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May 4th, 2019, 03:55 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
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Australia, at least, the areas I visited. Glad to have seen Sydney though.
Odin is offline  
May 4th, 2019, 07:00 AM
Join Date: Jan 2013
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Skip the Leaning Tower

The Leaning Tower of Pisa. We spent a wonderful two weeks in Italy, but I would have gladly skipped this stop. We had to put up with all the roadside vendors selling Made in China trinkets. There is nothing to do there but look at theTower and confirm that ďyep, itís leaningĒ. I wish we had spent this time elsewhere in this beautiful country.
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May 5th, 2019, 03:40 AM
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May 5th, 2019, 05:20 AM
Join Date: May 2019
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Stonehenge is pretty underwhelming. You arrive at a visitors center in around Salisbury, UK and you have the choice of riding a coach to get to Stonehenge or walking. Sometimes the line for the coach is so long you end up walking like I did. The walk can be long like 30 min there and back of course depending on how fast you walk, and this is the middle of no where you might see some sheep but thatís it. Once you finally get there is kinda cool but it takes you one 5min walk around to see it all and then youíre ready to walk back. Mind you itís going to cost you 20£ to enter, personally thatís too high just for 5 min to see some rocks.
mine29 is offline  
May 5th, 2019, 02:14 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 7
Amsterdam and Australia

We just came back from Amsterdam. The tulips at the Keukenhof were beautiful; Amsterdam itself was just meh, in our opinion (we aren't into pot and prostitution so if you are, pay no attention to us!) Yes, it has some great art museums, but overall, Amsterdam was underwhelming. Certainly no comparison to Rome or London or Barcelona.

Australia had interesting animals; otherwise it was pretty nothing, too. Guess we are just not into A places...
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May 6th, 2019, 05:27 AM
Join Date: May 2019
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Miami beach

if you go in August you will be flooded by hot waves at 7 o clock in the morning. I tried to have breakfast on a restaurant' terrace at that time and it was awful. Try to get cool in the water and you will find yourself in a soupy liquid. Walk along the beach and you will find horrible 10ish floors buildings nothing to do with art deco.
mreggi is offline  
May 6th, 2019, 09:05 AM
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Anyplace in the southern US on the east coast will be dreadful in August.
jmoyogi is offline  
May 9th, 2019, 09:04 AM
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Buenos Aires. Ugly, dirty and hot. And the food sucked.
mlgb is offline  
May 9th, 2019, 02:31 PM
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Neuschwanstein - I was so mad that we had wasted our precious time to visit it. Bizarre.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
May 12th, 2019, 10:39 PM
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Seven years in, I write that Vienna just doesn't live up to the hype of, "The World's Most Livable City." But that was not the question asked.
fourfortravel is offline  
May 13th, 2019, 04:28 AM
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Lol. What are the problems?
thursdaysd is offline  
May 14th, 2019, 12:11 AM
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Certainly Vienna is very livable. That insipid designation by Mercer of, “Most Livable” is intended for corporations, in order that they know how to compensate their employees, but routinely gets co-opted by every Viennese blogger and tourism website. Even for those of us living in the parallel Vienna (VAT-free; with reduced cost or free housing; and reduced or free tuition (including university) amongst the best perks), the city is extremely livable. But I just can’t go fully, most livable.

An acquaintance’s Austrian parent summarized my (and their) feeling about Vienna rather well; “If the world were coming to an end I would want to be in Vienna. The city is six months behind the rest of the world so I would live a little bit longer.” Six months is a bit conservative; I might go with, “a couple of years behind…”

“Livable” cities, if I made the rules, would not shut down so severely. For nearly 2 months in total over the course of a year stores and many restaurants are shuttered (10 bank holidays and 52 Sundays). Throw in August when much of Europe is Auf Urlaub; the Mittagspause tradition still followed, and keeping track of it all can become tedious.

I’ll use the domestic sport of grocery shopping as an example of my disqualifier for the “most livable” moniker. Groceries are closed after 1800 on Saturday (in the provinces some close at 1200, if they open at all); all day Sunday; and the myriad holidays. In recent memory that closure combo once resulted in a full 96 hours of shutdown. Not being able to access* a grocer for 4 days straight in a developed country is not quite “livable” in my book.

But the disqualifier goes beyond just the business hours. I have dashed into a market at 1630 on a Saturday in search of a single mainstream produce item for dinner, only to find that said baskets have all been moved to the refrigerated storeroom, and the staff member has zero interest in collecting my requested item. More than once. More than on a dozen occasions.

Thinking of hitting the market when it first opens on Monday? Think again. Much of the produce, having sat in the chill since Saturday, is limply on display for purchase. "Who buys squishy radishes?" I have asked myself on more than one occasion. I have had cartons of berries and other gentle fruit literally turn moldy by later in the same day. The packaged meat cases are being restocked, with dozens of -50% stickers slapped on cuts of beef, chicken, and pork that had carried over from Saturday. Food poisoning, anyone? In between, the floor cleaners are hogging the lanes with their Zambonis, making the floor nice and slippery. An open secret is that Tuesday afternoon, between 1400 and 1600 is the optimal time to shop, but not for more than a day or so worth of groceries because the produce will wilt or mold by the time you need it. The shelves are stocked and the lanes are free of both Zambonis and the elderly folks catching up on conversation. Effectively, one must plan their meals from Saturday through Tuesday, with fingers crossed that nothing goes bad in between.

About the elderly folks. Many of them are entitled to the point of rudeness. It is common of Pensioners to simply walk in front of someone (and their groceries on the conveyor) and place their items in front; I think I have stopped noticing this by now because it is so commonplace. I have even witnessed a Pensioner remove the “Lane Closed” sign and put their groceries on the belt. The grocery clerks here should all be fast-tracked for sainthood.

*Access. Groceries at the airport and the train stations (and one in the Inner Stadt) are open 7 days a week. Running in for certain** forgotten items makes me feel like Carrie Bradshaw doing the walk of shame. Let me not discuss the insufferable queues of the Viennese doing their regular shopping.

**Not all grocery items are available for sale during the Verboten Hours. Need a 1 liter bottle of olive oil? An easy-peasy purchase. Need toothpaste or a personal toiletry item? Nope! Those items are behind a locked gate. Alcohol, though? Let the libations flow! Seriously. One can be denied toothpaste but can become totally tanked on Veltliner.

Say Fido’s kibble bin was raided by mice on a Sunday and you need to feed your pup. No can do at the train station grocer, for pet supplies are locked behind a fence, as well. (Along with cleaning supplies.) One must instead schlepp to a petrol station to purchase a bag of kibble. Oh, and one can also purchase personal toiletry items at the petrol station. The “system” makes no sense, and no Austrian friend can explain this to me; it’s just passively*** accepted.

***The Neighbors. There is the common understanding that Sundays (and holidays) in Austria are “days off,” and time for church, to visit with family and to otherwise slow down the pace. Fair enough. Not my country, not my rules. However. In Vienna at least, Flower Shops; and Gyms, Storage Units and Tanning Salons are open. I get the Flower Shop being open: blooms for Sunday dinner with Oma, and blooms for the cemetery. But, Gyms, Storage Units and Tanning Salons?

Whenever we find ourselves visiting one of the neighbors (CZ, SK and H who are “open” on Sunday) we note at least 25-30% of the vehicles in the parking lot of the grocery with Austrian tags. Of course, we are there because the “thrill” of fresh produce on a Sunday is compelling. But if Austrians cherish their Sunday Shutdowns so much, why are they leaving the country to grocery shop?

Again, not my country, not my rules. And the inconsistencies are not limited to groceries. But I do think that if the world were coming to an end, Vienna would be the place to be. Perhaps that is what makes it the World’s Most Livable City.

Last edited by moderator9; May 14th, 2019 at 05:39 AM.
fourfortravel is offline  
May 14th, 2019, 04:51 AM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 16
I'm enjoying this list and it really makes me realize so much is who you are and what you like to do. I loved Amsterdam (though not into pot or prostitution!) and Australia , but didn't much care for Rome, Nashville, or Stonehenge.
PointsWellTaken is offline  
May 14th, 2019, 05:40 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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fourfortravel -

Your post brought back a flood of memories of our 15 year stent as expats in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Indonesia and Australia. Those stores and restaurants were shuttered three times a day for prayer in the Middle East and closed until 4 pm every Friday. Medical offices worked a swing shift of sorts - open for a few hours in the morning and then closing until 4 pm.

Absolutely nothing got done during Ramadan - we'd get a month's worth of mail a week or two after Ramadan ended (and some never turned up - it was rumored the post office was so overwhelmed that they threw much of it away).

In Western Australia we had to take a day off work to go car shopping as car dealers closed at 5 and were closed on weekends. January was like Ramadan - many companies, and a surprising number of medical offices closed for the month (summer school holidays). Just try to find an orthopedist in January.

On public holidays (many of them 3-4 day weekends), grocery stores and most businesses would close, but weirdly, DYI and liquor stores would not. Grocery stores would close around 6 pm on Saturday and not re-open until Sunday (although this was changing when we left).

And then there was North Dakota back in the day - blue laws meant nothing was open on Sunday except for a convenience store or two - and even then they had entire aisles of merchandise roped off and unavailable for sale. A grocery store near us opened on a Sunday during a blizzard as a community service - and they were run out of business by the state for their transgression.

I was just in Utah a few weeks ago and was introduced to their odd liquor laws
It's all part of the adventure.

Here in the US I think we take it to the opposite extreme - never closing and/or forcing employees to work on holidays doesn't seem to be the answer either.
Melnq8 is online now  
May 14th, 2019, 05:48 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Have you lived anywhere else in Europe? Because a lot of this sounds like Europe in general, rather than Vienna in particular.

"10 bank holidays and 52 Sundays" - some European countries have twelve bank holidays:

"Throw in August when much of Europe is Auf Urlaub; the Mittagspause tradition still followed, and keeping track of it all can become tedious." - well, yes, "much of Europe". If you don't like the break over lunch, forget Spain, which still practices the siesta. Lunch time is pretty long in Italy, too. And there are loads of posts here about Paris shutting down for August.

"Groceries are closed after 1800 on Saturday (in the provinces some close at 1200, if they open at all); all day Sunday; and the myriad holidays. " When I was growing up in England stores were closed one afternoon a week, early (sometimes lunchtime) on Saturday and all day Sunday. I don't remember people finding it difficult to deal with. My mother planned her meals for the week. My sister, who still lives in England, plans her meals for the week. When I - living in the US - was married and raising step-kids, we planned meals for the week. Even though I live in the US I don't buy perishables on Mondays if I can avoid it, and I prefer to avoid Tuesday as well. (Remember Anthony Bourdain warning people not to order fish on Mondays?) In a lot of countries, working all the hours there are is not considered a badge of honor, and more power to them.

Don't understand the queue-jumping elderly thing, though. Have you discussed it with your Austrian friends/neighbors?
thursdaysd is offline  
May 14th, 2019, 07:04 AM
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"Absolutely nothing got done during Ramadan - we'd get a month's worth of mail a week or two after Ramadan ended (and some never turned up - it was rumored the post office was so overwhelmed that they threw much of it away)."

Melnq8, you might be describing Austria. Our first year here, the delivery success rate with Christmas cards sent across the pond hovered around 50%; the second year, a little less. We simply stopped sending holiday greetings by mail. Recently I sent "priority" parcels of pashminas that I had purchased in Pakistan to two friends in the US. These (expensive) Priority Mail packages arrived four weeks later! But as you write, this is all part of the adventure.

thursdaysd, this is our first European posting. We had traveled annually for several years overseas before moving and appreciated the rush to obtain groceries before the stores closed; and so I "get" the closures and the Mittagspause. What I don't get is the desperate pawning off of less-than-fresh goods. Again, who runs to the market on Monday to purchase squishy radishes? Or limp celery? The inconsistent determination of what is and what is not Verboten is equally as maddening. Why can I buy pet kibble at the petrol station, but not at the grocer on a Sunday?

I, too plan meals for the week, but have to make an almost-daily stop at the market for fresh produce (and have the Plan B ready in the likely event said produce is not available) on my way home from whatever it is that I am doing. This should not be the case in a "Most Livable City." I am not a fan of the "Open 24/7" scene that is America (and never was when we lived there), but at the same time...should Most Livable Cities be given a pass on this?

As for the elderly queue-jumping, Austrian friends do not have an answer, naturally. They just accept it.
fourfortravel is offline  
May 14th, 2019, 08:34 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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When I lived in the UK years ago each town/village had a different early closing weekday and everything was closed on Sundays except motorway petrol stations/cafes and a few convenience stores. It was a shock coming from the nearly 24/7 culture back home. Pubs and restaurants were open mid day and then closed until early evening. It took some getting used to but after 3 or 4 months became second nature and I quit arriving in Bicester just as all the shops were closing for the afternoon

I really enjoyed the slower pace of life - But that has pretty much all changed in the UK now.
janisj is online now  
May 15th, 2019, 01:08 AM
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janisj, there are no small UK (or Austrian) villages being crowned, "Most Livable." Likely for a reason. There was (still is?) an Austrian tv series about farmers looking for wives to help carry on the family traditions out in the provinces. If young people are leaving, the town is probably not in contention for, "most livable."

A number of the cities in the Top 50 all have issues. SanFran with its sidewalk poop; NYC with its defective subways; Singapore with its, "No public demonstrations." Australia might be heading toward a recession, yet Mercer still ranks a number of the country's cities as most livable. It's a marketing ploy: life can be quite livable almost anywhere with enough perquisites thrown in. Vienna is nearly 5B in the red to promote their good side; should poor financial management be a hallmark of a livable city?

Just this morning DH read an article that declared the US state of Washington as the "Best Place to Live." Sure, it's a green state because they're sitting on a heap of hydro for energy; but Seattle, last I checked, is full of homeless camps and streets filled with a variety of waste products. Apparently "Green" trumps "Homelessness and Dirty Streets."

Last edited by fourfortravel; May 15th, 2019 at 01:12 AM.
fourfortravel is offline  
May 17th, 2019, 02:19 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
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Glad I have visited VIENNA but would never return. I would return to most places I have visited in Europe.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
May 17th, 2019, 02:56 PM
Join Date: Apr 2019
Posts: 10
Edinburgh. It was … kind of *grey* and depressing.

Not precisely underwhelmed, but not a fan: the Eiffel Tower - I think it's hideous.
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