Author Topic: Vacation Advisory!  (Read 86019 times)

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Offline SonicMan46

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Vacation Advisory!
« on: June 01, 2007, 05:57:18 PM »
I realize that many of us travel either locally or widely - might be nice to have a dedicated thread to vacations & travelling - the purpose would be:  1) post on recent vacations of interest; and 2) act as advisors for those who might be travelling to an area near you; e.g. if someone might be visiting the mid-Atlantic area of the USA & wanted advise on what to see, where to eat, etc. then I might be able to offer some suggestions.

My most recent trip was to Atlanta, GA to see the new Aquarium & the Margaret Mitchell House (author of Gone w/ the Wind) - had some great eating & on the return, spent an overnight in the 'Upcountry' of South Carolina - below is a post I made to the 'Eating Thread' on the trip (some great food!).

But hopefully, this will provide an area that we can offer advise to each other travelling in our areas of residence & also some great trip experiences that might stimulate others to visit -  ;D

Quote
Well, this seemed to be a much more popular thread on the 'old forum' - someone must be eating out there!  ;D

Just returned from a long weekend trip to Atlanta - mainly went to see the 'new' aquarium, also took in the Margaret Mitchell house, & the Atlanta Historic Museum - stayed at the Ritz in Buckhead, and then on the way back decided to spend an overnight in the South Carolina 'Upcountry' - fabulous little 'new' place called 'La Bastide Country Inn' (CLICK on the image for more details)!

But this is about EATING - so, if anyone is coming to Atlanta or to the SC mountains, then these are the restaurants we tried and all are highly recommended (CLICK on images for more info!):

Atlanta Fish Market - fabulous seafood place! Started out w/ oysters on the half shell (4 different types) & 'steamers' (as good as I've had them in New England); main course was Alaskan halibut 'Chinese Style' - steamed w/ spinach & jasmine rice - delicious & healthy - the choices there are astounding (and the 'cheapest' dinner of the trip!).

Dining Room @ Ritz - most expensive dinner of the trip but just unique (considered one of the best restuarants, if not the TOPS, in Atlanta) - had a squab appetizer w/ duck main course + Oregon Pinot Noir - this was a great experience; desserts were fablulous w/ French press coffee for me & 'white' tea for the wife from a special cart devoted to a variety of teas - really a treat (but you PAY for it!).

Bluepointe Restaurant - just across the street from the Ritz; owned by the same people as the Atlanta Fish Market but more formal & upscale w/ 'Asian fusion' influences - this was probably my favorite meal; started out w/ a selection of oysters on the half shelf & a unique himachi roll (full sushi menu available) - main course was a curry crusted grouper w/ bok choy (my favorite veggie) - one of the best curry sauces that I've ever eaten! French press coffee (Kona coast) w/ a fabulous chocolate dessert + pitaschio ice cream made fresh (share w/ wife) - hmmm!

Last night was in SC at La Bastide (CLICK on the image below for more info) - fabulous restaurant in this country inn - started out w/ 'boneless' quail, shared a Stilton blue cheese salad w/ spouse, and tried roasted suckling pig (YES, I thought of Babe the Pig - a film that I own!); dessert of fresh sorbets was outstanding.

Don't think we could have had another night - ate lite tonight at home on our return -  ;D


Steve

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2007, 06:01:03 PM »
I will be traveling to Germany in August, just before start of the next term. I will be taking to the streets of Hamburg for a few weeks of bliss. I will post more about the trip, as I receive more information.  ;D

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2007, 06:18:45 PM »
I will be traveling to Germany in August, just before start of the next term. I will be taking to the streets of Hamburg for a few weeks of bliss. I will post more about the trip, as I receive more information.  ;D

Steve - Sarge lives over there & has travelled extensively in that area from his posts - hopefully, you two can exchange some posts or PMs - I've been to Germany just once, but enjoyed my experience there -  :)

George

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2007, 06:51:01 PM »
Good Idea dave!

I am on vacation in Woodstock, NY with my girlfriend.

I am staying on Abbey Road. (Yes, it was named after the Beatles)  8)

Will post more later.  :)

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2007, 10:42:45 PM »
Unless you're from a CIS country, don't plan to go to Russia unless you want to deal with several ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE more bureacracy, confusion, and bullshit than just going to Western Europe. I went to China in 2002 and found it vastly easier than the planning required to go to Russia. And this certainly is not entirely the fault of Russia/Russians:

Aside from Air Canada charging my credit card THREE SEPARATE TIMES for the airfare, here is a brief list of my aggravations in trying to book a hotel in St. Petersburg (which took me over TWO WEEKS to accomplish):

- A "Russian" travel agent who advertizes in cyrillic in the local Russian community newspaper refused to even look up hotels in St. Petersburg for us unless we paid them $150 up front for their efforts

- We tried AllRussiaHotels.com. They seem polite and professional, but after waiting 24hours, we found out that our first choice for a hotel (The Belveder Nevsky) is fully booked (supposedly). They offered us the Neva instead but I have read uniformly negative reviews about this hotel on TripAdvisor. So, I declined this offer. Their other hotels are all either way too expensive (We're trying to keep this around $3000 for the two week stay) or not available

- I tried a local travel agent who seemed really good, but then, after twice telling me that the price they quoted us for the Belveder would not change, I received the invoice and it was $258 more than originally quoted (we have not given the agency our credit card info yet). AND their cancellation policy says that NO REFUND will be made for cancellations made 15 days prior to arrival or later. This seems like a very harsh policy; I've had to cancel trips shortly before departure before due to illness or other personal matters and I am not comfortable with this policy to say the least!

- I almost booked the hotel on Hotels.ca BUT they have NO IDEA how I am supposed to get Russian Visa support from the hotels (Most of the people who man their phones have barely even HEARD of Russia!). The hotel doesn't even get your name until 72 hours before you arrive!! So, I asked, "How am I supposed to get my visa? Why in the world would anyone book a hotel in Russia with Hotels.ca?" The reply I received was "Uhhhhh I dunno." 

We finally did book a hotel, and they ignored THREE of my e-mails requesting information about how to get visa support (invitation letter receipt needed for applying for a Russian Visa). Then I finally had to resort to having my friend who lives in St. Petersburg give them a call. Then I recieved an e-mail from another company who deals with them. Their instructions were confusing, so I e-mailed them some questions back and OF COURSE they have not replied!

I've read that Russian immigration / visa laws are in a constant state of flux, and if that were not bad enough, many Russian bureaucrats / police know very little about the laws, and laws that are translated into English are often different in meaning than the Russian originals.

All the tour books say that planning a trip to St. Petersburg is a royal pain in the ass but that it is well worth it in the long run. Hopefully two weeks of browsing the Hermitage, seeing Peter's Palace, Catherine's Palace and all the magnificent architecture and culture will make up for it!!


« Last Edit: March 26, 2009, 10:57:40 PM by XB-70 Valkyrie »
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

George

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2007, 05:39:58 AM »
Good Idea dave!

I am on vacation in Woodstock, NY with my girlfriend.

I am staying on Abbey Road. (Yes, it was named after the Beatles)  8)

Will post more later.  :)

Here's a link with more info: http://www.vrbo.com/53557

Some pictures:

Outside:



Inside:

    

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2007, 05:51:39 AM »
Here's a link with more info: http://www.vrbo.com/53557

Some pictures:

Inside:

    

George - that looks quite nice - checked out the website & like the idea of Wi-Fi!  The place that I was just at (La Bastide, in the OP) had a wired Ethernet connection in the room, but I had my Asus Adaptor w/ me and was able to setup a wireless connection w/ our laptop - an older model from Asus, and can be a little tricky, but worked fine!


Offline Novi

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2007, 11:34:48 AM »
Here's a link with more info: http://www.vrbo.com/53557

Wow, looks good George. Hope you're having a relaxing time.

George - that looks quite nice - checked out the website & like the idea of Wi-Fi!  The place that I was just at (La Bastide, in the OP) had a wired Ethernet connection in the room, but I had my Asus Adaptor w/ me and was able to setup a wireless connection w/ our laptop - an older model from Asus, and can be a little tricky, but worked fine!

But guys, guys - you're on holiday. Come on, you can do it! Let go, let go ;D.
Durch alle Töne tönet
Im bunten Erdentraum
Ein leiser Ton gezogen
Für den der heimlich lauschet.

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2007, 01:20:25 PM »
Wow, looks good George. Hope you're having a relaxing time.

But guys, guys - you're on holiday. Come on, you can do it! Let go, let go ;D.

LOL;D   Wife insists on me carrying my IBM laptop w/ us on car trips (don't do planes w/ it) - she gets 'so much' e-mail, even after a few days, she might have a hundred messages or more!  :o  Plus, the laptop comes in handy - I have a lot of MP3 files rip onto the hard drive, and along w/ a 1 GB SD card w/ MP3 files in my Palm PDA & a portable CD player - I can have all sorts of music 'on the road' - just hook up any of those devices to some portable Altec Lansing speakers for an 'in-room' mini-stereo system!  :D


George

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2007, 01:34:20 PM »
LOL;D   Wife insists on me carrying my IBM laptop w/ us on car trips (don't do planes w/ it) - she gets 'so much' e-mail, even after a few days, she might have a hundred messages or more!  :o  Plus, the laptop comes in handy - I have a lot of MP3 files rip onto the hard drive, and along w/ a 1 GB SD card w/ MP3 files in my Palm PDA & a portable CD player - I can have all sorts of music 'on the road' - just hook up any of those devices to some portable Altec Lansing speakers for an 'in-room' mini-stereo system!  :D



Nice, Dave!  :)

To me it wouldn't be a vation without some GMG.  8)

Offline Maciek

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2007, 03:02:10 PM »
Nice thread. 8)

And in case you missed it, here's a link to a related one:

Travel Photos

Maciek

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2007, 03:42:54 PM »
Nice thread. 8)

And in case you missed it, here's a link to a related one:

Travel Photos

Maciek - sorry about the potential conflict, but felt that the threads were different, i.e. more interested in suggesting vacation spots or advising those who might be interested in visiting places that others cae provide comments - BTW, I enjoyed your pics - thanks - Dave  ;)

Offline Maciek

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2007, 04:00:31 PM »
No conflict, Dave! I think you're right - the threads are slightly superimposed but they don't cover exactly the same ground. Hopefully they'll somehow fill in for each other.

And anyway - I just wanted to increase traffic on the "photos" thread. ;D

Looking forward to a friendly coexistence! 8)

And while I'm at it - I'd like to let everyone know I'll be away for the next 2 weeks or so. If anyone needs to get in touch with me, they'll have to wait. Sorry. Vacation is vacation. ;D

We'll be at the Polish seaside, living in a friend's hut, with no electricity and no running water. With a 16-month-old to take care of, I'm sure it will be a wonderful rest! ;)

Maciek

uffeviking

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2007, 07:02:53 PM »
No running water for two weeks? Maciek, when you return to your apartment you will, please, take a shower before you visit us here?

Have a great time, I know you will and so will Rosa!  8)


Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2007, 06:16:00 PM »
A couple of weeks ago, we returned from a short trip to Virginia – Charlottesville (home of the University of Virginia) and the mountains; thought that I’d just outline some of the highlights for those who might have a opportunity to visit the area or may want some travel suggestions.  :)
 
First day, drove from Winston-Salem toward Smith Mountain Lake (just to the east of Roanoke) – beautiful ‘man-made’ lake; the Booker T. Washington National Monument is near the lake (his birthplace); headed toward Lynchburg, and stopped at Popular Forest (below, middle), an estate that belonged to Thomas Jefferson, and is presently being restored; this house was his ‘private get-away’ whereas Monticello in Charlottesville was more a ‘public’ home inundated with visitors during his lifetime; BTW, Appomattox is close where Lee surrendered to Grant at the McClean House (below, right).  Then we headed into Charlottesville for a 2-night stay at the Boar’s Head Inn (MAP package – excellent food).

   
 
Full day in Charlottesville which we’ve visited numerous times, so decided to be more selective – a visit to Montpelier, home of James & Dolly Madison, also undergoing restoration – the outside is pretty much back to its early 19th century size (had been tripled in square footage by the Duponts who owned the property for decades – a story in itself); this house is located in the Barboursville area and our day included a visit to several wineries.  In addition to many wineries in the area, a must visit for ‘first-timers’ is Monticello, the fabulous (and restored) home of TJ; another restored presidential home is Ashlawn which belonged to James Monroe – the most ‘modest’ of these historic places.

 
 
Then we were off on I-64 West which intersects the junction of two wonderful mountain highways, i.e. the Skyline Drive (heading north) and the northern beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway (which extends 476 miles into North Carolina, ending at Cherokee near Asheville); decided to travel on the Parkway for an hour or so – some just beautiful vistas and overlooks; left the road and headed into Lexington, Virginia – a small town that I just love because of its mountain beauty & history – home of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), Washington & Lee University, and the George Marshall Library; Stonewall Jackson’s house (below, left) is near the visitor’s center (he was a teacher @ VMI at the outbreak of the Civil War and is buried in the city’s cemetery sans one arm; his horse - stuffed, Little Sorrel,  is in the Chapel Museum (below, right), which is a small but quite well done Civil War presentation).  After the Civil War, Robert E. Lee became the president of Washington College there which was renamed after his death – Lee is buried in the Chapel.  We took a horse carriage ride, which is a relaxing and lovely way to see the town and learn about its history.

 
 
Continuing into the mountains toward Hot Springs, Virginia near the West Virginia border for a 2-day stay at the Homestead, one of those old mountain resorts; in fact, dates back to the 1760s (Washington even stayed there then), but the current buildings are about a 100 years old; relaxing time with some excellent meals (again on the MAP).


 
Then back home with a few more winery visits both in Virginia and in North Carolina (some comments about the food & wines made in the ‘eating thread’).   :D

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2007, 07:09:29 AM »
Just returned from a great 6-night trip to Quebec - weather not great the first few days, but then excellent - great scenery, food, & history!  :D

La Malbaie - first 3 nights at the Le Manoir Richelieu (now a Fairmont property; below left) - day trips out into the Charlevoix countryside - including a drive on the scenic 362 highway w/ stops in St. Joseph-de-la-Rive & Baie-St. Paul; lunch in the latter town (delicious mussels & frittes!).

Then on to Quebec City - left early to see some sights along the way - Canyon Sainte-Anne (below, right),  Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, & Montmorency Falls; lunched on the island of Île d’Orléans at La Goéliche, a charming inn & restaurant w/ a great view of the city -  :)

Quebec City - stayed at the Chateau-Frontenac, now another Fairmont property; perched like a fortress in the old 'upper town' (lower pic) - spectacular views coming up the St. Lawrence River on a cruise; the old 'lower town' has been really built up beautifully since our last visit - great eating & shopping!  :)

 


Lilas Pastia

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2007, 04:50:45 PM »
Ah, the Château Frontenac! This is where Mrs Pastia and your humble servant spent their honeymoon in 1982 :D

This image shows up the south side of the central tower, where we had our room  >:D


In this one you can see (not quite, it's just a dark canyon) the oldest street in North America, in the Petit Champlain sector


And a view of the Charlevoix region by Quebec's most famous painter, Marc-Aurèle Fortin:


This is the Ile d'Orléans and the St-Lawrence river in the foreground.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2007, 04:56:38 PM by Lilas Pastia »

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2007, 05:30:14 PM »
Ah, the Château Frontenac! This is where Mrs Pastia and your humble servant spent their honeymoon in 1982 :D

André - thanks for the additional info & pics - wife & I were probably there in the mid-80s (i.e. out first time), so not much after your visit - enjoyed the return - a fabulous place & location - being a history buff, the Plains of Abraham nearby,  and the year 1759 makes the experience even more glorious -thanks.  Dave  :)
« Last Edit: August 30, 2007, 05:34:01 PM by SonicMan »

Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2007, 05:41:32 PM »
Wow, I remember this thread. All my ranting aside, we had a wonderful two weeks in St. Petersburg, although much of the planning is a nightmare. We are thinking about going back in winter some year to enjoy the much lower hotel rates, snow-covered landscapes, the Kirov, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, etc.
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Vacation Advisory!
« Reply #19 on: August 31, 2007, 05:39:40 AM »
Wow, I remember this thread. All my ranting aside, we had a wonderful two weeks in St. Petersburg, although much of the planning is a nightmare..............

I've always wanted to go to St. Petersburg, and especially would like to visit the Hermitage museum; my wife has Russsian ancestry (including a grandmother who attended law school in St. Petersburg before the Bolsevik Revolution broke out!  She eventually immigrated to the USA, attended medical school in Philadelphia, and became New Jersey's first endocrinologist - brief bio & pic HERE, if interested).  :)