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greenbean
Eeee! I just found out I'm going to Switzerland!
Anyone familiar with the country have any travel tips?
sybarite
Never been greenbean. A friend goes regularly (skiiing) and loves it, says it's beautiful, very clean and 'everything works'. It's true that it is also seriously expensive.

Dunno where you're going but this and this might be useful... the lonely planet page has further links you may want to check out.
greenbean
Thanks sybarite! I know its expensive, I've already looked at hostel prices in Zurich and they arent much less then hotels! Luckily, my fight is free because my dad has some serious flyer miles and is very generous (thanks dad!) so I guess I'll sprurge while I'm there.
Switzerland is my ultimate destination because I've dreamed of visiting ever since my Heidi-loving youth, but I also want to check out Prague and Munich,...and who knows!? I'm feeling adventurous!
Any general euro-travel advice would be much appreciated!
zizola
supahc~

What parts of AZ are you going to be driving through exactly?

Flagstaff is definitely worth checking out. If you have time, you should go to Lowell Observatory. A lot of history there, and you can look through their giant telescope!

Sedona is great for New Agey (some very silly!) stuff and is also a gorgeous city to boot.

The petrified forest is cool if you like fossilized trees.

If you go through AZ during the first week of the month, there's an Art Walk in Scottsdale the first Thursday, and another one in Phoenix every first Friday.

Arcosanti is a cool place to visit- it's a sort of partially built artist utopia designed by Paolo Soleri, a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright.

As far as kitschy stuff, Jerome is definitely a cool little town to see, there's also a cool neighborhood of thrift stores/vintage stores & art galleries in downtown Phoenix. I also know that somewhere along your drive, you may pass by THE THING, which is some silly roadside attraction that I've never stopped at, but always wanted to.
supahc
Wow! I had no idea about arcosanti. That place looks really neat, I'm definitely going to drop by. I'm spending a couple of days in Phoenix doing day trips and then headed down to Tucson for a couple of days.
sybarite
Greenbean, I haven't travelled much in central Europe so can't give you any specific advice. However, the World Cup (of football/soccer) is on from June and through July in different parts of Germany, which will significantly impact on any travel there at that time.

If you're going later in the summer then it's all good... although July and August are holiday months for many Europeans, meaning accommodation will be pricier/have limited availability.
auralpoison
Greenbean, I spent two weeks in Prague over the summer & it was le shizznit. It's fairly inexpensive & so, so cool. They have an excellent mass transit system (The Soviets sucked, but did the Czechs a solid with the subway, trams, trains, etc.) & hostel stays are fairly cheap. It was something like $25 a night for two people. Radost is a great lounge/eatery & has great music & stiff drinks. There is so much to see & do that I felt two weeks wasn't nearly enough time. Try to catch a train to Kutna Hora to see the ossuary.
dusty
The Petrified Forest has petroglyphs as well, and the painted desert. I liked the petroglyphs, but I was a little underwhelmed by the painted desert. The park, I believe, is celebrating an anniversary this year.
rainarana
I also want to check out Prague and Munich>

I hated Prague about 5 years ago, and it gets more and more crowded every year. You should check out Ljubliana in Slovenia instead, if you're going to be traveling around. A lot less over run by tourists and still has an Eastern European feel. When I was in Prague it seemed like every other building was a Gap or McDonalds. Slovenia is also very cheap, you can get a single room for about $15 a day. There's the old town and I've heard the nightlife is really good. I missed Ljubliana last time through and went to Postojna to see the caves instead.
venetia
Itchy fee-eeet! I sooo want to go to Slovenia.
rainarana
Well I'll be in Poland and Slovakia this year. Since we're driving through Germany we'll spend a day or two in Berlin, where I've only been once and loved. Plus I have a friend there who can show us all the best spots, and then a day or two to Dresden, which I had always thought was completely obliterated and rebuilt in Soviet style, but was told otherwise recently.
venetia
oh oh how fun for you! (of course my desire to go to slovenia is intimately tied up with my obsessive desire to return to poland. The other day I was telling M hopefully that when we go to Rome (my carrot at the moment) "we can just quickly nip over to, um, polandandhungaryandslovenia?"

Interesting about Dresden - that's what I'd always thought too.
greenbean
Thanks for the tips, guys!
Sybarite-I knew world cup was going on but I didnt think about how it would affect travel, I must look into that.
Rainarana-i'm so bummed about Prague! The westernizing must have just started recently, because I have a friend who visited there eight years ago, and swears that it was lost in time.
Also, has anyone been to Portugal? I'm thinking of checking out Eastern Europe first and then flying over to the complete other side and doing the beach thing.
mouni4
Greenbean, a nice place in Switzerland is Lake Maggiore, which is partly Switzerland and partly Italian.
sybarite
Ooh, if you want to do the beach thing go to Barcelona in Spain. Fabulous city, very beautiful with astonishing architecture, great food, lovely people... and beaches a short train ride away. This isn't as bad as it sounds, because the trains let you out directly on to the beach itself. The Med is lovely and warm and there's usually a beachside cafe selling fresh calamari and cava... bliss all around.

Or you could check out the beaches in Valencia, further down the coast. I haven't been but I hear good things about it.
sybarite
Actually, another option for beaches in eastern europe is croatia, although it's apparently become very touristy. I can dig out a good accommodation website for croatia if you want...

/vicarious travel suggestions. I need a holiday.
greenbean
So many options! Woot!
rainarana
Yes, the beaches of Croatia are lovely. I stayed in a small town, forget the name, but it was in the region of what they call the Makarska Riviera. LOVELY. If you were considering Spain also check out the south western coast. We stayed in Rota, which has a US military base nearby, so you do see a lot of military people, but not too touristy. Cadiz is beautiful. We chose to avoid the east coast of Spain as it's overrun with drunken English tourists.

If you check out the European travel sites you can get really good deals, like $350, flight and hotel included for many places in Greece for about 8 days.

If you want to do the beach in Eastern Europe check out the Black Sea area in Romania. One of the few areas non communists were allowed to go, so pretty nice resort wise. I've not been but I've heard good things.

Oh, and I forgot to ask, when are you going?
raskel
When I was in Prague it wasn't over crowded, I only saw one McDonalds, and didn't see a Gap once, and this was only last March.....I really enjoyed Prague.
mornington
I'd also recommend the Black Sea beaches in Romania - I lived there as a kid & we never had any problems travelling (it's not a communist country any more). The sea is warm over the summer, but it can be really really busy & crowded around holidays.

also if you've got time, check out the mountains in transylvania - Bran Castle is good for a visit and the area is really pretty (and it is Dracula's Castle). I wouldn't bother with the rest of Romania though - it's pretty bleak and unlovely.
rainarana
I LOVE Romania. But Transylvania is the most beautiful. Wallachia is depressing. We didn't go to Bucharest, as everything we heard, from Romanians included, was bleak. Bran castle is actually not the real Dracula's castle. It's rumored that he spent a few nights there, I've been and it's quite beautiful, but if you want to go to the real one it's Poenari Castle, which is basically in ruins. And 1400 steps up the mountainside. This is the one his wife through herself down rather than being captured by the Turks. And Sighisoara, where he was born, a beautiful medieval town. There are a few other Vlad locations but I'm not familiar with those in the eastern area. Supposedly his headless body is buries on an island in the middle of a lake in Bucharest.
rainarana
Ven, you said you wanted to go back to Poland. Where have you been there? think we're going to focus on the southern region and do the Unesco tour. We'll be going to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
greenbean
I'm going for the second half of June. At first I'm going to spend 3 days by myself traveling Switzerland. Some folks have told be that its boring there, but I'm not looking for excitement, I'm looking for peace and beauty.
After that I am flying to Amsterdam to meet a friend, then we will travel together. She brought up Portugal because its far out and perhaps less traveled, but we are also considering Spain, South of France, Budapest...
sybarite
Fyi, you should be able to get a direct flight from Amsterdam's Schipol airport to anywhere European, as it's a hub.

The boy's been to Lisbon and says it's lovely, so you could check that out...
venetia
Rain - that's the part I've been to, round oswiencim and the tatras.
edie52
Greenbean, you are going to the right place!! I was only there for two days (Lucerne & surrounding parts), but Switzerland is one of the most peaceful and beautiful places I have ever seen, so green and dewey. It was around this time of year that I went, too.

Some friends and I are going on a little road trip through Nova Scotia, PEI, and New Brunswick in late June- anyone ever been? I'm looking for suggestions of quirky things to do- I think we know the obvious things (lighthouses and seafood), but I'm really into bizarre landmarks, odd museums, seedy motels, anything unconventional.

I have the opportunity to visit my friend in Prague and stay with her family this summer, but all of the plane tickets are so expensive (upwards of $1000 round trip for anywhere in Europe). I don't think I can afford it. I wonder if flying standby would actually work in the high season, and how much cheaper it would be?
steppe_child
Going to Thailand again. Any suggestions for beaches? Me and Steppe_man usually head to Koh Samet, Koh Chang or Koh Phi Phi (which is out-of commission now, I guess). Any suggestions? Also, has anyone been to the flower market in Bangkok? I keep meaning to go, but want to find out if it is a tourist hole like the floating markets.
treehugger
"Yeah, that's where I'm at, treehugger. It's almost hard to get bad food here, isn't it? I feel like some of the restaurants I love aren't even strictly local food, but then I think that the local cuisine seeps into every menu...hell, even most of the sushi places here have crawfish rolls. Yummy! And you can get gumbo practically anywhere...stuff like that.

Are you travelling on a budget, or do you hit any fancy places? Do you stick to the Quarter or venture out of it? Maybe we should move this to the travel thread, huh, even though we're talking about food...I would like to know if it's your first time visiting since the flooding and things like that. I'll look for a reply in On The Road Again..."

Thanks, amilita. :-)

I've been going to the French Quarter every Memorial Day weekend for, oh, must be ten years or so now. Only missed one year.

This is the first time I'm going since Katrina...I'm sure I'm going to get a shock. :-(

We tend to stick to the French Quarter, we normally stay down there and we try to limit how much we drive around. I know how annoying lost tourists can be! ;)

We're open to something we can reach from the trolley, though. And we're not opposed to a bit of a hike, as long as the neighborhoods aren't too unsavory.

We have the attitude of, it's a vacation so, yes, fancy is good, but not way overblown. And we love sticking to the regional foods because you just can't get food like that in Wisconsin. :-)

Way cool to find out a Bustie is there!

amilita
I think it's really worth doing a bit of a disaster tour, treehugger...it sounds like you already love this city, but seeing the worst parts of the city is important. And the impact of seeing it in real life as opposed to in pictures is vastly more intense. Then you can go spread the word on how little the federal government has helped a medium-sized American city that was messed up in the first place not by a natual disaster, but by mistakes of the Corps of Engineers! Oops, I'm going on a soapbox!

Anyhoo, food! There are a few French Quarter restaurants I mean to try, like Stanley! and Stella!...Stanley! might be a good one for you guys. Here's a Frommer's review with a bit of its interesting history.

Lots of locals go to Coop's Place, also on Decatur. It's not expensive and has lots of Cajun/Creole stuff on the menu.

I want to go to NOLA sometime, but locals have this thing about Emeril...some don't like him much, it seems, and I'm not sure why. (I've been here about 3 years.) I think it has to do with him not being from here, but benefitting from attaching himself to this city...and maybe saying not-so-nice things about it, too, at one point.

Let me know where you end up going and all that!
treehugger
amilita,

My guy is wanting to do a really, really fancy meal and was considering going to a restaurant, we can't remember the name, but one of the oldest restaurants there. The ambassador? Like a ship? Lots of wood? Or is there a better one for the money?

Is there actually a "disaster tour" set up or is it more I'd rent a car and we'd drive around? Something strikes me as being really tacky about an actual formal tour. Is that totally exploitative?

I'd probably cry.

Did the garden district get much damage? Is Algiers still there? What areas would you suggest I go see?
amilita
Commander's Palace?

If that's the one he's thinking of, I don't think it's reopened yet. It didn't flood over there, but it got lots of water damage from the roof. I have heard great things about it...

I have been to Bayonna in the quarter and liked it...also Peristyle, but they just closed. Sad. I love Herbsaint (fancy but not really fancy), and it's pretty close to the quarter in the central business district...not to walk, but a quick cab ride. The restaurant I most want to try is the Upperline...it's uptown.

I like the Frommer's guides when I'm travelling...maybe Arnaud's would be a good one for you guys to try...it's in the quarter and totally old-school New Orleans.

Let's see...to do a disaster tour you would have to rent a car. I can understand if you don't end up doing it...the most damaged places are the Lower 9th Ward and Lakeview. It's easiest to get to the L. 9th...Rampart is the street that borders the top of the quarter, and you just follow that over the drawbridge on the industrial canal and start looking.

There are actually guided tours...I've seen big busses and read about some. They are kinda tacky and odd, but I think for some older folks, that's the only way they will do it. And I'd rather people see it any way than not at all.

Garden district and Algiers both didn't get much damage...along with the quarter, marigny/bywater, central bus. district...
raskel
Has anyone been to Iceland? Mr. Raskel has always really wanted to go, and I was thinking about making a secret savings account to take him, but I don't even know what time a year would be a good time or anything like that.
sybarite
Raskel, Iceland is possibly the most beautiful place I have ever been. Go go go. Saying that... it is very expensive for food and drink and probably accommodation as well. It is also expensive (and tricky) to rent a car. Finally, Icelandair used to have all flights to/from Iceland sewn up; maybe they still do. They can be reasonable though if you're flexible, about $600 rtn each at best. (http://www.icelandair.com/)

The good things: stunning scenery. Base yourselves in Reykjavik and take the Golden Circle tour which hits a lot of good stuff, including the geysirs. Lovely people. Going out in Reyjkavik is great fun (altho hugely expensive). You could also check out their music festival in Oct: http://www.icelandairwaves.com/

It's one of my favourite countries and I've been plotting on how to go back myself. The landscape is almost lunar in places.

doxy
Amelita, I work at Arnaud's...hee hee.
Bayonna is great and I love S.Spicher. I wish she still owned Herbsaint, or still had more involvement with it. As it is, the menu is still her's. I often wonder how she can "make" three restaurants as she has and only have "influence" with one now? While Emeril has his influence all over the place? I'm sure it's a monetary thing, but, she rocks, too?! Anyway, she made the Bistro at Maison Deville, Bayonna and Herbsaint.
Upperline is one of the many I direct guests to from my bar at Arnaud's. Mrs. Cleavenger owns/runs that restaurant and she loves Old School New Orleans and produced and narrated the movie "Lost Restaurants of New Orleans." Anyway, she's keeping Upperline traditional with creole French cuisine as well as service.

I'd like to comment on the disaster tour. I love the guy who made it (used to love, now just like), only he brings the people into my bar afterwards and discusses it with them in front of me. Anyway, he is upset because the city won't let the tour go thru the 9th Ward. He actually tells the guests it is a black and white thing and that he hates the residents of 9th Ward because they believe the barge was sent thru the levee on purpose. He says he hates them for keeping it "off limits" and that he's really bothered that "they" (meaning poor black people that made it on television) get all the sympathy? Even if he has a point, because many white people lost their homes as well, you don't get in a heated debate over it with tourists! There's a tactful way of going about how everything went down...he even said he didn't care about the rebuilding of the 9th ward because their money doesn't do a thing to our eonomy! He looked at me and said, "you don't care if they come back, do you...nobody from the 9th ward comes into Arnaud's to put money in your pocket, do they?" He expected me to laugh and agree. I wanted to punch him in the mouth. The people were from Chicago, the ones on his tour, and if there's one thing I hoped they gathered while down here in the Mississippi's Queen City, it's this...bigotry is alive and well down here in the south. Effing dickhead.

Anyway, I live in the Lower Garden District, Treehugger, and aside from wind damage we were ok. Commanders is taking their FEMA money and renovating their restaurant. It was good timing for them as they were in need of repairs and so they're just getting it done right now. Delmonico and Brennans are closed as well.
Nothing wrong with the French Quarter, it's great, do your thing...but make sure you get to Frenchmen Street for some music. I work every other day at the bar in Arnaud's, you can enter it from Bienville at Bienville and Bourbon. It's a pretty bar, come in for a before/after dinner drink if you don't choose to dine with Arnaud's.
sybarite
Oh, one other Icelandic thing... the Blue Lagoon! A hot spring 'pool' which is the most amazing place ever. It's a natural spa and hang out zone (with a water bar) in one.
amilita
I knew that about you working at Arnaud's, doxy, but didn't know if it was OK to say!

Oy, that really sucks about the disaster tour guy...it would be really hard to listen to that shit and not say something. Jez...yeah, the residents of the lower 9th ward are a**holes to keep that part of town off limits...even to themselves! Doesn't that jerk know how messed up it was that those folks couldn't even get the closure of looking at their destroyed home or trying to sift through to find one tiny salvageable posession? Bleh.

Hope you're well, doxy! I'm trying to get my evacuation plan down...and do my hurricane shopping. Don't you think we'll have to leave at least a couple times this summer/fall? Even if it's just being hyper-cautious?
raskel
sybarite, is it necessary to rent a car in Iceland or is there public transportation to the places we would want to see?
sybarite
We didn't and we were fine. There's buses to and from the airport, to Blue Lagoon (which is between the airport and Reykjavik) and the Golden Circle Tour is a bus tour.
raskel
Ohh I'm getting excited about just saving up for it! I was hoping I wouldn't have to drive. I drove in Eastern Europe and it was a disaster. Iceland is the only place that Mr. Raskel has ever really wanted to travel to. He's a photographer too, so he'll really love the opportunity to photograph such foreign landscapes.
voodoo_princess
Summer's almost here.... where's everyone going?
voodoo_princess
double post
We are going to BeechBend in 2 more weeks! Gonna hit the water slides and all that fun-ness! Woohoo! The kids are gonna love it!
Wish we could get back up to Chicago thoug, sometime this summer. For the Taste would be nice..... sigh*
zora
I'm going to Lake Tahoe this weekend. It's for a wedding, but we're going to have some free time. Any reccomendations?
mornington
algeria!

My mum's just moved there for her latest job, and I'm getting a holiday out of it. We're going to see all the world heritage sites - apparently they've got a few pre-roman settlements around.
treehugger
Well, doxy, I will certainly do what I can to coax my guy into stopping. We're both from Wisconsin (the most alcoholic state in the country, it seems), so he and I both have hollow legs! We're going to be around both Saturday night and Sunday night but I'm not sure he's going to want to stop BOTH nights.

You can see a picture of me at www.myspace.com/phreespirit. That picture was taken in December and my hair is a little longer now.

If you recognize me and you want to introduce yourself feel welcome! Also, if you *don't* want to introduce yourself, that's fine too! :-)

Thanks for all the info! :-)
doxy
The MidCity Bayou Boogaloo is Saturday (see if you can get a cab out there, not very far, maybe Canal Street car would take you?). Unfortuneately I'll not be at the bar Saturday or Sunday, Tito will be instead. Still, it's a very pretty room and just to get more out of it you should walk around our little Mardi Gras museum upstairs with the cocktails you purchase. Bar opens at 5. The reason I'll not be there Sunday is because I'll be at my kickball team's party! Yippee!

Anyway, I'm going to Germany for World Cup. Will be in Gadheim, Wurzburg, Gottenburg, Kaiserslautern, Gelsenkirchen and Heidelsberg. If anyone knows of things I should do whilst over I'd appreciate the advice.
treehugger
Hi doxy and amilita,

Thanks SO much for the suggestions! It was great to see frenchmen's street and get off the beaten path. Great music! :-)

Wound up eating at Arnauds, the part of it that says "remolade". Wonderful food. We really enjoyed it, more so than previous years. Tee shirt shops were getting a little old.

Drove around the lower 9th ward for a while. So very sad..I didn't expect it to look like such a war-zone. I was also surprised to see BIG hotels, like national chains...still with messed up roofs and boarded up windows and siding dangling.

We didn't make it to the boogaloo, though.

I also discovered that Acme Oyster House has the best grilled oysters I can fathom! The boy is a convert after trying those. :-)

Whew! Gotta rest now before going back to work tomorrow!
greenbean
hey guys! So, I'm leaving for Europe soon, and the final destinations will be Switzerland, Amsterdam, Portugal and England. If anyone has any tips I'd love to hear them...anyone here from London? I really want to go dancing in an authentic Brit Pop club, something that plays Pulp and the like.
bunnyb
greenbean, I'm from Scotland and don't know the clubbing scene in London at all but there are a few London busties who I am sure will help you out.

If you cross-post in the Scottish busties thread over in F&F (for all UK busties) that may ensure a response. Sorry I couldn't be of more help!
mornington
*toddles in*
did someone call for a londoner?

greenbeen... I'm an indie girl (kaiser chiefs, rilo kiley, arctic monkeys, franz f, etc etc etc) so actual britpop I'm a bit off for (tbh, it pitches up in the mix, but you never know).

koko - camden, friday nights. (www.koko.uk.com). Yes, there are shed-loads of the excessively young (I mean 16y.o.s) but entry is fairly cheap & the tunes are good. They play mainstream indie, and there's a" up&coming" band on at about midnight or so. It's done by the NME.

frog @ mean fidler - its on charing cross rd... so one end of oxford st. A bit more expensive than koko, but a little more unbearably cool too. They have a band playing too, but they're generally a little more known.

Otherwise... The Metro (Blow Up The Metro is thier indie night), The Roxy on a tuesday, White Heat @ Madame JoJo, and then in Camden... the Electric Ballroom, The Underworld (with associated pub), Dingwalis, Lock 14 etc etc etc.

I can't sing the praises of Nambucca enough either. (www.myspace.com/nambucca). It's not a club, but a little family-run pub that also hosts people in silly haircuts playing all sorts of excellent music. Oh, and the sofas are comfy and you can dance like a loon there.

Hope your trip goes well!
greenbean
Ooo, ooo! I love Franz Ferdinand, ..wouldn't mind meeting some Alex Kapranos look-a-likes to dance with ;)
Thank you!
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