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August 18, 2014

2
P.M.

Talk about Travel: What to do in Portland and Seattle, Thanksgiving in Europe and more

Total Responses: 72

About the hosts

About the host

Host: Joe Yonan

Joe Yonan

Joe Yonan is the Travel editor.
Host: Andrea Sachs

Andrea Sachs

Andrea Sachs is a staff writer for Travel.
Host: Becky Krystal

Becky Krystal

Becky Krystal is Travel's editorial aide.
Host: Christopher  Elliott

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.

About the topic

Talk about Travel is here to help at 2 p.m. Mondays.
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.
Past Talk about Travel chats
Q.

Joe Yonan :

Greetings, travelers, and welcome to today's chat!

What's on your itinerary today? Hope you enjoyed this week's coverage, including Steve Vickers' tale of Old Goa, India; Britt Petersen's journey through Moomin-land in Finland; and of course Tom Sietsema's take on the restaurant scene in Helsinki.

In addition to asking us whatever's on your minds (well, travel-wise, anyway), here's a challenge for you all: Tell us about a time you traveled in pursuit of something that was important to you as a child, as Britt did in the Moomin piece.  How did it go? The source of our favorite story will win a little something.

Let's do this!

Q.

Growing old in New Orleans

I've just made plans to join two friends for four days in New Orleans in early November to celebrate my Significant Birthday. Haven't been there in about four years--are there any new, fabulous restaurants we shouldn't miss on our trip, especially for birthday night? (My friends are pretty serious foodies.) We're staying in the French Quarter, so walkability would be a plus...
A.
Joe Yonan :

At the top of my list in terms of the new/fabulous in New Orleans would be Peche, from Donald Link (Cochon, Herbsaint, etc.) & Co.; and Ivy, from Sue Zemanick of Gatreau's. Both are on Magazine Street, which isn't in the Quarter, but you serious food lovers shouldn't let that stop you. It's just a 10- to 15-minute cab ride away.

– August 18, 2014 1:53 PM
Q.

Girl's getaway at a beach or spa resort

3 long-time friends want to gather somewhere between NJ and Jacksonville, FL for a 2 or 3-day resort reunion around March. I am from the DC area. What do you suggest? Pondering Jekyll Island or maybe Hilton Head. Any other thoughts?
A.
Becky Krystal :

People here often mention the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay resort. That's one to consider. Much closer to Jacksonville is lovely Amelia Island, with a variety of resorts to choose from. Ditto Myrtle Beach. If it doesn't have to be at a beach, the Williamsburg Inn might work. Or how about Kiawah in South Carolina?

– August 18, 2014 2:00 PM
Q.

Are Their Rates Too Good To Be True?

I and another federal retiree who both worked in 2-3 US Embassies in SE Asia in the 70’s and 80’s are planning a trip to that part of the world in mid-January. Bangkok will be the first destination. I already have a 1st Class ticket obtained with United miles. My friend would like to travel at least Business Class and will most likely be paying cash. Yesterday, I received a e-mail from a travel agency, Sunline Travels, with what looked like very good rates, about $3500 R/T Business Class to Singapore. Have you or any of your readers ever used or heard of this travel Agency? A related question. My friend has enough United miles for a Business Class ticket to Bangkok. However, it appears his return ticket would cost nearly 80% of what a round trip ticket would cost. Is this normal? Any tips for beating this high cost for a one way ticket?
A.
Christopher Elliott :

I haven't heard of it, but you know the saying: If it's too good to be true, it probably is. You might get a ticket for $3.5 k, but it will probably be a so-called consolidator ticket with lots of restrictions, including not being refundable or changeable in any way. The way to beat the high cost of a one-way is to book a round-trip ticket, which oddly, is almost always less expensive than a one-way ticket.

– August 18, 2014 2:00 PM
Q.

Europe trip

I want to do a solo trip to Europe this fall, probably around Thanksgiving. My main objectives are to eat chocolate and pastries while sipping coffee, with secondary objectives to include seeing beautiful things, maybe learn a little, and avoid feeling weird about traveling by myself or getting murdered and left in a ditch by the side of the road. Where would you suggest going that would be the best bang for the buck with the prettiest views while sitting at cafes eating a lot of dessert? I feel like Paris is probably the obvious answer, but I am kind of interested in Germany and Austria (with the requisite twirling on hills and singing). Thoughts?
A.
Becky Krystal :

You'll probably get a decent bang for your buck in a lot of Europe at that time of year. Other possibilities to consider: Vienna, Brussels/Bruges, Geneva, Florence.

– August 18, 2014 2:03 PM
Q.

sort of relevant, I guess...

Not long ago, my family moved from the east coast to the west coast. One of my kids was in camp, and I hung out with my other one visiting family, waiting until the big move. I took my son to my old hometown, showed him all around, went to place I hadn't been in decades (my old house - WOW - I did not recognize it, then looked up the google pix and saw it as it was being renovated). My kid didn't care, but it was nice to go visit. And see people I hadn't even spoken to in so long (magic of facebook!).
A.
Joe Yonan :

Absolutely relevant! Thanks!

– August 18, 2014 2:05 PM
Q.

Seven Hour layover at CDG airport in Paris

We will have a seven hour layover at CDG airport in Paris, this coming Saturday, before our connecting flight to Slovenia. Do you have any recommendations as to how we can spend that time between flights?

A.
Joe Yonan :

Get into the city! You can leave your bags just outside the TGV/RER train station at Terminal 2 at Baggage DuMonde, then hop the train to central Paris (about 20 minutes for express, and 35 for non, according to the web site Paris By Train), and explore such sites as the Louvre, Notre-Dame, the Luxembourg Gardens and more.

– August 18, 2014 2:07 PM
Q.

Budapest or Nuremberg? (and Madeline)

So we took the easy way out on the Christmas markets and booked a river cruise running from Budapest to Nuremberg, but we want to stretch it a little either before or after. As we understand it, Nuremberg is the biggest market, but Budapest sounds interesting (and we may have sated our market requirements by the end of the line). Your thoughts? Running up to Prague was an outside contender, but we didn’t want to make it to complicated. PS – thanks for the piece on Madeline and Bemelmans at the Carlyle Hotel; it’s such a cool very-new-york place. We had always been told that his mural was how he paid his rent while staying at the hotel.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Probably can't go wrong with either. We had a recent article on Budapest that indeed does make it sound interesting. But you can also do Nuremberg beyond the market -- here's a recent piece on that very topic.

– August 18, 2014 2:07 PM
Q.

Parking in NYC

We are driving to NYC from Toronto and staying two nights in Manhattan. Parking at the hotel is outrageous! Any suggestions for parking options (park outside Manhattan and train in?). Thanks!
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Parking rates are the worst!

One idea is to park at the Weehawken ferry lot and take the ferry into Manhattan. Or check the lots near the Hoboken PATH station. Just make sure that you can park there for 24 hours.

On the island, check around to see if some of the public lots near the hotel cost less. You can also try to find street parking. Check signs to make sure you know when you need to move your car to the alternate side -- a very NYC experience.

– August 18, 2014 2:09 PM
Q.

Travel deals

Could you start mentioning deals for solo travelers on a regular basis? Thx.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Solo deals are unfortunately rare. Most packages are based on two travelers. But we will include deals when the company waives the single supplement.

– August 18, 2014 2:14 PM
Q.

cave paintings...

Are any of them open to public viewings? I know that Lascaux was closed to the general public some time ago, but are there other sites where you don't have to be an archeologist?
A.
Becky Krystal :

How about Texas? You can see native art in situ at Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site. Just had a story about it!

– August 18, 2014 2:14 PM
Q.

Affordable Travel Destinations Over Xmas and New Year's

I have two weeks off this year over Christmas and New Year's so am looking for an affordable international destination. Flights to New Zealand are several thousand dollars so would like something cheaper. SD
A.
Joe Yonan :

From where are you flying? Many cities are a lot cheaper to get to than NZ: From DC, flying during that time frame costs $800-900 to Rome or Paris; about $400-$500 to San Juan; about $700 to Mexico City.

– August 18, 2014 2:14 PM
Q.

smoking in hotel rooms

Interesting article! I live near the Washington Hilton, and several times a month, I see people with their hands sticking out the window on the 19th Street side -- turns out they are holding the cigarette out the window, and periodically bringing their hand inside to take a deep inhale. Presumably they exhale out the window, and then drop the cigarette to the ground when finished! Wonder if that trick "works" to avoid any smoke inside the room.
A.
Christopher Elliott :

Ah, that's an interesting question! I actually interviewed a smoker for that column, and he offered some tips on avoiding the smoking police in a hotel. My editor and I decided that publishing such advice would be problematic. Needless to say, there are ways to smoke in a non-smoking hotel and not be fined. It's not something we would encourage.

– August 18, 2014 2:14 PM
Q.

Going back to the British Museum

where I spent many a happy Saturday in my youth, among the mummies. I remembered they have the remains of a 6000 year old man, but I couldn't remember where to find him--I asked a guard who said "oh, you mean Ginger!"...forgot that he has a little clump of red hair adhering to his skull!
Q.

Coral Castle

When I was much younger, I saw an episode of "In Search Of" (with Leonard Nimoy narrating) about the Coral Castle, a structure near Miami FL built of large blocks of stone by one guy using unknown means (no heavy equipment). For some reason, that episode stuck with me. I was in Miami for the first time for a conference a few years ago, and made a point of taking the time to visit the Castle. It was a little touristy and not quite as large as I expected, but it was still very impressive, and well worth the visit.
Q.

Last-Minute Paris Accommodations

My wife and I will be in Paris for just over a week (last days of August/first week of September), but for a variety of reasons outside our control our dates and itinerary weren't finalized until this morning. Our tickets have been taken care of, but we now need to come up with accommodations ourselves. If possible, we would prefer to stay in an apartment or apartment-type setting (nothing big, but something where we can do our own cooking/laundry as needed). Any recommendations/cautions/etc for finding a place on such short notice, such as websites like vrbo?
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Check VRBO, but also Airbnb, 9Flats.com, Wimdu and Homeaway.com. (There are lots of options, but many listings appear on several sites.)

The main tips: Read the small print. Know what's included,  extra fees, check in/out times, cancellation rules, etc. Speak to the owner (by phone or email) about the neighborhood and the apartment. Is it quiet or loud? Cafes and public transportation nearby? Also, make sure you know how to reach this person in case of an emergency and exactly how you are going to get the key. And only pay by credit card, so you have protection.

– August 18, 2014 2:22 PM
Q.

Jewelry in Europe

I live in an American city, which means I have to be cognicent of what makes me vulnerable to criminals. I am traveling to Barcelona, Rome, Florence and Istanbul. Do you see any difference, other than wearing an under the clothes travel pack for my passport and most currency? I usually wear a diamond wedding ring and small diamond studs, gold earrings. People are telling me I have to leave everything home. i LIVE in this jewelry.
A.
Christopher Elliott :

People are right. I would leave the jewelry at home if you can. Lots of flashy jewelry makes you an easy target when you're traveling.  None of these cities are particularly dangerous for western tourists, but it all depends where you go. If you have to bring the valuables, take sensible precautions, such as covering up when you're in public.

– August 18, 2014 2:22 PM
Q.

Important as a child...

When I was a child living in the Caribbean, I loved to see a huge map that my uncle had in his house. I used to look at our island as a point in that vast world, so I decided that one day I was going to see all those huge continents that were clearly marked in the map, as oppose as our tiny island. Well, I grew up and that desire never left, when I started gaining some money I started saving and started visiting those remote places, I finished visiting the New 7 Wonders of the World and only have two more continents to visit: Antartica and Australia…its an amazing world out there, but nothing like my tiny Caribbean island.
Q.

I *really* wanted to see more of the Grand Canyon...

My family viisted just before my 10th birthday, but we were on a longer trip and only spent a day there. Long enough to see sunrise and do a helicopter ride, but not to walk (or ride) down into the canyon. I was very, very disappointed. So the first big vacation I ever took on my own was a one week rafting trip down the Colorado river through the Grand Canyon. And I definitely got to see what was at the bottom of the canyon. Every bit of it.
Q.

Istanbul Airport

Just got back from a marvelous trip to Turkey, Kyrgyzstan and Greece. I have nothing but raves for Turkish Airlines, but Istanbul Ataturk Airport is awful. Overcrowded, not enough gates for the traffic, overpriced food, no free Wi-Fi, nowhere to sit comfortably, etc. Lots of free Turkish Delight at the overpriced duty-free stores however.
A.
Joe Yonan :

Thanks for the report!

– August 18, 2014 2:23 PM
Q.

Museum trip

I hope to do a Dutch painting trip within a year, with special attention to Vermeer. Key stops are Amsterdam for the Rijksmuseum, The Hague for Mauritshuis and a day or two in Bruges. I'd fly to Amsterdam. Any suggestions on the order of the cities? Should I plan to buy train tickets separately and once I get there or is it worth a railpass? I welcome suggestions about what else not to miss, when to go (bad weather and no crowds preferred to good weather and high season), what areas to look for hotels.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Geographically speaking, I'd go Amsterdam, the Hague and then Bruges (or vice versa). Just makes the most sense, north to south or south to north. If you have a fixed agenda with fixed stops, I don't think a railpass makes sense. You could probably go either way on buying before or once you're there. Check the timetables. I'm more of a planners, so if it were me, I'd lean toward buying in advance, but if you're a little flexible on times, you can do it there. (For more advice, here's a piece I wrote on trains in Europe.)

To avoid crowds, seems like winter would be the way to go.

The rest I'll throw out to the chatters.

– August 18, 2014 2:23 PM
Q.

Drought Impact on CA Vacation

I'm pretty sure this is a silly question, but just in case: We're vacationing in CA next month, driving the coast. I read the Post's story yesterday about the drought impacts. They won't run out of drinking water while we're there, right?
A.
Christopher Elliott :

I covered a major California drought when I was an intern at a large California newspaper back in the 80s. They will not run out of drinking water.

– August 18, 2014 2:27 PM
Q.

Suggestions for a day in Copenhagen?

Our return trip from Europe includes an overnight stay in Copenhagen (arriving early afternoon, leaving the next day at noon). This will be our first time there and we'd love any tips for things to see/do during our brief visit.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Here are ideas for 1224 and 36 hours in Copenhagen.

– August 18, 2014 2:27 PM
Q.

Parking in NYC Possible Solution

Have you checked out Parking Panda? I don't know if they service the area of NYC where you need to park but I just used them this weekend to park in DC. There are a variety of parking garages to choose from so you can select one that fits your budget/proximity to hotel. The rates are even cheaper than the daily rates at the garage and far less than hotel parking. Basically got 2 nights for the price of one by booking through Parking Panda. Very easy to use both for booking and checking out of the lot. The only downside is that at least our lot only allowed for 1 entry and exit during our stay but it allows you to put in consecutive days so you know the lot is good for overnight parking.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Great tip! I just checked out the site and it looks like Panda covers NYC.

– August 18, 2014 2:27 PM
Q.

Boston to Cape Cod

I'll be flying into Boston in October and then driving to Cape Cod. I noticed Plymouth Rock is along my route. Is it worth stopping there or is it extremely touristy? Do you have other suggestions for destinations along the way?
A.
Joe Yonan :

If you're really into the Pilgrims, sure, stop there! It's pretty interesting. But did you know that they actually landed first in Provincetown? As for other destinations, I have to admit that I tend to want to get to the Cape as quickly as possible, but I have stopped at Wompatuck State Park because I have hiked there with a friend who lives in Hingham. It's gorgeous.

– August 18, 2014 2:27 PM
A.
Becky Krystal :

When my husband and I were coming back from our honeymoon on Cape Cod five years ago, we needed to kill some time after we checked out of our inn and before we went to the airport. Somehow decided on the Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, just south of Boston. One of the best little detours we've ever made. The Adams homestead at Peacefield just gave me chills -- a lot of it original and just like John and Abigail would have seen it. We also visited the Adams crypt at United First Parish Church. Eerie in a very cool way.

– August 18, 2014 2:27 PM
Q.

OBX Bound

Family of 3, including a 1 year old, and we're heading down to Kitty Hawk for a week. We're thinking of leaving Friday night (7ish or so) from Alexandria, to hopefully avoid some traffic. As we can't check into the house until Saturday morning, where do you suggest we stop and stay along the way that is cheap, clean and safe? We figured if we can make it past Richmond perhaps, that might work. Open to city/hotel suggestions along the way. Thank you!
A.
Andrea Sachs :

I would definitely try to get south of Richmond. Maybe stay in Newport News or Hampton -- roughly the halfway point. There's no shortage of hotels in that area, including many respectable chains, such as Holiday Inn, Embassy Suites, Courtyard by Marriott, etc.

– August 18, 2014 2:28 PM
Q.

Where would you stay in Rome?

Hi, there. I am planning a trip to Rome for the spring and am looking for suggestions on good neighborhoods to look for lodging. I want to be within walking distance from some of the sights and near public transportation, but would prefer to be somewhere quiet/safe rather than right in the thick of a busy area. Ideas? Thanks!!
A.
Becky Krystal :

Chatters? Feel like we've gotten some good Rome recs from you before.

– August 18, 2014 2:30 PM
A.
Joe Yonan :

It's been way too long since I've been to Rome! Need to get there, and when I do I will probably use this Conde Nast Traveler piece as my jumping-off point. Lots of neighborhood intel here.

– August 18, 2014 2:30 PM
Q.

What counts as weather delay?

Last week, we were scheduled to depart out of DCA at 9am on Delta. We got a notification in the middle of the night that we were delayed 2 hours, so arrived a bit later at the airport and ended up boarding after those 2 hours. Unfortunately, we had to de-plane when the crew realized there was no First Officer. We were told this was a "weather delay" because flights from Atlanta had been delayed the night before and hence the crew had not had time to sleep. We eventually left DCA over 5 hours late, which caused us to then spend 6 hours in MSP before finally making it to our destination 11 hours late. The only compensation we asked for was passes to the SkyLounge in order to pass the time (we had first class seats, but domestic first class doesn't get access), but were not given those nor any other offers. Does not having adequate crew 12-hours after a weather event at a different airport really count as a weather delay? Is there anything we can do now that the trip is over (we did seek out a supervisor via phone and in person while waiting in the airport, but with no avail).
A.
Christopher Elliott :

I'm sorry that happened to you. I'm not sure if you're going to like my answer, but here it goes: It's a weather delay if the airline says it's a weather delay. I've asked the Transportation Department and the Federal Aviation Administration, and they don't run any kind of audit with any consistency on airlines when they report a particular reason for a delay. The reason can affect your compensation, although in your case, it wouldn't have. Delta could have, but was not required to, offer meal vouchers or drink vouchers for your delay. It gets a little more interesting on flights to Europe, where EU261, the European consumer protection law, requires cash compensation under certain circumstances. I don't think you would have a reason under Delta's own rules to ask for additional compensation.

– August 18, 2014 2:30 PM
Q.

Where in Europe for Christmas?

20 yo daughter will be studying in Spain this year and husband and I want to meet her Somewhere in Europe to spend Christmas. Dates will probably be 12/20-26. We will also be joined by 25 yo son. Husband and I spent a great Christmas in Barcelona a few years ago so want a new experience. Ideas that have occurred to me are Paris, Nice, Rome, or elsewhere in Itay. Greece? Not interested in London. Where would you go?
A.
Becky Krystal :

I still remember this article from Travel + Leisure about Christmas in Venice that I read a few years ago. Sounds pretty enchanting.

Other thoughts?

– August 18, 2014 2:30 PM
Q.

Solo safari in Africa

I have a business trip to Kenya and my only chance to do a safari is solo, with a reputable company (I'm female). They will pick me up at Nairobi airport, transport me to hotel, then take me solo to national parks. Is this reasonably safe? Anything I should do to maximize my safety? Thanks!
A.
Andrea Sachs :

If it is a reputable company, it should be safe.  However, I always feel better when other people are around. I assume that you are staying in lodges with other people, right? Will other people be on your safari? Or will it just be you and the guide? Is there an option to join other travelers on some of the expeditions?

In any case, make sure someone at home has all of your details, including your itinerary and lodgings. And check in with someone at home frequently. Also sign up for the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. And if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, listen to your gut.

 

– August 18, 2014 2:30 PM
Q.

Japan

Hi, Travel crew! Headed to Japan for two weeks over Thanksgiving. Right now the plan is to do Kyoto/Osaka, Hiroshima, Sendai area, then Tokyo. We'll definitely spent some time at an onsen. Suggestions for other sites/activities? As of now our daily itinerary consists of, "walk around, eat, drink, walk some more, eat and drink some more."
A.
Joe Yonan :

I know that daily itinerary well -- it's pretty much the one I follow everywhere I go. You can't go wrong with that one! Other thoughts: Temples galore, of course, especially in Kyoto. In Tokyo, the people-watching can't be beat, and you must head to the department store food halls. Of course, there's the Tsukiji fish market. I also had a great day at Spa La Qua.

– August 18, 2014 2:31 PM
Q.

Childhood nostalgia trip

As a kid, I was obsessed with the story of the race horse Phar Lap, and watched the movie about him a million times on VHS. Last year when my parents travelled to New Zeland, where Phar Lap was bred, and came across a statue in his honor. Of course, they bought up all the souveniers they could for me, so now I have a lifetime supply of Phar Lap pens! Some day I will get there myself.
A.
Joe Yonan :

I hope you do! Thanks.

– August 18, 2014 2:32 PM
Q.

Pacific Northwest Honeymoon

Planning to roam around Seattle and Portland for over a week this fall. Any can't miss places to visit? Interested in the outdoors (specifically running/hiking trails), sports, music, and the local beer scene. Thanks!
A.
Becky Krystal :

Fun! I visited Seattle in the fall a few years ago. Spectacular. Check out Discovery Park. Great views and hiking. You won't believe you're still in the city. For more outdoorsy fun, you can explore the San Juan Islands. Or take the ferry to Bainbridge Island. Really pretty. My other must-dos in Seattle include Pike Place Market (touristy, yes, but great) and Chihuly Garden and Glass. Here's a guide to Seattle beer from the tourist folks. If you like sports, see whether the Seattle Sounders or Portland Timbers are in town. Soccer is huge out there!

Haven't been to Portland (on my list, though!) but we've had two stories in recent years, here and here. The Portland tourism site also has a beer guide.

– August 18, 2014 2:32 PM
Q.

re cheapie BKK tickets

Consolidator fare restrictions are similar to those of the cheapest tickets that you would get direct from the airline--you just pay less for them because the consolidator gets a price break from the airline in exchange for a big volume of business. Those $3500 tix may be from a company which is really a mileage broker, kind of a grey area due airline programs don't officially allow members to sell their miles.
A.
Christopher Elliott :

Thank you for the additional insights. Spoken like a true insider. From my own experience, consolidator tickets can sometimes come with limits on changes (i.e., they can't be changed at all). It's definitely worth asking about restrictions before booking. And yes, you might also not be able to collect miles.

– August 18, 2014 2:40 PM
Q.

Disappearing Fare

I've been on the lookout for a good fare for Washington DC to Dublin this fall. Aer Lingus has been pretty consistent at around $875 from DCA through Boston. However, a couple weeks ago, one late night, I noticed a fare on USAir from DCA to Philadelphia to Dublin, and back via Charlotte. The price was maybe $750. I didn't act right away. The next morning, it was gone, and now USAir shows the same itinerary at $1,250. What happened? Did that fare ever exist, or was I having a dream?
A.
Andrea Sachs :

I am sure it did exist, though I do dream of low fares. It could pop up again. It's all about timing. You might consider signing up for travel alerts, so you know if/when the price falls to your desired level.  With summer winding down, airlines could offer a fall sale to Europe. Check our What's the Deal? column and the airlines' sites.

– August 18, 2014 2:41 PM
Q.

CA drought

They didn't run out of drinking water, but we did find that we needed to ask explicitly for water when dining out and there were signs EVERYWHERE urging people to conserve water.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Right. I was just there last week and did have one restaurant say they wouldn't give us water unless we wanted it. We did. Was also somewhat surprised by the fact that the two hotels we stayed at multiple nights changed our towels each day even though we'd hung them up.

– August 18, 2014 2:41 PM
Q.

Phoenix without car.

I have the possibility of arriving to Phoenix three days before an event that I need to attend…problem is: I don’t drive. I have visited the Grand Canyon before so I can skip that attraction. I love outdoors, photography, and good food but wonder if I will be able to move around relying on public transportation and if three days will be too much to stay in Phoenix without a car. I like museums but prefer sightseen particularly learn more about Native American sites and Im not interested in Zoos or shopping. I guess if I want to visit some sites I will have to join a tour? Any pointers from the chatters?
A.
Joe Yonan :

Between light rail, bus, cab and your own two feet, I think you'd be fine. Check out the public transportation system map here.  Now, I'm not so sure how you would get to the Native American sites (like Casa Grande), but maybe the chatters can help here!

– August 18, 2014 2:41 PM
Q.

Smoking and traveling

I am a non-smoker, so my comment definitely comes from that perspective. I have absolutely no sympathy for smokers who violate the rules and then have to pay the penalty. If you want to smoke, then make sure you book a hotel/car rental that allows smoking. If that isn't possible, particularly for car rentals, then just DON'T SMOKE. It is awful for those of us who follow you, since the cleaning either doesn't get done or can't be done well enough to completely remove all of the smoking smells. I know your column was about people wrongfully charged for the cleaning bill when they didn't smoke, but it triggered my memory of various times in my travels when it was clear someone had smoked somewhere where they weren't supposed to be smoking. A lot of smokers seem really aggrieved about the restrictions and therefore feel like it is no big deal to violate them. Arrgh.
A.
Christopher Elliott :

I have similar memories. I remember staying at a chain hotel in Arkansas with my family two years ago. We were on a "non-smoking" floor but the smoking floor right under us couldn't keep its smoke to itself. We tossed and turned all night, struggling to sleep in the smoke-filled air. The hotel didn't seem to care, insisting we were on a smoke-free floor and in a smoke-free room, so that wasn't their problem. I was unimpressed with their attitude.

– August 18, 2014 2:41 PM
Q.

cave painitings...

Not Texas. Europe. I've seen stuff in the American Southwest like Canyon De Chelly.
A.
Becky Krystal :
– August 18, 2014 2:41 PM
Q.

Finding literary roots in foreign cities

When I stayed for two nights in Rome last October, one of my goals was to find the haunts of the narrator for the Steven Saylor Ancient Rome mysteries. Doing so was hard to do because most of his stories happened in the first century BC during the Roman Republic, while most, if not all, of Rome as it exists now, was constructed during its Empire heyday. I searched for such places as the Subura, the Fields of Mars, and the Tarpeian Rock (where executions where held by pushing criminals off the rock into a ravine below) to no avail. However, I had some success, too: I visited the Roman Forum--the original one--which contained ruins of the Temple of the Vestal Virgins and their residence: these structures and the women who lived and worked there formed the basis for one or more stories in Mr. Saylor's anthology of his Rome mysteries, the "House of Vestals." For those folks in the audience who don't know what the Vestals were, they were girls and women priests who worshipped and worked for the goddess of the hearth: Vesta. Vestal priestesses came from Rome's nobility, the patricians; they came aboard as young as 8, 9 or 10 YO; spent 10 years learning the cult, 10 years working as priestesses, and 10 years in retirement from that work. Most importantly, they had to remain virgins; if they were caught with male lovers during the period they were working for the temple, they were tried and buried alive, while the men were allowed to be exiled from Rome. Well, enough history!
Q.

Travel from CGD to Paris center

Salut, Gurus. I will be hauling a baby from Charles DeGaulle airport to our hotel in the center of Paris. I don't want to take a car seat with me (so taxis aren't an option), and I've heard I can easily take a train from the airport to the city. How would this be accomplished, please?
A.
Joe Yonan :

See previous answer to the chatter who asked about a long layover, with links included to train info!

– August 18, 2014 2:42 PM
Q.

Re: PACIFIC NORTHWEST HONEYMOON

Drink beer in Portland, and hike in the Gorge. Lots of great hiking in and along the Columbia River Gorge. Everyone who is not biking will be out running in Portland - Washington Park offers some nice urban hiking opportunities, too. McMenamins properties offer both drinking and music - in inventive settings like an old school and the old county poorhouse.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Thanks for the tips for the honeymooners.

– August 18, 2014 2:42 PM
Q.

Where to Go in Europe

We're planning a couple of weeks in Europe next April/May, and are going to spend one week in Portugal, Lisbon and some posadas. Any suggestions for other locations we might spend 5-7 days? We've been to the standard spots, pretty much all of England, France, Spain, etc. Thoughts on Palma de Mallorca, Corsica, Sardinia or Sicily, none of which we've been to?
A.
Joe Yonan :

I've long had Sardinia and Sicily on my (ever-growing) budget list, so that's where I would look, personally.

– August 18, 2014 2:43 PM
Q.

For care-less travel

You might also want to consider using Uber while in Phoenix. May help fill the gaps between public transportation options.
A.
Joe Yonan :

Yes, of course! Thanks!

– August 18, 2014 2:43 PM
Q.

Parking in Manhattan

I use SpotHero.com to find parking in Chicago - they also serve New York (and DC!). You make a reservation and pay in advance; I've had no problems. There is a phone app to download if you want to make your plans on the fly, but you can also just use the web site too. I just did a quick check and found 24-hour parking in mid-town for $20. Be sure to read the restrictions on hours and in-out rules because they are different for every facility.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Great to know! Thanks!

– August 18, 2014 2:43 PM
Q.

resort reunion around March

It can still be pretty chilly in Virginia and along the Chesapeake Bay in March. I know from bitter experience, because our wedding anniversary's that month.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Something to think about, for sure. Sort of makes the case for one of the more southern locales.

– August 18, 2014 2:43 PM
Q.

PNW honeymoon

You arent going to have time to see it all. Seattle in 2 days you can see most of the sites in Seattle. Portland takes 1.5 days (weekend day preferred because of Saturday market). The rest of the time you need to be out seeing nature. Mt Rainier, St Helens, Olympic National Park (min 2 days), North Cascades (min 2 days), Columbia Gorge, Northern ORegon coast (Astoria-Cannon beach). You could do 2 days in Seattle, 2 days Olympic, 1 day northern Oregon Coast, 2 days Portland/Columbia gorge.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Whew. That sounds nice but also exhausting!

– August 18, 2014 2:44 PM
Q.

Disappearing fare

You might want to try clearing your cache and trying again. I don't know if this works, but I've heard enough people say it and there's no harm in trying it.
Q.

New Orleans restaurants

Follow Brett Anderson for the latest on New Orleans restaurants - he is a great resource. I really liked Brigtsen's, which is nowhere near the French Quarter but a lovely taxi ride through the Garden District and phenomenal food.
A.
Joe Yonan :

Yes, love Brett and his work. The chatter asked about new restaurants since the last time s/he was there four years ago, but I'll second the idea of Brigtsen's. A classic. Lots to eat (and drink) in NOLA.

– August 18, 2014 2:45 PM
Q.

Re: layover at CDG

For the person with the 7-hour layover at CDG in Paris: make sure you know EXACTLY where your departure terminal and gate are. The train from downtown Paris has two different stops at CDG terminals, and you will waste a lot of time if you don't know which one you belong in. This happened to me. Another time, during a layover in Brussels, I put my bags in a locker at the airport and took the train into town (a short ride). When I got back, the locker wouldn't open and I had to wait half a hour for someone to come unlock it. Leave yourself enough time for emergencies, you don't want to miss your flight.
Q.

Christmas in Europe

I spent Christmas in Paris one year and it was wonderful. Also consider Germany if seeing the Christmas markets is of interest to you.
Q.

Traveling with Jewelry

My mom's wedding and "everyday" jewelry is quite nice, so when she travels she wears fake replicas of the real ones and leaves the real stuff at home. If the stuff she's traveling with gets stolen, who cares? Except perhaps the thief when he/she goes to pawn it...
Q.

on rome

My brother traveled there a few years ago and he said Rome doesnt have as good public transportation than other cities so you need to try to stay as close as possible to the sites which tend to be near the Vatican.
A.
Joe Yonan :

All depends on what/where you really want to explore, don't you think?

– August 18, 2014 2:47 PM
Q.

Childhood dram made real

I saw a James Bond film as a kid which featured a chase in Meteora - the part of Greece with the monasteries built on top of mountain peaks. I became obsessed with going there and finally made it 20 years later, in 2011. I climbed up to all six monasteries open to the public. It was awesome.
A.
Joe Yonan :

Cool! That was "For Your Eyes Only," I believe, right?

– August 18, 2014 2:48 PM
Q.

Quiet Neighborhood in Rome

Last summer we spent a couple nights at the Aberdeen Hotel on Via Firenze near Termini Station. (It was close enough that we could roll our luggage from the station to the hotel.) There were a number of hotels in this area and it was definitely quiet. However, we were close to transportation and it was even close enough for us to walk to the Colosseum, Forum, etc., although that could be a bit of a hike for others.
A.
Joe Yonan :

Thanks!!

– August 18, 2014 2:48 PM
Q.

Africa...

For the Africa traveler: She apparently has at least her first hotel booked. I would ask the hotel about their recommended options for "safaris" (many people would say game drives). Many tour operators require a minimum number of travelers to make a tour worthwhile for them, and lodges have their own guides and rangers. So is she just paying for transportation from park to park, or private guide services or what? I would think that even if there's no real danger, spending several days traveling alone in a foreign country with one stranger could be uncomfortable. I'm a guy, and I wouldn't do it.
A.
Andrea Sachs :

Great points and insights!

– August 18, 2014 2:50 PM
Q.

Is Springsteen childhood?

Not sure what qualifies as “child,” but it was a long time ago and I was very young; but old enough to drive and everything important in life I was learning from Bruce Springsteen. I also had an attraction to lighthouses that may not be as obsessive as it was back then, but still lingers. So we were at Ocean City for Christmas and the day after we caught the Cape May ferry and drove to the light house at Sandy Hook New Jersey. From there we worked our way south on what we refer to as the Springsteen-Lighthouse tour. We saw the monumental two tower lighthouse at Navesink and the cool Victorian house at Sea Grit; but we also saw two of Springsteen’s homes, one of which is now a Church parking lot. The arcade/casino in Asbury Park and for the obsessive fan’s Madam Marie’s fortune telling booth. Of course we took pictures at the intersection of 10th Avenue and E Street in Belmar. We finished at the Stone Pony, where Jon Bon Jovi dropped in to sing some Christmas songs with his cousin.
A.
Joe Yonan :

Nice!

– August 18, 2014 2:51 PM
Q.

Anne of Green Gables

About 14 years ago my sister and I (both in our 40's) traveled to Canada to see the Anne's house. We had watched Anne of Green Gables on PBS when we younger and read the books and really wanted to see the places where Anne lived. We took two weeks and drove from Maryland to Prince Edward Island with stop overs in Portsmouth, NH; Bar Harbor, Maine. We took the ferry from Main to Nova Scotia and spent the weekend in Peggy’s Cove. We spent the day in Halifax seeing the sights and eating homemade ice cream. We took another ferry to Prince Edward Island and stayed at an inn right next to Anne’s house. We spent the next day at Ann’s house and walking the grounds recalling our favorite moments from the books. We took the leisurely trip home stopping in New Brunswick staying at an historic inn. Our only problem was on the way home from the Bay of Fundy--we had fog so bad that we could not see. We could go no more that 20mph while the local traffic was going very, very, very fast. That drive was the most stressful time that I have ever experienced. Still it was worth it to see Ann’s house.
A.
Joe Yonan :
– August 18, 2014 2:51 PM
Q.

We're planning a couple of weeks in Europe next April/May, and are going to spend one week in Portugal, Lisbon and some pousadas

How about the Azores islands? There are multiple daily non-stop flights there from/to Lisbon, and the weather's lovely that time of year (we were just there this past April-May!).
A.
Joe Yonan :

Sure!

– August 18, 2014 2:52 PM
Q.

Warm weather for New Year's?

Is there anywhere besides Key West and/or Miami that one can be assured of warm, beachy weather during the Christmas & New Year's time frame that won't end up costing upwards of $3K per person? We're not looking for 5-star luxury but we don't like all-inclusives and everything, including airfares, seems to be about double what I remember paying just a couple of years ago.
A.
Joe Yonan :

San Juan?

– August 18, 2014 2:54 PM
Q.

Europe at Thanksgiving

Some cities start with the Christmas markets at the end of November, so you may want to see which cities have those set up. That would be a lovely thing to do in late October. I would also add Berlin to Becky's list - I visited there in November a few years ago by myself and loved it.
A.
Joe Yonan :

Thanks!

– August 18, 2014 2:54 PM
Q.

Tattoos in Tokyo

I am going to Japan in about a month so I followed the link to the Spa in an earlier question. My travel companion has a huge tattoo down her entire side. How strict are they about that policy of letting people in with tattoos? Do you wear bathing suits in those spas?? Thanks!
A.
Joe Yonan :

Oh, interesting -- I didn't notice that policy, and neither my traveling companion at the time nor I are inked. If I remember, you can certainly wear a robe, but I didn't see anybody wearing a bathing suit when in the nude areas.

– August 18, 2014 2:56 PM
Q.

Helsinki

Suggestions for 24 hrs in Helsinki? Thanks
A.
Becky Krystal :

Lots of ideas if you just Google this. Here's one post from Rick Steves.

– August 18, 2014 2:56 PM
Q.

Copenhagen Follow-up

Thanks for the links to things to do in Copenhagen. Unfortunately, they are either very generic or are heavily focused on shopping (the "12-hour guide" is especially egregious). I live only a couple of miles from the Tysons mega-conglomoration and the LAST thing I want to spend time doing while visiting a new place I've never been to before is shop. Has anyone actually been there themselves? What did you do? What do you wish you had done? How did you get around? What did your visit evoke that makes it worth remembering?
A.
Becky Krystal :
– August 18, 2014 2:56 PM
Q.

Rome accommodations

I liked the pleasant Hotel Canova on Via Urbana. Not terribly fancy, but reasonable. Quiet street, but not far from the sites (except the Vatican). Breakfast is included and free Wifi in the lobby. Incredibly convenient area for walking, dining, a good gelateria. Not an upscale touristy area, but I felt very safe. Walking distance to the train station and the Colosseum area. Hosteria la Vacca is a wonderful gem of a restaurant on the ground floor of a hostel a couple of blocks away.
A.
Joe Yonan :

Thanks!

– August 18, 2014 2:57 PM
Q.

Goan travel / food question

Timely article on Goa! Recently I was in Palau (a small Pacific Island country) for business, and while there I dined at a fabulous Indian restaurant and had a delicious Goa Fish Curry dish. It was a paprika-colored sauce with coconut milk (though I doubt it contained paprika.) I've been googling recipes and can't find anything that looks right--does anyone have a good recipe for Goa-style curry with coconut milk? (This is when I'm grateful Joe edits the travel AND food sections.) If you find yourself in Koror, Palau, be sure to dine at the Raj.
A.
Joe Yonan :

I haven't made it, but did you see this recipe in the Guardian? Looks pretty good, no?

– August 18, 2014 2:57 PM
Q.

Drought

I live in Southern California. The lawns are thirsty; the people aren't.
Q.

portland

Don't go to voodoo donuts. they're adequate but just trendy. Check out pip pdx donuts. SO AWESOME. OHSU tram is neat. Depends - if you want to get out of town Mt Hood is about an hour away, the coast is an hour and a half away. wine country is almost everywhere. Go to the rose test garden, that's tons of fun. OMSI if you're into science. Mount tabor is the only active volcano in a city. It's where the uncovered reservoir they are constantly draining is. Take a ghost tour http://www.portlandwalkingtours.com/tours/beyond-bizarre-ghost-tour/ just hang out downtown (powell's was mentioned - it is truly amazing). Pittock mansion, audobun society. lots of paths/hikes in the city. food carts. they are everywhere. walk across a bridge or two. so much fun. do the 4 T http://www.oregonmetro.gov/sites/default/files/walk_there_portland_4T_trail.pdf
A.
Becky Krystal :

More for Portland honeymooners.

– August 18, 2014 3:00 PM
Q.

Cruising

I am planning on taking a cruise in November leaving out of Bayonne, NY, (Cape Liberty) From MD. What is the best way to get to Bayonne, NJ. THis will be a repositioning cruise, so the return will be from Port Carnivale Any suggestions.
A.
Becky Krystal :

Seems like you could take the train or bus to Newark and connect some way from there.

– August 18, 2014 3:00 PM
Q.

Chihuly Garden and Glass.

Chihuly Garden and Glass is expensive. I like his work and have seen quite a bit of it. This installation, however, felt overpriced - billed as a museum but really more like a commercial venture. I would not recommend it unless it'll be a person's first chance to see Chihuly's work.
A.
Becky Krystal :

It may be for many out-of-towners, like I was. I was happy to pay!

– August 18, 2014 3:00 PM
Q.

CPH

Copenhagen is quite compact and very easy to get around. I would just wander around the town a bit. There are plenty of travel resources on the web for questions like there. Check wiki travel's Copenhagen page for suggestions on things to see.
Q.

France to Switzerland

Going to be spending a week in the south of France (Toulouse) and then planning to visit a friend in Switzerland (Bern). Should I fly or take a train? Any can't miss attractions in either place?
A.
Andrea Sachs :

If you have time, take the train. But you'll need at least eight hours. Though the flights (based on a quick search) aren't very straightforward.

– August 18, 2014 3:01 PM
Q.

Follow-up to Warm-Weather Question for New Year's

What am I missing? Just checked Kayak to SJU and airfares are $900/person.
A.
Joe Yonan :

I guess that's why I used a question mark. Certainly wouldn't end up costing $3K a person, although it of course depends on just when you're flying and how long you're staying, etc.

– August 18, 2014 3:01 PM
Q.

Joe Yonan :

That's all the time we have today, folks, so thanks for all the questions -- hope we helped you today and that we inspired you, of course, to travel, and travel well.

Now for our little prize: It will go to the chatter who traced the steps of none other than 007, James Bond. Send your mailing info to Becky.Krystal@washpost.com, and we'll get you a little prize.

Until next time, happy travels, everyone!

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