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Have you been to...? Travel - what was good to do where?

#21 User is offline   Binder of Demons 

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 11:15 PM

 Sir Thursday, on 23 August 2012 - 05:10 PM, said:

Good thread idea! I'm off to Peru and Bolivia in September for 3 weeks. The first half of the trip has already been planned - arrive in Lima, Lares Trek to Machu Pichu and some stuff around Cuzco. But then I have 10 days of time to spend before I have to be in La Paz for my flight home. So far, the main things people have told me are good to see are:

- Colca Canyon
- Bolivian Salt Flats

Anyone got any other recommendations about how to fill my time?

ST



I was there over 10 years ago so things like tour companies, and hostel recommendations will be out of date, but I did travel from Cuzco to La Paz and there are a few things worth seeing. since it is on the way, stop off and see Lake Titicaca. There are several islands worth a visit (Isla del Sol, Isla Tequile) and the floating islands are a touristy thing these days but worth a look all the same (the ferry to one of the islands visits them so it's not a big detour). It used to be a popular thing to stay with a local family on the islands but not sure if that's still being done. The scenery is nice there, and the sunsets and sunrises can be amazing due to the clear skies.

You have already mentioned visiting the Salaar in southern Bolivia but i will wholeheartedly recommend that too.

Within touching distance of La Paz, there are the ruins of Tiahuanaco, which are worth a look too due to their mysterious origins, and the fact that there were some serious new excavations going on there when I was there. Curious as to what it looks like now (they supposedly found a pyramid shaped building buried next to the complex).

In LA PAz itself, you can apparently visit the local prison and get a tour from one of it's "residents"!!! I kid you not. The inmates must pay for their stay, and this is one way they do so.

I never got to visit, but I heard good things about the city of Potosi, where you can get a tour of a working mine (Used to be known for silver mines, but it may only be Copper or Tin these days). Your guide book should have more info.

If you are moderately active, and have been in the area for a few days to acclimatise to the altitude, then DEFINITELY do a trip with "Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking" based in La Paz. I got to cycle down "The world's most dangerous road" which goes from La Paz-Coroico. Occasionally really scary, it was an exhilarating experience and one of the highlights of my time in South America (The Salt Flats tour was in my top 3). I had cramps in my hands from pulling the brakes, since it is almost all downhill! Check out their website above for some short video clips as examples of the trips they offer.

That's pretty much all i can remember off the top of my head in Bolivia, but I did remember another thing to do near CUzco. I had a day or two to spare and I really wanted to visit a local site called MORAY but didn't like either of my options of either using public transport and walking to god knows where, or getting a tour bus right up to the site. By total chance i came across a company offering a mountain biking trip to the site, and it proved to be a wonderful surprise. ME and my guide were the only people there and i got to have a nice leisurely cycle in a beautiful part of the world. And it cost me the same as a regular guided tour.

If you have any questions feel free to ask. I would just say though, be aware of the altitude especially going to Bolivia and allow yourself a leisurely day or two when moving on to a town at a higher elevation (e.g. when arriving in Cuzco, do the city tour and the Sacred Valley tour by bus first, and then do the Inca Trail. When you get to La Paz,arrange the day trips or guided tour things like Tiahuanaco before doing active stuff like the mountain biking). Remember that Bolivia is mostly over 4000m elevation and the effects of altitude sickness are unpredictable.

I am jealous of your planned trip regardless of where you go.

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#22 User is offline   Gwynn ap Nudd 

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 03:22 AM

 Abyss, on 23 August 2012 - 07:04 PM, said:

Ontopic and without any reference to Cthulhu, i'd appreciate any suggestions re California, from LA up the coast to San Fran. What to do and see, where to eat, what to avoid.

...Ok fine, if your suggestion does in fact require ref to Cthulhu that's fine too...

An old friend of mine just moved back here after spending eight years or so in San Fran. If nobody else has any, I'll hit him up for some ideas.
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#23 User is offline   Gwynn ap Nudd 

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 03:32 AM

I talked to him today and he is going to give it some thought. Anything specific you are interested in?
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#24 User is offline   Macros 

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 11:46 AM

Dubai is awesome.
That was a fullstop.


I'll comment fully later.
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#25 User is offline   Macros 

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 02:43 PM

 QuickTidal, on 23 August 2012 - 02:44 PM, said:

Dubai is a crafted city. It was created from the get-go to be a rich tourist mecca. It's gorgeous to look at, but it's all empty. The majority of the buildings (minus the hotels....and even in some cases the hotels) are not occupied.

I have friends who visited and the only reason they found anything to do was because they had a friend who had family there, otherwise they said it was kind of boring...as far as middle eastern culture is concerned. The way one of them described it like a Hollywood movie set of a Middle Eastern city. Like a Vegas that isn't really occupied.

It's simply not the type of place to look for stuff to do off the beaten path. As far as I know.



This is wrong on so many levels it quite hilarious. Dubai has been a trading point for a long long time and was gearing towards international trading hub long before the tourist idea came about.

Don't let this assessment put anyone off taking a week in Dubai, however unless you really love sweltering heat, I'd recommend between October and May. (I think Lizrad was worried about massive temps, apparently December/Jan drops to low 20s) I arrived just as the brutal heat has started to die off, with a very noticeable difference between last Tuesday night (11pm!) when I landed and just now, 6pm in the evening. Its lovely now, just a tad over the top in the middle of the day. I'm thinking about coming back in December for the Rugby sevens (spectator not participant :p) when it should be bloody marvellous weather.

I've been to a properly fake city (Ashgabat) and Dubai is nothing like it what so ever, its a busy place and any buildings that are empty are newly finished, close to finished or in the middle one of the ill conceived little I'm not sure of the word but its like plush housing estates type things. People here want apartments with nice facilities. and boy do they get them!
Vegas is far more fake than Dubai IMO, its one big tacky tourist trap, Dubai is anything but only in the last ten years has tourism agenda been pushed (the palm, the world, dubai mall), for a good 60/70 years before that the aim was trade and corporation centres and there's actually quite an interesting history to the place. They've granted foreigners tax breaks for nearly 100 years to bring trade and other services here, very forward thinking and when they realised the oil would run out they started pushing harder for it.

Its not cheap, I'll admit it, though there are plenty of bargain places to be found and its a hell of a lot cheaper than Australia was. And in most shops (not supermarkets obviously) haggling is very much the way forward I knocked a good bit of nearly everything I've bought here. Granted I'm not much of a shopper, and not much of a haggler either.

Back to Dubai, there is enough to do for a week no problem, Dubai Mall and the burj Khalifa will take a day, its simply so big and you'll want to stay on to see the fountains going.
I'd recommend going to old Dubai the day after Dubai mall for a wonderful contrast (I'll post some pictures later) and it was great fun haggling with a man there over a a neck scarf that I really didn't want but ended up buying because he was so entertaining. (We actually got to that fantasy book market cliche place, where we were both lying outrageously to each other to alter the price) Now I know that can be done anywhere, and its part of the touristy thing, but most guys here has pretty good English so it makes it fun.

A boat trip out round the coastline is another day, well, half a day but the heat was still pretty high when I did it so I retreated to the pool afterwards.

The weekends here are great, the social scene is really vibrant and a lot of fun, with plenty of variety, and if you do come, I thoroughly recommend a brunch on a friday, its just so over the top, almost decadent.
Oh weekend here is friday and saturday, which is bizarre but when you're in holiday mode you don't notice.
Transport is cheap and very straight forward.

I want to come back, I simply failed as a tourist this time round due to enjoying the bar scene entirely too much. I didn't even get to Ferrari world!
I want to do a boat trip at night to see the city lights from out there, I want to walk the marina at night, I REALLY want to go buggy racing over the dunes (supposed to be immense but was too pricey for one, better split between 2 or 4). Sure for a proper middle eastern experience this isn't it, its mostly a pretty new city, but I've been to plenty of old cities, some of them smell.

I'm a terrible reviewer, but I'll say to write Dubai off as a tacky tourist trap is doing it a massive disservice. Its a young lively city with plenty to offer, especially on the dining side (both on and off the track, we had a fantastic thai meal last night in a really weird backstreet restaurant, so small its toilets were actually public toilets out on the street) I haven't had a bad meal here yet (fingers crossed for my cooking tonight)
There's a ton of shopping if that's your thing, but even it you get dragged to one of the malls there is so much other stuff to see and do you won't even mind. Its not a strict muslim country like others I've been in, very laid back and open minded (just be respectful and obey the signs) do as others do basically and you'll be fine. There's a very large western working population here as well, so much so I'd consider it a marketing/ technology city rather than touristy.
And the Burj Khalifa is a simply stunning building
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#26 User is offline   Macros 

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 03:56 PM

Booked to go back to Dubai for another week in decemeber :rolleyes:
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#27 User is offline   QuickTidal 

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 04:41 PM

 Macros, on 17 September 2012 - 02:43 PM, said:

 QuickTidal, on 23 August 2012 - 02:44 PM, said:

Dubai is a crafted city. It was created from the get-go to be a rich tourist mecca. It's gorgeous to look at, but it's all empty. The majority of the buildings (minus the hotels....and even in some cases the hotels) are not occupied.

I have friends who visited and the only reason they found anything to do was because they had a friend who had family there, otherwise they said it was kind of boring...as far as middle eastern culture is concerned. The way one of them described it like a Hollywood movie set of a Middle Eastern city. Like a Vegas that isn't really occupied.

It's simply not the type of place to look for stuff to do off the beaten path. As far as I know.



This is wrong on so many levels it quite hilarious. Dubai has been a trading point for a long long time and was gearing towards international trading hub long before the tourist idea came about.


Jeez. Sorry I guess for expressing the opinion from those I know who have been there.

Just because you had a different experience doesn't nullify other traveler's experiences there. Nor does it make that opinion "wrong" Macros.
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#28 User is offline   Macros 

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Posted 24 September 2012 - 07:16 PM

were it stated as an opinion yes. when its presented as a fact it does make it wrong
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#29 User is offline   Macros 

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 06:29 PM

ST
How was peru/bolivia?

South America is on my list for definite, all I need now is money. Was three weeks adequate for the two countries?
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#30 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 06:52 PM

 Sir Thursday, on 23 August 2012 - 08:35 PM, said:

 Abyss, on 23 August 2012 - 07:04 PM, said:

Ontopic and without any reference to Cthulhu, i'd appreciate any suggestions re California, from LA up the coast to San Fran. What to do and see, where to eat, what to avoid.

...Ok fine, if your suggestion does in fact require ref to Cthulhu that's fine too...


There's a place about an hour south of San Francisco where you can see Elephant Seals...they're pretty impressive creatures. You do have to go at the right time of year to see them at their best though (when I was there there were a lot of very young pups about, which was cool. I imagine the best time to go is when the males are fighting though, suspect that would be impressive). And just in general that drive up the coast is very picturesque.

ST



Got there, saw them, they were awesome, loud and huge, and I now fully appreciate exactly why great white sharks are so enthusiastic about eating those things.

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#31 User is offline   Gnaw 

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 07:36 PM

As much as I would dearly love to add to this, my only non US experiences were as a young soldier in Bamberg, Germany in the early 80s. Lots of bars. Zero culture. If someone would have pointed out to me that the cobblestones I was puking on had theoretically been in place for 700 years I would have said, "And your point?" Who was it that said youth is wasted on the young?

I can however point out some interesting places, sites, etc in the Colorado Front Range (Rocky Mountains from roughly Colorado Springs on the south to Ft. Collins on the north, and west into the mountains to Aspen or so.)

Also Western North Carolina. Asheville, Boone, etc
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#32 User is offline   JLV 

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 04:35 PM

I think I'm going to London this summer for 6 weeks. Someone encourage me to make the dive.
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#33 User is offline   Macros 

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 04:59 PM

I will advise against six weeks in London.
Its too long there :)
Its expense aside I should think two weeks would be more than adequate in London (Londoners feel free to correct me) leaving you with a month to explore some other areas.
There's plenty of lovely towns and cities within relatively easy commute from London

Que the English folk with recommendations of other towns.

But yes come to London, I would hate to live there but there's plenty to see.in it.

tower bridge,the tower, Tussauds, Wembley, the eye, the dome.
There's much more but its been a few years since I've touristed in London.
The Olympic village I suppose.
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#34 User is offline   JLV 

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 01:23 PM

well its a study abroad type deal, so the classes and whatnot would be in londed, but i'm sure i'll have time to go elsewhere as well.
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#35 User is offline   Abyss 

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 04:11 PM

Do it. London rocks.
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#36 User is offline   Macros 

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 06:40 PM

Take every study/ work abroad for short terms you can
Ever!
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#37 User is offline   Zanth13 

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 07:00 AM

Interesting.

I have been to:
South Korea
Kuwait
Iraq
Qatar
Germany
France
Italy (Rome)
Switzerland
Czech
Belgium
Netherlands
Spain
England
Ireland
Austria
Misc United States

Historical building wise, Nothing I have seen has topped Rome. Ever 2 feet you have something awe inspiring. I don't care how touristy it is, the Colosseum is the shit.

On the natural scenery side of the house I have never seen a more beautiful area then Switzerland. I was in Mountreux on lake Geneva. Just absolutely gorgeous. The lake, the mountain, Chateau Chillon, it was just all absolutely amazing. It really puts ones soul at ease.

Belgium has the best beers. Some pretty nice people as well.

London is to bloody expensive.

Czech is a pretty awesome place. I got to take a beer bath ... literally. This little town in Czech called Chodovar has a brewery/hotel/spa gives its guest a chance to soak in warm beer (and mineral water). You Don't have to drink the bath/beer water though because they will give you some brew as you stew.
Czech is also super cheap for the most part... easy on the wallet.

Ok I am done rambling now.
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#38 User is offline   Tavvar 

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Posted 21 October 2012 - 03:44 AM

For California I'd recommend driving up Highway 1, which is along the coast and a beautiful drive. You can stop in Big Sur for camping/hiking and even more beautiful scenery. The next place you can stop in Carmel which is touristy and has no street signs (and those they do have are hidden in bushes); lots of art-y places, a nice beach decent food. Also in the area is Monterey which is best known for its aquarium (very nice), Cannery Row and buildings from when it was the Spanish/Mexican capital. Pacific Grove has Monarch butterflies from October through the spring and the Monarch grove is really cool when they are there. Pebble Beach has golf courses (if you have lots of money) and it otherwise a nice place to drive/bike/walk along the coast. The food in the area is pretty good as well. After the Central Coast (going North) the most interesting places would be Santa Cruz (if you like surfing) and, of course, San Francisco which has everything from museums to shops to concert halls to streets that are so steep that when you're at a stop sign you're staring at the sky.

My favorite cities that I have visited are Prague (beautiful city), and Rome. I also like Cologne; Belfast; Dublin; Galway, Ireland (for the Aran Islands and Cliffs of Moher); Bern, Switzerland; Washington, DC; San Francisco; Seattle; San Diego; and Vancouver
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#39 User is offline   Macros 

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Posted 21 October 2012 - 08:15 AM

I'm always massively surprised when people say they liked Belfast.
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#40 User is offline   Sir Thursday 

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Posted 21 October 2012 - 11:12 AM

 Macros, on 17 October 2012 - 06:29 PM, said:

ST
How was peru/bolivia?

South America is on my list for definite, all I need now is money. Was three weeks adequate for the two countries?


You want more than three weeks to do it properly. We did the Sacred Valley + Machu Picchu (which was great apart from the food poisoning), Colca Canyon (trekking down into it was nice and relaxed, trekking back up the other way not so much), Isla del Sol (It's a very pretty island on Lake Titicaca. Almost feels like you're in the Mediterranean despite being at 4000m altitude) and biked down the World's Most Dangerous Road (thanks for the rec, Binder! Gravity are a great company and did a really good job - this was probably the highlight of the trip). However, we didn't have time to get over to Salar de Uyuni (the salt flats). This was mainly because the aforementioned food poisoning was such that we lost a couple of days in Cuzco trying to recover, but both myself and my travel companion were quite bummed about it because everyone who had been there was telling us that it was amazing and one of the best things they'd seen. So I think ideally you'd still want at least 4 weeks. That would give you time to see plenty of good stuff in Bolivia as well as in Peru. One thing we didn't do that might be worth your time is a trip out to the Amazon - some of the people we met on our Machu Picchu tour were going there afterwards and I've seen the photos they posted on Facebook, it looks great). You've got to get some vaccinations if you're going to that part of the country though.

Note that everything is a lot more expensive in Peru than it is in Bolivia (there are about 2.5 bolivianos to the sole - the Peruvian currency - but if you compared the prices on both sides of the border you'd think it was more like 1:1), so it's worth planning accordingly. Stuff is still cheaper in both places than it is in the UK, but Cuzco and Lima in particular are quite expensive - Lima because it's where all the rich Peruvians live and Cuzco because pretty much every single tourist that comes to Peru will go there. On the other hand, in Peru you tend to get hot water in your accomodation...not so much in Bolivia.

ST
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