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Discussion in 'Permanent Threads' started by Brother J, Oct 21, 2009.
Blacks BBQ is right there too. Phenomenal brisket.
Wrapped my Asia trip. Some thoughts -
Seoul, Korea - Nice and reserved people. Seoul was much more massive than I expected. We stayed downtown, which had less going on than I thought it would. We had to venture to the Itaewon area for decent nightlife. The DMZ tour was awesome. We didnt get to see the Joint Security Area (the building where you can technically cross into North Korea) since it was closed that week, but seeing the invasion tunnels, looking into the North Korean horizon, etc. was very cool.
Shanghai, China - The city reminded me of Blade Runner. Crowded, dirty, and polluted but it was awesome. The people were kind of assholes though, which I wasnt expecting. We walked the Bund, saw some temples and museums, and took in some fine communist propaganda. I dont think we had a bad meal there. The food, particularly the dumplings and steamed pork buns were amazing. Being fucked up at night in such a massive city and no speaking a word of the language is a little scary, but highly recommended. I really liked Shanghai and I want to go back. There was just something about the city that I loved that you cant find in the western world.
Hong Kong - Might as well be NYC. We were only there for about 36 hours, but we had an awesome time. One of the most interesting melting pots of people I've ever experienced. As soon as we went out to the bars at night, I realized where all the attractive women from the rest of Asia go. We got the most fucked up here and had one of the craziest nights in a long time.
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam - I was the most excited about Vietnam because I had no idea what to expect. For a people we fought a war against 40 years ago, these were the the nicest, most friendly people we encountered on the whole trip. The people, the city, and the environment are one of a kind. Food stands every 10 feet, a bizarre, yet awesome nightlife, and just an all around awesome country. We took a speedboat tour of the Mekong Delta, War Remnants (Formerly the War of American Aggression) Museum. That was eerie and uncomfortable, but very interesting to see the other side of it. We hung out with some European ex-pats and had a great time. I highly recommend Vietnam to anyone.
Tokyo, Japan - We spent the shortest time here, about 24 hours. Had the best meal of the trip at a highly rated sushi place and the meal could be considered a religious experience. It was that good. Visited the Robot Restaurant, which was exactly what you would expect from Japan.
The g/f and I are headed to Poland and Czech Republic (or Czechia now, I guess) next March and I wanted to ask my fellow idiots for any tips and suggestions.
In Poland, I think we are looking to spend time in Warsaw, Krakow, and Wroclaw. As far as Czech Republic, we will likely stay in Prague and play it by ear insofar as branching out into other cities.
Poland is an odd, but interesting place. Its probably better during the warmer season, but Hel on the Baltic coast is an interesting day trip worth taking I think. Pretty cool night-life there. If youre looking for romantic places, check out Kazimierz. Theres no train to get there, but if you can make it there its worth it. In Krakow, specifically, eat at Kuchnia U Doroty for real Polish food. Also, theres no better place to work up an appetite than Auschwitz. If Nazi concentration camps arent your thing, old town is a great spot to check things out. Neat little shops and restaurants.
The worst possible aspect of Poland the time of year you are going is the pollution. Its god awful in the Winter.
One general travel question - Long layovers. One potential flight has us taking a twenty hour layover (each way) in Turkey. The upshot, is that tickets will be about $200 cheaper for each of us. I don't know much about Turkey (Istanbul, specifically), so I don't know if it would be worth trying to venture into the city for a quick day trip and then try to make it back to the airport for the flight into Poland. The pessimist in me is figuring that we are losing a day out of our normal vacation (each way, so 2 days of layover time essentially) and I don't see us getting a ton of rest/sleep amid all of that which means we'll probably exhausted when we finally arrive and lose a day or so recuperating.
For a 20 hour layover each way, I'd pay the extra $200 and go with a shorter layover. That's a long ass time to kick around an airport.
That being said Istanbul is supposed to be a pretty cool city with lots to see. My wife has been there and she thought the grand bazaar was pretty cool. Which looks like its about 30mins by car from the airport.
Yea $200 for a shorter lay over is well worth not having to spend 20 hours in an airport.
Thanks again guys. My g/f brought it up as a possibility, but I was a little wary since I've never really done a long layover before. I would definitely prefer the shorter layover as well even if it costs a bit more.
If you look for something to do in Turkey for that long, you'll spend $200 anyway.
Erdogan poetry sessions are all the rage, I hear.
Istanbul has a lot to offer over a 20hr layover, but I would also not recommend it be the first city you try your hand at layover touring.
The new Mrs AFHokie and I just returned from our honeymoon on Easter Island. It is most definitely worth the trip, but damn we spent almost as much time in transit as we did on the island. If you plan your time well, you can see and experience just about everything you'd want to within 4-5 days. On the way there we had 22hr layover in Santiago, Chile so we went into the city and wandered around Plaza de Armas & Santa Lucía Hill. In retrospect, I wish we would've planned our time during the layover a little better because we both came away feeling underwhelmed by the city and I know Santiago has a lot more to offer than what we experienced.
As far as the island, it was much cooler than I expected; highs in the low 70's and lows in the low 60's. The big Moai statue carvings are interesting, but there's over 800...after looking at a few sites I started to feel like I've seen them all. I'll post a few photos in the Kodak moment thread.
We did a horseback ride to the highest point on the island and I rented a bike one morning and road the island loop. I recommend staying at one of the many cabanas on the island instead of the two luxury hotels.
You can dive or snorkel there and interestingly one of the dive shops is run by a guy who has ties to Cousteau, but neither one of us are really into diving.
Poland is a great country, I really enjoyed it.
If you like hiking, Zakopane is simply spectacular. Just an amazing place to hike in the middle of the Polish Tatras, and many of the hikes take you right along the Slovakia border and have stunning views of both sides. There is a bus from Krakow, takes about 2 hours to get there. Worth it.
Krakow was a nice city. The sobering trip to the concentration camps is a must-do. You can take a local bus to Oswiecim cheaply, there is no need to get involved in a tour unless you'd like someone else to tell you the history vs. reading it yourself (nothing wrong with a tour, I'm just telling you that the trip can be done cheaply). Go early, the first bus to the concentration camps, so you won't have to stand in line forever. The crowds thin out once you're inside. While you're in Oswiecim, don't miss Birkenau, it is arguably more dramatic and disturbing than Auschwitz, just because of the scale of it. It is also more open for roaming.
While in Krakow, wander over to the Hala Targowa market after 8pm and have a kielbasa from the blue truck that parks out front. Locally famous, a line will start to form pretty soon after 8pm, and he goes until the wee hours of the morning.
Warsaw is a nice city. It's just another nice European city, it didn't feel outstandingly special, but pleasant and lots of good food.
Also of note, again going back to hiking (hey, it's one of my favorite things), the Bialowieza forest requires some effort to get to, but it is a pretty special place. One of the last untouched primeval forests in the world. I can provide more details if it sounds like a place you want to go, but I won't make this post into a novel for the time being.
I feel you’re up to something.
I'm not sure how to take that.
@bebop007 we also went to Prague, which is a nice enough city, I just couldn't fall in love with it. Too many shitty trinket stores, too many outrageously priced food kiosks, too many people charging entrance fees to see this or that historic site... it's a shame, because it's a really pretty city. Just not my cup of tea - it's become a victim of its own tourism successes.
@bebop007 asked about Bialoweiza so I thought I'd elaborate here in case anyone else found it interesting...
The forest is on the far east border of Poland, and actually straddles the border into Belarus.
The forest itself, ironically, has ended up virtually untouched thanks to centuries of nobility using it as their personal hunting grounds. The bison there were driven nearly to extinction, but it did leave the actual forest and most of the ecosystem intact. It's about the last piece of primeval forest left intact in Europe.
It's a pretty special place. You can walk around the outskirts, and there are lots of nice hiking paths, but to get into the heart of the forest you must get a permit and take a not-very-cheap guide with you. Getting into the middle of the forest feels a little bit like going back in time, and I just loved it.
Also cool is that you can actually cross over into Belarus on foot or bicycle and see the other side of the forest. Belarus only recently introduced visa-free travel across the border for some countries, when we went it was hundreds of dollars to get a Belarus visa, so the single-day transit via the forest was the best way for us to get there. The Belarusian side of the forest is nice on a bicycle - lots of long, straight, narrow roads under an enormous forest canopy. It's not a private sanctuary like the Polish side, but you can see a lot and spend a whole day on a bike pedaling around.
Word of warning: getting there is a little painful if you're taking local transit. You have to catch a bus to Bialystok, and then another bus to the Bialoweiza village, and the bus schedule was wrong when we showed up, so we ended up sitting around Bialystok for hours. Still. If you're into wildlife or hiking, it's a unique experience.
Boyfriend and I are planning a loop around the northern Adriatic late this spring. We are flying into Venice, driving down to Ancona, taking a ferry to Split, up through Croatia to Slovenia, then back to Venice. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by how much there is to see and how little time we have (13 days, but still...) So I thought I'd come here and ask if you all had any particular advice.
FWIW, we like food and wine a WHOLE lot and as much as I can appreciate a giant touristy city, we generally enjoy getting a little ways off the beaten path even more.
I will be in Pomona, CA, from Wednesday to Saturday. I've never been to CA, so I would love to hear suggestions on places to eat or visit that are in that area. I may also drive to the beach one day, so suggestions that are within an hour and a half drive or so are also welcome.
Wow... wrong thread, apparently.
The booze has NOTHING to do with it.
Me and my better half planned to move to Spain in the Canaries next year. We were thinking about where to move whether Tenerife or Gran Canaria. But I like Gran Canaria more because the place seems wonderful like what I read in this article here in https://www.canaryislandsinfo.co.uk/gran-canaria/teror/... . Is there any advice you can give me on this two-island? Thanks