Bubbly in Berlin
Friday, September 22, 2006; 11:06 AM
Q. We're meeting friends in Europe for New Year's Eve. Do you know of any cities in Belgium or Germany with festive events?
Christine Newman, Derwood, Md.
A. In Berlin, a million revelers gather on New Year's Eve for "the biggest party on the continent, if not in the world," says Kirsten Schmidt, spokeswoman for Berlin Tourism Marketing North America ( http:/
"If I wanted to be wild, crazy and hip, I'd go to Berlin," says Victoria Larson, spokeswoman for the German National Tourist Board (212-661-7200, http:/
In the southern German city, locals attend the "Die Fledermaus" performance at the Bavarian State Opera ( http:/
For a mellower scene, head to Belgium. Belgian Tourist Office spokeswoman Liliane Opsomer says New Year's Eve celebrations usually involve eating and drinking till midnight. It's also a night to splurge, and Brussels, for example, has a number of Michelin-starred restaurants. And go ahead and swill that champagne: Partyers can ride the buses for free. Info: 212-758-8130, http:/
Is there a cruise that goes to and through the South Pacific, excluding Hawaii?
Mary Raitt, Washington
Most cruise ships that depart from the United States swing through the Hawaiian Islands en route to the South Pacific, mainly to let vacationers stretch their land legs. "The majority of cruises that leave from the West Coast will stop in Hawaii first," says Diann Smith, travel consultant with Cruise Experts (800-625-5139, http:/
When deciding on a Polynesian cruise, there are a few factors to consider: length of trip, number of at-sea days and air travel preferences. For a cruise from San Diego to such islands as Tahiti, Rangoroa and Moorea, the sojourn can last anywhere from 23 to 28 days; for just Polynesia, the trip is usually 10 or so days. Sea times also greatly differ; you'll spend eight or nine landless days for the former, two or three for the latter. As for flight times to the departure port: Expect five hours to the West Coast vs. 12-plus hours to Tahiti.
If you choose Polynesia without Hawaii, Smith recommends Princess Cruises (800-774-6237, http:/
Three friends would like to spend their special birthdays in Big Sur, Calif. Can you recommend a resort?
Linda Rosendorf, Rockville
With its bluffs and boundless Pacific views, Big Sur is an ideal setting for a party. But venues are limited. "In Big Sur, you have low end and high end; there's no middle ground," says Diane Allen, who runs Elegant Events (831-625-3523, http:/
Of the Big Sur resorts, Allen recommends the Ventana Inn and Spa (831-667-2331, http:/
Heading north to Carmel, you'll find more lodging options, including Pebble Beach Resorts (800-654-9300, http:/
Send queries by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.