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Offline Alpha60

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The Travel Thread
« on: September 21, 2017, 12:19:44 PM »
Where have you been?   Where would you like to go?  Also, the place for travelogues and destination recommendations.

I will open by asking: are their cities in Eastern Europe where I can find an Orthodox city where the Divine Liturgy is served daily in several different churches?  I am hoping Bucharest or Sofia will fit the bill.
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Offline Alpha60

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2017, 12:23:49 PM »
Also, here is my travelogue and travel desire, from a trip in 2003 and an upcoming trip:

 I really want to visit and spend time in Romania, Bulgaria, the former Yugoslavia.  Also Poland, which I visited in 2003 with my mother; to give you an idea of how offbeat we are in our preferences, we were in Dresden visiting a friend, and we had two options: Gdansk or Venice.  We were travelling by Eurail, but from Berlin, both were about equidistant mainly due at the time to slow speeds on the Warsaw-Berlin railway and the lack of a direct train via Pomerania; both involved one train change; Venice would have taken us to Munich on the ICE, where we would catch a EuroCity for Venice, which is or was a lovely train; the Italian passenger coaches first class coaches used on Eurocity services were beautifully furnished with blue and green upholstery. and featured a spectacularly detailed map of the entire Italian railway network (back then, all run by the state owned FS), and the bistro car despite not being a full restaurant car had amazing Lasagna; we had two years earlier taken this train from Munich to Innsbruck.   

However, we wound up going for Gdansk, and it was so beautiful on the Baltic, especially the Polish-built Gydnia, which had more interesting architecture and was less crowded than the former German port of Danzig.  The latter city was still amazing; while we were there, we had our favorite cuisine (Russian) at an outdoor cafe in Gdansk proper, toured a few historic houses, visited the cathedral with its beautiful carillon, which entertained us with lovely classical music every hour no matter where we were in the city, and toured the ships of the Maritime Museum, including a beautiful Polish Navy exploration and oceanographic research vessel dating from the Soviet era.  The trains were also awesome; Berlin to Warsaw was a special EC train, jointly owned by PKP and DB, and identical to the German IC trains except with a blue stripe rather than a red stripe.  IC and EC trains with their six seater compartments, which, if empty, and they usually were, let you stretch out and lie down two ways, across the seats, or by merging two seats together with full recline (especially nice on the few unrefurbished "Silberligne" trains used on local routes in Germany, as the compartments were slightly smaller, making the two chairs fit together perfectly as a bed).  The only exception was CD, the Czech Rail, which in their infinite wisdom fixed the armrests and reduced the recline angle in Eurocity cars, and the nasty German InterRegio trains, which had been refurbished with hard plastic seats, and were retired in 2002 except for their nasty BordBistro, which replaced the BordRestaurant on all IC trains, but not EC trains like the Berlin-Warsaw Express.   The Polish IC train was even better, with a fabulous bar car where you could order delicious chicken dinners from the kitchen for just $2 American.  I felt guilty doing it, but I was 16 and hungry, so I bought a second dinner affer I finished rhe first.  Today I would struggle to eat just one. 

 So by mutual consent we had settled on Gdansk, and absolutely loved it to pieces.   The very highlight was the walk along the beach from the adjacent resort town of Sopor to Gydnia, where there were swans swimmimg in the Baltic by a little outdoor snack bar, where we split bottles of fanta and I think, icecream, just to watch them.  We then went to a beutiful little  hotel with gorgeous 1920s Polish Arts and Crafts style architecture, on a wooded hill af the end of the beach, to call a taxi to take us back fo our bland hotel by the railway station.  Sitting in the lobby, we resolved to go there "next time"  pray that my mother regains her health so we can make the trip

I wish we had been able to do Venice also, as I hear since 2003 in the summer it is even more overrun with tourists, giant cruise ships sail down the Grand Canal precipitously close to St. Mark's  and other cultural treasures, and the Venetians are getting priced out of their own apartments due to the demand for more hotels, and a mayor had the literally bright and metaphorically dim idea of ordering the gonfolas in passenger service to have reflective stripes.  The Venetians have become, understandably, grouchy, and I dont want to add to their misery with my presence.   The Poles were and I expect still are warm and friendly, as Gdansk remains slightly offbeat.  We took a delightful sleeper from Gdansk back to Berlin, which was perfect except for polish customs and the German Gendarmee waking us up at 5 AM to check that we were the persons on our passports (which were held for us by the attendant).  I then had a bizarre dream in which my mother asked the German guards for Vodka and I sarcastically said "Hiel Hitler" when they were finished, and then we arrived.  Good thing we did not say that to them while they were actually there, eh.   i expect this was a dream, as Germans have no sense of humor regarding the Nazi period, understandably perhaps, but disagreeably continue to ban Mel Brooks delightful, very anti-Nazi romp The Producers.

I want to go to Romania, Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia largely because the railways in these countries, and in Slovakia, which I would also like to see (Ive only been to Prague and Budapest in the brutally occupied western end of the Iron Block), still have the beautiful IC and EC trains, in fact, largely formed from former German, Swiss and Swedish rolling stock.  (The extra-wide Swedish cars, which I travelled on to see my Godfather Eugene's adopted daughter and her Swedish husband and their children, my only living relatives in Europe, in 2000, continue to run in Bosnia). 

Also, I want to meet the people and see the Orthodox churches and monasteries.  Especially the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky in Sofia, and the monasteries in Serbia, Kosovo and Romania, and perhaps visit Albania to see the miraculous Orthodox Christian community, which survived Enver Hoxha underground and against all odds, and the monasteries of the Bektasi Sufis.  In Herzegovina, I would like to go to Mostar to try and meet the Diocesan Bishop, if he speaks English, and I think he does, as I regard him as a hero and functionally Orthodox for standing up and fighting against the falsehood of Medjugorje. Also, as mentioned above, I would like to spend some time in an Orthodox city where it is possible to attend the Divine Liturgy or other services at different churches daily; do Belgrade, Sofia or Bucharest fit that bill?

As mentioned elsewhere, my Uncle Wendell loved Portugal, and they still have some beautiful trains and trams, as does Spain (not quite as good in terms of trams and funiculars, but in the Basque country there is a large and very busy narrow gauge railway, the most modern in Europe, run by Euskotren).  I desire to see Barcelona, especially the Art Nouveau architecture of Gaudi and his nearly complete Cathedral, and wave a flag in support of letting the Catalonians have a vote on independence, Madrid, where I wish to see the beautiful architecture, sample tje famous cuisine, including a type of flan called "Heavenly Bacon", and the gorgeous former chamber of the Spanish senate, Lisbon, Porto, San Dominica de Compostela, with its Cathedral of St. James the Great and the world's largest thurible, the Basque country, and conclude in Andora, as I have visited Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg, and my goal is to see and learn about all the small countries of Europe, and that would leave just San Marino, Monaco and the Vatican, among universally recognized Sovereign states. 

I would also like to see Transnistria, which is not internationally recognized, and the autonomous Finnish territory of Aland, and its Danish mid-Atlantic counterpart, the beautiful Shetlands.

*Eurail for those over 26 is only sold in First Class, but back in 2000-2003 it was cheaper than flying, before the rise of Ryanair and easyJet,  i would still prefer it, however; for me Europe doesnt feel right unless at least part of my trip involves watching the exquisitely beautiful countryside unfold from the window of a train.   So much in Europe, like the beautiful castles, churches and small villages of the valleys in the Austrian Tyrol, and the beauty of the Swedish Baltic coast and the Norwegian forests, I would have missed if I had travelled by air.
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This signature is not intended to offend any user, nor the relatives of Discovery 1 deputy commander Dr. Frank Poole,  and crew members Dr. Victor Kaminsky, Dr. Jack Kimball, and Dr. Charles Hunter.

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2017, 12:48:30 PM »
Only foreign country I've been to is Florida. Next up: Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.
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Offline Dominika

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2017, 01:05:57 PM »
So by mutual consent we had settled on Gdansk, and absolutely loved it to pieces.   The very highlight was the walk along the beach from the adjacent resort town of Sopor to Gydnia,

Their names are: Gdańsk, Sopot, Gdynia ;)

Anyway, thank you for sharing this! I didn't know you had visited Poland! :) Did you visit the Orthodox contr-cathedral in Gdańsk?

I will open by asking: are their cities in Eastern Europe where I can find an Orthodox city where the Divine Liturgy is served daily in several different churches?  I am hoping Bucharest or Sofia will fit the bill.

Bucharest (and actually all major Romanian cities), Belgrade, Sofia, Białystok, Kiev (and probably some other Ukrainian cities), I suppose Chisnau... Probably much more.
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Offline Ainnir

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2017, 01:17:43 PM »
I can't write any travelogues, but I've spent a few nights in: Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, England, Switzerland, Italy, and France.  I've never been west of the Mississippi but I've been to the other side of the Atlantic.   :laugh:

No bucket list, but any new place is interesting.  I don't think I'd really feel like I'd been there, though, without hanging around for at least 2 months.
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Offline Gorazd

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2017, 01:19:12 PM »
I have been to much of Eastern Europe (Estonia is still missing on my list though).

Transnistria is small, boring, nothing much to see. That includes the "capital" Tiraspol, which is nice and clean, but just too small and nothing special...

If you want to see a Soviet style place but still a real living city, and many liturgies, I'd suggest Minsk instead. If going to Belarus, second interesting place to visit would be Hrodna, which is historically Polish and extremely beautiful. If crossing the border into the EU, Orthodox areas in Poland are not far. And Vilnius is also an extremely beautiful historical city.



Offline William T

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2017, 01:22:04 PM »
I've been all over the Americas.  I have to have pretty concrete or personal goals when I travel or I don't really see much point, unless it's just a few days of beach / camping / fishing R&R.  Unless work or something personal took me overseas, I don't think I would pick to go anywhere until I went to Syria.   In so much as I have a purpose to go somewhere, I can enjoy myself anywhere and would probably enjoy just about any place I was at. 

I guess places I would be most curious to see would be Iran, Iraq, Ethiopia, Armenia, Constantinople, Greece, the rest of the Levant, Egypt, Tunisia, France,  and Italy: but again, deliberately picking places that far off without much of a goal or purpose isn't really how I think about things.  Maybe that would be something to do if I retire and money, goals, and time permitted.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2017, 01:27:46 PM by William T »
Holy Toledo!

Offline Dominika

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2017, 01:29:47 PM »
Where have you been?
- Of course Poland and Serbia ;P
- Bosnia (Kozluk, Zvornik)
- Czech (Prague and some villages in the mountains) and Slovakia (some villages in the mountains)
- Lithuania (Vilnus, Troki, Kovno)
- Ukraine (Winnica)
- USA (Washington DC, New York, Philadephia, Miami plus Everglades)
- Spain (Malaga, Fuengirola, Granada plus Al-hambra, Cordoba) and Gibraltar
- Scotland (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Ballacha, Balloch, Glencoe)
- Romania (a monastery in the north, Bucharest, Cluj Napoca, Brasov, Sinaia, Bran, Rasnov, Constanta, Floresti)
- Bulgaria (Sofia, the rest just from the window of car)
- Moldova (Chisnau, Cruglic)
- Cyprus (Larnaka, Limassol, Paphos, Nicosia including the Turkish part, Omodos, Kykkos, Tala, Pano Lefkara, Kahuna)
- Tunisia (Tunis, Sousse, Hamma Sousse, Monastir, Dhougga, Bulla Reggia, Ain Draham, Tabarka, Bizerta, Utique, El Djem, Matmata, Kairouan, Sidi Bou Said)
- Egypt (Cairo, Hurghada, Kom Ombo, Edu, Assiu, Assuan, Minya, Luxor, Abydos, Karnak)
- Germany (actually only 1, but whole day in Berlin)

Where would you like to go?
Definitely, above all, the Holy Land. Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Montenegro (yeah, that's quite ridiculous, as I have also Montenegrin blood), India (especially Delhi, Bombai and Kerala), Jordan - they're the ones I want very much. Other places are Murcia and Madrid in Spain, Greece (especially Athens, Thesalloniki, Meteoras and tomb of st. Paisios), Russia (Moscow and Optina Pustyn, Petersburg, Yekatinburg), Iran, Bukhara in Uzbekistan, Georgia, Armenia, Ethiopia.
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Offline Asteriktos

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2017, 01:33:47 PM »
Travelogue: About 17 years ago I visited Oklahoma in January. I had no idea a place that far south (and not part of a major mountain range) could be so wintry and miserable. Also, Oral Roberts University was there. And I spent ~26 hours in airports trying to get home. On the plus side, it was on that trip that I decided to seriously start looking into Orthodoxy, so there's that.
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2017, 01:35:26 PM »
Been to Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, France, Russia, Turkey, Canada, Saint Lucia, England.

I'd love to go to Georgia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ethiopia.
Quote
“A goose to hatch the Crystal Egg after an Eagle had half-hatched it! Aye, aye, to be sure, that’s right,” said the Old Woman of Beare. “And now you must go find out what happened to it. Go now, and when you come back I will give you your name.”
- from The King of Ireland's Son, by Padraic Colum

Offline Dominika

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2017, 01:37:04 PM »
Been to Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, France, Russia, Turkey, Canada, Saint Lucia, England.

I'd love to go to Georgia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ethiopia.

That's an impressive list, especially the Asian countries!
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2017, 01:38:58 PM »
Been to Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, France, Russia, Turkey, Canada, Saint Lucia, England.

I'd love to go to Georgia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ethiopia.

That's an impressive list, especially the Asian countries!

I can thank my very dispersed family for a lot of it.
Quote
“A goose to hatch the Crystal Egg after an Eagle had half-hatched it! Aye, aye, to be sure, that’s right,” said the Old Woman of Beare. “And now you must go find out what happened to it. Go now, and when you come back I will give you your name.”
- from The King of Ireland's Son, by Padraic Colum

Offline William T

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2017, 01:40:21 PM »
Where have you been?
- Of course Poland and Serbia ;P
- Bosnia (Kozluk, Zvornik)
- Czech (Prague and some villages in the mountains) and Slovakia (some villages in the mountains)
- Lithuania (Vilnus, Troki, Kovno)
- Ukraine (Winnica)
- USA (Washington DC, New York, Philadephia, Miami plus Everglades)
- Spain (Malaga, Fuengirola, Granada plus Al-hambra, Cordoba) and Gibraltar
- Scotland (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Ballacha, Balloch, Glencoe)
- Romania (a monastery in the north, Bucharest, Cluj Napoca, Brasov, Sinaia, Bran, Rasnov, Constanta, Floresti)
- Bulgaria (Sofia, the rest just from the window of car)
- Moldova (Chisnau, Cruglic)
- Cyprus (Larnaka, Limassol, Paphos, Nicosia including the Turkish part, Omodos, Kykkos, Tala, Pano Lefkara, Kahuna)
- Tunisia (Tunis, Sousse, Hamma Sousse, Monastir, Dhougga, Bulla Reggia, Ain Draham, Tabarka, Bizerta, Utique, El Djem, Matmata, Kairouan, Sidi Bou Said)
- Egypt (Cairo, Hurghada, Kom Ombo, Edu, Assiu, Assuan, Minya, Luxor, Abydos, Karnak)
- Germany (actually only 1, but whole day in Berlin)

Where would you like to go?
Definitely, above all, the Holy Land. Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Montenegro (yeah, that's quite ridiculous, as I have also Montenegrin blood), India (especially Delhi, Bombai and Kerala), Jordan - they're the ones I want very much. Other places are Murcia and Madrid in Spain, Greece (especially Athens, Thesalloniki, Meteoras and tomb of st. Paisios), Russia (Moscow and Optina Pustyn, Petersburg, Yekatinburg), Iran, Bukhara in Uzbekistan, Georgia, Armenia, Ethiopia.

Why would on earth you want to go to New York and Philidelphia?  If you visit the USA go to Chicago, it's more Orthodox, and we have the most Polish speaking people outside of Warsaw.  After that go to Detroit,which is also more Orthodox, and it has the best Arabic food outside of the Middle East.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2017, 01:42:41 PM by William T »
Holy Toledo!

Offline Iconodule

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2017, 01:42:38 PM »
But Philly has the nicest people.
Quote
“A goose to hatch the Crystal Egg after an Eagle had half-hatched it! Aye, aye, to be sure, that’s right,” said the Old Woman of Beare. “And now you must go find out what happened to it. Go now, and when you come back I will give you your name.”
- from The King of Ireland's Son, by Padraic Colum

Offline Dominika

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2017, 01:43:33 PM »
Been to Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, France, Russia, Turkey, Canada, Saint Lucia, England.

I'd love to go to Georgia, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ethiopia.

That's an impressive list, especially the Asian countries!

I can thank my very dispersed family for a lot of it.

In my case it hasn't been helping a lot ;)

Where have you been?
- Of course Poland and Serbia ;P
- Bosnia (Kozluk, Zvornik)
- Czech (Prague and some villages in the mountains) and Slovakia (some villages in the mountains)
- Lithuania (Vilnus, Troki, Kovno)
- Ukraine (Winnica)
- USA (Washington DC, New York, Philadephia, Miami plus Everglades)
- Spain (Malaga, Fuengirola, Granada plus Al-hambra, Cordoba) and Gibraltar
- Scotland (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Ballacha, Balloch, Glencoe)
- Romania (a monastery in the north, Bucharest, Cluj Napoca, Brasov, Sinaia, Bran, Rasnov, Constanta, Floresti)
- Bulgaria (Sofia, the rest just from the window of car)
- Moldova (Chisnau, Cruglic)
- Cyprus (Larnaka, Limassol, Paphos, Nicosia including the Turkish part, Omodos, Kykkos, Tala, Pano Lefkara, Kahuna)
- Tunisia (Tunis, Sousse, Hamma Sousse, Monastir, Dhougga, Bulla Reggia, Ain Draham, Tabarka, Bizerta, Utique, El Djem, Matmata, Kairouan, Sidi Bou Said)
- Egypt (Cairo, Hurghada, Kom Ombo, Edu, Assiu, Assuan, Minya, Luxor, Abydos, Karnak)
- Germany (actually only 1, but whole day in Berlin)

Where would you like to go?
Definitely, above all, the Holy Land. Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Montenegro (yeah, that's quite ridiculous, as I have also Montenegrin blood), India (especially Delhi, Bombai and Kerala), Jordan - they're the ones I want very much. Other places are Murcia and Madrid in Spain, Greece (especially Athens, Thesalloniki, Meteoras and tomb of st. Paisios), Russia (Moscow and Optina Pustyn, Petersburg, Yekatinburg), Iran, Bukhara in Uzbekistan, Georgia, Armenia, Ethiopia.

Why would on earth you want to go to New York and Philidelphia?  If you visit the USA go to Chicago.  It's more Orthodox, and we have the most Polish speaking people outside of Warsaw.  After that go to Detroit,which is also more Orthodox, and it has the best Arabic food outside of the Middle East.

The list is what I have visited - the list of the countries I want to visit is below in the post you quoted.
I know that Chicago has the bigest both Polish and Serbian diaspora, so.. I prefer to visit something more different. And as for the Arabic food, I prefer to eat it in the origanl lands (well, I like it generally, but if it was only one/one of a few reasons to visit a place.. no).

I forgot to add Niagara Falls to the list of places I visited in the USA.
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Offline William T

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2017, 01:45:16 PM »
But Philly has the nicest people.

That made me spit my coffee out while I was reading this.  A lot of my family came in through Philly, none of them stayed.
Holy Toledo!

Offline Fr. George

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2017, 01:48:24 PM »
Hmmmm.  I don't have a very impressive list

Been to (not including mere airport stopovers):
- 26/50 US states (lived in 4 of them, remaining 22 I've been to at least twice, many 4x+)
- Canada (Niagara region and Toronto, 5x+ for the former, 3x for the latter)
- Mexico (Tijuana & Rosarito, 2x ea.)
- Greece (Athens & the region of Messinia primarily; been as far north as Meteora; not too many islands; 4 trips total, I believe)
- Turkey (Istanbul 2x)

Want to go to:

- Cyprus
- England / Scotland / Wales
- Germany
- Holy Land
- Kenya
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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #17 on: September 21, 2017, 01:49:35 PM »
Hmmmm.  I don't have a very impressive list

Been to (not including mere airport stopovers):
- Turkey (Istanbul 2x)
Constantinople!
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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #18 on: September 21, 2017, 01:54:14 PM »
Hmmmm.  I don't have a very impressive list

Been to (not including mere airport stopovers):
- Turkey (Istanbul 2x)
Constantinople!

I usually do refer to it in that way (I mean, let's face it - it hasn't been legally "Istanbul" for a century yet, less than 1/20th its history!). 

After my trips, I'm almost tempted to refer to it as both, though; Christian parts as Constantinople, non-Christian parts as Istanbul. 

I was shocked by how dirty parts of the Old City are.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2017, 01:54:22 PM by Fr. George »
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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #19 on: September 21, 2017, 01:57:33 PM »
Greece (especially Athens, Thesalloniki, Meteoras and tomb of st. Paisios)

Athens - worth it if you're into the Ancient sites.  If you're expecting pure Greek essence, you may not find it unless you go to the right neighborhoods and suburbs.  Some of the islands are very accessible from Piraeus (like Aegina, resting place of St. Nektarios's relics).

Thessaloniki - definitely worth it.  I want to go also, and have had to make due with tales from my Father-in-law, whose family roots are from Chios via Thessaloniki.

Meteora - definitely worth it.  Really.  Give yourself enough time to not only visit the monasteries and seep in the spiritual environment, but also to stop and take in the vista on the way in and out of the area.

Also: You could easily spend a few days touring the Pelopponesus (I'm biased).  Monemvasia is breathtaking; Patras (St. Andrew) and Kalamata are worthy stops.  Ancient Olympia, Mistra, Corinth, and Sparta for ancient sites.  The monastery of the Great Cave has a wax icon made by St. Luke the Evangelist which has survived 6 fires.  Beautiful caves navigable by boat.  A sunken Turkish ship in a beautiful harbor visible from your boat on a clear day.  And beaches that don't see too much tourist action.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2017, 02:02:33 PM by Fr. George »
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Offline ZealousZeal

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #20 on: September 21, 2017, 02:01:18 PM »
But Philly has the nicest people.

Oh yeah?! Then why was there a jail cell at the Vet? Those animals booed Santa Claus. Santa Claus.

NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS

Ahem. I apologize. This is just a visceral reaction I have to Philadelphia.
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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #21 on: September 21, 2017, 02:04:44 PM »
No one would call themselves "the city of brotherly love" unless it were true!!
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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #22 on: September 21, 2017, 02:06:27 PM »
Hmmmm.  I don't have a very impressive list

Been to (not including mere airport stopovers):
- Turkey (Istanbul 2x)
Constantinople!

I usually do refer to it in that way (I mean, let's face it - it hasn't been legally "Istanbul" for a century yet, less than 1/20th its history!). 

After my trips, I'm almost tempted to refer to it as both, though; Christian parts as Constantinople, non-Christian parts as Istanbul. 

I was shocked by how dirty parts of the Old City are.

Not long time ago one of the Polish Orthodox bishops sent me an excusing e-mail (that he hadn't enough time to meet) saying "This weekend I am going by plane to Constantinople" ;) But he's a Hellenophile ;)


Greece (especially Athens, Thesalloniki, Meteoras and tomb of st. Paisios)

Athens - worth it if you're into the Ancient sites.  If you're expecting pure Greek essence, you may not find it unless you go to the right neighborhoods and suburbs.  Some of the islands are very accessible from Piraeus (like Aegina, resting place of St. Nektarios's relics).

Thessaloniki - definitely worth it.  I want to go also, and have had to make due with tales from my Father-in-law, whose family roots are from Chios via Thessaloniki.

Meteora - definitely worth it.  Really.  Give yourself enough time to not only visit the monasteries and seep in the spiritual environment, but also to stop and take in the vista on the way in and out of the area.

Also: You could easily spend a few days touring the Pelopponesus (I'm biased).  Monemvasia is breathtaking; Patras (St. Andrew) and Kalamata are worthy stops.  Ancient Olympia, Mistra, Corinth, and Sparta for ancient sites.  The monastery of the Great Cave has a wax icon made by St. Luke the Evangelist which has survived 6 fires.  Beautiful caves navigable by boat.  A sunken Turkish ship in a beautiful harbor visible from your boat on a clear day.  And beaches that don't see too much tourist action.

Thank you father for these suggestions. I didn't know e.g about the gave wit st. Luke's icon - since He is my Slava, it would be an important place for me to visit.
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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #23 on: September 21, 2017, 02:08:15 PM »
Hmmmm.  I don't have a very impressive list

Been to (not including mere airport stopovers):
- Turkey (Istanbul 2x)
Constantinople!

I usually do refer to it in that way (I mean, let's face it - it hasn't been legally "Istanbul" for a century yet, less than 1/20th its history!). 

After my trips, I'm almost tempted to refer to it as both, though; Christian parts as Constantinople, non-Christian parts as Istanbul. 

I was shocked by how dirty parts of the Old City are.

It seemed to me that most of the old "Constantinople" parts are unrecognizable ruins now. The only really prominent remains are the Theodosian walls and the Hagia Sophia and other churches converted to mosques. Everything else seems to have been picked apart to build houses.
Quote
“A goose to hatch the Crystal Egg after an Eagle had half-hatched it! Aye, aye, to be sure, that’s right,” said the Old Woman of Beare. “And now you must go find out what happened to it. Go now, and when you come back I will give you your name.”
- from The King of Ireland's Son, by Padraic Colum

Offline Iconodule

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #24 on: September 21, 2017, 02:10:21 PM »
But Philly has the nicest people.

Oh yeah?! Then why was there a jail cell at the Vet? Those animals booed Santa Claus. Santa Claus.

NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS

Ahem. I apologize. This is just a visceral reaction I have to Philadelphia.

It's okay. The rest of my family might freak out at such antics, but for some reason I didn't get the gene. While everyone else moans and curses, I secretly laugh when the Eagles lose. Which they do, a lot.
Quote
“A goose to hatch the Crystal Egg after an Eagle had half-hatched it! Aye, aye, to be sure, that’s right,” said the Old Woman of Beare. “And now you must go find out what happened to it. Go now, and when you come back I will give you your name.”
- from The King of Ireland's Son, by Padraic Colum

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #25 on: September 21, 2017, 02:12:50 PM »
I want to go to Romania, Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia largely because the railways in these countries, and in Slovakia, which I would also like to see (Ive only been to Prague and Budapest in the brutally occupied western end of the Iron Block), still have the beautiful IC and EC trains, in fact, largely formed from former German, Swiss and Swedish rolling stock.  (The extra-wide Swedish cars, which I travelled on to see my Godfather Eugene's adopted daughter and her Swedish husband and their children, my only living relatives in Europe, in 2000, continue to run in Bosnia). 
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Since I used the Romanian trains  weekly for 5 years and then some more , just be prepared for people eating sunflower seeds and spitting the husks on your shoes.
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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #26 on: September 21, 2017, 02:15:18 PM »
BTW Dominika, what did you see in Philly?
Quote
“A goose to hatch the Crystal Egg after an Eagle had half-hatched it! Aye, aye, to be sure, that’s right,” said the Old Woman of Beare. “And now you must go find out what happened to it. Go now, and when you come back I will give you your name.”
- from The King of Ireland's Son, by Padraic Colum

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #27 on: September 21, 2017, 02:17:21 PM »
Since I used the Romanian trains  weekly for 5 years and then some more , just be prepared for people eating sunflower seeds and spitting the husks on your shoes.
So I was lucky! During these 16 days in Romania (when I was 4 years ago in Romania, I was going by a bus of our Polish Orthodox delegation) I was travelling quite a lot by trains, by various types, and all of them were clean,w ithout people eatinf sunflowers :p Once there has been just a guy with a big, really a big and long-hair dog.
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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #28 on: September 21, 2017, 02:22:56 PM »
BTW Dominika, what did you see in Philly?

I spent there only 1, full day, so I visited quite detailly only the centre with this all historical stuff ;) And I was going with my 2 friends through Philly on foot, carrying our big, plane bags, because there was no luggage store (well, tehre was one, but for other bus company than from which one we bought the tickets), and we were going from NY to Washington.
That's how it looked:

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #29 on: September 21, 2017, 02:26:33 PM »
Since I used the Romanian trains  weekly for 5 years and then some more , just be prepared for people eating sunflower seeds and spitting the husks on your shoes.
So I was lucky! During these 16 days in Romania (when I was 4 years ago in Romania, I was going by a bus of our Polish Orthodox delegation) I was travelling quite a lot by trains, by various types, and all of them were clean,w ithout people eatinf sunflowers :p Once there has been just a guy with a big, really a big and long-hair dog.
you probably didn't get on those secondary/tertiary rails where only the so called "personals" or "motors" run.
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We live in an old chaos of the sun,
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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #30 on: September 21, 2017, 02:34:31 PM »
BTW Dominika, what did you see in Philly?

I spent there only 1, full day, so I visited quite detailly only the centre with this all historical stuff ;) And I was going with my 2 friends through Philly on foot, carrying our big, plane bags, because there was no luggage store (well, tehre was one, but for other bus company than from which one we bought the tickets), and we were going from NY to Washington.
That's how it looked:



Ah, okay, that's pretty hectic. I would absolutely hate dragging luggage around Philly. I generally find the historical stuff in Philly (Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, etc) to be rather dull compared to other places. I like Philly and the area around it for the weirder, humbler things that pop up here and there, eg protestant hermit caves, abandoned cemeteries, the Edgar Allen Poe house.
Quote
“A goose to hatch the Crystal Egg after an Eagle had half-hatched it! Aye, aye, to be sure, that’s right,” said the Old Woman of Beare. “And now you must go find out what happened to it. Go now, and when you come back I will give you your name.”
- from The King of Ireland's Son, by Padraic Colum

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #31 on: September 21, 2017, 02:36:29 PM »
BTW Dominika, what did you see in Philly?

I spent there only 1, full day, so I visited quite detailly only the centre with this all historical stuff ;) And I was going with my 2 friends through Philly on foot, carrying our big, plane bags, because there was no luggage store (well, tehre was one, but for other bus company than from which one we bought the tickets), and we were going from NY to Washington.
That's how it looked:



Ah, okay, that's pretty hectic. I would absolutely hate dragging luggage around Philly. I generally find the historical stuff in Philly (Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, etc) to be rather dull compared to other places. I like Philly and the area around it for the weirder, humbler things that pop up here and there, eg protestant hermit caves, abandoned cemeteries, the Edgar Allen Poe house.

I wish we had had more time! And no our big bags with us...
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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #32 on: September 21, 2017, 03:35:35 PM »
The Caribbean and South America. I'd like to go to East Asia, Southeast Asia and Western Europe. Though, Russia, Greece, Czech Republic and Bulgaria are on my list.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2017, 03:37:40 PM by xOrthodox4Christx »
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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #33 on: September 22, 2017, 12:26:42 AM »
I want to go to Romania, Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia largely because the railways in these countries, and in Slovakia, which I would also like to see (Ive only been to Prague and Budapest in the brutally occupied western end of the Iron Block), still have the beautiful IC and EC trains, in fact, largely formed from former German, Swiss and Swedish rolling stock.  (The extra-wide Swedish cars, which I travelled on to see my Godfather Eugene's adopted daughter and her Swedish husband and their children, my only living relatives in Europe, in 2000, continue to run in Bosnia). 
🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈
Since I used the Romanian trains  weekly for 5 years and then some more , just be prepared for people eating sunflower seeds and spitting the husks on your shoes.

In First Class on Intercity and Eurocity trains with reserved seating, as opposed to the Romanian equivalent of the Elektrishka, I would be very surprised if that happend.  There is no First Coass on the poorly maintained Albanian Railway, which does not at present connect to the Serbian network, although it used to pre-Hoxha, but meh, I've volunteered as a car attendant on tourist railways where our rolling stock consisted primarily of ancient coaches from the 1920s with no air conditioning, the worst of which was an old Illinois Central commuter car from Chicago with wooden bench seats (the other cars were from long distance trains and had comfortable seats, original doors, and air conditioners and bathrooms which were broken; we had a dining car called the Powhatan with air conditioning and a newer Dinner Train from the 1940s, with working AC, and a converted baggage car called the Dark Territory with our snack bar and the bathrooms.  So most of the volunteers job was walking the coaches and making sure passengers knew how to get to the bathrooms, and also to operate the manual platform doors on the 1920s cars, which was a tricky prospect.

The railroad we existed to support lost its county subsidy in 2013 but recently restarted operations on half of the line, from Fillmore to Piru, which we reopened while I was volunteering.  The more scenic and interesting Santa Paula line remains closed, however, and many members of our rsilroad historical society have become quite elderly or passed away.   We (the non profit historical society) directly own a turntable which opened in 2006; it took 8 years of engineering.  We get revenue by turning container cars for the Union Pacific, which foolishly scrapped their last operational turntable in Southern California around 2003.  We also own a caboose, a Pacific Fruit Express insulated refrigerator car, of the olf fashioned kind that used ice rather than freon and air compressors, and a beautiful 1956 Union Pacific Pullman coach, the National Emblem, which operated Los Angeles-St. Louis services, and has original carpets, working electricity and working toilets, a fully intact interior with two types of bedrooms and old fsshioned Pullman style open sleeping areas with curtains (which were kept for US government use; the Feds wouldnt oay for anything more expensive than an open Pullman berth for their employees).

However, she has a broken truck (bogie) or rather, to be more precise, a fractured wheel, which woukd require replacing the whole axle, and also all of the sheet metal on one side of the car has rusted (invisibly)   This is because it was a Pullman, buit by Pullman Standard from alluminum and regular steel, and not a Budd car built of stainless steel, like most current Amtrak and Canadian trains, and also most kong distance cars in Portugal.  The Budd Company invented electrical shot-welding, producing rust proof cars the bodywork of which will last forever without rusting (but they can still have a cracked wheel or other breakage rendering them B/O (Bad Order, meaning unserviceable or in need of repair or scrapping).  Our caboose runs fine, ex-Santa Fe, however, but our National Emblem is purely a display piece.  Also overkill for our trains, which take 2 hours round trip at 30 KM/h on the ancient track, which is in the minimum condition allowed by the FRA for passenger service.

The for profit railroad which runs the trains we support recently restored a steam locomotive that had been out of service since the 90s with a cracked piston, and also has some splendid vintage diesels.  We have another tiny steam locomotive, a "tank engine" too underpowered to actually pull anything, which until 2006 people could drive at our annual railfest for $50.  Unfortunately she failed a boiler test.  Stem engines are hard work; you just get one fixed and another one breaks down horribly requiring a lot of money to repair.

Thus I prefer vintage trams and electric trains and funiculars.  My favorite railfan experience in Europe is the world's oldest monorail, the Wuppertal Schwebebahn.
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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #34 on: September 22, 2017, 12:54:28 AM »
Been to:
Sweden, Estonia, Norway, Denmark, Russia, Germany, Luxembourg, Malta, Italy, Israel, Palestine :P, Armenia, Georgia

Would like to go:
Lithuania, the Ukraine, Croatia, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, China, Malaysia, the United States

I've been wanting to go to Iran for about three years now but can't find any travel company to there. All of my friends want to go to either Western or Orthodox countries. Meh.
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Offline xOrthodox4Christx

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #35 on: September 22, 2017, 02:05:18 AM »
Been to:
Sweden, Estonia, Norway, Denmark, Russia, Germany, Luxembourg, Malta, Italy, Israel, Palestine :P, Armenia, Georgia

Would like to go:
Lithuania, the Ukraine, Croatia, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, China, Malaysia, the United States

I've been wanting to go to Iran for about three years now but can't find any travel company to there. All of my friends want to go to either Western or Orthodox countries. Meh.

You could probably get there from another country. Like, Venezuela. But yeah, I'd like to do Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Iran once.
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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #36 on: September 22, 2017, 05:30:09 AM »
Also, here is my travelogue and travel desire, from a trip in 2003 and an upcoming trip:

 I really want to visit and spend time in Romania, Bulgaria, the former Yugoslavia.  Also Poland, which I visited in 2003 with my mother; to give you an idea of how offbeat we are in our preferences, we were in Dresden visiting a friend, and we had two options: Gdansk or Venice.  We were travelling by Eurail, but from Berlin, both were about equidistant mainly due at the time to slow speeds on the Warsaw-Berlin railway and the lack of a direct train via Pomerania; both involved one train change; Venice would have taken us to Munich on the ICE, where we would catch a EuroCity for Venice, which is or was a lovely train; the Italian passenger coaches first class coaches used on Eurocity services were beautifully furnished with blue and green upholstery. and featured a spectacularly detailed map of the entire Italian railway network (back then, all run by the state owned FS), and the bistro car despite not being a full restaurant car had amazing Lasagna; we had two years earlier taken this train from Munich to Innsbruck.   

However, we wound up going for Gdansk, and it was so beautiful on the Baltic, especially the Polish-built Gydnia, which had more interesting architecture and was less crowded than the former German port of Danzig.  The latter city was still amazing; while we were there, we had our favorite cuisine (Russian) at an outdoor cafe in Gdansk proper, toured a few historic houses, visited the cathedral with its beautiful carillon, which entertained us with lovely classical music every hour no matter where we were in the city, and toured the ships of the Maritime Museum, including a beautiful Polish Navy exploration and oceanographic research vessel dating from the Soviet era.  The trains were also awesome; Berlin to Warsaw was a special EC train, jointly owned by PKP and DB, and identical to the German IC trains except with a blue stripe rather than a red stripe.  IC and EC trains with their six seater compartments, which, if empty, and they usually were, let you stretch out and lie down two ways, across the seats, or by merging two seats together with full recline (especially nice on the few unrefurbished "Silberligne" trains used on local routes in Germany, as the compartments were slightly smaller, making the two chairs fit together perfectly as a bed).  The only exception was CD, the Czech Rail, which in their infinite wisdom fixed the armrests and reduced the recline angle in Eurocity cars, and the nasty German InterRegio trains, which had been refurbished with hard plastic seats, and were retired in 2002 except for their nasty BordBistro, which replaced the BordRestaurant on all IC trains, but not EC trains like the Berlin-Warsaw Express.   The Polish IC train was even better, with a fabulous bar car where you could order delicious chicken dinners from the kitchen for just $2 American.  I felt guilty doing it, but I was 16 and hungry, so I bought a second dinner affer I finished rhe first.  Today I would struggle to eat just one. 

 So by mutual consent we had settled on Gdansk, and absolutely loved it to pieces.   The very highlight was the walk along the beach from the adjacent resort town of Sopor to Gydnia, where there were swans swimmimg in the Baltic by a little outdoor snack bar, where we split bottles of fanta and I think, icecream, just to watch them.  We then went to a beutiful little  hotel with gorgeous 1920s Polish Arts and Crafts style architecture, on a wooded hill af the end of the beach, to call a taxi to take us back fo our bland hotel by the railway station.  Sitting in the lobby, we resolved to go there "next time"  pray that my mother regains her health so we can make the trip

I wish we had been able to do Venice also, as I hear since 2003 in the summer it is even more overrun with tourists, giant cruise ships sail down the Grand Canal precipitously close to St. Mark's  and other cultural treasures, and the Venetians are getting priced out of their own apartments due to the demand for more hotels, and a mayor had the literally bright and metaphorically dim idea of ordering the gonfolas in passenger service to have reflective stripes.  The Venetians have become, understandably, grouchy, and I dont want to add to their misery with my presence.   The Poles were and I expect still are warm and friendly, as Gdansk remains slightly offbeat.  We took a delightful sleeper from Gdansk back to Berlin, which was perfect except for polish customs and the German Gendarmee waking us up at 5 AM to check that we were the persons on our passports (which were held for us by the attendant).  I then had a bizarre dream in which my mother asked the German guards for Vodka and I sarcastically said "Hiel Hitler" when they were finished, and then we arrived.  Good thing we did not say that to them while they were actually there, eh.   i expect this was a dream, as Germans have no sense of humor regarding the Nazi period, understandably perhaps, but disagreeably continue to ban Mel Brooks delightful, very anti-Nazi romp The Producers.

I want to go to Romania, Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia largely because the railways in these countries, and in Slovakia, which I would also like to see (Ive only been to Prague and Budapest in the brutally occupied western end of the Iron Block), still have the beautiful IC and EC trains, in fact, largely formed from former German, Swiss and Swedish rolling stock.  (The extra-wide Swedish cars, which I travelled on to see my Godfather Eugene's adopted daughter and her Swedish husband and their children, my only living relatives in Europe, in 2000, continue to run in Bosnia). 

Also, I want to meet the people and see the Orthodox churches and monasteries.  Especially the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky in Sofia, and the monasteries in Serbia, Kosovo and Romania, and perhaps visit Albania to see the miraculous Orthodox Christian community, which survived Enver Hoxha underground and against all odds, and the monasteries of the Bektasi Sufis.  In Herzegovina, I would like to go to Mostar to try and meet the Diocesan Bishop, if he speaks English, and I think he does, as I regard him as a hero and functionally Orthodox for standing up and fighting against the falsehood of Medjugorje. Also, as mentioned above, I would like to spend some time in an Orthodox city where it is possible to attend the Divine Liturgy or other services at different churches daily; do Belgrade, Sofia or Bucharest fit that bill?

As mentioned elsewhere, my Uncle Wendell loved Portugal, and they still have some beautiful trains and trams, as does Spain (not quite as good in terms of trams and funiculars, but in the Basque country there is a large and very busy narrow gauge railway, the most modern in Europe, run by Euskotren).  I desire to see Barcelona, especially the Art Nouveau architecture of Gaudi and his nearly complete Cathedral, and wave a flag in support of letting the Catalonians have a vote on independence, Madrid, where I wish to see the beautiful architecture, sample tje famous cuisine, including a type of flan called "Heavenly Bacon", and the gorgeous former chamber of the Spanish senate, Lisbon, Porto, San Dominica de Compostela, with its Cathedral of St. James the Great and the world's largest thurible, the Basque country, and conclude in Andora, as I have visited Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg, and my goal is to see and learn about all the small countries of Europe, and that would leave just San Marino, Monaco and the Vatican, among universally recognized Sovereign states. 

I would also like to see Transnistria, which is not internationally recognized, and the autonomous Finnish territory of Aland, and its Danish mid-Atlantic counterpart, the beautiful Shetlands.

*Eurail for those over 26 is only sold in First Class, but back in 2000-2003 it was cheaper than flying, before the rise of Ryanair and easyJet,  i would still prefer it, however; for me Europe doesnt feel right unless at least part of my trip involves watching the exquisitely beautiful countryside unfold from the window of a train.   So much in Europe, like the beautiful castles, churches and small villages of the valleys in the Austrian Tyrol, and the beauty of the Swedish Baltic coast and the Norwegian forests, I would have missed if I had travelled by air.

I stopped when I read that Russian is your favorite cuisine.
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Offline Asteriktos

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #37 on: September 22, 2017, 06:00:23 AM »
I stopped when I read that Russian is your favorite cuisine.

Well sometimes they can be quite discerning when it comes to quality.  8)
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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #38 on: September 22, 2017, 07:32:34 AM »
Been to:
Sweden, Estonia, Norway, Denmark, Russia, Germany, Luxembourg, Malta, Italy, Israel, Palestine :P, Armenia, Georgia

Would like to go:
Lithuania, the Ukraine, Croatia, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, China, Malaysia, the United States

I've been wanting to go to Iran for about three years now but can't find any travel company to there. All of my friends want to go to either Western or Orthodox countries. Meh.

You could probably get there from another country.

Getting there is not a problem. I don't know if getting visa is impossible for US citizens or something but Finns have no such restrictions. Although Iranian officials refuse visa on some absurd reasons.
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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #39 on: September 22, 2017, 01:36:04 PM »
Why would on earth you want to go to New York and Philidelphia?

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #40 on: September 22, 2017, 01:43:28 PM »
Where have you been?

Outside the Beloved-by-God United States of America:

Canada
Mexico
Great Britain
India

Within the Beloved-by-God United States of America:

(In no particular order after NEW YORK)

NEW YORK
New Jersey
Connecticut
Massachusetts
Pennsylvania
Delaware
Maryland
Washington, DC
Virginia
North Carolina
Ohio
Indiana
Illinois
Missouri
Wisconsin
Tennessee
Louisiana
Texas
Colorado
Washington
California
Puerto Rico
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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #41 on: September 22, 2017, 02:34:13 PM »
Why would on earth you want to go to New York and Philidelphia?



Too bad you no longer have Checker Cabs.  Or even Crown Vics.  NYC taxis have become moving lamenesss.   I never dissed New York until my 20th trip or so; one gets tired of the skyscrapers, the feeling of alienation, et cetera.  But back on my first trips to NYC at 16-17, that was me.

The thing most distressing of late is the forced departure of the architectural landmark the Four Seasons Restaurant from its Philip Johnson-designed space in the Seagram Building.  I am just thankful I got to eat their once, in January of 2011, before it closed.  But travelling from my client site in Long Beach, Long Island (which is actually suckier than Long Beach, California, which at least has the RMS Queen Mary to redeem it), to Manhattan, and back, particularly the bother of getting a taxi from Penn Station to the restaurant (I wound up walking it), convinced me I dislike NYC.  I like what's in it, the people, buildings, restaurants, but the actual city that interconnects them is hostile, alienating and dauntingly maldesigned from an urban layout perspective; huge, and high capacity, but with just not quite enough capacity to handle everyone, resulting in the continual traffic jams in Manhattan, and the Subway despite improvements is poorly policed and dirty compared to the London Underground.

Cleaner than the Paris Metro, but that's not hard to do.  I remember walking through an RER Line C station, Invalides, by the Eiffel Tower, where mountains of tradh were on thentracks, in 2000 or 2001.  Since then it has gotten better, however, and the Paris Metro is always fun in a quirky sort of way, whereas the Subway has an entrenched, funereal atmosphere, like people descending temporarily into moving coffins designed to present them with a foretaste of perdition on their way to work.
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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #42 on: September 22, 2017, 02:40:56 PM »
Also, here is my travelogue and travel desire, from a trip in 2003 and an upcoming trip:

 I really want to visit and spend time in Romania, Bulgaria, the former Yugoslavia.  Also Poland, which I visited in 2003 with my mother; to give you an idea of how offbeat we are in our preferences, we were in Dresden visiting a friend, and we had two options: Gdansk or Venice.  We were travelling by Eurail, but from Berlin, both were about equidistant mainly due at the time to slow speeds on the Warsaw-Berlin railway and the lack of a direct train via Pomerania; both involved one train change; Venice would have taken us to Munich on the ICE, where we would catch a EuroCity for Venice, which is or was a lovely train; the Italian passenger coaches first class coaches used on Eurocity services were beautifully furnished with blue and green upholstery. and featured a spectacularly detailed map of the entire Italian railway network (back then, all run by the state owned FS), and the bistro car despite not being a full restaurant car had amazing Lasagna; we had two years earlier taken this train from Munich to Innsbruck.   

However, we wound up going for Gdansk, and it was so beautiful on the Baltic, especially the Polish-built Gydnia, which had more interesting architecture and was less crowded than the former German port of Danzig.  The latter city was still amazing; while we were there, we had our favorite cuisine (Russian) at an outdoor cafe in Gdansk proper, toured a few historic houses, visited the cathedral with its beautiful carillon, which entertained us with lovely classical music every hour no matter where we were in the city, and toured the ships of the Maritime Museum, including a beautiful Polish Navy exploration and oceanographic research vessel dating from the Soviet era.  The trains were also awesome; Berlin to Warsaw was a special EC train, jointly owned by PKP and DB, and identical to the German IC trains except with a blue stripe rather than a red stripe.  IC and EC trains with their six seater compartments, which, if empty, and they usually were, let you stretch out and lie down two ways, across the seats, or by merging two seats together with full recline (especially nice on the few unrefurbished "Silberligne" trains used on local routes in Germany, as the compartments were slightly smaller, making the two chairs fit together perfectly as a bed).  The only exception was CD, the Czech Rail, which in their infinite wisdom fixed the armrests and reduced the recline angle in Eurocity cars, and the nasty German InterRegio trains, which had been refurbished with hard plastic seats, and were retired in 2002 except for their nasty BordBistro, which replaced the BordRestaurant on all IC trains, but not EC trains like the Berlin-Warsaw Express.   The Polish IC train was even better, with a fabulous bar car where you could order delicious chicken dinners from the kitchen for just $2 American.  I felt guilty doing it, but I was 16 and hungry, so I bought a second dinner affer I finished rhe first.  Today I would struggle to eat just one. 

 So by mutual consent we had settled on Gdansk, and absolutely loved it to pieces.   The very highlight was the walk along the beach from the adjacent resort town of Sopor to Gydnia, where there were swans swimmimg in the Baltic by a little outdoor snack bar, where we split bottles of fanta and I think, icecream, just to watch them.  We then went to a beutiful little  hotel with gorgeous 1920s Polish Arts and Crafts style architecture, on a wooded hill af the end of the beach, to call a taxi to take us back fo our bland hotel by the railway station.  Sitting in the lobby, we resolved to go there "next time"  pray that my mother regains her health so we can make the trip

I wish we had been able to do Venice also, as I hear since 2003 in the summer it is even more overrun with tourists, giant cruise ships sail down the Grand Canal precipitously close to St. Mark's  and other cultural treasures, and the Venetians are getting priced out of their own apartments due to the demand for more hotels, and a mayor had the literally bright and metaphorically dim idea of ordering the gonfolas in passenger service to have reflective stripes.  The Venetians have become, understandably, grouchy, and I dont want to add to their misery with my presence.   The Poles were and I expect still are warm and friendly, as Gdansk remains slightly offbeat.  We took a delightful sleeper from Gdansk back to Berlin, which was perfect except for polish customs and the German Gendarmee waking us up at 5 AM to check that we were the persons on our passports (which were held for us by the attendant).  I then had a bizarre dream in which my mother asked the German guards for Vodka and I sarcastically said "Hiel Hitler" when they were finished, and then we arrived.  Good thing we did not say that to them while they were actually there, eh.   i expect this was a dream, as Germans have no sense of humor regarding the Nazi period, understandably perhaps, but disagreeably continue to ban Mel Brooks delightful, very anti-Nazi romp The Producers.

I want to go to Romania, Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia largely because the railways in these countries, and in Slovakia, which I would also like to see (Ive only been to Prague and Budapest in the brutally occupied western end of the Iron Block), still have the beautiful IC and EC trains, in fact, largely formed from former German, Swiss and Swedish rolling stock.  (The extra-wide Swedish cars, which I travelled on to see my Godfather Eugene's adopted daughter and her Swedish husband and their children, my only living relatives in Europe, in 2000, continue to run in Bosnia). 

Also, I want to meet the people and see the Orthodox churches and monasteries.  Especially the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky in Sofia, and the monasteries in Serbia, Kosovo and Romania, and perhaps visit Albania to see the miraculous Orthodox Christian community, which survived Enver Hoxha underground and against all odds, and the monasteries of the Bektasi Sufis.  In Herzegovina, I would like to go to Mostar to try and meet the Diocesan Bishop, if he speaks English, and I think he does, as I regard him as a hero and functionally Orthodox for standing up and fighting against the falsehood of Medjugorje. Also, as mentioned above, I would like to spend some time in an Orthodox city where it is possible to attend the Divine Liturgy or other services at different churches daily; do Belgrade, Sofia or Bucharest fit that bill?

As mentioned elsewhere, my Uncle Wendell loved Portugal, and they still have some beautiful trains and trams, as does Spain (not quite as good in terms of trams and funiculars, but in the Basque country there is a large and very busy narrow gauge railway, the most modern in Europe, run by Euskotren).  I desire to see Barcelona, especially the Art Nouveau architecture of Gaudi and his nearly complete Cathedral, and wave a flag in support of letting the Catalonians have a vote on independence, Madrid, where I wish to see the beautiful architecture, sample tje famous cuisine, including a type of flan called "Heavenly Bacon", and the gorgeous former chamber of the Spanish senate, Lisbon, Porto, San Dominica de Compostela, with its Cathedral of St. James the Great and the world's largest thurible, the Basque country, and conclude in Andora, as I have visited Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg, and my goal is to see and learn about all the small countries of Europe, and that would leave just San Marino, Monaco and the Vatican, among universally recognized Sovereign states. 

I would also like to see Transnistria, which is not internationally recognized, and the autonomous Finnish territory of Aland, and its Danish mid-Atlantic counterpart, the beautiful Shetlands.

*Eurail for those over 26 is only sold in First Class, but back in 2000-2003 it was cheaper than flying, before the rise of Ryanair and easyJet,  i would still prefer it, however; for me Europe doesnt feel right unless at least part of my trip involves watching the exquisitely beautiful countryside unfold from the window of a train.   So much in Europe, like the beautiful castles, churches and small villages of the valleys in the Austrian Tyrol, and the beauty of the Swedish Baltic coast and the Norwegian forests, I would have missed if I had travelled by air.

I stopped when I read that Russian is your favorite cuisine.

Well, technically the Soviet vernacular mix of Russian and Ukrainian.  i like Borscht, for example, more than the Russian mushroom soup that usually replaces it.

However, my favorite things to eat are filet mignon, prime rib, foie gras and various forms of sushi; I just go to a Russian restaurant whenever i can find one in preference to a Mexican or Italian one.  They're quite rare.

Persian, Armenian or more precisely the continuum betwixt them is easily no. 2.  Not a huge fan of Greek or Lebanese, however.
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #43 on: September 22, 2017, 02:43:09 PM »
Broadly speaking, Russian food can be very good, if you include the various nations included within the empire as Russian.
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Offline xOrthodox4Christx

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Re: The Travel Thread
« Reply #44 on: September 22, 2017, 02:46:35 PM »
One thing I have absolutely zero knowledge or experience in, Russian food. Someone give me a synopsis.
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