Billy Ocean

Vacation & Travel Thread

174 posts in this topic

On 9/30/2018 at 0:37 PM, thofin21 said:

Taking my wife to Rome  ,Florence and Venice in October. We will be with a tour group most of the time ,anybody have recommendations on things to see or do ? Spending 4 nights in each city.

I can only speak for Venice.  My top suggestions are (in no particular order): St. Mark's Basicilia, Doge's Palace, Gondola ride, and just walking around trying to get lost.  My wife and I saw plenty during a two day tour.  Food was great!!  

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So Disney was great and my son had an absolute blast!  Meltdowns were at a minimum for a 5 year old, but now it's time to start planning our next trip and need some input.  This one will be for our 15 year anniversary in 2020, so we're a little under a year and a half out.  We would like to stay in the $2K range for travel and lodging, but can stretch it a little bit.  Some of the places that we're considering are an adults trip to Disney (we're suckers for the mouse), Peru, Yosemite, the US Southwest and Vegas/National Parks in that area, Costa Rica, New York (neither of have been), USVI, St. Lucia, Yellowstone/Grand Teton National Parks, Washington D.C, and Hawaii (if a good trip pops up.)

Time of year would probably be late spring/ very early summer.  My wife and I are complete opposites on vacation.  She's content to sit by the pool or on a beach while I can do that for about an hour and then need to find something to do.  I do a lot of photography, so anywhere we go needs to have plenty for me to photograph.  Neither of us are big romantics so it doesn't have to be all decked out for that, but we would like a nice place to eat to celebrate our anniversary.  We're still very much in the planning and research phase, so we're open to suggestions if any of you more experienced travelers have any input.

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2 hours ago, mookie3127 said:

So Disney was great and my son had an absolute blast!  Meltdowns were at a minimum for a 5 year old, but now it's time to start planning our next trip and need some input.  This one will be for our 15 year anniversary in 2020, so we're a little under a year and a half out.  We would like to stay in the $2K range for travel and lodging, but can stretch it a little bit.  Some of the places that we're considering are an adults trip to Disney (we're suckers for the mouse), Peru, Yosemite, the US Southwest and Vegas/National Parks in that area, Costa Rica, New York (neither of have been), USVI, St. Lucia, Yellowstone/Grand Teton National Parks, Washington D.C, and Hawaii (if a good trip pops up.)

Time of year would probably be late spring/ very early summer.  My wife and I are complete opposites on vacation.  She's content to sit by the pool or on a beach while I can do that for about an hour and then need to find something to do.  I do a lot of photography, so anywhere we go needs to have plenty for me to photograph.  Neither of us are big romantics so it doesn't have to be all decked out for that, but we would like a nice place to eat to celebrate our anniversary.  We're still very much in the planning and research phase, so we're open to suggestions if any of you more experienced travelers have any input.

When I went to Yosemite I spent a few days in San Fran before and after. If you've never been to the bay area it's worthy of a few days of your time. Very easy to navigate(on foot if you want to) and there's tons to explore. Would also help your "nice restaurant" requirement. 

As far as photography goes.... You're not gonna get much better than Yosemite. It's breathtaking. 

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3 hours ago, WOR said:

When I went to Yosemite I spent a few days in San Fran before and after. If you've never been to the bay area it's worthy of a few days of your time. Very easy to navigate(on foot if you want to) and there's tons to explore. Would also help your "nice restaurant" requirement. 

As far as photography goes.... You're not gonna get much better than Yosemite. It's breathtaking. 

Right before the 1906 earthquake, and no I wasn't there.

 

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On 11/5/2018 at 3:53 PM, WOR said:

When I went to Yosemite I spent a few days in San Fran before and after. If you've never been to the bay area it's worthy of a few days of your time. Very easy to navigate(on foot if you want to) and there's tons to explore. Would also help your "nice restaurant" requirement. 

As far as photography goes.... You're not gonna get much better than Yosemite. It's breathtaking. 

Yosemite is on my list for sure.  I went to Grand Teton and did the SW corner of Yellowstone and barely scratched the surface but would LOVE to go back.  The Tetons are absolutely amazing.  I can only imagine what Yosemite is like.

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On 11/5/2018 at 1:41 PM, mookie3127 said:

So Disney was great and my son had an absolute blast! 

 

Oh man, we were there at the same time! Was this your first time at Pandora?

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On 7/8/2017 at 1:49 PM, NewFalcon said:

Took my 23 yr old grandson out to San Francisco for a long weekend June 23-26 ........ we did a 20+ mile bike ride around the city,

Respect. 

We were in Berlin in June and loved it.  

But it was scary to learn more about all the ways Trump is us the same techniques to build power that Hitler used.  I wish I had talked to more folks about how they essentially deprogrammed themselves after WWII.  Obviously, they are focused on education, but there must have been more to it. 

For Trumpism, I imagine it starts with something like this. 

Edit:  oops. I didn’t realize that I had wandered out of the Trump thread. 

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On 11/9/2018 at 6:44 PM, jidady said:

Oh man, we were there at the same time! Was this your first time at Pandora?

That's awesome and yes...it was our first time in Pandora.  The theming was insane!  We still didn't get to do everything that we wanted, but did knock out Magic Kingdom over the course of 2 days and rode every ride.  I'll be in Orlando in June for a conference so I'm definitely going to head off for an evening or two to Disney once the conference is over.  We're supposed to be able to get tickets for about $40 through the conference.

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8 hours ago, HolyMoses said:

Respect. 

We were in Berlin in June and loved it.  

But it was scary to learn more about all the ways Trump is us the same techniques to build power that Hitler used.  I wish I had talked to more folks about how they essentially deprogrammed themselves after WWII.  Obviously, they are focused on education, but there must have been more to it. 

For Trumpism, I imagine it starts with something like this. 

Edit:  oops. I didn’t realize that I had wandered out of the Trump thread. 

I was in Berlin last summer and the more I dug into the history, the more similarities I found as well.  

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Just returned from a week in the Cote D'Azure.  Although we based ourselves in Nice, we did some exploring around the area.  Eze was a beautiful, quaint medieval village with a grand view of the French Riviera, Monaco/Monte Carlo was dripping in wealth, luxury cars, serious security and Armani.  We drove the Grand Prix race course while we were there.  Stopped in Cannes, which was somewhat boring except for the venue of the film festival.  Antibes was OK but Saint-Paul-De-Vence was beautifully artistic, quaint with medieval charm.  Beautiful scenery throughout!



 

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5 hours ago, mookie3127 said:

That's awesome and yes...it was our first time in Pandora.  The theming was insane!  We still didn't get to do everything that we wanted, but did knock out Magic Kingdom over the course of 2 days and rode every ride.  I'll be in Orlando in June for a conference so I'm definitely going to head off for an evening or two to Disney once the conference is over.  We're supposed to be able to get tickets for about $40 through the conference.

Did you eat at Satu'li Canteen?

I actually preferred Na'Vi River Journey to Avatar Flight of Passage.

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30 minutes ago, jidady said:

Did you eat at Satu'li Canteen?

I actually preferred Na'Vi River Journey to Avatar Flight of Passage.

We didn't.  Our plans didn't put us over there during a meal time.  I wanted to try it though, I've heard that it's awesome.  I enjoyed both.  We went to AK twice during our trip.  First day, I had my wife and son with me and walked as fast as I could to Pandora at rope drop and still had an hour wait for FoP.  They rode Na'Vi River Journey while I did FoP because my son was right at the height requirement and I didn't want them waiting in line only for him to be turned away.  FoP was pretty incredible though.  Second day there, they slept in and I went solo for the morning and was able to run to Pandora.  We had fast passes for River Journey at 9:30 that morning so I cancelled my wife and sons since they slept in.  I was able to do both FoP and River Journey by 9:45 and the park opened at 9:00.  There was a time around 11 that FoP was a 4 hour wait....4.....freaking.....hours.

Did you guys stay on property?  We were at Port Orleans Riverside and it was nice enough.....HUGE resort though.

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43 minutes ago, mookie3127 said:

We didn't.  Our plans didn't put us over there during a meal time.  I wanted to try it though, I've heard that it's awesome.  I enjoyed both.  We went to AK twice during our trip.  First day, I had my wife and son with me and walked as fast as I could to Pandora at rope drop and still had an hour wait for FoP.  They rode Na'Vi River Journey while I did FoP because my son was right at the height requirement and I didn't want them waiting in line only for him to be turned away.  FoP was pretty incredible though.  Second day there, they slept in and I went solo for the morning and was able to run to Pandora.  We had fast passes for River Journey at 9:30 that morning so I cancelled my wife and sons since they slept in.  I was able to do both FoP and River Journey by 9:45 and the park opened at 9:00.  There was a time around 11 that FoP was a 4 hour wait....4.....freaking.....hours.

Did you guys stay on property?  We were at Port Orleans Riverside and it was nice enough.....HUGE resort though.

It sounds like we had similar experiences. We caught a break on FoP, as we couldn't get a FP for it at 60 days. When we were there, the wait was "only" 70 minutes. So, we had lunch and then stood in line. The person we were with lives in Orlando and writes about Disney for a living. She kept remarking that this was one of the shortest waits she'd ever seen, although I'm always kind of annoyed when I wait an hour or more for a ride. 

We are Disney Vacation Club, but this was a relatively unplanned trip for us. So, it was too late to use our points. We wound up staying at Port Orleans French Quarter. We've been there a couple of times, and it's our favorite non-DVC property. The only problem is the transportation. Everything's set up for Riverside, so we get fewer buses. Some of the ones that show up make all the stops at Riverside, too. I love the hotel but hate the logistics of it.

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On 11/5/2018 at 11:41 AM, mookie3127 said:

So Disney was great and my son had an absolute blast!  Meltdowns were at a minimum for a 5 year old, but now it's time to start planning our next trip and need some input.  This one will be for our 15 year anniversary in 2020, so we're a little under a year and a half out.  We would like to stay in the $2K range for travel and lodging, but can stretch it a little bit.  Some of the places that we're considering are an adults trip to Disney (we're suckers for the mouse), Peru, Yosemite, the US Southwest and Vegas/National Parks in that area, Costa Rica, New York (neither of have been), USVI, St. Lucia, Yellowstone/Grand Teton National Parks, Washington D.C, and Hawaii (if a good trip pops up.)

Time of year would probably be late spring/ very early summer.  My wife and I are complete opposites on vacation.  She's content to sit by the pool or on a beach while I can do that for about an hour and then need to find something to do.  I do a lot of photography, so anywhere we go needs to have plenty for me to photograph.  Neither of us are big romantics so it doesn't have to be all decked out for that, but we would like a nice place to eat to celebrate our anniversary.  We're still very much in the planning and research phase, so we're open to suggestions if any of you more experienced travelers have any input.

All great choices. I can speak the the Yellowstone one as I live in SW montana which is close by. Time it right and that trip is magical and one that you wont beat anywhere. Time it wrong and its terrible with the busloads of tourists. Enough to ruin a trip. As far as pictures go, you cant beat the scenery in the park... BUT there are plenty of equally beautiful places around the park so you dont have to spend all your time there. Also, if you dont mind hiking, you can get some solitude within a mile or 2 as most tourists stick to the road. Bring the bear spray and youll be fine. 

The food in the area is mediocre. I'm from the south originally and sadly the food here wont blow you away. The mountains, the views, and the outdoor activities will. Also, the area has plenty of state parks and public lands, so you wont be struggling to find things to photograph. 

Good luck

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22 hours ago, jidady said:

It sounds like we had similar experiences. We caught a break on FoP, as we couldn't get a FP for it at 60 days. When we were there, the wait was "only" 70 minutes. So, we had lunch and then stood in line. The person we were with lives in Orlando and writes about Disney for a living. She kept remarking that this was one of the shortest waits she'd ever seen, although I'm always kind of annoyed when I wait an hour or more for a ride. 

We are Disney Vacation Club, but this was a relatively unplanned trip for us. So, it was too late to use our points. We wound up staying at Port Orleans French Quarter. We've been there a couple of times, and it's our favorite non-DVC property. The only problem is the transportation. Everything's set up for Riverside, so we get fewer buses. Some of the ones that show up make all the stops at Riverside, too. I love the hotel but hate the logistics of it.

I showed my tail one day because of the buses and probably scarred a young cast member for life.  We had a character breakfast at the Contemporary at 7:30.  Decided during the meal that we'd go back to the resort and nap until lunchtime and then head to MK as we were doing Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party that night and were planning on being at the park until around midnight.  We finished breakfast, took the monorail back to MK and a bus back to Riverside.  Our bus stop at Riverside was on the back side and the bus stopped at the front to drop off another couple first.  The bus stop attendant at the front told the driver that she couldn't take us to our stop, that we'd have to "disembark" the bus, and the driver would need to take a load back to MK.  As big as Riverside is, it was a 15 minute walk to our room.  So I got in line at the front desk and was approached by a young lady, probably her first job, asking if I was having a magical morning.  I replied with "If by magical, you mean getting kicked off of the bus, then yes, it's been a magical f***ing morning.  It was deer in the head lights from that point and she grabbed a manager.  I explained what had happened and he hooked us up with 3 extra fast passes each for the day that didn't exclude any rides and we didn't have to select a time.  We would just walk up to any attraction in MK, scan our magic band, and hop on.  My son got hooked on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, so we rode it 3 times in a row. 

Overall, it was still an awesome trip and we'll be back.  I'm a Star Wars junkie, so I really want to see Star Wars Land sooner rather than later (part of why I'm pitching an adults trip to Disney to the wife).  I just hope they don't rush it.  Toy Story Land looks great, but there was so much paint chipping in line queues that it looked like it had been opened for 4 or 5 years instead of 4 months.

We try to stay somewhere different each time we go and I wanted to try either Coronado Springs or Caribbean Beach, but the construction was a turn off.  And of course Caribbean Beach opened up their new lobby and whatnot like the 2nd day we were there.

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22 hours ago, revrndzombie said:

All great choices. I can speak the the Yellowstone one as I live in SW montana which is close by. Time it right and that trip is magical and one that you wont beat anywhere. Time it wrong and its terrible with the busloads of tourists. Enough to ruin a trip. As far as pictures go, you cant beat the scenery in the park... BUT there are plenty of equally beautiful places around the park so you dont have to spend all your time there. Also, if you dont mind hiking, you can get some solitude within a mile or 2 as most tourists stick to the road. Bring the bear spray and youll be fine. 

The food in the area is mediocre. I'm from the south originally and sadly the food here wont blow you away. The mountains, the views, and the outdoor activities will. Also, the area has plenty of state parks and public lands, so you wont be struggling to find things to photograph. 

Good luck

Thanks!  I visited GTNP and the southwestern corner of YNP in June of 2017 and it was breathtaking.  The scenery was insane and part of why I want to go back.  I did get a once in a lifetime picture while I was out there (it was a photography workshop).  It had rained all night and my buddies and I got up at 4:00 a.m. like every morning to stake out a spot for sunrise, hoping that the rain would stop.  We went to Mormon Row hoping for at least lightning shot at the Moulton Barns, but no luck.  Right at sunrise, the rain turned to a sprinkle, the clouds broke to light up the front of the barns, and a double rainbow crossed the field between the Tetons and the barns.

34582324734_82066387da_c.jpgGrand Teton Moulton Barn 1 by Jason, on Flickr

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21 hours ago, mookie3127 said:

Thanks!  I visited GTNP and the southwestern corner of YNP in June of 2017 and it was breathtaking.  The scenery was insane and part of why I want to go back.  I did get a once in a lifetime picture while I was out there (it was a photography workshop).  It had rained all night and my buddies and I got up at 4:00 a.m. like every morning to stake out a spot for sunrise, hoping that the rain would stop.  We went to Mormon Row hoping for at least lightning shot at the Moulton Barns, but no luck.  Right at sunrise, the rain turned to a sprinkle, the clouds broke to light up the front of the barns, and a double rainbow crossed the field between the Tetons and the barns.

34582324734_82066387da_c.jpgGrand Teton Moulton Barn 1 by Jason, on Flickr

wow great pic! I think the hardest part to explain to people is that that everywhere in the area looks like this in pretty much every direction. Good luck choosing a trip; its tough to beat this area for scenery and nature/outdoor stuff. Not sure if you guys are into fishing or hiking or river tubing but those are some of the go to activities around spring/summer.

 

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On 11/13/2018 at 4:00 PM, mookie3127 said:

I showed my tail one day because of the buses and probably scarred a young cast member for life.  We had a character breakfast at the Contemporary at 7:30.  Decided during the meal that we'd go back to the resort and nap until lunchtime and then head to MK as we were doing Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party that night and were planning on being at the park until around midnight.  We finished breakfast, took the monorail back to MK and a bus back to Riverside.  Our bus stop at Riverside was on the back side and the bus stopped at the front to drop off another couple first.  The bus stop attendant at the front told the driver that she couldn't take us to our stop, that we'd have to "disembark" the bus, and the driver would need to take a load back to MK.  As big as Riverside is, it was a 15 minute walk to our room.  So I got in line at the front desk and was approached by a young lady, probably her first job, asking if I was having a magical morning.  I replied with "If by magical, you mean getting kicked off of the bus, then yes, it's been a magical f***ing morning.  It was deer in the head lights from that point and she grabbed a manager.  I explained what had happened and he hooked us up with 3 extra fast passes each for the day that didn't exclude any rides and we didn't have to select a time.  We would just walk up to any attraction in MK, scan our magic band, and hop on.  My son got hooked on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, so we rode it 3 times in a row. 

Overall, it was still an awesome trip and we'll be back.  I'm a Star Wars junkie, so I really want to see Star Wars Land sooner rather than later (part of why I'm pitching an adults trip to Disney to the wife).  I just hope they don't rush it.  Toy Story Land looks great, but there was so much paint chipping in line queues that it looked like it had been opened for 4 or 5 years instead of 4 months.

We try to stay somewhere different each time we go and I wanted to try either Coronado Springs or Caribbean Beach, but the construction was a turn off.  And of course Caribbean Beach opened up their new lobby and whatnot like the 2nd day we were there.

FWIW, transportation was a nightmare for us this trip as well. Since I write about Disney for several clients, I try not to complain about stuff, but my wife actually wrote (or is writing?) a complaint letter about it. At one point, a bus drove up and dropped people off from the hotel. He looked at us, exhausted and frustrated after 20 minutes of waiting, and said, "I'm not picking up." I actually walked in front of the bus so that I could get a good look at his name tag, and I NEVER complain about cast members. We had half a dozen instances like that in four days. Disney just can't get buses figured out.

I absolutely adored Toy Story Land. In fact, I wrote a gushing review of Woody's Lunch Box yesterday. Alien Swirling Saucers has gotten a lot of mediocre reviews, but that's one I'll see myself riding again and again once the lines get slower. You mention that your son loved Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I think they're simlar in that the rides aren't complex, just pure silly fun. 

You weren't at MNSSHP on Halloween, were you? That's when we went.

As for Star Wars Land, I'm not taking anything for granted, but there's a choice I'll get to be invited press for the Disneyland opening. One of my clients has to take an influencer. That's certainly not a title I've ever tried to get, but he -thinks- they'll count me since I've published a couple of Disney-related books. I would vastly prefer doing it that way than waiting in line at any point over the next year.

Some folks believe it will more than double Hollywood Studios traffic, just with those two rides. Since Pandora is pretty perfect and "only" lifted Animal Kingdom by 25%, I'm dubious about 100% for Star Wars Land, but it's a splitting of hairs.  Disney has an entire themed area at Hollywood Studios that's just one restaurant and lounge at the moment. Its entire purpose is as a holding area for Star Wars Land next year.

If you haven't joined DVC, I have clients who own DVC resale sites if you're interested. The cost is less than most people think. 

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On 9/28/2018 at 11:59 AM, eatcorn said:

Since October 2017 I've:

- Spent two weeks traveling in Oxford/London, then to Freiburg, Germany, then ten days in Tuscany.

- Spent a long weekend in Vegas, then flew to Hawaii for a week from Vegas.

- Spent two weeks traveling in Sweden, then the Azores

- Spent five days in upstate NY for the baseball hall of fame weekend.

I'm tired, but not too tired to go to Hawaii for 10 days for Christmas

How were the Azores? I've been curious about going there for quite a while.

Also, which island(s) in Hawaii?

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On 11/5/2018 at 1:41 PM, mookie3127 said:

So Disney was great and my son had an absolute blast!  Meltdowns were at a minimum for a 5 year old, but now it's time to start planning our next trip and need some input.  This one will be for our 15 year anniversary in 2020, so we're a little under a year and a half out.  We would like to stay in the $2K range for travel and lodging, but can stretch it a little bit.  Some of the places that we're considering are an adults trip to Disney (we're suckers for the mouse), Peru, Yosemite, the US Southwest and Vegas/National Parks in that area, Costa Rica, New York (neither of have been), USVI, St. Lucia, Yellowstone/Grand Teton National Parks, Washington D.C, and Hawaii (if a good trip pops up.)

Time of year would probably be late spring/ very early summer.  My wife and I are complete opposites on vacation.  She's content to sit by the pool or on a beach while I can do that for about an hour and then need to find something to do.  I do a lot of photography, so anywhere we go needs to have plenty for me to photograph.  Neither of us are big romantics so it doesn't have to be all decked out for that, but we would like a nice place to eat to celebrate our anniversary.  We're still very much in the planning and research phase, so we're open to suggestions if any of you more experienced travelers have any input.

St. Lucia is intriguing & has been on my radar for a while now, so it's a place that I've looked into a ton over the years. It's not the most affordable island in the Caribbean & from everyone I've talked to that's been there, outside of the same boring but beautiful shots of Pitons & Marigot Bay, it's somewhat limited for photography. Also, if you stay in the resorts along the beach in Soufriere that are close to the Pitons, you are pretty limited in your view. Staying at a resort in/near Hummingbird Beach is a much, much better option as it will give you a full view of the coast & Pitons. The thing I've always wanted to do is get a few couples or family member together to go in on one of those fancy vacation rentals up in the hills above Hummingbird Beach. Some of those places are absolutely incredible, like having an entire resort to just you & a few friends, but they are not cheap by any stretch.

Having been to nearby Dominica, I can tell you that it is chock full of great options for photography... from beaches, to waterfalls, to mangroves, to rocky red cliffs, to mountains, to small islands, to lush rainforests, to colorful coastal villages, to whale watching, to a boiling lake (yes, a boiling lake), to snorkeling  (including a "Champagne Reef" where tiny bubbles constantly come up due to thermal volcanic springs under the sea floor), to all kinds of plants & animals, to old forts, to the only remaining population of pre-Columbus indigenous Carib peoples in the Eastern Caribbean, etc., etc. It's beautiful, it's full of a variety of visually stunning scenery, and it's cheap.

There's also the idea of going to Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra... super cheap flights & they need the tourism industry to be revived so there are tons of great deals available. Spend a few days checking out Old San Juan, then head to El Yunque National Park. From there, ferry or fly to Vieques & get your resort on while checking out the bioluminescent bay, etc. Then head to Culebra for the beautiful beaches with an abandoned army tank here & there. You'll have these the beach mostly to yourselves & the sea turtles.

Going to Kauai is what got me started as a photographer, and now that I'm much better I really hope to get back there some time soon. It really is amazing... but not cheap.

A roadtrip to various parks in the US Southwest is awesome, did that a few years ago & was also in that area a ton back when I was in a touring band... but I'd be hesitant in late Spring/early Summer because some places could be brutally hot by then & the sun will be relentless... making it hard as heck to get ideal light for photography. From my experience, March-April or Sept-Oct are the best times to be there.

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14 hours ago, k-train said:

How were the Azores? I've been curious about going there for quite a while.

Also, which island(s) in Hawaii?

The Azores were fantastic. We only stayed on Sao Miguel, but there was more to do there than we could manage in a week. The food was fresh and delicious, the natural environs were absolutely stunning (think of a mix between Hawaii and Ireland), the culture was unmolested by Americanism, and everything was so cheap. We did a lot of swimming and hiking. There aren't any mega-hotels or resorts there yet, so that added a layer of pleasantness for us. We stayed in a 3 BR home with a pool for $450 a night. Go now before capitalist pig-dogs ruin it with nasty hotels.

For Hawaii, we stay on Kauai. My best friend moved there in 1994, so we've been around 20X now. Thanks to their generosity with their home (I guess you kind of have to have a guest BR if you live in Hawaii), we've never had to pay for a hotel, which means we generally cook every night. Done that way, Hawaii isn't terribly pricey. And when you get away form the hotels, it becomes a quiet, rural island that's as close to perfect as I can imagine. Hiking, paddling, surfing, snorkeling, and swimming are all near daily activities. Fruits and vegetables grow everywhere, and the fish is abundant and unparalleled, in my experience. The natural beauty is astounding in a way that takes you out of your head and into your senses, which I something I desperately need living in Atlanta.

We've also spent a good bit of time on Maui and Oahu. Strongly prefer Maui to Oahu, but it you head North out of Honolulu, Oahu can be pretty amazing.

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4 minutes ago, eatcorn said:

The Azores were fantastic. We only stayed on Sao Miguel, but there was more to do there than we could manage in a week. The food was fresh and delicious, the natural environs were absolutely stunning (think of a mix between Hawaii and Ireland), the culture was unmolested by Americanism, and everything was so cheap. We did a lot of swimming and hiking. There aren't any mega-hotels or resorts there yet, so that added a layer of pleasantness for us. We stayed in a 3 BR home with a pool for $450 a night. Go now before capitalist pig-dogs ruin it with nasty hotels.

For Hawaii, we stay on Kauai. My best friend moved there in 1994, so we've been around 20X now. Thanks to their generosity with their home (I guess you kind of have to have a guest BR if you live in Hawaii), we've never had to pay for a hotel, which means we generally cook every night. Done that way, Hawaii isn't terribly pricey. And when you get away form the hotels, it becomes a quiet, rural island that's as close to perfect as I can imagine. Hiking, paddling, surfing, snorkeling, and swimming are all near daily activities. Fruits and vegetables grow everywhere, and the fish is abundant and unparalleled, in my experience. The natural beauty is astounding in a way that takes you out of your head and into your senses, which I something I desperately need living in Atlanta.

We've also spent a good bit of time on Maui and Oahu. Strongly prefer Maui to Oahu, but it you head North out of Honolulu, Oahu can be pretty amazing.

Man, that makes the Azores move up a few spots on my list. A lot of the things you mentioned are exactly what I loved so much about Dominica. Since Dominica is so mountainous, the beaches are tucked between cliffs along the coast & tend to be smaller than those long flat beaches found on most other Caribbean islands. Because of that, there isn't really anywhere for them to build those tacky oceanfront monstrosities, and thus their government has smartly focused on ecotourism as a revenue stream for the island rather than those crappy resorts that suck the soul out of the place. They are extremely diligent in its conservation of local forestry & wildlife, and Dominica is considered one of the most pristine & well-preserved places in the Western Hemisphere. It seriously reminded me of an off the grid version of Kauai.

My wife & I convinced her sister & her sister's husband to meet us in Dominica after some friends had flaked out on a trip to Vieques. We rented a 2BR cottage in a small village on the northern coast for a week for about $700 total. It was solar powered, had an organic garden, was surrounded by beautiful flowers, and we had a completely unobstructed views of the beach & the mountains. A path ran down to the beach, where one of the rivers met the sea... so you could literally swim out to a small island or snorkel in the salt water & then go rinse off in the fresh water under the mangroves. It was amazing & we had the place to ourselves every time we went down there. It was a short walk down to the village, which was untouched by tourists... so you are shopping, eating, drinking, etc. with the locals in places run by locals. We seriously did not see any other tourists in that area the entire time we were there, which was great.

We passed up opportunities to go to Kauai for several years. My brother-in-law's family had a time share in Kapa'a & so he & my wife's sister would try to get us to come with them every summer. That's when we were still touring all the time though, so we never go to take them up on it since we were always on the road in the summers. Finally in 2013, we had just finished what we knew was going to be our last record & we had a chance to go to Hawaii. At the time, my wife & I had been together for 12 years but were not married yet. So I figured it'd be a wonderful place to pop the question, and did so at Hanakapiai Falls (although the hike back ended up being sketchy as all heII). I'd love to get back to Kauai at some point because it really is stunning. Had a blast watching the sun rise from Kapa'a every morning, then biking along the coastal trail & eating fish tacos, or lunch at the noodle shop in Lihue & hiking along the Mahaulepu trail, and then heading to Barking Sands to watch the most amazing sunset.

You've kinda said exactly what I've always sort of figured concerning Oahu & Maui.

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On 11/16/2018 at 3:57 PM, jidady said:

FWIW, transportation was a nightmare for us this trip as well. Since I write about Disney for several clients, I try not to complain about stuff, but my wife actually wrote (or is writing?) a complaint letter about it. At one point, a bus drove up and dropped people off from the hotel. He looked at us, exhausted and frustrated after 20 minutes of waiting, and said, "I'm not picking up." I actually walked in front of the bus so that I could get a good look at his name tag, and I NEVER complain about cast members. We had half a dozen instances like that in four days. Disney just can't get buses figured out.

I absolutely adored Toy Story Land. In fact, I wrote a gushing review of Woody's Lunch Box yesterday. Alien Swirling Saucers has gotten a lot of mediocre reviews, but that's one I'll see myself riding again and again once the lines get slower. You mention that your son loved Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I think they're simlar in that the rides aren't complex, just pure silly fun. 

You weren't at MNSSHP on Halloween, were you? That's when we went.

As for Star Wars Land, I'm not taking anything for granted, but there's a choice I'll get to be invited press for the Disneyland opening. One of my clients has to take an influencer. That's certainly not a title I've ever tried to get, but he -thinks- they'll count me since I've published a couple of Disney-related books. I would vastly prefer doing it that way than waiting in line at any point over the next year.

Some folks believe it will more than double Hollywood Studios traffic, just with those two rides. Since Pandora is pretty perfect and "only" lifted Animal Kingdom by 25%, I'm dubious about 100% for Star Wars Land, but it's a splitting of hairs.  Disney has an entire themed area at Hollywood Studios that's just one restaurant and lounge at the moment. Its entire purpose is as a holding area for Star Wars Land next year.

If you haven't joined DVC, I have clients who own DVC resale sites if you're interested. The cost is less than most people think. 

Aside from that one bus issue, we really didn't encounter too many problems.  I'd have to say that my biggest complaint otherwise were the Photopass photographers.  Even though I love photography as a hobby, I want to enjoy my vacation to WDW and making memories with my little family so Photopass is a splurge that I add on.  I was pretty disappointed with the results this trip.  There were some photographers that clearly had no clue how to use a camera other than turning it on and taking a picture.  Others were just lazy.  Instead of getting on my sons level, they'd nonchalantly stand off center and snap a couple of pictures and just say "Magic band."  It was disappointing for the cost. 

Character interactions were mostly awesome.  We were at Epcot and had sat down in Morocco to rest for a few minutes and Jasmine came out from a cast member area to head to a meet and greet.  She stopped, changed course, and came over and chatted with my son for about 5 minutes.  She left him with a HUGE lipstick covered kiss on his forehead.  At AK, we were in line to meet Launchpad (one of my childhood favorites) and the bottom fell out.  He and his cast members ran under the hanger that was his photo spot and he waved everyone in line over to get out of the rain.  He signed some autographs, took selfies, and really interacted with the kids.  Once the rain lightened up, he headed off until the weather cleared.  We stuck around and were first in line when he came back out 15 minutes later.  He probably spent a good 5 minutes with my son and I.

We were at WDW Oct. 6th-13th and did MNSSHP on the 11th.

Cast members were really hit and miss.  They were either thrilled to be there or a disgruntled teen that was having to work and it was "just a job."

Toy Story Land was great.  The theming to make you feel like you were a toy in Andy's backyard was amazing.

I think Star Wars Land is going to be insane in terms of crowds and will surpass Pandora.  I don't know about a 100% increase, but between the Star Wars followers and the "Hey!  Disney has a new land so we have to go check it out first!" folks, I can see a 25-50% increase for the first 1-2 years.  Then again, I could be talking out of my rear end.  :lol: 

I don't think we'd be interested in owning DVC at this time, but if it's possible to rent a week or anything like that, we'd definitely be interested for our next trip.

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On 11/16/2018 at 5:40 PM, k-train said:

St. Lucia is intriguing & has been on my radar for a while now, so it's a place that I've looked into a ton over the years. It's not the most affordable island in the Caribbean & from everyone I've talked to that's been there, outside of the same boring but beautiful shots of Pitons & Marigot Bay, it's somewhat limited for photography. Also, if you stay in the resorts along the beach in Soufriere that are close to the Pitons, you are pretty limited in your view. Staying at a resort in/near Hummingbird Beach is a much, much better option as it will give you a full view of the coast & Pitons. The thing I've always wanted to do is get a few couples or family member together to go in on one of those fancy vacation rentals up in the hills above Hummingbird Beach. Some of those places are absolutely incredible, like having an entire resort to just you & a few friends, but they are not cheap by any stretch.

Having been to nearby Dominica, I can tell you that it is chock full of great options for photography... from beaches, to waterfalls, to mangroves, to rocky red cliffs, to mountains, to small islands, to lush rainforests, to colorful coastal villages, to whale watching, to a boiling lake (yes, a boiling lake), to snorkeling  (including a "Champagne Reef" where tiny bubbles constantly come up due to thermal volcanic springs under the sea floor), to all kinds of plants & animals, to old forts, to the only remaining population of pre-Columbus indigenous Carib peoples in the Eastern Caribbean, etc., etc. It's beautiful, it's full of a variety of visually stunning scenery, and it's cheap.

There's also the idea of going to Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra... super cheap flights & they need the tourism industry to be revived so there are tons of great deals available. Spend a few days checking out Old San Juan, then head to El Yunque National Park. From there, ferry or fly to Vieques & get your resort on while checking out the bioluminescent bay, etc. Then head to Culebra for the beautiful beaches with an abandoned army tank here & there. You'll have these the beach mostly to yourselves & the sea turtles.

Going to Kauai is what got me started as a photographer, and now that I'm much better I really hope to get back there some time soon. It really is amazing... but not cheap.

A roadtrip to various parks in the US Southwest is awesome, did that a few years ago & was also in that area a ton back when I was in a touring band... but I'd be hesitant in late Spring/early Summer because some places could be brutally hot by then & the sun will be relentless... making it hard as heck to get ideal light for photography. From my experience, March-April or Sept-Oct are the best times to be there.

I'm in the same boat about St. Lucia.  It's been on our radar for a while, but it seems a bit limited.  My wife would be content to just sit on the beach for however many days but I'd be bored within 30 minutes. 

Dominica and PR are options that we'll look into also.  Hawaii would be a dream for the wife and I would love to go also, but I'd want to island hop and spend 1-2 weeks taking it in, so budget wise it's probably out.  The SW is my personal pick.  Fly into Vegas, check it out for a couple of days and then road trip to the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Zion NP, and then back to Vegas.  I just know the wife wouldn't be up for the early mornings and photography.

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5 hours ago, mookie3127 said:

I don't think we'd be interested in owning DVC at this time, but if it's possible to rent a week or anything like that, we'd definitely be interested for our next trip.

 

You absolutely can do this. The two sites to know are Dave's DVC and DVC Rental Store. Even as DVC members, we sometimes use these services when we don't have enough points for a trip.

I was kind of in awe of Toy Story Land. The personal touches really made it for me. And Woody's Lunch Box has amazing food.

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