TRAVEL Q&A

All Pink and Turquoise

By Scott Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 6, 2008

Q. My wife is interested in going to the Bahamian island of Eleuthera. She says it has pink sand. What can you tell me about it that the travel ads don't say? What should we be on guard against?

Maurice Watkins, Landover

A. I'm not sure how this is going to play in your household, Mr. Watkins, but your wife will get nothing but encouragement from us when it comes to this tiny island 60 miles east of Nassau. And we're not alone: Dieter Schoop is with us. He's another married man like yourself, one who took an early retirement in 1997, moving with his wife from Zurich to Eleuthera. Finding that he was still too young to sit on a park bench and watch the pink sand -- which some describe as closer to peach, natch -- Schoop got the idea to start a quite informative Web site, http://www.discover-eleuthera-bahamas.com. He is not affiliated with Bahamian tourist authorities but merely one man who fell in love with an island halfway around the world from his home and is using Internet access to full advantage.

"I'm really excited to be able to let your readers know about our little paradise of peace and tranquillity," he told me, with "tranquillity" being the operative word. Because though tourism has been on the upswing for years on this skinny, 110-mile-long island surrounded by turquoise, it remains a get-away-from-it-all, beach-house kind of place, with plenty of restaurants but not the midnight-oil night life of other islands in the area. Two of the better-known resorts are the Cove (800-552-5960, http://www.thecoveeleuthera.com) on Eleuthera's northern arm, where doubles start at $235 a night, and the condo hotel Pineapple Fields in Governor's Harbour (877-677-9539, http://www.pineapplefields.com), where doubles start at $240 a night.

As for what the travel ads don't say, Schoop says that bug repellent is a must, "because if there's no wind after sunrise [or] one hour before sunset, there are sand flies." Some visitors also "take frozen meat to the island," as it can be expensive in the grocery stores, though keep in mind that fruit and vegetables cannot be imported. There seems little else to worry about. Then again, on the day we visited the Web site of the island's newspaper, the Eleutheran ( http://www.theeleutheran.com), several five-foot sharks had been spotted near the shore. Still, they hardly disturbed the residents' tranquillity or the paper's reporter. Sample quote: "Though swimming wasn't an attractive option, the sight of the aquatic visitors was quite special in its own right."

My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy and Austria next fall. Can you tell us when the Vienna and Milan opera seasons are?

Carol S. Nottingham, Fairfax

If all you ever got to see was the inside of a few buildings, these two cities' temples of opera would be well worth a pilgrimage. Happily, you can do much more. Doors at the majestic Vienna State Opera open in September, and the season runs through June 2009. The date you should circle on your calendar, however, is April 3, when a news conference announcing the 2008-09 season will be held and the information will be posted on the company's Web site ( http://www.wiener-staatsoper.at), along with ticket information. When pressed, the agent we talked to confirmed that a new production of Wagner's "Gotterdammerung," the third installment of Vienna's Ring Cycle ( http://www.derneuering.at), will indeed be opening Dec. 8, although no confirmation of singers was forthcoming.

As for the storied La Scala in Milan ( http://www.teatroallascala.org), the season's official opening is always Dec. 7, but you don't have to wait until then to marvel at Italy's most important opera house and its famously critical audiences. A Giorgio Strehler production of "Marriage of Figaro" opens Oct. 11 and runs throughout the month, though keep in mind that performances are likely to sell out quickly when they go on sale Aug. 26.

Postscript

Mary Erickson of Columbia, a mother of six, says there's no reason a pregnant woman need avoid the London Eye Ferris wheel (Dec. 16). "It's not exactly Flight of Fear at Kings Dominion. Your ride takes you around only once, and verrrrrry slowly, so there shouldn't be any problem for the pregnant traveler who isn't otherwise afraid of heights."

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@washpost.com) 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.


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