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Old 07-19-2014, 10:43 PM   #1581
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Just booked a Sept trip flight to Vienna. Plan to see Budapest and Prague, then fly south to Malta, Sicily, and then either a last minute cruise or time on Crete. Can't wait.
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Old 07-19-2014, 11:12 PM   #1582
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Brett, I am officially jealous :-) Vienna and Prague are on my radar. We live in Malta right now, and just got back from Budapest a few days ago. I love that city, we actually thought it would be our next place to stay for a while...


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Old 07-20-2014, 08:37 AM   #1583
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Just booked a Sept trip flight to Vienna. Plan to see Budapest and Prague, then fly south to Malta, Sicily, and then either a last minute cruise or time on Crete. Can't wait.
Sounds really cool. How will you do ground transportation?
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Old 07-25-2014, 12:24 AM   #1584
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Just got back from New Orleans & Mexico. Way too hot so I'm off to Alaska in 6 weeks -- should have flipped those plans but the 1st group wanted some place hot & the second group wants hiking. Ah well, nice to have time to do both

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Old 07-25-2014, 12:27 AM   #1585
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Planning on Brussels or Turkey in November. Wow time flies!

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Old 07-26-2014, 10:02 AM   #1586
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Lsbcal...we will do ground by rail for Vienna, Budapest, Prague. Snagged a great deal on a flight from Prague to Malta. Will do combo of public transit and car for Malta/Gozo. In Sicily we will rent a car. After that....it may a last minute Med cruise or some other good offer.

We find the trick is understanding the prevailing prices so that you can take advantage of a great offer when it comes along. And quickly, before it sells out or disappears off the radar.
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Old 07-26-2014, 03:03 PM   #1587
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Lsbcal...we will do ground by rail for Vienna, Budapest, Prague. Snagged a great deal on a flight from Prague to Malta. ...
Do you use the web at home to reserve rail or a consiege at your hotel or. ..?
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Old 07-26-2014, 03:10 PM   #1588
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Suriname, but it's a work trip. This is a wonderful country, the people are amazing. The ones I deal with are well educated and so friendly. They have a lot of ecotourism into the jungle. And there are sloths, and really big snakes...
Boy, embarrassed to admit I don't know where Suriname is!
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Old 07-26-2014, 03:17 PM   #1589
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Newfoundland and Nova Scotia recently, my first time in NL. I was mostly in and near St. John's, and absolutely loved it. beautiful town, beautiful countryside, friendly people, and some of the most perfectly cooked codfish I've ever eaten. Definitely on the list for a return visit.

As to NS, I thoroughly enjoy Halifax, but the smaller towns have always been a delight and this trip was no exception. I even found a tiny brewpub with beer so good I nearly overindulged.
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Old 07-26-2014, 03:19 PM   #1590
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Boy, embarrassed to admit I don't know where Suriname is!
Well everyone knows that.

...have to admit I had to look it up. I did have the right hemisphere though.
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Old 07-26-2014, 04:01 PM   #1591
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We are going to Mammoth Lakes in late August just before the Labor Day crowd moves in. Will be taking day trips to hiking points in the Eastern Sierras. We take our watercolor sketch material with us and just have a great time observing and sketching. Sketch material is pretty light for hiking.

Example, drive to Tioga Pass at 10,000 feet just inside Yosemite. Take short hike up and over the saddle and down into Gaylor Lakes. Very beautiful lakes carved out by old glaciers. Can see for miles and there are big granite boulders strewn around this land. Easy hiking in this area. Incredibly seanic. Then return and enjoy a nice meal in Mammouth Lakes with some good, informal outdoor seating restaurant.

Will be there for about one week.
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Old 07-26-2014, 10:34 PM   #1592
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We will book either rail or bus to from Vienna to Budapest after we arrive in Vienna. We have to book a combo rail/boat tour to the Wachau Valley at the same time. Will book rail from Budapest to Prague once we decide what day to travel and whether or not to stop in Bratislava for a day. We only use the country rail sites, never any of the rail booking sites that add a considerable surcharge on the tickets.
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Old 08-01-2014, 05:20 PM   #1593
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Man, the toughest thing about getting ready for a trip is deciding what bags to take. Especially, for me, which camera bag. After fretting about what reduced amount of camera gear to carry, I started looking at a new lens that might be a better fit for Europe, and it took about 2 hours of browsing online before I realized I already owned that lens for years, and in fact had used it heavily last year before upgrading. Dop!!!!

Anyway - the good news, is we figured out what bags will work best, and that we don't need to buy any new luggage, and that I don't even have to buy any new camera bags or lenses! Wow!
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Old 08-01-2014, 05:22 PM   #1594
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We will book either rail or bus to from Vienna to Budapest after we arrive in Vienna. We have to book a combo rail/boat tour to the Wachau Valley at the same time. Will book rail from Budapest to Prague once we decide what day to travel and whether or not to stop in Bratislava for a day. We only use the country rail sites, never any of the rail booking sites that add a considerable surcharge on the tickets.
Folks online tell me you can buy that Wachau Valley kombiticket at the train station the very morning you do the trip. We will probably buy it when we arrive in Vienna since we are arriving by train and so it'll be easy to stop by the ticket counter. It's good for 10 days.
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Old 08-01-2014, 05:24 PM   #1595
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Well everyone knows that.

...have to admit I had to look it up. I did have the right hemisphere though.
I didn't meet anyone from Suriname until I went to Amsterdam. I also met people from Curacao and various other countries I had heard of but never met anyone from. I also had to look up Suriname (just to be sure).
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Old 08-01-2014, 05:32 PM   #1596
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Do you use the web at home to reserve rail or a consiege at your hotel or. ..?
Both DeutschBahn dbahn.de and the ÖBB (Austrian railway) have excellent English websites. We're traveling on a Eurail pass, and only one train (an overnight) required reservations. I was able to buy the reservation and pay the supplement for our sleeping accommodations on-line from dbahn.de and got a PDF ticket to print. None of the high-speed Austrian trains require reservations. Most people just show up and go, although you can get a better price buying ahead (until the better prices run out), but then you are locked into a specific train, time and day.

The ÖBB "travel portal" is so good in English, that I have been able to print out schedules and times for several of our trips that combine bus, train and ferry! With all the pertinent informations, maps showing routes, times, platform numbers, etc., etc. They will even generate your own custom PDF for you.
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Old 08-01-2014, 05:39 PM   #1597
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Phones in Europe:

I bought a really cheap "BLU" dual-SIM quad GSM (dumb) phone from Amazon that cost $25. Went by a T-mobile shop and picket up a SIM and $10 worth of time just to test it and make sure everything works. Worked like a charm as soon as I put in the activated SIM. When we arrive in Europe we'll by a SIM in Amsterdam for local calls (mainly to make it easy on SIL), and I'll pick up another SIM when we reach Austria.

DH is going to pick up a couple of months of the T-Mobile no-contract "Simple Choice Plan" and nano-SIM for his (Verizon) iPhone5 which will make it easy to keep in touch at home if needed as well as roam anywhere we visit in Europe for minimal extra charges.
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Old 08-01-2014, 10:29 PM   #1598
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Audrey, you are doing some heavily lifting with all the preparation. I've done some of that and my hat is off to you. For me some of the prep relieved the trip anxiety too.

Regarding the camera, I know some are very much more taken with photography then myself. I've found that just having one of those small zoom lens Cannon's on my belt works for me. It's just too much weight and bulk to lug around an SLR. If I put too much in a day pack it starts to bother my back or neck.

There is one new Cannon I was looking at and would consider, link here:
Amazon.com : Canon PowerShot ELPH 340 HS 16MP Digital Camera (Purple) : Camera & Photo
Haven't read any recent reviews of this one though.
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Old 08-01-2014, 10:35 PM   #1599
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I am heading to Europe for 3 weeks in the fall and don't want to take my DSLR as it is too heavy to carry around all of that time. A photographer friend suggested a Nikon J3 Mirrorless Camera. He said it is small enough to fit into my pocket and has interchangeable lens's.


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Old 08-02-2014, 06:01 AM   #1600
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Audrey, you are doing some heavily lifting with all the preparation. I've done some of that and my hat is off to you. For me some of the prep relieved the trip anxiety too.

Regarding the camera, I know some are very much more taken with photography then myself. I've found that just having one of those small zoom lens Cannon's on my belt works for me. It's just too much weight and bulk to lug around an SLR. If I put too much in a day pack it starts to bother my back or neck.

There is one new Cannon I was looking at and would consider, link here:
Amazon.com : Canon PowerShot ELPH 340 HS 16MP Digital Camera (Purple) : Camera & Photo
Haven't read any recent reviews of this one though.
Yes, I am. In a way I'm glad we didn't have any other major plans this summer, as I have spent a great deal of time on the prep.

I think it means that in addition to having a sensible itinerary which will be full, but not rushed, when we reach our several destinations I'll be able relax and enjoy the location instead of furiously trying to figure out what to do, transportation issues, where to eat, what order to do things, etc. We can enjoy the strolling, sightseeing, sitting in cafés/beer gardens, wandering vineyard, etc. with our top "todo" priorities selected and plenty of time to do them. Anyway, that's the plan .

And some things I know are important from our Europe trip last year. We couldn't plan that one much ahead as the priority was a major family event, and so the few days in Belgium at the end was a furious last minute whirlwind.

It's worth noting that all this "heavy lifting" work would disappear if we had selected a planned tour to join. But we really enjoy traveling Europe on our own.

I am hoping that next time there won't be quite so much prep as some of the logistics will be the same. And we might do a tour for part of it when traveling to an unfamiliar area.

We plan to visit Europe annually as my brother and his family lives there.

On the camera, I just can't give up my full frame DSLR with the uber wide lenses. That setup really shines in Europe, even if handheld. I've used Powershots before and was so relieved to get back to an SLR. Otherwise, we'll just use an iPhone as camera (which DH will do anyway).

The EOS 6D is not a particularly heavy DSLR anyway.
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