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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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Talk About Travel
The Flight Crew
Washington Post Travel Section

Monday, June 02, 2003; 2:00 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: Hey, gang,and welcome to this week's forum with the Travel Section Flight Crew. This is John Deiner, your captain. We have a full crew this week, so let us have it.

Here's the deal this week: Borrowing a page from Groucho, the first person to use the Secret Word in their question or comment (preferably praise) gets the prize this week--a really cool electro-frisbee that makes neat sounds when it flies around. We guarantee that it'll drive you crazy.

So let's go, shall we?

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Annandale, Va.: I know it's early, and I don't have any qestions, but I just read your special section on the Outer Banks and I wanted to let you know it's AWESOME. Definitely a keeper. Thanks.

The Flight Crew: Hey, thanks Ann. Glad we could be of assistance.

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Arlington, Va.: What is the weather like in Cairns/Queensland in April/May? I was thinking of going on my honeymoon to do some diving in Australia during this time next year. I know it is the southern hemisphere's fall/winter season but I have been told me it is still nice and we should go.

However, another person told me it is the typhoon/monson season and to go somewhere else.

Any thoughts?

The Flight Crew: I happen to have gone there this year over Easter, and it was lovely. In fact, it was warm enough that I was glad I hadn't waited until their summer, cause it would have been too hot. Check with the australia tourism office about the typhoon/monsoon odds, www.australia.com.

I would say two more things---Carnes is nice, with lots of action, but the high-rise atmosphere wasn't for me personally. If you like the low key, low-rise feel too, consider staying in Port Douglas, an hour to the north. Also, the area is great for diving, snorkeling and boating and wildlife watching, rainforest trekking and all manner of tours. But the beaches, while decent, aren't fantastic, and during that time of year their are stinging jellyfish, and they have nets up to protect you from bites, which we found effective but then again not romantic. We'll be publishing a story with more specifics next Sunday. Cindy

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Arlington, Va.: Hello,
Going to Bermuda this summer. How should I pay for the taxi from the airport to the hotel? Should I pay with a travelers check, credit card or should I hope to change some money in the airport there?

Also, what are your favorite activities in Bermuda? Staying at the Reefs hotel.

Thanks much!

The Flight Crew: Hey, Arl. Pay with cash with either money you changed ahead of time, or change it once you get there. And make sure you change enough--cabs are very pricey there, and if memory serves me, the reefs are good distance from the airport.

As for activities, love the snorkeling--just about the best you'll find, plus there are dozens of places to do it. Also, be sure to check out Hamilton, which is a fun place to chill.

-john

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Germany bound: Hello Crew and happy SUNNY Monday. I am in need of your brilliant help. I'm going to the Rhine valley in Germany soon, and we'd like to find a place to stay in Rudesheim, but none of my guidebooks have recommendations. Do you or any of your readers? Thank you for your help!

The Flight Crew: We don't know Rudesheim well enough to recommend lodgings. CAN READERS HELP?

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Olney, Md.: Midway or O'Hare?

All else being equal, which do you prefer? I'll be cabbing it in and out, and often grab a bite to eat at the airport on the way out.

(If I recall correctly, O'Hare was the one with the depressingly narrow cinderblock corridors and construction intruding on the terminal and with a dearth of choice eats.)

The Flight Crew: I prefer Midway. O'Hare is so huge it's maddening. Midway is smaller, easy, closer to town, plus you should be able to get a better fare since Southwest competes in that market. Cindy

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Washington, D.C.: I am thinking about taking a bus from Chinatown up to New York for one weekend this month. Do you all still recommend this as a good cheap transportation mode? Where can I find out about prices and departure times?
Thanks.

The Flight Crew: Hey DC--I still take the Chinatown buses all the time. Go to www.ivymedia.com and click on the NY/DC icon. The schedules will pop right up. It's $20 one way, $35 roundtrip, with a $ service charge for ordering online (Or you can go and buy the ticket directly at 610 I St. NW, two blocks from the Chinatown Metro stop). Show you confirmation printout when you arrive at the "station," at least 20 minutes before departure, and they'll assign you a seat number. For the same price (at last check) you can take Washington Deluxe, www.washingtondeluxe.com.
-Anne

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Stafford, Va.: How do I get info on cruise ships leaving from Baltimore, Md.?

The Flight Crew: Sottili here: Celebrity (www.celebrity.com) is the cruise line that offers the most cruises out of Baltimore. Holland America offers a couple a year to the Caribbean. Norwegian Cruise Line offers a couple to Canada/New England in the fall. Carnival is going to offer cruises to the Bahamas on the new Carnival Miracle beginning next April.

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Arlington, Va.:
My fiance and I are changing our honeymoon plans, and were thinking of going to Miami. I am afraid it will be terribly hot in July and too Spring Break-ish. We had planned on going to San Francisco but no longer think we can afford it. Is Miami a decent option? We're looking for beach and other things to do!

Thank you so much!

The Flight Crew: Miami wouldn't be my first choice in July, given that the whole east coast is good beach weather then. I guess though it depends what the "other things" are that you want to do. Have you considered South Carolina beaches, for example? How about touring around Charleston or Savanah and then going to beaches near there? Or really cheap transportation, drive up to New York City, do your city stuff, then go to Long Island. There are tons of options, and I'd take one of them over Miami in July unless there is something specific you want to see there. Cindy

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Silver Spring, Md.: I have a free day coming up during a business trip to Scottsdale, Ariz., next week. I'm thinking of going to Sedona. Any recommendations for activities there?

The Flight Crew: Hey, SS. Sedona is beautiful...you could easily spend a day just hiking and/or driving around the red rock canyons. Check out www.visitsedona.com for more ideas.

How about it clicksters...any suggestions?

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Washington, D.C.: I was hoping to plan a trip to climb Mt. Kilamanjaro, and I would like to do it with a group. Via the interent, I have found some companies that organize group climbs. How do I go about which is best, the reputation, etc.? Or do you know of a good company? Thanks.

The Flight Crew:

I went up in '91 with a group(s) that provided excellent service from bottom to top (and down again). It was the internet broker, Iexplore.com (www.iexplore.com), which in turn contracted me to a company called Journeys (www.journeys-intl.com), which in turn hired the Tanzania-based outfitter Shades of Africa for the actual climb--such is the nature of internet-based travel planning. The trip was excellent, but a little on the pricey side. You might also look at Gorp.com and see what iteneraries they have. Then check a general review site, like epinions.com, to see if your operator gets any feedback.

--Steve

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Alexandria, Va.: You wrote an article within the last year about taking photographs. What was the title and date of that article? I would like to get it from the archives.

The Flight Crew: Hey Alex--a link to the article, by Elissa Leibowitz, is coming right up. Also, check out this week's Escapes column (in Style on Wednesday) for a look at local nature photography workshops.
-Anne

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washingtonpost.com: Learn From the Experts: Photo Classes and Workshops (Post, Aug. 11)

The Flight Crew: Thanks, .com!

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Arlington, Va.: Ok, I'm unemployed, single and bored. I need an inexpensive getaway. I'm up for anything but a beach. Any ideas? Thanks.

The Flight Crew: Okay, I'm an idiot, I was going to send you to Berkeley Springs 'cause it's close and cheap, but Steve thinks you're a guy on the prowl, and I have to admit Berkeley Springs isn't prime singles territory. So how about Richmond? My college-age kid just came back from a weekend there and was raving about the nightlife and the cool neighborhoods. Shockoe Slip is a great area of trendy bars and restaurants, Monument Avenue is gorgeous and the Fan District has beautiful brownstones as well as lots of pubs and eateries. And with the money you save on airfare, you can get a room at the gorgeous, five-star Hotel Jefferson, with its "Gone with the Wind" staircase. Best of all, it's nowhere near a beach. .com, can you give us a link to our recent Escapes piece on Richmond? --KC

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Blown Away in Bowie, Md.: Hey crew -- strange thing on Orbitz recently. I have a quick trip to Philly in July and found a $25 per night rate at the Doubletree in downtown Philadelphia for, get this, the "club" level! (They are AAA priced at $189 a night!) I swear, this is not a typo! After checking out the hotel (rooms recently renovated, great location) I confirmed the reservation so it's $30.16 with tax! My question is, if this is a mistake on Orbitz, can the hotel make me pay the "regular" rate when I check in or do they have to honor the confirmed reservation?

The Flight Crew: Seems to me a confirmed reservation, assuming you have it in writing, is a confirmed reservation. That's not to say they won't refuse you entrance, then you'll have to enter a battle that could last long after your intended stay. If it were me, I'd call them before I go to say what you've got on paper, and see what they say. That way, if you want to argue the point with a manager or with Orbitz, you'll be doing if from home, not from the street. Cindy

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Arlington, Va.: I am going to Japan in July, and while excited, am nervous about the fact that I don't know any Japanese. Although I love to travel, my trips have all been to places with our alphabet system! Can you all tell me how difficult it may be to figure out the train schedules, menus, etc.? I will be in Tokyo for five days, and Kyoto, Beppu, and Nagoya for five days. Any hints or ideas to make my trip less intimidating? Also, do you have to make reservations for train travel if you are using the Japan Rail pass? Thanks for your help!

The Flight Crew: Arlington: I went to Japan not long ago, also with only a few words of Japanese to my vocabulary, says Gary. I was mostly in Tokyo. I found that while most people understood a couple of words of English, it was not really widely spoken. Based on my experience, it would help if you planned your days carefully, using let's say the front desk person in your hotel (who should speak English) to help chart you through. Also, I stumbled across a godsend: a service where an English speaking local will come to your hotel and act as your guide for the day free of charge. The catch is that the guides usually don't speak perfect English so what's in it for them is a chance to practice with a native speaker. (And to show their city off.) You can find the number for the service at the Tokyo tourist office. Also, in most public transportation centers (Metro stations, train stations, etc) there is one person who understands English well. Make use of them. Finally, take good maps wherever you go. Even if the locals can't speak much of your language, I found they were very willing to do their best to steer you on course, using a good map and gestures.

This sounds hard but it isn't really. I had fun trying to communicate with locals and I bet you will, too.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: We are going on a Alaskan cruise in August from Vancouver to Anchorage on Princess Cruises. This is our first time on a cruise. What can I expect as far as potential seasickness on an Alaskan cruise, considering we stay relatively close to shore?

The Flight Crew: I wouldn't expect to get sick on that itinerary, but you can always take along some dramamine in case you have a problem. Make sure you build in a bit of time to see Vancouver if you can--it's a wonderful city.

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Arlington, Va.: Crew, hoping you can help out with planning a trip to Maine. My girlfriend and I are going for four days in August, flying into Portland, and are trying to decide whether to stay in the Portland area or take a van from the airport to a coastal town like Boothbay Harbor. The catch is, we are both under 25 and trying to keep to a fairly low budget, so we don't want to pay the extra $25 per day that we young 20-somethings have to pay to rent a car. Is Portland itself worthwhile (scenic, good restaurants, fun outdoorsy stuff, etc.) AND navigable without a car? Or would we find that we wouldn't need a car once we got to a place like Boothbay? Thanks for the help!

The Flight Crew: Portland is a great city, and you can skip the car rental and rent an even cheaper bike and get around everywhere (if you tire, you can hop a bus with a bike rack). You have arts, sailing, ballroom dancing--so much to see and do, and since it is a young city, you can always find free stuff, like the outdoor concerts on Thursday nights in Monument Square, Movies in the Park in Congress Square or art openings at the Maine College of Art. There is also a great waterfront where you can sail or cruise, or take a landmark tour. If you tire of city life, you can hop a bus to other regions for not a lot. Sadly, though, the hostel is closed.--andrea

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Potomac, Md.: I'm a student flying into Narita airport June 12. What is the cheapest/easiest way for me to get to Tsukuba University from the airport? Also, what is the best way for me to get from Tsukuba to downtown Tokyo on the weekends?

The Flight Crew: Gary Lee, who was in Tokyo recently, says that your best bet is probably to take a fast train into the central station of Tokyo (it will cost around $18) and then take a subway to Tsukuba from there. It would probably stand you in good stead to get a subway/train map of the Tokyo area and study it a bit beforehand. Are there any other clicksters with a more precise idea of the best routes to Tsukuba from Narita?

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Travel Crew,
I'm heading to Paradise Island, Bahamas the end of October. The cheapest fare I can find is $420. Any guidance on finding a lower fare or is that a good price? Thank you!

The Flight Crew: Sottili here: That seems high to me. I'd wait a bit and see if US Airways has a sale. But if you really need to be there at a certain date/time, then buy now and be done with it. Airtran has cheap fares, but it flies to Freeport.

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Fairfax, Va.: Looking for fun things to do in the Asheville, N.C. area. Other than furniture shopping, which is a must, I have no idea what to do. We'll be there for a week. Thanks for your help, love the chats!

The Flight Crew: Hey, FVa. Other than the nearby Biltmore Estate, none of us is too familiar with the area. What say you Clicksters...any Ashville experts out there?

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Bethesda, Md.: Going to New Orleans Labor Day weekend with the wife. Any must do's? Any restaurant recommendations? Do you expect "Decadence Weekend" activities to get in the way?

Secret Word: Duck?

The Flight Crew: Restaurants in New Orleans----just so happens my husband works for the New Orleans Times Pic's Washington Bureau, and beneath this message I list that local paper's favorite picks.

If you like ham, cheese, great bread and olives, you have to try a muffaletta at the Central Market. Commander's Palace isn't any secret, but there really is good reason for it to be so well-known. If you're on any kind of budget, consdier going for lunch, cause it's a pricey place. And for some reason they left off Mr. B's. New Orleans is one of those towns where your odds of getting agood meal are very high even if you just pick a place for ambiance.

I'd say to save some time to just wonder the streets around Jackson Square. Take the streetcar up Charles St. to see old style New Orleans. The Preservation Jazz place is cool, and you can walk up and talk to musicians. I don't know what decadence weekend will do to New Orleans, but decadence is part of every weekend there.


Acme Restaurant 
4330 Magazine St. 
504.895.9761 
Why do you want to slurp down some Gulf oysters? Because you can. Gulf oysters arent widely exported, so now is the time to partake in a great local pastime by bellying up to one of our iconic oyster bars for a cool dozen. Both Casamentos Uptown and Acme — it has several locations but the original is in the Quarter — have been serving up plump, creamy local oysters since around the time of the dinosaurs. Eating at Casamentos, with its tiled floors and long-tenured employees, is like traveling back in time. Acme is certainly the rowdier of the two. Both are open for dinner as well, and French Quarter carousers commonly drop in to Acme for a late-night dozen. 
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Croissant dOr 
617 Ursulines Ave. 
504.524.4663 
As Parisian in feel as any place in New Orleans, this classic patisserie is a favorite for breakfast or simply as a place to wind down in the early afternoon. The baked sweets are unsurpassed locally; ditto (usually) the titular croissants. Fresh soups are offered daily. There are tables, but no table service. 
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Central Grocery Co. 
923 Decatur St. 
504.523.1620 
The home and birthplace of the muffuletta, the famous New Orleans Italian cold cut sandwich. Its served on distinctive round loaves of bread and loaded with oily, indescribably delicious olive salad. Central is a deli with few tables, so order one to eat on a bench in Jackson Square — or on the flight home. 
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Commanders Palace Restaurant 
1403 Washington Ave. 
504.899.8221 
This landmark Garden District restaurant is among the most revered in all the South. It is where Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse first found new directions for Cajun and Creole cooking, and it remains the crown jewel of the Brennan family, which is to modern New Orleans restaurants what the Marsalis family is to contemporary jazz. Commanders is prominent on the tourist map, but locals still stream in, particularly during its festive Sunday brunch, when this restaurant shines brightest. 
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Domilise Sandwich Shop and Bar 
5240 Annunciation St. 
504.899.9126 
Johnnys Po-Boys 
511 St. Louis St. 
504.524.8129 
Neither is much to look at, and dont go expecting gracious service. But drop in to either of these ramshackle, order-at-the-counter joints — Domilises is Uptown; Johnnys is in the Quarter — and you can be certain to encounter some of the finest specimens of the species po-boy found anywhere on the globe. At Johnnys were partial to the gravy-dripping roast beef, at Domilises to the fried shrimp or oyster. Ask for yours dressed — shorthand for lettuce, tomato and my-nez. Thats mayonnaise where you come from. 
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Uglesich Restaurant and Bar 
1238 Baronne St. 
504.523.8571 
Alone among the citys great restaurants in reflecting the urban decay that is as much a part of the city as second lines and political corruption, Uglesichs is the quintessential New Orleans dive. Its also one of the citys best and most creative restaurants. Seafood doesnt get any fresher or more robustly prepared. Lines are long, and its open only for lunch. So plan ahead. 
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Antoines 
713 St. Louis St. 
504.581.4422 
Antoines is among the oldest restaurants in the nation, a French Quarter fixture nearly as recognizable as Jackson Square, and one of the citys best-known practitioners of French-Creole cooking. Two of New Orleans most durable dishes, oysters Bienville and oysters Rockefeller, were birthed in Antoines kitchen. Because of its age and style, its often mentioned in the same sentence as Galatoires. Old-line regulars, of which there are many, tend to be treated with greater reverence than tourists, of which there are also many. 
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Brigtsens Restaurant 
723 Dante St. 
504.861.7610 
Chef-owner Frank Brigtsen likes to say that putting on a chefs jacket in New Orleans is akin to wearing a Green Bay Packers jersey. This deeply felt commitment to local culinary tradition is evident in the food at this quaint and exceptional restaurant in the Riverbend, where local classics are given fresh voice. Brigtsens is also one of the citys friendliest restaurants. 
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Clancys Restaurant 
6100 Annunciation St. 
504.895.1111 
Lee Circle Restaurant 
3 Lee Circle 
504.962.0915 
Clancys is a bustling Uptown favorite that specializes in honest New Orleans cooking, fresh ingredients and fine wine. Last year, the principals involved took the formula downtown and opened Lee Circle in the Hotel Le Cirque. The new restaurant is much sleeker than its homey sibling. But both are committed to a similar style of unpretentious cooking that has turned scores of locals into regulars. 
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Cuvιe 
322 Magazine St. 
504.587.9001 
Opening chef Richard Bingo Starr has departed, but his brand of spirited, high-flavor New Orleans cooking lives on in the hands of Robert Iacovone, his former sous chef. From the mirliton Napoleon to sweetbreads with butter beans to oysters cast in a cagey rethinking of traditional New Orleans barbecued shrimp, Cuvιe serves modern New Orleans cooking the way modern New Orleanians like to eat it. Furthermore, it boasts one of the strongest wine programs in the city. Its list is a potentially unapproachable volume that the staff demystifies with an honest enthusiasm for its contents. 
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Dantes Kitchen 
736 Dante St. 
504.861.3121 
Chef Emanuel Loubier is a refugee from Commanders Palace who makes hot, fresh-baked spoonbread and falafel-crusted Gulf fish taste like part of the same culinary tradition. Dantes Kitchen is a quiet, quaint neighborhood restaurant that surprises with its culinary ambitions. Its proof that in New Orleans you dont have to follow the crowd to find a good place to eat. 
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Eleven 79 
1179 Annunciation St. 
504.299.1179 
Moscas 
4137 U.S. 90 West, Avondale 
504.436.9942 
On the menu: veal, veal, pasta, veal, chicken, veal. In the parking lot: Beemer, Benz, Lexus, Benz, Caddy, Benz. Set on a dark stretch of Annunciation Street, Eleven 79 is like an ultra-interactive Scorsese movie starring some of the best examples of Italian-Creole cuisine in the city. More adventurous types seeking similar adventures with red sauce and garlic should point their rental across the river and down the highway toward Avondale, where youll find Moscas, the venerable roadhouse restaurant across the Huey P. Long Bridge. 
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Emerils 
800 Tchoupitoulas St. 
504.528.9393 
Before you dismiss him as overexposed (which, of course, he is), Emeril Lagasse must be considered in light of the skills required to, first, take over the kitchen of Commanders Palace in his early 20s, do a good job of it, leave to open his own restaurant and then leverage that restaurants popularity to build an empire that has made him, arguably, the most recognizable chef the world has ever seen. Suffice it to say the mans a first-rate restaurateur, and his flagship is the best place to experience his in-your-face culinary style. The grilled double-cut pork chop and banana cream pie are signatures for good reason. And the front-of-the-house is as well run as any in the city. 
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Franky & Johnnys Restaurant 
321 Arabella St. 
504.899.9146 
R&O Pizza Place 
216 Hammond Highway, Metairie 
504.831.1248 
To many folks in South Louisiana, there are really only two ways to enjoy seafood: boiled or fried. Enthusiasts know that the finest purveyors of both forms are less restaurants than joints. Franky & Johnnys certainly qualifies. The Uptown institution looks like a place where you could order up a beer and a fight just as easily as an oyster po-boy and a mess of boiled crawfish; all except the fight are specialties. R&Os is a larger, family-style place in Bucktown, a lakefront neighborhood that is to South Louisiana seafood joints what Madison Avenue is to advertising agencies. Bucktown is just outside Orleans Parish, and R&Os is a typical Bucktown joint: large portions, large smoking section, large people, small decorating budget. The oysters on the half shell, while neither fried nor boiled, are also fabulous. 
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Gabrielle 
3201 Esplanade Ave. 
504.948.6233 
Chef Greg Sonnier, who runs this Mid-City restaurant with wife Mary, is a former protιgι of Cajun cooking titan Paul Prudhomme. He finds plenty of inspiration in the sweaty swamps; his sauces are rich and complex, his meat juicy and full of flavor — try the duck — his seafood fresh and sweet. The space itself is more cozy than luxurious, fitting for a restaurant thats so clearly a labor of familial love. 
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Galatoires Restaurant 
209 Bourbon St. 
504.525.2021 
Change comes slowly to the near-century-old Galatoires, a restaurant where vocal regulars see signs of the apocalypse in the dismissal of a waiter or the switch from hand-chipped to machine-made ice. Anachronistic? Depends on whom you ask. If you ask me, theres no better place to enjoy French-Creole classics. Dont miss the trout meuniere, shrimp remoulade, stuffed eggplant .€.€. I could go on. The bottom line: This is a tradition like no other. If you havent eaten at Galatoires, you really havent eaten in New Orleans. 
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Gautreaus 
1728 Soniat St. 
504.899.7397 
Gautreaus has a tradition of churning out smart, independent-minded chefs. Mathias Wolf is the latest. He brings a light, seafood-focused touch to this classy, new American restaurant. The duck confit is a longtime favorite, and for good reason. Tucked in a residential Uptown neighborhood and wrapped in manly strokes of dark wood and oxblood paint, the elegant dining rooms have the aura of salons for some secret society, albeit a tiny one. Everything from Gautreaus wine list, which, like the menu, is short but smart, to the restaurant itself, a classy wonder of space efficiency, alludes to the virtues of thinking small. 
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GW Fins 
808 Bienville St. 
504.581.3467 
GW Fins proudly serves seafood caught in hemispheres other than this one, a daring prospect in a region that prides itself on the local catch. Chef Tenney Flynn has fresh seafood flown in daily, and his modern American sensibility — lobster dumplings are a signature — brings it all to life with a panache that underscores his respect for the product. This is one of the best dinner options in the French Quarter. 
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Herbsaint 
701 St. Charles Ave. 
504.524.4114 
Pitch-perfect gumbos and clean-lined new American cuisine meet Italian trattoria and French bistro fare at this stylish but casual restaurant on the fringe of the Warehouse District downtown. What on paper sounds diffuse finds spiritual kinship at this food lovers favorite. A little more than two years ago, local legend Susan Spicer (and partners) opened Herbsaint as a dressed-down alternative to her much beloved Bayona, 430 Dauphine St. in the French Quarter. With chef Donald Link serving as the kitchens constant presence, it has emerged as her crown jewel. 
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Indigo Restaurant 
2285 Bayou Road 
504.947.0123 
Set on the grounds of an old indigo plantation, and flanked by a temperature-controlled patio, this is among the citys most spectacular dinner settings. Its well-matched by chef Kevin Vizzards sensible, stylish modern Creole cuisine. 
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Jacques-Imo Cafe 
8324 Oak St. 
504.861.0886 
How can some of the citys best fried chicken co-exist with some of its most interesting explorations into haute Creole seafood? Dont ask. This swamp-shack restaurant near the river bend is in a class all its own. Its also among the citys rowdiest and most popular restaurants. Expect to wait for a table. And dont shy away from the signature shrimp-and-alligator-sausage cheesecake. Its delicious. 
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Lilette 
3637 Magazine St. 
504.895.1636 
Lilette has quickly risen to the top ranks of New Orleans great neighborhood restaurants. Young chef John Harris churns out finely wrought French-inspired cuisine in what amounts to a quaint, thumbnail sketch of a much grander place. Very romantic. Dont neglect the list of daily specials. 
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Liuzzas By the Track 
1518 N. Lopez St. 
504.943.8667 
Its really a neighborhood bar, but people in the neighborhood go for the food as much as the frosty beers. The kitchen sautιs fresh shrimp and oysters to order for every gumbo it sends out, and the po-boys are exemplary: Were partial to the roast beef with fresh horseradish, as well as the signature barbecued shrimp — essentially a hollowed-out loaf of French bread filled with molten garlic butter and shrimp. The By the Track differentiates it from another restaurant of the same name; it also refers — gamblers take note — to the racetrack nearby. 
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Lulus 
307 Exchange Alley 
504.525.2600 
Lulus is a tiny cafe tucked into the French Quarters Exchange Alley. Its essentially a breakfast and lunch place. But on Friday and Saturday nights, chef-owner Corbin Evans serves a small, affordable farmers-market-driven menu thats worthy of an expense account. Its very casual: Glass jars double as water glasses, and in lieu of offering appetizers, all orders come with a relish tray of fresh-roasted vegetables, followed by a salad. The restaurant has no liquor license, so be sure to bring along a bottle, or two, of something special. Evans food deserves it. 
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Mandinas Restaurant 
3800 Canal St. 
504.482.9179 
Some people go because its the place around the corner; others because its the place where Grandpa brought them for their first taste of crab fingers or red beans and rice, a Monday lunch tradition. We go for the time-warp charm and the turtle soup. And the smothered pork chops. Did we mention the po-boys? 
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Peristyle 
1041 Dumaine St. 
504.593.9535 
Theres no better chef in the city than chef-owner Anne Kearney, a recent James Beard Award-winner and constant presence in this gorgeous French Quarter bistro. France meets the American South in inventive food thats highly refined but never prissy. You can also sense something of the past in the dining rooms tinted light. Tennessee Williams owned a house across the street. Pan down slowly from the ceiling fans and one half-expects to discover suspendered politicians dealing five-card stud. 

Renι Bistrot 
817 Common St. 
504.412.2580 
Chef Renι Bajeux is a former executive chef of the high-flying Grill Room whos finding new rewards in the comforting, bistro-style French food of his youth. This sleek downtown restaurant provides fresh counterpoint to well-crafted versions of sautιed skate, braised rabbit and housemade pates. The comfort food isnt designed to shoot off sparks, which is precisely why it does. In a city steeped in classic French influences, Bajeux may be the most gifted practitioner of classic French food. 
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Restaurant August 
301 Tchoupitoulas St. 
504.299.9777 
Chef John Besh dares to create vertical plate architecture; the result is earnest, not haughty. He weaves in classic influences from Germany and France; the results taste modern, even light. At this very moment, no one in town is cooking with the confidence of this young local boy done good. Restaurant August may be young — it opened in 2001 — but it has the look and feel of a classic. 
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Upperline Restaurant 
1413 Upperline St. 
504.891.9822 
Owner Joanne Clevenger is one of the citys most recognizable and gracious hostesses. Set in a former Uptown home, her cozy restaurant serves modern New Orleans cooking with a wholesome bent, and its been the home of some of the citys finest chefs over the years. This is where the idea to put shrimp remoulade over fried green tomatoes originated. 
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Victors 
921 Canal St. 
504.670.2929 
Do not dine at Victors expecting a New Orleans-style experience. The restaurants goal is to offer meals worthy of the European, Michelin-starred tradition, and in many ways the Ritz-Carlton property fulfills its lofty ambition. Chef Frank Brunacci is an original thinker who employs breathtaking technique to craft a pan-everything style of cuisine. The multicourse meals, rife with curry oil, olive oil ice cream and studies in lamb architecture, are designed for diners who have been everywhere and seen everything. And the cheese selection is arguably the best in town. 
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Arlington, Va.: Going to Paris later this week. Any antiAmerican feelings left over, I mean, more than usual? Vive la France.

The Flight Crew: Arlington: there was only a tinge of criticism of the Bush administration (and none of Americans in general) when I visited Paris in April, says Gary Lee. I suspect that all of that has faded by now. Vive La France indeed.

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Houston, Tex.: As a diabetic and heart patient traveling abroad (Italy), what paperwork to I need to verify my carring insulin needles and medicine?

The Flight Crew: Sottili here:
According to the Transportation Security Administration, diabetes-related supplies and equipment -- including "insulin-loaded dispensing products," "jet injectors," "preloaded syringes" and "an unlimited number of unused syringes when accompanied by insulin" -- are allowed in carry-on luggage. Two caveats: Items are permitted "once inspected to insure prohibited items are not concealed" and "insulin in any form or dispenser must be properly marked with a professionally printed label identifying the medication or manufacturer's name or pharmaceutical label."

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Washington, D.C.: Re: "Midway is smaller, easy, closer to town, plus you should be able to get a better fare since Southwest competes in that market." Don't forget ATA, which also goes to Midway. Usually a bit more than Southwest, but it leaves from National!

The Flight Crew: Yes, ATA too. Thanks. Cindy

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McLean, Va.: Help! I'm caught in an extreme state of indecision. My husband and I are going to England for 13 days in September. We are spending five days in London and need advice on what to do for the remaining eight days (although one of those days involves returning the rental car and making our way back to London). We want to choose one area to concentrate our time in. One idea is to spend a couple of days each in Oxford, the Cotswolds, Bath and a day in Salisbury. Another is to head south and go to Canterbury, Rye, Lewes and Brighton. But I'm also sad to be missing Cornwall and the moors. We're interested in everything which is the main problem but we don't want to be rushing around doing one town each day. What do you and the clicksters think? What would make the best trip? Thanks!

The Flight Crew: Go with the Cotswolds, Bath and Salisbury, Mac. I've been to every area that you list and, while they all have their high points, that rolling area of the Cotwolds has the most general appeal. The countryside is just lovely, and when you add the cities (you could do two days in Oxford alone), your week is filled.

You'll miss Cornwall, sure, but you'll miss all of Scotland, Ireland and York as well. Travel 101: don't fret about what you're missing; enjoy what you're not.

--Steve

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Washington, D.C.: Quick question: Scotland -- fall or spring? I was thinking of going this fall but prefer cool weather over warm (although the heather blooms in the fall I think). Thanks!

The Flight Crew: Check this with the tourism folks, but I'm pretty sure there is more rain in spring than in fall, and it shouldn't be too hot in fall, and I too think the heather blooms then. Plus fall is closer than next spring, so why delay gratification. Cindy

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Washington, D.C.: Has the SARS problem in Toronto spread farther than that city in Canada? I'm thinking of going to Niagra or Quebec City. Thanks.

The Flight Crew: No indication that SARS has spread beyond Toronto, so I would go and even take my kid. Cindy

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Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: Hello Crew:

I am headed to France later this month (June) and have hotel reservations for most of our cities, except for three days in the south. My companion and I are driving thru Languedoc and Provence and want to "play it by ear." Is this realistic or should we try to find B&B/hotel reservations before we leave? Thanks!

The Flight Crew: Gary Lee says: I have been in southern France in summer without a room and found it not as easy as all that to find a place that's not booked up. If I were you, I would spare myself the risk of ending up in a place you don't like much and book something in advance.

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Arlington, Va.: Ok, I'm unemployed, single and bored. I need an inexpensive getaway. I'm up for anything but a beach. Any ideas? Thanks.

The Flight Crew: Too broad. Are you talking driving or flying. Weekend or longer. How inexpensive is inexpensive.

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On an Island In My Dreams: Ashville Bound:

Haven't been there myself, but have heard all good things about it. One good thing I've heard is that it's very artsy -- cool galleries and things like that. I bet there are great hiking trails and lots of outdoors-y things to do. Check out www.exploreasheville.com

Have fun!

The Flight Crew: Thanks, Island.

PS Still no sign of the Secret Word, folks. Here's a clue: It's one of KC's least favorite words, which she describes as "too cutesy."

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Secret Word: Hey crew -- What kind of "enjoyment" might I expect from a few days in the Catskills in July?

The Flight Crew: "Nice try," but sorry, you win...some recommendations for the Catskills. Some ideas: great summer theater at the Forestburgh Playhouse, more farmers markets than you can shake a zucchini at (Wurstboro, Bethel, etc.), Callicoon's free concerts on Wednesdays, weekend chamber music at the Hortonville Presbyterian Church, derby racing at Monticello's, trout action at Catskills Fly Fishing Center and Museum, a food of the settlements cook-off in Narrowsburg, etc. And then there are the standards: backbacking, cycling, antiques shopping, ballroom dancing.--andrea

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Air Tran: Some family members want to come and visit me from LA this summer, and right now the best airfares seem to be on AirTran. I've never flown them, but I know they're what became of the old Value Jet.

What is your experience with them? I'm mostly concerned about safety and connections as there will be small children in the group.

Thanks.

The Flight Crew: Not everyone in this newsroom is fond of Air Tran, but I am. I fly them several times a year on family and work trips to Georgia and haven't had more problems with schedules, delays and general travel torture than with any other carrier. You get what you pay for, but so far with Air Tran, at least I've gotten that.

--Steve

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New York, N.Y.: Dear Travel Crew,

I am headed to France (a tiny village outside of Toulouse) for a wedding in August. The lowest fare I've seen to either Paris or Toulouse is $795. Will these come down at all?

Thanks!

The Flight Crew: We've seen no indication of a fare war, and that seems to be the lower end of the going price. Then again a sudden sale fare might pop up---I decided not to go to England this summer unless I found something under $500, and a freak sale jumped up one day. But you can't count on that, and even in that case, the fares jumped up one evening and were gone the next afternoon. In fact, if you're committed to going, I might grab a $795, including taxes, or you might find yourself paying more. Cindy

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New Orleans, La.: You can't go there without a visit to Cafe Du Monde for beignets and cafe au lait even if it is the height of "touristy!" Also well worth the visit for the garlic mashed potatoes alone is NOLA. A visit to the Aquarium is a must as well.

The Flight Crew: Agreed; good advice. Thanks. Cindy

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Tsukuba: I can't believe I have a chance to share this information -- there is a bus that runs from Narita to Tsukuba. I think it goes every two hours or so. I don't remember the name but there are help desks in the airport that can direct you.

The Flight Crew: Excellent, says Gary! Just goes to show that every piece of travel information could be of use to someone...

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Leesburg, Va.: secret word -- quaint?

The Flight Crew: Sorry, Lee.

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Mount Vernon, Va. : For the Japan-bound traveler: In Tokyo and Kyoto, signs using English characters are ubiquitous--in Japanese but using the English alphabet. Train stations are very navigable. I can't answer for the other two cities. I found the Japanese to be very polite (though quieter than Americans) and eager to help.

The Flight Crew: Thanks, says Gary, you're right. I forgot to point that out.

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Silver Spring, Md.: I sent in an earlier question, but thought I'd make it more specific.

I'm traveling to Scottsdale next week and am thinking of a daytrip to Sedona. I'm seeking a recommendation of a tour via jeep, horse or other mode. Some searching I did turned up a lot of mentions of vortexes -- anyone know about these?

Thanks,
Marianne

The Flight Crew: Yeah, they take their vortexes seriously in Sedona. Vortexes, don't you know, are "places where subtle electromagnetic energies are concentrated. These energies move in a spiraling way... The energy spirals either in a clockwise direction (feminine, relaxing, letting go) or in a counterclockwise direction (masculine, charging, activating). There are many different vortexes. Some have a direct effect on our chakras and meridians and thus on our personal well-being..." (This from one of their wacky Web sites.)

But don't be too put off by all the New Agery. It's so beautiful there and you don't have to be a mystic to enjoy it. I took a Pink Jeep tour and highly recommend it -- saw some of the most incredible views of my life (www.pinkjeep.com) -- though another member of my party with height issues semi-freaked. -- KC

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Washington, D.C.: I'm planning a trip to Mexico City and Oaxaca for this October. The best deal on flights I've seen is about $390. Is that a fair price or should I wait for better deals closer to the departure date? Also, could you recommend a relaxing, semi-secluded, untouristy beach close to Oaxaca?

Thanks! Keep up the good work.

The Flight Crew: Sottili here: That's about the going rate for travel to Mexico City in October. As for sleepy beaches near Oaxaca, try Puerto Angel or Manzunte.

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Trip to San Francisco: Hi, I'll be in San Francisco for four days for an event over Labor Day weekend. How many extra days should I figure for San Francisco (never having been there)? Also, if I were to do some driving around San Francisco before or after, what are your recommendations?
Thanks!

The Flight Crew: Four days, if those days have lots of free time, is about right for the city itself to catch highlights. Then driving around San Fran area is a must----it's wonderful, and give it as much time as you have. Personally I'd drive down the coast, stopping for lunch in Palo Alto and a short walk around the beautiful Stanford campus, then down the coast and Big Sur all the way to the area of Hearst Castle, where you can see elephant seals on the beach. Cindy

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Alexandria, Va.: Your restaurant response about New Orleans made me very homesick. Have any of you ever been to Corinne Dunbar's in the Garden District? If it is still in operation it is the absolute best food and atmosphere around in a lovely home setting. The secret word is "sun."

The Flight Crew: Sorry to say I haven't. Cindy

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Washington, D.C.: How are the airlines handling the SARS crisis these days? Are they scrubbing the flights after trips to Asia? I ask because I just got back from San Francisco, and the flight I was on originated in Taiwan. Should I be concerned?

The Flight Crew: I'd ask questions of the airline involved if the flight was from China, but otherwise would figure the odds too low to worry about.

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On an Island in My Dreams: Visiting New Orleans:

Go overboard and enjoy a decadent brunch at Brennan's -- you'll be glad you did!

Something else cool there is the aquarium -- it's the National Audubon Society's aquarium, and great!

Enjoy, and have a beignet at Cafe du Monde for me!

The Flight Crew: Thanks

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Waldorf, Md.: Great piece on the Outer Banks -- we've been renting a house for a week there for the last eight or nine years. One secret: fairly often the ocean side is a bit too rough to swim, especially if you have smaller children, and when that happens you're out of luck -- there's very few places on the bay side to swim. But one spot people should know about is called Canadian Hole, about two miles south of Avon on the way to Buxton. The sound stretches for miles, and the water is very shallow --y ou can wade out a hundred yards and it's only up to your waist. Almost no waves whatsoever, even when the ocean side is really kicking up. There's a parking lot, a few porta-potties, and that's it -- no houses, stores, nothing. The major drawback is it's nearly an hour south of Nag's Head/Kill Devil, etc. But if you need to swim and the ocean's too rough, it's your only choice -- and well worth the drive.

washingtonpost.com: Banks Holiday (Post, June 1)

The Flight Crew: Hey, thanks Waldorf. We actually mentioned the Canadian Hole, but your tip on letting kids swim there is great. You should send that tip to us with your name and address to travel@washpost.com and we'll try to get it into an update we're doing in a few weeks.

-john

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For Asheville-bound: There is a wonderful walking tour of the downtown area -- you can pick up a brochure and do it yourself. The architecture is very eclectic and interesting. There are also tons of artists and craftspeople around -- several group outlets in the city and I believe a craft village not too far away. A drive up to the Blue Ridge parkway and lunch, maybe a little hiking on the trails is a great way to spend a day, too. Asheville is one of my favorite places!

The Flight Crew: Great stuff...thanks!

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Arlington, Va.: I want to get my brother, (the actor with often unpredictable periods of free time) a birthday gift and was thinking of a travel package somewhere not too far. How does one get gifts like that? Open-ended tickets purchased from an airline?

The Flight Crew: If you don't know where or when he wants to go, I'd say money in a card that explains its intended for a trip. If anyone else has a better idea, correct me please. Cindy

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Asheville: I go down there all the time--what a lovely area. You have to check out the Grove Park Inn--fab. old hotel--great place to eat (very expensive to stay)--good Friday night seafood feast. Check out nearby Brevard--they have a fine music festival in the summer--students from all over study there and perform in the summers. Charming Hendersonville is about 20 minutes away--my parents have a home there. Check out the Skyland Arts Center on Main--really cool movie theater--tables and chairs, real food (not just popcorn) and booze if you choose. The owners run a travel agency too, and leave fabulous trip brochures on the tables!
Just enjoy the views. Check out Chimney Rock park--parts of "Last of the Mohicans" was filmed up there. The whole Western North Carolina area is a great place to visit.

The Flight Crew: More great stuff...you're fortunate to be able to travel there so frequently. Thanks for the tips.

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Breezewood, Pa.: Hi,
Do you know of any B&Bs near the end of DC's Metro lines, preferably north or northwest of the city? We want a simple, quiet place to stay during the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in June/July. Thanks.

The Flight Crew: Gary Lee recommmeds that you check out: ww1.bbgetaways.com/wc. They have a whole list of bed and breakfasts in the DC area, including some in the nearby suburbs.

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Northern Virginia: Hey all

just wondering -- is there anywhere in the world that you all would NOT go right now, just based on personal feelings?

I recently had an opportunity to go to Bali, and did not go because my partner felt very unsure about traveling there. We've also delayed a trip to Thailand for the same reason.

I could understand not going to say, the Congo or the Gaza Strip right now, but there are very few other places I'd put on that list.

You have any additions?

The Flight Crew:
I did a poll, NoVa. No one here would avoid Bali or Thailan. However, we wouldn't go to the following:

Gary: The Congo.

Cindy: Anywhere in the Middle East, anywhere in China.

Andrea: Detroit. "I don't think Detroit is ever safe, or sunny."

K.C.: China, Iraq, Cuba

John: any place on the SARS list, including Toronto

Steve: Any rural area of Medellin, Congo or Afghanastan


Anne--"I'll go anywhere. I just want to go somewhere!"

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Baltimore, Md.: Is the secret word 'Charming?' Love the travel discussion, by the way.

The Flight Crew: Thanks, Balmer. "Charming" isn't the word, but thanks for the kind words.

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Portland, Ore.: Just returned from Italy, and have a handful of tips to pass on. We rented an apartment in Rome through the B&B Association of Rome (it's b-b.rm.it or something like that), and the apartment was just as promised. We also booked a private (i.e., the two of us) walking tour of the city, and hired an art historian guide to take the two of us through the Vatican Museums and St. Peters. Those were probably the two best decisions we made in the entire trip. We learned so much in the tours, and we wouldn't have picked up on most of it without the guides. (For example, there are no paintings in St. Peters--none at all. They are spectacularly detailed mosaics that look exactly like paintings.)
In Perugia, we loved loved LOVED Hotel La Rosetta, which is right off of the main bus plaza (i.e., we didn't have to drag our bags very far). Every room has a different design, and ours was gorgeous. Ordinarily, I don't care that much about the hotel room, but since we were napping after lunch (when in Rome...), it was nice to come back to such a pleasant room. In Florence, stay away from Il Bargellino--nice people, but the bathrooms all smelled unspeakably bad. In Lucca, the Hotel Diana's "Dependence" (i.e., Annex) is gorgeous and breezy and quiet, and the staff are really really nice. Finally, there is a Michelin-two-star restaurant outside of Lucca's city walls called La Mora. We had the best meal of our lives there, for about 100 euros total (which included prosecco, Lucchese red wine, appetizers, pasta, main courses, vegetables, salads, dessert, and moscato with cookies--we ROLLED into the taxi).

The Flight Crew: Thanks, Portland.

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Re: Boothbay Harbor: If you're thinking of going to Boothbay Harbor, consider a day trip to Monhegan Island. The ferry leaves from Boothbay Harbor, and the boat ride is maybe 90 minutes each way. The island is very, very rustic, with painter's cottages and lots of trails along sea cliffs and Cathedral Woods. To save time, buy a picnic lunch in Boothbay Harbor -- there are restaurants on the island, but they are not great.

The Flight Crew: Great tips. Thanks. Do they rent wooden rafts, for the really budget-minded types?

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Clueless in Fairfax, Va.: Hi! My husband and I want to take a quick weekend trip with our 12-month-old daughter either this weekend or the next. We are thinking no more than a three-hour drive to a place where it will be nice (and easy) to do some touristy things with a one-year-old. We don't want to visit a place with too many kids programs, because we also have a four-year-old that we would like to take to such places in the future (She's staying with my parents for the month, and we thought it would be nice to take a trip with just us and the baby for a couple of days.) Anyway, dh doesn't golf, so that pretty much rules out a lot of nearby resorts. We're pretty much open to anything else -- beaches, mountains, etc. Can you recommend a good locale that we can visit easily with a baby, and that also may offer some good indoor attractions, just in case it rains? Also, any hotel recommendations to go with these areas? Thanks a million!

The Flight Crew: I'm thinking the Winterthur Gardens, and you can catch the nearby Delaware beaches. There are dozens of options--maybe check some of the Escapes columns in our archive--but I remember my toddler being happy running through the gardens after the rains stopped and we left the indoor parts of the garden. Cindy

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Falls Church, Va.: Here's my guess for the secret word: what local beach could be described as "heavenly?"

The Flight Crew: Hey, Falls. I'm a huge fan of Wildwood, N.J., while others on the staff can't wait to get back to Bethany and Virginia Beach. (And heavenly won't get you a Frisbee, I'm afraid.)

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Washington, D.C.: Is the secret word "sunshine?"

The Flight Crew: No, even KC likes sunshine!

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Outside the beltway: Hello, anyone with experience in the Finger Lakes, particularly Seneca? What can I expect from a summer vacation there? Anything that it compares to? Thanks

The Flight Crew: They are very beautiful, peaceful places. The only comparison that comes to mind is the lakes of New Hampshire--big lakes, woods. Cindy

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Virginia: Asheville -- the hiking is great!

The Flight Crew: Thanks, Va.

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The Flight Crew: THE SECRET WORD: Okay, one final hint. It's an icky term for your better half. Go!

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Washington, D.C.: My mother is planning a trip to Portugal this fall through Untours. Do you have any tips for "must see's and do's?" Does anyone have any experience with Untours?

Thanks!

The Flight Crew: I don't know Untours, but I do like Portugal. I loved the old university town Evora. Since she's going in the fall she might want to see the southern coast---I'd not do those beaches in the summer cause they get so full, but fall should be lovely and still warm. It's a great place; it would be hard to go wrong. Cindy

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Rockville, MD: My fiance and I are taking off next spring for a month travelling thru Europe for a honeymoon using Eurail.

1. Can you recommend a good source for creating itineraries for our trip?
and
2. Would you know of any way he'd be able to catch a FIFA (Manchester United/Juventas) soccer game in either the UK or Italy? Are there ways to get tickets, or are they all sold out in advance.

Any other tips? I'm just in the beginning planning stages and don't really know where to begin...

Thanks!

The Flight Crew: Sottili here: Go to www.raileurope.com. AS for soccer tickets, I didn't know that FIFA was holding games next spring. Go to www.fifa.com for info. If he really wants to go to a Manchester United-Juventus match, go to Giants Stadium on July 31 - they're playing there. Go to www.meadowlands.com for tickets.

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SECRET WORD: I love you guys and all your advice!! I don't really have a question, but my DOG would love to get that frisbee, so I thought I'd VENTURE a guess at the secret word. If I happen to FALL short, don't worry I'll SPRING back. Anyway, thanks for all the TRIP TIPS and have a LEISURELY week!

The Flight Crew: Nice tries, all, SW. But nope, nope, nope and nope.

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For Bermuda-bound: I was in Bermuda a month and a half ago and wish I was still there! But I never coverted any money -- no need. US dollars are accepted everywhere. You may get change in Bermudian money, which isn't a big deal, I just used it up before I left.

The best snorkeling from a beach is at Church Bay. A lot of places will take you scuba diving if you're into that. Dockyard was a great place to check out -- lots of interesting stores (pottery, glassblowing) and make sure to hit the Frog and Onion Pub.

Also, taking the ferry from Hamilton to Dockyard, or from Dockyard to St. George's is a great way to see the island and get around. Also, there's a fun 2-3 hour tour around the entire island on the Wildcat, which I didn't do but heard great things about. Hamilton has a lot of good shopping and good places to eat (Lobster Pot is excellent and the Pickled Onion was good too). There are two lighthouses that are neat to check out and Fort Scaur had great views too.

Have a great time -- it's a beautiful island -- I wish I was going again soon!

The Flight Crew: Great stuff, FBB. Thanks.

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sSecret Word: Went to Berkeley Springs and found it to be "quaint" and "charming." Good eats, a nice ramble downtown through antique stores and quirky shops.

The nearby cacapon state park seemed really nice with tennis/golf/hiking available.

You could go there and spend a fortune or a pittance.

The Flight Crew: Not quaint, not charming. But thanks for the tips on Berkeley Springs.

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Leesburg, Va. for Arlington going to Maine: For the Arlington couple under 25 looking at car rentals, if either one is a student they might want to look into studentadvantage.com (I am a member). For $20 a year you get a range of discounts incld. student only fares on USAirways, 25 percent off Greyhound, 15 percent off Amtrak, and from Dollar rent-a-car no underage fee(from 21-25) and 10-15 percent off their sensible rates program!

The Flight Crew: Good to know. Thanks!

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St. Louis, Mo.: BALL AND CHAIN!

The Flight Crew: Nothing wrong with that, is there? But no, not B&C.

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Oak Hill, Va.: S.O.?

The Flight Crew: Nope.

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Falls Church, Va.: Sugarpie?

The Flight Crew: Sorry, but that's pretty annoying.

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Gaithersburg, Md: Going to Maui in March. Any "Can't Miss" sites? Love to hike.

The Flight Crew: For an unforgettable time, check out the recent Maui piece in Travel by Michele Kayal (go to the index on the Travel page, click on US Destinations and then Hawii). It's all about Upcountry Maui, with lavender farms and goats running around. You could always hike up to the top of the volcano instead of taking a sunrise bikeride there.
-Anne

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Cubicleland: should be working, but --

is it my "honey?"

blech

The Flight Crew: No, but that's an ickfest, too.

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Maryland: What kind of prices can I expect to Mexico City this October? What's too high? I'm seeing fares around $400. Take it or leave it?

The Flight Crew: Sottilli here: That's the going rate for October.

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On an Island In My Dreams: Sweetie!

The Flight Crew: Why, thanks, dear, but "sweetie" ain't it.

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I give: Sweetie? Schnookums? Monkey-boy?

The Flight Crew: what's wrong with "monkey-boy"? Oh, never mind.

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Annapolis, Md.: Help! All those great airfare deals to London seem to have vanished. We're invited to a wedding there on the 20th and every possible route we've scoured is quoting $800 or more (Orbitz, Travelocity, etc.). We tried Hotwire, which quoted (just) $727 but are uncomfortable with not choosing our times et al.

Any thoughts about whether or not fares might go down -- and when is a good time to try again? Or buy? Appreciate any input!

PS we've tried for prices from both BWI and Dulles...not too much difference

The Flight Crew: Vanished is right. I kept looking for sales for weeks, had decided not to go, then my husband one evening looked one more time, and happened to see a $473 fare. Next day, it was gone again. I know several good airfare shoppers who decided $800 or more was what they'd have to do, and you probably will too, unless you are ready to simply not go and happen to get really lucky.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi, Travel Crew! My husband and I are thinking of traveling to Kiawah Island for a vacation in September. Any suggestions where to stay -- or how to go about renting a condo down there? Thanks.

The Flight Crew: Kiawah is worth the trip, WDC. You can rent a house (most of them are way pricey) or stay at the Kiawah Inn, which a very pleasant ocean-front hotel with a nice pool and all the Island's pleasures at hand. They're building a very ambitious, bigger resort, but it's a few years off yet. I was suprised to see rooms at the Inn for $140 or so a few summers ago. Look at Kiawahresort.com

--Steve

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Beltsville, Md.: Can you recommend a hotel in Miami that's great for families?

Thanks

The Flight Crew: Gary Lee says: there is a very family oriented Marriott hotel right on Ocean drive in South Beach.

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St. Paul, Minn.: For Clueless, how about the Longworth Gardens, also a quick drive away and -- they are so "quaint."

The Flight Crew: Thanks.

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Miami-bound: Hi! Submitting rather late, but I just discovered your chat. I'm going to Miami Beach this weekend from Sat-Mon, and wanted to know if you have any must-see sites or tips to pass along. I'm going with one other girlfriend of mine, we are both in our mid-20's. Thanks!

The Flight Crew: Gary Lee says: if you get there early enough on Sat., there's a great art deco walking tour, leaving from the visitor's center on Ocean Drive. Aldo, there is good art along the Lincoln Road mall if you're into exploring.

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Washington, D.C.: We're thinking of heading to Bermuda for a honeymoon in September, and I don't even know where to start the planning process. Is it a good idea to use a travel agent? If so how do I find a reputable one?
Any suggestions on places to stay or activities? General advice? Thanks!

The Flight Crew: Before you do anything, check out Bermuda Tourism's Web site (www.bermudatourism.com), which has all the main ingredients: hotels, air, activity suggestions, etc. They have a special running till Sept. 13 that includes air and five nights' hotel from $955. Plus they have a companion air deal. As for travel agents, Liberty Travel often has Bermuda deals, as do United Vacations and US Airways Vacations.--andrea

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The word: hubby

The Flight Crew: DING, DING, DING.

Okay, we have us a winner. This is the first "hubby" to cross the threshold. Send your name and address to travel@washpost.com.

So, Johnny, tell them what they've won: An obnoxious Frisbee!

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Bethesda, Md.: I saw your answer that mentioned the sudden change in London airfares. How does one find out, especially if one is relatively flexible on departure dates (plus or minus a couple of days)?

The Flight Crew: Plus or minus a couple days isn't going to help you find summer London airfares under $800 this year. For reasons we haven't been able to figure out let alone predict, some airline may or may not throw some cheap seats on the market, and you have to be checking daily in the event that may happen. There is no rhyme or reason to it. If you really are set on going, you'll probably have to bite the bullet. If you wait until last minute and the sale doesn't pop, you could end up paying a whole lot more. These days, this summer, $800 is for a relatively cheap seat. Cindy

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secret word: honey bun?

sweetheart?

kissy face?

sweetie pie?

Am I even close?

The Flight Crew: Okay, we already posted the winner, but I wanted to get "kissy face" into the archive.

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Shirlington, Va.: My wife wants to go to Bermuda, and I keep telling her: "Sweetie, Sugarplum, Dearie, Honeybunch, Sugarlumps, Dumpling, Lovergirl, Honeydew, Lambchops, Love of my life, that sounds good to me!" Is it a good time to go?

The Flight Crew: Okay, let's end on this one, Shnookums. Now is a great time to go to Bermuda . . . though, for my money, any time is a good time for Bermuda.

And on that note, we're calling it a day. Thanks much for the great feedback and advice, and keep an eye out for this week's print edition, which will include Cindy Loose's report from Australia.

Cheers!

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