I need ideas

I am a teacher and have a long stretch of time available for travel every summer. I would like to rent a house somewhere for 4 to 5 weeks to really get the feel of a place. I am a seasoned traveler and find myself with no decided preference about where we end up. I will be with 2 ninth graders and have a budget for accommodation of about $4,000. I have a few months to make up my mind about where we spend the summer so Any and all suggestions are appreciated.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

Philippines. Get a copy of the Philippines Travel guide by Jens Peters.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17788 posts

Terri, Since you posted here, are you also considering places in Europe? If so there are an enormous number of choices. You could consider smaller towns in France, Italy, Germany, Spain or perhaps eastern Europe. Which area do you think would be most interesting for your group in terms of culture, language, etc. Are your children taking any second language courses in school? A stay in Europe would give them a bit of an "immersion experience". Good luck and happy travels!

Posted by Terri
Seattle, Washington, United States
7 posts

Ken, we are up for darn near anywhere! We went to Paris / Italy in 2010, Beijing in 2011, and Fiji in 2012. I would like it if the kids had a chance to take art or language classes but it isn't a deal breaker. We travel on the cheap so smaller towns and cities with solid train and bus service are better. One kid really wants to go to Peru, the other is not lobbying for anyplace yet.

Posted by Terri
Seattle, Washington, United States
7 posts

Eastern Europe - I'm liking the sound of that. Anyone have info on longer term stays in Slovenia, Croatia or Montenegro?

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17788 posts

Terri, Peru wouldn't be high on my list of travel destinations. You may find it informative to read this, especially the "Threats to Safety" and "Crime" sections: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_998.html#safety No country is absolutely safe, but IMO the risk is considerably higher in South America vs Europe. Slovenia is certainly one place to consider and also Croatia or other locations. However, for stays in Croatia and other Balkan countries, it would be a good idea to be extremely careful if you're planning any hiking in areas "off the beaten path". There are still areas that haven't been cleared of Mines since the 1990's war, and that includes the Plitvice municipality outside the park boundary. Other locations you could consider are Spain and Portugal. What about Krakow, Warsaw or the Czech Republic (Cesky Krumlov)? Cheers!

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

It seems a bit rough to blast a whole continent for what a few buttheads do in one country. Do I have to sell the shanty in Argentina? :) Non-European suggestions in order: Ghana, South Korea, Taiwan, Botswana, Tasmania, Hokkaido, Chile. European suggestions in order: Portugal, Romania, Spain.

Posted by James
Frisco
1803 posts

You can rent a nice 2 bedroom apartment in the heart of Budapest for four weeks for about $2,000.00. Or get a one bedroom with a pull out sofa and save even more. A month metro card will cost about $50 for each of you providing you unlimited transportation in Budapest. Good for river taxi transfers as well. Train ticket to visit Vienna for the day will cost you about $35.00 each (rent a hotel room and stay a few days if you want). If you plan in advance and stay away for two or three nights you can probably check out and keep your discount for the long duration. Overnight train trip to Eger or Pec for a night will cost about $250 for the three of you / hotel and train fare. Guided trip 5 days from Budapest through Romania and back to Budapest would be about $2,000 all inclusive including the hotels, but not food (deduct about $350 from the apartment cost as you can check out for the time you are away) Opera, Operett, Ballet, Music performances will cost $10 to $50 per ticket depending on the quality of the seats. These are world class performances in spectacular baroque and modern venues. But a lot is closed from mid June on. But Budapest does have one of the best known outdoor music festivals every summer; Classical to Rock and everything in between. There is some sort of celebration or festival almost every week all summer long.

Posted by James
Frisco
1803 posts

High School kids will learn from the stories of the Jewish ghetto and the tragedy of WWII and might have a blast in the hospital / nuclear fallout shelter buried in the Buda hills (now a museum). Spelunking also available in the caves of Buda. How about an outdoor museum full of communist propaganda statues? This town is a gem for education; especially WWII through Communism. Most of the reminders and lessons still stand. Haven't even begun to discuss side trips into Slovakia or even Croatia or a dozen more day trips around Hungary. Budapest is among the safest major cities in Europe. Here is some idea of costs: Consumer price in Budapest 31% lower than in Seattle Restaurant prices in Budapest 42% lower than Seattle
Grocery prices in Budapest 50% lower than Seattle

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2612 posts

Non-European... take a look at Guatemala...really reasonable, lots of Spanish schools, and a wonderful indigenous culture. Tikal...mayan ruins, Lake Atitilan (look like Lake of Constance,,,surrounded by mountaine) Chichicastenango (biggest market in Central America) I know a great guest house in Antigua that is beautiful and reasonable that includes all your meals for about $150 per person for the week. Blanco (the cook) is amazing. You could add a week or so in Belize.
European... I would second Romania. I loved it there and the countryside (especially Transylvania) is beautiful. Very reasonably priced and you could add Budapest for a week or so.

Posted by James
Frisco
1803 posts
Posted by James
Frisco
1803 posts

I forgot formal classes. I know of a couple of cooking schools and dance classes and I am certain we could find music and language classes (not that I know what your kids would do with Hungarian). This is a pretty unique society where there are more book stores than grocery stores. I have been to a number of countries in Europe and I have never seen a place with so many book stores. They take education very personally and seriously so I would bet with a little lead time we could find private history instructors or ....? Budapest as a classroom for 19th and 20th century history is a little like Rome as a classroom for 1st Century history. The list of inventions that came out of Hungary is pretty long and includes the common, obscure and above my head like: Absolute Geometry, Active Matrix, Ballpoint Pen, Gomboc, Holography, Rubik Cube and the Thermographic Camera. But what is more interesting is not what they necessarily invented but what the contributed to such as the U.S. motion picture industry and the development of the atomic bomb. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Hungarians

Posted by Terri
Seattle, Washington, United States
7 posts

So many GREAT ideas, thank, thank you thank you!

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2702 posts

Hi, Tackling a foreign language head on is a great idea for the 9th graders. Have they indicated any preference for any foreign language study at all? Which ones? Italian, German, French, Spanish. Here is a chance for not only learning French, German, etc. but also acquiring the accent in an immersion setting since you'll be there over a month...a very good opportunity. "...with no decided preference...." Good, you still have an open mind as to weighing all factors pro and con before arriving at a decision.

Posted by Nelly
Calgary
211 posts

This reply isn't about where but about how. Have you considered home exchange instead of renting? It's our favorite way to travel and to stay longer as well as be more immersed in local life. And of course it cuts your travel budget in half. There are a number of reputable online subscription sites that help you arrange exchanges. I belong to two, and regularly get interesting offers (just today got one from a place in Provence.) Since you have to find an exchange partner interested in your place and dates, it adds some serendipity to where you go each year, which it sounds like you enjoy. We love it and it's always our first choice for vacations. We only rent or stay in hotels to fill in dates around the edges of our trips.

Posted by Terri
Seattle, Washington, United States
7 posts

I think an exchange would be great,and I look forward to trying it someday, but my husband will only be with us for half of the trip and our college age son may be home. Mostly I have been scoping out the Air B and B website to get an idea on potential costs.
I have been checking out Budapest and it looks like a very exciting place. San Miguel de Allende has also been passed around because of the many art classes for available for teens. I like to paint and mosaic so those are also interests.

Posted by James
Frisco
1803 posts

Terri In case you couldn't tell, I enjoy Budapest. AirBnB and Flip Key are both good sources. My preference is a real management company rather than an individual as there is probably a better chance of consistent service levels when it's a business vs. a hobby.

Posted by James
Frisco
1803 posts

Next look for location. Budapest is a big town and while it has an outstanding and sometimes fun metro system; why be on it if you don't have to. The big tourist zone is Vaci utca and the river embankment but that sort of means that you want to be able to get to it easy but you don't necessarily want to be there. The most fascinating part of the city in my opinion is District VII (the old Jewish quarter). Buda on the other side of the river has the castle hill but that's also heavily tourist orientated and at that only good for a day or two. The hills beyond the castle district are beautiful residential areas but sort of removed from the heart of the city. The cheaper apartments will be near or between the Astoria and Kalvin metro stops but this really isn't the greatest place to wander in the evenings and it is somewhat removed from the best of the city. My recommendation is to get out a map, draw a line down the center of Andrassy from the Oktogon metro stop and on to the river. Then look a block or two above the line or maybe three blocks below the line. This is the general area we decided to purchase in for our vacation getaway after a dozens of visits; so this is my personal preference. This puts you close to Andrassy, Kiraly and District VII which are all three excellent places to wander, sit, drink coffee, have a meal, and be laid back in the evenings. Or if you are into ruin pubs they are very near as well as is the Opera and the Operett theater. If you come, the time is important too. Most of the indoor theaters close down for the summer mid to the end of June. But that's when the outdoor concerts and festivals begin. This is a pretty fair source of information: http://visitbudapest.travel/budapest-events/

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
683 posts

Terri - I'm sure you've noticed that several of the places mentioned would be in their winter if you visited in your summer. If that is not a problem for you, then I recommend New Zealand. It is, of course, one of the top three best countries in the world (I'd put it number 2, but many others would say number 1). With 4 or 5 weeks, I'd split between a base in the lower part of the South Island and the middle of the North Island. However, to repeat, I would check how you feel about the weather if you are going in our summer.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2612 posts

Terri... As you mentioned San Miguel I will comment that having been there and loving it, it is not a choice I would make with 2 teens for that length of time. It is really a rather small place and about 10 days with a few day trips would be tops for me, even with taking some art classes. If I remember correctly the Spanish classes were quite expensive. There were tons of Americans when I was there... felt like I was in Texas as it is a huge travel destination for lots of people from Texas... so obviously has lots of beautiful hotels, etc. If you do Mexico, a few other locations that are fun are Ixtapa and Oaxaca...so you could do a tour of Mexico with a few different locations (but if I were heading in that direction I would still opt for Guatemala:))

Posted by Terri
Seattle, Washington, United States
7 posts

Guatemala? That is intriguing as well. The main reason for spending a chunk of time somewhere is I want the kids to really feel a sense of place. I didn't realize San Miguel DA was so small and the expat community was so influential but I have been hearing that from a few sources. While not a bad thing, I want the kids to to experience a real paradigm shift (not paradigm shock, but enough feeling of "other" to make them recognize and begin to understand their North American filters.)

Posted by James
Frisco
1803 posts

Antigua Guatemala is beautiful http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/65 My wife is from the region so we spend some time in Central America every year. Will be in Honduras for Christmas this year. Have to say I would rather be in Budapest, but such is life. Guatemala is lovely, as is the whole region, but you have to exercise a little extra caution everywhere outise of Costa Rica and the Bay Islands.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2612 posts

Terri.. if you are seriously interested in Guatemala I can give you any info I have. I have been about 5 times and this April took my 12 year od grandson. I love the culture as well as it is an extremely affordable place for me to go in the winter and the weather is great when it is cold here in Mi. I know summer might be a bit rainier, but I would still go then. Costa Rica is also a nice place, but does not have the Mayan culture that Guatemala does. There are also lots of people who go there on missions and if I had the time with one of the kids I would sign up for a Habitat for Humanity week. There was a family I met there one year with three kids and that is what they were doing. Also great Spanish schools in Antigua.