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February 13, 2012

12
P.M.

Talk about Travel: Where's the snow?

Total Responses: 113

About the hosts

About the host

Jane Touzalin

Jane Touzalin is acting deputy Travel editor.

Carol Sottili

Carol Sottili is a former Washington Post travel writer, specializing in travel deals.

Andrea Sachs

Andrea Sachs is a staff writer for Travel.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott writes The Navigator column, clearing the way through the fog of consumer travel issues. He is also National Geographic Traveler magazine's reader advocate.

Zofia Smardz

Zofia Smardz is the acting editor of Travel.

Becky Krystal

Becky Krystal is Travel's editorial aide.

About the topic

Have a travel-related question, comment, suspicion, warning, gripe, sad tale or happy ending? The Post Travel section's editors and writers are at your service.
Q.

Zofia Smardz :

Greetings, travel talkers! All set for another lively discussion of where to go, what to know and how to fulfill your fondest travel dreams? Send forth your questions, and we'll do our darndest to answer as many as we can in the next hour.

On the question of the day front, let's play off our Finding Winter package from yesterday, which I hope you loved as much as I did. (They're a cheeky pair, that Andrea and Kathy.) Let's hear from you about your wintriest experience. Ever gotten caught in a blizzard? Snowed in somewhere? Or just been really really really cold? Story with the best chills gets the prize.

Now on to your q's!

Q.

Kansas?

A friend and I had planned to meet-up in Kansas. Something came up and my friend is no longer able to make it. I've got the airline ticket I can't refund, so I think I'll just go anyway. Any ideas what to do for 4 days in Kansas, Nebraska or Missouri in March? I plan to rent a car and just go, but where?
A.
Zofia Smardz :

We have a Kansas story coming a week from Sunday, so be sure to check it out. Meanwhile, one sight to consider is the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, a new national park in the Flint Hills between Kansas City and Wichita where you can walk among the grasses and maybe check out some bison. Also have a look at this story we ran on Wichita. And of course, you must go to Kansas City for the barbecue!

What else, chatters?

– February 13, 2012 12:04 PM
Q.

Summer Flight Sales to Europe

I'm looking to take a trip to Europe in May, and have been waiting for summer flight sales to kick into gear. Do you have any idea when this usually happens?
A.
Carol Sottili :

There is no timetable for sales. Airline pricing experts track how many empty seats are available, and if they're not selling fast enough, a sale is held. I would familiarize myself with the typical fare to your chosen destination, and keep checking. You could sign up for deal alerts on the various third-party booking Web sites, but I don't rely on these. Instead, I just keep going back to Kayak, Bing Travel and to the individual airline Web sites.  

– February 13, 2012 12:04 PM
Q.

Non-Stop Flights

For the chatter who asked about a handy way to check out non-stop flights, www.quickairlink.com is an amazing tool

A.
Christopher Elliott :

Thanks! Great suggestion.

– February 13, 2012 12:08 PM
Q.

Icelandair to Paris?

We're looking for the best deal on flights to Paris in July/August 2012. Right now, the best we're seeing is $1300 roundtrip from DC - on Icelandair with one stop in Reykjavik. Does anyone have experience with this carrier and route? We're traveling with two small kids, if it matters. Should we just grab tickets now at this price?
A.
Carol Sottili :

I think nonstops are about $1,400. I'd consider paying up for nonstop flights with two small kids, but $400 is not pennies. Icelandair is your basic middle-of-the-road carrier. It gets three stars and a 5.1 (out of 10) customer rating on Skytrax. Reykjavik isn't Heathrow, so you'll probably be able to manage switching flights easily enough. If your dates are flexible, I'd hold off and track fares  for a while longer.  

– February 13, 2012 12:08 PM
Q.

traveling to the Greek Islands

This summer will it be a good time to go to the Greek Islands or should we avoid to things calm down? Can we expect special deals as a result of the budget crisis?

A.
Zofia Smardz :

They're not really having any problems on the Greek islands, as far as we know. The turmoil and protests are mostly centered on Athens, and even within Athens, mostly in Constitution Square. I'd think it would be fine to go to the islands. As to special deals, can't really speak to that yet, but  concerns about tourism have driven some prices down. But it's also high season, so no guarantees. I'd maybe talk to a travel agent who specializes in Greece to help you pin down any deals.

– February 13, 2012 12:09 PM
Q.

"Ever gotten caught in a blizzard?"

One time when we were driving from Buffalo to Columbus, we got caught in a whiteout on the Interstate -- and wound up AHEAD of the snowplow! Definitely not good. Worse, we didn't even have snow tires!
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Oh wow. I guess you didn't see that snowplow coming! I trust you made it out okay.

– February 13, 2012 12:10 PM
Q.

Blizzard

In February 2003, friends invited my wife and me to join them in their rented house in West Virginia for a ski weekend at Canaan Valley and Timberline. Snow was forecast, but nothing major. We left on Friday afternoon; snow began when we were about 10 miles from our destination, and it continued essentially non-stop until Monday evening. We managed one day of skiing; on Sunday we couldn't even get to the ski area, and on Monday the ski area was closed because no one could get there, including emergency responders. The final snow total was 46 inches. We were supposed to return to Arlington on Sunday, but we couldn't get out until late Tuesday afternoon -- and then only because we shoveled the 300-foot driveway ourselves rather than wait for the contractor. The drive home took about 8 hours, most of the delay being caused by Beltway closures for snow removal.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

That's a lot of snow! Nothing like this year. . .

– February 13, 2012 12:12 PM
Q.

Kansas City Steamboat Museum

Arabia Steamboat Museum is a must in Kansas City, MO. This is a steamboat that was found on a farm buried in silt over the years and had almost all of its cargo from the period on board and has been restored. Fascinating look into what people used back them.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Thanks!

– February 13, 2012 12:15 PM
Q.

Winter Experience

I went to Costa Rica to learn to surf for a week. The first day, I tweaked my shoulder, making it impossible to swim or paddle for the rest of the week, and caught only one wave. The day I flew back got me to Houston before a big glaring stop - Snowpocalypse happened. No flights out that night or the next day to anywhere on the East Coast. When I asked the airline person what to do in Houston, she thought hard for a few minutes and said "Downtown's OK". When I watched the TV channel showing what to do in Houston, they were really pushing dog racing. I finally got home after two days (and after seeing a nice museum of modern art and an impressive Catholic cathedral). For about two weeks afterwards, I couldn't lift weights or swim - so the vacation I took to get fitter wound up having the opposite effect. Not my finest hour.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Bummer!

– February 13, 2012 12:16 PM
Q.

Cruises

The family (grandparents, parents and three year old) are thinking of doing a cruise in early June. Are any of the cruise lines more suited to our range of ages? Will it be really hot in the Eastern Caribbean around that time of year?
A.
Christopher Elliott :

I love the idea of a multi-generational vacation, but I'm not sure if a three-year-old should cruise. (I'm working on an ebook about cruising, and this has been a topic of discussion.) You'll want to go with a family-friendly cruise line like Disney or NCL. The Caribbean can be hot, rainy and buggy in June, and don't forget hurricane season, which starts June 1.

– February 13, 2012 12:16 PM
Q.

BROKEN LINK

Hello; this link is broken on your website: Talk about Travel ( vForum, February 2, 2012; 3:02 PM ) . PS: Will the chats ever be searchable by topic? I am looking for tips on attending New Orleans Jazzfest.
A.
Becky Krystal :

First, yes, that link is broken, because it's actually for a chat that never existed. No need to worry about missing anything there. We're looking to have it taken down.

Searchability is something we used to have specific to each chat. Currently, the best way to do that is to do a site search of washingtonpost.com via the window with the magnifying glass in the upper right of the home page and then limit your results to discussions. I'd also recommend playing around with a Google site search. So something like Jazzfest "Talk About Travel" site:www.washingtonpost.com. I'm not sure how much will come up.

– February 13, 2012 12:17 PM
Q.

Really really cold

One of my coldest experiences was camping out overnight during the World Youth Day celebrations of the Pope's visit in the late 1990s. On one of the final nights (of what would be better called World Youth WEEK!), we camped outside overnight in a state park outside Denver. It was August, but, since we were in the mountains, it was of course so cold. My friends actually ended up starting a small fire with candles to try to get some warmth, which of course we got in trouble for. Then I spent the night shivering violently under an open weave afghan - one of my friends asked me if I was okay since I was so obviously cold. We finally made it through the night, had a great day, and then, of course, I got a very bad sunburn on the walk out of the park. This may be why I don't like mountains to this day!
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Hard to picture being that cold in August! Thanks!

– February 13, 2012 12:17 PM
Q.

Day trip

Any suggestions for a day trip to celebrate my 50th birthday in the summer? My sisters who are all willing to do something fun and all in their 50s are traveling to meet me on a fri nite and we have all day saturday before they return on Sunday. We're thinking about NYC for the day but not sure if there would be enough time. Also thinking of a wine tour but would like to consider something else. We aren't interested in a day at the spa (however makeovers would be fun). Any ideas?

A.
Andrea Sachs :

You can definitely do NYC in a day if you take an early train (or bus) and  return late.  For example, Amtrak has a 7:30 a.m. train that gets in at 10:43 and an 8:45 p.m. that arrives back in D.C. just after midnight. 

To not get overwhelmed by the options, you can let each sister pick a surprise activity and everyone has to along with it. Of course, since it's your birthday, you can choose two. (When my friends and I did this, we ended up seeing a show with Christine Baranski, visiting the Museum of  Radio and TV, having drinks at the Plaza, eating Pinkberry and staying up way too late in Hell's Kitchen.)

Other options: Philly or Bucks County, Pa.

– February 13, 2012 12:18 PM
Q.

Virginia Weekend Train Vacation

What is the best Virginia city for a weekend train vacation from DC, how would I reach my destination by train/bus, and how little would it cost for travel?

A.
Becky Krystal :

If you'd like to travel by train, your two best bets from D.C. would be Richmond or Charlottesville. Amtrak goes to both, with fares on each route starting at around $22 each way.

– February 13, 2012 12:18 PM
Q.

washington DC

how do you feel about people using the middle seat? I bought the middle seat recently for someone who didn't show and when the person on the other side started using the middle seat, i said "hey, i paid for that." He moved his stuff.
A.
Jane Touzalin :

If you paid for it, seems like a moot point. Though there might have been a gentler way to inform your neighbor of that fact. In cases where ownership isn't a question, obviously the middle seat should be shared. But with air travel being not exactly the most soothing of experiences these days, it's not worth getting all worked up about if that doesn't happen. What do other chatters think?

 

– February 13, 2012 12:18 PM
Q.

Travel insurance for medical emergency

Thanks for your help. I am in need of travel insurance for an upcoming hiking trip in Turkey. Usually I just get a policy to cover cancellation, but this time I need coverage in the event I am injured or ill and need a medical evacuation. Can you please direct me to companies that sell that type of policy? Thank you...these chats are the best travel advice ever.
A.
Carol Sottili :

Go to any of these Web sites to compare travel insurance policies: InsureMyTrip, QuoteWright or SquareMouth

– February 13, 2012 12:19 PM
Q.

Kansas Recommendations

If the person going to Kansas is an art, architecture or history lover there are lots of things to see in Kansas City, MO. In addition to good live music, there's the: American Jazz Museum, the Negro League Museum, touring the steamship Arabia that wrecked on the river and was found in a cornfield because the river changed course overtime, some world class art museums and beautiful, distinct buildings. Harry Truman's presidential library isn't too far away in Independence, MO and it is very well done and worth visiting if he or she likes that kind of thing.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Thanks! I forgot about this piece we did on Kansas City. Mentions lots of the same places.

– February 13, 2012 12:19 PM
Q.

Kansas City to do list:

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts just opened - Moshe Safdie -famous for the Habitat '67 at the Montreal Expo- was the architect. Also, the historic Country Club Plaza - first shopping center in the world, and one of the "60 Worlds Greatest Places" (project for public spaces)
A.
Zofia Smardz :

And more K.C.

– February 13, 2012 12:19 PM
Q.

Blizzard in DC

During one of the 4 days blizzards in DC around 1997, my then girlfriend go stranded in my apartment on Capitol Hill for 4 days. We had a blast walking around the neighborhood, cemented our relationship, got married soon after (still together).
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Awwwww.

– February 13, 2012 12:20 PM
Q.

Kansas City Sights

The Harry Truman Museum / Library is right nearby in Independence. The Nelson-Atkins Art Museum is lovely. And there are some really nice city parks and if you're a baseball fan you can always get tickets to a Royals game. I also went to Hannibal to see the Mark Twain Museum, but that's closer to St. Louis.
Q.

Winter in St Petersburg

Kathy's column reminded me of the winter I spent in St Petersburg about ten years ago as part of a year studying abroad - the coldest winter they'd had in 25 years! I was in no way sartortially prepared for a winter of those proportions, so I just got used to dressing in multiple layers and accepting the fact that my toes would be permanently frozen. My most acute memory is that of a friend who visited me for Christmas; she bought a bottle of Coke from a roadside vendor on Nevsky Prospekt (the city's main street), and within seconds it turned into a Coke Slurpee. We had to duck inside a store and hold the bottle up against a heater to get it back to liquid form! That was the day that my hair froze as well. It was incredibly cold, but I loved every second of it - I'm afraid I'll never see snowflakes that big and fluffy again in my life!
A.
Zofia Smardz :

I've never had my hair freeze. It must have been COLD!

– February 13, 2012 12:21 PM
Q.

SNOW and SNOW

I just submitted a question but have to add that my husband and I just celebrated our 39th anniversary and were severely disappointed with our lack of now. On Feb 10, in Columbia, SC, we married in 17 inches of snow! History had never seen the like! We honeymooned in Boone, NC, where we found snow-guns blasting --- we'd have had better skiing on Main St in Columbia. Forward to our tenth anniversary when we barely arrived in Middleton, VA to be snowed in with 35 inches at the Wayside Inn. Love snow! Especially when I don't have to drive! J
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Thanks, snow-lover!

– February 13, 2012 12:22 PM
Q.

beyond touristy places in Montreal

I am set to go back to Montreal in late May. I've been there two times and have done most of the touristy things. I'm looking for inspiration on discovering parts of the city that are off the beaten path. Do you all have a strategy when you've been to a place multiple times to go beyond the tourist areas?
A.
Christopher Elliott :

I'd recommend a trip to one of Montreal's markets, like Marché Jean-Talon. I visited last summer, and it's not your typical tourist destination. The food scene is pretty amazing in Montreal, and these markets are arguably ground zero. 

– February 13, 2012 12:22 PM
Q.

Picture of Roman Colloseum doesn't match stories

May I ask why the Travel Section has a picture of the Roman Colloseum, but there is no matching story for it. The picture has people and snow in it, but the stories are about Russia, NYC and other locales. Somebody on the Travel Desk has some "'splaining" to do! :-)
A.
Becky Krystal :

Um, yeah. That is inexplicable! I think the photo might have automatically been sucked in somehow. But it's been changed now. It may have come from a group of images we had collected for a gallery elsewhere.

– February 13, 2012 12:22 PM
Q.

NYC Subway incognita

Going to NYC on Friday using Bus service. I've been there before but not on my own. I need to get from Penn station to 62st metro and I'll probably be arriving around 9-10pm. Im confused because when tracing the route in Google it says -get into Train A [Subway towards Far Rockaway - Mott Av] and after two stops it says I need to walk ("3 min/8 min to make transfer"Â) to "W 4 St" and then get into Subway D toward Conney Island. Do I actually have to get out of the station to get into this other train or is just a big station that I need to cross over to get into Subway D?

A.
Andrea Sachs :

Sometimes you do have to exit the station and walk to another one to pick up a different line.

I like using HopStop for subway directions.  Try this Web site and see if you get a better route.

– February 13, 2012 12:23 PM
Q.

Kayaking near Hoover Dam

Love the chats. I read in your travel section about kayaking the Colordao river near Hoover Dam. But seriously, is it a trip that almost anyone could make or do you have to be pretty fit? Also it seems to me the lat time I was at Hoover Dam we had to show ID, a post-911 development I assume. I will be visiting LV area with friends from Europe -- would they have to take their ID on a kayak trip? Seems risky.
A.
Jane Touzalin :

I made the trip and am reasonably fit, but I went on the recommendation of an acquaintance who went with two couch-potato relatives, and none of them had any trouble. Do check the weather, though; if  it's rainy and windy -- rare for Las Vegas, but that's how it was for part of my trip -- the journey will morph from an idyllic float to a biceps-straining 12-mile ordeal. But as I said, that happens maybe five times a year. I do remember the outfitter checking our driver's licenses, but I don't know if that had anything to do with the dam ... the ID issue is something your outfitter will know all about, so ask.

– February 13, 2012 12:23 PM
Q.

Trip to Scotland and France

I'm going to Scotland and France. I found that I can fly on my preferred airline by booking a US to Scotland leg and a France to US return leg. In your experience, is it advisable to do this and book the Scotland-France leg of the trip separately through a European carrier, or does this complicate things too much in case of cancellations. The cost looks to be about the same. Also, would you recommend I buy travel insurance? I was reading about the airlines plan, but couldn't find a definition of what's covered. I really appreciate any assistance!
A.
Carol Sottili :

Since you're going to spend time in both Scotland and France, I don't think you have to worry about a missed connection. Take a look at Euroflights for a list of discount carriers that operate between Scotland and France. As for travel insurance, the airline should be able to supply you with a copy of the policy. Read the fine print before you buy. Or go through a third-party broker, such as InsureMyTrip

– February 13, 2012 12:23 PM
Q.

Nebraska

I'm not sure where the Kansas traveler is flying into, but there's several things to see in Nebraska. Omaha, of course, has a great zoo and some neat museums, and there's several state parks and a large museum on I-80 between Omaha and Lincoln. If it was a little later in the year I would recommend driving to see the Sand Hills, but I'm not sure how they are in March. Of course, this is all predicated on the weather - large snowstorms are not unknown in March in Nebraska!
Q.

Getting caught in the snow

Okay, I confess. I am the reason the DC weather has been unseasonably warm. You see, I have made several trips to the DC Metropolitan area this year from my home in South Florida and every time, something out of the ordinary happens. Remember the earthquake and, four days later, Hurricane Irene this past August? I arrived less than a week earlier. Remember the freak snow at the end of October? I had come here on the 27th. And now, I have been up here since Christmas day and everyone is talking about how nice the weather has been. So, if you want the unexpected, give me a call and I will come up again! By the way, I was not happy about the snowfall in October - I had forgotten my only jacket and only had open-toed shoes with me... froze my little toesies off!
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Come back and give us one good snowstorm and we'll winter a day!

– February 13, 2012 12:24 PM
Q.

Flights to Vegas

I'd like to go the desert SW via Vegas in April, but airfares I've seen so far have run from nearly $500 to $600. This seems quite high to me -- should I wait and hope the price drops, or does this sound in the ballpark to you?
A.
Carol Sottili :

I sense a theme here today -- airfare sticker shock. I feel you pain. I'm looking at more than $500 to get my daughter home from Los Angeles, and then $250 each for round-trip flights to Albany for family reunion in Vermont. Ouch! Las Vegas, like Los Angeles, does have sales. I think you should do better than $500. I'm seeing fares of less than $400 on US Airways out of DCA for Saturday travel. Easter week may be higher. 

– February 13, 2012 12:24 PM
Q.

I want to get to know my adopted country better

Greetings! I'm a naturalized American citizen. I've lived in the DC area for 20+ years and, other than a few trips to East Coast destinations and one trip to San Francisco, I'm woefully under-traveled in my adopted country. What would you or the chatters recommend I do to rectify this situation? "Money is no object" is not, unfortunately, my motto. Thanks.
A.
Becky Krystal :

One thing I think you can do is visit some of our wonderful national parks. Something like Yellowstone or Glacier or Grand Teton -- seem very "of this country" to me. (Yes, I've been watching the Ken Burns series.) Perhaps a summer road trip out west? Chicago is a great city to see that you can work into your drive out.

You could also head south for another road trip -- maybe include places such as Richmond, Charleston and Savannah and make your way to that most American of places, Disney World.

If you're on a budget and want to see most any kind of place, sign up for the e-mails from AirfareWatchdog and look for the cheap, domestic weekend fares that you buy one or two weeks in advance. Appealing options in one of last week's alerts included Minneapolis, Nashville, St. Louis, Providence and Albuquerque.

Chatters, other thoughts?

– February 13, 2012 12:25 PM
Q.

exit aisle

Why does the FAA allow passengers in the exit rows to be served alcohol during the flight? Sitting in an exit row is by choice, drinking alcohol is not necessary and it impairs physical and mental recation time. Further, flight attendants are not in a position to determine when a passenger is impaired. If passengers in exit rows are really suposed to be able to help in the event of an emergency, then I do not understand why drinking is permitted for exit row passengers.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

That is an really interesting observation. Never thought of it. I will be sure to ask a fight attendent next time I fly (tomorrow in fact).

– February 13, 2012 12:25 PM
Q.

Travel in Croatia

I cannot find any articles about travel in Croatia in the WP that are fairly current. Is the Dalmatian Coast not a popular destination? I need help in flying from D. C. to Split or Dubrovnik. Can I go by way of Venice?

A.
Zofia Smardz :

Of course the Dalmatian Coast is a popular destination! So popular that it's been written about almost too much. Take a look at this Going Our Way column from last April. It might have some tips for you. I find more flights on Kayak connecting through Frankfurt, Munich and Rome. Would Rome work for you, or is there some reason you want to go through Venice? 

Chatters, your help with this?

– February 13, 2012 12:25 PM
Q.

Blizzards make for good memories

I remember getting caught in a blizzard as a little kid (5 or 6 maybe) with my parents driving back from Chicago to Minneapolis after Thanksgiving - which makes it the early 80s. We were in a little Saab with 3 kids across the back seat and my parents got progressively more and more nervous with the near-white out conditions until they decided to stop at one of the interstate motels along the road where we apparently got one of the last rooms. There was a resturant, these strange plastic animals (awesome to a 6 y/o) in the lobby, and wonder of wonders a TV (!!!) in the room. Exciting times for me and my brothers, scary for my parents...
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Yes, kids are usually oblivious. . .

– February 13, 2012 12:26 PM
Q.

Day Trip

I second Andrea's suggestion of Philly for the day-trip. The train ride is fast and there's so much to do and see! I say do it for the food, history, and walkabiliity/good transportation options.
Q.

Winter-iest Story

Not my story, but my Mother's from the late 70's when they lived in Glen Burnie: Small baby at home (my older brother), husband just TDY'ed to the Gulf for 3 weeks. No hint of snow in the forecast, but woke up to a heavy snowfall with several inches already on the ground and no milk in the fridge! She bundled up big brother and pulled him along to the 7-11 about 1/2 mile away on the tobaggan!
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Sweet, thanks!

– February 13, 2012 12:27 PM
Q.

Blizzard of '75

I was a newspaper reporter on a small upper midwestern daily paper. Snow started Friday, I had to work that Saturday. My car got stuck in my driveway so I called in, said I couldn';t get to work. Our photographer came too pick me up on his snowmobile. We got the paper out, went to the restaurant next door for blueberry pancakes, and then the whole newsroom staff (all 5 of them!) came to my house to dig out my car. I still have the frostbitten left ear as a souvenir of that snowmobile ride without a helmet!
A.
Zofia Smardz :

The news never rests!

– February 13, 2012 12:27 PM
Q.

Using awards miles to get business class seat to Australia

I'm hoping you and the chatters can help - I'm trying to use my AA miles to get a business class seat for an Australia trip mid-Sept-mid-Oct. So far on the way out I can only get a flight on Air Pacific with a change in Fiji. What are the chances that I'll be able to get a seat on a direct Qantas flight if I wait? Has anyone flown Air Pacific? How's their business class? Thank you!
A.
Christopher Elliott :

What a great question. I'm working on a column about this subject right now -- the difficulty of redeeming award miles. Have you checked out Frequentflier.com and InsideFlyer.com, both of which specialize in answering this kind of question?

– February 13, 2012 12:27 PM
Q.

Long weekend without kids

While the kids are at summer camp we like to take a long weekend to go a a minivacation for ourselves. In the past we have gone to NYC, Philly and Asheville. Any suggestions on a new place to go this summer. We are open to city, mountains or beaches as long as we can have a nice hotel room and good restaurants at the end of the day. Any suggestions within a five to six hour drive would be appreciated.
A.
Becky Krystal :

A few thoughts: Charlottesville, Lewes/Rehoboth Beach, Richmond and Pittsburgh. Any of those appeal to you?

– February 13, 2012 12:28 PM
Q.

KC, KS

Not sure when the chatter is going to Kansas in March exactly, but the MLS season starts in early march. Sporting Kansas City has a beautiful, brand new stadium in KC, KS. So if the schedule works out it might be worth catching a match there.
Q.

Flights (of course)

I know you have no crystal ball, but I just can't figure this out. I remember the days (five years ago, max) when I could fly home to SLC for under $250/round trip. But now I'm seeing prices around $450 or even $500. Is this my new reality?
A.
Carol Sottili :

Airfares have been high for some time, but it's difficult to let go of the good old days. I remember flying nonstop to SLC for about $219 all in.  Those days are over. There are still sales that will bring the fare closer to $300, but they're often short-lived, restricted to very narrow days/dates, complicated by odd connections, etc. If you're very flexible, you could score a sale, but don't expect nonstops or flying on a Saturday during ski season. 

– February 13, 2012 12:29 PM
Q.

Iceland

I thought I had read in the chat last week that there was going to be a story on Iceland this past weekend. We're headed there in late March. Other than Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle and Northern Lights viewing, any suggestions on other winter accessible destinations we should consider? We'll be based in Reykjavik for 6 nights
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Yes, sorry, we pulled a last-minute switcheroo and that story will run this coming Sunday. It centers on the design scene in Reykjavik, so don't know how much it will help you out. But here's a story we did on Iceland in 2008 that may be more useful. And of course, let's ask the chatters for their help. Folks?

– February 13, 2012 12:29 PM
Q.

Mendoza

Does anyone know whether Mendoza gets booked solid for the Vendimia festival, or whether it would be ok just to show up and look for lodgings once there? Any other tips for that part of Argentina?
A.
Becky Krystal :

Not sure about the festival, but here's a story we had the other year on Mendoza.

– February 13, 2012 12:30 PM
Q.

Midtown, DC

Kansas native here, if you have a car -- additional places to visit and avoid. Do Lawrence, one of America's great college towns Tallgrass Prairie Preserve Ike Center in Abiline The Garden of Eden in Lucas (look it up, it's for real) Atchison, home of Ameilia Erhart Avoid East Coasters will not find anything about Topeka or Wichita interesting. Skip them.
Q.

Europe in July

I'm traveling to Scotland and France this July (second question of the day). I'm seeing fares around 1500 to fly to Scotland from DC, and then from Paris back to DC. Should I wait? I just don't want prices to go up.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

July is peak season, so fares will be high. You still have time, though, and I can't imagine that fares will go much higher (hope I did not just jinx you). I would sign up for fare alerts and watch for unpublished sales. If you see the fare dip, grab it.

– February 13, 2012 12:31 PM
Q.

Past Travel Articles

When I plan a trip somewhere, I like to read your articles on the place. Unfortunately, there's no easy way to find these, as there is on one of your competitor's site, where you can search by country/state/city. I thought you had a good search feature once, no?
A.
Becky Krystal :

Yes, it used to be better. We're trying to improve it. There have been technical challenges we encountered when our new web site launched last year.

– February 13, 2012 12:31 PM
Q.

How to get published in Washington Post Travel

Could you please tell me how I would go about getting publishing in the Washington Post Travel section. Please include the name and contact address for the editor and the submissions policy, that is, how to submit, average length of response time, and any word length requirements. Thank you.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Sorry, this isn't the forum for that information. You can write to travel@washpost.com and request a copy of our submission guidelines.

– February 13, 2012 12:32 PM
Q.

Snowed in

The day my sister went into labor I drove 11 hours to Tennessee to be there for the delivery. I had no idea what the weather would be since my focus was on making the delivery. My niece was born shortly after midnight, and a couple of hours later, as I drove to my sister's house to get some sleep, snow started falling. I woke up the next morning to find 8 inches of snow had fallen! I was stuck in the house for 24 hours with nothing to do except read construction (brother-in-law's business) or pregnancy magazines. I chose to go back to sleep.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

That would have been my choice, too!

– February 13, 2012 12:33 PM
Q.

Florida Keys

My husband and I plan to go on our first kid free/dog free vacation in 20 years next December. We want to fly to Miami then drive down the Keys. I don't even know how to start planning an adult vacation. Where should we stay, eat and what do we do?
A.
Christopher Elliott :

One good place to start is the official Florida Keys site. When I lived there, that's where we often went for recommendations. The drive down Highway 1 is beautiful. I wrote about it a few years ago for National Geographic Traveler. Don't miss it.

– February 13, 2012 12:33 PM
Q.

NYC Subway incognita

Your first time in New York, probably with some luggage? Take it from a New Yorker--get a cab.
Q.

Blizzard

One of my strongest winter memories of being a child was driving home to a couple feet of snow in our unplowed driveway. My dad had to park the car mostly in the road and then walk back and forth to the house to create a path for us. Last year, I drove my family back to our house with a couple of feet of snow in our unplowed driveway. I then got to park the car mostly in the road and then walk back and forth to creat a parth for my family. Now, my daughter reminds me this year about what I had to do last year.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Cute!

– February 13, 2012 12:34 PM
Q.

snowed in

In college about 40 years ago, going back to school after Christmas break, I took a train with two friends from Grand Central in NYC (we lived in NJ) to Syracuse, NY. Or rather, we took the train from Grand Central to somewhere in the wilds of mid-New York State, where the train stopped in the middle of nowhere because of so much snow on the track. Having left late anyway, it was about 9 pm when we rolled to a stop...and then sat there till maybe 5 am, when they managed to get the track cleared. Sounds awful, right? Actually, it was one of the most fun nights of my life. At least half the passengers were college kids like us; we played cards all night, several students had guitars, so we had singalongs, we told jokes, flirted, etc. etc. Several of the boys had flasks or bottles with them, so we could have little nips to keep the chill off (the drinking age in NY state was 18 back then, so we were even legal). By the time the train started rolling again early the next morning, many of us were actually disappointed..and one of my friends dated a boy she met on that train for the next two years.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Fun!

– February 13, 2012 12:36 PM
Q.

gatlinburg TN

We rented a house on the side of a mountain Gatlinburg TN. My husband was unhappy with the house, he didn't feel comfortable driving there...and snow was coming. So we up and left, I spent an hour one AM trying to find another place to rent (it was around New Year's). We had two kids, and we didn't want to be snowed in, either. So we got something closer to town and flat. Then it snowed about 2 or 3 inches. IT WAS COLD. But it was so beautiful. We *could* walk to town, so we did, but it was COLD. We did not have enough packed for the weather...so we had to go out and get some gloves/mittens/socks, etc...to help us out. And the kids. But the kids LOVED the snow - we live in Atlanta, so we don't much get it (this was well before last year's snow in).
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Nice, thanks!

– February 13, 2012 12:37 PM
Q.

Croatia

About 3 summers ago we flew Dulles to Dubrovnik via Munich; after a few days there drove north to Split to visit the island of Hvar, and flew out of Split to IAD via Heathrow.
Q.

Cold

I grew up in VA where it does not get particularly cold. However, one december, the entire month was extremely cold. The streams froze solid. This was fun for my brother and me as we got to play hockey for the one and only time while growing up. It was also not so fun for my brother and me as we also had to bust apart the ice to get to water so that the cattle could drink.

A.
Zofia Smardz :

Thanks!

– February 13, 2012 12:38 PM
Q.

Local Getaways

Hi! My husband and I are looking to get away from DC (and our 2 children) the first week of April for 3 or 4 nights. We don't want to travel more than 3 or 4 hours, and are looking to relax: read, catch up on sleep, hike or other moderate activities, eat good food, maybe see a movie or two. A resort like the Greenbriar seems too fancy, but we don't have other ideas besides a random B and B in a random town, and that seems potentially problematic. We could spend up to $1000 for the trip. We also thought of staying in town, but it seems like such a peak for tourism that the hotels would be packed and expensive. Thanks for any ideas!

A.
Becky Krystal :

How about western Maryland? I've done some good hiking out there. You can look into renting something at Wisp or getting a house of your own.

– February 13, 2012 12:38 PM
A.
Jane Touzalin :

How about Shepherdstown or Berkeley Springs, both in West Virginia? Both have parks and hiking, quaint downtown areas with shops; Berkeley Springs has the spa, of course. And both have good restaurants.

– February 13, 2012 12:38 PM
Q.

Speaking of Iceland...

Spending a June day in Reykjavik was the coldest I have ever been! We drove to a coastal town about 3 hours from the capital and ran across a lava field in our bathing suits to swim in a hidden natural hot spring. Running there wasn't terrible...but getting out of the water and running back across the lava dripping wet in below 0 temps was awful! Definitely worth it for the experience, though!
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Yikes!

– February 13, 2012 12:39 PM
Q.

Montreal

I agree on Jean-Talon Market. Since we don't know exactly what the chatter has already seen it is a little tougher to suggest. I spent about a week in Montreal several years ago. I liked my tour of St. Joseph's Oratory....it's a giant church with an interesting history. The Botanic gardens were very nice too. You could just hop on the metro and ride out towards the end of a line and have a wander around. I recall finding a website that had nice maps of all the metro stations and the things to see in close proximity to them. Don't recall what is was called now, but Googling around a bit would probably lead to it. For the person looking to see more of the USA, I agree that national parks are worth looking into. Maybe go see Mt. Rushmore and the various parks in South Dakota. It's like a totally different country to DC when you get out in the midwest. I spent a few days in NW Iowa last year. Super nice people, but VERY conservative. It was a bit odd to experience but ultimately quite fulfilling.
Q.

New Orleans Jazzfest

Greetings; Finally heading to NO Jazzfest in late April for first time. Staying with extended family, so don't need hotel/air package. Airfares from all 3 area airports seem exorbitant right now; is it best to wait for a deal? Any tips for dealing with Jazzfest crowds/venues/restaurants? Also, are your "Travel Discussions" on the website searchable by topic? Thx!

A.
Becky Krystal :

I already addressed your question about searching our chats in what's already been published... Anyone out there have Jazzfest tips?

– February 13, 2012 12:39 PM
Q.

NC

Now that your feature on winter destinations has got me covered on cold weather travel, here's a question for a warmer time of year. Despite having spent most of my life in Virginia, I've never been to North or South Carolina! (Georgia and Florida have been covered though.) I hope to spend about a week in NC this summer: any suggestion for must-see towns or sites? Thanks!
A.
Jane Touzalin :

North Carolina is a wide state, with the Atlantic at one end and mountains at the other. Come summer, most people will flock to the Outer Banks, which seems like a good reason to head in the other direction. I liked Asheville, where you can visit the Biltmore and which has more summer festivals than you can shake a stick at. Bele Chere, which is billed as "the biggest street festival in the Southeast," is quirky and fun.

– February 13, 2012 12:40 PM
Q.

Travel to Moldova

I was trying to help a friend plan a flight from the East Coast to Moldova. The best I could do was suggest KLM via Amsterdam, Lufthansa via Munich, LOT via Warsaw or Czech Airlines via Prague. None of these itineraries actually get her to Moldova, but rather Bucharest or Odessa. Does anyone have any better suggestions?
A.
Carol Sottili :

I'd think your friend would want to wind up in Chisinau, Moldova, which is the international airport. Code is KIV when you're looking for flights. Lufthansa goes there from Washington or New York via Munich, but it is pricey. I couldn't find summer flights for less than $1,400. 

– February 13, 2012 12:40 PM
Q.

Snow story

Ski trip: we flew from DC to Jackson WY and landed in the middle of a snowstorm. Raced in the rental car (not a 4WD) to drive to Grand Targhee, begged the guy who was closing the road over the pass to let us go, and we were the last ones on the road before he closed the gate. Horrific drive over the pass - couldn't see the road, white-outs, drop-offs without guardrails. Made it to Grand Targhee and shared the new powder with very few people for almost 2 days until they opened the road again. And, the group of us bonded in the bar in the evenings. Best ski trip ever.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Aargh, dropoffs without guard rails? Scary!

– February 13, 2012 12:41 PM
Q.

NYC Cab?

The poster is going to 62nd Street in Brooklyn - the cab would be what? $50?
Q.

Maine

Hello chatters! I'm planning to fly into Portland, Maine for Labor Day weekend. Open to flying out of any DC metro airport. Airfare looks to be about $250 with a Newark layover, and $280 direct to Portland. Good deal? Also, do you or the chatters have any suggestions for can't miss food/sites in coastal Maine area. Pretty much up for anything! Leads on reasonable accommodations? Thanks for your help!
A.
Carol Sottili :

Not sure I'd call nearly $300 round trip to Portland a good deal, but it is a holiday weekend. I'd pony up the extra $30 and fly nonstop.  Newark is a huge airport and delays are not uncommon -- thunderstorms come through, and you'll be spending your Labor Day weekend in New Jersey. I am partial to Boothbay Harbor, which is about 75 minutes north of Portland. Last time I was there, we stayed in Damariscotta in a cabin on a Lake Pemaquid -- great lobster there. Any chatters have ideas?   

– February 13, 2012 12:41 PM
Q.

airline money off of unusued tickets

There was recently an article (I think on msnbc.com) about the amount of money airlines make off of unusued tickets. I think Chris Elliott was cited. The article failed to mention that airlines impose ticket rules that would not be allowed by other industries--such as the rule that you are not able to use only a portion of your ticket. The airlines are given a lot of special treatment as an industry and rather than the FAA making small changes in rules, I'd rather that these special exemptions for airlines just be ended.
A.
Christopher Elliott :

Yeah, that was me. I think the time has come for some of these ticket restrictions to end, too. The airline industry argument against it is that it would raise ticket prices and could lead to more bankruptcies. (To which you probably would say, "So?")

– February 13, 2012 12:41 PM
Q.

Skiing in Wisp

Hi there, would you recommend Wisp as a ski destination?
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Yep, I would. It is a great resort with tons of activities on and off the slope. According to the latest ski report, most of the lifts and trails are open. If you have time, try to squeeze in a dog sled run with Husky  Power Dogsledding. It's a blast and the dogs are so cute -- and speedy.

– February 13, 2012 12:41 PM
Q.

OP: naturalized American

Sorry, should have mentioned -- I'm not a fan of Disney World or that type of schmaltzy stuff. (No offense to people who are fans. To each his own.)
A.
Becky Krystal :

OK, so don't go to Disney! Still plenty to see in Florida if you're so inclined -- Miami, the Keys, Everglades, etc.

– February 13, 2012 12:42 PM
Q.

Snowed in!

A group of friends and I were staying at a time-share in Massanutten about 6 years ago. While we were there, we got about 6 inches of snow, which isn't a lot, but none of us had been prepared for snow - no boots, no gloves, no heavy coats. The worst part was that one of the cars (an SUV, even) had terrible tires and got stuck in the snow as it was backed out...down a hill, blocking the other two cars in the driveway. We spent at least an hour digging out, and finding cardboard boxes to give traction. Eventually we did get the car out, but we always were over-prepared for weather possibilities anytime that group got together after that.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Washingtonians and snow -- we just don't mix! :-)

– February 13, 2012 12:43 PM
Q.

Kansas trip

I'm in the middle of reading David McCullough's biography of Harry Truman, so I suggest that the person who is going to the Kansas area take a trip to Harry's home town of Independence, Missouri. Also, I believe that there are tours of the towns important to the history of "bloody Kansas" just before the Civil War broke out.
Q.

Colder Than Cold

Years ago I went hiking with a friend in the Shenandoah National Park in January. We planned to be out three nights. The first night the temperature fell to -21 degrees, which is still the coldest I've ever experienced. We did a quick re-evaluation the next morning and decided to come into DC and stay at the Four Seasons, which was having a "stay one night get one free" special. So, we went from wilderness camping to urban camping in the space of 24 hours. Urban camping is a lot nicer in January.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Agreed!

– February 13, 2012 12:43 PM
Q.

Would you rather...

Help me please! Parents are taking kids so we can have solo vacation last two weeks in June, first time in years! Leaving from their house in Midwest, narrowed it down to business class using miles to Hawaii (12 hours) for beach, hike, watersports, relaxing; or nonstop to Vegas (4 hours on SW), and southern Utah for hiking hiking hiking. Of course that's the hottest possible time there, so too hot? If we have to get early start to beat heat, kinda misses point of no-kids and sleeping in for first time in years. We don't want to drive as far as Moab, so likely no rafting, which we love. Its like the opposite of a Sophie's Choice: two great options. Which would you pick?
A.
Zofia Smardz :

I vote for Hawaii. If you have the miles and the time, it's paradise. 

– February 13, 2012 12:44 PM
A.
Jane Touzalin :

I second that. A trip to Hawaii is one you'll never forget. And you can still have your hiking, hiking, hiking, but it'll be in a volcano -- how cool is that?

– February 13, 2012 12:44 PM
Q.

From last week

A poster thought about trying to travel to arches frm Vegas for a few days of travel. The drive is about 7 hrs. Too far for a short trip. For the three day travel focus on Zion, Bryce, page, and the north rim. The north rim is closed until about mid may depending on season snow.
Q.

Scotland? Too much time?

Friends tell us that two weeks is too long to see Scotland by train and rental car, even going at a leisurely pace to accommodate one with limited stamina. Should we count on adding Wales to our itinerary? And is this a trip that we can successfully book ourselves or do you think a travel agent would be useful. Side note: we're allergic to organized tours! Thanks, J
A.
Carol Sottili :

You should be able to plan this on your own, although a knowledgeable travel agent is always a plus. Have you though about adding England's Lake District  rather than Wales to your itinerary? Located rather close to Scotland (I think it's about a two-hour drive from Glasgow), it's a lovely region. 

– February 13, 2012 12:44 PM
Q.

First Anniversary Trip!

Good morning! I am looking to surprise my husband with a weekend getaway to celebrate our first anniversary. We live in NYC so I would love a place within 2-3 hours that is relaxing and has delicious food. Any ideas? Many thanks!
A.
Becky Krystal :

Hm, tough to beat your home turf when it comes to food. You could think about Philadelphia, but that might not be as relaxing as you'd like. Maybe something out on Long Island, toward the Hamptons? You could tour some wineries there and stay at the Shinn Estate Farmhouse.

– February 13, 2012 12:44 PM
Q.

Scared of Italy

So planning my first trip to Italy and am overwhelmed. I want to treat my husband to 4-5 days on the Amalfi Coast and 4-5 days in Rome. But where to stay? Everyone I talk to has a different recommendation, as does everyone on online travel forums. I doubt we'll be going back anytime soon, so want to do it right. Can you help me figure out how to figure it out?
A.
Carol Sottili :

Take a look at this Going Our Way I wrote a couple of years ago. It may help with planning. 

– February 13, 2012 12:45 PM
Q.

Wintry Travel

We traveled to the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion National Parks one year in March. There had been a heavy spring snow at the Grand Canyon the night before we arrived and it left a spectacular sight in its wake. After the morning fog lifted (where we couldn't see anything!), the snow-covered canyon was beautiful - such a nice change from the hot summer visit I recall as a kid. We also enjoyed snowcovered scenery as we hiked Bryce and Zion. A beautiful way to see a part of the country mostly associated with hot summers full of tourists!
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Sounds lovely!

– February 13, 2012 12:46 PM
Q.

Cold

Several years ago, 2 friends of mine suggested that we could plan a trip to Alaska, and save money by camping while there. I had very little enthusiasm for the camping part, so they suggested we do a trial run by camping overnight near Skyline Drive. The temperature plummeted once it got dark, so we all hunkered down in our sleeping bags. I was so cold, I thought of going to the car and putting the heater on, but was truly afraid I'd freeze to death between the tent and the car. When daylight came, we put everything in the car and headed back to Washington, with the heater blowing full blast the whole way. And no, that Alaska camping trip never happened.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

No wonder!

– February 13, 2012 12:46 PM
Q.

Suitcase cleaning

Hello - Any advice on how to clean the inside of a suitcase (specifically, after a pound of very finely ground coffee exploded inside)? I know from experience that soaking it in the bathtub is NOT the way to go, but am not sure how else to clean the inner parts... Thanks!
A.
Andrea Sachs :

I would shake your bag outside, then vacuum it with a mini-Hoover. Wipe down the inside with a damp cloth or disinfecting wipes. Don't get the inside too wet or you risk mold.

If all else fails, pour some hot water into the body of the bag and brew some coffee. (Kidding!)

– February 13, 2012 12:46 PM
Q.

Lost suitcase

Hello -- I had flights from Jakarta to Quito on Garuda/ KLM. Somewhere in between my suitcase was lost. The agent in Quito took my info, and they did deliver it 4 days later. However, I had to buy a whole set of new clothes for work meetings while I waited. The agent in Quito told me I would have to talk to KLM in DC, and the limit was 150 euros. 3 days of new business clothes cost a lot more. The Delta baggage folks at National (KLM doesn't have a rep) were no help, and I can only find an online form for KLM lost baggage. Any ideas? Much appreciated.
A.
Christopher Elliott :

You should send a brief, polite email to the airline you were ticketed on. You'll need to file a claim with them. While KLM is a codeshare partner with Delta, it would not be able to help with a claim like this.

– February 13, 2012 12:47 PM
Q.

Airfare agony

I know you're sick of these questions, but can I hope for anything under $1,000 to get from NYC to Birmingham, England in July? Do they still run tramp steamers?
A.
Carol Sottili :

No, we're not sick of them. Just wish we had a magic answer that would ease all airfare agony. There are transatlantic freighters, but they're more expensive than the flights. Keep checking with Aer Lingus - it flies between NY and Birmingham, and offers frequent sales.  

– February 13, 2012 12:47 PM
Q.

Memorial Day near Charlottesville

Boyfriend and I want to rent a cabin for the holiday weekend. Any suggestions for something relatively inexpensive (under $200/night for 3 nights) that isn't too rustic? I would like indoor plumbing and a kitchen to prepare our own meals. Bonus if it has a hot tub or river access. Want to be close enough to go hiking one day and go into Charlottesville on the other. And as for bad winters, the Christmas Eve after my family moved to Nashville, there was a massive ice storm -- plows and salt trucks couldn't move, so we had to park our cars at the bottom of the big hill outside our neighborhood and walk/crawl 1.5 miles in church clothes. Some of the hills were so icy, we had to crawl on blankets so we wouldn't slide into someone's front porch. Needless to say, we couldn't go outside or even get our cars until after Christmas. I was glad to move back to Minnesota, where they can handle the winter weather.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Have a look at Montfair Resort Farm.

– February 13, 2012 12:47 PM
Q.

Snowed in with a Bathing Suit

Went to Cape Cod for Spring Break and my then 3 y.o. sister insisted on packing her bathing suit even though the seals don't even like to swim at the Cape until July. On the drive home we got hit with a blizzard and Mom gave up driving after 7 hours and we checked into a hotel. The hotel had an indoor pool and the sister we had all laughed at got to go swimming!
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Now that's irony!

– February 13, 2012 12:48 PM
Q.

Unexpected snow

During February break while studying abroad in Europe, I decided to go to Morocco for a week with one of my classmates. Neither of us thought to look into the weather too much, and ended up packing a long-sleeve t-shirt and a very light jacket for the trip. One of the tours we ended up taking was a 3-day trip through the Atlas mountains and camping in the Sahara. While driving through the mountains, we hit snow and traffic, with 4x4s sliding off the road all over. We stayed the first night at a hotel in the mountains with no heat, where I was so cold I slept with a scarf tied around my head. We hoped the next day would be warmer in the desert, but as luck would have it, it snowed for the first time in something like 20 years while we were in the Sahara. I ended up buying a blanket from an old man at one of our roadside stops, and spent the rest of the trip wrapped up in it.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Incredible!

– February 13, 2012 12:49 PM
Q.

Jazzfest

You may not find a cheap flight as it is one of the most popular times of year to visit New Orleans and the airlines know this and price accordingly. Get fest tickets in advance on the website...it will save you $. There is a public bus that runs up Esplanade and takes you right to the fairgrounds. Food sold on site at the fest is chosen by a jury so is very, very good. And note that during Jazzfest musical events are concurrent all around town, not just at the fairgrounds. If there are any restaurants you want to try while there, reserve early. Wear sunscreen and stay hydrated and have fun.
Q.

snow

My friends had been planning for their parent's anniversary party for at least a year (25th, maybe?). The oldest child had been working two jobs to help to pay for it, etc, and it was a surprise. So, on the day of the party there was a HUGE snowstorm. Many of the guests couldn't come, and the place - where I think there were supposed to be 3 parties or something like that, had called to ask them to cancel (the other parties had already canceled)...but they didn't want to. So, they had this party, and last minute ended up inviting all sorts of people to fill the slots... SO I got to go to this awesome fancy party (the guest list was tiny, originally). But my mom wouldn't let me drive in the snow because it was too dangerous...so my friend picked me up to take me. We had a GREAT time.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Glad to hear it!

– February 13, 2012 12:50 PM
Q.

Winters of yore

Some years ago, my dad and I were walking on a windy hill overlooking a frozen pond in Minnesota in January. I remarked, "Dad, I think this is the coldest moment I have ever experienced." He suggested we go back to the car and turn on the heated seats and he'd tell me a little story. Back in 1886, when his own father was a baby, my great-grandfather had built a sod hut out on the prairie in Minnesota. After putting in a stove and an adequate supply of firewood, he returned to town and picked up my great-grandmother and my baby grandfather. They rode out to the sod hut in their sleigh pulled by the team of oxen, with my great-grandmother and the baby protected under a thick buffalo rug. It was 40 degrees below zero. I had never heard this story before, and was so glad my dad chose that very very cold day, out there in the woods, to tell me about it in a place that made it real. However, I was also grateful that we had gone back to the car and the heated seats before he started the tale!
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Very nice! I love family histories. . .

– February 13, 2012 12:51 PM
Q.

NYC Subway

It's been years since I lived there, but I think the West 4th Street station is huge - I don't think you actually exit the station, it's just a long walk inside. See this: www.nycsubway.org/perl/stations?7:2977.

A.
Andrea Sachs :

Thanks!

– February 13, 2012 12:51 PM
Q.

Ideas for Maine vacation?

We've blocked 2 weeks to drive from DC to Maine and back in July, but are looking for ideas where to stop in each direction (beyond the obvious stop in Boston). We have two boys, 11 and 8, but would like more outdoor activites than indoor. Thanks.
A.
Carol Sottili :

When we did this trip with our kids, we stopped in Boston, which was great, but it is an 8-hour drive from here to there. Maybe Mystic, Ct.? It's a little bit of a detour, but a nice town on the Long Island Sound. And there is always New York City. 

– February 13, 2012 12:51 PM
Q.

Rome hotel recommendation

A few years ago we stayed at the "47 Hotel" in Rome for our honeymoon. It's in a great location so you can walk to a lot of the sites, and is a really old building that has been beautifully modernized. They do a breakfast buffet that is included in your room with the most amazing Italian coffee.
Q.

Public Transport in Chicago

I'm in the process of helping a friend sort out her visit to Chicago in Mid March. Is there a way I can gauge whether there is public transport in the Gold Coast area of Chicago that she could use to get to her appointments in The Jefferson Park area, which is north of the Gold Coast area? I have actual addresses for the places, but, of course mapquest and such is only good for details of how to get there by car, which she will not have. Thanks a lot.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Here's info from the Chicago Transit Authority. Sounds like you can use Google Transit or the CTA's trip planner.

– February 13, 2012 12:54 PM
Q.

Hawaii or Vegas ???

You have two weeks you could do both.... It really depends on what you love. I think being two weeks n Hawaii may be too much unless you plans on doing 3-4 days on different islands. In two weeks you could do the southwest and that includes mob. The drive is part of the trip...from Vegas you go to Bryce canyon, capital reef, then to Moab, to Mesa verde, through monument valley, to the south rim, up to page, and then to Zion. Depending on the time...early June is cooler than late June. The real issue with the heat is in Moab where it would get the hottest. In that park for lighting you really only do it n the morning or evening.
Q.

Wintry vacation

After attending a conference in early March in Montreal (our first time there), we stayed on an extra couple of days for vacation. On the Sunday morning we had reservations for brunch in the Old Town down by the St. Lawrence River, so decided to walk down from our hotel. While we were having brunch a major ice storm fell, and we had to try to walk back uphill on the icy sidewalks. We hung on to one another for dear life, as well as any storefront doors and windows etc. we could grab onto; nearly fell a few times, but made it back to our hotel without any hard landings.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Glad no bones were broken!

– February 13, 2012 12:55 PM
Q.

driving from NY to NC

In a TERRIBLE snowstorm. The drive typically takes, maybe 8 hours. So, I left in the AM, maybe by 10, figuring I'd be in NC by dinner time. So at Midnight, I am right outside DC...and I'm hungry. I stop at the denny's. THEY ARE PACKED. There is one waitress and one cook on duty...and there isn't an empty table anywhere. They are swamped. It was good to get something to eat and all ,and I thought I could pull off and get a room, but then I thought: I'm not tired, I'll keep going. So I got into NC at some crazy time of the night (3 AM? Later?). And much of the time I couldn't see anything, because the snow was everywhere.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

You were brave -- or is it foolhardy? -- to keep driving!

– February 13, 2012 12:56 PM
Q.

Summer Vacation!

Hi, I am hoping you can steer this single mom in the right direction for a summer vacation with two teenaged kids. I'd like to take them to a (relatively) inexpensive Spanish-speaking locale, sometime in July, where we can enjoy beaches, hiking, and other outdoor activities, and they can practice their high school Spanish skills. I would like to be able to score "low season" rates at a Caribbean or other destination, but was unpleasantly surprised when I looked in to the cost of airfare to the Dominican Republic during July. Costa Rica, maybe? Other ideas? Thank you very much!
A.
Andrea Sachs :

I would actually avoid DR, since you can't really immerse yourself  in the country (most people end up trapped inside all-inclusives). I would suggest Mexico (yes, Mexico) -- perhaps Oaxaca, San Miguel de Allende or Valle de Bravo. Other options: Belize, Puerto Rico or Nicaragua. 

– February 13, 2012 12:56 PM
Q.

Vacations with Young 'Uns

I'm talking real little ones. Family and I would like to go somewhere for an extended weekend that will give us something to do with our two boys (who will be nearly four and 18 months). But how to settle on something that's fun for the adults AND the kids? Long flights are out as are long drives. Do you have any experience with resorts that do water parks and mini golf and all that stuff? Would that work, you think? And if so, do you have a recommendation for one that's relatively close to MD? Thanks!
A.
Carol Sottili :

Great Wolf Lodge comes to mind, but closest one to Maryland would be Williamsburg, Va. Also take a look at Wintergreen Resort and the Chesapeake Bay Hyatt

– February 13, 2012 12:56 PM
Q.

Flight price watching

I think trying to "time" airline flight costs is a losing proposition. What happened even last year won't apply anymore as competition shrinks and airlines get stingier. Just make the res and go.
A.
Becky Krystal :

That is definitely a reasonable way to look at it. If you find something you're OK with, just book!

– February 13, 2012 12:57 PM
Q.

FF ticket to Oz

Flyertalk.com is another good source for all things Frequent Flier. Tickets to Australia (especially premium classes) are hard to come by unless you plan 11 months in advance or can wait until the last second. But I would definitely ask in the AA or Qantas forum on Flyertalk. I know Chris hates FF miles. Personally I have never had a problem booking a ticket. Just booked several last week in fact for flights and times that worked perfectly well for my schedule. But I also used a number of online tools ahead of time to find availability so I knew what I was asking for.
A.
Christopher Elliott :

I don't hate frequent flier programs. I'm just a skeptic.

– February 13, 2012 12:57 PM
Q.

Blizzard of Jan 87

OPM released the Federal govt at 1000am and I got to the Pentagon from Silver Spring by 1030am. Caught a Metro bus home to Burke just after 1100am because I was stupid and thought Metro would be quicker than driving. I got a tour of Annandale and Springfield and Burke on the Metro bus with no bathroom because the  bus driver had no clue where she was going. The bus was supposed to go down Braddock Rd but we ended up on Little River Turnpike. You known when folks say they had to go so bad it was up to their eyeballs. I felt that way. I have never trusted Metro again I drive with 4wd and 4 snow tires and if its really bad I have 4 snow tires with studs.

A.
Zofia Smardz :

I feel for you!

– February 13, 2012 12:59 PM
Q.

Flying - sealed contact lens solution? Okay with FAA?

Greetings - are bottles of sealed contact lens solution exempt from the carry-on 3-oz rule? I'll be going on a weeklong trip and don't need to check a bag, but one of the tiny travel-size lens solutions won't last me that long.
A.
Becky Krystal :
– February 13, 2012 12:59 PM
Q.

Public Transport Chicago

Many thanks for your instantaneous help!
Q.

Winter horror story

In the early '90s I worked for a mid-Atlantic-based firm that did a "Super Saturday" day of interviews for college seniors looking for their first job. Each candidate endured seven 30-minute interviews; we (the employers) did three of these 3.5-hour cycles. It was grueling for everybody. In March 1993, this Super Saturday coincided with the original "Storm of the Century". (So says Wikipedia.) Candidates arrived the prior evening under the threat of the storm, and by the Saturday morning the snow was in such force that a senior manager from a Florida office refused to walk across the street from the Four Seasons to our office tower for the interviews. Super Saturday still went on, though, as most of the interviewees lived within walking distance or could come by subway/train. Someone from my office got the bright idea to host the candidates for dinner that evening in their hotel, since they would all be stuck there for an additional night. Sure, it was at a nice hotel and all that, but it was the kind of offer that the candidates could not refuse (even the ones who probably knew that they had blown their interviews). The young'uns among us suggested that we just leave them to their own devices so that they could unwind as they wished. But no. The candidates all gamely showed up for the dinner, smiles pasted on their faces, but for many of them I imagine that it ended up being one of their worst winter memories.
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Dear, dear.

– February 13, 2012 1:00 PM
Q.

Snowed in

So, a few years ago, I had a week bewtween ending an old job and starting a new job, so my mother was taking me to Mexico for a week to relax. However a blizzard stranded us in Baltimore for 2 days. Our hotel had no housekeeping staff and the only food was from the vending machine. We could not have anything delivered because the governor had declared a state of emergenct. After 2 days of Trail mix and potatoe chips we were finally able to leave Baltimore to get stranded in Charlotte for another day. We did eventually make it to MExico but the trip was too short....
A.
Zofia Smardz :

Wow.

– February 13, 2012 1:01 PM
Q.

Europe

So I'm thinking we should avoid Greece? What do you see the long-term outlook being?
A.
Andrea Sachs :

I wouldn't avoid Greece. Greece needs our support and we need its feta, beaches and ruins. Just be mindful of protests and flexible if a strike suddenly materializes.

– February 13, 2012 1:01 PM
Q.

Dealing with anxious parents

I will be traveling to Tunisia at the end of the week, but my parents are convinced that the country is a hotbed of radical Islam and anti-American sentiment. (The irony that I will be going as part of a Muslim-Jewish interfaith group is not lost on me). Is there anything I can send her--travel articles, statistics, etc...--that will help to calm her fears?
A.
Jane Touzalin :

The State Department says that "the security situation in most tourist and business centers remains calm," but it notes that a state of emergency is in force, that there is "potential for unrest" and that travel to the interior of the country should be very carefully considered. So if I were your parents I'd be fretting a little, too. If you tell them you're staying only in tourist areas -- you are, right? -- that might help.

– February 13, 2012 1:01 PM
Q.

Q&A on the run

It would be great to attend these chat events from the road. Using something http://ask.multicity.com/ or coverit's iPhone application so we can participate from anywhere. Just a suggestion as I really enjoy these events but cannot always be on my computer.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Yeah, I know some of what we use isn't accessible in mobile formats. Thanks for your dedication and the suggestions!

– February 13, 2012 1:02 PM
Q.

Summer day-trip from DC

Harper's Ferry, WV, by train?
Q.

Lost suitcase follow-up

Hello -- I did try to send an email to KLM, but cannot find an email address for baggage questions. Do you have one at hand? Thank you!
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Here is everything you need to know about baggage and KLM, including the e-mail address.

– February 13, 2012 1:02 PM
Q.

Jazzfest travel

A few years back, I pieced together a BWI-Birmingham flight and a BHM-New Orleans flight on Southwest (no luggage - just carryon) to counter high direct fares. It was about an hour-and-a-half "make your own" layover, but it saved something like $75. It also seems like the train (Crescent) can be relatively cheap - including bedroom charges - long after the Jazzfest days airfare has gone up, but that would take a lot more time and you'd have to enjoy it as part of the adventure.
Q.

Travel Q&A

Ideas for a 3-day road trip heading north from San Francisco in early June? Have to be back in SF early evening of 3rd day...............
A.
Andrea Sachs :

I would drive up the 101, along the Pacific, toward Eureka and the redwoods. It's an amazing drive with lots of little stops along the way.

– February 13, 2012 1:02 PM
Q.

things to do in Montreal

Not sure if this is enough off the beaten track, but the last time we were in Montreal, we went to the Botanic Garden/Arboretum for several hours. We were there in the early summer, and the range of different plantings was wonderful. It's easily accessible by the Montreal subway.
Q.

NYC Luggage Issue

To the writer about taking a cab in NYC - don't let the guys at the train station grab your luggage, walk away, and hold it for ransom! That happened to me (not recently), but was not a good intro to NYC. Don't let go of anything, or look for cops before leaving a building.
Q.

Montreal

Can you delay your trip a couple weeks from late May to the second weekend in June when the Formula 1 race takes place. Track is accessible via Metro. Formula 1 is a great experience. Its not just the noise but the incredible change in pressure as 24 cras go by. You can feel them sucking in the air at incredible volumes. 

Q.

NYC Subway Question

A number of questions come to mind from this question. It seems as if the writer got information about the 62 St. subway (not Metro) station in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. For that you take the A train to W. 4th St, and walk downstairs to a Brooklyn-bound D train. But that is not a major tourist destination (though it is to my relatives who live there). Maybe the person wanted 62 St. somewhere in Manhattan, perhaps near Lincoln Center; then an uptown A train to 59 St would be the correct answer. (Though this kind of question is not really for "Talk About Travel".) Asking this question on something like a TripAdvisor forum is probably a better choice of venue.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Thanks!

– February 13, 2012 1:03 PM
Q.

Zofia Smardz :

So many great snow stories this week! Thanks all for sending them in and for chatting with us about your travel hopes and plans. We're all out of time for now. It's a real dilemma choosing this week's prize winner, but I think I have to go with the traveler who ran into snow in the Sahara! That's just too amazing. So please send your contact info to me at smardzz@washpost.com, and I'll send you your prize>

And a heads up -- there'll be NO chat next week because of the Presidents' Day holiday. But we'll be back as usual on Feb. 27. Take care all and see you in a couple of weeks.

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