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Old 09-12-2017, 08:31 AM   #41
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I have a back-burner plan (that will probably remain there) to take jaded tourists to all kinds of small European towns that are just as nice, historic, quaint, cute, etc as the famous places, but half the price and one-tenth as packed with busloads of people. Besalú in Catalonia, Dambach instead of Riquewihr in Alsace, Vitré in Brittany, Bad Friedrichshall near Heilbronn in Germany...
This is a great idea--we've seen some amazing places with "native" family and friends that are pretty far off the tourist radar and where virtually no one speaks English. We would never have found them otherwise.

By the time something is on our radar, it's on other people's too. Personally I never mind being perceived as a tourist because duh, I am, and whatever brought others is still there.

There's an awful lot of undiscoveredness out there outside Europe, btw--DS honeymooned in Argentina and Uruguay several years ago and loved it. I guess Europe appeals to more people?
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Old 09-12-2017, 10:32 AM   #42
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I doubt very much whether we would even consider an organized tour. It is why we tend to travel to some different places, often during the shoulder season. Some of our best travel experiences happened by chance.

Now, we seldom plan more than a few days in advance. We may have a flight arrival date and a departure date (usually open jaw), a two day reservation when we arrive and a reservation for the night before our flight home but that is typically the extent of it. We have a loose plan in between that is very much subject to change.
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Old 09-12-2017, 10:35 AM   #43
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Some of our best travel experiences happened by chance.
Serendipity R Us.
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Old 09-12-2017, 11:55 AM   #44
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The extent of our winter trip planning. We fly to Singapore in Jan. We fly home from Manila in March.

We want to spend time in southern Thailand and then on to Philippines. As well as Singapore and perhaps Penang. We know we are limited to 30 days unless we get extended visas. The rest is up in the air. We have a general idea of where we want to go in the Philippines and will vet it with my mechanic (from Philippines) and another acquaintance who hails from there. After that we go where our trip takes us.

That is how we have traveled in the past and it works for us. Cannot imagine having a schedule that outlines each and every day where to go, where to be, what to see. I had enough of that during my business travel days.
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Old 09-12-2017, 01:04 PM   #45
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Thanks for this thread. I'm getting tired of mainland Europe, even during off-season. And I imagine my trip in a month to Korea and Japan won't be much better. I really do need to branch out some
Depends on where you go. Korea is not a huge tourist destination. I worked there for a while and just did not see huge numbers of tourists. Most Westerners (i.e. Americans) were with the military, and the 8th Army has recently relocated their HQ from downtown Seoul to a town about 1.5 hours south.
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Old 09-12-2017, 01:14 PM   #46
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Kind of a bummer about the 5000 cruise passengers disembarking in Tallinn. I'm curious if that's just a few times per week or nearly every day. The cruise passengers really swamped Venice when we were there. Very nice first thing in the AM and in the evenings but during the day in the tourist area it was insanity.
Not to hate on cruises in general, but man...they sure do ruin a good place.

BCG mentioned Barbuda...talk about bumming me out. We were planning on a visit next May to enjoy the solitude it offered but so much for that idea.
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Old 09-12-2017, 01:51 PM   #47
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I have a back-burner plan (that will probably remain there) to take jaded tourists to all kinds of small European towns that are just as nice, historic, quaint, cute, etc as the famous places, but half the price and one-tenth as packed with busloads of people. Besalú in Catalonia, Dambach instead of Riquewihr in Alsace, Vitré in Brittany, Bad Friedrichshall near Heilbronn in Germany...
Durbuy, Dinant, Bouillon, Spa. All in Belgium. A bit touristy local, not international as far as I know.
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Old 09-12-2017, 02:00 PM   #48
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Not to hate on cruises in general, but man...they sure do ruin a good place.

BCG mentioned Barbuda...talk about bumming me out. We were planning on a visit next May to enjoy the solitude it offered but so much for that idea.
There will be lots of solitude in Barbuda if you visit it next May, or maybe lots of new construction to see!
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Old 09-12-2017, 02:04 PM   #49
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There will be lots of solitude in Barbuda if you visit it next May, or maybe lots of new construction to see!
I do like solitude, but I like AC even better!
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Old 09-12-2017, 03:35 PM   #50
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I have a back-burner plan (that will probably remain there) to take jaded tourists to all kinds of small European towns that are just as nice, historic, quaint, cute, etc as the famous places, but half the price and one-tenth as packed with busloads of people. Besalú in Catalonia, Dambach instead of Riquewihr in Alsace, Vitré in Brittany, Bad Friedrichshall near Heilbronn in Germany...
Great list - thanks

I thought about setting up a similar tour guide service. Identify the unknown spots and offer tours to those places. Seems like a nice niche to be in. Probably lots of wealthier folks who don't want to get trampled on in the crowds and wouldn't mind paying a premium (even though it would cost less to operate in low cost undiscovered places).
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Old 09-12-2017, 03:47 PM   #51
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+1 on OP's comments on Prague. I spent several weeks in Olomouc - a couple hours outside of Prague. I suppose it's not "undiscovered," but it's off the beaten path. It has relatively low prices, great dining, gorgeous churches and cathedrals, and, wonderful friendly people.

I have driven there from Prague, and also taken the train. The Pandolina (high speed train) is my preferred method.

I also had the opportunity to visit Bratislava while in Vienna. Took the "twin cities jet boat." The boat ride was it's own adventure. Don't spend the $$ for first class. The main cabin is spacious and you can walk outside, go to the bar, or grab a snack while enjoying the views.

Slovakia and the Czech Republic separated peacefully after the cold war. The recent history of Nazi and Soviet conquest / occupation will bring tears to your eyes. However, the kindness and hospitality of the locals may just bring tears of joy.

Highly recommend both side trips if in the area!
+2 on Op's comments on Prague. We were in Prague for three days in May. Fabulous but way too crowded. Years ago I did some work in Bratislava and Banska Bystricia. I sort thought Banska Bystricia was sort of neat. I also liked Kiev a lot - but I'm not really sure how to tie Kiev into a longer vacation.

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Old 09-12-2017, 03:55 PM   #52
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There's an awful lot of undiscoveredness out there outside Europe, btw--DS honeymooned in Argentina and Uruguay several years ago and loved it. I guess Europe appeals to more people?
I didn't mean to steer the discussion toward Europe specifically, just threw out Slovenia and some other eurozone countries since we just visited.

We went to Argentina and Uruguay for a week and a half in 2010 and it was honeymoon-ish in a way (left our 3 and 5 year olds back home with other family and it was just me and DW). Great place and I hope we make it back. We went in March which is their autumn - great weather, not overly busy at all (except in one touristy spot which we left after an hour or so). It had a very euro feel to it down to the appearance of the people (I blended in; my wife stood out - exact opposite experience compared to Mexico).

I'd love to hear non-euro suggestions too (especially ones that are within a reasonable <10 hr flight of the continental US). Most in our family speak some degree of Spanish from basic to proficient so it makes Latin America, even far off the beaten path, very doable (at least language is not a bar to exploration!).
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Old 09-12-2017, 04:01 PM   #53
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I also liked Kiev a lot - but I'm not really sure how to tie Kiev into a longer vacation.
+1 to Ukraine as being undiscovered. Kiev is pretty far out there if you're using ground transit but by plane it's not far at all. Lviv, on the far western edge of Ukraine might be a better option for those visiting other Eastern European destinations. There's a volatile part of Ukraine on the eastern edge but overall the country is pretty stable. At least according to my Ukrainian friend who urged us to go to Lviv or Kiev if we visit the Baltics (she's biased of course ). Ukraine is dirt cheap due to the currency's losses and dampened tourism due to the conflicts in the east.
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Old 09-13-2017, 08:42 AM   #54
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Great list - thanks

I thought about setting up a similar tour guide service. Identify the unknown spots and offer tours to those places. Seems like a nice niche to be in. Probably lots of wealthier folks who don't want to get trampled on in the crowds and wouldn't mind paying a premium (even though it would cost less to operate in low cost undiscovered places).
The full service version would come with me and DW (I haven't told her yet!) driving people around in a very comfortable car from place to place. Basically we would get paid to go on vacation while other people imagined that they were the ones making the decisons.
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Old 09-13-2017, 08:49 AM   #55
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The full service version would come with me and DW (I haven't told her yet!) driving people around in a very comfortable car from place to place. Basically we would get paid to go on vacation while other people imagined that they were the ones making the decisons.
Love it! P. T. Barnum would be proud!
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Old 09-13-2017, 09:40 AM   #56
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I'd love to hear non-euro suggestions too (especially ones that are within a reasonable <10 hr flight of the continental US). Most in our family speak some degree of Spanish from basic to proficient so it makes Latin America, even far off the beaten path, very doable (at least language is not a bar to exploration!).
I can think of some wonderful areas in Brazil, but unless you speak Portuguese they probably wouldn't work for the average tourist. Most Spanish speakers don't handle it well, and Brazilians enjoy tormenting Spanish speakers if they suspect they might be Argentines.

Still, I love the gaúcho area, up and down the coast from Porto Alegre. Many Brazilians can't even understand their accent. Campos do Jordão is a lovely mountain town between São Paulo and Rio. Farther north, Porto Seguro, Ilheus, and Aracaju are just delightful towns with great beaches.
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Old 09-13-2017, 09:53 AM   #57
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We make a point of not staying in large, corporate style hotels. We far prefer a small, family run hotel or B&B.

This past winter we spent time in Uruguay. Rather than staying in a hotel in Punta D'Este we stayed in a B&B. Our hosts were gave us lots of information. What was interesting was that they had immigrated to Uruguay from South Africa later in life. Because of the poor currency in SA Uruguay was the most financially attractive to them.

One night, instead of eating out our hosts offered to have a barbeque for he guests. They bought the meat, the wine, the beer, etc. We split the cost. Had a wonderful time and exchanged travel tips with the other two guests.

These are not unusual occurrences when you stay at small places, and in out of the way places (though this was not really out of the way)
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Old 09-13-2017, 10:14 AM   #58
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The full service version would come with me and DW (I haven't told her yet!) driving people around in a very comfortable car from place to place. Basically we would get paid to go on vacation while other people imagined that they were the ones making the decisons.
Do it! We're planning a trip to a wild and crazy undiscovered country called Spain -- has anyone heard about a little city called Barcelona? -- for next year. Some acquaintances passed on information about a guide they used there and DH emailed her. For a group of up to six people, she would provide her very comfortable vehicle, make all the arrangements, etc., etc., and hold our hands while she showed us everything. Her cost is $500 a day, every day. On top of all her expenses, including her hotel room and meals and the vehicle, plus of course our acquaintances paid for all their own expenses.

I can see why these acquaintances used her in that they speak no Spanish and English is not their first language either, they travel a lot but like having someone show them everything, they are somewhat high maintenance, plus they can afford it--I am not judging their use of a personal guide, and they said she was amazing. There are probably more expensive guides out there. So use that as your base line .
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Old 09-13-2017, 10:41 AM   #59
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I'm getting in on this..."Nostalgia Trips For Those Who Weren't There The First Time Around".

We drop you off on, (or near, depending upon our mood of the moment), roads/highways, and provide you with ('personalized'....suckers love that word) hand written signs for a multitude of towns/cities.

We then follow at a distance, (perhaps), and when you reach your destination, direct you to a squalid hostel where you'll stay the night.

Rinse & repeat for only $200 per day, (plus expenses of course).
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Old 09-13-2017, 10:53 AM   #60
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I'm getting in on this..."Nostalgia Trips For Those Who Weren't There The First Time Around".

We drop you off on, (or near, depending upon our mood of the moment), roads/highways, and provide you with ('personalized'....suckers love that word) hand written signs for a multitude of towns/cities.

We then follow at a distance, (perhaps), and when you reach your destination, direct you to a squalid hostel where you'll stay the night.

Rinse & repeat for only $200 per day, (plus expenses of course).
Be sure to promise places that only the locals go to so your clients will feel even more like special snowflakes (and places that will provide a little consideration for the effort back to you).
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