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Thread: Planning a holiday

  1. #1
    Frunk's Avatar The Duke Will Return...
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    Default Planning a holiday

    Hi forum,

    I've been "planning" on going travelling for a few years now. Now is the time for me to actually settle on something, and do it.

    My plan is to dodge part of the Australian winter and travel between May and August, for anywhere from a month to two months.

    I'm not entirely sure what type of trip I want to do. I'm 25 and single, so the plan is to travel solo. If I do go to Europe, I'd consider backpacking and/or doing a tour with Contiki or Topdeck. Budget isn't a huge problem, but I'm obviously not going first class.

    I've narrowed it down to a handful of countries and cities that I want to visit, this time around (hopefully this is the first of many trips!). The countries are Croatia, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic. If I can and if feasible, I'd happily chuck in any neighbouring countries like Slovakia and Slovenia. I'd also love to visit Italy (Venice, specifically, on this trip), Greece (Athens) and Turkey (Istanbul), but all of those might be a bit too much to ask this time around.

    Any comments or suggestions?! Obviously, my knowledge of these places is practically non-existent. Most of my geography knowledge comes from either playing Total War, or reading stuff on Wikipedia. The only other times I've been overseas are to California in 2006 and the UK in 2009.

    I'd love any tips or ideas for places to visit in my rough area! I don't just want to do major cities; local knowledge on places to go would be fantastic. I have an interest in practically all types of history from ancient to 20th century, and love a good landscape as well. I really hope to meet some new people in my travels.

    Will also trade TWC +reps for accommodation!

    I'm still considering (research pending) some other options as well. I thought a possibly much more budget-friendly trip could be a working or volunteering holiday in the Pacific region. I also really want to visit South America, but from what little I know that my stretch my budget even more than an equivalent amount of time in Europe might. So much to do; so little money.

    Cheers!

    Frunk
    Last edited by Frunk; March 07, 2018 at 08:57 PM.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    If your schedule is flexibe and you want to go to Europe, I'd advise you to go sooner rather than later. July and August are the main holiday season in Europe and will be very crowded and pricey due to high demand. They're also the hottest months (that, or the ones with the most rainfall and thunderstorms, depending on where you are).
    May is the most beautiful month in North-Central Europe and shouldn't be too bad for the region you're planning to go to. That applies doubly if you're interested in wildlife and landscape (if that be the case, you should check out the local national parks etc., like Plitvice, Hortobágy, Neusiedler See, various places in Slovakia).

    Generally, it might be worth looking up the seasonal weather patterns beforehand to decide which month is best to go where.

    The most famous targets in your region (other than Venice) are the cities on the Dalmatian coast, like Game-of-Thrones-town, plus Vienna and Budapest.

    The best time for Venice is off-season, e.g. in late autumn. Outside of those times, you'd have to plan carefully. I was in Venice in July or August once, and it was very crowded.

    Athens and Istanbul are quite far away from your general target area. Athens has some sights well worth seeing, like the Akropolis and its accompanying museums, but if you're for beautiful towns or landscape, you had better look elsewhere in Greece (e.g. the Peloponnesos).

    Other than that... of course, it has to be said that no place in Europe is like Japan. There is some crime around, particularly in the big cities, so keep your wits about you.

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    Frunk's Avatar The Duke Will Return...
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    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    Thanks athanaric! Good to know about the tourist season. May is a possibility; hopefully I haven't left it too late to get some decent flights. I'll aim for that in any case and might push a bit into June depending on everything. Awesome suggestions about the national parks, and Dubrovnik, Vienna and Budapest (I've heard it's really fantastic) are all ones I had in mind. What do you think about Prague?
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    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    Forget the Central Europe and go to Greece, specifically Crete. We have everything an Australian would wish for, including a few other Australians but not too many to make it seem crowded. Sun, sea, sights + good food, friendly people, tourists (so you can find a summer fling if that's what you want) and pretty women. We have everything from rural quiet villages to relax and enjoy the best vistas and food in peace, to whole city districts dedicated to Dolce Vita with large nightclubs and bars and cafeterias.

    Our prices are affordable and we have a culture of hospitality that goes back 3600 years. There are also camping options.

    For the Australian feeling a little homesick, we even have a couple of small deserts! Here is one mountain desert, and the only one in the Northern Hemisphere. And here is another small desert that you can easily visit. This desert also has ancient stuff and a couple of hotels.
    Crete brings your home a comfortable distance from your location.

    You can now close the thread and delete all other sub-optimal responses.
    Last edited by alhoon; March 08, 2018 at 09:43 PM.
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    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    Go to Frankston armed with only a backpack full of gear and try to survive amongst the savages like Bear Grylls?




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    Lord William's Avatar Duke of Nottingham
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    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    I would recommend visiting Armenia, Ill be going there myself this summer for about 2 months

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    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    Quote Originally Posted by Frunk View Post
    Thanks athanaric! Good to know about the tourist season. May is a possibility; hopefully I haven't left it too late to get some decent flights. I'll aim for that in any case and might push a bit into June depending on everything. Awesome suggestions about the national parks, and Dubrovnik, Vienna and Budapest (I've heard it's really fantastic) are all ones I had in mind. What do you think about Prague?
    I haven't properly been to Prague myself unfortunately, but it has been a well-established tourist destination for a few decades now, and most people I know have been there. I'm sure someone else on the forum knows the place better than I do.
    I can, however, help you with details on wildlife and scenic landscapes, as indicated above, as well as on some archaeological and historical stuff for most of Europe (including the other countries that have been suggested so far).

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    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord William View Post
    I would recommend visiting Armenia, Ill be going there myself this summer for about 2 months
    What's Armenia like, out of interest? I am currently looking to get out of the UK and I am lucky enough to be in an industry where I can transfer to essentially any country in the world pretty easily. I was seriously thinking about Armenia because it's in the Middle East, my favourite part of the world, but doesn't seem to be as unstable as other parts of the region. I realise it's a poor country and doesn't have the same standard of life as you get in Europe, but I'm also considering going to Africa, South-East Asia and India, so is it any better than those areas at least?

    Quote Originally Posted by Frunk View Post
    I've narrowed it down to a handful of countries and cities that I want to visit, this time around (hopefully this is the first of many trips!). The countries are Croatia, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic. If I can and if feasible, I'd happily chuck in any neighbouring countries like Slovakia and Slovenia. I'd also love to visit Italy (Venice, specifically, on this trip), Greece (Athens) and Turkey (Istanbul), but all of those might be a bit too much to ask this time around.

    Any comments or suggestions?! Obviously, my knowledge of these places is practically non-existent. Most of my geography knowledge comes from either playing Total War, or reading stuff on Wikipedia. The only other times I've been overseas are to California in 2006 and the UK in 2009.
    I'll keep relatively quiet here as I've never been to most of those areas. Be prepared in the current climate for the differences between Australia and Greece/Turkey: trash on the streets, stray animals, a lot of homelessness and poverty, sometimes even children living on the streets. It's normal for people from those areas but for those of us where those things are non-existent it can be rather jarring. That said, the people however in these countries are if anything much nicer and more hospitable than people from wealthy countries, and if you stick to the big cities you'll find all the same amenities as in any city.

    Anyway, from what I hear, Central European countries like Hungary, Czechia and Croatia are pretty similar to other European countries in broad terms and they are huge tourist destinations. The historical architecture is the biggest draw, you say you've been to the UK but (with the possible exception of York) we have nothing approaching the feeling you get when walking through a preserved Medieval town, Europe is such a historic place. The food is also amazing, and Eastern Europe is pretty cheap as well when it comes to alcohol and accomodation and so on which is a big plus if you're on a budget. I'd learn a few phrases of the local language if possible as most people won't speak much English if you go outside of tourist areas, although there's always someone who can if you're in a pinch. It's just polite if nothing else to learn 'please' and 'thank you'.

    The only place I've properly been to on your list is Italy. Venice is absolutely stunning and really quite something to behold. It's extremely crowded and gets temperatures easily comparable to South-Eastern Australia during the Summer so bear that in mind, but that being said, it's not as bad as people say: go down into the side streets and you'll avoid the tourist crowds and can easily find some more lonely areas. Also think about going to other places such as Chioggia. The poor man's Venice maybe, but much less touristy. Be sure to check out the Alps while you're in the area, some of the world's most impressive scenery. You can take a boat out on Lake Garda which is a pretty memorable experience to say the least, and something unique you can do that most visitors to Italy miss out.

    Also something that I really loved in Italy (and it applies to everywhere in Europe really) is check out local festivals that are on during your holiday and try to time visits around them. I don't mean big music festivals, but small traditional local festivals, that will often date back many centuries and have some really interesting local traditions on display. Even if it's not a traditional festival per se, there are a lot of cool small scale music festivals and events that are a really good way of catching the local people in party mode and having a better time than you would if you just went there on a normal day. And be sure to check out poorly known local tourist attractions, often they're much better than the 'common' attractions that everyone visits.
    Last edited by Copperknickers II; March 10, 2018 at 08:28 AM.
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  9. #9
    Lord William's Avatar Duke of Nottingham
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    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    What's Armenia like, out of interest? I am currently looking to get out of the UK and I am lucky enough to be in an industry where I can transfer to essentially any country in the world pretty easily. I was seriously thinking about Armenia because it's in the Middle East, my favourite part of the world, but doesn't seem to be as unstable as other parts of the region. I realise it's a poor country and doesn't have the same standard of life as you get in Europe, but I'm also considering going to Africa, South-East Asia and India, so is it any better than those areas at least?
    I know a lot of Canadians who have left Canada to go live and work in Armenia, getting paid western wages means you'd live like a King. I don't know where you got the idea that Armenia is a third world country but Yerevan is well-developed no different than any other european country, outside the capital you would see less infrastructure but the villagers all have big hearts and always willing to make room at their table for guests. Is there poverty, sure but the country isn't poor and its quickly developing especially in the tech industry. Armenia is very different from the middle east I would compare it more to an eastern european country like Poland or Ukraine. Id recommend visiting before making a decision but I'm certain you would like the country. there is a lot of history yerevan is about 3000 years old, many churches some dating to the 3rd century. you can visit the pit in which Gregory the illuminator was imprisoned, I mean there is so much to do.

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    Copperknickers II's Avatar quaeri, si sapis
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    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord William View Post
    I know a lot of Canadians who have left Canada to go live and work in Armenia, getting paid western wages means you'd live like a King. Id recommend visiting before making a decision but I'm certain you would like the country. there is a lot of history yerevan is about 3000 years old, many churches some dating to the 3rd century. you can visit the pit in which Gregory the illuminator was imprisoned, I mean there is so much to do.
    Good to hear! I will definitely consider it, it sounds awesome.

    I don't know where you got the idea that Armenia is a third world country but Yerevan is well-developed no different than any other european country, outside the capital you would see less infrastructure but the villagers all have big hearts and always willing to make room at their table for guests. Is there poverty, sure but the country isn't poor and its quickly developing especially in the tech industry. Armenia is very different from the middle east I would compare it more to an eastern european country like Poland or Ukraine.
    To be fair, I think Eastern Europe these days is pretty wildly diverse. Somewhere like Poland or Czechia is just Western Europe but with lower wages and without as many huge middle class suburbs. Somewhere like Ukraine/Moldova/Romania on the other hand is what I would consider quasi-developing world. Large swathes of the country live in relative poverty without mod cons such as internet access, and you can still see people driving around on horses and carts in some remote rural areas. But of course if you go to Kiev it's perfectly fine and modern. Frankly you can say the same these days about some cities in China and India, the developing world is no longer universally poor, just very inequal.
    A new mobile phone tower went up in a town in the USA, and the local newspaper asked a number of people what they thought of it. Some said they noticed their cellphone reception was better. Some said they noticed the tower was affecting their health.

    A local administrator was asked to comment. He nodded sagely, and said simply: "Wow. And think about how much more pronounced these effects will be once the tower is actually operational."

  11. #11
    Lord William's Avatar Duke of Nottingham
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    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    To be fair, I think Eastern Europe these days is pretty wildly diverse. Somewhere like Poland or Czechia is just Western Europe but with lower wages and without as many huge middle class suburbs. Somewhere like Ukraine/Moldova/Romania on the other hand is what I would consider quasi-developing world. Large swathes of the country live in relative poverty without mod cons such as internet access, and you can still see people driving around on horses and carts in some remote rural areas. But of course if you go to Kiev it's perfectly fine and modern. Frankly you can say the same these days about some cities in China and India, the developing world is no longer universally poor, just very inequal.
    In that case I would describe Armenia as quasi-delevoping world, though I don't remember seeing horse and cart the last time I went.

    if you go this summer, send me a line via twc we’ll have a beer in an Armenian pub

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    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    Quote Originally Posted by Frunk View Post
    Thanks athanaric! Good to know about the tourist season. May is a possibility; hopefully I haven't left it too late to get some decent flights. I'll aim for that in any case and might push a bit into June depending on everything. Awesome suggestions about the national parks, and Dubrovnik, Vienna and Budapest (I've heard it's really fantastic) are all ones I had in mind. What do you think about Prague?
    Prague is a very nice city, I was there last summer. There were quite a lot of tourists though, the area around Charles bridge especially was packed with them. It's probably less in may but as it's a popular city trip location I doubt it'll be very calm. In any case I think it's definitely worth a visit. Cesky Krumlov in southern Bohemia is also a nice town and a UNESCO world heritage site, but like Prague very much a tourist destination.

    If you're going to Venice, which I would recommend because it's great, it might be an idea to also visit Padua or Verona (or both). I don't know Padua but it seems to have plenty of interesting sights but Verona is lovely as far as I recall. Very close to Lake Garda as well, which is also worth a visit.

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    Frunk's Avatar The Duke Will Return...
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    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    All, thanks thoroughly for the suggestions and knowledge shared in this post. Based largely on what was suggested, I have booked a trip which will last the entire month of July, and I'm really excited. Not just for the trip, but for the fact that I am actually, finally, doing what I have wanted to do for years.

    The first part of my holiday is a tour, which begins in Rome. I have about two days in the city before the tour starts, to let me get over my flight and explore a little. Suggestions on how I might entertain myself would be fantastic!

    Once the tour starts in Rome we go south to Bari, and from there take an overnight ferry to Corfu, staying there for 2 days. After that, Tirana, then Dubrovnik via Budva, followed by Zadar, Ljubljana (how the Hell do you pronounce that?) and the big three of Budapest, Vienna and Prague, where the tour ends after just over 2 weeks.

    After that, I have about 10 days set aside for solo travel, so I can possibly backtrack in the general region surrounding Vienna (where I fly out from) and visit the various places already suggested here, which I've made note of, like the lakes and national parks. I'm very interested in going to Auschwitz, as well as Venice and the surrounding region, and parts of Germany, plus Slovakia if possible. During this time I'll most likely buy myself a rail pass, and or use a service like BusAbout, and stay at hostels.

    The tour itself has me staying in hotels, only because it just happened to be the only tour which covered the four main places I really wanted to get to, but I actually think this will be good despite the extra cost. I have some meals included in this, but suggestions on where I might eat would also be very handy!

    If you're in the area in July, be sure to let me know!
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    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    I'm a bit late to the thread, but I see you're coming here to Czech Republic (a little hint, avoid the word Czechia. That's invention of some europhiles that wanted a word "friendly" to english speaking tourists, but most people here don't like it. If you have to use one-word name, we simply say Česko).

    Prague is pretty much covered in most tourist guides. Just a few tips. If you're in the center and just want to take a break, a nice spot are Valdštejn palace gardens...that is, if you don't mind the screeching of peacocks. They're open to public most of the time (the palace itself isn't, outside some tours, as it's seat of the senate). It's also worth setting aside half of the day to visit the zoo, if you're interested in it. You can't just rush through it. And it might be worth just taking a stroll through the center. It's not large, you can't really get lost...just pick a direction and walk, see what's around.

    Outside Prague...well, since it's on your way, stop in Brno, that's second largest city in this little country. There's quite a lot to see there as well, and it's not as full of tourists as Prague. And it's a good place to stay overnight before visiting one place you should not miss, based on what your interests are, that is Lednice complex (or Lednice-Valtice cultural landscape, as it appears on wikipedia) and adjacent Pálava reserve. Another interesting side trip is going south from Prague-Tábor, České Budějovice (known internationally as Budweiss), Český Krumlov and Šumava national reserve. But that's at least two-day trip if you want to enjoy it a bit rather than rushing, so it's up to you if you have time...

    By the way...most people under 40 or so can understand a bit English, so don't be afraid to ask around...though for any kind of service it's usually a sign they can try to scam you, at least in the most frequented tourist locations. So, careful around people selling things...but that's just standard travel advice.

    I might be around, since I live close to Prague, but no promises. I've got some plans for July too...

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    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    Quote Originally Posted by Frunk View Post
    The first part of my holiday is a tour, which begins in Rome. I have about two days in the city before the tour starts, to let me get over my flight and explore a little. Suggestions on how I might entertain myself would be fantastic!
    Depends on what is already covered by your tour and what isn't. If your interests are broad enough, Rome could occupy you for years (particularly if those interests have anything to do with art or archaeology).


    Ljubljana (how the Hell do you pronounce that?)
    Laibach
    But the closest would be "Lyublyana". J is used like y in some languages, including German, btw.

    As to the rest of your plans, there are thousands of places worth visiting in the general vicinity. Depends a bit on where your priorities lie or what you spontaneously want to see.

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    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    If you want to go to Germany the last few days I would sugguest Coburg an the surronding area, it's really very nice there with beautiful valleys, as example in Lichtenfels ( I hope I remembered the name correctly^^). It's just that on one week-end there is a large Samba-Festival in Coburg, so if you're not a fan you should avoid this weekend.
    When you go to Coburg, ensure that you get a tour in the palace of Ehrenburg and the Veste from which you have a nice view over the town.
    What I would skip is Munich, it's full and expensive. The same just more extreme is most likely Venice, this weekend they actively deny tourist to enter the brigde of the Canal Grande and Piazza San Marco. And most likely it's not getting better during summer. You should probaly come back to venice during winter.
    The Chiemsee is another nice place to be.
    Auschwitz is realtivly far away from Vienna, instead you might could travel to Dachau instead.
    I hope I could help you a bit.

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    Flinn's Avatar The Alpha Jester!
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    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    err late to the party

    if you are actually coming in Italy just shot me a PM in advance

    however, Europe is so dense in history and monuments that almost every country will make for a unique experience, IMO
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  18. #18
    Frunk's Avatar The Duke Will Return...
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    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    More great suggestions that haven't gone unnoticed; thanks all!

    Just a quick question: are Euros much accepted in non-eurozone countries, i.e. Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia? My bank offers a travel card which seems pretty good and I can load up with Euros and other supported currencies, but it doesn't support the currencies of those non-Euro places. If I am to purchase something there using my card (MasterCard), or indeed withdraw local cash via an ATM, I have a 4% fee applied. That's not too bad, honestly, but I thought it would be a good idea to ask.

    Generally speaking, is cash better than card in most places anyway (including eurozone)?
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  19. #19
    Flinn's Avatar The Alpha Jester!
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    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    international card is always better, because it allows you to pay in local currency and avoid having your pockets filled with cash, which is something I dislike; euros are normally accepted all over europe, no matter if they are part of the Euro or not; the 4% tax is not that much IMO, but of course consider what you are planning to sped and do your calculations

    ps I still don't know when and if we could meet, I'll contact you privately soon or later
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  20. #20
    Veteraan's Avatar TATW Local Moderator
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    Default Re: Planning a holiday

    Buying things with Euros in non Euro countries is often more expensive than paying with the local currency. But it also depends on the exchange rate you get when you are buying the currency in the first place.

    Worst case scenario is that you buy Euros for a (too) high rate and then get a very poor rate (which is quite likely) when you pay something with Euros in a non Euro country. Using your travel/master card for a 4% fee to withdraw local currency is probably not much worse than the "Euro route". ATM exchange rates can differ quite substantially between banks though. Paying directly with the Master card in non Euro countries might be the best cause of action, as it usually also comes with a few insurances. There may be some places in the countries you will travel to where they still don't accept credit cards as payment option.

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