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1 hour ago, wiby_NU said:

I second BRB on Costa Rica.  Amazing country with such a laid back lifestyle.  Get away from the Resorts and experience the culture.  The food and scenery are also top notch.

 

Oahu was also a nice trip.  I had a buddy in the military who was stationed there so we had a free place to crash and his wife took us anywhere we wanted to go.  I'd suggest getting out of Honolulu where traffic is crazy and the tourists flock and go experience the north shore.  We snorkeled the North shore and saw Dolphins / Sea Turtles and some other cool marine life.  We also went to a traditional Luau dance and did some hiking up in the mountains.  Hit up Pearl Harbor as well, it's a pretty sobering experience.  One thing not many people tell you about Hawaii is that the locals DO NOT like american tourists.  They view most mainland Americans as the people who destroyed the Island and look it over for military purposes (which is somewhat true).   

 

The wife and I have a trip to Iceland coming up in a couple months.  We plan on driving the Ring Road and staying at a number of AIRBNB's and a couple hotels.  Our only regret is not having enough time to explore the West Fjords.  This will be our first International trip where we are on our own so we're both pretty excited and have most of the places we want to go mapped out. 

 

Next trip is hopefully Thailand in 2020.  Also want to experience New Zealand and Australia..Anyone want to pay me to travel?  I could live life on the road if it wasn't so darn expensive.

 

You'll love Iceland. The scenery is other worldly. Skogafoss is great, the trek to the top is incredible. So is Dyrholaey. The view made me tear up. If you go to Reynisfjara Beach be cautious of the waves. It's the deadliest beach in Iceland. The waves come crashing in much stronger and further than you think. 

 

I was there this past fall. Only explored Reykjavik and a portion of the southern part of the country though, but it was absolutely incredible. A buddy and I are planning to do the Ring Road next year. If you're in Reykjavik, go visit a tiny hole in the wall restaurant called "Grái kötturinn" it means' Grey Cat. Great breakfast food. 

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10 minutes ago, Fru said:

 

You'll love Iceland. The scenery is other worldly. Skogafoss is great, the trek to the top is incredible. So is Dyrholaey. The view made me tear up. If you go to Reynisfjara Beach be cautious of the waves. It's the deadliest beach in Iceland. The waves come crashing in much stronger and further than you think. 

 

I was there this past fall. Only explored Reykjavik and a portion of the southern part of the country though, but it was absolutely incredible. A buddy and I are planning to do the Ring Road next year. If you're in Reykjavik, go visit a tiny hole in the wall restaurant called "Grái kötturinn" it means' Grey Cat. Great breakfast food. 

Thanks for the info.  We fly in on a Thursday and plan on spending all day exploring Reykjavik and adjusting to time change.  We'll have to check out the restaurant.  We want to hit up as many waterfalls as possible (online pictures probably don't do them justice).  Snorkeling between 2 tectonic plates at Thingvellir national park is on our bucket list.  We have a list of things we would love to do/see but unfortunately probably wont have enough time.

 

Any international travel advice for some first time planners?  We've already had to buy a cheap burner phone as our phone company has locked our phones and will not unlock them for international SIM cards unless we've owned the phone for one calendar year (stupid).  I've read a few places that you need a PIN# for your credit cards at certain gas stations with no attendant working.  We will have some cash on hand but also plan on using plastic because of the convenience.

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14 minutes ago, wiby_NU said:

Thanks for the info.  We fly in on a Thursday and plan on spending all day exploring Reykjavik and adjusting to time change.  We'll have to check out the restaurant.  We want to hit up as many waterfalls as possible (online pictures probably don't do them justice).  Snorkeling between 2 tectonic plates at Thingvellir national park is on our bucket list.  We have a list of things we would love to do/see but unfortunately probably wont have enough time.

 

Any international travel advice for some first time planners?  We've already had to buy a cheap burner phone as our phone company has locked our phones and will not unlock them for international SIM cards unless we've owned the phone for one calendar year (stupid).  I've read a few places that you need a PIN# for your credit cards at certain gas stations with no attendant working.  We will have some cash on hand but also plan on using plastic because of the convenience.

 

Reykjavik is a great city. Lots of shops and restaurants, very tourist friendly. The people aren't overly welcoming, they're nice enough, but whenever I walked into a store or something they'd start speaking in Icelandic and I'd just say "Sorry, I only speak English" and their face would usually drop and they'd kind of begrudgingly say "How can I help you?" 

 

You're right though, the pics never do it justice. I will say, take time to take as many pics as you can, but also take a moment to just soak it in. Looking back I wish I had taken more pics. How many days will you be there? I've read that if you're doing the Ring Road, it's advised to take 7 to 10 days, depending on the time of year. 

 

That's a bummer about the phone company. I'm not sure why they would do that. I called my bank beforehand and told them the countries I'd be in so they wouldn't freeze my card or anything. They didn't have any PIN#'s or anything. There are some international transaction fees, but I'd say it's kind of worth it to just swipe and not have to deal with exchanging currency and such. If you buy something in Iceland, they'll likely offer you some form for you to fill out that you turn in somewhere in the airport. It gets you a few dollars back from sales tax. I didn't want to mess with it and just said screw it, but it is available. 

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I've been to quite a few countries.  Most of the European countries and China.  I'm headed to Shanghai again in a couple months.  Australia is on my bucket list.  

 

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Switzerland is gorgeous.  Went on a big ski trip there.  I ski fairly often and can hold my own but I felt like an amateur my first day in the Alps.

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6 minutes ago, darkhorse85 said:

Switzerland is gorgeous.  Went on a big ski trip there.  I ski fairly often and can hold my own but I felt like an amateur my first day in the Alps.

 

Where did you ski there? Zermatt is on my list 

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16 hours ago, Big Red 40 said:

Why was Sweden bleh ? Supposed to be some of the happiest people on earth there and the pictures I’ve seen of it are always pretty? 

A lot of my perspective of a place comes from the people - let me give you an example of Stockholm.  We really were only in the Stockholm area and the archepeligo there, so perhaps the key is to go outside of that particular part of the country.  They might be happy as a country, but the Stockholm people are miserable toward others.  

 

Me, walking into a quaint shop in the Gamla Stan: "good morning - wow, you have some beautiful things."

Employee, eyes down: "                     "  (as in nothing - no hello, no thank you after purchasing, no interaction)

 

Getting on trains or buses people run into you and don't acknowledge it, I watched a pregnant lady with a stroller get on a train and nobody moved to give her a seat.  Zero eye contact.

 

In fact if you google rude Stockholm rude you'll get a ton of hits.  Some say it's because they spend so much time alone in the winter and the dark and then when it's light and they go outside the stimulus is too much.  Some say it's anti American (that we're too loud and involved with strangers), some blame racism.  But let me tell you it's real.  I've got a very full passport and been to multiple continents and I've never felt like I was less wanted to be visiting somewhere.

 

Edit: as far as happiness goes, guess just because you're personally happy doesn't mean that you're nice.

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4 hours ago, Fru said:

 

Definitely want to go back to Iceland. I was only there for a few days. Saw and did a lot, but the country offers so much more. I want to do their "Ring Road" tour. 

 

Could see myself living in London or Ireland. My family has pretty extensive Irish ancestry, and I oddly felt very at home there. I told my aunt about this "Cliche feeling of 'being home'" and she said "It's not cliche. Your bones know where home is."

I felt the same way when I visited Scotland.  Edinburgh is one of my heart places.

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3 hours ago, Fru said:

Has anyone been to Colombia? I got into the show "Narcos" a couple years ago and have become fascinated with the country. I've read that it's safer and more tourist friendly than it's ever been. 

Haven't been but have a close colleague from there and it's safe in some areas.  There are still a lot of places he says to stay away from.  The beach towns and the mountains are where they go when they visit, they have the family that lives in Medellin come there.  Also have a couple customers that meet family in Miami cuz they won't go back.

3 hours ago, BigRedBuster said:

I was attending some meetings in Dusseldorf.  We spent time there and Cologne.  We flew into Frankfurt and took the train to Dusseldorf.  The country is beautiful and the people were great.  The beer and food was awesome.  The cities were so clean, no homeless or beggars laying in the streets.  Probably one of the highlights was touring the Cathedral in Cologne.  It is an absolutely amazingly beautiful site.  I've heard of other similar type historical buildings/sites around Germany and want to visit them.  

 

The breweries there are awesome and totally different than what you find here in micro brews.  A brewery only brews one beer.  One of them we were in started brewing beer in the 1400s....and still brewing the same beer.  Needless to say, they had it perfected.  

 

I want to go back and visit Berlin and Munich.  The train system over there is great.  Hop on a  train and you can get places fast and easy.

 

Octoberfest would be awesome to go to.

Oktoberfest is awesome!  Proust!

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15 minutes ago, Fru said:

 

Where did you ski there? Zermatt is on my list 

 

Zermatt. There are several mountains to ski there. It was amazing.  I'd like to go back in the Summer.

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1 hour ago, Fru said:

 

Reykjavik is a great city. Lots of shops and restaurants, very tourist friendly. The people aren't overly welcoming, they're nice enough, but whenever I walked into a store or something they'd start speaking in Icelandic and I'd just say "Sorry, I only speak English" and their face would usually drop and they'd kind of begrudgingly say "How can I help you?" 

 

You're right though, the pics never do it justice. I will say, take time to take as many pics as you can, but also take a moment to just soak it in. Looking back I wish I had taken more pics. How many days will you be there? I've read that if you're doing the Ring Road, it's advised to take 7 to 10 days, depending on the time of year. 

 

That's a bummer about the phone company. I'm not sure why they would do that. I called my bank beforehand and told them the countries I'd be in so they wouldn't freeze my card or anything. They didn't have any PIN#'s or anything. There are some international transaction fees, but I'd say it's kind of worth it to just swipe and not have to deal with exchanging currency and such. If you buy something in Iceland, they'll likely offer you some form for you to fill out that you turn in somewhere in the airport. It gets you a few dollars back from sales tax. I didn't want to mess with it and just said screw it, but it is available. 

We plan on being in Iceland for 9 days.  8 of which will be on the road. First day in Reykjavic, then Hvollsfollur Vik, Hofn, Egilsstadir, Akureyri, Hvammstangi, Olafsvik, and then a cottage by Keflavik airport. Lots of driving..Probably averaging out to 3 hours a day w/out stops.  Next vacation will hopefully be more relaxing.  

 

If you do plan on booking hotels or AIRBNB's do so early.  We booked about 6 months in advance because prices and availability were running out.  Spring/Summer booking is also about twice as expensive as fall/winter,  expect to drop about $150/night for a small room and shared bath.  Everything seems to be about twice as expensive there.

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I have basically been no where in my life.  Been to Cabo, been on a couple of Caribbean cruises  and Hawaii 3x  otherwise nothing out of the country.  I basically want to go almost every where in the world.

 

  My wife really wants to go to Iceland, so hearing that it is a great place to visit is encouraging.  She wants to go during the Christmas season.  I want to go basically everywhere in Europe.  My oldest brother and his wife are on a river cruise down the Danube right now and they keep posting stuff on Facebook it looks great.  They have been traveling a lot since they retired.  They basically do 2 big trips, 14-17 days a year one in the fall and one in the spring.  We are planning on taking our kids and hopefully grand kid somewhere fun for our 30th anniversary in a couple of years.  We are talking like Greece.    

 

I want to see everything.  I am not into things.  So I would rather spend my money traveling.  I have 4 years left with a kid at home, so I plan on doing quite a bit of traveling after that.  My wife and I would like to go to like Costa Rica and or Belize and rent a house for a couple of months in the winter.  We think that might be fun.  

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41 minutes ago, NUinID said:

I have basically been no where in my life.  Been to Cabo, been on a couple of Caribbean cruises  and Hawaii 3x  otherwise nothing out of the country.  I basically want to go almost every where in the world.

 

We have been on one Caribbean cruise and I don't think I would ever do it again.  The only cruises I would be interested in is there are some European cruises up rivers...etc. so you can see the country....or a Mediterranean cruise.  And, I would only go on a Mediterranean cruise if I wanted to visit a number of countries all on one trip.

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I have been to most of the big European cities/touristy places.  I loved Paris, Prague, and Berlin.  Was not that big a fan of Italy (Rome and Venice were both trash dumps imo).

 

We do a Caribbean vacations once a year (all inclusives on Mexico/Dominican or a cruise).  Nothing really stands out to me on those, but I just need a week in February to get out of the cold and lay next to a pool/ocean and relax and drink.

 

We have done Kauai twice (once on the honeymoon and 10 years later).  That might be my favorite place on Earth that I have visited.  So much natural beauty there.  I feel for the people of on the North Shore that just had the flooding a couple weeks ago.

 

I would love to go to Australia/New Zealand as well as Africa.  My problem is that I am not a good flyer, so making that long trip in an airplane would be hell for me.  Getting to Hawaii is tough enough.  

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59 minutes ago, NUinID said:

I have basically been no where in my life.  Been to Cabo, been on a couple of Caribbean cruises  and Hawaii 3x  otherwise nothing out of the country.  I basically want to go almost every where in the world.

 

  My wife really wants to go to Iceland, so hearing that it is a great place to visit is encouraging.  She wants to go during the Christmas season.  I want to go basically everywhere in Europe.  My oldest brother and his wife are on a river cruise down the Danube right now and they keep posting stuff on Facebook it looks great.  They have been traveling a lot since they retired.  They basically do 2 big trips, 14-17 days a year one in the fall and one in the spring.  We are planning on taking our kids and hopefully grand kid somewhere fun for our 30th anniversary in a couple of years.  We are talking like Greece.    

 

I want to see everything.  I am not into things.  So I would rather spend my money traveling.  I have 4 years left with a kid at home, so I plan on doing quite a bit of traveling after that.  My wife and I would like to go to like Costa Rica and or Belize and rent a house for a couple of months in the winter.  We think that might be fun.  

My wife always asks me when I'm going to get a hobby.  I tell her planning our vacations is my hobby.  I don't like to surround myself with "toys" and "things".  I'd rather experience travelling somewhere for the first time.  

 

Go to Costa Rica.  It's a retirement dream destination for myself (30+ years down the road).  I haven't quite got the European travel bug yet.  However, Italy is pretty high on my list.  The food and scenery look spectacular.

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