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  1. #1

    Default Vacations - other countries

    Currently, my annual vacation is a week at a Korean War POW Reunion - different city every year.

    The vets are getting up in years, travel is more and more difficult for them, so there's some discussion of disbanding in 2013, as that would be the 60th anniversary of their release.

    When that does happen, I've decided to start exploring outside the US. I've been to every state but Alaska and Hawaii, so I think it's time to spread my wings.

    There are lots of places I've dreamed of seeing - where would you go? Or where have you been that's amazing?

    I'm not a fan of package deals - I have no problem exploring on my own, and would plan well enough to learn a few basics of the language before going to a foreign country.

    Don't like cold weather, don't ski, so Gstaad in December doesn't even make the top 500.
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  2. #2
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    Well, there are the logical easiest European places to start: Great Britain and Ireland. Fun to visit, easy to get around, lots of nifty history, and pretty scenery. They are expensive, but really nice places to visit.

    Beginner Asia would be Thailand -- super easy to get around with just English and/or sign language. Amazing culture, good food, fantastic scenery. You can do Bangkok for a while and then head off to one of the many, many fabulous beach resorts for some R&R for a couple of days.

    Beginner Middle East is Dubai. Not a lot of "culture," so to speak, but there are great beaches, lots of interesting horsey things to do, and you can do some Bedouin type stuff to get your tourist on. 99% of the people you meet will be Brits or Aussies, so you can navigate anywhere with little problem. Go in winter only, though, otherwise you will fry.

    I've been to Belize and Mexico -- both nice, but you have to be a little careful of northern Mexico right now. Fantastic pyramids on the Yucatan peninsula, though, and well worth the trip. I hear Costa Rica is an even better place to visit.

    If you're feeling more adventurous, most of Europe is fun. I'm not a huge fan of Paris (and I speak fairly fluent French, so it's not a navigation thing), but the Loire valley, Brittany, and Midi are wonderful. Prague is fabulous, Venice is great (go in spring or fall), Austria lovely. The Baltics (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia) are gorgeous and you can take the ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki and hit Finland. I hear Croatia is fantastic, but haven't had a chance to go there yet.

    Avoid Russia unless you either stick solely to St. Petersburg, use a package tour, or can read some Russian. Moscow is wonderful, but NOT tourist friendly. I've been able to send guests out and about everywhere else I lived, but not there. This goes double if you are a minority.

    India is FANTASTIC, however, if you are a young woman, don't go alone; never go cheap on the hotels, because you WILL regret it; do not neglect to go to the south -- for my money its even better than many parts of the north where most of the tourists go. Also, if you go off the beaten path, get used to having random people want to take their picture with you. This will be especially true if you are blonde or a red head.
    According to the Mayan calendar, the world will not end this week. Please plan your life accordingly.



  3. #3

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    If you do Europe, you might consider flying Iceland Air...they have this cool thing (that if I ever make it on that trip to England I'm totally taking advantage of) where you can stop over for a couple of nights in Iceland, then fly on to Europe for no additional airfare.
    The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
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  4. #4
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    Go to the Caribbean. It's a great warm and friendly place to go that won't cost you too much and you can just relax and take in the history or just relax on the beach or just relax in a hammock reading whatever you want.
    Thus do we growl that our big toes have,
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  5. #5
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    I think Prague and Paris are really tourist-friendly and easy to see without a tour. I speak neither French nor Chech and had no issues there, in Prague you can easily find a hotel that's within walking distance of most things you'd want to see and it's so pretty (although I would recommend the train trip to see the Kostnice ossuary in Kutna Hora). The Paris transportation system I found nearly idiot-proof and trust me, I have no navigational skills at all.

    Oh, and Barcelona! Great for exploring on your own as well, there were 4 of us so we just rented an apt right on La Rambla.



  6. #6
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    Some good advice here, but I'll add a few more thoughts.

    If you like warm, history, etc. then you simply can't beat the Greek Isles. One of my "take-it-to-the-grave" memories is sitting with my family watching the sun set over the caldera at Santorini, eating the most amazing meal. Santorini is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life. Period. Mykonos was my second favorite isle. Everyone should probably see Athens once, but swinging through there on the way to Santroinin should be sufficient.

    I'm sure I will be shunned for this, but, I HATED Spain. I went there to work at the WEG in Jerez in 2002 and had a miserable experience, and everyone kept saying, "oh, well, yes working the Spanish way can be tough, but if you are on vacation it's totally different." Uh, no, it sucked equally bad. The only reason to go to Spain, is to either buy an Andalusian, or see the Gaudi works--both of which should be on everbody's bucket list. But don't plan on staying too long, and give yourself an entire day to make it to the airport, because a Spaniards definition of time and yours, is, I assure you, completely different.

    Loved Thailand and Indonesia, but it's not the safest for a female traveling alone--not sure I'd go there totally on my own. I get not loving the package thing, but some more exotic locales require it. And it's totally worth it. BTW, I'd have the same advice for RUssia (amazing!) and Africa(trip of lifetime). Worth seeing and will change your life to go, but I wouldn't try to solo it to any of those places.

    I enjoyed my trip to Ireland, but not as much as I thought I would. Scandinavia was very interesting and pretty (my cultural home land) but the people are, uh, not the warmest. (My absolute lady of an 80 year old grandmother was driven to shout a VERY BAD WORD by some hotel staff in Copenhagen, LOL). I love France, and agree with the recommendations above, but would also throw Normandy to the north, and the beach town of Honfleur to the south. Both lovely.

    I loved Tahiti, but not everyone in my party did.

    Closer to home, Victoria, British Columbia and Montreal are both lovely. My parents seriously considered retiring in Victoria.

    Mr. PF's favorite place is Aus and New Zealand, but specifically Tasmania. My very globe trotting sister says Prague is her favorite city. I've not done South America at all, but I keep having these experiences where someone tells me how much they loved visiting a specific South American country, then regale me with the most horrifying anecdotes (mugged at knife point on an almost daily basis, car jacked, swarmed by bugs the size of your head, bitten by a poisonous snake and being airlifted back to the US) that I have to say don't really sell me on the place, LOL. I often end up saying, I'm sorry did you say loved or loathed?

    Have fun with whatever you choose!
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  7. #7
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    My advice is to fill in the sentence, "I've always thought it would be so cool to go to _____________________" and go there.

    My favorite trips were Mongolia (amazing scenery! horses! monks! yak milk tea!) and Argentina (Horses! Glaciers! Wine! Steak!). Argentina was more beginner-friendly, would not go around Mongolia without a guide as few speak English outside Ulaan-Bataar, the capital.



  8. #8
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    Jan. 30, 2008
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    Perhaps you could indicate some things that you like to do or enjoy the most while on vacation? Such as:

    relaxing
    museums
    nightlife
    monuments
    hiking
    beautiful scenery
    great food
    wine
    beaches
    heat
    cool weather
    driving around
    architecture
    archaeology
    various sports/hobbies

    I've been lots of places but I don't have a clue what to suggest!



  9. #9
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    I would love to go to New Zealand. I will make it one day. And I would give my left leg to go to Iceland.

    I LOVE Holland, great food, friendly people, great weather, I also enjoyed Vienna very, very much. I lived outside of Vienna for a summer and drove into town most nights for a beer or coffee.

    England, eh, it was OK. I spent 4 months there. I liked the countryside better than anything.

    Prague, I want to go back as well as Budapest.

    Germany is fun, but a lot like Austria. I would do Austria again before I did Germany.



  10. #10
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    St. Lucia. So beautiful and I had the most amazing time swimming in the sea with horses. It's not your typical flat Caribbean island but very lush and hilly with the famous Pitons landmark. People are so friendly and there is so much to do.



  11. #11
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    New Zealand! no new language required!
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  12. #12
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    I'm no help- I want to go everywhere!!! I've been to 42 states so far and 7 countries. I do think tops on my list would Australia, New Zealand and Argentina
    “While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats.” Mark Twain



  13. #13
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    I'll throw in another vote for Holland. Fantastic country, very easy to get around and the people there were phenomenal despite the language barrier.

    Also consider Switzerland for the same reasons.

    A trip to Africa should be on everybody's bucket list, but you should be ready to commit a good chunk of time, not stressing about sticking to a strict itinerary.
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~



  14. #14
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    If you want nature, go to Costa Rica. We managed well with a bare smattering of Spanish. We drove everywhere and had a great time. We can't wait to go back.
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  15. #15
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    If you are not looking for exotic, Vienna, the Spanish Riding School and many world class museums, concerts, etc. are worth a visit.
    It is safe, you can go alone and spend all the time you want there without concern.
    You can do that as part of some other part of Europe also.



  16. #16
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    I agree with Phoenix Farm about Greece. It has it all, beauty, history, interesting culture, good food, beautiful beaches, handsome men....
    I also love Italy, for the most of the same reasons. I love the language, the art, the music, the light, the food, the way the people look...

    My dream has always been to move to Tuscany.
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  17. #17
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    Another vote for Vienna. It's a great city, easy to get around in, lots of things to do, plus the Spanish Riding School! I've been several times and never get tired of it.

    I also enjoyed Ireland (went all over the country), England (especially London), and Amsterdam.



  18. #18
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    Italy!

    The food, the history and the architecture are so amazing. It's a beautiful country and the people are friendly. There is so much to explore that it never gets boring and when you want to slow down, you can hit the coast and chill.

    I learned just enough Italian to get myself around and be somewhat conversational so I didn't come across as too much of a "tourist".
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by analise View Post
    If you do Europe, you might consider flying Iceland Air...they have this cool thing (that if I ever make it on that trip to England I'm totally taking advantage of) where you can stop over for a couple of nights in Iceland, then fly on to Europe for no additional airfare.

    totally true, but they don't fly from everywhere in the US
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