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Travel Photo The Flight Crew, from left: John Deiner, Carol Sottili, Steve Hendrix, Anne McDonough, Gary Lee, K.C. Summers, Cindy Loose, Andrea Sachs. (Melissa Cannarozzi for The Post)
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NEW! Subscribe to the weekly Travel and Live Online E-Mail Newsletters.


Talk About Travel
Hosted by the Flight Crew
Monday, April 14, 2003; 2 p.m. ET

The Post's Travel Section Flight Crew pictured at right will take your comments, questions, suspicions, warnings, gripes, sad tales and happy endings springing from the world of... the world. Of course, the Flight Crew will be happy to answer your travel questions but the best thing about this forum, we insist, is that it lets travelers exchange information with other travelers who've been there, done that or otherwise have insights, ideas and information to share. Different members of the Crew will rotate through the captain's chair every week, but the one constant is you, our valued passengers.

We know you have a choice in online travel forums, and speaking for the entire Flight Crew, we want to thank you for flying with us.

You may also browse an archive of previous live travel discussions and a list of frequently asked questions.

The transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.


The Flight Crew: Yo, fellow travelers! Gary Lee here as your acting flight captain today. Although Cindy Loose and Steve Hendrix are out on the road, we have a good crew on hand to try to field your questions. Travel editor KC Summers, back from a trip to the Homestead is here. So also, is assistant editor John Deiner, just in from Vegas. Andrea Sachs, our copy editor is at her desk after a whirlwind Spring Break trip to Europe. And Carol Sottili is with us, too, after a bird watching trip to southern Texas. News Aide Anne Mcdonough is here, too. Sean Daly, author of the our lead story yesterday about New York City, is also on hand. Although we know lots of things we by no means know everything and so would be happy if you have comments or tips to add to any of the questions posed.

With lots of folks thinking of alternatives to flying, we wonder if anyone out there has heavenly routes that they have driven by car (or even pick-up truck or any other vehicle) either nearby or anywhere in the US? The one that grabs us most will get a gift basket with lovely daffodils and other treats courtesy of the Nantucket Chamber of Commerce, which is promoting its upcoming daffofil festival.



Annapolis, Md.: No question, just a comment. First, I love the new deals feature -- it's so useful. And I thought the New York section was fabulous. Sean Daly is a hoot and I'll be traveling with the rest of the section the next time I go into town.

The Flight Crew:
Wow, I've never been called a "hoot" before! (Well, at least not in a good way.) Thanks for reading. Nine museums (OK, seven, but who's counting?) was a major haul, but I've never had so much fun doing a story. You should give it a try!


Herndon, Va.: New York hotel question: Do any of you have any personal experience with the ThirtyThirty Hotel or the Washington Square Hotel?

Thanks!

The Flight Crew: Gary Lee here and I've stayed at both. They are both great values but I prefer the Washington Square a bit more. Has a lot of old world charm and a great location.


Seeking Sun: HELP! What's the best way to rent a convertible for cheap? Trying to get one at LAX for Memorial Day weekend (6 days) but the cheapest I find is $50 a day. Priceline has not been helpful either.

The Flight Crew: Sottili here: Sorry, but $50 a day for a convertible doesn't sound all that expensive to me, especially if it includes unlimited mileage. You should also try hotwire.com and try the individual car rental company sites - sometimes they offer deals. I got a convertible in San Diego through Priceline for something like $35 a day, but that was a couple of years ago.


Orem, Utah: This is for Rochester, Minn., from a couple of weeks ago. The person is moving to San Diego this summer. Sorry it took so long. I'm teaching a class during the chat time. First, make sure your "junker" car throughly checked over and repaired before you go. You said you had about 10 days for the move to allow you to explore. Well, there's lots to see along the way. If you take I-90 W to I-15 S, and just wanted to check out national parks and monuments you've got Badlands, Mt Rushmore, Devil's Tower, Little Bighorn, Yellowstone/Teton, Timpanogas (sp) Cave, Canyonlands/Arches, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Canyon (North Rim), Death Valley, andJoshua Tree. Interesting towns and cities include: Jackson, Wyo., Bozeman, Mont., Salt Lake City, Moab, Utah, Las Vegas. If you travel through Denver, New Mexico and Arizona south of the Canyon are also open for exploration. Choose wisely, enjoy your trip, and try to get a friend to travel with you to share the driving and make the trip more fun.

The Flight Crew: Great tips, O. Thanks for remembering.


Alexandria, Va.: Hi,

I once read an article in The Post regarding a bus that traveled from D.C. to New York. The bus left D.C. on a Friday and returned on a Saturday or Sunday. Does anyone know the name and number of this bus line?

The Flight Crew: Hey Alex,

The DC/NY buses we've written about most recently were Washington Deluxe and Dragon Express, both of which offer $20 one way/$35 round trip tickets (right now, at least). Soon to follow will be a link to yesterday's How to Get to NY article, which has info on both. Washington Deluxe's web site is www.washny.com; Dragon Express can be accessed via www.ivymedia.com.

--Anne


washingtonpost.com: File This, (Post, April 13, 2003)

The Flight Crew: Here's the link to the How to Get to NY piece from April 13. Thanks, .com!
-Anne


Atlantic Beach, Fla.: What can I do about a ticket which was not used because of a medical emergency? My daughter broke her ankle snowboarding and had pins put in on the day she was to take a United flight to Maui from LAX. They are saying that the change of plans will cost at least $100 even though she can get any verification needed from the surgeon. Everyone I've talked to about this seems to have a different story. Any advice? Thanks.

The Flight Crew: Sottili here: I'm afraid that's why people take out travel insurance. The airline will not automatically refund your money if you get injured. You could appeal to United's customer care # at 877-228-1327, but there are no guarantees.


Alexandria, Va.: Hi! I always read the chat. This is the first time I have had a question to ask!

I am going to be travelling around Europe this fall for some time and would like to take a short (perhaps two-week) language course in Spain to improve my intermediate Spanish skills. I want to go somewhere a little off the beaten path, in a town with a lot of history to explore (not a big fan or huge cities). Do you have any recommendations of where to go or where to look? I've already checked out the major study abroad Web sites. Thanks!

The Flight Crew: Alexandria: We think that Seville is a good spot that's not too urban and has a nice student atmosphere, says Gary. But if we were in your position, we'd also pose that question to our friend Nigel Hack at Madridandbeyond.com. He knows more than anyone we know about the best places to study and vacation in Spain.


Boston, Mass.: Good afternoon all,

Quick question: We are traveling to Central Europe next week. Can we put locks on our check-in luggage? We appreciate any insights you may have. Thanks much.

The Flight Crew: From the U.S, you should not lock your luggage since security officials here may require access to your bags. You can, in some instances, ask if you may lock your bag after the search--they allowed me to do that on a flight to London. From Europe, often you can lock, since their X-Ray machines are not intrusive. But again, to be sure, ask your airline or check-in agent. You don't want a busted lock!--andrea


Deep Valley, USA: Congrats on finding a new and interesting way to present your annual New York issue. I'll use all the info next time I go back.

My favorite lesser-known scenic road trip is through some of the back roads in the Brandywine Valley (Delaware/Pennsylvania border). Route 52, for example, and some of the little-used roads off it. Just take 52 out of Wilmington and once you clear the outskirts of the city, take any turnoff with a number. Delicious. Plenty of museums nearby too.

And although everyone already knows about it, Route 15 from Leesburg through to Gettysburg is lovely as well.

The Flight Crew: Thanks, Deep Valley, on both counts, says Gary. You're in the running for the prize!


Atlanta, Ga.: In planning my next two vacations, I have had hotels being more than generous with reduced prices. On the other hand, I can't find any bargains with Hertz, Avis or other car rental companies. I haven't paid this much for a car rental since Europe. Any suggestions on how to find a bargain? I belong to all the car clubs, auto associatiosn, etc.

The Flight Crew: Sottili here: I really like both hotwire.com and priceline.com for car rentals. I go through the car rental companies now only when I'm traveling to a town where Hotwire and Priceline don't operate (such as my last two trips, to Rutland, Vt., and McAllen, Texas). If you're going to a small place, check out the rates at the big airfare sites, such as travelocity.com.


Rosslyn, Va.: Can you please clarify the policy on tipping for room service? I recently ordered room service during a hotel stay and it clearly stated on the menu that a $2 room service delivery charge as well as an 18 percent tip would be included in the bill. Nonetheless, when they delivered my food, there was a blank line on the bill for "tip." I opted to not provide any additional tip (feeling somewhat like a cheapskate). What's the protocol here? Thanks for the great chats.

The Flight Crew: Rosslyn, this is a tricky one -- does the 18 percent tip go to the delivery guy? Probably not -- it's probably split among the kitchen staff. Does the "room service delivery charge" go to the delivery guy? It's not clear. I (KC) would personally give the delivery guy another $2 because it seems cheap not to. But others on the staff have different approaches:
John: Wouldn't tip.
Anne: Would tip a couple bucks.
Gary: Would tip a couple bucks.
Andrea: Would make delivery guy wait outside while she called the front desk and asked if any of that money went to the guy.

Hope that's somewhat helpful. Clicksters, what would you do?


Washington, D.C.: Do you have any suggestions for relatively inexpensive lodging for one person in Seward and Sitka, Alaska? I'm not looking for anything fancy -- just quiet and comfortable (I don't mind sharing a bath). Oh and I won't have a car.

Also, last week I asked about the Alaska ferry and the potential for seasickness -- you weren't able to get in touch with the writer who did the article on the Alaska ferry system, any chance of a followup?

Thank you!

The Flight Crew: Hey D.C.,
I'm going to throw out the first question to the clicksters, but wanted to let you know that I did get in touch with the Alaska ferries author, and he said that while there is a potential for seasickness, it doesn't seem to be a pervasive issue. Basically, if you do get seasick on a regualr basis, come prepared; but they're big boats and didn't seem to pitch much, at least while he was using the ferry system.
So, clicksters, anyone with info on lodgings in Seward and Sitka?
-Anne


Washington, D.C.: Crew:

I am heading to Miami for a conference, and plan to spend a weekend at the Royal Palm crown plaza in South Beach/Art Deco. I have never been to Miami. What places can a 30-something single guy can hang? I assume that I will be watching a lot of eye candy. Can I dress in black for nightlife, or should I be more Crockett/Tubbs like?

(Your last article on South Beach is two years old.)

Thanks.

washingtonpost.com: Miami: A Literary Loop is a little more recent.(Post, Dec. 20, 2002)

The Flight Crew: DC, we're not up on the latest cutting edge hangouts in South Beach, says Gary. But maybe one of the other clicksters out there is. But our fasion mavens tell us that balck is still VERY in for evening wear there. And we can refer you to a a more recent article than the one of two years ago. (If you find some swinging hot place, please report back. Readers are curious, not to mention yours truly.)


Washington, D.C.: A local travel question, if you will.

A couple of my friends and I are having a sort of cut day on Friday, April 25th. Our amusement park plans are no good because the localish parks are closed, the Orioles are away and the Virginia and Dewey beach suggestions are awfully temperature sensitive. We are willing to drive a couple of hours, experience culture, and spend some money, but most importantly we'd like to find something really great worth cutting work for. Any help would be super appreciated!

The Flight Crew: Hi, DC. You ever do the Virginia wine country? That's a great way to kill a day and not spend too much money. Check out www.virginiawines.org for a list of wineries and route maps. Pack a lunch and chill under a tree or arbor while you're at it--just about every winery has a picnic area, many with fountains and cows mooing in the pasture next door. I always marvel at how wonderful our own little wine country is, and how quickly you can get there (okay, as long as you time it right and don't hit traffic).
--john


Washington, D.C.: In your New York feature, you referred to something or another being "a patriotic alternative to France." Are you really suggesting that traveling to France in unpatriotic? Why do you print such garbage? One would think that you would be interested in seeing people traveling again without having to be subjected to name-calling.

The Flight Crew: Actually, I think that line appeared in our "What's the Deal?" column -- it was a tongue-in-cheek comment about a New York City deal with a Paris flavor. We can't win -- we got hammered last week for suggesting that people *go* to Paris. It's nice to know we're offending everyone equally. -- KC.


Washington (the state): Paris report: my daughter (18) just got back from a week and a half in Paris. She encountered no anti-American sentiment, and had a great time. She stayed in the Woodstock youth hostel in Montmartre -- $20/night for a shared bedroom (four bunk beds in a tiny room) and a breakfast of coffee, jam, and baguette. Clean and decent, "lame showers," and noisy at the 2 a.m. curfew. Students from all over stay there. (British Air made them go through security again after a passenger on her Paris-to-London flight decided not to fly at the last minute.)

The Flight Crew: Merci for the update, says Gary. Wish we could head right over...


Favorite Routes: One of my favorite out-of-the-way drives is 1A in New England. Specifically, northern New England. Starting in Newburyport Massachusetts and the Plum Island nature preserve, heading north through Rye New Hampshire as the road twists and turns while hugging the coast, and then up through Maine passing small fishing villages and coastal towns.

The Flight Crew: Much thanks, says Gary. I love that route, too, especially in Spring and early summer. This may get you a prize!


Washington, D.C.: Well, my favorite drive is this. I grew up on the North Shore of Massachusetts. From that area, it's about a 3 hour drive up the coast to Freeport, Maine. It's a beautiful drive, and there are a million different places to stop and just breathe in the air. Then after you've looked around in L.L. Bean and the other shops, you can go get yourself a real lobster roll. For those of you not acquainted--it's basically just a plain hot dog bun MOUNDED with very fresh lobster meat. Best meal on the planet when you can get them.

Also, there's about a million places to visit on the North Shore, if you don't want to make that drive. There's Marblehead, Manchester (by-the-sea, what a ridiculous name change if you ask me) Ipswich, Essex and Salem--all with their own picturesque views, antiques shops, farm stands and places to get chowdah and fried clams. I cannot imagine a better trip!

The Flight Crew: Thanks, DC, says Gary. That entry puts you in the running for the prize!


Boston, Mass.: My parents and I would often drive from DC to Atlanta when I was growing up...one time we took the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway (I think that's what it's called) in South Carolina as a scenic alternative to I-85. It was pretty nice, some lovely not-quite-mountains to look at. You pick it up at the NC border and it drops you off at the GA border (or vice versa). I-85 is UGLY so it was a nice break, though you might miss the Giant Peach watertower on 85... I don't remember.

The Flight Crew: Thanks, Boston, says Gary. Sounds nice and may be prize worthy for you!


Crofton, Md.: Hi,

There are certain times (a funeral or baby's bris) in the Jewish faith that you are left with no time to make flight arrangments ahead. With a funeral in L.A. most likely to happen this year, what is my best plan of action to fly from BWI to Ontario, Calif., while keeping within my budget?

Thanks,
Robyn

The Flight Crew: Sottili here: The airlines offer bereavement fares, but they're not cheap. You're probably better off scouting around on the various Web sites of airlines that operate between the two cities to see if any Internet specials are being offered at the time. Do a general search on orbitz.com to find out which airlines operate on the route. I did a quick search and found $480 round-trip spur-of-the-moment fares on America West. Southwest also goes between the two places, but next day cost is about $600 round trip. You should also look at other airports if money is the big issue - Burbank, LAX, Long Beach in the LA region. And here, Reagan National and Dulles.


Washington, D.C.: I have questions about tipping. What is the standard when it comes to tipping hotel courtesy van/shuttle drivers? Yes? No? How much? And what about smaller places like a B&B that offers transportation? Thanks!

The Flight Crew: Another thorny tipping question. Not to vacillate, but the answer is that it depends. I've tipped drivers who shuttled me to a downtown shopping area from a hotel, for example. But I wouldn't tip the shuttlebus driver between the hotel and airport. Also, I wouldn't tip the B&B shuttle driver if it was the owner, but I probably would if it were some college kid trying to make a buck. -- KC.


Philadelphia, Pa.: Driving up the east side of the Susquehanna, north of Harrisburg, then crossing (near Sunbury, I think?) and exploring Lewistown and points west -- might nice terrain. Certain views, you'd think you're in the Italian countryside.

The Flight Crew: Thanks, Philly, says Gary. We've done that area, too, and love it. It puts you in the running for the prize!


back from philly: Just wanted to tell everyone thanks for all of the suggestions last week for my super-budget trip to Philly. My friend and I did stay in the hostel (Chamounix Mansion), and I'd recommend it to others on a budget, esp. if you are driving into town. It was a 10 minute drive into Center City, and both days, we found a central place to park, and just left the car all day and walked. The busses appeared to be reliable on the weekend (I definitely saw several), but I think it takes far longer - the schedule (which suggested it was a 30-minute ride) definitely misled me into thinking we would be much further out of the city. We over-ate on Saturday night, but the $11 dessert buffet at the Ritz is high on our to-do list for the next trip. One tip in return: Go to PhillyFunGuide.com and sign up for a weekly email that will list half-price cultural tickets for the upcoming week. It's emailed on Thursdays, and you either call and mention a promotional code, or print out the email and present it at the ticket office. This past week even had Degas exhibit tickets. Thanks again!

The Flight Crew: Oh, lovely, says Gary. Thanks for the fill-in. Eat any cheese steaks?


Nervous Mom, Reston, Va.: My son is going to be studying Arabic in Tangier, Morocco for six weeks, starting June 23. He'll need to travel on his own. What's the best route to get there? How safe is travel to Morocco? Has anyone traveled there recently? Why couldn't he be studying Swedish?

The Flight Crew: What perfect timing: In next Sunday's section, we have a piece on Tangier, though the focus is on the writer's experience with so-called guides (alert, alert). However, she did have an enriching experience, minus a couple blunders. Probably, the best route is to fly through a European capital, like Madrid, or to Casablanca, then switch to Tangier. US Airways, Iberia, United and Air Maroc all go there. Our writer took a ferry over from southern Spain for a day trip. The State Dept. last updated its consular sheet in April, and it does make mention of violence against Americans sparked by the war and crime in urban areas; read the info before your son goes, just to be alert--though the department always gives the worst-case scenario. (Also be sure he has all consular/embassy numbers and addresses in Morocco, in case he needs help.) Just tell your son to be wise: to keep American/political fervor low, to blend in and be gracious, and to practice his Arabic.--andrea


Washington, D.C.: Not only is Red Rock Canyon in Vegas a great driving circle, but you can rent mountain bikes and explore the beautiful desert.

The Flight Crew: That's a new one on us, says Gary. Much thanks!


Deep Valley, USA: I'd probably call the front desk about the room service charge split before there was a guy doing the delivery; if I made him wait while I made a phone call I'd tip him no matter what.

The room service waiter's income depends partly on meeting his schedule.

While I had the front desk on the phone I might ask them for a spare toothbrush, too.

The Flight Crew: Ha. I'll have you know I summoned up the courage to ask for a toothbrush to be sent up last weekend. I could hardly bear to ask, but they were great and the toothbrush (and bonus tube of toothpaste) appeared at my door within five minutes. -- KC.


Route 1A: Awwwww, why starting in Newburyport? Then you miss Hamilton, Wenham and Beverly! Not to mention Ipswich and Essex. Start further south! More fried clams at Woodmans or the Clam Box!!!!!

The Flight Crew: Maybe you're right, says Gary. But I guess you can't do everything...


Washington, D.C.: I want to go to an Oriole game on a week night. I can take the train there, but there is no train back to the district. Any ideas?

The Flight Crew: Hi, DC. There's a wide range of option on the Maryland Metro web site (well, sorta). Looks as if you could take a bus back to the Greenbelt Metro station from the stadium (last buses run after the last out) and then get into town from there. Here's the site: http://www.mtamaryland.com/news/index.cfm
-john


Former Mass: I can't believe this! Not only have two people mentioned the North Shore of Massachuestts in the chat already, but neither of them mentioned driving up the coast from Salem to Rockport! Talk about a beautiful drive! Twisty, winding roads with beautiful trees and around the next corner, is the ocean! All of a sudden, it's just there. And then you end up in Rockport in time for a seafood dinner and shopping. Perfect.

The Flight Crew: There you go, says Gary. And that may even get you a prize. Thanks for chiming in!


Springfield, Va. : Fave route - definitely Rt 7 starting in northern Vermont and heading south. Nothing is more peaceful than driving alone with Vermont Public Radio in the quiet, beautiful countryside of rural Vt.

The Flight Crew: Oh, says Gary, we've been there, too, and are glad that you mentioned it. Much thanks.


Arlington, Va.: Where is the best bar in Bern, Switzerland?

The Flight Crew: Arlington: you've stumped the flight crew with that one. Maybe one of the clicksters knows.


Arlington, Va.: Question for Carol: I don't want to usurp the eagerly anticipated (by me!) write-up on the birding trip to southern Texas, but it's a trip I've been looking at for a long time. So just the low-down then: did you think it was worth it, as an organized tour? Since it's Texas, and not Costa Rica or something more exotic, it seems like it could done pretty easily on one's own, so did you think a tour was a good idea? Thanks!

The Flight Crew: Sottili here: This was one incredible trip. I saw 100 different species of birds in less than three days, including at least 30 life birds (for those of you whose eyes are glazing over, these are birds I've never seen before). I didn't do an organized trip, but I did take advantage of connecting with local birders, who took me around. Because I had only limited time, guides were very important. Without them, I would have needed more time to get organized and figure out where to go to see this or that bird. Much also depends on preparation. I birded with three guys from England for most of a day and even though it was their first trip and they were doing it without a guide, they knew every bird. Turns out they had studied for months - reading the guide books and listening to tapes. I was very impressed. There's a Web site called birdingpal.org where you may be able to find a local birder to go out with you. And many of the nature centers, refuges, etc., offer organized day trips. The McAllen Convention & Visitors Bureau is a good source of information - www. mcallencvb.com. I can't wait to write it up!


Arlington, Va.: My fiance and I are honeymooning in Italy in late June. From what I hear, sneakers and T-shirts are a big no-no -- so what can I wear? Are jeans and kahkis out too, even if they are a nice pair? And I understand shorts are bad too, for men and women? Help! All my fiance owns are jeans or khakis, what should I tell him to pack. Oh, and some tips for myself would be great too! Can I wear sandals? Are there any other rules I should know about? If you can answer any of my questions I'd really appreciate it!

Thanks!

The Flight Crew: Khakis are fine! Don't worry so much. The point is to avoid the dead-giveaway outfit of jeans, fanny pack and baseball cap. Gray or black slacks would work well, too, with a nice jacket or sweater. Please, for all our sakes, leave the shorts at home. I personally think sandals are fine -- certainly better than the dreaded white running shoes. -- KC


Washington, D.C.: Hello travel gurus,

Any ideas on purchasing an inexpensive roundtrip trip from Washington, D.C. to Cancun for June?

Thank you!

The Flight Crew: Sottili here: If you're willing to go on a charter flight, www.vacationexpress.com offers good deals.


Washington, D.C.: I'm looking for an inexpensive vacation package to the Caribbean for early August. Does buying through an online site like Travelocity or Expedia make sense, or should I find a travel agent?

The Flight Crew: Hi, DC. I'd definitely start with Travelocity and Expedia and see what they're quoting, then hit the phones and talk to travel agents and the airlines to see how they compare. Sometimes, if you dig far enough, you can even build a vacation for far cheaper than the package deals. Also, make sure you look at the ads in travel sections--you can find some sweet deals there, too. Remember that the prices often go down the closer you get to the big day, so don't be too discouraged if things seem too expensive right now.
--john


Boston, Mass.: Another really nice New England drive is Massachusetts Route 2- this is an east-west route that crosses the whole state, from Boston to the New York border. Highlights include Concord (with a possible short detour to Walden Pond), and Shelburne Falls, home of the famous "Bridge of Flowers" and some interesting rock formations. It also takes you through North Adams, home of Mass MoCA, a very cool contemporary art museum, and Williamstown, home of Williams College. Western Mass. is SO beautiful!

The Flight Crew: Boston, this Amherst College grad was with you until you mentioned Williams, says Gary Lee. Ah, well, you're still heavy in the running for the prize with that great drive idea.


room service tips: there is a line for tips on the receipt simply because that's how the machines all print . . . I DON'T tip b/c I have called at several hotels and the 18% goes to the person who brings it to your room - he/she is the "waiter" assigned to room service that evening. Personally I think the 18% and the surcharge are ridiculous enough, b/c it is a single trip - waiters and waitresses also look after you during the meal, reful drinks, etc. They do a lot more to earn the tip.

The Flight Crew: Yeah, but the dining room waiters don't have to lug the tray up to somebody's room either. It's good to know they get that money.


Native New Jerseyan: I see somebody beat me to Rt 1 up the coast of Maine, so let me add 2 not so famous beautiful car drives:

-Rt 7/9 from Bennington VT west to Albany.

-Rt 60 from Versailles KY (pr. verSAYLES')over the Kentucky River at Frankfort and west toward Louisville (pr. Lou' a vull) you will pass several horse farms outside of Versailles - I like the one where the barns with the glass cupolas light up at dusk.

The Flight Crew: Thanks for that idea, says Gary. Getting a bit off the beaten trek may get you a prize!


Going back to Vancouver!: Hi Travel Gurus --

I just wanted to give a heads up to anyone who loved reading about Cindy's adventure in Vancouver. Several airlines currently have great deals through mid-October (with travel on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday). I grabbed direct flights in July for a mere $270/person from Travelocity, but I noticed that Orbitz and several airline Web sites were similarly priced. And Cindy -- take it from me, I bet you would still say that you want to live there even when the sun isn't always shining -- it just IS that fabulous!

The Flight Crew: Thanks, says Gary. We will pass this on to Cindy!


About the North Shore: I didn't mention towns south of Newburyport because they are wayyyyyy too touristy and built up (though they certainly are beautiful). The message was an "off the beaten path" drive, a description in which Salem and Rockport no longer fit in. By starting in Newburyport, you have access to much of what the North Shore is like, without the masses. And you also get to experience NH and Maine in the same drive without knocking yourself out.

The Flight Crew: Gary says: we are happy to pass on your addendum without comment...


Washington, D.C. - re: road trips: One trip comes to mind, driving from my home town of Bisbee in southeast AZ to the the north rim of the Grand Canyon - the varieties of scenary we passed through was amazing - high desert and mountains in SE AZ, very flat desert between Tucson and Phoenix, climbing up into the mountains around Sedona and Flagstaff (Oak Creek Canyon is great) and looking down at valleys below, driving through very stark NE AZ before reaching the Colorado-like North Rim of the Grand Canyon with the aspen trees at peak fall colors. Fantastic.

The Flight Crew: Thanks, former Arizona resident, says Gary. We love the way that sounds....


Washington, D.C.: I'm headed to San Diego for a few weeks, courtesy of my job. Any advice on what to do and see? Thanks!

The Flight Crew: Sottili here: How lucky - San Diego for a few weeks. If you like the outdoors, you'll like the city. The beaches are great. Some of my favorites include La Jolla, where you can see lots of seals (town is also good for restaurants and shopping); Pacific Beach and Mission Beach, which are connected and offer a great boardwalk, good for walking and biking; and Coronado, which has the Hotel Del on the beach, where "Some Like It Hot" was filmed, my favorite place for a sunset cocktail. Balboa Park is beautiful. Don't miss the zoo with its pandas. If you have a car that you can take into Mexico, take a trip down the coast into Baja California - town of Puerto Nuevo for lobster and beers is really fun. A Padre game is a nice way to spend an afternoon or evening. Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego is the place for nightlife and food. Torrey Pines is good for hiking.


20016: I've enjoyed driving bits of old Route 66 through New MExico - what a time capsule that can be! Actually, there are a lot of wonderful drives in the southwest.

Wandering around the finger lakes can be fun too. Take 15 to Corning, 18 (I think) to Watkins Glen, then wander on to the smaller roads from there.

Driving 17 down the east coast is also a lot of fun.

The Flight Crew: Thanks, 20016, said Gary. Nice tip...


Re: Morocco: I was there just under a year ago, and felt very safe. Tangier has a lot of active salesmen hassling tourists, they are trying to sell junk to European day-trippers. Tell your son to travel around: Tetouan is great, the whole medina (downtown) is on Unesco World Heritage list, and Chefchauen a couple of hours away is an interesting little town.

The Flight Crew: Great tips, and thanks for calming Mom's nerves.


Somerville Mass./Scenic route planners: I can't do the discussions live, but last week there was a person from Alexandria who asked about internet route planners that can help with scenic drives, to avoid interstates.

I use www.freetrip.com for that type of thing. In the past, it had a selection to avoid interstates altogether. Now, it seems that that option is gone, but it does give you the opportunity to "favor scenic roads," which is like what the requestor requested.

I used to use it to plan bicycle trips, in which one REALLY wants to avoid interstates, but for people driving in a car, I still think it is a great site.

I also use it for planning routes, because I like the way it displays traveled distance AND TIME and the amount left to go. That's a great feature if you plan to do a big trip, but want to drive no more than ____ hours per day!

Thanks for having this forum -- I have certainly learned a lot by reading it!

The Flight Crew: I also like freetrip.com. It's simple to use and directions are accurate. - Sottili


Washington, D.C.: Is there any cheap buses that take you from DC to Atlantic City? I haven't been able to find a clear answer online, except greyhound which is pretty expensive.

Thanks!

The Flight Crew: Hey D.C.--Greyhound's about $30 to Atlantic City, one way, so you're right about it being pricey. Try Casino bus lines: Gold Line (800-862-1400) goes from several locations (such as Union Station) to both the Sands and Tropicana casinos. It's $32 roundtrip (same price if you just wanted to go there and never return to DC), and that includes 17 tokens to use at the Tropicana, or 16 tokens for Sands.
-Anne


Maryland: the Light rail (which has a stop right in front of Camden Yards) takes you right to BWI, where you can catch a bus to the metro and then metro back to DC. Not sure of the timing, but I know light rail runs until around 11 or during the week.

The Flight Crew: Thanks, Md.


Arlington, Va.: Going to New York next month and am overwhelmed with the food options! When you go there (or any other big city I suppose), do y'all usually research and choose your dining experiences in advance or just wander the streets and let whim and chance decide? (I'm usually more of a whim person.)

The Flight Crew: True, nothing compares to wandering into a cute little bistro on a whim. But cynics that we are, we like to research it ahead of time, since we've all been burned by not checking out the options. Also, you often have to reserve in advance. But you're in luck, since you're going to NYC -- we've done all the work for you. Check out our restaurant reviews in yesterday's print edition. [NOTE TO CLICKSTERS: DOES NOBODY HAVE A QUESTION FOR SEAN DALY, WHO'S PATIENTLY STANDING BY???] We've got a good list of 20 or so restaurants on the Upper East Side that we've tested out and approved. Kim, can we get a link please? -- KC


Arlington, Va.: A question re: Hotwire and Priceline. How accurate are their hotel star ratings? I've been checking both (as well as biddingfortravel.com) for hotels in Las Vegas. I guess I'm a little wary of paying before I know what I'm getting. Are there any good Vegas-specific places for hotels I should check?

Thanks!

The Flight Crew: Gary Lee says: we have found the star system on both priceline and hotwire pretty trustworthy. But if you want to be a bit more sure about where you're going to stay, we recommend trying either hotels.com or vegas.com


Car rental in Germany: Hi Crew! We're planning to travel through Germany, and I'd like your thoughts on where to start looking for a good car rental rate (i.e. on line, travel agent, etc). Is it true that the companies charge by the person?

The Flight Crew: Sottili here: I recently addressed this question in Travel Q&A. Here is the original item and a follow-up. Also, many car rental companies do charge more for extra drivers, but that also happens in the United states.

Q: Last year on a trip to northern England, renting a car cost a fortune, especially because I specified an automatic transmission. I'm returning to England in March. Any suggestions on how to rent inexpensively?
A: The terms "inexpensive" and "automatic transmission" are mutually exclusive when it comes to renting a car in England. If you want to save money, face your fears and go with a manual transmission; what could be difficult in London traffic might be worth a try in the English countryside.
The cheapest rental categories, mini and economy, aren't available with automatic transmission, so your starting point is going to be a compact or intermediate car. For example, Easy Autos (011-44-8700-540-205, www.easyautos.co.uk), a discount car rental company in England, offers a manual Daewoo Matiz for four days for $ 172, while the cheapest automatic car is a Opel Astra for $ 307 for four days.
Renting by the day costs more than by the week. The per-day rate is cheapest if you're staying for 17 days or longer and qualify for a short-term lease; contact Renault USA (800-221-1052, www.renaultusa.com), Kemwel (800-576-1590, www.kemwel.com) or Auto Europe (888-223-5555, www.autoeurope.com) for options.
Finally, most car rental prices are quoted in both basic and inclusive rates. Inclusive includes value-added tax, collision damage waiver and theft insurance. Check with your credit card company to see if it will cover insurance for car rentals in England, because you can save money -- about $ 15 a day -- by declining the insurance.
A couple of readers have more suggestions for renting cars in England. Charlotte D. Jones of Washington said she uses ITS Car Rentals (800-521-0643, www.its-cars-hotels.com) and has "generally found their prices competitive and the service excellent." Jones advises renting a car with automatic transmission. "Even if you are used to a stick shift in America, concentration is required to drive on the 'wrong' side of the road without worrying about having to change gears," she said. "And if you've never driven a manual transmission, England is not the place to start learning." ITS car rental rates in England start at $ 45 a day, or $ 207 a week, plus taxes for a compact automatic.

Steve Campbell of Arlington recommends European Car Reservations (800-535-3303). "We have rented through them for at least five years, twice minimum each year. It has always offered the lowest prices, given good service and, as our agency, defended our interests in occasional billing disputes with the actual car rental firms." Rates for a compact car with automatic transmission start at about $ 237 a week, plus taxes.


re: locking bags: I was with a relative flying out of LAX on Lufthansa, and they opened and hand-searched bags before they were checked in. The TSA searchers relocked the bags, and the passengers weren't allowed to touch them after that.

Expecting the same treatment at Dulles when I flew Air France last month, I locked my bag (I have a padlock that goes through the zippers). It turns out that they do whatever their searches are after the bag is checked at the desk. I figured I would take my chances and that if they needed to break the lock, so be it. My bag went around Europe and back without any problems.

Not locking luggage at all seems like an invitation for anyone who comes into contact with your bag to take something from it.

The Flight Crew: I agree, but the airlines and TSA have asked travelers not to lock bags before they can be inspected for check-in--and we must respect that wish. Again, tell the agent about your concerns, and hopefully, as they did in my case, will let your retrieve your bag (under the watchful eye of the official, of course) and lock it.


Seattle, Wash.: Here's a drive that only the locals know about here in Washington state...Given that the Flight Crew frequently talks about how great Vancouver BC is and recommends that the cheapest way to get there is to fly into Seattle and to drive up across the border, I highly recommend getting off of Interstate 5 north a little over an hour out of Seattle, and cutting over to Chuckanut drive (Route 11) in the Skagit Valley (itself home to the Skagit Tulip Festival that is currently ongoing, a little bit of Holland here in Western Washington). The drive cuts through mountain roads on dramatic cliffs overlooking Puget Sound and at times twists into well grown forest -- it's quite breathtaking. The ride ends in Fairhaven, a suburb of Bellingham and a charming town in its own right. There are two excellent restaurants midway through the drive on Chuckanut famous for their oysters (there are oyster beds in the sound just below the drive). Check out the Chuckanut website for more info:

http://www.chuckanutdrive.com/

I really would love to plant those daffodils, which are also featured in the Skagit Valley this time of year!

The Flight Crew: Seattle, that sounds lovely says Gary and we'll put you in the running for the prize...


favourite drive: it's sort of far away from here, but start in Portland (OR) head out 80 to the Columbia Gorge, take the old Columbia Gorge highway up the edge of the Gorge, past Multnomah Falls, to Hood River. Take 97 up to Government Camp on Mt. Hood. Stop for a Marionberry Milkshake. Drive 97 all the way to Bend. Then 22 back through Sisters ad Sweet Home to Salem. Then back up to Portland.
You get temperate rain forests, snow covered mountains, high desert and vineyards in one day.

The Flight Crew: We like that, says Gary. Original and diverse. Puts in in the running for the prize.


Washington, D.C.: Andrea, there was a photo of you in the Post taken during your sojourn to New Zealand. The Hang Gliding pic. Was that your first Hang-Gliding experience? ...Was your stomach 'upside down' so to speak?

The Flight Crew: Actually, that photo was my sister. I made her go first (being the older sis and all). Yep, that my first time, and I would love to do it again, since now that my nerves are calm, maybe I could enjoy the scenery more. As for my tummy, only when we did loop-di-loops did I feel the lurch. Otherwise, it was smooth sailing. It feels so surreal! Are you going to try it??--Andrea the Ace Flyer


Dearborn, Mich.: Do any of you have experience with the Amtrak Downeaster--the train that runs between Boston and Portland, ME? I'm debating taking the train or renting a car to make the trip for a weekend in June. The time seems comparable (about 2-2.5 hours) and the cost is reasonable (train is $35 per person round trip). Thanks for your help!

The Flight Crew: Dearborn: we don't have experience with that route but maybe one of the clicksters does...


Rockville, Md.: The best drive to me is the one down Bohicket Road, a long country road outside Charleston SC that leads to a beach on Johns Island. Beautiful old trees line the road and create a shady archway. Spanish moss hanging from all the tree limbs along the way, completes the picture. It always makes me feel like I'm traveling back in time, deep into the forest, and then the trees open up and you enter a private beach community. Definitely a heavenly drive!

The Flight Crew: Sounds almost like heaven, says Gary. And it puts you in the running for the prize, too.


local drive: When I'm too busy to go out to the Catoctin Mtns of MD to catch the fall colors, I do appreciate the trees on Little Falls Road.

The 1/4 mile stretch between Mass Ave and River Road can be quite beguiling if it isn't rush hour!

The Flight Crew: Oh, lovely, says Gary. We like that one especially because its so accessible.


To Yosemite and Beyond!: Heading to Yosemite in June for the first time -- any must-sees or must-dos?

Thank you!

The Flight Crew: Yosemite. The place that turned me from a diehard city girl to a diehard city girl who loves the outdoors. I'd say do what you can to avoid the Valley, which is filled with florescent tents and people who seem not to notice that they're in one of the most beautiful places in the world, content instead to listen to their radios at top volume and ignore what's around them. Definitely go to Tuolumne Meadows, Half Dome should not be missed if you want a true Ansel Adams moment, and if you want a more rustic than a hotel experience, try one of the High Sierra camps. Have a wonderful time, and bring more film than you ever thought you'd need. Also--if you're camping on your own (check the legality of this before you go, it's been years since I did this), make sure to bring a bear box or swing your edibles high up in a tree. A cub stole my pack (lying just inches from my head, idiot that I was) because I forgot about the emergency M&Ms stash hidden deep inside.

-Anne


New York, N.Y.: I recently rented a car from Avis and was charged a small fee for being rewarded airline frequent-flier miles for my rental. Does anyone know if this becoming common practice among all car-rental companies, or was this just an Avis thing?
Thanks.

The Flight Crew: Sottili here: This is now quite common among most major car rental companies - Hertz, Avis/Budget all do it. I think Dollar may not. Some car rental companies, such as National/Alamo are even threatening to withdraw from airline frequent flyer programs.


Bethesda, Md.: Hi!

Would like to take a road trip over the upcoming weekend, say 250-350-mile radius from D.C. I'd LOVE the theme of the trip to end up being food-centric, however, I'm not having any luck finding any interesting food festivals or other culinary events. Heck, even a really amazing artisanal bread or cheese producer would be great. Can you guys help?!

The Flight Crew: Good question, says Gary. Any clicksters have any tips on that?


For Sean: For those of us spoiled by free (or basically) free museums here in DC, I was surprised by the cost of the museums in NYC. Were they worth it? Even at the Guggenheim? Which ones would you definately go back to?

The Flight Crew:
Yeah, those "suggested donations" the museums ask for can get pretty expensive. (I believe it's around $80 total to do the whole mile, with the Met ($12) and the Guggenheim ($15) being the priciest.)

The City Museum of New York ($10) and the Jewish Museum ($10) were my flat-out favorites, and definitely worth shelling out the cash for. (You must--MUST!--see the Jewish Museum's "Entertaining America" exhibit. Although the Guggenheim is a spectacular building, I was a bit cranky after paying $15 for "The Cremaster Cycle."




RE: Luggage locking: I've traveled out of the country a few times since the no-lock rule, and here's the REAL deal. Bring your lock--you'll be able to lock your bag AFTER it's been screened. At DCA that means you give them your bag, then stand in a line while they screen it. After it's screened, a TSA guard watches you like a hawk while you place the lock back on the bag. It's been marked as screened and then doesn't usually get re-screened, even at connecting airports--because it is never re-released to you.

I was told by agents at both USAirways and American, at Dulles, DCA, Heathrow, and in Rome that they would rather you use your own lock. I've not been told "no" once!

The Flight Crew: Great advice. Thanks. Now, maybe we can put on a lock on the lock debate.


No Cell: My husband and I need to get away for a week. He really needs a break from work and I am trying to figure out where to go that we can take the pets (which means driving) and that his office can't get ahold of him very easily. He has a palm pilot that is tied to his e-mail. It uses Cingular for the service, so I guess I am really interested if you or any of the clicksters know of a place the service won't work. I don't really want to go out of the country because of the pets, but I have considered that just so he won't be reachable. Does anyone know if service would be available in Canada? I am not looking for a five star resort, but I don't want to go tent camping either. He loves to golf, fish, kayak etc.
Thanks.

The Flight Crew: Sottili here: Have you tried calling Cingular and asking them? I bet that some of those places you have to take a float plane to get to would fit the bill. Any ideas from clicksters?


Laurel, Md.: Every time I've tried to visit Museum Mile on Sunday, there's some sort of parade disrupting the traffic flow on either the east or west side.

Is there a Web site that lists area street closures? The MTA site doesn't list what bus routes have minor diversions for just one day.

The Flight Crew: Hey Laurel--you can call the Department of Transportation at 212-225-5368, or check out www.nyc.gov. Go to Department of transportation under the list of agencies; once there, there should be a link to street closings.

-Anne


what to wear . . . : as a former american expat, I get SO tired of hearing people tell travelers not to wear this, not to wear that. WHATEVER! Wear what you want to wear, as long as it isn't disrespectful (and by that, I mean don't expect to tour Catholic churches in Italy with bare shoulders and wearing daisy dukes). Other than that, what's the harm in wearing clean pressed shorts, a white t-shirt, and WHITE running shoes while traisping around in the city. So, people might figure out you're American. Big deal. Like I can't figure out the fat guy in the speedo at the beach is european? Do I care? No.

You're there because you want to experience their culture. Be polite. Be curious. Be nice. Clothes do NOT make the man (or woman).

PS: I lived in England for 2 years, and more than half the time the person in the ballcap and sneakers at the tourist trap was from the continent - not America.

The Flight Crew: Well, the person did ASK for advice on what to wear. As for the shorts and running shoes outfit -- it's tacky to dress like that in a big city, but that's certainly your right. But it's not so much a question of being embarrassed to be recognized as an American -- it's more one of security. Do you really want to stand out as a prime pickpocket and/or terrorist target? Safer, these days, to blend in. If you look a little more sophisticated in the process, you're doing all the rest of us a favor. -- KC.


Rosslyn, Va.: Bereavement fares are hardly a bargain when they're half of the $1800 standard coach fare. When a sudden death requied me to travel to the West Coast, I found the best bargain to be cashing in my frequent flier miles. And when I needed to extend my stay, the frequent flier ticket had no change restrictions.

I now make sure I have a bank of miles that will allow me to get a last minute ticket if the need ever arises.

The Flight Crew: Yes, that's an option, although every time I try to use my miles, there are no more seats left.....


Charlotte, N.C.: Fave route: the Blue Ridge Parkway. No commercial traffic, beautiful views the whole way, rural...love it start (Cherokee, NC) to finish (Front Royal, VA). Neat stuff to do and see all along...parks, campgrounds, the kind of route you could do for years and never see it all!

The Flight Crew: Thanks, Charlotte, says Gary. Sounds lovely...


Washington, D.C.: Sean Daly: Great piece on Sunday. But I was a little disturbed by your assertion earlier in the chat that "I've never had so much fun doing a story." Didn't we have fun together?

--Mac McGarry

The Flight Crew: I stand corrected! Working with Mr. McGarry, longtime host of local quiz-show phenomenon "It's Academic," was the best experience of my writing career.

(Jeez, here's hoping squid-hunter Clyde Roper doesn't write in next.)


New York, N.Y.: I just got back from NYC last night, and unfortunately I didn't have your article while I was there. I cut it out to save it for the next trip, however. An earlier poster was looking for restaurants...since your article covered upper Manahattan, I won't touch it, but I do have a few suggestions for midtown and downtown:
Esca and Remi near Times Square for very good italian dining
Grey Dog's Coffee on Carmine St. for breakfast
Jewel Bako for great Sushi downtown
Have a great time!

The Flight Crew: Great tips, NY -- thanks!


washingtonpost.com: Museum Mile Restaurants, (Post, April 13, 2003)

The Flight Crew: Here's the link to our restaurant reviews yesterday.


washingtonpost.com: Postcard from Tom: New York, (Post, Feb. 2, 2003)

The Flight Crew: And here's a link to Tom Sietsema's recent NYC resto picks. Thanks Kim!


For Sean: Did you see the smoking ban in effect first-hand? I was in a bar the night the law came into effect, and nobody stopped smoking after midnight. It seems like people would shun it, or make a stink, or something... Also,what about the hookah bars?

The Flight Crew: No, the smoking ban had yet to go into effect, so everybody (including a few hacking pals) were smoking away like crazy. Ah, the good old days.

Gotta get back to you on the hookah bars...


Fairfax, Va.: I'm planning a trip to Ashville, N.C. in June for my husband's 30th birthday. I want to stop halfway down and stay at a really nice B&B. Do you have any recommendations for the Abingdon area? Or any recommendations for Ashville/Maggie Valley Area? Thanks!

The Flight Crew: Fairfax: no tip comes right to mind, says Gary. Maybe one of the clicksters has a suggestion?


Farragut Square, Washington, D.C.: A great drive is up the Hudson River valley, picking up either local Route 9W on the west side of the Hudson above the Tappan Zee Bridge and taking in West Point and Bear Mountain; or 9 (or it may be 9E, I don't remember)on the east side and going through the towns of Tarrytown, where you can visit Washington Irving's house; Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate; and end up in Hyde Park where FDR's estate, with Eleanor's Val Kill cottage are right next to the Vanderbilt mansion, and you can score a wonderful dinner at one of the restaurants of the Culinary Institute of American. En route, you can stay in Rhinebeck NY, site of one of the oldest continuously-operating inns in the state, if not the country (whose name I've just forgotten). If you venture further north beyond Hyde Park, you can visit Olana, home of Frederck Edwin Church, one of the Hudson River School 19th century painters. Its web sites is http://www.hopefarm.com/olana.htm for Olana;
www.hudsonvalley.org is a good general web site for information on the area.

The Flight Crew: Thanks, Farragut Square, says Gary. We like that tip!


Houston, Tex.: Favorite drive: I've driven the Maine coast, and it is absolutely beautiful - fully agree with other clicksters - but another beautiful drive in the Apache Trail east of Phoenix, AZ. We followed it the full circle, the road in some areas was barely 2 lanes wide with mountain rock on one side and shear drop on the other side. It was really great!

The Flight Crew: Lovely, responds Gary. Thanks for your contribution.


Washington, D.C.: Hey Flight Crew: I've got an immediate problem...a husband who suddenly needs to change his travel return plans with a colleague. They need to get home tomorrow afternoon from New Orleans to DC. (I won't bore you with the details.) My only option thus far: an $1,100 upgrade to first class with USAIRWAYS. I checked the usual websites--Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia-they're all nearly as expensive. Any tips on last minute savings? Thanks!

The Flight Crew: Sottili here: Have you tried buying them brand new round-trip tickets, and throwing out the second leg? It's not completely kosher (airlines forbid it in their contracts of carriage) and there's no guarantee it will be cheaper, but it's worth a look. Do the return a week later, also on a Tuesday, or a Wednesday, to find the cheapest deals. Check on the usual sites, and also on airline sites.


For Italian Honeymooners: If the object is to camouflage your foreigness, I must disagree on the khaki issue. Two weeks ago in Milan walking through the central square, I felt like I was the only one in a crowd of thousands wearing anything but blue jeans or black. All the young people seemed to wear nothing but blue jeans, but they are of different fabric and finish than our Gap or Levis, so even that won't help you fit in. I thought too it was easy to tell the difference between Italian men and tourists by their very nice footwear. I didn't encounter any hostility anyway, so i agree with you that it's not that big a deal.

The Flight Crew: Interesting. So khakis are giveaways, and jeans are continental. But if you just want to show respect, they're certainly better than shorts.


Bethesda, Md: for sean: if you had to only pick 2 museums which would you go back to? thanks!

The Flight Crew:
Two faves: City Museum of New York and the Jewish Museum.

The "Entertaining America" exhibit at the Jewish Museum is hip and hilarious. Any museum that honors "Blazing Saddles" as one of the most influential movies of our time deserves proper respect. (Also check out the "Seinfeld" room.)


Bethesda, Md.: Hey Gary:

I thought you don't drive, yet you're running a driving route contest. What gives?
How about a "most scenic city bus route" contest next--it's amazing how, in many cities, for the low price of a city bus, you can duplicate many of the pricier tourist bus loops.

The Flight Crew: Bethesda: you're right, I STILL don't drive, responds Gary. But I enjoy the experience vicariously. I like your idea about bus trips. Do you have any favorites?


Arlington, Va.: I know I'm late on the Vancouver discussion, but I wanted to tell you all that we discovered a gem of a tour company when we were there--Lotus Land Tours. My boyfriend and I went to Vancouver last August and decided we also wanted to see a bit of nature by sea kayaking.

LLT picked us up at our hotel, provided all the gear and a guide. The guide made us a great lunch that included mulled wine and fresh gilled salmon on an island in the middle of the inlet, and he was really, really knowledgable. Also, we were lucky that day because no one else had signed up for a wednesday tour--so it was just us 2 and the guide. When it was all over he drove us back to the hotel and gave us a thermos of chai to drink on the way....all for like $90 person/US$. I was totally impressed and I would use them again in a heartbeat!!!

The Flight Crew: Thanks, says Gary.


Question for Daly: I visited the Met a few years ago and can't remember if I had to buy a ticket to get in. I do remember them asking for a "donation" and feeling obligated to give so I wouldn't feel like a jerk. If I'm remembering correctly, do you know if this is still the case (do we need to buy tickets to get in, or is it 'voluntary' donations?)? Not that I wouldn't pay the donation, but admittedly I've been spoiled by all the free museums here in DC.

The Flight Crew: Okay, this isn't Sean (he's busy fielding other questions), but we do what we can. Technically, it is a donation, which by definition can't really be required. Except...unless you have a membership card, they don't hand over the little pin (which IS required to go into the exhibits). But paying the full "donation" fee? You'd go broke in seconds. It's pay what you wish, so go with what your gut and wallet can handle (I mean, don't pay a quarter and then go to Hermes for some after-museum shopping, but don't feel obligated to pay $12). For those who qualify, check out the American Association of Museums; many museums, as a professional courtesy, allow members in for free.
-Anne


travel dress: I've read where some of the crew members recommended certain companies that make comfortable travel clothing that looks good even if you spend a day on the train...what brands do you recommend? Thanks!

The Flight Crew: TravelSmith has some nice stuff, as does Magellan's. Isabella Bird has nice stuff for women. All kinda pricey though. -- KC.


The Flight Crew: Much thanks for all those wonderful questions and suggestions for drives, says Gary. We had a hard time picking one out of the list but the prize goes to the clickster from Seattle who suggested the drive out in Washington State. If you send me your address to leeg@washpost.com, I will make sure you get the prize.


local drive: When I'm too busy to go out to the Catoctin Mtns of MD to catch the fall colors, I do appreciate the trees on Little Falls Road.

The 1/4 mile stretch between Mass Ave and River Road can be quite beguiling if it isn't rush hour!

The Flight Crew: Thanks, says Gary.


FYI - for the North Shore Mass. drives: Thought you should know that if your drive ends up in Rockport and you're looking for dinner and maybe a glass of wine, you're out of luck. Rockport's a dry town. Thought you shoudl know.

The Flight Crew: Good tip, says Gary.


Silver Spring, Md.: Best driving route:
Through the arizona desert w/ the sun setting. Even in a rental moving van, it was spectacular. my cat who was petrified of being in the van w/ a dog, even started climbing on the dashboard to see out. (although he could have just had cabin fever)

The Flight Crew: Thanks, much, responds Gary.


Driving Route: I used to love the drive to my college that went through the Adirondacks. You take one road (Route 11?) the whole time, and you go through lots of tiny towns with great shops and restaurants (many right on the lakes). You pass lakes, mountains, Lake Placid and the Olympic Park, Saranac mountain and the brewery...It's a curvy, hilly route, so beautiful.

The Flight Crew: Good suggestion, says Gary. Much thanks...


Washington, D.C.: You call Seville off-the-beaten path? Was that really a serious answer?

The Flight Crew: Yes, says Gary....


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