Travel Q&A

Australia, You Devil

By Andrea Sachs
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 16, 2006

Q. We plan to honeymoon in Australia and New Zealand. Any recommendations on how two high-energy people can see as many animals and unique sights as possible?

Lee Conger, Alexandria

A. Australia and New Zealand will tire you out before you tire of them. In New Zealand, you can tramp along the Great Walks trails, explore 14 national parks and get a rush in Queenstown, the "Adventure Capital of the World."And in Australia, the physical agenda includes diving the Great Barrier Reef, rock-climbing at Grampians and hiking the Blue Mountains or the Great Ocean Road, where sights include seals, whales and the Twelve Apostles.

However, to cut down on travel time yet still keep up the activity level, consider the Australian island of Tasmania, a popular vacation haunt among adventurous Aussies. "The island is a one-stop shop for wilderness and outdoor adventure," says Tourism Tasmania's Claire Ellis. "You can get your feet dirty by day and be pampered at night."

Just 124 miles from Melbourne, the West Virginia-size Tasmania is a mix of both countries: It has the "dramatic mountains and rocky outcrops" of New Zealand, Ellis says, and the laid-back culture of mainland Australia. The island also has several wildlife parks, such as Bonorong, where kangaroos and koalas co-mingle with Tasmanian devils and potoroos.

One of Tasmania's best long-distance hikes is the 38-mile Overland Track, which slices through the interior. You can hike it solo and stay in rustic public huts along the way, or trek with a small group, stay in cushy private cabins and have someone else lug your gear. Cradle Mountain Huts ( ), for example, offers a six-day adventure for $1,714 per person double, including meals.

When you're ready to crawl out of the bush, Hobart is an artsy harborside city with renovated warehouses and luxury hotels, such as the Henry Jones Art Hotel (011-61-3-6210-7700, ; from $190). And when the adrenaline kicks up again, you can grab a mountain bike and fly down 4,000-foot Mount Wellington, just outside the city.

Info: Tourism Tasmania, .

We're planning a summer vacation in Poland with our young daughters. What are some kid-friendly places and activities?

Amy Alapati, Damascus

With its parks (real and manmade), diverse cities and castles, Poland is a playground for children. "Poland offers unlimited attractions for children depending on where in Poland you are staying," Jake Wolosz, of the Polish National Tourist Office (201-420-9910, ), wrote in an e-mail. "There are horseback-riding classes, sailing, museums, art and theatre events especially for kids. . . . I suggest concentrating on two major cities mostly visited by tourists, such as Warsaw and Krakow."

Warsaw's tourist office lists kid-friendly activities on its Web site ( , such as gondola rides at Lazienki Park and zoological gardens. Bozena Zajda, of the Orbis Polish Travel Bureau (800-TO-POLAND, ), also recommends the playrooms at the Blue City mall (think Ikea child care). Krakow has similar distractions, including Fantasy Park ( ) and Park Wodny, a water park ( ). The country has at least 20 castles, but Krakow's Wawel Royal Castle is a real kid-pleaser -- thanks to its fire-breathing dragon statue and Dragon's Den.

If the children need fresh air, Zakopane is a mountain resort in the Tatras that offers summertime cable-car rides, hiking, wooden churches and a market selling handmade toys and other handicrafts. At mealtime, many restaurants feature such picky-eater fare as dumplings and apple cakes, served by waiters in traditional dress. In addition, if your children want to see how Polish kids spend their summer break, catch a train to the Mazurian lake district, where young campers go to canoe, swim, fish and play with others.

Is there an easy way to find all nonstop flights from the D.C. area to international cities?

M. Cotter, Potomac

For Reagan National and Dulles airports, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's Web site ( ) has a printable guide listing the schedules of all domestic and international flights, including the number of stops (or lack thereof). The Web site also has a tool (click on Flight Information, then Flight Schedules) that lets you search for flights for a specific destination on a specific date, with the option to plug in airlines; the results include number of stops. For BWI, the airport's Web site ( ) has a similar schedule that is also available in print form at BWI.

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@, fax (202-912-3609) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Include your name and home town.

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