Overseas Travel

Do a trip report here....go to another city and want to relate it to what KC is doing right or could do better? Give us a summary in here.
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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby heatherkay » Mon Oct 25, 2010 12:42 pm

We just got back from Spain.  No problem using our chip-less cards at ATMs or in restaurants.

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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby mlind » Mon Oct 25, 2010 3:51 pm

heatherkay wrote:We just got back from Spain.  No problem using our chip-less cards at ATMs or in restaurants.


Obviously, it varies from place to place.  I'm going to London next spring. Has anyone had any experience there with chip-less ATM cards?

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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby smh » Mon Oct 25, 2010 3:59 pm

mlind wrote:Obviously, it varies from place to place.  I'm going to London next spring. Has anyone had any experience there with chip-less ATM cards?




I lived in London in '06. They were just moving (and heavily promoting) chip-and-pin. I had trouble using my ATM card at NatWest ATMs. Don't know if it was the lack of a chip or a network issue or what. I mainly used Barclay's ATMs and occasionally RBS. They're everywhere. No problems at groceries or, most important, public houses.
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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby phuqueue » Mon Oct 25, 2010 5:40 pm

I haven't been to London, but I think Bank of America has a deal with Barclays so you can use their ATMs without extra fees.  Which is good if you're BoA, but even if you're not, I'd think that means Barclays ATMs should be able to take your card.  If you aren't BoA, you might check with your bank to see if they have a similar set up with any other UK banks so not only will you not have to worry about your card being accepted but maybe you can escape the transaction fees too.

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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby Highlander » Mon Nov 01, 2010 9:39 pm

mlind wrote:Obviously, it varies from place to place.  I'm going to London next spring. Has anyone had any experience there with chip-less ATM cards?


The thread is about cards but if going to London, and have some bucks to spend at an upscale restaurant, try this place in Marble Arch:

http://www.viewlondon.co.uk/restaurants ... -4111.html

I went to London several times a year on business trips for about 10 years and always tried to get here.  The food is incredible but it's pretty pricey. 

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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby mlind » Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:57 pm

Highlander wrote:The thread is about cards but if going to London, and have some bucks to spend at an upscale restaurant, try this place in Marble Arch:

http://www.viewlondon.co.uk/restaurants ... -4111.html

I went to London several times a year on business trips for about 10 years and always tried to get here.  The food is incredible but it's pretty pricey. 


It sounds wonderful.  I'll be staying with my daughter (starving student) and her boyfriend.  I'm sure it would be a treat to take them there.

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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby bobbyhawks » Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:58 am

mlind wrote:Obviously, it varies from place to place.  I'm going to London next spring. Has anyone had any experience there with chip-less ATM cards?


If I recall correctly, they will have to manually key in your information at your table at many/most restaurants if you don't have the chip, but it shouldn't be a problem.  I was about a 50% success rate at finding an ATM in the UK that didn't require a pin when I was there, but you start to figure out which banks let you take out money.  There are ATMs at every train/tube station that will work if you are completely at a loss.

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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby mlind » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:17 pm

An article in the paper yesterday said that Travelex, a foreign exchange currency provider, has begun issuing prepaid foreign currency cards with the chip  & PIN technology.  The Passport MasterCards are available in euros or pounds. Available at www.us.travelex.com.

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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby LenexatoKCMO » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:42 pm

mlind wrote:An article in the paper yesterday said that Travelex, a foreign exchange currency provider, has begun issuing prepaid foreign currency cards with the chip  & PIN technology.  The Passport MasterCards are available in euros or pounds. Available at www.us.travelex.com.


Presumably paying Travelex's shit exchange rates?  Perhaps even an even shittier premium rate for the extra service?

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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby dangerboy » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:06 pm

LenexatoKCMO wrote:Presumably paying Travelex's shit exchange rates?  Perhaps even an even shittier premium rate for the extra service?


Travelex is pricing the Euro at $1.39, whereas the exchange rate is $1.35, so it's a $40 fee for a $1,000 card.  I might be willing to pay it for peace of mind of not being stranded without useable card.

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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby ColumbusParkian » Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:35 am

OK i know this thread is pretty old now, but hey MLind...

last year in London I had a few instances where I couldn't use my debit cards, but this was mostly at retail shops where the clerks didn't know how to use my card. Still, I eventually had to use the cash that I had on hand. I'd recommend carrying a "stupid store clerk" slush fund.


In other news:

I'm heading to Europe for 10 days in May. Half of that will be in London visiting family, but I'm trying to decide where to spend the other half of my trip. Right now I'm tentatively planning on Lisbon, but I'm certainly open to suggestions. Any ideas?

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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby Highlander » Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:40 am

ColumbusParkian wrote:OK i know this thread is pretty old now, but hey MLind...

last year in London I had a few instances where I couldn't use my debit cards, but this was mostly at retail shops where the clerks didn't know how to use my card. Still, I eventually had to use the cash that I had on hand. I'd recommend carrying a "stupid store clerk" slush fund.


In other news:

I'm heading to Europe for 10 days in May. Half of that will be in London visiting family, but I'm trying to decide where to spend the other half of my trip. Right now I'm tentatively planning on Lisbon, but I'm certainly open to suggestions. Any ideas?


Lisbon and the Portugese coast reminds me a bit of San Francisco without the tall buildings.  It's a great place to go and there are some nice places in the surrounding countryside.  We drove up the coast, went to Sintra (via train) and also visited some of the small beautiful towns in the countryside and made a strange trip to Avilla and Segovia Spain while there (strange because it was the middle of winter and almost did not make it back because of heavy snow and some pretty nervous driving).

I'd also recommend Rome/Amalfi Coast in Italy, particularly for that time of year, and Provence/Cote du Azur in France.  Either of those are rich in things to do and asolutely breathtaking scenery wise.   

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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby ignatius » Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:58 pm

Had a long 3-week trip over last holiday through Morocco/Spain and Portugal.   Two nights in Lisbon.

Lisbon wouldn't be on the top of my list if you haven't been to other areas of Europe.  While fascinating to see what Portugal is, and I'm glad I did, Lisbon came across to me as a pretty generic Euro city.  The times are really hard there now and graffiti is a serious problem, much worse than Madrid.  Many buildings are not taken care of... and I don't mean in the quaint rustic way but in functional and unused buildings that are literally crumbling down with no upkeep.  I could see the San Fran parallels as they have the GG like bridge, the cable cars and a wide-mouthed river more like a bay.  The small towns on the Atlantic side were more interesting.

BTW, a curious experience in Lisbon... we had lunch in a neighborhood place.  It took us a while to find a place that could speak english or spanish as we didn't have a clue of the menu.  Portugal is a bizarre anomaly as you wouldn't figure it was surrounded by spain.  The dancing is more like Belgian square dance and the tone of speak is as well i thought.  Anyroad, before ordering the restaurant served us bread, a small round of cheese, some butter packets, packaged cheese and small pate packets in the size of butter packets.  I had a fish that was something like trout (served whole) and it was great.  It turned out to be a >60 euro lunch between the two of use for a small non-descript neighborhood diner.  While I had one glass of cheap wine, they charged for the cheese and each individual packet, even the butter packet was 1.5 euro.  Is obvious they were taking advantage of the Americans but from what I understood later, charging down to the butter packet is common.

Also visited Madrid, Seville, Granada, Costa del Sol area, Toledo, Salamanca... Seville and the walled city of Toledo were my favorites in Spain.   In Morocco, we hit Fes, Marrakech, Casablanca, Rabat and Tangier... also visited a Berber family (indigenous people of that region) in the atlas mountains outside of Marakech, an absolutely fantastic experience.  Casablanca was quite dumpy.  Fes is the real Morocco (other than the desert of S Morocco), the labyrinth of the medina was amazing.  As was the tannery, a step back to year 600. Also rode a camel, woohoo.
Last edited by ignatius on Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby Highlander » Sun Feb 13, 2011 1:17 pm

ignatius wrote:Also visited Madrid, Seville, Granada, Costa del Sol area, Toledo, Salamanca... Seville and the walled city of Toledo were my favorites in Spain.  


Yea, another great itenerary is Andulusia.  I did Toledo, Seville and Granada (as well as Ronda and Gibralter) on the same trip and it was excellent.  While I liked Seville and Toledo, Granada (particulrlay the Alhambra) was among my favorite places in Europe.  I loved the setting with the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the backdrop of the Alhambra.  Granada itself is not so great (it's not bad either) but the Alhambra and adjacent Generalife were very much worth the effort. 

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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby ignatius » Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:18 pm

Yeah we hit the Alhambra outside Granada.  As you'd probably expect, palaces and cathedral tours aren't exactly my thing.  But as those go, it was impressive, especially the waterways and engineering behind the infrastructure.


CP, you also said London.  If you've already been to the London highlights, a couple things I suggest...  there are flea type arts/crafts markets off piccadilly square.  not like arts/crafts you'd think in the states but amazing items still made with old world craft and can be had dirt cheap.  i don't know the name of the district but i really dug it and have many items from the markets.

another offbeat thing to checkout is the hackney area and find a pub that performs story telling in 'cockney rhyme slang'.  a guy i knew from east london attending berkeley school of music... i actually met him at tonic in lower east side nyc, when i used to write cryptic vignettes for a nyc based jazz site and that was the hangout.  he took me to a pub in hackney where in the back room they tell stories in cockney.  this wasn't for tourists, this was a neighborhood where they still tell stories for each other.  it was bad enough that i couldn't understand east london accent very well and even worse cockney, but it was still amazing.  they'd tell a story about perhaps a mouse that took over a factory and then some jazz quartet would do a tune.  someone tells another story (usually working class stories) then another jazz trio performs a tune.  the guy i knew was familiar with my stories and told me to go on stage and tell a story i wrote about frying ants with magnifying glass under a bubble soap dome.  wasn't prepared to do it but he volunteered me and i actually did it and got a great response.  anyway, amazing experience enough just to hear cockney stories. i believe this guy, nathaniel catchpole is still performing in london... perhaps if you search for where he is performing you'll end up in a cockney rhyme slang pub in e london.

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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby ColumbusParkian » Sun Feb 13, 2011 6:20 pm

wow Ignatius, that sounds pretty damn cool. thanks for the heads up!

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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby phuqueue » Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:13 pm

@ignatius, I really liked Lisbon in the three or four days I was there and actually had the opposite experience that you did, I found it to be dirt cheap (this was in 2009).  I grabbed dinner at some restaurant in the city center for like, nine euros, and when I dropped into a shop to buy bottled water while I was wandering around (it was July, very hot out), 330ml bottles sold for eight cents.  I don't speak Portuguese so I was absolutely certain I was misreading the price tag somehow, but I carried a couple bottles up to the counter anyway and she rang it up, 16 cents.  And of course, bottles of wine are practically free, but that's not unique to Portugal.

@Highlander, in all your travels in Europe, did you ever make it up to Galicia?  I've really wanted to get up there and explore the area a bit, but I've never had the chance yet.  I'd be interested to know what you thought of it, if you've been there.

One other question, as long as this thread's been revived: I'm going to Iceland next month and planning to rent a car to drive the ring road.  Anything I should know about renting a car in Europe?  Do you need to get an international license (and if so, is it already too late a month out or do those come in pretty quickly)?

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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby ignatius » Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:28 pm

on morocco, here are a few pics i took of a family we visited at the foothills of the atlas mountains outside marrakech.  they served us a wonderful bread similar to naan with a sweet dipping sauce, a pungent aged butter, olive oil, along with crazy sweet mint tea.  moroccans are addicted to sugar and have serious issues with diabetes, which they ignore.  the guy in the middle of second pic was our guide, abdul.  there are no words to describe this experience.  i feared our presence as observers and gawkers would have cheapened them to an animal zoo but it wasn't that at all.

Image

Image

Image

Image
Last edited by ignatius on Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby Highlander » Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:39 pm

phuqueue wrote:@Highlander, in all your travels in Europe, did you ever make it up to Galicia?  I've really wanted to get up there and explore the area a bit, but I've never had the chance yet.  I'd be interested to know what you thought of it, if you've been there.

One other question, as long as this thread's been revived: I'm going to Iceland next month and planning to rent a car to drive the ring road.  Anything I should know about renting a car in Europe?  Do you need to get an international license (and if so, is it already too late a month out or do those come in pretty quickly)?


Never made it to Galicia.  Wanted to but just a little too out of the way.  

Some say you need an international license but I never used one, although I did have a British or Norwegian license the whole time.  I got one to go to Greece and did not need it and in Iceland, I kind of doubt if it would be required since everyone will speak English.  I would check into it to make sure with whomever you set up the rental with but I doubt if it is a necessity.  We got our international license for Greece in a day at the post office in the UK.   A good place to rent a vehicle is Auto Europe (they do not rent cars themselves but find good deals).  Whatever you do, book ahead.
http://www.autoeurope.com/
(It is a voucher system, however, so no changing the contract once you arrive)

You won't generally need Liability as it normally comes with the car in Europe but I do recommend collision.  Your local insurance probably won't cover you but your Master Charge probably does. Driving should be easy in Iceland as they drive on the right and there is little traffic although I think they are a "yield to the right" country which means you have to yield the right a way to cars entering from the right unless you are on a yellow diamond road.  That throws a few Americans off.  Expect rentals to be very expensive in Iceland as they are throughout Scandinavia.  

I hope the info is accurate.   I did my travelling essentially as a European and I know it's a bit different coming from the US.            

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Re: Overseas Travel

Postby phuqueue » Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:54 pm

Thanks a ton for the info, I'd been kind of looking around on the Icelandic embassy website and their official tourism site and places like that but coming up empty.  I googled around a bit but never really know how much to trust random sites that come up so I'm glad to get it from someone who knows from experience.


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