Hosted by the Flight Crew
Monday, January 22, 2001
2 p.m. EST
Every Monday at 2 p.m. EST, 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.
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The Flight Crew: Greetings and welcome back to ye olde Travel chat. Seems as if we've been off more than we've been on recently, but today should start a long streak of Mondays that we'll be here with you, holding your hands while you plot your winter and spring and summer getaways.
I'm John Deiner, your caption dujour, along with a somewhat diminished but still strong team of first-stringers. I'm surrounded by KC Summers, our fearless leader; Gary Lee, our man about the globe; Our Fare Lady Carol Sottili; and the illustrious, alliterative cruise/Caribbean contributor Carolyn Spencer Brown.
We've got a big ol' National Geographic coffeetable book on Australia to give away today--just tell us why you HAVE to have it, and the person with the most heart-wrenching plea will find it in his/her mail soon.
And away we go....
Do you guys know of a site that offers discounts on one-way travel? Both hotwire and priceline require you to do round-trip, and I am hoping to get somewhere in the NE and then help a friend drive back. I'd rather not pay for a round-trip ticket I won't use!
The Flight Crew: Sottili here: Where are you going? Reason I ask is that many of the discount airlines, like Southwest, offer cheap one-way fares, so you don't have to pay round-trip fare. For example, my brother, who lives on LI, needed to go one-way to Cleveland last weekend, spur of the moment. Continental wanted nearly $500. I found a $114 one-way fare on Southwest; he had to connect in BWI and sit around there for a couple of hours, but that's worth $400.
Wondering if we will be able to watch the Super Bowl somewhere in Rome...
The Flight Crew: Gee, Hartford, that's a good question. I imagine you can at least track it on CNN, which is everywhere and then some, but I'm not sure if it'll be broadcast live in Europe.
Anyone out there know the answer?
We would like a short but sweet honeymoon in May, from two to five days, preferably near the ocean or bay in the Maryland-Virginia-Delaware region. Any ideas on a romantic setting that won't break the bank?
The Flight Crew: Brown here (the former -- and she's hoping future -- Chestertown, Md. resident), who's writing from sunny St. Thomas and feeling quite homesick:
Arlington, I can think of a couple of lovely options right off the bat -- and everybody, chime in --
*Lewes, Delaware, just north of Rehoboth, is a charming colonial town, lots of history, shops, access to beach but not centrally focused on the beach. You can hop a ferry to Cape May as well. There's a charming historic hotel there, have stayed there, loved it...can't remember the name but it faces the Episcopal church.
*Chestertown, of course; the White Swan Inn is incredibly romantic and there are wonderful little (i.e. not too strenuous) daytrips -- Rock Hall, Chesapeake City, St. Michaels. And in May: gorgeous!
Is SkyAuction still operating. Whenever I try to log in to their site over the past two days. I receive the following message:
"There is no response. Server could be down or is not responding."
The Flight Crew: Toronto, we had the same experience and Sky Auction assures us it's just put up a newly designed site -- and is, as a result, enduring technical problems. They think it'll be fixed in an hour or so...
It would be nice if there could be an informational message when this kind of thing happens, a "we're putting up a new site and are having difficulties."
AirTran has a great deal to Grand Bahama Island through March 14; $99 each way. Can you recommend a no-nonsense, inexpensive, yet clean and near the beach/activities hotel? Just my sister and I for a long weekend. AirTran flies into Freeport, by the way.
The Flight Crew: We dunno, DC. Maybe your fellow clicksters can help....
No question, just had to share last weekend's NYC experience.
I stayed at the Hudson Hotel, a very hot property recently renovated by Ian Schrager. Rooms are typically start at $200, but I got a rate of $149. This is definitely the time to go!
I used a great reservation service called Express Reservations at 800-407-3351. They specialize in New York and are extremely friendly. Both agents I worked with were friendly, patient, and described the neighborhoods I was considering. They also helped me figure what would be the best place to stay based on my interests. I will definitely use them every time. And no, I don't work for them--just a happy customer.
The Flight Crew: The Hudson is hot, hot, hot. Glad you got in for a bargain (write us back and tell us how you liked it, will you?).
And thanks for the advice about Express Reservations . . . we'll have to put it through the paces.
Okay, I just HAVE to have that book on Australia. Here's why: I'm never, ever going to get to go there. You see, I just got married and my new bride has an aversion to traveling half-way around the world to a country where everyone speaks English (sort of). She prefers exotic locals ... so we'll do Thailand, we'll hit the Middle East, but she'll never agree to go to Australia. So this book, this WONDERFUL book, is all I'll ever have. Please help me.
The Flight Crew: Gee, Arl. How sad. Why don't you learn Spanish and travel to Australia and speak nothing but? You're definitely in the running.
Super Bowl in Rome: Some of my friends come to work bleary-eyed from having watched the Super Bowl in the middle of the night here. So that probably means that they have it on some of the pan-European sports channels. But don't ask me for more details, I don't even know what game they play! Try www.eurosport.com - that may give an answer.
The Flight Crew: Copenhagen? Get outta here! But thanks for the advice...we'll check it out.
Word on the grapevine is that Royal Carribean's Rhapsody of the Seas is not much in the food dept.? Anything on that? Can you recommend a better line to go to Alaska on?
The Flight Crew: Honey, that's no grapevine. That's reality. Brown here to say that Royal Caribbean offers a lot of great stuff on its cruises but across-the-fleet it has never been known for its food. Never. Rates about with Carnival. Odd, because its sister cruise line, Celebrity, never shuts up about its cuisine.
So, if the quality of the food part of the experience matters to you, I'd think about Holland America or Celebrity. Both do the Alaska-thing. Holland America is a big player there, Celebrity is, perhaps, a touch more hip. Both have good food, though, and incorporate Alaskan cuisine into menus which is, I think, an important element of getting the whole experience.
There's got to be a place. I was in Prague a few years ago when the Knicks and the NY Rangers were both playing in their respective championships. We found Sports Bar Praha, which replayed all the American sports games (along with Seinfeld reruns). There's got to be a place in Rome.
The Flight Crew: So true. Few games garner more attention (Go Ravens!) than the Super Bowl. I remember during the World Cup, lots of bars in DC opened early to show those games.
My wife and I are getting away this coming weekend and travelling.....all the way into the District, to enjoy hotel living for a couple days and see and do the things we never find time for in the city. We have reservations at the St James suites and the Latham in Georgetown, both at $129. Which of the two would you pick, or could you recommend something else in that price range, maybe closer to Dupont or Adams Morgan. Thanks!
The Flight Crew: Both the Latham and the St. James are fine choices says Gary Lee, who writes about lodging for the section. One very nice option near Adams Morgan is the Omni -- it recently went through a fabulous renovation and is about 3 blocks from Adams Morgan. Jury's, which is right on Dupont Circle, is also a good choice. Finally, the Dupont at the Circle (website www.dupontatthecircle.com) is a wonderful bed and breakfast about a block off the circle. All the places I mention should run about the same rate as the ones you've found at the Latham and the St. James. By the way, good inner city hotel deals are usually easiest to come by in this season. Check out www.quikbook.com for some other choices.
We (two couples)want to go to an all inclusive Caribbean resort in March for four nights. Going for less than a week seems to limit the choices. What do you think about staying at one of the nicer spots in Punta Cana? One friend of mine was abhorred we would think about going to the Dominican Republic. What would you suggest for about a $1,000 a person? Your thoughts would be appreciated.
The Flight Crew: Yo, Balt. JD here. In Punta Cana, you can have a lovely time and stay in a relatively posh resort for 1,000 bucks for four nites. Contact Apple Vacations or one of its reps in the area for a list of hotel options; it runs several charters a week to Punta Cana out of BWI.
Of course, like most all-inclusives, you won't see much of the countryside or get a real taste for its people. But if sun and food and drink and relaxation is all you need, you've picked a good spot.
D.C. (in a black armband vis-a-vis Jan. 20, but that's irrelevant to travel questions, right?):
Hello! I love your chats and hope you or the clicksters can help me out. I will be traveling to London for business for just a day and would love to find an in-town hotel, preferably small-ish and cozy with great character but, most importantly, in a safe, fun neighborhood with lots of walking-distance pubs, restaurants, etc. -- as I'd love to extend my stay for pleasure reasons! Any advice?
The Flight Crew: Hi DC, KC here. Don't know what price range you're dealing with, but I loved a little hotel just off Sloane Square called the Willett. It's a bit pricey (probably about $175 a night in spring/summer; includes breakfast) but absolutely reeking with character, and in a great part of Chelsea near shops, cool restaurants, cafes, pubs etc. You can walk to Harrods and other Knightsbridge stores. Felt totally safe. And just a block from the Sloane Square tube stop. www.previewhotels.com/willett_hotel.htm.
Another hotel that I like in London is Hotel 167, a charming old Victorian in Kensington -- a bit run-down but a lot more affordable and in an equally fun, safe neighborhood with lots going on. www.hotel167.com.
More Hudson info:
OK, here's the brain dump on the Hudson Hotel in NYC....
The rooms are TINY, but very cool. The fixtures are very chic and even include a Philippe Starck chair. Of course the downside is no storage space. There's a small closet and two small shelves under the TV, but that's it. It's OK for one but tight for two. There's only two feet of clearance on either side of the bed, but huge mirrors on opposite walls open up the room a lot.
Considering how hip the decorating was, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was no attitude among the staff. The desk folks, concierge, and bell hops were all really friendly and down to earth.
The bed in the room is awesome--down comforter and down pillows. I slept really, really well.
The club in the Hudson is one of the hottest in the city. Thursday and Friday nights the front door was crawling with guys with curly earpieces checking for room keys before they'd let you in the lobby. Being from DC I immediately assumed it meant that they were Secret Service for some dignitary, but they were just bouncers. Very funny. I walked in once just because I could ("I'm a guest at the hotel" and the rope comes down!), but it was a bit smoky for my taste so I left.
I've never stayed at Hotel George on Capitol Hill, but from what I've seen of it on the Internet it's very similar to the Hudson--to give folks a comparison. The George is even described as Schrager-like.
The Flight Crew: Great stuff, thanks!
Are there any hints to get a better price renting a car? I'm heading to Jackson Hole, Wyoming from Feb. 7-15 and need to get a 4-wheel drive. With taxes, etc., the best price I can get is $574 and that just seems outrageous to me! Any thoughts?
The Flight Crew: Sottili here: Have you tried Priceline.com? I've had some luck getting rental car deals there, especially for specialty cars (best deal ever was a convertible in San Diego for about half of the rack rate). Also, many of the car rental companies have special SUV promotions. Hertz has a $299-a-week "sno-rate" deal for SUV rentals; don't know if it's good in Jackson, but it's worth a try. Go to www.hertz.com and look under special offers.
to the Superbowl fanatic:
AFN (Armed Forces Network) will most likely broadcast the game by television and radio, but unless you are near a significant US military presence (like in Naples) you may not be able to receive the TV broadcast, but you might try listening on an AM radio. With the six hour time difference it will be on rather late as well. Personally, there are other things I'd be doing in Rome besides worrying about football...
The Flight Crew: Good point. But if it's on late and it won't take away from the espresso-sipping, why not?
Regarding the Superbowl...I lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1993 and I watched it at the Commodore Hotel (American joint venture, I believe). I also recall that the Grand Hotel was having an event. Try an international hotel chain.
The Flight Crew: Thanks, Pitts.
Superbowl in Rome:
I watched it in Florence one year. You should not have a problem in Rome. Just find a bar that caters to Americans. (This is not difficult.) A lot of them will advertise their superbowl parties that week. But, yes, it will be late at night.
The Flight Crew: Anyone NOT watch the Super Bowl overseas? Great answers, gang...thanks.
Dad (who likes to golf), mom (who could use a pedicure), and the baby (who likes everything except long car trips) are looking to get away in April or May. We're considering the Hotel Hershey or the Homestead--thoughts? Advice? Comments? Alternatives?
The Flight Crew: Ooh, Arl, go to Hershey and take a bath in melted chocolate! I'm (this is KC) not kidding -- they really offer that -- along with other more mundane spa stuff, plus golf for your husband. We're gonna check out the new spa soon, but maybe you can beat us to it and report back on the chocolate bath. Obviously something I've been fantasizing about . . .
Re: Hotels in London
Check out the Cliveden Town house if your company is paying! Here's the link:
The Flight Crew: Thanks, WDC.
I have to have the book since I ruined a perfectly good sweater on my train trip from Vienna to Krakow. You see, I had eaten all these ribs then drank a lot of beer and the train ride was really rough and I ended up with ribs and beer all over not just my white sweater but my (train issued) pillow and blankie. There was no where to put them and too stinky to keep in the cabin (plus, I wasn't alone). So out the window....... Maybe if I had a book to read I wouldn't have gotten myself in this situation. I just can't believe the older couple sharing my couchette didn't wake up. I had to wear the sweater the rest of the trip too.
The Flight Crew: So you were ribbed, eh? And anyone who uses the term "pillow and blankie" is okay in my book. Yer in the running.
Starting to think about summer vacations...
Do you have any thoughts as to what airfares might be to Europe this summer? And when would be a good time to start hunting for a reasonable airfare?
As an alternative, what about the Caribbean during July? Too hot? Too rainy? Airfare too expensive?
The Flight Crew: Dulles, Brown here. I'll take the Caribbean part of your question and leave the rest to Our Fare Lady. But the Caribbean's an interesting option. The airfare will run you about European prices (maybe less if you get lucky -- between $300 - $650 or so, depending on where you go) but it's no hotter there, I mean here (Caribbean) in July than in steamy DC. I can say that with authority as I survived my first summer in the USVI just last year and while the sun is hotter the air is often cooler, tradewinds and breezes et al. And you're never too far from a cooling dip, eh?
The other good thing about the Caribbean in July is that hotel rates are drop dead cheap...even really nice ones.
Restaurants are still open (a lot of them take their big vacations in August/September).
Downside: while hurricanes don't usually hit in July you do run that risk (hurricane season starts in June, peaks in Sept/Oct, finishes end Nov.). Get travel insurance.
I won't be able to make the chat today so I'm submitting early. We're going to Madrid in late March and I've read a lot about pickpockets there. Is this a big problem there or about what it's like in other major European cities? Is common sense the best preventative? Also, since we're staying for six days/five nights, do you recommend any day trips and if so, where? Thanks in advance.
The Flight Crew: Warrenton, before my trip to Madrid last fall I, too, heard about the city's pickpocketing problems from just about every source I checked, says Gary Lee. One I was there, locals acknowledged that it is a problem and one that the police don't do enough to combat.
I took all precautions -- carried my wallet in my front rather than my back pocket, left all my valuables in the hotel safe, etc. I managed to get through the week without any indident. I would GREATLY recommend day trips to Sevilla and Toledo, both of which are wonderful destinations and easily accessible by train.
Hey, how come Arlington gets to go to Thailand and the Middle East and is the running for the Australia book, I can barely afford to go to Spain or Portugal. It will be years before I can get to Australia. Maybe with a book, I can convince my husband to take me there!
The Flight Crew: Hey, good point, Wheaton! I may never get to Australia either! I may have to keep it for myself. Nah...but I like your thinking. Stay tuned.
Re: Superbowl in Rome:
If you have any ties to the military you should be able to go over to the Marine barracks (Marines protect embassies) and watch it on Armed Forces Network. Probably won't be on any other channel. Keep in mind that it will start at midnight
The Flight Crew: Another vote for the Armed Forces Network. Thanks!
First year that we're having to plan around a child's school vacation, and finding that the second week in March is the only time we can go skiing. Not enough money to go out west---Is it reasonable to think that Snowshoe would have good conditions that late? If not, are there reasonable East Coast/Canada alternatives? If I'm going to spend this much money, I want to know I won't be skiing on grass or big slush. Thanks!
The Flight Crew: Sottili here: I just skied up in Vermont a couple of weeks ago and conditions there are fantastic. They've received a bunch of snow this winter. But it's a real pain to get from Pittsboro, N.C., to Vermont, or to anywhere in New England or Eastern Canada - if you fly, it'll probably cost you about the same as going out West. And if you drive, you'd better have a lot of time to burn. Snowshoe in West Virginia is much more convenient. It's had about 83 inches, which is not bad. You may want to keep in mind that the first two weeks in March are "spring break snow bash" package dates for college students. The party may be cranking there.
I'd do a little more homework before deciding you can't afford the West. We've done it for less than $700 per person including everything.
If we get to go to San Francisco/Berkeley for a week w/kids (14,12) is it worth travel time to make an overnight trip to Yosemite in April? What about adding a trip south to see Big Sur on the coast - in addition to seeing San Francisco area sights? Do both, neither, pick one? What do you recommend?
The Flight Crew: tough questions, Alexandria. Brown here -- former resident of California and been to all the places you mentioned. Yosemite is definitely worth visiting though April may still be a bit winter-like. I'm an unabashed cheerleader for Big Sur and in April it's even more gorgeous than usual cause rainy season's over and flowers are blooming.
But know this: Big Sur is south of Carmel, which itself is a good 1 1/2 hour drive from San Fran. So that's a long day.
I'd make Big Sur an overnight (I guess I'm saying I'd go there instead of Yosemite if I had to choose). Go down halfway (or lower); right in Big Sur there's everything from campgrounds to cabin lodgings to swanky places. If you drive just south of Hearst Castle (totally worth seeing but a half-day in itself), past Cambria(cool funky arty town on the coast), you can turn inland and cross over (totally gorgeous drive by the way) to Highway 101 then shoot up to San fran, about a 4-hour drive.
Clicksters? Wanna' chime in?
I'm going to Amsterdam in a month, and I've been reading up on the Netherlands. One thing I'd like to know, that I haven't seen anywhere, is what Dutch cuisine is like. I keep reading about the cuisine of their former colonies and recent immigrants, but is there a homegrown Dutch cuisine?
Also, is there anything I should see in Amsterdam (or elsewhere in the Netherlands) that I may not see listed in a travel guidebook?
The Flight Crew: Having spent some time in Amsterdam, I can tell you why you don't hear a lot about Dutch cuisine, says Gary Lee: it's not very tasty. One reason is that more than any other people in western Europe, the Dutch tend to rely on greenhouses to grow a lot of their vegetables. The result is a lot of drab tomatoes and a slab of gouda cheese. Be good to your palatte and opt for the Indonesian restaurants instead.
Have you any ideas for where parents plus college-aged daughters might spent a pleasant week in early June? A little outdoorsy stuff, a little shopping, a little nightlife -- but nothing to break the bank. Thanks.
The Flight Crew: Hi Wash, KC here. You don't say what part of the world you're focusing on, but assuming you're thinking relatively locally, how about the Eastern Shore? Specifically, St. Michael's. I had a wonderful weekend there with my college-age daughter last summer. We shopped and strolled historic streets by day, got out on the water, biked all over the place, and had some truly memorable meals (208 Talbot is a gem). There are accommodations in all price ranges, from modest guest houses to the five-star Inn at Perry Cabin (worth the splurge). You can get as outdoorsy as you want -- there's biking, sailing, birdwatching, kayaking. Nightlife isn't its strong point but there are a couple little places your daughter could check out while you kick back with a book at the hotel (my preferred M.O.).
Hello Flight crew,
I wanted to take my fiance to the Inn at Little Washington for his birthday. Since it is close to the wedding I thought we might like to get away. Here's the thing. When I phoned the only room they had at the Inn was $720 per night on the Saturday, and $420 on the Friday. This is a little more than I imagined. So I got a room at the Middleton Inn (only $325 Saturday), we will stay there and eat at the Inn. Do you know about this place? It seems okay, but I hate the lack of privacy in some B & B's. Do you think this place is going to be okay? If it isn't going to be nice I would get the room at the Inn at Little Washington on the Friday, even though I prefer to go on the Saturday. What would you do?
The Flight Crew: Afternoon, WDC. JD here. I was in the same dilemma last May for my 10th anniversary--even if I got to keep the bed, there was no way I was going to pay 700 bucks for a room.
We did what you're considering and stayed at a nearby inn. Two choices, both in nearby Sperryville, offer a lot more privacy because you can stay in a cottage on the grounds: Sharp Rock Farm (www.sharprockbnb.com) and Belle Meade B&B (www.bellemeadeinn.com. Both are quite lovely and offer tons of privacy. Even if you have to stay two nights at either one, it will cost less than $325.
For the person seeking a one-way fare, don't some consolidators specialize in these types of tickets?
Also, two of my elderly aunts want to visit DC in March from Florida and, for complicated reasons I won't bore you with, can't stay over a Saturday night. Would consolidators be the best bet for cheap fares, or don't they handle popular routes like Fl-DC? They are coming to attend an early morning function on the Saturday and planned to arrive Friday, so groups like priceline etc are out as timing is important.
The Flight Crew: Sottili here: Consolidators are sometimes a good choice, but they don't usually handle short domestic hops. Again, Southest has cheap flights from Florida and they don't require a Saturday stay. Example: $180 round-trip between Fort Lauderdale and BWI.
I have an opportunity to travel on an educational (sort of ) trip this August with the American Indian College Fund to Tribal colleges and other historic sites in North Dakota. The tour runs from Tuesday-Sunday so I'm thinking of going a couple of days early to explore on my own. Anyone know if there's much to do in Bismarck? I've checked the ND tourism site, but I will not have a car or anything so I want to just explore on foot. I'm thinking that Bismarck can't possibly be very big and should at least be semi-walkable but don't know for sure.
The Flight Crew: Arl, you've stumped us on this one so we'll throw your question out to the clicksters. Guys? What about Bismarck?
Wanting to be away from Washington:
Hello there flight crew,
My husband and I are looking to get away from it all. I've heard that there are some good cruise deals on the internet at places like cruise.com. How reputable are these sights?
Also do any of you know some reasonably priced all-inclusive get away places like Sandals and Club Med for those of us on more of a budget?
Thanks for the help!
The Flight Crew: Hi, Wanting. Brown here. Cruise.com definitely has some good deals, so does cruise411.com. I just checked out a couple of other deals on mytravelco.com and oddly, they advertised a western Caribbean cruise for $499 on their site -- which then cost $699 when I called.
But these sites are all backed by real live travel agencies and are reputable. You may want to check them out, though, through ASTA as well as the Better Business Bureau. And as we always advice, pay by credit card.
Hey gang - going to Tampa after the Superbowl (early Feb) and are looking for a great place to stay. We're looking at actually staying in Clearwater to be on the gulf. We want nice and quiet and relaxing. Any suggestions?
The Flight Crew: Hi DC...JD here. I've been touting Anna Maria Island for quite some time in this space. It is GREAT. It's just south of Tampa with lovely, wide beaches, cheapish accommodations and great restaurants. I've found Clearwater to be less than relaxing--well, a lot less than relaxing.
City of Fairfax:
Has anyone ever been to the Chautauqua Institute in New York? I'm trying to convince my family to vacation together there one week this coming summer. We'd need lodgings that run the gamut from spartan to delux. Are they available? Do you pay for every event or is there an E-ticket? (Oops! I dated myself. I mean E-ticket as in Disney, not electronic.) Are there outdoor activities? What type of costs can one incur? The family's youngest is 6, and the eldest is 77. Is there something for everyone? Thanks in advance for your advice.
The Flight Crew: Sottili here: I haven't been to the Chautauqua Institute, but I've written items on it, interviewed the leaders, etc., and it sounds wonderful. Log on to www.chautauqua-inst.org for answers to your questions.
Here is a link to the international tv outlets carrying the Super Bowl:
In Italy, it is Tele+
The Flight Crew: Thanks, Springer!
Recently i found a nice site for travel. lastminutetravel.com- it's good if you just want to get out of town, and don't know where, they don't always have good deals if you want to go somewhere specifically, but it's worth trying- there are some great package deals too.
The Flight Crew: Thanks, Woodbridge, glad you had a good experience. Got to be honest -- Brown here -- I'm not a big fan. I think the site's too unwieldy and doesn't offer the best bargains.
I'm a bigger fan of site59.com -- you should check them out. They put together last minute (within two weeks) packages, air included, and geared to this market. Nice site...
Watching the Super Bowl overseas:
How about this one?
I was in the Navy, and the ship was underway during the Super Bowl and for a few days after. All radios were cut off while the game was on to try and prevent people from finding out who won, and a tape was flown out and played on ship's TV. Of course somehow people found out the winner anyway--I have no idea how.
BTW, the ship was on it's way to AUSTRALIA--does that get me the book?
The Flight Crew: You dog, you! That's a great story, WTSBO. In fact, it appears to have brought tears to KC's eyes. You're on the list!
Yes. I, for one, have never watched a Super Bowl overseas. Perhaps that marks me as someone who desperately needs a book on Australia to expand my horizons.
The Flight Crew: Maybe you can watch the Super Bowl while thumbing through your book on Australia! Thanks for the entry.
I'm thinking of taking a golf vacation at the Woodstock Inn in Woodstock, VT, this summer. On there web site is a quote from none other than Gary Lee, Washington Post. Gary, should I go there? I'm looking to do more than just golf.
The Flight Crew: Silver Spring, thanks for letting me know that the Woodstock Inn has invoked my name in their advertising. (They didn't, but never mind). Since I am not a golfer, I can't vouch for that aspect of the place. What I can tell you is that the rooms are roomy and stylish, if a little staid. The restaurant serves about the best haute cuisine of any place in Vermont. The service is excellent. The surrounding town of Woodstock and nearby Queechee (where they blow glass at the Simon Pearce mill) are also lush in a picture perfect way. All around, I'd say it's hard to go wrong there.
Ok, you guys have me fired up. I can get to Manchester NH for $74 on Southwest. But can anyone tell me if it's possible to get from Manchester to Boston easily (maybe on a shuttle or something)?
The Flight Crew: One Way, just rent a car -- it's an easy drive. Or better yet, fly to Providence on Southwest and rent a car -- it's a shorter drive, about an hour. I've (KC) done both drives to/from Boston and the savings are definitely worth it.
I'd love that book on Australia, particularly if it has beach pictures. My living room is crying out for it. I'll describe: The table sits in front of a sofa the color of rainbow sherbet (lime, aqua, baby blue, cream)--a gift from an elderly relative (now deceased) who was moving out of his Florida home. Forced to work with the Florida theme until I can afford to do otherwise, I bought a carpet remnant in mint green and decorated with wicker chairs (also donated) and fish stuff. I think its sad that I have a "Florida room" for a living room when I live in Virginia and am nowhere near retirement age. I'd much rather prominantly display the Australia book. An Australia room is much classier, don't you think?
The Flight Crew: Thanks, Arl. We're in the throes of a move here ourselves--about to shift our home base from the fifth floor to the fourth. We'd be HAPPY for some fish stuff to hang on our walls. That said, though, nothing brightens up a room better than a big ol' free book on Australia.
Keep 'em coming folks...it's anyone's race today.
South of San Francisco: Both Yosemite and Big Sur are memories to last you a lifetime - glad I don't have to make the choise! But with kids, I would spend time in Monterey and see the aquarium (the town is not crowded with other tourists in April)and remember Steinbeck rather than Hearst...
By the way: I agree totally on your opinion on Dutch food. But look for Belgian restaurants - la cuisine belgique is excellent, very much like the French.
The Flight Crew: Thanks, CD.
Chevy Chase, DC:
For the couple staying in DC at the Latham: Be sure to eat dinner at Citronelle (in the hotel). It's one of the top places in DC.
The Flight Crew: Chevy, KC here. Right you are, but we should point out that it's also one of the most expensive places in DC, too.
Hi, flight crew. We were booked on a
Commodore cruise next month and can't
get our money back. Can you help us
The Flight Crew: Bummer, Rockville. We feel your pain.
Here's the scoop (Brown here): Commodore declared bankruptcy in late December and ceased operating. People who paid by credit card for trips that operated out of New Orleans can be reimbursed by the credit company. If you paid by check...it's a bit more difficult (which is why we advise, whenever possible, pay by credit card AND take out travel insurance that protects you in these cases).
If you paid by check, go to the Federal Maritime Commission web site (www.fmc.gov); you're supposed to fax your claim to Commodore in Florida. Ultimately, if Commodore can't pay it, its bond with the FMC will pay for it but it can take as much (if not more) than a year to get the money back.
If you were booked on Commodore's sister line, Crown, which operates a ship in winters out of Aruba, you're at the mercy of the cruise line if you wrote a check cause the FMC bond doesn't cover anything but U.S. ports of embarkation. Credit cards will cover you though.
I have to have the book on Australia because on a recent visit, I was washed ashore to be terrorized by a crazed band of kangaroos who had, by coincidence, also stayed at the Hudson like every biped in town. I was taken down to bondi and forced to achieve Aussie citizenship the old fashioned way, getting drunk. I was later bashed on the noggin by a boomerang and forced never again to watch Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Back to u?
The Flight Crew: What, is everyone from Arlington?
Thanks for the horrifying tale--we'll never look at a boomerang the same way again.
Chatauqua Institute is a great place for a very relaxed vacation. It is kind of like going back in time to the victorian era. No spas and such but ther is a sailing,canoeing,a golf course, tennis courts and bikes to rent. The admittance ticket gets you admittance to all the lectures and the evening concerts but classes, boat rentaland green fees are xtra. Most accomdations are more like B & B's. I try to get there every summer.
The Flight Crew: Thanks, Arl.
I think I deserve the book for having to read that post about the "return of the ribs and beer" from Vienna to Krakow. Gross!!!
The Flight Crew: Yeah, sort of stomach-churning. But that's what travel is all about!
re: Bismarck - had to go there once on a business group trip - and our hosts took us to the badlands of SD for sightseeing....
Sorry to say that Bismarck reflects the fact that ND has the fewest # of tourists of all the states. It's a small town, so walkable, but there was little open there on the weekend. There is a native american art musuem that I can't recall the name of. There is also a mall.
The Flight Crew: Arl, that "good luck" sounded a bit ominous. But thanks.
I'm going to be in Switzerland next month and have read about the Glacier Express. Is it worth the trip? How much is it going to cost me and how do I make reservations?
The Flight Crew: Sottili here: Any readers been on this rail journey? I've heard it's beautiful, but long. Train takes 7.5 hours to travel between Zermatt and St. Moritz - the "world's slowest express train" travels at 22 mph. A four-day Swiss Rail pass costs about $160, which makes sense if you're going to travel to other places. Don't know what the point-to-point cost is, but you can find out at www.raileurope.com.
We were in NYC for the MLK long weekend and stayed at fine place: the Rhiga Royal on W. 54th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues. A weekend package was not cheap at $274/night, but that got us a 2-room suite (this is an all-suite hotel)(which was important, so that our daughter could have her own private room). You also get a $25/night food credit, which can be used in the hotels restaurant and/or lounge. I'm not affiliated with this place but thought I'd pass it along as a possibility for families headed that way.
The Flight Crew: Thanks for the tip, NW.
How's Hilton Head weather in March? How about early versus late March? I've been there many times in the summer, and I'm thinking about a weekend getaway in a few weeks, but I'm really looking for some sun. It doesn't have to be bathing suit weather, but I'd still like to hang out by the beach.
The Flight Crew: I was in Hilton Head a couple of years ago in February and found it surprisingly climate, says Gary Lee, in the low 60s. I assume that March is even warmer but you may want to check with the city's chamber of commerce for mean March temperatures just to be sure.
RE: Yosemite If you are talking late April, go to Yosemite. Just a couple weeks of thaw in High Sierras will turn the waterfalls in the park into the most fantastic cascades you've ever seen. Early April, and you'll probably be too early.
RE: Amsterdam I don't know if it qualifies as Dutch cuisine, but the seafood there is very good. Had some crab-meat salad sandwiches that blew my socks off. Plus, I'll second Gary's motion for Indonesean food--great stuff!
The Flight Crew: Thanks . . . I've been there at exactly the time you're talking about, and it's oh-so-true. Plus, the park is empty.
For the Amsterdam food-seeker: The most memorable authentic Dutch food experiance I had was at one of the raw herring carts scattered about town (pick one with lots of locals). Get the kind that comes on a roll (easier to handle for a first-timer) and try it out! Much better than it sounds and definitely lets you feel like you've Gone Dutch by the time your vacation is over. Also, don't miss the schwarma and other automat-type delicacies near Rembrandtplein (even if they're not Dutch Dutch)! And for rijstafel, try Speciaal in the Jordaan. And finally, this isn't food-related, but make a point to catch a flick in the main theatre of Tuschincki Cinema, and be sure to get a Grolsch or two on the way in -- it's impossible to describe how cool it is. But skip the Heineken Brewery. Happy trails!
The Flight Crew: Thanks for that tip DC, from Gary.
I'm hoping to get to Boston... I just looked, and Southwest doesn't go there. Help, take 2?
The Flight Crew: Take Southwest to Providence and drive to Boston.
3000 miles west of you:
For the folks contemplating a San
Francisco vacation. I think Yosemite
would be a better deal, given the kids
ages. More interesting stuff for them to
see & do, as opposed to sitting in a car
and looking at scenery. Beach access in
the Big Sur area can be limited, except for
a few parks, for instance. One
compromise might be Santa Cruz. Drive
down via Highway 1 & check out the
elephant seals at Ano Nuevo park. Drive
back via Hwy 17 and admire redwoods.
The kids will ADORE the Santa Cruz
boardwalk and April migh actually be
sunny enough to get some beach time.
There are good restaurants & wineries in
Or go north to Point Reyes, visit the
lighthouse, hike out to Tomales Point &
see herds of elk up close & personal.
In any case April should be good for
weather-not much fog & the rainy season
P.S. tell Cindy I got the ugly T shirt I won a
couple of weeks ago. It's--er--unique.
The Flight Crew: Thanks for the advice...it even came with directions!
Silver Spring, Md.:
Hi Flight Crew - I'm planning my honeymoon to Playa del Carmen in September (hopefully all-inclusive deal at Royal Hideaway) and I have a couple of questions. First, I've been told that prices are high now b/c it's peak season, but they'll be lower by September when the peak is over. How long should I wait to buy? I used travelscape through the Travel section and got a quote of abt $1,700 out of BWI for my date. Does this sound right or should I wait for something better? Second, we'd like to stay for six nights and a couple of travel agents said this might be a problem, that it's better to stay for seven nights for a package deal. Why is this?
Thanks so much. Please answer if you can.
The Flight Crew: Silver Spring, Brown here. I think you should wait a little bit...September is the slowest of slow seasons there and you can do better than $1,700. But make sure you take out travel insurance in case you're trip is wrecked by a hurricane. Please. Please. Please. Trust us.
The reason that seven nights might be better for a package than six is likely that you're flying charter air as opposed to scheduled air and there's not the flexibility. I would check around some more. I can't tell from your questions, though, whether that $1,700 includes air or not...
My wife and I stayed at the Iberostar Cozumel and became quite ill. Since then I've been looking at the different Cozumel and Caribbean news groups/chat groups to see if anybody else had gone through this. I can only seem to find from good to great reviews, do you know if the (negative) post are edited on these sites. If they are edited do you know of sites where one can go to find reviews of these resorts that are not edited?
The Flight Crew: Toronto, I love reading those kind of boards for real-people reactions but I have to say I'm impressed with your eagle eye, noticing few if any negative write-ups (Brown here). Before I take any site as gospel, I always check out who's running it...if it's for example, a tourism bureau than you're likely not going to find bad reports on it. That's there prerogitive but it makes for a useless site.
You might also post your question on a site you like and see what people have to say. I'd be curious...
I could swear I sent this question early in January but since I'm an old lady maybe I forgot. Once again, this year, my husband and I want to followup on the "deal" mentioned in The Post on Dec. 10 to travel to Russia with Eastern Tours Consolidators. Last year we backed out because we were concerned because they wouldn't take credit cards and some other travel agents told us they had previously filed bankruptcy. We contacted the BBB and they had four complaints but since ETC had not "responded to their request for info," they couldn't tell us anymore. This year they will take Discover Card so we think we'll go, but can you tell us anything more about them? Has anyone out there traveled with them? Thank you.
The Flight Crew: Arnold, you must like to live dangerously. If the BBB can't get the company to respond to its questions, why would you want to take a chance? The fact that they now take credit cards is a good sign, but personally, we wouldn't risk it.
Anyone else out there had any experience with this company?
Manhattan Beach, Ca.:
Where can we get info on staying at the Epcot Center in Orlando, Fla.?
The Flight Crew: Hi, Manhattan. I'm assuming you mean the hotels surrounding Disney World, home of Epcot Center. Check out www.flausa.com for a bunch of links to Orlando area chambers of commerces.
I'll be turning the Big 4-0 in late September, and am thinking of a great locale to 'soften the blow'. Right now Paris and the Loire Valley is a leading contender. I'm hoping, of course, to also save on airfare. Would it be better to buy months in advance, or wait for hoped-for post-Labor Day sales?
The Flight Crew: Sottili here: My crystal ball is cloudy today. It's becoming more and more difficult to predict what's going to happen with airfares. If the price is $500 or below, buy. If it's higher, sign up with Travelocity or Expedia for them to track the airfare and when it goes below $500, buy it.
My fiance and I are planning a honeymoon to the coast of Maine. We're driving, bringing our large (adorable and well behaved) dog with us. Where are the best places to see (we have about 10-12 days total)? Where should we avoid? I've read that Bar Harbour is very touristy--is this true? Is Acadia National Park worth the trip north? Any advice? We like to hike and just relax by the water (and eat well).
The Flight Crew: Hi, DC. Running out of time here, but let me assure you that Acadia National Park is definitely worth the trip, and I liked Bar Harbour as well (though I was there in early May before the crowds descended). As for places to miss, I like Freeport but can do without icky Kittery. And Kennebunkport may be a lot more busier than usual now that there's another George Bush in the White House.
I also have a one-way fare question sort
of. We want to do a 7-day inside passage
Alaska cruise that starts in Vancouver,
ends in Seward (near Anchorage) but we
obviously can't get r/t fares (we fly from
SFO or San Jose) and it's expensive. Any
The Flight Crew: Sottili here: What most people do is buy a round-trip ticket and throw out the other half because it's cheaper than buying a one-way ticket. The airlines hate this, have rules against it and threaten to charge you the one-way fare if they catch you. But, as long as you use the first leg and throw away the second leg, it works. And remember, I'm not recommending you do this. I'm only telling you what others do.
Off to Paris in 2 weeks. Been there before (honeymoon), but wondering if you have any suggestions for some more off the beaten track attractions appropriate for Feb.
The Flight Crew: From Francophile Gary Lee: assuming that weather in the city of light will ne nippy next month, you may want to check out some of the small museums other than the Louvre. Two of my favorites are the Rodin Museum and Musee Picasso. The latter features works not only by the master himself but also Braque and other of his contemporaries. Pere Lachaise, the cemetery where the likes of Jim Morrisson, Edith Piaf and Oscar Wilde are buried is interesting for its historical value. If you're in the mood for shopping the area around the metro station Alesia in the 14th arrondisement has some great budget stores. Finally, for a day trip (if you've already been to Versailles and to see the Monets in Giverny) you might take a train out to see the cathedral at Chartes. It's about a hourlong ride from the center by train and has the most marvelous stained glass I've seen anywhere. And the town is also great for walking around, lunch, etc.
College Park, Md.:
Hi, we are a three generation family of four going on Carnival's Paradise in March. We love the idea of a non smoking cruise and two of us (mom and dad the middle generation) have done Carnival before and loved it. Grandpa has done five other cruises and Junior (10) is doing his first.
A couple of questions.
1. We have two adjoining cabins figuring the added space will keep us all sane. What would you recommend we do on a Southern Carribean itinerary in terms of ports as a group?
2. What can you tell us about the Camp Carnival kids program? Will our ten year old enjoy it or decide it stinks and hang with mom/dad/grandpa?
3. Is there a way we can request a priority boarding so as to help grandpa out from a lot of random standing. If so, who do we contact?
4. Any other advice for anything mom and dad may be overlooking?
THANKS! You folks do a great public service in all the info and help you provide!
The Flight Crew: Hi, College Park. Brown here, presuming you're doing the Paradise (since it's non smoking). I toured it, loved it, you're going to have a great time.
Okay, on to answers:
1. You don't tell us your ports but I'd pick a couple for group activities (beachgoing, snorkeling, a boat trip, a historic walking tour are all nice for a group) and split up for a couple.
2. Hear good things about Camp Carnival and was impressed by Paradise's facilities. You may NEVER see your kid! They have lots of activities and make good use of the ship (don't just keep the kid inside all day). Also, one tip: make sure you sign him up /register him the first day and get him going that first day. Otherwise, he might feel left out of things.
3. There's a way you can request priority boarding: don't know how you booked the cruise. If through a travel agent, ask the agent to arrange it. If through the cruise line, call the cruise line. If you can't get anywhere...plan to spend a leisurely day in Miami and board relatively late (that way you'll miss the crowds that tend to stampede the embarkation process the minute it's open).
4. Last advice: Leave some time, one port, one night at dinner, for mom and dad to sneakaway and have some private time. Should be easy to do!
Have fun, let us know how it goes.
DC Re: Clearwater again:
Why isn't clearwater relaxing? We would like nice beaches and nice service.
The Flight Crew: Maybe it's changed, but my experience is that there's a much younger scene crowding the beaches in Clearwater. If you like lots of activity and radios playing, go for it. Otherwise, you may be disappointed.
Silver Spring, Md.:
Thanks for your response, Carolyn. The fare included air. I just called vacationstogo.com and they gave me a fare of $1,620, so about the same. I'm thinking maybe hold off til Feb./March. Does that sound reasonable or should I wait later than that.
Thanks (and oh, my fiance has already said he won't go w/o insurance b/c of the season, so we're gettin' covered).
The Flight Crew: Good thinking fiancee! Yeah, I'd wait until late Feb. and start calling again. Good luck, SS, and let us know how you're faring.
For the person heading to Bismarck: If you haven't already done so, read "Undaunted Courage" by Stephen Ambrose, and then visit the related historical sites in ND, none of which is far from the Bismarck/Mandan area. There is one National Park Service site (check www.nps.gov and search by state for more info), as well as a few state park sites. www.lewisandclark.com is also a good site to check out; click on "site map" and search by state there as well.
If you have more time, drive west on I-94 to Medora and visit at least that unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The NPS site will have info on that as well.
And enjoy the spare, austere beauty of Big Sky Country!
The Flight Crew: Thanks, Fairfax.
Starting to think about summer vacations...
Do you have any thoughts as to what airfares might be to Europe this summer? And when would be a good time to start hunting for a reasonable airfare?
As an alternative, what about the Caribbean during July? Too hot? Too rainy? Airfare too expensive?
The Flight Crew: Sottili here: I've got the tarot cards out now and I'm brewing the tea leaves. Seriously, if the recent past is any indication, airfares to Europe will range from about $800 to $1000 for summer travel. The Caribbean is usually a bit cheaper than this - more like $500 to $700. And it is very hot there in summer. Try consolidators for Europe.
Hi all -
I was just wonderking if you or fellow clicksters have any advice for someone (like me!) who's suddenly found they'll have an extra day or day and a half in Denver CO. It'll be in Feb. however, and while I like to ski, I've been there, done that. Anything must-see or -do in Denver itself? Is hiking out of the question that time of year? Thanks!
The Flight Crew: Arlington, head to LoDo (lower downtown), Denver's Georgetown...Brown here, it's fabulous, lots of shops and cafes and a brewpub etc. Great bookstore, the Tattered Cover.
Is it possible to get reasonably priced accomadations in Salt Lake City for the Olympics?
The Flight Crew: In a nutshell, no. We're working on a piece that will run in a few weeks updating the lodging sitation in Salt Lake, but it's very tight and likely to get tighter. The early word is that more lodgings will become available in early spring, but they're likely to cost a pretty penny.
For cruise queen Brown: We're planning our honeymoon in June. We want to take a cruise. It's our first together. I've cruised on Carnival once, Bob never. We're thinking about a cruise on either Windstar or Windjammer. What's the difference?
The Flight Crew: I'll try to slip you in...its late. But here's the scoop. Windjammer is like a Jeep, Windstar a Lexus. Both have sails. But the former is more ahoy matey-style while the latter is more like a cruise but on a smaller sailing style vessel. Windstar is bigger than Windjammer (166 passengers I believe, Windjammer's biggest ship holds 122) and Windstar's sails are mainly for show.
If you an elegant time, go Windstar. If you want to relax, have fun, eat cafeteria style food and drink cheap wine, Windjammer's great. Prices vary, as you can imagine.
Because Aussies Russell Crowe, Mel Gibson and Hugh Jackman are unavailable, I figure the only way I'll ever get an Australian anything in my bed is to sleep with a book about Australia under my pillow.
The Flight Crew: Gee, Boston... that's pretty sad. Can't you just tuck a picture of Paul Hogan in the mattress?
My oldest daughter (17 this week) wants to go to New York City and see a Broadway play for her birthday. My wife and I are going to take her on 1/26/01 (leave here around noon) and we hope to see a play and have dinner that night. The next day we will tour around and eventually head home in the late afternoon (we need to relieve the exhausted baby sitter Saturday night).
We have never been to New York City. Can you suggest a place to stay, eat, and also the best way to get there and back? We would also welcome any tips on plays currently running on broadway.
The Flight Crew: Clarksville, what a great bday present for your daughter. I (KC) do this trip a lot with my kids and we always have a blast. On my last trip with my son for his 18th bday, we saw Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing," which we both loved; had a very affordable pre-theater dinner at a Mexican place called Rosa's; rode "The Beast" (the Circle Line's incredibly fun high-speed boat tour around NY Harbor) not once but twice; shopped at South Street Seaport; and did Grand Central Station.
As for theater specifics, your best bet at this point, I think, is to check the ads in the NY Times Arts & Leisure section. If you have time, go to our Web site, www.washingtonpost.com, and find our recent (april 16, 2000) NY theater package. We covered things like the best Broadway Web sites, how to get tickets, bargain hotels in the theater district, pre-theater dinner deals, and getting from DC to Manhattan by plane, train, bus and car.
Personally, I always take the train but that's just me. Have fun and happy bday to your daughter!
Can anyone recommend a reputable tour operator in Peru? We're planning a September honeymoon and have long dreamed of visiting Machu Pichu - and of course would want to explore Lima, the coastal area and the Amazon jungle parts of Peru as well - if you can fit all that into an approx 10 to 12 day trip. We're looking to experience the adventure of Peru - without being on an "adventure" tour (i.e. no hiking or rafting). Thanks for any recomendations or advice!
The Flight Crew: A couple of tips from Gary Lee, who was in Peru last summer. For a tour operator, you might try Manu Expeditions, reachable at www.ManuExpeditions.com. They'd be particularly good for the Amazon. If I were you, however, I'd skip Lima and concentrate your non jungle explorations in Machu Pichu and the city of Cusco, both of which will be unforgettable experiences and both of which you can do very easily on your own.
RE: Paris Just read that the Musee Carnevelette (sp?) just opened a new wing dedicated to Paris' prehistoric history. Sounded interesting.
The Flight Crew: Thanks 02!
Well, last Friday my creditcards were lifted out of my wallet downtown DC(btw, never happened while in Madrid), my TV broke Tuesday, and my Nikon camera lens broke Saturday while photographing the inaugaration (a sign?). My grandmother travelled the world in her late years but in her quest to Australia, she was grounded in New Zealand due to an American Airlines strike. The bottom line is I feel very unlucky right now but would appreciate a book. Thank you for your consideration.
The Flight Crew:
And we have a winner! Wash, that sound you hear is the drip of tears cascading down keyboards across the world. Send your name and address to email@example.com and we'll send out your book.
As for everyone else, thanks much for the questions and responses to other clicksters' requests, and we're sorry we couldn't get to more of you. Next week, more of the Crew will be onboard and we'll be a mean, lean answering machine anew.
This Sunday, check out the Travel section and its reports on five cool things to do in the snow that AREN'T skiing and the latest on blood clots and long flights.
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