Q My husband and I are planning to tour Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont for the holidays and want to stay in historic inns or B&Bs. Can you recommend any that are open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that serve a holiday dinner?
St. James, Md.
A One of my favorites is the Millbrook Inn, just outside Waitsfield, Vt. The Cape-style farmhouse, built in the 1850s, is not fancy or fussy; it's a low-key, comfortable inn that charges very reasonable rates. What makes the inn special is the food. The owners, Joan and Thom Gorman, have traveled throughout the world, and the influence of exotic lands extends into the menu.
Chef Thom knows his way around traditional dishes, such as beef tenderloin encrusted with peppercorns or homemade spinach fettuccine. But he also offers more adventurous Indian fare, such as badami rogan josh, which is Vermont lamb simmered in a curry sauce. Vegetarian dishes, such as vegetable pasta roulade, are also offered at each dinner. Joan is the server/pastry chef; her anadama bread and Belgian white chocolate mousse pie are incredible.
"We have a lovely Christmas tree in the dining room and serve our regular menu both Christmas Eve and Christmas night," Joan said. "But our innkeeper's choice on Christmas is always a baked Vermont ham." Guests are welcome to put their presents under the tree and open them by the fire, she added. Holiday rates are $75 per person per night, double, including breakfast and dinner. Details: 800-477-2809, www.millbrookinn.com.
If you're looking for a more upscale inn with amenities, good sources of information include the Select Registry (800-344-5244, www.selectregistry.com) and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (800-678-8946, www.historichotels.org), which publishes "Historic Hotels of America."
My wife and I are traveling to Oaxaca City, Mexico. Guidebooks suggest day trips to archaeological sites, but are vague on specifics. Do you have any recommendations?
Oaxaca is in the middle of several ancient ruin sites. The 2,000-year-old Zapotec ruins at Monte Alban are about six miles outside of town, overlooking the city (they were heavily damaged during a 1999 earthquake so access may be limited). The ruins at Yagul and Mitla are about a 50-minute drive southeast of the city on Route 190; farther afield are the Quiotepec and the Guien-Gola ruins.
You could easily arrange a day tour to either Monte Alban or Mitla from your hotel in Oaxaca; buses to Monte Alban leave frequently from the Hotel Rivera del Angel. You might also want to hire a private guide, such as Oaxaca Tours (800-44-OAXACA, www.oaxacainfo.com) or Abya Tours (fax 011-52-951-515-1293, www.mexonline.com/abyatours.htm), especially if you want to view several sites in a day.
My husband and I plan to visit my niece in Caceres, Spain. I can find very little information in guidebooks or online. We'd also like to join a tour group that specializes in culture to see other areas of Spain. Do any Web sites list tours offered by museums, universities or other similar organizations?
Caceres, capital of the Upper Extremadura region of Spain, is not a big tourist destination. The area near the border of Portugal, known for its Roman ruins and lovely scenery, is not close to any city that attracts tourists and is difficult to reach unless you rent a car.
Designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985, Caceres was founded by the Romans in first century BC. Ancient walls punctuated with watchtowers encircle the city, and its Old Quarter, with its narrow cobblestone streets, contains more than 60 historical sites. Among the sites worth seeing are the gothic Santa Maria Cathedral, built in the late 1100s; the Lower Palace of the Golfines, with its 14th-century tower; and, just outside the city, the Maltravieso Caves, which contain extensive Paleolithic art.
The city has many nice hotels, including the Melia Caceres, the Hotel Las Marinas and the Extremadura Hotel. For more information, contact Extremadura Tourism, fax 011-34-927-21-16-38, www.turismoextremadura.com. For tour listings, take a look at http://culture.shawguides.com and www.culturaltravels.com.
Travel book authors Diana and Ronald Jensen of Washington say we neglected to mention short-term apartment rentals as an alternative to cheap hotels in London (Travel Q&A, Oct. 6). The couple, authors of "How to Stay in London for Less: Short-Term Apartments Ideal for All Travelers," said there has been a boom in London apartments available for tourist rental. A one-bedroom in Marylebone, with kitchen and private bath, rents for as little as $76 a night, they said. "Not only can you save on accommodation but also substantially on food costs, a big ticket in London." The book, published by Capital Books, is available for $16.95 from local bookstores and Web sites, including www.bn.com and www.amazon.com.
Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@washpost .com), fax (202-912-3609) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071).