Attempting the Modern “Grand Tour” – Any Travel tips and Advice?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION Attempting the Modern “Grand Tour” – Any Travel tips and Advice?

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    Amy Ng

    Hello Everyone,

    I recently quit my job to do some traveling before I finish the UC Berkeley Extension Landscape Architecture program. I would really appreciate some travel advice on places to see and tips for traveling by yourself. I’ve been dreaming about traveling ever since I graduated from college eons ago and now is my chance!

    My current itinerary include Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto in April. I’ll be in Europe for the month of May and so far on my list is Paris, Rome, Florence, Sienna, and the ones I’m still deciding on are Athens and Barcelona. So if you have been to Europe or Japan or have heard about great places there, please send me any and all comments and tips. It would be appreciated.
    I can’t think of a better way to advance my knowledge of landscape than to see and feel it in person.


    Andrew Spiering

    You are awesome! Sounds like a great trip… I think Jim Chappell would be a good resource! Also, my wife and I just went this last summer to Italy and saw some fantastic places…

    Venice- Piazza San Marco
    Santa Margherita & Portofino – Everywhere
    Lucca – the wall and gardens (rent a bike), Piazza San Michelle, Piazza Napoleoni
    Sienna – Central plaza
    Rome – uhh… lots! Although I really liked the Campidoglio

    Kevin J. Gaughan

    Amy…sounds like it is going to be a great trip! I took off 3 months last year and backpacked around Europe. I would definitely recommend Paris, I only spent 2 days there and it was one of the biggest regrets of my trip. Rome is a must, but truthfully i enjoyed Florence more. If you had to pick between going back to Athens or going back to Barcelona, I would pick Barcelona in a second…Its a very vibrant city with a lot of cool design and fun things to do!

    One city that is not on your list that I would suggest, however, is Munich. It’s not that far from Vienna, and is totally worth the time. If I learned one thing from my trip, it was that Germans know how to design and live in cities! Freiburg is also really nice and not that far away…

    I wish I could give some Japan suggestions, but I am still awaiting my chance to visit there.

    Do you know how you are going to travel yet when in Europe?

    Here is a link to some of my pics from my travels: (alot of these are fun ones…i will try to post some LA related ones later)

    Good Luck!

    Jane W

    Hi Amy,

    Barcelona is a must-see for landscape architects. Don’t miss Antonio Gaudi’s work all over the city. If you’re looking for urban design inspiration, Bordeaux would be a side-visit in France. The newly constructed tramway is the “thing” gleaming thru the city.


    Kevin J. Gaughan

    How are your travels going? We would love to hear a little bit of an update if you get a chance! And maybe even see a couple pictures if you are really feeling really energetic!

    Hope the trip is going great!

    Amy Ng

    HI Kevin,

    Thanks so much for your posts! I am currently in Tokyo on my last few days in Japan. It has been amazing! I toured many of the sites in Tokyo (and saw some cherry blossoms!), ate very well in Osaka, and was blown away by some of the temples in Kyoto. I will post a few pictures when I get a chance. I wanted to mentioned that despite my lack of Japanese skills I was able to find my way to sites in Japan. I got lost A LOT and relied the kindness of strangers to set me straight. Everyone I asked for help were really kind to me. It helps a lot to learn about the cultural ways in Japan before you go and a few Japanese words like thank you and sorry.

    My plans for Europe haven’t moved forward much and I’m a little worried. since I am trying to hit several cities in a short amount of time do you think the train is the way to go? Would it be better to fly? I heard the airlines have very restricted limits on baggage. I also am wondering if you reserved your hotels ahead of time or did you find a place when you got there. Any thoughts?

    Amy Ng

    Hi Cat,

    Thanks for such great advice. I am currently in Tokyo and am having a great time. I am still in the process of planning my itinerary for Europe especially lodging. Where are you off to this summer? Sounds like you’ll be in Europe as well?


    Andrew Spiering

    Man, everyone is travelling! When are you heading out?

    Andrew Spiering

    Where is Amy now?


    Have you gone to Barcelona yet? You must clear at least a half day to see La Sagrada Familia. It is the most inspirational, original piece of architecture I’ve ever laid eyes upon. I’d recommend getting the audio tour, because they explain a lot about the symbolism and inspiration for the architecture. My favorite part is the pillars of the cathedral, modeled after the redwoods of California.

    You might be able to find some cheap lodging at Cheaper than a hotel but more than a hostel.


    My sister’s been traveling since she graduated in 2005 and she has a great blog with photos from the places you’ve listed- .. though her experience was primarily from the “meet new people” point of view with some epic landscapes for a backdrop…

    Les Ballard

    Well, bon voyage and good luck – i wish i’d had a go at that, but I will be planning a trip for the autumn.

    A guy with a depression problem became a TV gardner and has recently had a stroke. By googling Monty Don, however, you will find sites about his relatively recent global trip to see the greatest gardens. (The series has been on TV.) This has to be a must for us lot and, though it is both coals to newcastle / busman’s holiday and viewable anytime, it is a good idea to see the locations online so you do not miss some fantastic places if you go there – I would think.

    Personally, I like ancient history and veer towards those sites. However, if stuck with the classical – and this is something I fancy – I would walk across sites in Turkey and Asia Minor picking up the odd bits of history still lying around. There have been no digs there to date, hardly but, beware getting locked up for treasure theft. There are things in museums not as good as what has been lying on the surface for 3000 years. The landscapes may also be a bit of a change.

    Yours, Les Ballard

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