Travel thread… Lets hear about places you’ve been that you would recommend

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      • #165053

        Ute Fan

        Places you would most like to visit is also acceptable.


        Me: I’ve been to the following countries: Canada (Alberta area), Mexico (baja california), China (Beijing/Xi’An), Mongolia (Central and eastern).

        Alberta was mostly boring, but a great place to go if you just want to chill. We flew into Montana then our friends picked us up and drove us to their farm. We went to Waterton National Park while there. Amazing views. Cool historic hotel… Much of it was destroyed by a wildfire not long before we went, so there wasn’t a ton to see… but it was still beautiful. The food in Alberta was definitely the lowlight of the vacation. They took us to their favorite chinese restaurant and it was putrid. Easily the worst food I’ve ever eaten. There weren’t really any other options in town tbh. Maybe there are better places… We did not go to Calgary, stayed in the small towns. If you are like my wife and I, and your main reason for traveling is to experience new foods and cultures, DONT go to Alberta. (we didn’t go there for that reason so it was just fine with us)

        I’ve been to a small town in Baja California Mexico several times throughout my life. I’ve loved it every single time. They have beach houses for rent there, and the prices seem reasonable. Best tacos I’ve ever had in my life. An old lady and her husband run a taco stand. The husband brings in fresh shrimp every day (you can see him go out on his boat, and come back with them). Bread the shrimp, simple handmade tortilla, simple salsa, cabbage, and crema… HEAVEN for like 25 cents a taco. The tidepools were really cool as a kid. I’m definitely going to take my kids some day.

        China – Came here with my parents on the way home from my mission… The first part of our trip in Beijing was organized by some big tourism company. The great wall was a huge disappointment. The restaurants they took us to just served americanized chinese food, and they took us to touristy shops. Beijing was bleh… Exept for the forbidden city, that place is bananas. In Xi’An we had our own personal tour guide who has given many tours to people from Utah. He took us to several amazing places. The Terracotta warriors blew my mind. SOOOO much more impressive than the great wall. He took us to restaurants where Chinese natives actually eat, and the food was excellent. Loved it! The vibe there is definitely strange. It kind of feels like everyone knows they are being watched.

        Mongolia – My home away from home. If you want to travel somewhere to experience different… This is a great place to go. If you are picky about what you eat and/or are a vegan you’ll probably starve to death in Mongolia. No Mcdonalds, just recently added a KFC and Pizza Hut, but I wouldn’t expect them to be the same as they are here (never ate there in Mongolia). Just about everything they eat contains either meat or some sort of animal milk product.

        I’m told there is great fishing and hunting to be had in Mongolia. It’s the least densely populated country on the planet, so if you are looking for space and unadulterated nature, this is a great place to go. Mountains, lakes, grasslands, ancient buddhist monestaries in the middle of nowhere… and incredibly hospitable people (outside of the capitol city Ulaanbaatar anyway). The capitol is not a pleasant place to be. You will absolutely get ripped off, and maybe if pick pocketed if you aren’t careful. The traffic is terrible, maybe the worst pollution on earth in the winter, not quite as bad in the summer. Literally everywhere outside the capitol is pretty much pristine nature and kind people. Also… FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY MONGOLIAN BBQ IS NOT MONGOLIAN FOOD. If you want good Mongolian food find a nice family that is willing to invite you over for a Mongolian dinner (and do give them money to pay for the food, prices are skyrocketing there and most people make very very little money). Mongolia 15 years ago was pretty much the polar opposite of America, now the capitol city is catching up (sad, I know)… but the rest of the country is still amazing.


        Also, if you are one of those people who travels to places with different cultures and foods and thinks certain things are beneath you… Please don’t travel. Thanks!

      • #165064

        Ute Fan

        Favorite places I have been:

        Rhodes Greece, Santorini Greece, Kirkwall, Geiranger Norway, Sydney Australia, Paihia New Zealand, Bruge Belgium, Rothenburg Germany.

        I have been to a lot of islands in Greece, by far my favorite is Rhodes.  My favorite spot in Western Europe is Bruge.  I love Sydney Australia.



        • #165102

          Ute Fan

          I’ve loved the places in Mexico; St Thomas in the Virgin Islands; San German and San Juan, Puerto Rico. I loved the drive from Salt Lake to Anchorage 3300 wonderful, beautiful camping miles.

      • #165066

        Central Coast Ute
        Ute Fan

        Places I’ve been: Ontario Canada, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Kuwait, Iraq, and The Republic of Georgia (not the US state).

        My favorite by far was Georgia 🇬🇪. Apparently Georgian is one of the oldest languages in the world. Being situated in the caucus mountains has given them an advantage in keeping their culture and language in tact because the terrain gives them a natural advantage in defending against invaders. Tbilisi is a very old city with a ton of history. We decided to walk off the beaten path and explore the city. We found an old orthodox church on top of a hill overlooking the city and went inside to look around. The priest claimed the church was 1000 years old and had recently been renovated. The murals on the walls depicted the Ottoman invaders slaughtering the Christians in the city. When we walked out into the churchyard, you could see the different districts in the city. On one side you’d see more Christian churches with crosses, and the other side had mosques. Due to the Rose revolution just a few years before I went, some of the buildings were still bombed out.

        For lunch, we didn’t want to go to McDonalds in the middle of the city. We hailed a cab and wanted to ask him where to go. We couldn’t communicate but some guy from the consulate came out and started speaking with him in Georgian. We assumed he was telling him a few different places to take us and let us decide. We took off and he drove like a bat out of Hell through old neighborhood streets and showed us a few places. We decided to keep looking and he entered onto what we would call a highway and was passing over double yellow lines, glad we made it. We eventually landed at a nice restaurant on the outskirts of the city. We went in and could not read the menu. Luckily, a patron sitting with his family at the table next to us spoke English. He gave us his recommendations and we ordered everything he recommended. It was damn good. Good times.

        Great post. I’m liking these recent topics, keep them coming.

        • #165112

          Ute Fan

          I think Georgia would be awesome! It’s definitely on my list

      • #165076

        Ute Fan

        Sinced my father spent his entire career in the Army, and I’d served a 5-yr stint with the Navy Seabees, I’ve done a lot of worldwide travel.  So rather than rattling off all the coolest places, I’m narrowing it down to places I’d been, that if granted one more free vacation, these are the places I’d would have chosen to go back to…

        United States:  Portland, ME in the fall.  If you love lighthouses, fall folliage, Norman Rockwell, and fresh lobster, this place is a definite “must see”.  And it’s surprisingly inexpensive as well.  And as an added bonus, if you’re already there, you’d be close enough to extend your vacation to include either Boston (2-hrs south) or Montreal (5.5-hrs northwest).

        Europe:  Rome, IT.  If you’re a history buff, your best choices are Rome or Athens.  But since Rome has the Vatican, it gets a slight edge.  The best time to go there is not-summer!

        Asia:  Hong Kong.  Full disclosure — I was last there back in 1994, before the UK gave it back to the Chinese.  I had a friend work at Honeywell there back in 2011, and it was still awesome then too, but due to some recent crackdowns by the Chinese government, if you’re planning to go there, double-check first to make sure it’s still safe.  And if it’s not, I really enjoyed the Indonesian island of Bali.

        Africa:  Cairo, EG.  This is also a great “history buff” locale, and it’s cheaper than Rome or Athens.  But like Rome and Athens, the best time to go there is not-summer.

        I’ve never been to South America, and my only foray into Australia was Darwin — which for the record, didn’t suck.  But if I DO ever plan on any return trips to Oz, I’d much rather stay in Sydney or Melbourne.

      • #165090

        Ute Fan

        United States: Montana, Hawaii
        Canada: Vancouver, Montreal (but you’d better speak French. There’s more English spoken in France than in Montreal).
        Mexico: Yucatan
        Central America: Costa Rica
        South America: Argentina (anywhere in the whole country. Amazing place.)
        Asia: Bangkok
        Europe: Austria/Northern Italy region
        Middle East: Dubai
        Oceana: Palau (might be the most incredible place on earth)
        Africa: Never been there…it’s on my list

      • #165095

        Ute Fan

        Been there:  Thailand, SKorea, Brazil, Mexico, Bahamas, Panama, Belize, Honduras, Spain, Australia. 
        Would go back:  Thailand Australia, Spain
        Next on my list:  Denmark, Vietnam.  

      • #165098

        Ute Fan

        NA: Edmonton, Calgary, the drive between (red deer), sriven Seattle to Anchorage through the Yukon, and border towns in Mexico. I’d recommend the drive to Alaska, it’s long but unparalleled beauty.

        Asia: studied in Osaka for a summer and traveled up and down Japan. I’ve spent 2 months over 4 different trips in China for work but got to experience it like a local (Shanghai, Beijing, Xian, several more cities) – we went to a less popular part of the wall and I’ve been able to see most of the tourist sites there. Highly recommend Japan, and China is unique but is difficult to experience.

        Europe: Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland (zermatt & zurich), Liechtenstein, Italy (Milan, Venice, Rome, naples, amalfi, torino, maranello), Austria (Vienna, Hallstatt, Innsbruck), Germany (munich for octoberfest), Greece (Athens, santorini) of these my favorites are Vienna, dublin, and Greece. I really enjoy Italy except Venice. Too touristy for me. 

      • #165100

        Ute Fan

        What for?

        For beer, start with Belgium. Bavaria Germany is next. Then UK, Ireland, Scotland. The rest seems common.

        For landscapes, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, Austria, Northern Italy, Norway, Switzerland, Alaska.

        History, food, and beaches each have a list.

        The Great Barrier Reef and Normandy on the anniversary are awesome without a list.

      • #165104

        Ute Fan

        Some of you are quite the world travelers!

        Favorite Places:
        1. Amsterdam – super fun place with a lot to see. I enjoyed the museums here much more than France. I really enjoyed the Netherlands and Amsterdam was really charming.
        2. Bruges Belgium was with the 2 or so days we spent there. You can’t beat a real liege waffle and make sure to rent bikes and go exploring off the beaten path a bit
        3. Paris is pretty cool. I enjoyed seeing the gardens at Versailles and the Eiffel Tower at sunset was a treat. The Louvre was 3/10 for me. Too busy and stunk of BO.
        4. Hong Kong was pretty cool. I went in college for a 2 week study abroad trip spending a week in HK and a week in Taipei. The people weren’t super friendly but we had fun playing pickup basketball at the public courts.
        5. Taipei the people were super nice in my experience and the temples we visited were really cool. I feel bad for these people under Chinese threats
        6. Caribbean. Have done a couple cruises and it’s pretty fun but nothing I would prioritize over some new place to see.
        7. Hawaii and Alaska. Both awesome places in their own right. Alaska is so majestic. Hiking up a river in the jungle in Maui was amazing too

        Want to take future trips to:
        1. Normandy, UK, and Ireland
        2. Vienna, Budapest and Prague
        3. New Zealand
        4. Cook Islands
        5. Italy

      • #165109

        Ute Fan

        Asia: Taiwan, South Korea, North Korea (if you know you know), China

        Oceana: Marshall Islands, very beautiful and I preferred it over Hawaii.

        Central America: Panama and Costa Rica

        Europe: After I retire

        Africa: Nope, no plans

        Australia: Would be going there in a couple months… but COVID.

        Want to go to Alaska and as I said Europe. 

      • #165611

        Ute Fan

        I’m a little late to this thread but just wanted to make a case for Italy. I served a church mission in Northern Italy, but that was more than 30 years ago. However, Italy made such a big impression on me, that I think about it every day. I was so lucky to experience Italy in the unknown neighborhoods, in lesser or unknown cities and towns and villages – eating in their homes, talking to them in their language, and just sharing life experiences with them – they weren’t really interested in religion much, so they would invite us in and just talk about anything while offering dinner with us – amazing hospitality! It was so incredible to be knocking on doors, have someone right on the spot invite us in and say, “I’m not interested in religion, but let’s talk, and let me cook you some pasta!” (pasta that wasn’t Olive Garden crap neither, LOL – real, fresh, and sooo good!).

        There are lots of non-tourist-heavy places in Italy to enjoy. I absolutely loved the Liguria coast – also referred to as the Italian Riviera. I was there for four months, and traveled all up and down that coast – from the border with France, all the way over to Portofino. Genova is a large, historic city that is cool. Savona, Imperia, Albenga, are a few awesome cities on the coast that are not too touristy. They all have great historic city centers and are right next to the coast, so they are very picturesque. All along the coast are small, quaint, little towns and cities full of incredible character and beauty – most of these places are not well known, and are not tourist hot spots.

        I visited Portofino along that coast, which is quite famous, but to be honest, I thought Portofino was a bit overrated. I never did get to see the famous Cinque Terre – incredible little villages along the coast but are very heavily visited by tourists. Honestly, you can probably get the same experience along the coast visiting the lesser-known areas.

        Tuscany is incredible – there are lots of smaller villages built on hills or even mountains that are amazing. Siena, San Gimignano – Wow! There is incredible food there in Tuscany also. However, if you’ve seen one of these mountain villages, you’ve probably seen them all.

        Other cities such as Bologna, Bergamo (a severely underrated city in Italy!), Brescia, Como (can be a tourist hot spot), are all great. Verona is a city I never got to see but looks incredible.

        I lived in Torino for four months, but I didn’t like it there at all. It has some cool places, but I think there are better big cities in Italy to visit. Milan is amazing! If you like the best fashion also, it is a must-see. But, after a few days in Milan, you might want to move on to somewhere else.

        Of course, the tourist hot spots of Rome, Florence, and Venice are all incredible, and just because they have a lot of tourists doesn’t mean they are not worth a visit. I mean Rome! Absolutely breathtaking. The Vatican – especially St. Peter’s is unreal. Florence is incredible. I never got to experience the Amalfi Coast – definitely on my bucket list.

        Yes, Venice has many tourists, but it is such an incredible, unique city that is a must-see. One of the best memories of my life was a 60-minute gondola ride in Venice with my wife 26 years ago: an incredible experience.

        I’d love to explore the smaller towns and cities of Southern Italy – someday maybe.

        I’d recommend not in summer – go in fall or spring, although my preference would be fall – September or early October. Late Spring is nice, but you risk lots of rain.

      • #165615

        St George Ute
        Ute Fan

        Italy: I spent a few months in Northern Italy back in the mid-90s. Venice is a definite must do, but I recommend traveling off the tourist paths and exploring a bit. Some of the best areas are where tourists don’t usually go. Watch your wallet and bags though, as there are (were) pickpockets galore.

        China: Beijing and Shanghai. Spent almost a week in each doing the U’s Executive MBA trip back in 2011. I really enjoyed it. The contrast between the two cities is easily noticeable, but both have their pluses. I was able to visit a few Buddhist temples while there, probably my favorite sites of that trip. Also the Forbidden City and Great Wall were amazing.

        Calgary, Canada: Was only there a couple days, but it is a beautiful city. Very clean with art everywhere. I was there in late November (years ago), so it was incredibly cold, but I’d go back for a Summer visit in a heartbeat.

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