on to the Olympic Penninsula in WA state. We stayed there for a few days, biking the Olympic Discovery Trail (we brought our bikes with us).

Then we took the car ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria BC and stayed for a week in Sidney, which is about 20 miles north of Victoria. We biked a lot on the excellent Lochside & Galloping Goose Trails, bopping around the Saanich Penninsula and into Victoria. We spent a good part of a day at Butchart Gardens, one of our favoritest places, and the nearby Butterfly Garden.

After that, we took a ferry from Sidney BC to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island in WA state, and then took another ferry to Lopez Island which also in the San Juan Islands chain. There we stayed in a lovely vacation rental house for another week. We biked around Lopez Island a lot, did some hiking, and hung out on the deck of our house and enjoyed the gorgeous views. We also walked onto the interisland ferry to Friday Harbor, and took a shuttle bus around San Juan island which took us to Roche Harbor and Lime Kiln park the first day (where we just missed seeing a pod of orcas swimming by the shore, oh well). We couldn't fit in all the places we wanted to see in one day, so we went back another day and spent a good chunk of time at English Camp, which used to be a British military outpost back when the US and Britain were both laying claim to the San Juan islands (spoiler alert: the US got them). It's now a national park, a lovely place to wander around. We spent some time chatting with the volunteer docents, a very nice early-retired couple from Colorado. They spend about seven months out of the year volunteering at various national parks, living out of their RV and seeing the country, which seems like a pretty great way to live!

After our excellent week in the San Juan islands, we took the ferry eastbound to Anacortes WA, overnighted in Seattle and met up with friends, and then took the scenic route back home along the Pacific Coast highway, with stopovers in Seaside OR, Bandon OR, and Fortuna CA (the latter so that we could meander along the Avenue of the Giants and enjoy the redwoods in Humboldt Redwoods State Park).

Remarkably, we ran into significant rainfall only once during the entire 3 weeks in the PNW, and that's when we spent the one night in Seattle enroute to the OR coast on our way home. The rest of the time, the weather was fabulous, and everything went without a hitch. A grand time was had.
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Old 06-22-2014, 11:08 AM   #1514
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A grand time was had.
Congratulations. We often do that northern loop. Truly magical! I would have added James Bay where you land on the ferry in Victoria but Sidney is convenient for sure.
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Old 06-22-2014, 06:08 PM   #1515
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Those folks around here who encouraged us to take the Cassiar Hwy in British Columbia are owed a massive thank you! Such an amazing ride and truly a big highlight of our four weeks recently on the road.

We saw some stunning sights and loved camping at the provincial parks along the way.

And pro tip for the Liard Hot Springs when we came out of Yukon heading back south--absolutely wonderful.

Nice to be back in my own bed after tent camping for a month, though!
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Old 06-26-2014, 10:57 PM   #1516
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and see the beautiful beaches in Thailand.
Travel information usually lags behind reality. I live in Thailand, so when contemplating a beach trip I google 'sewage' and the name of the beach or island.
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Old 06-26-2014, 11:08 PM   #1517
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Tokyo will be the bookends of my second Japan trip, 2 weeks in late Sept. Middle of trip will probably be slow travel on the Izu Penninsula, mostly on the west coast, where maps show Mt. Fuji viewpoints (if the weather is clear). The appeal is wandering, photography, onsen (hot springs), resort areas during off season and, if needed, recover from Tokyo overload. My Tokyo plans will be designed to cultivate overload of what Monty Python called 'and now for something completely different'.
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Old 06-26-2014, 11:48 PM   #1518
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I want to visit Phuket. I heard that it is one of the best places in Thailand. It has white sand beaches and said to be the paradise for many expats.
Many love Phuket. Some of the west coast beaches are quiet, Patong is a zoo. It offers all the comfort and amenities one could ask for - at a price. What may be a downside for some is that one can visit Phuket and see as much of Thailand as a zoo visitor sees of Africa.

My problems with Phuket include high prices, canals containing raw sewage that flow into the ocean (I'd look at google maps satellite photos returning), the 'taxi mafia' and way too many tourists. If you're ever at a beach where the lifeguards have posted warnings about dangerous waters, stay out. Drownings under such conditions can happen several times a week.
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Old 06-28-2014, 12:37 PM   #1519
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Phuket was our least favourite place in Thailand last Jan/Feb. We much preferred Koh Samui and the Krabi area. Too crowded, too many scams.

Our trip was interrupted. Plan to leave first week of January and spend more time in Bankgok, Chiang Mai, and then head down to Koh Lanta and nearby islands/beach areas. Making our way down through Malaysia to Sydney for a Feb. 20 cruise.
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Old 06-29-2014, 09:14 AM   #1520
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We enjoyed Koh Samui quite a bit, but really enjoyed Koh Tao. It's off the beaten path, but great beaches, snorkeling and diving. We did a resort dive, which was a first for us. Really affordable and one of the highlights of our time in Thailand.


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