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 Post subject: Travel advice thread
PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2016 8:26 am 
Sumerul
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I thought perhaps we could use a travel advice thread? We have members here from all over who surely have lots of advice to offer and who perhaps equally need advice when traveling places. The advice could be where to go, how to get around, things to see, basically any questions one would have. I know most of this is Googlable but sometimes the best advice comes from those who have direct experience with the location one's going to, and not everyone's situation is Googleable.

So I'll start off with a question about Germany. What do you recommend for someone who needs to travel around Germany to 4 or 5 cities within a week. Point to point tickets seem to be around 30-50€ for two persons one way which is rather expensive. Rail passes are usually more than 200€. Do you have any tricks of the trade for getting around on German trains?

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Last edited by Viktor77 on Tue Jun 28, 2016 6:56 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Travel advice thread
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 8:40 am 
Avisaru
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Viktor77 wrote:
I thought perhaps we could use a travel advice thread? We have members here from all over who surely have lots of advice to offer and who perhaps equally need advice when traveling places. The advice could be where to go, how to get around, things to see, basically any questions one would have. I know most of this is Googlable but sometimes the best advice comes from those who have direct experience with the location one's going to, and not everyone's situation is Googleable.

So I'll start off with a question about Germany. What do you recommend for someone who needs to travel around Germany to 4 or 5 cities within a week. Point to point tickets seem to be around 30-50€ for two persons one way which is rather expensive. Rail passes are usually more than 200€. Do you have any tricks of the trade for getting around on German trains?

For that, I'd actually say the rail pass is your best option. There's sometimes an option for a "twin pass" that allows two people to travel together for about 1.5 times the normal pass price.
Other question is when and where are you going? This does affect things, as there are some other pass-like tickets (like the Quer-Durchs-Land Ticket and the Schönes Wochenende Ticket) that allow unlimited travel together with several people, but only on regional trains (not the IC or ICE trains).

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 Post subject: Re: Travel advice thread
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 9:02 am 
Sumerul
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vampireshark wrote:
For that, I'd actually say the rail pass is your best option. There's sometimes an option for a "twin pass" that allows two people to travel together for about 1.5 times the normal pass price.
Other question is when and where are you going? This does affect things, as there are some other pass-like tickets (like the Quer-Durchs-Land Ticket and the Schönes Wochenende Ticket) that allow unlimited travel together with several people, but only on regional trains (not the IC or ICE trains).


First week of April for maybe 4 or 5 days with 1 adult and 1 youth. We will stay in Hannover but I want to go to Berlin, Munich, Erfurt, Rostock, Dortmund, maybe Frankfurt or Stuttgart if we have a whole week there. It'd be nice to go and come back in the same day to save on lodging costs since we're staying with friends in Hannover but then I might be overestimating the distances in Germany.

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 Post subject: Re: Travel advice thread
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 10:05 am 
Avisaru
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Viktor77 wrote:
vampireshark wrote:
For that, I'd actually say the rail pass is your best option. There's sometimes an option for a "twin pass" that allows two people to travel together for about 1.5 times the normal pass price.
Other question is when and where are you going? This does affect things, as there are some other pass-like tickets (like the Quer-Durchs-Land Ticket and the Schönes Wochenende Ticket) that allow unlimited travel together with several people, but only on regional trains (not the IC or ICE trains).


First week of April for maybe 4 or 5 days with 1 adult and 1 youth. We will stay in Hannover but I want to go to Berlin, Munich, Erfurt, Rostock, Dortmund, maybe Frankfurt or Stuttgart if we have a whole week there. It'd be nice to go and come back in the same day to save on lodging costs since we're staying with friends in Hannover but then I might be overestimating the distances in Germany.

...yeah, you are overestimating distances if you just want to do day trips! The German Rail website should give you a bit of an idea as to travel distances. Hannover-Berlin is an hour and a half, so that's doable, but Hannover-München is close to 5 hours and Hannover-Frankfurt's about 3... and this is by ICE, which are the fast (and expensive) trains.

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 Post subject: Re: Travel advice thread
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:07 pm 
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Train tickets with a stopover are generally cheaper than buying two halfway tickets individually. (As an example, Cologne - Hannover by ICE without any discount is 72 €, Hannover - Berlin is 68 €, but Cologne - Berlin via Hannover is only 117 € instead of 140.) Train tickets within Germany are only valid on two consecutive calendar days though, so this option for saving money is only available if you do only a single stopover and if you don't stay there for more than one night.

However, international train tickets in the EU must be valid for a longer time (a month IIRC), so if you buy a ticket that starts or ends in Belgium, you can do several stopovers, each of which may last more than a day if you want. At least, this was possible three years ago, when I travelled from Cologne to Geneva via Berlin (where I stayed for several days), Tübingen (where I stayed for one night), and Basel (where I stayed another night) on a single ticket. Apparently you can't buy this kind of ticket online anymore, but I think it should still theoretically be possible because international tickets still have to be valid for a longer period of time. Maybe ask for specifically this option at a travel agency in Liège, or at the main train station in Aachen?

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 Post subject: Re: Travel advice thread
PostPosted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:09 pm 
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That's true VS, I probably ought to lower my expectations.

Cedh wrote:
Train tickets with a stopover are generally cheaper than buying two halfway tickets individually. (As an example, Cologne - Hannover by ICE without any discount is 72 €, Hannover - Berlin is 68 €, but Cologne - Berlin via Hannover is only 117 € instead of 140.) Train tickets within Germany are only valid on two consecutive calendar days though, so this option for saving money is only available if you do only a single stopover and if you don't stay there for more than one night.

However, international train tickets in the EU must be valid for a longer time (a month IIRC), so if you buy a ticket that starts or ends in Belgium, you can do several stopovers, each of which may last more than a day if you want. At least, this was possible three years ago, when I travelled from Cologne to Geneva via Berlin (where I stayed for several days), Tübingen (where I stayed for one night), and Basel (where I stayed another night) on a single ticket. Apparently you can't buy this kind of ticket online anymore, but I think it should still theoretically be possible because international tickets still have to be valid for a longer period of time. Maybe ask for specifically this option at a travel agency in Liège, or at the main train station in Aachen?


That's wonderful advice, Cedh. That never occurred to me to buy a ticket from Liège to say Berlin and stop over in Hannover, Erfurt, etc. (though I'm not sure how one makes sure a train stops in said places, in fact now thinking about it we might have to just stop wherever the train's pre-programmed stops are). But that's definitely a question I can ask my train friend in Liège.

If all else fails there's bus and there's ländertickets for various adjacent länder. Or a Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket for Berlin and Rostock perhaps from Hannover. If we can't do everything it's not the end of the world. I only really wanted to go to Munich to see Neuschwanstein (which is probably a tourist trap anyway). Erfurt and Rostock and Berlin are probably the 3 cities I want to most see anyway.

BTW I hope others use this thread. I don't want to think I ate up space in NOTA for my advice. Please, take advantage of this thread!

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 Post subject: Re: Travel advice thread
PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 4:29 am 
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Viktor77 wrote:
I only really wanted to go to Munich to see Neuschwanstein (which is probably a tourist trap anyway).

Even tourist traps can still be worth the visit, like (in my experience) the Taj Mahal and most of Paris' monuments. You just have to know what to avoid. And Neuschwanstein is gorgeous, though I think I preferred Schloss Linderhof a bit more because it's complete and really showcases how crazy Ludwig II was.


As for my question(s), I'm thinking of taking a trip to Japan for about 10-12 days soon. For me, the must-see destination is Kyoto and the palaces, so I'll probably be starting in Osaka, but what else would you all recommend?

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 Post subject: Re: Travel advice thread
PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 10:18 am 
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Viktor77 wrote:
BTW I hope others use this thread. I don't want to think I ate up space in NOTA for my advice. Please, take advantage of this thread!

For now, I guess I just want to say: From previous experience, if anyone ever plans to go make a trip to India, and you don't know this already, you pretty much have to plan EVERYTHING way in advance. You can't get a cab from the airport, so arrange for someone to pick you up from there; it is highly preferable that this person be someone you can recognize in a crowd. If you cannot find them in a crowd, or can't see them at least holding a sign in a crowd, you'll definitely be in a jam.

It probably also helps not to hesitate to cut in line, either at the airport or if you're ever supposed to wait in line for something in India. This is India, after all. There are lots of people, so lines are long, and nobody wants to stand around in line waiting any more than you do. Not pushing and shoving in line is a clear sign that you're not from the area even if you're brown. :P


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 1:57 pm 
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From my experience Germany flat out contradict's the typical anglophone's expectation that foreign food is more interesting than their own. It's nice to know that there's somewhere else in the world with the same level of culinary boredom as us.

(I apologise if I have offended any Germans by this comment)

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 4:54 pm 
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Karero wrote:
From my experience Germany flat out contradict's the typical anglophone's expectation that foreign food is more interesting than their own. It's nice to know that there's somewhere else in the world with the same level of culinary boredom as us.

I personally think the traditional cuisine of both Britain and Germany gets a bad rap. Then again, I'm from the American Midwest...


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 5:12 pm 
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I agree despite eating Indian food all the time and loving it. :D


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 21, 2016 7:26 pm 
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linguoboy wrote:
Karero wrote:
From my experience Germany flat out contradict's the typical anglophone's expectation that foreign food is more interesting than their own. It's nice to know that there's somewhere else in the world with the same level of culinary boredom as us.

I personally think the traditional cuisine of both Britain and Germany gets a bad rap. Then again, I'm from the American Midwest...


This would be why despite being a Midwesterner, I rarely if ever eat actual Midwestern food.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 1:32 pm 
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Well, our trip to Germany might've just been completely destroyed. With the attacks in Brussels (which are very sad and of course I probably have no right to complain about this) they are now controlling all of Belgium's borders and despite my persistence with the foreign office my husband still has his temporary papers. We went to Amsterdam and several times to Germany before without any problem but now.... We could go to Germany without planning anything ahead just in case, and then if we are controlled just see what happens. We can always plead ignorance. The card says no where on it that it's only valid in Belgium.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 5:44 pm 
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linguoboy wrote:
Karero wrote:
From my experience Germany flat out contradict's the typical anglophone's expectation that foreign food is more interesting than their own. It's nice to know that there's somewhere else in the world with the same level of culinary boredom as us.

I personally think the traditional cuisine of both Britain and Germany gets a bad rap. Then again, I'm from the American Midwest...


The traditional cuisine of Britain is excellent... but limited. Pies, pasties, roasts, cheese, biscuits, smoked fish, sausage, ham, bacon, and cake. Unless you go deep into regional old-timey-ness (jellied eels and the like).

But of course, really the traditional cuisine of Britain is adopting and fusing the best cuisine from everywhere else in the world, and has been for centuries.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:01 pm 
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Salmoneus wrote:
The traditional cuisine of Britain is excellent... but limited. Pies, pasties, roasts, cheese, biscuits, smoked fish, sausage, ham, bacon, and cake. Unless you go deep into regional old-timey-ness (jellied eels and the like).

But of course, really the traditional cuisine of Britain is adopting and fusing the best cuisine from everywhere else in the world, and has been for centuries.


I agree, being UK native. I especially like the nice cheeses made up here in the North, like Wenslydale and Cuddy's Cave. And a good pie always goes down well.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:26 pm 
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I'm still going to try to go to Germany so that's a yay.

Also this will only work if I find a cheap flight, but has anyone here visited Moldova and have any recommendations? It seems like a place we could travel to once my partner has his papers and save a ton of money since it seems to be pretty cheap. Either Moldova or Ukraine. I think these are the cheapest countries in Europe.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 3:51 pm 
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Just so you know, there's a reason that they are cheap.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 5:16 pm 
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Travis B. wrote:
Just so you know, there's a reason that they are cheap.


Yes, of course, but I'm sure they still have their merits.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 5:54 pm 
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I honestly did not know that about Moldova until now.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 8:34 am 
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Viktor77 wrote:
Either Moldova or Ukraine.

I've read a lot about how beautiful Kiev and Lviv are. I've never seen or heard anyone praising anything in Moldova. That perhaps doesn't mean anything, of course.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:53 am 
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hwhatting wrote:
Viktor77 wrote:
Either Moldova or Ukraine.

I've read a lot about how beautiful Kiev and Lviv are. I've never seen or heard anyone praising anything in Moldova. That perhaps doesn't mean anything, of course.


We've heard the same things then. :)

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:53 am 
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Well, Ukraine is much bigger and IINM much better known, and both Kiev and Lviv have a much longer history than, say, Chișinău. :)


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2016 4:14 am 
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I'm going to spend ten days in Japan in the second half of May, so I'll jump in here to hopefully get a few pieces of useful information from those who know the country better than I do. I'll probably stay in Tokyo for a few days, visit Kyoto, and I also want to see one or two more rural places (e.g. a traditional onsen town, and/or do a day walk somewhere in the mountains). Apart from this general outline I have no definite plans yet, so any suggestions for worthwile destinations and activities are welcome!

Of course I also have a few concrete questions:

- I'm usually not much of a typical sight-seeing tourist, instead preferring to simply experience the atmosphere of a city by walking around (in a culturally vibrant area if possible) and spending time in a café or so. Which parts of Tokyo and Kyoto would be best suited for something like this?
- Are there any "must-see" things in Tokyo, Kyoto and surroundings that you think I shouldn't miss?
- Do you know of any specific rural places worth visiting?
- What's the best way to get around in the country? I've already heard of the Japan Rail Pass, but I'm not yet sure whether it would really be worth it, or if something else might be more useful (a regional rail pass? planning only a few individual journeys because the trains would beoperated by different companies? etc.)
- How easy or difficult is it to orient myself if I can't read kana and kanji? I guess in some places (the largest cities and a few tourist destinations?) some things will also be written in English or at least with Latin characters, but how common is this really, especially in the countryside?
- Is there anything general about travelling in Japan that I should know?

Also, those of you who are in Japan at the same time (Finlay? Clawgrip? Vampireshark? anyone else???), would you be interested in a meetup?

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 8:59 am 
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Cedh wrote:
Also, those of you who are in Japan at the same time (Finlay? Clawgrip? Vampireshark? anyone else???), would you be interested in a meetup?

Sadly, I'm not (and won't be) in Japan: my move emptied my bank account, and I need to save up for a trip to the US in July for work/personal vacation. Though it might be prefaced by a trip to Brazil for a week to go to a friend's wedding! (Also doesn't hurt that Brazil's temporarily waiving visa requirements for Americans, so I can go without having to get an expensive visa.)

Speaking of Brazil, though, does anyone have any tips? I might be going to a wedding near Curitiba, so I think that means I'll want to arrive into Brazil in São Paulo, but, beyond that, I don't know.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 4:05 pm 
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vampireshark wrote:
Speaking of Brazil, though, does anyone have any tips? I might be going to a wedding near Curitiba, so I think that means I'll want to arrive into Brazil in São Paulo, but, beyond that, I don't know.


That's not far from the Iguaçú Falls.

São Paulo itself is not very exciting, I think. Rio is worth seeing, mostly because of its spectacular natural setting.

If you have any hankering to see quaint colonial architecture, the big cities will be disappointing, but the little town of Ouro Prêto is a gem. (When I was there it required a bus trip to get there.)


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