Hosted by the Flight Crew
Monday, February 12, 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.
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.
As always, our courteous editors are on hand to consider any travel-related query. If you're looking for ideas, see this week's Travel section.
Submit questions in advance for the Flight Crew. You may also browse an archive of previous live travel discussions.
The Flight Crew: Sniff, sniff? Is that a whiff of spring in the air? A faint hint of warmer days to come? Not so much this week—burrrr—but last week’s balmy days definitely put some of us in the mind of getting outside and stretching our legs. But let’s not rush—there’s still plenty of wintertime travel to do, lots of folks still heading to off season Europe (particularly London) or out West for the Spring Skiing. And now is the time for you more methodical college students to beginning plotting your Spring Break.
And we’re where here to help—or at least to commiserate with those of you trying to keep you wanderlust in check for a few more months of cold. The flight crew today comprises travel writer and Cogo Czar Cindy Loose (still fighting to get back on Eastern Standard Time from her recent trip to Vietnam), Deputy Travel Editor John Deiner (busily planning a valentine weekend in New Jersey), Staff Writer Gary Lee (with news on what’s new in New York), Editor K.C. Summers (putting the finishing touches on a beautiful package on rural Portugal to run this Sunday), air fare expert Carol Sottili (preparing for an avalanche of airline-strike queries), copy editor Andrea Sachs (brimming with tales of Patagonia) and at the Captain’s keyboard today, Steve Hendrix (still in search of the perfect B&B between Chestertown and Nairobi.
And of course, we have cheap stuff to give away. In order to make OUR lives easier, we’ll give away goodies to the two readers who send in the most helpful answers to one of the questions we get on line today: a lovely gardener’s apron from the Jardin Botanique in Montreal and an audio tourist guide to New York City and Long Island.
And now, what do YOU want to talk about?
Do I need a visa to get into Prague? A couple older guidebooks seem to say that one is required. I'm wondering-- is this still the case? Thanks.
The Flight Crew: Cindy Loose here: A visa is not needed for Prague unless you are staying 30 days or longer. Have fun.
We've got a trip to the BVI's (Virgin Gorda) planned for March, (23rd - 31st) but my flight is on American, using frequent flyer miles, and I am concerned about the labor situation. Would trip insurance be any help here? I've already put a hefty deposit on our accomodations, and will lose it if we don't make it there. Is there anything else I can be doing at this point, or have in mind for the day of the trip?
Thanks so much!
The Flight Crew: This is a totally topical question, Lusby, thanks for answering it (Brown here). You're right to be worried. Alas, it may not be so simple as to get travel insurance. You have to make sure you read between the lines. One major travel insurer -- CSA -- has just come out and said it will not cover expenses due to delays caused by labor issues. You might check out Travelguard.com.
I'd definitely get travel insurance. Just make sure you're covered for airline delays, no matter what the cost....
A friend gave me a $100 gift certificate to the Tabard Inn, which I've heard great things about but haven't yet been to. Should I apply the funds to a nice dinner? Or brunch (maybe even for a group)? Or treat myself to an overnight (and if so, any particularly special rooms you'd recommend)? Would love your advice -- I don't mind pitching in any additional money, by the way, just thought I should take advantage of the opportunity. Thanks!
The Flight Crew: Cindy Loose here: This is a pure preference kind of thing, but if you live in Foggy Bottom, I can't see spending your money for an overnight trip just up the road unless you're having an affair. The place is so close, maybe you should just stop by to check out the menu and prices. Brunch there is great, I can attest; I haven't done dinner. The homemade potato chips are famed.
Do you have any information on the wineries in the Valley of the Moon in CA? Websites? Many thanks
The Flight Crew: Charlottesville, Hendrix here. Don't know of these wineries myself, but the website is--you guessed it--valleyofthemoonwinery.com
We're touring the North Coast of California in mid-May and want to spend 2 nights in the Mendocino area. We're looking for accomodations with a tremendous ocean view. We're considering places such as the Albion River Inn, Heritage House, and Stanford Inn. Do you have any favorites or recommendations?
The Flight Crew: Fairfax, I've stayed at a bunch of hotels/inns in and around Mendocino (this is Brown). Stanford Inn by the Sea has gorgeous rooms with fireplaces -- and a animal corral and an organic restaurant -- but is not right on the water. It's set back a bit. Heritage House is an excellent choice, I hear great stuff about its restaurant. Haven't stayed in Albion River Inn -- anybody want to offer an opinion?
Just beyond Mendocino, ten minutes drive south or so, is a little cute "village" called Elk and there are a handful of wonderful small hotel/inn types of places. The Elk Cove Inn is one. I stayed in another one, built right on the edge of the cliff, with penultimate views but I can't remember the name of it...and can't find it in a quick web search.
Somebody, anybody, help!
My husband and I would like to go to Cuba this Spring. Any tips on how to get there? We're both American citizens; he's a journalist in grad school, if that helps get a visa. Thanks for your help.
The Flight Crew: Gary Lee, who was in Cuba a couple of years ago, with a couple of thoughts. As far as I know, the only categories of American citizens who are allowed to go LEGALLY without going through an elaborate visa process are 1) journlists accredited with a known publication and on assignment.2) people with relatives there who are going for a visit 3) diplomats on an official assignment. Otherwise, you have to go with an official educational group or go through countries which do allow its citizens to travel there, like Jamaica or Canada.
My friend and I are flying to Europe next week, and we were having a discussion about carrying passports. I was planning to leave mine in the hotel safe unless I was going to need it (e.g., entering/leaving a country). She thinks it's better to keep it on you all the time, in a pouch under your clothes of course. Which do you recommend? Also, will I need a passport to cash my traveler's checks?
The Flight Crew: Leave your passport in the hotel only if you're putting it in a safe. Plus, you should keep a xeroxed copy of it in a separate place. In the event it's lost or stolen, having a copy will greatly expedite replacement. You'll certainly need some i.d. to cash a traveler's check, and a passport does it every time.
Hi kids. Early in March I will have a day-long stopover in Paris. My flight arrives at CDG at 7:00am and my flight out leaves at 9:20 that night. I'd like to take the train into the city, what would you suggest for such a short period of time? Touristy things like the Eiffel Tower are okay for me. Thanks!
The Flight Crew: Hi SS, KC here. The Eiffel Tower's fine, but here's what I'd do instead: Go to Ste. Chappelle, the most beautiful church in the city, and the Musee d'Orsay, an incredible museum in a converted train station, with a great collection of Impressionist works (plus an amazing view of the city). You should be able to do both of those in your short time in the city. Have fun!
Hi, 2 married thirtysomethings, planning our first trip to the Grand Canyon the first week of September. Did some research and knew enough to plan way ahead, so have booked a week at the El Tovar Hotel on the South Rim. Wondering about a few things now -- will this be a good time of year to visit the Canyon? Also, is there enough to keep us interested for a week or would the Crew recommend other activities away from the Canyon for part of the week? We're a little leery of the mule trips down into the Canyon, and aren't sure we want to do the all-day or multi-day hikes down inside, so we're pretty much looking for activities along the rim. Would appreciate any advice from the Crew or fellow clicksters. Thanks.
The Flight Crew: Hi, VD. JD here.
September is a great time of the year to go, with the worst of the summer heat mostlikely behind you. Been conferring with the rest of the Crew, particularly Mr. Hendrix, who says if you're at the Canyon for that long, you should really try to hike down for an overnight. Going down, natch, is a piece of cake, but it'll be worth the huffing and puffing you no doubt will be doing on the return.
As for rim-side activities, there are some hiking trails, and you'll want to visit various other viewpoints and historical spots along the rim. That said, though, you'll almost certainly want to venture out of the park to keep yourselves occupied the full week. Flagstaff is a cool little town about an hour away, and just a bit farther afield are the red rock canyons of mystical Sedona. Vegas is about 5 hours.
And here's my two cents on the El Tovar: Whatever you do, try to get a room as far away from the restaurant as possible. When I stayed there, I was stirred awake each morning by the PA calling folks to breakfast.
Here at my college we have a very early spring break...the first week in March. I would love to visit my sister in Colorado during this, but now that is it coming up so quickly, airfare has gone skyhigh. Do you know of any ways college students can get cheap airfares quickly? Do airlines have student rates? Thanks for all your help!!!
The Flight Crew: Have you tried your local Council Travel office? They offer great deals for students, from spring break trips to airfare deals. I am not aware of student rates for airlines (in fact they are more likely to hike prices; they got an A plus in Intro to Supply and Demand) but if you are willing to take a gamble, try priceline.com or Hotwired for last-minute flights. Also, Mogul Ski Tours (www.skimoguls.com) often have Colorado ski deals with air and hotel and tickets.
I am taking a course in Paris this summer but would like to fly to London first and do some traveling in the country. Is there any place in London that allows you to store a suitcase or two for a period of a couple of weeks? Thans for any advice you can give me.
The Flight Crew: Winchester, your best bet is your hotel in London. Hendrix here. In my experience, even the cheapest places will let you stash some stuff for a reasonalble length of time.
Ready for a pint at the pub:
Howdy! I'm gearing up for a London trip in late March and was hoping you could help me sort through a lot of the deals going around (and expiring soon, I'm sure) -- I can be flexible on departure and return dates. Can/should I get one of the all-inclusive British Airways "holiday" packages for the low airfare but stay at my own (company paid-for) hotel? Have any clicksters figured out where the best airfare deal is in general? (I heard $99 one-way?!?!) Thanks so much.
The Flight Crew: Sottili here: The $99-each-way fare sale is good from New York to London only - I know British Airways is still offering, and believe that Virgin has matched. The sale fare is $119 each way from Washington - taxes bring it to about $320 round trip. The sale was supposed to expire on Feb. 8, but I notice that it is still being offered at www.travelocity.com. You have to purchase by Feb. 15 and travel only on Wednesdays through April 4.
I am trying to coordinate vacation plans . . . one person in VA, one person in Upstate NY.
We REALLY enjoyed Grand Cayman in last October. Hoping to do something similar without going back to the same place. Any other islands with the same type of feel (relaxation - not into the clubs, bars, etc), and the same great beaches and snorkling?
The Flight Crew: Somewhere, I just got back from a trip to Anguilla and it fits the bill for what you are looking for (this is Brown, writing from St. Thomas). Lovely resorts, great restaurants, fabulous beaches -- almost every I went to was totally empty and gorgeous besides. There are several places for good snorkeling. And...it's probably in the same price range as Grand Cayman which is not necessarily cheap though low-season rates -- summer, fall -- make it infinitely more affordable.
Anybody got another idea?
Hi, I'm submitting early because I may have to be in a meeting for the chat, but I wanted to throw my question of last week out there again to see if anyone could help me out. My boyfriend and I will be traveling to Whistler with my family (including 3 brothers ages 4-7) in March. First time for all. Can you all give me some advice on good things to do and see, good places to eat and drink? I would like to know what would be fun for the whole family, as well as for just the adults. We will be skiing most days, but may do a day of snowmobiling or something - depending on what's available... I would love to get any advice or suggestions on the area in general. It is my boyfriend's first trip 'out west'/to western Canada, so I'd like to make it as cool and special as possible!!
Thanks for anything you can tell me!!!
The Flight Crew: Annapolis, Hendrix here, sheepish admiting that no one on the crew has skied Whistler. Let's toss out to our skiing readers. Anyone?
My husband and I are flying to India on February 18 by Lufthansa. We are going to have 6-7 hours lay over in Frankfurt on Monday morning. Is it feasible to have a Frankfurt city tour (on a bus) during this hours. Do you know if the arrangments can be made in Frankfurt airport? Thank you.
The Flight Crew: Gary Lee, a frequent visitor to Germany here. There is a German tourism office at the Frankfurt airport and you can check in with them. You can also take a very easy subway ride into the main train station and arrange a tour from there. I would recommend that you check with German National Tourist Office at www.germany-tourism.de or 212-661-7200.
The inn in Elk California--are you talking about the Harbor House Inn? If so, their # is 800-720-7474
am I in the running for most helpful?? (if I am right!!)
The Flight Crew: Absolutely! Great answer. Phew. Thanks. It's wonderful. I stayed in a room (and I hope I'm not confusing it with some other place in Elk but Elk is pretty small) where there was full glass shower overlooking the Pacific. Not for the fear-of-heights type person! You didn't have to worry about privacy cause the steam was sort of a natural curtain.
And there was a wonderful little path down to the beach, a pretty deserted beach, lots of rocks. A nice gazebo for an incredibly romantic sunset...it was my favorite of all the places I stayed.
Last summer, my brother and his family came to visit me and the DC area for their vacation. They flew from LAX to BWI on USAir for $200 round trip per person and got the tickets in late March. Do you expect similar deals this summer, so they can come again. When should we start looking out for summer air fare bargains, if there are going to be any? Thanks.
The Flight Crew: Sottili here: The $200 BWI-LAX fare is driven by Southwest, which is now offering the sale for travel through June 8. You have to purchase tickets by Feb. 22. Southwest offers its $99 coast-to-coast sale every few months. Hard to tell when they will offer it again, but there's a decent chance that another one will pop up for July-Ausust travel. Also, US Airways often matches the sale, United sometimes follows. National Air offers good fares into DCA from LAX, but they've had some financial problems.
My wife and I contacted All Nippon Airways (ANA)to inquire about a package tour to China. ANA referred us to Pacific Pro Tour (based out of New York or New Jersey). Would appreciate any information relating travelers' experiences with Pacific Pro Tour, especially relating to its China tours. (We are considering the Pro A tour.) Many thanks. Don
The Flight Crew: Hi, this is Andrea, Duchess of Deals. I have often written up that group's tours for my deals column because their rates are great. I have yet to hear anything negative about their tours--either because no one went on them or, on a more positive note, everyone had a fabulous, un-gripable time. As long as they take credit cards (cash only is a big sign to Stay Away) and are in good standing with the Better Biz Bureau and travel agent associations, then id say go start packing. Oh yes, one final note: Ask the agents if you can talk to past travelers. They are the best sources.
I'm going to Madrid next month and am having a heck of a time finding a good guide book. I'd like to find one that's portable, but none that I've looked at seem terribly comprehensive. Most pick the top 25 things to do or something like that. I've been to Madrid before, but only for a weekend and was spending four months in Spain at the time so a Let's Go Spain & Portugal guide book was my choice. Unfortunately, Let's Go doesn't make a book on just Madrid. Can you recommend a book that might be as comprehensive yet more portable? Thanks!
The Flight Crew: Gary Lee, who visited Madrid earlier this winter, with a thought. I used the Time Out guide and found it pretty decent and up to date. To sample what it's like you might click into www.timeout.com and click on Madrid.
I'm getting married on St. Patrick's Day up in New Jersey (about 25 miles outside of NYC). The wedding isn't until 3 pm and I wanted to give my guests information about the St. Patrick's Day parade in NYC so that they may have the opportunity to go in for the parade. I've looked for information about the parade (time, route, etc.) and have been unsuccessful. Can you help me with a website that would give me the details?
The Flight Crew: Hi, Al. JD here. I did a quickie search and came up with http://www.ny.com/holiday/stpatricks. Seems to have lots of good info. Starts at 11 a.m. and, from past experience, goes on forever and a day.
Can anyone else out there help Al?
PS You having green beer at the reception?
British Airways has no return flights available for the cheapie fare unless you fly back at the end of April. I called first thing on Monday (last week) and had NO luck.
The Flight Crew: Sottili here: Just checked it on travelocity.com and a fare of $322 was available for travel departing Dulles March 7 and returning March 14. The sale base fare is $119 each way, which comes to $238 and there's usually about $80 in taxes. A little lesson - calling on the phone doesn't always work. You've got to work the phones AND the Internet. Try the airline's homepage (in this case, www.britishairways.com) and the various booking agents (www.travelocity.com, www.expedia.com, www.sidestep.com, etc.).
Falls Church, VA:
Hi there: I was wondering if any of you
had a "out-of-the-way-but-worth-it" list, or
idea, for southwest Ireland. We're going
in August for a family gathering of sorts,
and I've never been there before. Most of
the guidebooks seem to concentrate on
the Ring of Kerry and the Dingle
peninsula, but my husband and I sort of
prefer less crowded venues. Any ideas?
The Flight Crew: Hi FC, KC here. Ireland's so small that if you want to get away from the thronged Ring of Kerry and Dingle, why not head north and spend some time in County Clare and the Burren instead? It's an incredibly beautiful area to roam around in, from the lunar-landscape-looking Burren with its rock tombs and unexpected wildflowers and castles, to the incomparable Cliffs of Moher, to the pubs and music scenes in charming towns like Lisdoonavarna, Ballyvaughan and Doolin.
Anyone else have Western Ireland tips for FC?
My wife and I are heading to Quebec City this weekend, any suggestions on restaurants and things to do or see? Thanks very much.
The Flight Crew: The Chateau Frontenac, an old hotel and Quebec City centerpiece, has a gourmet restaurant and a more modest one. Aux Anciens Canadiens offers traditional Canadian food in a cozy atmosphere. The old city is filled with restaurants and shops, making it fun to just walk around, with stops in history museums and beautiful old churches. About 15 minutes from Quebec you'll find a hotel made of ice next to a waterfall, a park, and a very pleasant restaurant--Manoir Montmorency, which overlooks the falls and the St. Lawrence.(The town, St. Anne de Beaupre, also has a beautiful cathedral where visitors from around the world come to be healed.) If you're into winter sports at all, there are plenty within a short drive, including a park with all kinds of sledding/tubing rides called Village Des Sports. For more, try logging on to www.bonjour-quebec.com
I am planning a trip to Maine in June/July timeframe. A group of us will stay in Bethel Golf resort. Have anyone been to Bethel ? Appreciate any comments or inputs on what to do around there.
The Flight Crew: Bethel is a wonderful little town full of outdoor distractions. You can mountain bike at Sunday River, taking the chair lift up and the rocky route down; rockhound for precious metals, mica and other gems (real or semi-real); whitewater kayak/canoe in the lakes and streams; go llama trekking with Steve Crone at Telemark Inn; horseback ride; climb Mt Washington (yes, its New Hampshire, but it is still nearby) and on and on and on. Check out the town's Web site at www.bethelmaine.com for more ideas. And as a winter guest at The Telemark Inn, I must recommend a stopover there, to meet Steve's pack of huskies, which he hooks up to skis duing the snowy months.
i submitted this early, but I forgot a pertinant piece of info...The dates we are traveling are the 14th -24th of May. With that ifo, here is my question again:
Hello to the Flight Crew once again. You all have been so generous with your answers to me in the past, I wonder if you could help me out one last time? I wrote last week to ask if you had any recommendations for two islands in the Caribbean. Carol Spencer Brown was nice enough to recommend St Lucia and Martinique. We are planning on taking half of that recommendation and doing 5 days in Barbados and 5 in St. Lucia. There are a number of reason, but Barbados is easily reached (not to mention my fiancé is a Brit and I think he will like it) and St. Lucia easily from there (not to mention we will have to go to Europe at least twice this summer, so I wanted to save a little $ for that).
My question is this, We have found a deal with all airfare, hotel, insurance and tax, staying at the Colony Club in Barbados and the Royal St. Lucian ( 5 days each). The package is with Air Jamaica and it is $3750 for the two of us. Is this an okay deal and is Air Jamaica reputable to deal with? Also, is it worth another $500 to stay at the Jalousie Hilton in St Lucia? I am sure the hotel is nicer, but I get the feeling it is more isolated, the beach won’t be as nice, and I thought we might be better off spending the money on car rental so we would see more of each island. Also, what’s the scoop with Sandy Lane? When is it going to be open again?
Thank you so much for all of your help!
The Flight Crew: Hey, WDC, I'm not offended (this is Brown)! Actually, Barbados has a fabulous reputation and it's a good choice. And it offers more "urban" kind of stuff (shops, restaurants, historic stuff) to balance St. Lucia's emphasis on natural activities. Sounds great.
Air Jamaica's great, go for it. Plus they fly out of BWI, easy.
What I've heard about the Jalousie Hilton is that it's kind of far out. Geographically, not stylistically. If you really have that kind of cash to blow...check out a web site called LuxuryLink.com and plug in Caribbean...they list some of the nicest properties on the islands.
Colony Club is nice. I mean NICE. So is the Royal St. Lucian. You've got good taste. Save your extra $500, skip the Jalousie Hilton, and blow it on something fun.
Suggestion for Frankfurt layover -- "Bankfurt" has not much in the area of major sites/things to see for a short layover (one the least interesting German cities). Better option is to bring gym and pool clothes in your carry-on and use the health club at the airport Sheraton. The fee used around $10 and the exercise/relaxation will do wonders for your jet lag in India.
The Flight Crew: Thanks for that suggestion Bethesda. I know that Frankfurt tends to get a bad rap compared with other German cities but I find some aspects of the city interesting -- like some of the architecture downtown and the (relatively) new Goethe museum.
For Valley of the Moons....:
I went to Napa and Sonoma a year and a half ago and found that winespectator.com was very helpful. That site generally has good information about traveling in the Napa and Sonoma regions and links to wineries. Additionally, I highly recommend the publication put out by Wine Spectator (which has great pull-out map) that is titled something like "Visiting Napa and Sonoma."
Also, I bought a Fodor's book on Napa and Sonoma and found it very helpful.
The Flight Crew: FVOTM, Many thanks for the useful tips. You're in the running for the fabulous freebies.
This is not a query but another suggestion as to what to do in Paris on a plane layover. Yes, go to Ste.Chapelle, so beautiful, but then walk over to Notre Dame and cross the small bridge to the Ille St Louis, a beautiful little island with shops, cafes, historic houses, and great ambience. Have lunch and browse. Enjoy. The Musee d'Orsay is great but crowded and tiring and you will not see Paris!
The Flight Crew: Okay, okay, Balto, you have a point! But d'Orsay's still in my top-two list.
re: Paris stopover Don't take the train--take the Air France shuttle bus from CDG to Etoile. It drops you off practically under the Arc de Triomphe, and you can start your day off with a walk down the Champs Elysees or take the metro to just about anywhere from there. Plus, the shuttle is really comfortable and quiet and makes only 1 stop.
The Flight Crew: Great suggestion, Arl, thanks.
Real quick for those slackers out there (like me) who didn't write it down the first time--what's the process for parking your car at Metropark and train-ing it into NYC? Thanks again!
The Flight Crew: Now DC, repeat after me, "I can find it in the transcript archives. I can find it in the transcript archives . . ."
JD here. Since you called yourself a slacker before I had the chance, here's the info--just for you:
There are two good options: You can leave the car at Metropark, which is off Exit 11 of the Jersey Turnpike, and pay $2.50 to park then take the train into town (about $12 round trip). Check out www.njtransit.com for details.
Or drive farther north to Hoboken or Weehauken (both off the turnpike) and take a ferry into town. Fare is about $5 each way, parking is $5. It's a bit more expensive but relatively hassle-free and the view is wonderful. Check out www.nywaterway.com.
Re: Barbados: Colony Club is located on the West Coast of the island and is close to lots of great restaurants, including Indigo and The Cliff.
The Flight Crew: Thanks, .com.
Hi - I asked the question last week about what was better, a cruise or resort (having a baby, last big vacation before the big event). I ended up taking your advice and booking on Celebrity, the Millenium, in early March. We got a room with a window but it is on the lowest deck near the back of the ship. I know you don't spend much time in your room on a cruise but not sure how it will be? Do you feel more motion near the back of the ship? Is being that low a bad thing? Thanks and keep up the good work - great chats!
The Flight Crew: Great choice, Reston (Brown here). Gotta tell you...being on the (relative) bottom of the boat is, despite the cheaper fares, more stable and less prone to seasickness than being up higher. All the hallways look alike, anyway (you don't get a nicer hallway as you venture forth). Interestingly, on Millennium they actually put the priciest suites on middle decks rather than high decks because the higher you go you get motion AND a whipping effect.
So it sounds like you did good. Let us know how it goes!
My advise on the Tabard Inn (I work right
around the corner): save your gift
certificate for a warm spring or summer
evening, and eat outside in their garden
area. The food can be spotty, but with
warm sunshine and warmer breezes, this
is an antidote to whatever you need it to
be. Wait for the warm days! The
ambience is what I like there.
Room #2 is a winner. Waterfall-like tub. All art deco interiors. Fab.
The Flight Crew: Thanks, helpful Washingtonian! And you, too, post.com!
I just booked a flight to Las Vegas this morning and selected the Aladdin Resort as our hotel. This hotel is rather new so I figured it might be a safe bet. Have any of the travel staff or the audience stayed there? I welcome all comments.
The Flight Crew: Hi Arl. JD here. You lucky dog...I'm going out in a couple of months and will be staying there myself.
I'm guessing (yes, it's a guess) that the Aladdin will be top-notch. Can't beat the location either--Paris is right next door (tacky but fun) and you can cross the street to Bellagio, Caesars, etc. Venetian is about a 10-minute walk.
Anyone out there have firsthand experience?
Is it possible to find a rental car agency who will rent to a 19 year old in the Western US? This would be for a multi-state (CA, NV, AZ, UT, NM) sightseeing trip for 2-3 weeks (unlimited mileage would be a plus). Starting point is not too important, only that it be accessible via a reasonably low airfare flight from the DC area.
The Flight Crew: Check out Travel Q&A from this Sunday for the low-down on young drivers. Here's the Cliff Note version: It is difficult but not impossible. Some places like Rent-a-Wreck don't mind handing over the keys to the kids. Start calling around, or beg mom and dad for the car.
To the person looking for an island similar to Grand Cayman--how about the BVI's? Virgin Gorda has the Baths with spectacular snorkeling. And you can also go to Tortola by ferry--great scenery and fun restaurants.
The Flight Crew: Carolyn? Is that you?
Re: southwestern Ireland:
If it's not too far for the traveler to Ireland to go into Cork instead of Kerry, the city of Cork itself is worth seeing, as is Kinsale, a pretty fishing town on the coast. Then a drive over to Skibbereen and up to Bantry on Bantry Bay gives you a taste of the wild southwestern countryside.
The Flight Crew: Great tips, Re, thanks.
DC in body but not spirit:
Any suggestions for hotels in Miami Beach for my fiancee and myself for a getaway? Got a good rate at Eden Roc Resort. Any thoughts on this property? Other suggestions?
The Flight Crew: Gary Lee here. The Eden Roc is lush and if you can get a good rate, all the better. There's the gamut of hotels in that area and many are suitable for soon to weds. One new place I found when I was down a few weeks ago and liked a lot is the Claridge, contactable at www.claridgefl.com or 888-422-9211. It's wonderfully decorated, about a mile from South Beach and not too expensive.
I am sending my parents on a vacation as a special anniversary present -- I really want this to be a fabulous vacation for them. They know about the whole thing, and have been doing a lot of the trip planning themselves and are currently leaning towards a Scandinavia/Russia cruise on Celebrity most likely. What do you think? for the 10K or less I'd like to spend it this the way to go. They're pretty active, enjoy lots of sightseeing but don't want to be run ragged.
The Flight Crew: What a cool kid you are! Celebrity's a terrific something-for-everyone-but-a-bit-higher-end than the masses (like Princess, Norwegian, Carnival, Royal Caribbean).
Just tell 'em to pack warm.
St. Patrick's Day:
Actually, no green beer, no green bridesmaids dresses, no short red-headed men (in green tuxedos) serving hors d'oeuvres... but there will be bagpipers, Guinness stout and potatoes as a side dish to dinner. Getting married on St. Patrick's Day also nixed the possibility of going to Ireland for a honeymoon- so instead it's Italy....
The Flight Crew: Sounds great. My inlaws got married on St. Paddy's Day and went the green-beer route--it wasn't pretty. Everyone was seeing leprechauns by the time the bride threw the bouquet.
re: Aruban dinner
Our favorite was Chalet Suisse -- a French restaurant decorated like a ski chalet right across from the ocean -- very romantic. Although we stayed a week in Aruba, we ate there 2x. Also recommend, El Gaucho for their beef. Not necessary a romantic place but a high quality restaurant.
The Flight Crew: Ashburn, not sure if this is a continuination of last week's debate on good restaurants in Aruba...but here goes. We're still loving your feedback!
I will be living in London this summer, but will have to make a couple of short notice (no more than a week) trips back to the States while there. Was wondering what approximate fares I should expect for Heathrow/Gatwick to Dulles and back. Any ideas?
The Flight Crew: Sottili here: Hope you're on an expense account because it's gonna cost you. Right now, even with advance purchase requirements fulfilled, it's running about $750 (it's closer to $900 departing from U.S. and going to London). Try bucket shops in London - you can sometimes get good fares from the discounters there.
Washington DC: RE: Cuba:
Hi, I just went to Cuba a year and a half ago, so hope I can help (and put myself in the running for a prize!). I went officially for work (with the WHO) and my fiancee came along non-legally. As far as one of the best paths to go through - Cancun is definitely the easiest. There are flights directly to Havana from the airport daily. Just buy them when you get to the airport - it's no problem. If you're worried, pay cash - both airlines charge the same, $242 if I remember correctly. When you go through the visa/passport area, ask for a loose visa that they can stamp so that you don't get one in your passport, and keep it for your exit. They know this and it's very easy. Also, when you're there, unless it's for a novelty, don't exchange any money. The pesos will be useless to you. I don't recommend buying cigars to bring home though. I could for under $100 since I was legal, but my fiancee got caught on his trip from Cancun to Charlotte, NC and they destroyed all of his, and then he was contacted by the Treasury dept. I think that if he didn't have the goods on him (not caught by a dog, but by an agent), it wouldn't have been a problem. They let him keep the rest. If the woman's boyfriend is a journalist (mine was too) don't go that route unless it's official. If it could be official, then at least she won't have to pay money for a hotel there (which is what the Treasury Dept. is concerned about (spending money) - no State Dept. involvement). They never prosecute anyone though - they just like to keep the records. It is easy, but Canada is a timely reroute.
The Flight Crew: Okay DC, says Gary, good tips and info there.
To the Grand Canyon folks: I was there last summer and second the idea of going to the bottom; just remember to reserve well in advance. But I'd strongly encourage them to AVOID Sedona, unless you're into magic cystals, really bad art galleries, or other sorts of tourist traps. The surround areas are pretty, but no prettier than plenty of places you'll be driving through.
The Flight Crew: Thanks, DC. Hendrix here. Sedona is a bit much, but it is still spectacular terrain. I'm glad I visited it, in spite of the crystals.
I have the option to take a stopover in Dubai on my way home from a business trip to Pakistan. Anyone able to recommend Dubai or warn against it?
The Flight Crew: DC, we're Dubai-ous about our ability to help you on this one, so we'll throw this one out to the clicksters. Who's been to Dubai?
Trying to get this in early.
Do any of you have suggestions as to travelling in Eastern Europe? I'm thinking of travelling to Russia and Ukraine and then going west, visiting Romania, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, etc. How safe is this type of travel, i.e. crime, health, etc? Also, in determining how to get around I was curious as to whether train travel is reliable and sufficient or should I use a rental vehicle.
Any suggestions you can provide are greatly appreciated.
I thought that travelling to E. Europe would be much cooler (Cold War sites), less touristy, and mucho cheaper than going to Venice, Amsterdam, etc.
The Flight Crew: Your best bet for crime, health and safety information is the country reports done by the State Department. Log on at www.state.gov, and call up the country you want. For health alone, try the cdc.gov web site.
Some friends and I took advantage of the Iceland Air cheap flights and come the end of March are headed to Amsterdam through Reykjavik. Amsterdam will be amazing, and thanks to this forum, I have a sense the 24 hours we spend in Iceland will be truly memorable. Can't wait to check out the Blue Lagoon and downtown, but we need some tips on reasonable places to stay. Any ideas?
The Flight Crew: We get this Iceland question every week and it's great because that's one of my personal fave destinations (so I love to answer it, ad nauseum, Brown here). I stayed once, and loved it, at Odinsve, right in the heart of the coolest part of Reykjavik but don't know how pricey or moderate it is (it was like 10 years ago). Probably the best option is to see if Icelandair is offering any lodging packages -- the airline owns three hotels in Reykjavik.
BIG THANKS for the info. The archives. Doh! Didn't even think about that. Will remember next time, for sure.
The Flight Crew: No problem, slacker. Have a good trip to NYC.
Re: Celebrity Millennium. For the person going on the Millennium (or any other cruise ship for that matter) check out the discussion boards at www.cruisecritic.com. There are literally hundreds of postings on the Millennium (mostly, but not all, quite favorable). People returning from cruises routinely write and post reviews, some of which are very helpful. (Among other things, this ship is going back into dry dock the first week in April to fix a problem with one of its engines.) From what I've read, the vibration problem may not be as big a deal as has been portrayed elsewhere. We're going on the 3/25 sailing.
The Flight Crew: Thanks, CC, you're in the running -- and let us know how the trip goes!
For Foggy Bottom - Definitely dine at the Tabard. Delicious food far outstrips the sleeping rooms. Or wait for the next rainy/snowy night and splurge on really nice wine in the cozy fireplace room.
The Flight Crew: Thanks for the advice. That's three votes for eating, rather than sleeping, at the Tabard Inn.
On an Island in My Dreams:
Falls Church Ireland bound -
You're going to love it there!!! I went a couple of years ago and had an incredible time. We had a "homebase" in County Claire and went from there. Every day was someplace new and fun.
The Cliffs of Moher are amazing - just don't stand too near the edge with those high winds!
Labasheedah (sp?) has a great sweater store. We went on our way to the Cliffs one day and got sidetracked by the locals and a pub and ended up having to go to the Cliffs another day.
I'd suggest, for the best time, to just get in the car and drive. Meet people in the villages you happen upon, stop to gaze at the countryside, and just take it all in.
Have a wonderful time!
The Flight Crew: You're right, OAIIMD, you really can't go wrong if you just get in the car and stop in villages and take in the views.
Alladin, Las Vegas:
Paris might be a bit cheesy, but the Le Village Buffet (yes, it's really called that) makes a spectacular dinner. I've never had food anywhere close to that on a buffet before. I'd recommend you stop there for dinner some night.
The Flight Crew: Ah, a buffetite. A Vegasian after my own heart. Thanks for the tip.
Front Royal, Va.:
I am traveling to Thailand with Overseas Adventure Travel during April and wondered if you had any articles that address Thailand similar to the article that was in the February 11 Post about Laos? Any other suggestions or information would be appreciated.
The Flight Crew: Actually, the same young author (he is teaching English in Thailand) who wrote about Laos also wrote about Thailand a couple months back (look in the archives section on Washingtonpost.com, under travel section.) Some interesting regions: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket (Asia's answer to Fort Lauderdale), Ayutthaya (great temples), the Elephant Camps (go to the one in the north, where the elephants paint and play in an orchestra). Check out www.tat.or.th, the country's tourist site; it offers a wealth of info.
RE: Day in Paris
FYI, If your day in Paris is a Monday, the Musee d'Orsey is closed. If it is Tuesday the Louvre is closed. Other days, both are open.
The Flight Crew: Sacre bleu, you're right, 22202. Thanks for the tetes-up.
Hoping to be off to Aruba for a week this fall and hoping you can recommend a good luxury resort for my wife and I (both early 30's). We have heard great things about the suites at the new Radisson, any others you would offer up? Price not really an object for this trip. Thanks.
The Flight Crew: Aruba is no Barbados and by that I (Brown) mean that it's a place of chain hotels rather than upscale, elegant ones. But, having said that, and not knowing anything about the Radisson, I'd suggest you also take a look at the Aruba Sonesta Resort and the Hyatt Regency.
Boy Aruba's hot in the chat these past weeks!
Anybody wanna' jump in?
Western Ireland: How about a day trip to the Aran Islands. A little farther north is a town called Westport where Matt Malloy of Chieftan's fame is said to own a pub. Cong which is still living on the glory of being where the John Wayne movie "The Quiet Man" was filmed eons ago. Clifden has a pony show/auction in August.
The Flight Crew: Yes, the Arans are wonderful and well worth a day trip.
RE: Grand Canyon. Take a day and drive through the painted desert over to the North Rim of the Canyon. It is much less developed than the South Rim. If you don't mind driving back in the dark, stay on that side to watch the sunset from Bright Angel Point. There is a park lodge on the North Rim too--you might consider spreading your week between the two sides.
The Flight Crew: Wow, 22202. That's a loooooong day trip, isn't it? (JD here) I would definitely take your suggestion and spend a day or two on the flip side of the canyon...Even though it's the same darned canyon, the North Rim seems a world apart. When we made the trip, we broke the South Rim/North Rim trek up by a side trip to Monument Valley. Ya just can't go wrong out there.
I'm heading down to Mardi Gras next weekend...and I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions of off-the-beaten-path parties or activities that might be more fun for 30 yr. old (single) attorneys than the drunken college kids on Bourbon Street.
The Flight Crew: DC, Big Easy fan Gary Lee here. I don't have a list of off the beaten trek parties but one venue I would suggest that you check out is Rock N' Bowl, a bowling alley cum dance spot VERY popular among locals. Otherwise, I would drop into the Louisania Music Factory, a record store in the French quarter that specializes in local artists. Jerry Brock, the owner, and other employees usually have a good list of off the beaten trek music events going on at their fingertips.
So here I am, holding two tickets to Hawaii on Delta for April the 3rd that I got with mileage. That's 2 days after the pilots may strike. What to do? Do I hope there won't be a strike or that President Bush will prevent the pilots from walking out? Delta says they'll switch me to another airline if there's a strike.(I checked this morning)
But if other carriers are also on strike, then I'm probably out of luck.
I could book another ticket (found a $620.00 fare on Continental's website) and then if Delta comes through I don't use those tickets. But then I'm stuck with 1200 dollars worth of tickets on Continental--an airline I've flown once in ten years--and I'll have to pay a 100 dollar change penalty for each if I use those tickets.
The Flight Crew: Sottili here: I wish I could be more helpful, but Delta pilots overwhelmingly today to authorize a strike if contract talks fail. The company and union have agreed to negotiate until Feb. 28. Then they will ask the National
Mediation Board to arbitrate. If either side then rejects arbitration, which is considered likely, they would enter a 30-day cooling-off period. The pilots then could strike April 1, barring intervention by President Bush. And no one is sure about whether he'll step in to head off threatened strikes that would affect Delta, United, Northwest and American. So, your call. How important is it to make sure you get to Hawaii?? Worth $200??
thanks for responding to my question about my parents potential cruise! you've inspired another thought -- what about rough seas in July/Aug - they've heard conflicting seas so far. I would hate to hear when they return that the trip was marred by seasickness!
they've been on one Celebrity cruise to the Caribbean before and liked it, but were somewhat less impressed than their one other cruise, Holland America cruise to Alaska - how do you think those compare?
The Flight Crew: WDC, I think Celebrity and Holland America are about the same...the former geared to more active travelers of all ages while the latters a tad statelier. I had a reverse experience, liked Celebrity more than HA. But it so depends, when the lines are fairly similar, on your ship and your shipmates and the crew you get.
You might have rough seas just cause weather in Scandinavia can get stormy. I'd throw a box of Bonine into the suitcase just in case.
I will be visiting SF in May. I wanted to spend a night or two in Carmel. Can you please recomend a great hotel/inn/bandb/resort? I have never been there, so I'm unfamiliar.
Money is no object for now.
The Flight Crew: Cindy Loose suggests: Check out the Green Lantern Inn, or Edgemere Cottages. Both are walking distance to the really beautiful beach. Carmel has a website that lists all the accomodations the town has--it's pretty small.
DC but wine is on my mind!:
In response to the valley of the moon winery
There are tons of wineries nearby in Sonoma county. Check out this site for a great resource: http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Spectator/Travel/sonoma
Word to the wise on Valley of the Moon: Had a glass of the 97 Cuvee de la Luna last week, and it definitely needs some more time in the bottle.
The Flight Crew: DC wine, thanks for the info. And thanks for the warning--I'm pourning my 97 Cuvee de la Luna back in the bottle as soon as I get home!
Time to plan a summer beach vacation -- 2 adults, 2 kids (8 and 4). We like quiet beaches with interesting things to do and see off beach in the area. (We think) we've narrowed it down to 2 distinctively different places. What would you suggest in July: Litchfield/Pawleys Island, SC or Block Island, RI? Or something else? Thanks!
The Flight Crew: Hi, as a longtime summer resident of Block Island, I can heartily recommend the pork chop-shaped island for a family getaway. Granted July is a bit nutty (but tame compared with Ocean City or even Nantucket). You can always find a patch of sand if you are willing to get away from Main Street and the city beach, where the day-trippers linger. Try Mansion Beach or the Cliffs for quiet beach spots. You can bike around the island, or go on nature walks. There are also kids aplenty so your kids can have some new friends to boogy-board with. As for the adults, head to Nick's to relive your sticky-beer-floors/bad rock band/watery beer days. (sorry i can't comment on Litchfield, i never made it to the mainland until after the fall.)
I was just in Vegas last week for a conference and stayed at the Paris (even though the conference was at the Aladdin). In hindsight, I should have stayed at the Aladdin. It's a great hotel and the rooms were spectacular (I saw a friend's). Sunken tub, the works. As the Flight Crew said, it is a great location... being across the street from the Bellagio and next to the Paris. There is also a mile (!) of shopping in the bottom floor of the Aladdin. Some interesting shops and some that we have right here in our backyard. There is an indoor lightning/ rain storm that occurs every hour, which is very cool.
My recommendation to you, though, is to make sure that you make dinner reservations in advance... they are often hard to come by when you look too late. I ate at Delmonico (Emeril Lagasse's restaurant in the Venetian)and it was terrific! I also ate at Le Cirque if you are looking for a splurge meal... it was very good as well, but 1/2 of what was so good about it was the way the restaurant was decorated (you felt like you were inside a circus tent).
Additionally, with a stay at the Aladdin, you will have a prime view of the nightly fountains at the Bellagio... enjoy your stay!
The Flight Crew: Thanks, AI. Lots of great info there.
Re: travel in Eastern Europe
It will definitely be cheaper and 'cooler' depending on what you consider cool. I also found locals (in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Croatia) consistently went WAY out of their way to be helpful. I had many a meal in a private home.
If you can afford to rent a car, I'd recommend it. The roads can be, er, challenging, but the train systems are fairly complicated, and there's still a lot of corruption so that you either pay bribes or pay more than everyone else (and this is hard to navigate if you don't know the local languages).
FINALLY - if you're a nature lover, be sure to do some hiking - there is lots of relatively unspoiled mountain scenery in E. Europe.
The Flight Crew: Thanks for that additional advise.
Hi, my fiance and I are taking our honeymoon in August. Will already be in Europe for the wedding. Do you have suggestions for European resorts? I want to go Greek Island hopping but other suggestions are welcome. I have heard of resorts in Tunisia and Egypt and the Canary Islands. Can anyone help? Must haves are beaches, good food, ouzo (or similar) and (hopefully) ancient historic sight seeing for me. Is this too much to ask?
The Flight Crew: Arlington, have you considered a cruise? Look into Windstar. These are relatively small (120 pax or so) sailing vessels that do the Med. and appeal to a sophisticated "couples" demo. That way you could go Greek island hopping, drink all the ouzo you want (it is SO cheap there!), hit the beaches, do other stuff.
Anybody else got an idea?
For the Quebec poster:
One restaurant I remember from my trip to Quebec - In old Quebec, try a place called Casse Crepe-Breton (I think that's the name)if you like crepes. You can choose your own fillings and they're inexpensive and yummy...
The Flight Crew: True about the crepes, and only a dollar or two each.
Thanks for the Barbados/St. Lucia advice. Since you say the hotels I picked are nice then I will go ahead and book, and count the minutes...
The Flight Crew: Have a great trip -- and report in when you get back!
For the Grand Canyon-er:
Don't forget Meteor Crater in northern
Arizona. Absolutely amazing, considering
it's really just a hole in the ground. Kids
would get a kick out of it, too, since most
these days seem to know about the
theory of a meteorite crash killing the
Also in Flagstaff check out the Lowell
Observatory, where the planet Pluto was
discovered. Certain nights are even open
for public viewing through the telescope.
Kids would LOVE this.
AND, further to the east is the Painted
Desert, full of gorgeous landscapes and
petrified wood. Neat trails to walk, too. We
went there when I was 13 and I loved
every bit of northern Arizona.
(PS...can I be in the running for the
The Flight Crew: DC, I agree, I agree, I agree. Hendrixs here. I used to visit Meteor Crater regularly when I was a kid living in Flagstaff (we used to shoot hand guns at the cow skulls laying around the surrounding desert (this was in the early 70s).
North to Alaska:
Hi Travel Staff,
I'm heading to Alaska in late April and was wondering if anyone had tips about where to stay. We're spending the first night in Anchorage at the Captain Cook, and then driving down the Kenai for a few days, then back north to Denali via Anchorage.
We don't have the budget for Captain Cook-like lodging the whole time.
Thanks a bunch!
The Flight Crew: The Denali National Park Hotel will close forever Sept. 1, but you could be one of the last quests. For other options in the Denali area, go on line at www.denalinationalpark.com.
I'm heading up to NYC for a quick weekend trip at the end of March, and was planning to hang out with some friends who now have other plans! So I'm going up by myself and have never been there. I got a great rate at the New York Helmsley (Using Travel staff tips and QuikBook.com), but want to come up with the most efficient and safest way to see as much as I can in a short amount of time. I'm a single woman travelling alone, so I'm a little nervous about the safety issue! Would like to see a play, hit some museums, etc. Any suggestions? I land at LaGuardia on Saturday morning and leave Sunday just before dinnertime.
The Flight Crew: DC, I was just in NYC last weekend and can give you a couple of tips based on my trip. As soon as you get to the city, go to the half price ticket booth at the World Trade Center (it opens in the morning, while the one on Broadway doesn't open until the afternoon.) You should be able to get a decent ticket to a Sat. night show -- Kiss Me Kate is a good bet if you like musicals and even another matinee on Sun. if you want to squeeze one in. Second, the pre-theater dinner at Alison on Dominick St. in Soho is wonderful and a pretty good deal. Also, if you go to the Museum of Modern Art or Metropolitan in the mornings or afteroons you should be okay in terms of safety. Othewise, I would follow the usual travel precautions -- not to venture down dark streets at night, etc.
a recent article in your travel section about egypt has inspired me (age 63) and my niece (age 32) to travel there. we're first-timers to egypt, but experienced and adventurous travelers, and would like recommendations about the best way to spend 12 days there. should we sign up for a tour? if so, any recommendations about which one? what about the cruise on the nile? any ideas or recommendations about sights/places/hotels/restaurants that we shouldn't miss? this will be a one-time journey, so we'd like to see and do the most important things, and i know i can count on this group for good advice!
The Flight Crew: Hey Nova, glad we inspired you. KC here. According to the author of that piece, Post Cairo bureau chief Howard Schneider, you'd be better off touring indepently and avoiding the typical Nile cruise approach. But Howard did highly recommend a tour operator in Cairo, Egypt Panorama Tours (details online or in the Feb. 4 section if you still have it), who can arrange local tours to more off-the-beaten-track attractions.
Let's hear from the group -- specific suggestions for our Egype-bound aunt and niece?
For the Tabard Inn gift certificate holder:
Without a doubt, save that certificate for a sunny warm spring/summer day to dine in the back garden. Last year, they covered the space between the adjoining buildings with a parachute, which provided some protection from the sun without completely blocking the light. Under no circumstances should you stay the night at the Inn, however. I made the mistake of taking my fiance on an in-town getaway there in December and was very disappointed. The room we were assigned had NO windows, save one skylight in the bathroom which served only to magnify the sounds of the massive downpour that evening. The furnishings were also akin to what you might have found in your kooky aunt and uncle's guestroom back in the 70s, complete with a musty smell -- NOT what I expected for the $175 room.
The Flight Crew: That's four votes for the food.
Re: Ireland and New Orleans
For Ireland, a second for Kinsale. You can get a charming walking tour at the harbor that explains the importance and history -- much more interesting than we expected. Skip the Ring of Kerry as you will be stuck behind the big tour buses. However, the buses are too large for the Dingle Peninsula -- which was not crowded during our July visit. The Dingle info center has a pamphlet of the Celtic ruins -- just drive around and stop at each you can see from the road.
New Orleans -- a second for Rock n Roll Bowling. Don't worry about a taxi -- they will call one for you a the alley when you want to leave. We also did a fun voodoo tour (there are several) around the French Quarter. A hint on live music in the French Quarter -- if there's no cover charge, don't bother. If there's a small cover charge, it's worth your time.
The Flight Crew: Thanks for both of those, Beth.
Thanks to your heads-up last week about the British Airways sale, I am headed to London for 5 days in mid-March. I've been there twice before so am comfortable getting around and have visited the big sights. This time I'd like to spend a day out of town, a small place with an easy train connection, some history, a museum or cathedral or two, antique shopping, nice place for lunch. Any recommendations? Cambridge or Oxford? Salisbury, Canterbury? (I've already been to Bath.) Recommendations for moderately-priced restaurants in London where a single woman would feel comfortable are also welcome.
The Flight Crew: Sounds like a great trip, Richmond. Re day trip...(and I travel singley too!) I'd pick Oxford. Easy train ride, compact, walkable, plenty of cathedrals and universities, charming.
Dining alone almost anywhere in London is no big deal. Some of my favorite little cafes are actually in department stores (harveys on five at Harvey Nichols is one). Pick a neighborhood like Knightsbridge or South Kensington or Chelsea and just poke in and see what looks comfortable. They're chock a block with restaurants.
Are there any travel agencies that deal exclusively with elderly or disabled travelers?
A travel column in The Washington Post re transportation, for either individual travel or group tours, would be extremely helpful to those who cannot walk for long periods, but otherwise would be interested in taking short trips.
The Flight Crew: Sottili here: There are several agencies that specialize in the elderly, including Saga Holidays (800-432-1432, www.sagaholidays.com) and Vantage Deluxe World Travel (800-322-6677, www.vantagetravel.com) and Blue Heart Tours (800-882-0025, www.BlueHeart.com). There are also agencies that specialize in disabled travel - Accessible Journeys (800-846-4537, www.disabilitytravel.com), Access Travel (888-342-5315, www.timdalytravel.com) and Wheelchair Travel (877-442-TRIP, www.wheelchairtravel.com). We've addressed these issues several times in Travel Q&A, most recently an itme about wheelchair accessible cruising on Jan. 7. But a devoted column is a good idea.
On an Island in My Dreams:
Mardi Gras bound -
FUN!!! My friends and I had a GREAT time a couple of years ago at Mardi Gras.
You've GOT to see the parades. If you want to avoid unruly crowds, I'd suggest hitting the day parades. Not a lot of people, and ample opportunity for beads.
We had a great time during Mardi Gras, but I'd be sure to always travel with a group of friends. Can be scary otherwise.
The Flight Crew: Thanks, chere.
About that Lao article -- Vientiane is something of a pit compared to tourist destinations like Luang Prabang or Vang Viang. It is fun ex pat hang out -- I crossed the Friendship Bridge with a bunch of American English teachers who cross the bridge to get their Thai visas renewed. But if you're heading to Lao, maybe check out Vientiane for an evening of drinking over the Mekong and then move along. Luang Prabang is fantastic.
The Flight Crew: Insider tips indeed, Wash. Thanks. The author of that piece was, in fact, an English teacher who goes to Vientiane regularly to get his visa renewed.
Re Caribbean question: Jalousie Hilton not worth $500. Horrible roads to get there (REALLY horrible). Resort in the middle of a rain forest, so periodic outbreaks of rain in January. Cabins dank. Resort big, so you can have long hikes, depending on where you are located. Would not do it again.
The Flight Crew: Thanks, NW.
My husband and I are talking about where to vacation this year, and we'd love some suggestions, or tips on where to find information about where to vacation with a 2 year old. We like beach ideas but have plans for a few beach trips already, so would like other ideas. The entire US is an option -- anywhere. We want to relax and have fun, have things to do for us and the kiddo to enjoy, perhaps find a place with a pool or beach to use while there. We've talked Texas to Yellowstone -- any help is appreciated.
The Flight Crew: New Orleans doesn't generally come to mind as a kid place, but I've had grand times there with my child, starting at 6 months. The aquariam, the street scenes, the streetcar, the smells. An hour to beaches in Mississippi, warm weather and most hotels have pools.
Re: guidebooks. In my experience, Let's Go sucks and is to be avoided at all costs - I would rather not have a book than use Let's Go. I prefer to call it Let's Not. Lonely PLanet has a TON of guidebooks and they are very informative - I"m sure they have one on Madrid. I also like the Eyewitness series - very classy, on the small side, and they have great maps (one of Let's Go's biggest problems). Lonely Planet also has downloadable stuff to your Palm Pilot - the ultimate in portability ...
(how's that for useful?!)
The Flight Crew: Hmmm, thanks, Arl. We like the Lonely Planet series too. We also like the Rough Guides. Useful, yes.
For a wonderful day trip outside of London, I would suggest Canterbury. It's really a wonderful little town with a beautiful cathedral, neat Roman ruins and really nice restaurants.
The Flight Crew: Thanks, Arl.
Me again. Re Arlington's August honeymoon--TURKEY!! It has gorgeous beaches, incredible ruins -- not only Ephesus, but Aphrodisius (sp?), Lycian tombs....And,even though I loved Greece, the food is MUCH better in Turkey!! And now I understand it's easier, immigration-wise, to get between the two by boat.
The Flight Crew: Thanks, WDC.
Explore, a London based tour operated, booked through Adventure Center (they have a website) in Calif., has some cool Egypt tours -- some tours have the Nile cruise but it is on a felucca, it's fairly small group, and age range is 20 something to 60 something so it's no geriatric tour. But accomodations aren't 5 star.
The Flight Crew: Thanx, WDC
Help! Do you have any recommendations for a hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland? Have you heard anything about the George Intercontinetal there? Thanks.
The Flight Crew: A couple of thoughts (and no, never heard about the George): Balmoral and Caledonian are the grande old dames of Edinburgh; two hipper, hotter places (with price tags to match) are the Bonham and the Channing. Check 'em out.
The Flight Crew:
Phew. You guys are good! We always learn a lot from our chats with you, so thanks. Specifically, we got so many genuinely helpful tips coming our way that we picked two winners, more or less at random. Arlington, you’ve got the audio guide to New York for coming up with Harbor House answer that stumped our staff. Washington DC, your Meteor Crater and other Northern Arizona suggestions win you the garden April. Will both of you send you vital contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Sunday, see the Post Travel section for an artistically stunning visit to bio-farm in Portugal. See you next Monday.
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