You know, it's only fair that I acknowledge all the stuff from my travels... before I return to the real world tomorrow (Monday). Woo hoo. The real world! I'm so excited! For the real check!
Best: St. Petersburg - I expected danger and chaos; I got elegance and bright nights; it's all about expectations
Good: Amsterdam - besides the red light district and the coffeeshops, there are also beautiful canals on the trip. Get it? Good trip.
Bad: Ibiza - I'm no longer capable of partying till 8am
Ugly: Copenhagen - For $10, we thought she'd bring a pitcher of beer. We got a half glass.
Best: Loire Valley - home made food is always better; French hospitality cannot be beat
Good: France - Set menus make the meals easy and cheap to order
Bad: Copenhagen - See above. The same case for food.
Ugly: Barcelona - 80% of the restaurants we wanted to go to were closed or full or rude
Best: Paris - I'm going with Amorino instead of Berthillon; in ice cream, size matters
Good: Maxibon - if you don't know Maxibon (Wiki this!), you need to
Bad: Ice cream at Hungarian bath - it melted so bad that I pulled the stick out and had to use the stick to scoop the ice cream out of the wrapping
Ugly: What? Ice cream cannot be ugly
Best: Homemade in Budapest - nice and quiet place for, uh, more mature travelers
Good: Wombat in Munich - nice and noisy place for, uh, more active travelers
Bad: Absalon in Copenhagen - we're cheap, what can I say
Ugly: St. Petersburg - BaBITCHka (see below) was at war with the hostel
Best: Peeter - not only was Peeter 7 feet tall with a deep voice, he also dances and says "it's big" when I asked him about the size of the soup
Good: Casper - the friendly ghost is more like the drunk ghost. He greeted us at Friendly Fun Frank (hostel in Riga) by telling us he's been drinking 208 days straight
Bad: French hotel - we though we were getting complimentary breakfast cus the reception told us so. Not quite, says the new receptionist "they made a mistake." Well then, here's your seven euros.
Ugly: Babitchka - she was at war with the hostel and we were collateral damage. She didn't let us into the building, making two of us sleep at another hostel and two of us barely got into the building. Plus all the yelling and screaming at us when we pass by her.
Best: Hermitage - it's not exactly structured like a museum, but the collection was fantastic and the self guided tour was pretty good as well
Good: d'Orsay, Louvre - I can't really think of a reason why they aren't as good as the Hermitage... besides a somewhat snobbish attitude that tells you "you should see this"
Bad: Russian Political museum - well, not that I was expecting more, but the propaganda was anti-Stalin (deservedly so, perhaps) and gave the rest of the museum less credibility, which is a shame
Ugly: Anne Frank - lines were at least 2 hours long. I couldn't even get in.
Best: Even though Sagrada Familia's elevators didn't work (they did, but the wait was too long and the stairs weren't in operation), it still ranked as the best I've visited. It's just a fascinating piece of work by God's Architect Gaudi, who didn't use much drawings in making his buildings
Good: Russian Orthodox Church in Helsinki - we took a long long nap there, soaking in the views from the city of Helsinki
Bad: Notre Dame - we tried three times to get to the top to no avail. Museum pass didn't work there. And the inside had so many people that I felt sorry for the real worshipers.
Ugly: All the others - honestly, I'm sick of visiting cathedrals. It's really not that bad since you can choose to be there for only 2 minutes.
Best: Neuschwanstein - skip the tour of the castle. The view of it from Mary's Bridge, however, is a must-see. It inspired Disney's main castle.
Good: Trakai Castle in Vilnius - it's a bit touristy, but the nearby lakes make the castle area a very relaxing and fun.
Bad: Suomenlinna in Helsinki - this castle / fortress was built by the Swedes against the Russians. It is now integrated into the vegetation and has very little to see, unless you count the extremely expensive coffee shops on the island.
Ugly: Hohensalzberg in Salzberg. We didn't even go in because of the price. And the hike was a bitch. The view from the top is quite nice though.
Best: Peterhof in St Petersburg - the Summer Palace for Peter the Great had tons of fountains that were all designed differently. My favorite was the rotating one, although most people fall in love with the Grand Cascade.
Good: Residenz fountain was very nice though not grand
Bad: Versailles - well, they weren't turned on...
Ugly: Concorde - just didn't think the fountain matched the place
Best: FlyNiki - there are some sure things in life; when a fly (the insect) speaks about safety onboard, you listen. FlyNiki.
Good: Oasis - low cost international traveling, why didn't anyone think of that before!?
Bad: ClickAir - as EasyJet's two counters handled their entire flight, one counter at ClickAir (the one I am lining up at) checks in three passengers
Ugly: British Airways - you are ugly if you loose every Ibiza-London-Amsterdam luggage
Best: The Scandinavian airports - clean and efficient, they even had automated belts to deliver the plastic containers where you put your laptop and personal belongings back to the head of the line
Good: Biking tours around Europe - most cities are flat and bikes allow the tours to go further away and save walking time
Bad: Rental bikes did not work in Copenhagen or Helsinki; people kept stealing them for their own use
Ugly: Budapest has the oldest metro in continental Europe. It probably still is. The validation machines don't work and you need to validate when you switch metro lines. It's confusing as hell and they aren't shy about fining tourists for not validating their tickets
Best: Eyewitness - with illustrative pictures and a bit of history, EW gives the traveler plenty of information to choose from
Good: Lonely Planet, Rick Steves - it depends on what you want. LP does a good job for the DIY travelers, while RS gives you a lot of suggestions. Beware of RS's hand drawn maps though.
Bad: Let's Go - they put thumbs up on several tourist traps... though the pointers on how to get there cheap was good
Ugly: Let's Go - half the restaurants aren't where they are