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terratin

collecting countries

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Currently making plans for a wild trip next spring: travel to Helsinki by plane, take the ferry to Estonia, pick up the rental car, drive through Latvia and Lithuania, visit Chernyahovsk in Kaliningrad Oblast (Russia) by train and Grodno (Belarus) by bus. Oh, and the official excuse is that I'll be attending a business conference in Vilnius, Lithuania. Got to make the most of it! 

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14 hours ago, STNolan said:

Just picked up Curacao! 

 

Nice! How was it? I've been considering adding the former Dutch Antilles to my flag collection, but haven't quite convinced myself yet.

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13 hours ago, terratin said:

 

Nice! How was it? I've been considering adding the former Dutch Antilles to my flag collection, but haven't quite convinced myself yet.

 

Only got two caches; and stayed primarily in Willemstad; but it was pretty nice. Enjoyed some beaches, had some fairly good food and really loved walking around and viewing the architecture. It's like an old style dutch town was dropped in the middle of the Caribbean. The crime rate is a bit high but overall it's a fairly safe area. Wish I had been able to get out of the town more but it is what it is.

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One day I'm sure I will figure out a cost and time effective way of hopping through all the cool little island nations across the Caribbean...

 

Potentially considering a cruise (shudder) to get through a half a dozen of them, out of Miami.

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6 hours ago, funkymunkyzone said:

One day I'm sure I will figure out a cost and time effective way of hopping through all the cool little island nations across the Caribbean...

 

Sail charter, maybe?  We joined friends in BVI in 2017 after they had spent a week or so sailing around, then we all stayed on USVI for a couple days.  Unfortunately our trips were cut short, as we all bugged out just prior to Hurricanes Irma and Jose making landfall.

 

(We only joined them on the boat for a day, so I didn't price how much the boat might have been.)

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11 hours ago, funkymunkyzone said:

One day I'm sure I will figure out a cost and time effective way of hopping through all the cool little island nations across the Caribbean...

 

Potentially considering a cruise (shudder) to get through a half a dozen of them, out of Miami.

I hear cruises have their upsides, but having just spent two years living in a cruise port town... I shudder at the idea of taking one of those. 

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14 hours ago, funkymunkyzone said:

One day I'm sure I will figure out a cost and time effective way of hopping through all the cool little island nations across the Caribbean...

 

Potentially considering a cruise (shudder) to get through a half a dozen of them, out of Miami.

 

I have looked at a few cruises too.  Most of them only hit 2-3 countries.  However, there are some multi-month cruises that hit dozens of countries.  I've never been on a cruise and the only island I've been to in the Caribbean is Cuba.

 

Have you ever looked at the logistics for attempting Conch Shell Horn?   It's fairly close to Curacao though Trinidad and Tobago is closer.   From there, getting to Porlamar where a boat could be chartered would be the easiest way to get there.  

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Taking a cruise just to add to your geocaching country score is not a good reason for a cruise. I have been on many cruises and I find it a relaxing, and in some cases, exciting way of experiencing new places. e.g. Zip lining in Skagway, float plane fights over glaciers and a salmon bake at a hunting lodge from Juneau, the lodge being accessible only by air and there just happened to be a cache to be found there. Incredible snorkeling in the Conflict Islands in the Coral Sea, seeing active volcanoes in Central America, ancient Aztec ruins in Mexico.Have had lessons in US history spending 7 days cruising up the Mississippi.  If there's a cache or two to be had along the way then that's a bonus  and sometimes in a incredible spot off the beaten tourist track. I choose cruises based on the number of ports visited, the more the better.

I leave on a 20 day cruise one month from today which will take me to places I've never been before. e.g. Genoa, Valencia, Lisbon, Azores, Barbados, Martinique, St Maarten, San Juan and, lastly, Miami before flying home via Doha to Sydney.

Americans are at an advantage due to very cheap fares cruising the Caribbean, Central America and Alaska due to high competition from many cruise lines. I have seen fares from less than $100 a day including all food and entertainment.

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2 hours ago, colleda said:

Taking a cruise just to add to your geocaching country score is not a good reason for a cruise.

I take your point, but I think it's one of those things that's different for everyone.  If it's the only feasible way to visit a bunch of countries then maybe it is an ok reason.  I don't know.  Frankly I think what would frustrate me is only getting a day in each place.  However, often I do find myself wondering if there's a choice between visiting somewhere and seeing some part of the place vs never seeing any of it in my life, I will take the former over the latter - but that's just how I am wired, and there's no guarantee I was ever wired correctly from the factory.

 

8 hours ago, NYPaddleCacher said:

I have looked at a few cruises too.  Most of them only hit 2-3 countries.  However, there are some multi-month cruises that hit dozens of countries.

I did spot one a little while back that hit 6 or 7 countries, all of which i had not been to before (I've already been to Cuba, Jamaica and the Bahamas) and wasn't ridiculously long, like less than 2 weeks.  Problem for me is that I would not find the boat itself relaxing, I would feel imprisoned and confined and not free to explore what I want.

 

11 hours ago, STNolan said:

I shudder at the idea of taking one of those. 

I know, I've always said I would never.... but you know... if needs must...

 

16 hours ago, hzoi said:

 

Sail charter, maybe?

...

(We only joined them on the boat for a day, so I didn't price how much the boat might have been.)

Yeah that's the thing.  I am by no means wealthy.  Good suggestion though... probably a good one to explore if there was a group of us, and we had sailing ability between us... :)

 

I suppose I really should take a closer look at flights between the islands... it just gets either expensive (commercial) or time-risky (standby) real quick.  I think I was very lucky with my trip earlier this year island hopping across the Pacific in that all of my flights panned out, or at least we were able to switch things around so we still got everywhere we wanted to and only had to fly commercial once (and boy that one flight as expensive!) to guarantee a seat.

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4 hours ago, funkymunkyzone said:

  However, often I do find myself wondering if there's a choice between visiting somewhere and seeing some part of the place vs never seeing any of it in my life, I will take the former over the latter - but that's just how I am wired, and there's no guarantee I was ever wired correctly from the factory.

 

Yep, that was my point.

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I've done a lot of cruises and I love them.  However, geocaching should, IMHO, not be the reason for the cruise, it should be an extra

 

We recently flew to Shanghai and cruised back to Sydney.  The reason for the cruise was to go to places.  When we were there we did what we wanted to do and, if caches were there it was a bonus.

 

Our next cruise is round Australia, Sydney to Sydney.  We will be stopping in places I haven't cached in and caching will be the bonus.  I hope to get my last 2 Australian states (SA and WA), but if I don't - I will someday. 

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20 minutes ago, Gill & Tony said:

I've done a lot of cruises and I love them.  However, geocaching should, IMHO, not be the reason for the cruise, it should be an extra

 

We recently flew to Shanghai and cruised back to Sydney.  The reason for the cruise was to go to places.  When we were there we did what we wanted to do and, if caches were there it was a bonus.

 

Our next cruise is round Australia, Sydney to Sydney.  We will be stopping in places I haven't cached in and caching will be the bonus.  I hope to get my last 2 Australian states (SA and WA), but if I don't - I will someday. 

Same here.

At the moment I have all states except Tasmania (been there three times pre geocaching). I'll remedy that in February on a return cruise from NZ.

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9 hours ago, funkymunkyzone said:

However, often I do find myself wondering if there's a choice between visiting somewhere and seeing some part of the place vs never seeing any of it in my life, I will take the former over the latter

 

So would I, for the simple reason that spending even a short amount of time somewhere might be enough to tell me whether I might want to return for a longer stay (or not).  

9 hours ago, funkymunkyzone said:

we were able to switch things around so we still got everywhere we wanted to and only had to fly commercial once (and boy that one flight as expensive!) to guarantee a seat.

 

I don't have a choice other than to fly commercial.  

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On 10/1/2019 at 4:20 PM, STNolan said:

I hear cruises have their upsides, but having just spent two years living in a cruise port town... I shudder at the idea of taking one of those. 

 

Yes, I agree with that! The constant humming noise from the engines when moored, and pollution, and more noise at least when some boats arrive and leave with a big party on board and the masses of tourists that suddenly descent on a small area... it's not for me.

 

Btw, Lebanon is a fact! I don't often say this but I will certainly be back. Such a beautiful country with such friendly people! It was marvellous! And if you ever thought you'd seen the biggest Roman ruins: Look up Baalbek, and especially photos with people as scale! I found 9 caches in total. Not a lot, but one would have been enough for me.

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7 hours ago, terratin said:

 

Yes, I agree with that! The constant humming noise from the engines when moored, and pollution, and more noise at least when some boats arrive and leave with a big party on board and the masses of tourists that suddenly descent on a small area... it's not for me.

 

Really?

 

I lived in Bermuda for nearly 5 years, working close to Front Street where 2 cruise ships docked right on the side of the road.  I never noticed any significant noise from the ships when moored - certainly nothing like normal traffic noise.  Pollution was minimal, far less than emissions from cars etc.

 

The noise from sail-away parties was nothing compared with the local pubs, clubs and bars.

 

Those masses of tourists used to help pay my taxes by being a great boost to the local economy.  Several Australian towns are fighting to get cruise ships to dock there, spending millions on berthing facilities.

 

Anyway, most places I have visited, the ships dock in working ports or areas away from town centres, so those problems just don't exist.

 

Cruising isn't for everyone,  but those reasons just don't stack up.

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20 hours ago, terratin said:

... masses of tourists that suddenly descent on a small area... it's not for me.

 

We were in Dubrovnik last year.  On the days the large ships came in you couldn’t move in the old town.  The town actually publishes a colour-coded schedule (red/amber/green) to warn locals and visitors of the likely influx.

 

Never say never though!

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I'm probably not the only one lucky enough to get international travel with work (so occasionally doing evening urban caches with a bemused colleague or business partner...)

All done in work trips:

USA, Greece, Luxembourg

A region of Wales

2 of my 4 French regions (of the total of 13)

6 of my 7 Spanish regions (there are 19 in all)

6 of my 8 Belgian regions (there are 11 in all)

4 countries and 7 regions in a day (Lux-Bel-Fra-Eng)

Our next annual team conference is in Rio, though I've already done Brazil - but it'll be a new furthest south if I find one.

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53 minutes ago, Oxford Stone said:

Our next annual team conference is in Rio, though I've already done Brazil - but it'll be a new furthest south if I find one.

 

You've not been to the Ape cache yet. Would you be interested? I did this trip last year during a business trip covering a weekend in Rio. I booked a flight Rio to I think Campinas (avoiding Sao Paulo traffic), picked up rental car and drove down. Visited the park and drove back the following day. Though to be honest: I would probably not do the mud path towards the park when there's a chance of rain (it's slippery clay), and I'm used to totally crazy traffic. Have to say though that the traffic out there was mostly fine if you expect the unexpected.

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Oh, summary for this year: I got 5 new countries, one of which was unexpected, but if you get an opportunity...: Aland, Finland, Lichtenstein (while being on business in southern Germany. Boss paid for the rental car), Cyprus and Lebanon. All trips were absolutely fantastic :)

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25 minutes ago, terratin said:

 

You've not been to the Ape cache yet. Would you be interested? I did this trip last year during a business trip covering a weekend in Rio. I booked a flight Rio to I think Campinas (avoiding Sao Paulo traffic), picked up rental car and drove down. Visited the park and drove back the following day. Though to be honest: I would probably not do the mud path towards the park when there's a chance of rain (it's slippery clay), and I'm used to totally crazy traffic. Have to say though that the traffic out there was mostly fine if you expect the unexpected.

 

Outside chance. This will be next April / May. More likely to go a day or two early in the hope of seeing a football (soccer!) match.

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21 minutes ago, Oxford Stone said:

 

Outside chance. This will be next April / May. More likely to go a day or two early in the hope of seeing a football (soccer!) match.

 

Ok :) I was there in April or May last year (need to look it up). I know that some colleagues went to see a football match or did a quick trip to Ilha Grande.

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11 hours ago, IceColdUK said:

 

We were in Dubrovnik last year.  On the days the large ships came in you couldn’t move in the old town.  The town actually publishes a colour-coded schedule (red/amber/green) to warn locals and visitors of the likely influx.

 

Now that's a whole different equation.  I was in Venice (not on a cruise) when a big cruise ship came through.  I really didn't like that.  Ultimately, though, it is up to the local authorities. Where do they draw the line between inconvenience/damage etc. on the one hand vs revenue on the other.

 

Whatever the decision, it might affect my choice whether I go somewhere on a cruise - but won't affect my decision to cruise at all.

 

I've never been to the Caribbean, but I'm guessing it is similar to the South Pacific.  Some islands can handle a big influx of visitors while smaller ones  will have more problems.  My daughter has booked a family cruise next year to celebrate our 50th Anniversary.  It will be interesting to see how the Isle of Pines copes with a 4,500 passenger cruise ship.

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Bit of a bummer. I was hoping to add more than the 4 new Japanese prefectures out of a possible 16 we visited. Having a car meant we were flexible but a full schedule, longer than expected driving times and sunset around 17:00 didn't allow much caching time. At least we added 16 caches to our found count of which 1 multi and 2 earthcaches. In general we had many caches loaded that might have had problems, DNFs, NMs. Many places that should have caches didn't.... maybe geocaching is not that popular in Japan outside major cities. Plenty of spots that deserve an earthcache but nothing to find nearby.

Now, where to go next.....

 

 

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On 10/9/2019 at 9:16 AM, Gill & Tony said:

Now that's a whole different equation.  I was in Venice (not on a cruise) when a big cruise ship came through.  I really didn't like that.  Ultimately, though, it is up to the local authorities. Where do they draw the line between inconvenience/damage etc. on the one hand vs revenue on the other.

 

Whatever the decision, it might affect my choice whether I go somewhere on a cruise - but won't affect my decision to cruise at all.

 

I've never been to the Caribbean, but I'm guessing it is similar to the South Pacific.  Some islands can handle a big influx of visitors while smaller ones  will have more problems.  My daughter has booked a family cruise next year to celebrate our 50th Anniversary.  It will be interesting to see how the Isle of Pines copes with a 4,500 passenger cruise ship.

I was on Norfolk Island a few days ago and a cruise ship arrived. Not a huge one by cruise ship standards. The locals appeared excited by it and the island has purchased small boats to bring the passengers ashore on. I was told it was the first cruise ship to call there for about two years. The local tourist businesses were down at the wharf that day. No tours for other tourists that day, as the tours were booked out with cruise passengers. The car rental dealer I know there was also down at the wharf all day renting out cars. The island was more crowded that day, but not overly. But as I mentioned, it wasn't one of the biggest cruise ships, and only one ship. It advantaged me too, as it was a Sunday and businesses that might have been closed otherwise, were open that day.

Once I was staying on Ile de Pins and a cruise ship pulled in. I found out when I wandered down to 'my' beach. Normally empty it was packed with people. I stood there amazed, wondering where all these people had come from. Then I looked out to sea and spotted the cruise ship.

Some places like cruise ships calling, and some don't. I was on a cruise that called at an island in Vanuatu, and the Captain and his first officers went ashore to be welcomed in a ceremony by the locals, as apparently that was the first time that ship had called there. I missed the ceremony, which I didn't know was happening, as I was off walking several kms to find caches.

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Added Norfolk Island, and cleaned out all the caches there, and then claimed the challenge cache for finding all the caches on Norfolk Island. A CITO event was held for my visit. Only two of us attended. A keen local geocacher (who published the CITO event knowing I was visiting) and myself.

nf.pngNorfolk Island 56

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4 hours ago, on4bam said:

 

Now, where to go next.....

 

 

I would recommend Turkey. I've been and cached there twice. Lots to see and do, history and friendly people.

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6 hours ago, colleda said:

I would recommend Turkey.

 

Nope... Not supporting their economy but that's off-topic here.

 

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Whenever my wife starts suggesting places to go for a holiday, she always checks with me 'Are there any caches there?'..... She wants to do an Alaskan cruise in the next couple of years - some depart from Seattle - I'm right behind those plans..... :)

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2 hours ago, lee737 said:

Whenever my wife starts suggesting places to go for a holiday, she always checks with me 'Are there any caches there?'..... She wants to do an Alaskan cruise in the next couple of years - some depart from Seattle - I'm right behind those plans..... :)

Done two of those and doing another next June. PM me if you or SWMBO want any info.

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21 hours ago, on4bam said:

Now, where to go next.....

 

Still plenty of destinations in Europe you can visit.  This time of year, the Mediterranean calls.  Malta's great, and I'll give you a full report after we get back from Cyprus if you want it.  Or someplace with a nice Christmas market?  Prague gets busy, but we also enjoyed Plzen and Cesky Krumlov last December.

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3 minutes ago, hzoi said:

 

Still plenty of destinations in Europe you can visit.  This time of year, the Mediterranean calls.  Malta's great, and I'll give you a full report after we get back from Cyprus if you want it.  Or someplace with a nice Christmas market?  Prague gets busy, but we also enjoyed Plzen and Cesky Krumlov last December.

 

We've done most of the one's we'd like to do, including Malta. Many pre-geocaching. Prague is on our list but that's just a citytrip.

We have been looking at Darwin a few times but need something to combine it with. Maybe some Pacific Island(s) depending on flight times. Namibia is on our list too, so is the Yukon and NWT. My wife would like to see Andalusia, I've been there a long time ago with my parents (more than once) and that would be a good destination to make a sidetrip to Gibraltar. I was there before decades ago.

 

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7 hours ago, on4bam said:

 

We've done most of the one's we'd like to do, including Malta. Many pre-geocaching. Prague is on our list but that's just a citytrip.

We have been looking at Darwin a few times but need something to combine it with. Maybe some Pacific Island(s) depending on flight times. Namibia is on our list too, so is the Yukon and NWT. My wife would like to see Andalusia, I've been there a long time ago with my parents (more than once) and that would be a good destination to make a sidetrip to Gibraltar. I was there before decades ago.

 

New Zealand next October is looking good! I hear there's a mega event on then :)

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On 10/30/2019 at 11:17 AM, Goldenwattle said:

Added Norfolk Island, and cleaned out all the caches there, and then claimed the challenge cache for finding all the caches on Norfolk Island. A CITO event was held for my visit. Only two of us attended. A keen local geocacher (who published the CITO event knowing I was visiting) and myself.

nf.pngNorfolk Island 56

endeavour3 perchance?  Nice guy.

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5 hours ago, funkymunkyzone said:

New Zealand next October is looking good! I hear there's a mega event on then :)

 

Been there, done that and got the T-shirt (not the event, we're not into events).

 

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On 10/30/2019 at 6:15 AM, on4bam said:

 

Nope... Not supporting their economy but that's off-topic here.

 

 

I've been to quite a few countries that I don't support politically, but the people are usually fantastic and deserve nothing but support. Thus booking a small pension instead of a chain hotel, eating at local places, going to small supermarkets and booking transport locally. But that's my opinion.

 

I'm about to finish my Belgium map while visiting a concert soon. And I'm hopefully about to add another emirate of the UAE to my list this weekend. Not sure yet as the nearest cache might be gone or difficult to find in the dark. Lets see. No other plans this year. But Ithink I've travelled more than enough.

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On 10/30/2019 at 3:43 AM, lee737 said:

Whenever my wife starts suggesting places to go for a holiday, she always checks with me 'Are there any caches there?'..... She wants to do an Alaskan cruise in the next couple of years - some depart from Seattle - I'm right behind those plans..... :)

Alaska cruises are popular but as someone who lived in Fairbanks for two years and traveled to multiple parts of Alaska I would recommend flying to Anchorage and taking the train to destinations north and south to see the real Alaska. I just went back for the first time in 45 years and we traveled every mile of the Alaska Railway and had a great time. 

(message me if you want details)1317938563_Denalihigh.thumb.jpg.05035d2e5f28f580181ae6bec148f45d.jpg

Denali as seen from a jet boat on the Susitna River near Talkeetna

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In the last 13 months or so, we added Easter Island (Chile), South Africa, Swaziland, Egypt, Jordan, and the Netherlands - as well as return visits to other areas.  We added new states (Carhenge in Nebraska and Wounded Knee in South Dakota were important caches for me).  Going to Writing On Stone in Alberta gave us a new province -  although I smiled and had to limit myself to a short answer when the border officer wanted to know why we wanted to look at petroglyphs there.

 

We expect to visit Pitcairn next year, which will give us a chance to spend some time in French Polynesia (where I have visited but never cached).  I think there is still one active cache on Pitcairn so I hope nothing happens to it.  

 

While not a country, the Yukon is on an our short list.  And returning to South Africa is a priority.   All of which means we still have to fit in road trips to camp in the Southwest, the Sierras, or go up to Oregon and Idaho - there are places where I could spend a lifetime exploring so I am always looking to return. 

 

I think our daughter wants us to be home more often to babysit her kids.  

Edited by geodarts

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7 hours ago, Michaelcycle said:

Alaska cruises are popular but as someone who lived in Fairbanks for two years and traveled to multiple parts of Alaska I would recommend flying to Anchorage and taking the train to destinations north and south to see the real Alaska. I just went back for the first time in 45 years and we traveled every mile of the Alaska Railway and had a great time. 

(message me if you want details)1317938563_Denalihigh.thumb.jpg.05035d2e5f28f580181ae6bec148f45d.jpg

Denali as seen from a jet boat on the Susitna River near Talkeetna

One of our tors was by train, Anchorage to Fairbanks then flew back to Seattle. Traveled on the train each the day and, at the same time, a bus with all the luggage goes to the hotel and its in your room when you arrive.We were lucky to have clear skies as the train passed Mt Denali then it was clear again the next day on a Tundra tour the other side of Denali. An amazing place.

Edited by colleda
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I've only cached in two countries:  USA and Canada.  Though I have been to Mexico, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Sint Maarten and Saint Martin.  Whilst in Newfoundland, we considered a trip to St Pierre y Miquelon to get the souvenir for France.  It would have been an expensive trip for the one cache there.  But when the second cache was hidden there, GS changed it from France to St Pierre & Miquelon.  That didn't seen worthy the effort.  

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Arrived in Milan early this morning after 20 hours flying from Sydney (not including a 2 hour transit in Doha). Room not ready at hotel so I may head out for my first Italy find, if the rain has stopped. Hotel is very close to Central station and I've mapped a few possibilities.

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1 hour ago, colleda said:

Arrived in Milan early this morning after 20 hours flying from Sydney (not including a 2 hour transit in Doha). Room not ready at hotel so I may head out for my first Italy find, if the rain has stopped. Hotel is very close to Central station and I've mapped a few possibilities.

I have my first now. Regie Posta (Milan Post Office). I tried two others and DNFd both. One was right near the entrance to the station, too many muggles, police and others hanging about. The other was just outside supposedly in a hole in a large lamp post. Nothing there. Had to buy an umbrella from a hawker as it was starting to rain steadily and I'd forgotten tom pack one. Went back to hotel to check in. Hoping for finer weather tomorrow.

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Got our 42nd flag with 3 days, 2 nights in Vilnius, Lithuania.  We enjoyed it very much.  The old town is very accessible on foot, and the caching was fun - managed to get 25 in town plus one outside the airport, most of which were right around places we had wanted to see in the first place.  

 

Next will be 4 days in Cyprus; after that, we are planning a return to Italy over Christmas (with a day or so in San Marino).  Also considering Bucharest for February.  Good times.

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In the past week I managed to add a third emirate from the UAE, Sharjah to my list (just one cache during a very tiresome and jetlaggy business meeting) and the final Belgian province, Brussels. Now I need some rest. Two tiresome short trips are enough.

 

Hzoi: just four days in Cyprus? I was there for 2.5 weeks this summer and felt like I rushed far too much. Could have spent a lot more time there, and especially on 'the other side'. Enjoy this trip!

Edited by terratin

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On 11/9/2019 at 10:40 PM, terratin said:

Hzoi: just four days in Cyprus? I was there for 2.5 weeks this summer and felt like I rushed far too much. Could have spent a lot more time there, and especially on 'the other side'. Enjoy this trip!

 

We have a child in school, and I have a demanding job.  But I get a 4-day weekend just about every month without having to take leave, and I know about them over a year in advance, so we can plan ahead.  Normally they line up with US federal holidays and/or teacher work days, so that the youngest third of hzoi doesn't miss too much school.  So, we take several  little trips instead of one big trip.  (It also means that we can just have friends check on our cat once or twice.)  

 

It also helps that we are currently right near Frankfurt am Main, Lufthansa's main hub. Which makes it easy to snag direct flights most anywhere.  

 

Between this tour and our previous tour in Germany at the same location, the majority of our country collecting in Europe has been done one 4-day weekend at a time.  It's an easy pattern to fall into.

Edited by hzoi

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@hzoi I have to say that this IS amazing! I wish I had something like this to be honest. Enjoy your trips :)

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