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Old 03-13-2010, 08:22 PM   #21
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"The small chalet-hotel perched in the Alps with fantastic food, splendid views, and invigorating air?"

FIREdreamer, could you tell us the name of the hotel and what area? I am a lover of the Alps. Thanks.
The hotel is called "Les Cornettes" (Hôtel-Restaurant Les Cornettes). It is located about 35 miles west of Geneva, Switzerland in the picturesque valley of Abondance. The decor is very rustic but the hotel is reputed for its excellent food (the breakfast buffet is awesome). During the winters, the hotel serves a number of well known ski resorts and the area is pretty busy. But during the summers, the area feels more remote and peaceful.

One of the marmots residing permanently at the hotel:
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:24 PM   #22
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I've had so many amazing fun vacations that it's hard to pick one . My favorite was probably my first trip to Europe .As NW bound said they are all special for different reasons or times of our lives . My trip to England & Ireland was special because it was when Princess Di died and we were staying at Kensington Palace so we witnessed all the out pouring of love from the British People .
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Old 03-13-2010, 08:41 PM   #23
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Hawaii, 1998. As a history buff, Pearl Harbor was at the top of the must see list. The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial left me speechless. We toured a WWII submarine (the thought of 60+ men spending months in that steel tube amazed me.) Walked the beautiful Waikiki beach.

On to Maui. My wife's BIL and I rented a Cessna 172 and I piloted it across the water to Molokai where we cruised just a few hundred feet from the waterfalls cascading down the sea cliffs. We flew over the shipwrecks on the beaches of Lanai and saw whales on the way back to Maui.

We ate obscene amounts of fabulous food, especially at a luau one gorgeous evening. It was a magical 10 days.
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Old 03-13-2010, 10:46 PM   #24
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The honeymoon with DW of course. (Guys, if you haven't figured it out yet that is always the correct answer. Don't ask how I know that...)

Other than that, in 1976 taking two weeks off work and flying my own airplane to Oshkosh, WI for the Experimental Aircraft Association's fly-in there. I camped under the wing of the airplane on the field and was awakened every morning at 6:00 AM by a Boeing 727 at takeoff thrust about 100 yards away. The food gave me the runs, the toilets were porta potties, the showers were in a tent, and I had a blast because there was a two-hour airshow every day and more different kinds of airplanes than I had ever seen outside of a museum.

I was surprised at how small a P-51 Mustang is. Other than photographs I had never seen one before. With a 1,200 hp engine I thought it would be larger. No wonder it was fast!
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Old 03-13-2010, 11:38 PM   #25
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The animal life on the islands make them feel almost mystical.
You couldn't have said anything to make me want to go more. And the colors of the animals in your pics are amazing. It looks like the kind of diversity that could inspire some upstart naturalist to pose some grand theory some day.

I'm planning to visit Ecuador in May, and I'll try to work in a trip to the islands. Mystical is exactly what I'm after.
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Old 03-14-2010, 06:27 AM   #26
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For us it was probably the vacation to London last year for our 25th anniversary. We stayed at the Sherlock Holmes hotel, and walked to just about all the museums and attractions. We were exhausted at the end of each day, but delighted at the same time.

We go to Hawaii often, and as Hankster mentioned, I am also a bit of a history buff, particularly WWII and then particularly what the Japanese refer to as the Pacific War. We don't visit the relics of the war every time we go, but when we do, I am often overcome with emotion, sadness that the forebears of my family and my wife's family had to fight each other so violently. ...That said, we love the environment in Hawaii, the beauty, the slower pace of life, the chance to unwind a bit...its all wonderful.

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Old 03-14-2010, 01:04 PM   #27
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Backpacking thru Vietnam, with side-trip to Cambodia.
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Old 03-14-2010, 01:16 PM   #28
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Easy one to answer.

1996 - 6 days on the island of Crete followed up by 3 days in Athens. It was another one of those tagalong trips for me.

Everywhere I went, the locals immediately spoke to me in Greek. I had learned a few polite greeting phrases ahead of time. Then I said (in English) that I was American born and was never taught the language of my ancestors. But I knew the alphabet from college studies and could read simple signs. Definitely the right thing to say.
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Old 03-14-2010, 01:47 PM   #29
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...oh and my second best vacation destination....my house. The food is great, the bed is comfy and I don't have to stand in line.
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Old 03-14-2010, 02:23 PM   #30
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...oh and my second best vacation destination....my house. The food is great, the bed is comfy and I don't have to stand in line.
And you can hold your very own stampede...
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Old 03-14-2010, 11:19 PM   #31
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There's been so many and is difficult to choose. The most recent is always the best given my failing memories. Went to South New Zealand in February this year. Drove in a rented car and stayed in golf resorts. It is so quiet and peaceful in NZ and the scenery is remarkable. Food and wine is so mouth watering. We also stayed in a guesthouse run by a Swiss chef and of course the food is delicious. Of course, golf was excellent and the courses are so scenic that one gets distracted easily.
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Old 03-15-2010, 08:04 AM   #32
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2008 Carnival de Quebec. Went on a ski trip with our ski club - bussed up Wednesday, skiied on Thursday, walked around old city Quebeq, brunch, massages, partied with ski club on Friday, Saturday - did everything snow related at the festival (mechanical bull riding, human foosball, zip line, tobagganed down the big hill near Le Frontenac, slides, tubed down hills, ate beaver tails, froz maple syrup, etc) Bussed back on Sunday. The BEST 5 day vacation ever! (followed by a 5 day pack mule trip in the high country of Yosemite - but that was a family trip, so a different flavor of fun!)
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Old 03-15-2010, 04:56 PM   #33
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But I knew the alphabet from college studies
Heh.

"Where's the party tonight?"

"Uh, I think it's at that one frat house with the triangle and the X on it"

"Okay, cool."


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Old 03-15-2010, 05:13 PM   #34
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Enjoyed any vacation, but the place I loved the most as it was unique: Morocco.

Best place I'd want to live permanently: Amsterdam.

In America I had probably the best traveling experiences in San Francisco, but for sheer beauty on a trip you can't beat the Tetons.
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Old 03-15-2010, 11:09 PM   #35
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The animal life on the islands make them feel almost mystical. And the snorkeling is superb (you do need a shorty wetsuit). We took a fairly pricey trip (INCA) on a smallish yacht that could carry up to 18 passengers. The food was great, the cabin was luxurious and the guide was very professional. Everything worked perfectly. You can check out a boatload of photos from our trip if you are interested.

I know a lot of people who have toured the Galapagos on larger boats and have also found it to be a trip of their lifetime.
As of this year the park is limiting the number of guests on a boat. I think 18 is now the max.
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Old 03-15-2010, 11:18 PM   #36
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I have two favorite vacations:

1980 to China with a bunch of architects and city planners. The group met with City Planners in one major city where they asked how skip development was handled in the US - who paid for infrastructure. Our folks asked about multi-story family housing, they said any height beyond shouting distance of grand mother didn't work out well. It was fascinating to see that within a profession the issues are similar. Our guide was a Columbia U grad student (from West Linn, OR of all places) majoring in Education with a focus on developing nations. His adviser's brother was the Minister of Education in China.

Four years ago we rented small camper vans and toured New Zealand and Australia. We must go back as when we headed north from Three Corners to Darwin we encountered flooded roads and a car-park that was out of gas and full of mosquitoes. After re-treating back to Three Corners we headed east to Cains.. the road turned to gravel and Willy-Wiley's tossed us around a couple times. What an adventure!
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Old 03-16-2010, 07:11 AM   #37
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As of this year the park is limiting the number of guests on a boat. I think 18 is now the max.
I couldn't find anything about that on-line. It would destroy most of the tour operators. If suspect there is a new limit it may be to the maximum size of a group on land, not on a boat.
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Old 03-16-2010, 10:07 AM   #38
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I couldn't find anything about that on-line. It would destroy most of the tour operators. If suspect there is a new limit it may be to the maximum size of a group on land, not on a boat.
We were there last year and it was my understanding that they were limiting the size of the group. Huge impact on tour operators.
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Old 03-16-2010, 10:27 AM   #39
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We were there last year and it was my understanding that they were limiting the size of the group. Huge impact on tour operators.
That doesn't surprise me - they were talking about further limits when I was there. The larger boat operators will have to break there passengers into smaller groups and shuttle them to alternative shore locations or break them up in time more (e.g. some groups hiking while others snorkle or more hanging around on the boat waiting for your time slot). That will have a big effect on the operators. Sounds like small boats will be even more advantageous since they will be better able to effectively schedule excursions.
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Old 03-16-2010, 11:04 AM   #40
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My girlfriend and I have fallen in love with the South Pacific since it allows us to enjoy some of the things that we both love to do: Hiking, snorkeling, experiencing simple cultures and, of course, sun and food. My favorite vacation has been our trips to French Polynesia. The Tahitians are very nice people and not as jaded with tourists as the Hawaiians are, for example. Many tourists bypass the main island Tahiti for the fantasy islands such as Moorea and Bora Bora but I really enjoyed the natural ruggedness of the interior of the Tahiti in addition to the Old World French outpost feel of Papeete with it's French Colonial architecture and shipping port - I feel like I go back in time about 100 yrs when I am in Papeete.

Moorea is probably my favorite island in the world. The feel of the island immediately grabbed my spirit given it's size, it's beautiful interior, it's amazing waters and lagoons, and the fact that it does not feel commercialized while having all the amenities that a traveler wants. We always rent a "buggy" to travel around that small island when we are there and it makes the experience feel like being a kid in a fantasy playground - only better because we have the money now to actually enjoy it.

The beauty of Bora Bora is hard to put into words. The island has got to be the most beautiful one in the world. The water is so blue-green that it appears artificial. It is a place where I can literally do nothing all day on one of the over-the-water huts and absolutely have a perfect day. The snorkeling experience was greatly diminished due to a storm a few yrs ago but there are still enjoyable spots on the island. One of the greatest experiences of my life was to go down to the ocean floor in one of those Jacque Cousteau diving helmets and feed the fish with bread: They would all act like hesitant puppies but once the first one took a piece of bread the entire neighborhood of fish would swim all around you to get a piece. A huge puffer that literally looked like a puppy was very hesitant to grab a piece of bread so when it finally lunged in to grab a piece it was so sloppy that it ended up biting my hand instead: The scar is my favorite vacation memento to this day.
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