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Old 06-01-2014, 05:31 PM   #21
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I guess some folks have a checklist
LOL Reminded me of going to The Ark in Kenya circa 1985........people staying overnight there were bused in from a central meeting point......on our bus a lady guide was pointing out and naming various animals we passed on the way..........one couple, who HAD an actual checklist, were crossing off the ones thus identified without, I suspect, even looking at the animals themselves.

The husband would say "Cross it off, cross it off".
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Old 06-01-2014, 06:18 PM   #22
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Two years ago we spent 2 weeks in Paris. It is a very walkable city. Plenty of day trips out of the city too. Check out Rick Steve's Paris book.
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Old 06-01-2014, 08:16 PM   #23
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When European friends came to the USA for the first time many years ago, they want to see Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, and Disneyworld. In a weekend. On short notice

We have been lucky to see parts of the world with residents who traveled with us. It's really hard to know what is off those beaten paths without reading guidebooks that everyone else is reading.

I had some coworkers from London that were coming to spend some time in New York and said they wanted to go visit a friend in Seattle... could they do that over a weekend They wanted to drive
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Old 06-01-2014, 09:48 PM   #24
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Counterpoint: seeing those less common sites is surely a worthwhile goal. But realistically, most travelers have limited time or money. That being the case, one has to make some hard choices.
DW and I had a glorious whirlwind trip to Italy and Greece a couple of years ago and saw the "usual" sites in Rome, Florence and Venice. I can't dwell on what I did not see; but boy I was blown away by what we did see.
Similarly, we are going to Israel this July and likewise have made some hard choices about our trip.
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Old 06-02-2014, 09:14 AM   #25
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Yeah, I kind of agree with mystang, though I see both sides. There's a reason that the busy spots are popular. I like to follow Rick Steves' books and philosophy, but sometimes he goes too far. I remember a show he did on the Swiss Alps, where he lobbied that people should go to this farm village on a plateau. If I'm going to the Swiss Alps, I'm going for the mountains! If I want to see a farm I'll drive 1/2 hour from home.

A lot of people go to Europe on tours, and those are going to hit the high spots to stay in business. While you may see some people mentally or actually crossing these items off their lists (I blame this in part on the bucket list mentality), I bet you also see many genuinely thrilled to be some place they've always dreamed of going.

I like to travel independently and have the flexibility to relax and enjoy what I really like and quickly move on if something isn't holding my interest, but that takes a decent amount of work to plan it. My parents always comment that they'd never try to do what I do, and I can understand why it's not for them.
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Old 06-02-2014, 09:29 AM   #26
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I'm not sure why somebody would go to Rome or Paris for the first time and not want to see the Colosseum or the Eiffel Tower.

That said, taking some time to wander about a city and get a bit off the beaten path can make some of the best memories. Years ago I visited a small town in Italy that I knew about through relatives. The only English speakers were one lady at the hotel and the lady at the visitor's bureau office. The only English I heard other than myself was a nice British couple I met at the hotel. Even the restaurants had no English speaking staff. But, I managed with my pathetic Italian and phrase book. I saw sites that 99% of Americans never see. Nothing grand that would make the front of a coffee table book, but always wonderful and very interesting.
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Old 06-02-2014, 10:11 AM   #27
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I like to follow Rick Steves' books and philosophy, but sometimes he goes too far. I remember a show he did on the Swiss Alps, where he lobbied that people should go to this farm village on a plateau. If I'm going to the Swiss Alps, I'm going for the mountains! If I want to see a farm I'll drive 1/2 hour from home.
I think he talks about Gimmelwald
The Cow Culture of Switzerland's Berner Oberland by Rick Steves | ricksteves.com

http://www.myswitzerland.com/en/gimm...FfShtAodlykAOQ

The face value of the word "farm" or "farm village" might look familiar to you. But such a thing in the Alps is different. The plateau is right in the mountains and very special. Unlike any "farm village" I have seen in the States or other non-alpine areas (and yes, I have visited Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains ;-))
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Old 06-02-2014, 11:20 AM   #28
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I think he talks about Gimmelwald
The Cow Culture of Switzerland's Berner Oberland by Rick Steves | ricksteves.com

Gimmelwald - Switzerland Tourism

The face value of the word "farm" or "farm village" might look familiar to you. But such a thing in the Alps is different. The plateau is right in the mountains and very special. Unlike any "farm village" I have seen in the States or other non-alpine areas (and yes, I have visited Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains ;-))
That's the one I was talking about. And while I appreciate that it is unique, when I planned my first visit to the Swiss Alps I saw no appeal whatsoever to go there. As it turns out there was heavy rain predicted for the 2-3 days we had planned for there so we went elsewhere. To each their own, but I felt this was trying too hard to get away from the touristy spots that have great appeal.
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Old 06-02-2014, 03:56 PM   #29
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I think he talks about Gimmelwald
The Cow Culture of Switzerland's Berner Oberland by Rick Steves | ricksteves.com

Gimmelwald - Switzerland Tourism

The face value of the word "farm" or "farm village" might look familiar to you. But such a thing in the Alps is different. The plateau is right in the mountains and very special. Unlike any "farm village" I have seen in the States or other non-alpine areas (and yes, I have visited Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains ;-))
While I share your enthusiasm for the alpine "cow culture", I can see how it might not interest everyone.
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Old 06-02-2014, 04:34 PM   #30
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This reminds me of one of my favorite stories. A guy I know who had never lived anywhere but a small country in Europe was being recruited for a job in Colorado. He looked at the map and bought tickets to New York, then he and his wife rented a car and headed west.

By the time they got to Colorado, they had seen quite a bit of the American landscape, and when they caught their first sight of the Rocky Mountains, they were hooked. Never looked back. Their new employer had certainly not anticipated this, but it worked out great in this case.
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Old 06-02-2014, 05:14 PM   #31
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DH and I have travelled a slightly different road on our approach to travel. Phase 1 in our "youth" we travelled in an " if it's Tuesday it must be Paris" manner, checking off the boxes on our must do list. Even on our honeymoon( youth phase) we covered as much territory as possible hitting the high points of the region/country. Fast forward to travel with family Phase 2 and we switched gears to rent a car and sea a region, e.g. Provence and Tuscany and rent an Agriturismo 2 BR space on a wine estate. That phase was great and quite freeing vis a vis non scheduled combination of hitting the high points and seeing off the beaten path spots. And now, Phase3: we don't want the hassle/liability of renting/driving a car in a foreign country, so our new approach is to choose 3 locations geographically near each other on a train line and spend 5 days in each location. e.g. Prague/Vienna/Budapeste, Venice/Verona/Florence, Amsterdam/Bruges/Brussels. We make our own train reservations and really enjoy the feeling of doing this on our own and viewing the countryside when moving from one city to the next. We stay either in local European ( non chain ) hotels or stay in small Inns. Staying in non chain hotels/Inns really exposes us to the local culture. And staying for 5 days gives us enough time to see more than the high points. Next up: Sienna/Grenada/Cordoba.
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Old 06-02-2014, 05:22 PM   #32
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I guess some folks have a checklist of places to put their bodies in at least once in life, but they seem to have forgotten how to enjoy being there.
A bucket list says nothings about enjoying anything, just checking it off. Kind of like birders' life lists.

Ha
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Old 06-02-2014, 05:51 PM   #33
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... And now, Phase3: we don't want the hassle/liability of renting/driving a car in a foreign country, so our new approach is to choose 3 locations geographically near each other on a train line and spend 5 days in each location. e.g. Prague/Vienna/Budapeste, Venice/Verona/Florence, Amsterdam/Bruges/Brussels. We make our own train reservations and really enjoy the feeling of doing this on our own and viewing the countryside when moving from one city to the next. ...
Brilliant as the Brits say. Do you make the train reservations from the US? Any pointers?

Last year I made some reservations for the UK (East Coast lines I think) from home but it was not so easy to navigate the web site and it was confusing plus there were no refunds. There was some other feedback they provided but it required a UK postal address. The savings seemed to justify the risk and it did work out OK.
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Old 06-02-2014, 11:50 PM   #34
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I had some coworkers from London that were coming to spend some time in New York and said they wanted to go visit a friend in Seattle... could they do that over a weekend They wanted to drive
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Old 06-03-2014, 12:53 AM   #35
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DH and I went to Italy about 3 years ago - stayed two weeks and spent 3-4 days in Florence, Rome and Venice, seeing all the touristy spots. This year, we are planning a trip back but plan to stay in Pompeii the whole week and really explore that area well. Although I wold love to take the train back up to Florence - that was our favorite!
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Old 06-03-2014, 07:03 AM   #36
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Brilliant as the Brits say. Do you make the train reservations from the US? Any pointers?

Last year I made some reservations for the UK (East Coast lines I think) from home but it was not so easy to navigate the web site and it was confusing plus there were no refunds. There was some other feedback they provided but it required a UK postal address. The savings seemed to justify the risk and it did work out OK.
Lbscal; We have always waited until we are in country to make travel arrangements and have used a number of methods including hotel concierge assistance to visiting the train office a few days ahead or purchasing the day of travel at a station kiosk. I would only recommend the later for shorter trips. We did this when traveling from Venice to Verona, a trip of only 1.5 hours. Euro rail is not the only way to travel and is often times more expensive. For example from Prague to Vienna, we had a choice of a Czech line, an Austrian line or EuroRail. The last was twice as expensive and would have gotten us to our destination an hour faster. At the hotels suggestion we used the Czech line and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
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Old 06-03-2014, 08:41 AM   #37
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Brilliant as the Brits say. Do you make the train reservations from the US? Any pointers?

Last year I made some reservations for the UK (East Coast lines I think) from home but it was not so easy to navigate the web site and it was confusing plus there were no refunds. There was some other feedback they provided but it required a UK postal address. The savings seemed to justify the risk and it did work out OK.
Several times, including last year, we bought open tickets that are only available to non-residents so you have to buy them and have them delivered to you before you leave.

For example, if you are an adult, are going to stay for 1 month and expect to take trains on 4 different dates. (each day is free travel all over the country, and you don't have to name any dates or train journeys). It would cost $365 per person.

Britrail Pass: Rail Pass Prices - Rail Europe
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Old 06-03-2014, 08:52 AM   #38
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Looking at a map, one of our friends from Norway thought they'd be able to fly into Chicago and drive "an hour or so" to Boston.

I have a friend who did a long weekend trip to Yellowstone from San Jose. I think he's insane.
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Old 06-04-2014, 12:32 PM   #39
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And now, Phase3: we don't want the hassle/liability of renting/driving a car in a foreign country, so our new approach is to choose 3 locations geographically near each other on a train line and spend 5 days in each location. e.g. Prague/Vienna/Budapeste, Venice/Verona/Florence, Amsterdam/Bruges/Brussels. We make our own train reservations and really enjoy the feeling of doing this on our own and viewing the countryside when moving from one city to the next. We stay either in local European ( non chain ) hotels or stay in small Inns. Staying in non chain hotels/Inns really exposes us to the local culture. And staying for 5 days gives us enough time to see more than the high points. Next up: Sienna/Grenada/Cordoba.
This is pretty much how DH and I travel although we redeem hotel points when we can. Otherwise, TripAdvisor has been a great resource for finding smaller, locally-owned hotels.

One story about the "cross it off the list" types: DH and I love Impressionist paintings so of course we went to the Musee D'Orsay in Paris when we were there last year. For those of you who aren't into Impressionism, the artists somehow magically make paintings that look like randomly-applied blobs close up, but as you back away the picture emerges- Monet's "Water Lilies" series is an example. So many tourists would walk up, snap a picture of the painting with their iPad, snap a picture of the info next to it, then move on. We really didn't like the D'Orsay- too crowded and all the Impressionists were in a series of rooms where the traffic flow didn't really allow quiet contemplation from several distances.

Just before we left we went to an exhibit of Slovenian Impressionists at Le Petit Palais. I would never have known about it except that I follow French news podcasts and noticed it before our trip. What a joy! Quiet museum in an old palace, no lines, plenty of peace to experience the works.

Sometimes it's good to hang onto your foreign language skills.
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Old 06-05-2014, 08:52 PM   #40
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Thanks to Golden sunset & Alan for replies. Was out of WiFi range (traveling) for awhile.
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