Talk about Travel

Mar 14, 2011

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.

Hey there, chattering people! Happy Monday and welcome again to Travel Talk. I trust you all had a wonderful weekend and didn't forget to set your clocks forward to plunge right into daylight saving time. It gets earlier every year! I don't know about the rest of you, but I always experience a little "jet lag" during these time changes; takes the ol' bod a week or so to acclimate to the new rhythms. But anyway. Also hope you enjoyed our Europe issue yesterday -- giving you any ideas yet? In keeping with the theme, let's hear today about your most memorable European trips. Most unusual story wins the prize!

We're heading to Sicily next month. Does anyone have recommendations on restaurants or must-see attractions? Thank you.

Here's a Going Our Way from last year on Sicily. Anyone else have suggestions?

was a sunny week in Ireland in April with not a single drop of rain nor a scratch to the car after driving coast-to-coast. Now that''s unusual!

I would say so! Question is, though, was the car an automatic or a stick shift?

Hello Flight Crew, First, I enjoyed this week's articles on Europe. I'd love to rent a house in France one day! This summer I'll be heading to Germany for an educational opportunity. After the three-week course is over, my boyfriend will be joining me and we'll travel around the country to visit old friends of mine and sightsee. (He's a seasoned traveler but it'll be his first time in Germany.) Through his credit card, he can get a free companion ticket for international travel. However, it gets a bit complicated. We'd need to travel there separately so were thinking about getting separate one-way tickets there and then one-way tickets back together. Would this be do-able without becoming exhorbitantly expensive? In other words, would it just be better to get separate round-trip tickets? Additionally, he lives in Norfolk and I'm in northern Virginia so that's something else for us to consider. Thanks in advance!

I think you'd probably be better off buying round-trip tickets and saving the companion air ticket for another day. But you can easily compare your costs by pricing one-way and round-trip tickets online at a site such as Kayak.

Asking early because I'll be busy during the chat. My husband and I are headed to Ireland at the end of April and we're trying to put together a loose itinerary so we can start booking B&Bs (we'll be there during a holiday weekend, so I'd rather not wait till we get there). So far we know we'll spend our first two days in Dublin, and then from there I was thinking about hitting Newgrange, the Glendalough area, Rock of Cashel/Kilkenny area and the Dingle Peninsula. Not counting Dublin, we'll have four days with a car, and the above seems like something we could do in three days, leaving us with an extra day. Any suggestions? I'm not into the super touristy stuff, like the Blarney Stone, and I've heard the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry are actually only so-so, especially compared to Dingle. So, given all that, what would you guys do? We'd like to stick to the southern half of the country. Oh, and any tips on towns that have the best bars in these areas would be great - I'd like to stay near by so we don't have to worry about driving afterwards. Thanks!

You did see our Going Our Way on Ireland this weekend, right? It focuses on the southern half of the country. Don't think we mention anything about bars, though. Chatters?

I am currently working in Baghdad and my husband and I are planning to meet up with a two-week vacation in July/August. We normally try to avoid vacations in the middle of the summer because of hot weather and huge crowds, and are looking for ideas of what we could do to avoid both. We're open to going just about anywhere, but because of flights would prefer somewhere in SE Asia, Europe, or even back in the US - maybe California or New England. (My husband is in DC.) We are looking for someplace where we can do a lot of walking around and eat good food. We would like to stay in one place for at least one of the two weeks. We like the idea of renting a house or apartment for part of the time and would like the opportunity to do a variety of cultural/sightseeing/outdoor activities, along with just relaxing with pretty scenery. Any ideas come to mind?

Did you read our France story -- all about renting a house in the Dordogne for a week and using it as a base to explore cultural sites and engage in some outdoor activities as well. Personally, I'm panting to go there/do that. So there's one thought. Let's tap into the chatster pool for more. Ideas, people?

Hi - Yesterday's travel section was timely as I am planning a trip to Ireland in late June. While our group has a house rented in County Clare for one week, we (3 couples, 2 young children) will be starting with a few days in Dublin and have yet to book lodging. Your article mentioned the Best Western Academy Plaza hotel, but we are more interested in b&b's. Do you have any centrally located reasonably priced b&b's to recommend? Thanks!

So glad that our section matched up with your travel plans (you lucky duck). I don't have any specific properties to recommend, but there are some great B&B sites out there that you can peruse. Such as: B&B Network Ireland, which also lists self-catering properties and cottages for something a little different. The Dublin tourism office also has an assortment of properties on its Web sites.

I read your "Going our Way" Ireland tips and thought I'd add a few more. I studied abroad in Dublin in 2003 and know the country pretty well. First of all, great tip on renting an automatic. My parents came to visit and we thought we'd be fine with a stick, since my dad prefers to drive one anyway. The result was that he got very stressed trying to shift with his left hand, took random exits out of roundabouts, yelled at everyone and my mom ended up in the back seat not speaking to anyone while I tried in vain to navigate. It ended up taking about 8 hours to get to Galway. Speaking of which, I would make a point of going to Galway, it's a gorgeous artsy town. From there, I would visit the Aran Islands. Inishmore is probably my favorite place in Ireland. Take a pony-cart tour of the island and hike up to Dun Aengus. Then visit a pub at night for some of the best trad music you'll hear. The Aran Islands are one of the few places where they still speak Irish in Ireland and you will hear the local language wherever you go. I don't remember if there are any hotels on the Island (probably in Kilronin) but the b&b's are first rate. I also wouldn't skip Blarney Castle. The castle itself and grounds are actually very pretty and worth the trip (more stark than Bunratty). Plus, it's fun to lean backwards over the wall while a worker holds your legs to kiss the stone. I've done it twice. Locals will tell you that people sneak in at night to pee on the stone but that is hopefully just an urban myth to scare the tourists. In Dublin, the hop on hop off bus tour is a good way to get to the main attractions. The city centre is quite walkable but the bus system can be difficult to figure out and some of the attractions are a bit of a distance from each other. Another fun thing to do is to make sure the locals tell you the names unofficial names for the various statues around town. Also, make sure to visit Temple Bar in the evening, as there is always a lot going on there. And if you actually want to shop and not just look around, Henry Street has more affordable options than Grafton Street. For a gorgeous ride, you can also take the DART train south to Dun Laoghaire and Bray, which are cute seaside towns. Or take it North (although the views aren't as pretty) to Howth, for some pretty great hiking. The Hill of Tara and Newgrange are also interesting sites within a short drive of Dublin.

For those heading to Ireland -- great suggestions.

My trip was memorable because we spent time in Paris, Aix en Provence, Madrid, and Barcelona. My partner was working, so I ran around and saw lots of museums, parks, landmarks, etc. It was a wonderful way to see several different cities. Also, when I was leaving Aix en Provence, when I got to the airport I discovered that I had made a mistake on the flight date from France to Madrid. My ticket was for the next day! I don't speak much French, so I was in a bit of a panic because my parter had gone ahead to Italy for the day, and she was going to meet me in Madrid that night. I threw myself on the mercy of the ticket agents, and after a tense half-hour, they said they had room on that day's flight, and I could use my ticket a day early. Phew!

yes, phew!

I am interested in visiting various cities in Italy. But, do not wish to pack/unpack every 2-3 days in order to see more than one city during my visit to Italy. Are there any Italy tours that take you to more than one city, but allow you to stay in the same hotel each night? Thanks.

One tour company that comes to mind is Orfino Tours - You stay in either one or two hotels for the entire trip and then venture out from there. I'd also look into a cruise - for example, Norwegian has a Western Med trip on the new Epic ship that travels round trip from Barcelona, but makes three stops in Italy.

I'll be flying to Barcelona in September and connecting at Heathrow International. is there still a carry-on restriction of 1 personal item onboard, or does that apply to only British Airways? Thanks for the reply.

Each airline sets its own rules. Which airline are you flying?

BA, for instance, allows one piece of hand baggage plus a laptop or handbag. Click here for the dimensions.

For economy international and inter-Europe, Air France permits one standard bag and one accessory (handbag, notebook computer, camera, etc.). Best to check the airline's Web site before you pack and go.

Where should I stay in the Flagstaff area? I'll be there two nights next week (after a Phoenix conference then a Grand Canyon visit). Been to Phoenix/Scottsdale before but never northern AZ. Woman traveling solo. I'll have a car. Thinking 3 star range for hotel. Flagstaff sounds like fun, but will the train be blasting me awake all night no matter where I stay within town? Restaurant recommendations also welcome. Thanks!

How close to Flagstaff do you need to be? Head north and you can check out the View Hotel in Monument Valley. G0 south, and you can hit up Sedona. Anyone else with digs to recommend in Flagstaff?

My most memorable European trip was one to Norway. We flew into Svalbard, boarded a Russian scientific ship -- still not allowed in US waters because it was once a spy ship. We circumnavigated the archipelago, saw an eclipse of the sun from north of the 80th parallel. Saw a number of polar bears, including a mother and baby. Back in Norway proper, we spent time on the Lofoten islands, then took the Hurtigruten (ferry) to Gieranger, then back to Oslo by ferry, bus and train. Wonderfully scenic trip. My only disappointment was that there weren't any ice bergs, only bergy bits. Guess I will have to go to Newfoundland or Greenland for them. Or Antarctica!

Sounds fascinating!

We are trying to plan a summer vacation with boy/girl 15 year old twins. We were planning to take them to Europe for the first time but they are skeptical about going. Based on flight costs we are looking at Dublin (the cheapest place to fly to) -London-Edinburgh (still not sure on how to get from Ireland to England) or Madrid-Barcelona-someplace in the south of France. My son in particular is particularly uninterested in Ireland and they are both concerned that no one in the family knows Spanish. What sounds like a better vacation for teenagers? What are the things we could do that would interest them most? Is there a particularly great European itinerary for a family with teenagers? They have seen and enjoyed most of the major American cities and are the least interested in seeing "the beautiful countryside" since after "an hour or so you have seen it all." For what it is worth my wife and I have already been to London so while we are willing to spend a few days there we want to do something else as well. Thanks for any thoughts and advice. If it helps we will be traveling in late August for 10 to 14 days with a total budget of about $15,000.

Part of me feels like telling you to stop caring so much about what they want to do, as you're the ones who are paying for it. But I once took an unhappy teen on a trip to England, and he did his best to make sure no one had a good time. At one point in London, he told us that he would jump off the Tower Bridge if we dragged him to one more cathedral. So, why don't you ask them to come up with ideas? Maybe they'd prefer doing an inn-to-inn hiking tour of the Dolomites or taking a Med cruise or doing a driving tour of Spain's Costa Blanca coast. Or maybe you should just go to San Diego this year and save Europe for their high school graduation trip.  

Does anyone tip flight attendants and pilots? I just don't remember seeing anyone ever do it. Is there a "protocol" for such things?

Hmm. This is an interesting question. From my understanding, airlines generally don't encourage tipping because the attendants are not to be considered flighting waitstaff but people whose primary job is the safety and security of the passengers, and for the pilots the safe and efficient operation of the flight. Having said that, I saw this from a few years ago, in a piece written for Budget Travel by an anonymous flight attendant:

Tipping is not encouraged by the airlines, but greatly appreciated by the staff. The key is insisting that we take the money; we're not allowed to accept it on the first attempt. I make doubly sure to attend to the needs of anyone who has tipped me, sometimes throwing in a free round--and the drinks are always strong. Another way to the crew's heart is to give them snacks. Day in, day out, we stare at the same dull airline food. So we're overjoyed when a passenger treats us with fancy chocolates or even packaged trail mix. Simply wait until boarding is complete, hand the gift to a flight attendant, and say, "This is a little something for your crew."

Personally, I like the idea of leaving a gift -- which would come across as an extra thank-you for a job well done -- rather than cash, which seems to encourage that flying waitstaff idea.

I'm sure others have other ideas about this -- what do you think, chatters? Tip or no tip?

Headed to Philly for a long weekend with 3 teenagers. Not exactly history buffs, but they're adventurous foodies, they like theater and art, and love to shop, like most teens. Any suggestions?

The foodies will probably enjoy any of the restaurants listed in Tom Sietsema's Postcard from Philadelphia. They might also be curious to sample some of the vegan fare detailed in this recent Escapes. I don't think you can go to the city without checking out the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The teens might also like a train tour of the Love Letter mural project, as detailed in this Impulsive Traveler. I know you said they're not history buffs, but I hope they might be willing to make an exception for the very cool Secrets of the Silk Road exhibit (if you're going by March 28).

I will be going to Europe for a quick visit next week and wanted to know the best way to handle currency changing. A friend said they always pre-purchase a "Cash Passport" at Travelex, which then gives them a Visa card in euros for the equivalent of what they paid in US dollars. Do you know anything about that company, or if that is actually the best way to handle it? Thanks so much for your help, and the great chats. Loved yesterday's articles!

I tackled this issue last year. Here's my article looking at the various options for exchanging money. I haven't used the Cash Passport. Any chatters have experiences with  it they'd like to share?

Leaving the kids in the hotel (shhhh, don't tell) and going out for a date night meal in Philly. Any suggestions? We'll be in Center City.

I love Osteria, Marc Vetri's casual restaurant on N. Broad Street (No. 640). Or check out this Postcard from Tom on some other eateries in town. And of course we want to hear from you, chatters!

Thanks for the piece on Ukraine yesterday. The general area is on my list. But I wonder how easy it is for a solo traveler with no knowledge or Cyrillic, Russian or Ukrainian to get around?

That is a good question. It can be somewhat daunting, no doubt, but I do believe more and more people are learning/speaking English so that it's easier for Westerners now than it was in the past. But let's ask someone who's been recently. Folks?

Hi. My two sisters and I are spending several days in Charlottesville the 3rd week in April. Any must see's, must do's (tours, restaurants, etc.)? Thanks.

We've got you covered on eats: For eating tips, check out the piece we ran in Food awhile back, and get thee to Albemarle Baking, Mas (below), C&O, Hamilton's, and more. Make sure to get to Barboursville vineyard.

And for 9 other things to do in C'ville, read this Travel piece: Monticello, UVA, Montpelier, Ash-Lawn, downtown mall, and more. (It actually is headline "10 things..." but one of them is C&O, which I've already mentioned.)

Have fun!


I spent a semester at the University of Edinburgh inScotland. A few days before classes started in January the group I was with was scheduled to do a weekend in the highlands. A huge blizzard hit and we ended up snowed in at the camp we were staying at for a few extra days, then the bus go stuck in a little tiny town that had pretty much closed up for the season. The locals kindly opened the local pub so we could eat and drink and the guys stayed in the rooms above while we girls were put up in various houses for the night. An adventure I'll never forget!


online with AA that one can avoid a $150 change fee? When I got my confirmation via email I had book the wrong return day, when I made the change online, it was no fare difference only $150.

Once you purchase a ticket on American, there is no grace period. But the airline does allow you to hold a reservation for 24 hours before you have to pay.  Some airlines, such as United, do allow you to make changes within 24 hours without charging a change fee.

I'm flying to Southeast Asia this week. 14 hours on one plane, then a 6 hour layover, then another 7 hours in another plane. Any advice on how to rest in an uncomfortable environment? And is the Oryx Lounge at Doha airport worth the $40?

Oh my. That's a lot of time on a plane. Andrea wrote a great story about sleeping on planes. She talked to experts who gave their tips on how to get rest in such a small environment. I think you'll find it useful. I've never been to Doha airport so I can't tell you what the Oryx Lounge is like. Online, it says there's food and beverages, a business center, showers. For $40, I might spring for it. Anyone out there been to the Oryx Lounge?

Dear Travel Crew - Last Sunday (3/6) I had to travel from Dulles to Savannah, GA for family reasons. As it happened, I was also on crutches, having had foot surgery on Friday morning. My experience at Dulles both outbound and inbound (rude skycaps, inadequate means of getting me from the tarmac to the aircraft & vice versa, etc.) was so incredibly awful that it literally brought me to tears both times. This was a temporary situation for me and I wouldn't have flown at all if it hadn't been absolutely necessary, but I shudder to think that, 20 years after the Americans With Disabilities Act was signed into law, airlines literally have no training in how to work with disabled passengers. The question is, was this the fault of United Airlines or Dulles Airport, and to whom to I write to express my displeasure over the shabby way I was treated?

This is a great topic (I'm actually working on a column about it). It sounds to me as if United was largely to blame for your experience. Each airline has a special services desk that handles requests from passengers with special needs. If you had contacted United before your trip, you might have been able to avoid a lot of the headaches of traveling with crutches. By the way, I'd be interested in talking with you about your experience further. Please send me an email, and I'll see what I can do to help.

going to spain on my honeymoon. we didn't plan the honeymoon til after we got married, cause i thought it would be a lot of work. we found a great travel agent, who got us some great hotels in great places. but the big highlight was in madrid. I had emailed a synagogue in madrid asking about the services they would have, and got contacted by a young man at the synagogue who then invited us to his friend's house for friday night dinner. it was great. and in true spanish fashion we didn't start dinner til close to 11 and stayed really really late. even though it was late when we left...well, the streets were packed even that late. The next evening we met up after sundown, and hung out until we had to leave - it was getting late and we were getting tired! it was a great weekend.

Any trip that involves an invitation to someone's house for dinner is a success, in my book. Always love that.

Not mainland Europe, but culturally European: Portugal's Azores Islands, in the mid-north Atlantic Ocean! First time I went was by myself (middle-aged female) to meet distant cousins I'd located online when I began researching my family's genealogy, as well as to practice my Portuguese and just generally do the tourist thing on five other islands (nine total). I took more than 1,500 photos in three weeks, of people, buildings, scenery, and got them developed as I went, so I could show/tell with locals and tourists I met along the way. Met a priest on an inter-island flight, who invited me to his village's "festa" the next day (a holiday), where traditional Holy Ghost "sopas" (bowls of broth over crusty local bread) would be served free outdoors to the entire community. Became friends with a then-member of the Azores President's cabinet, who was staying at the same hotel on government business; he's also poet, and I wound up co-translating one of his books with a friend, which was published in a bilingual edition here a couple years ago! Have been there several more times, and still can hardly wait to go back again.

Wow, sounds decidedly memorable.

Are we crazy? We were thinking of planning a trip to Utah in August to hike, raft, rappel, etc. in Utah's national parks. Will it be too hot? Also, if we revise the plan and head to California instead, are there national parks that you'd recommend that we visit?

I don't think you're crazy. It'll be hot, but not unbearable. And much depends on exactly where you'll be in Utah. It's going to be hotter in Moab than Park City. Same goes for California: depends where you go. Yosemite National Park is lovely, but it'll be crowded in summer.

we almost missed them and that would have been a huge mistake. they are incredible. i would completely not miss them. ring of kerry was awesome and fun, but i could see not goign. a friend of mine in ireland also thinks galway is fantastic - but we didn't get there.

was an automatic. But it was a Euro minivan . . .and have you ever driven on those shoulder-less, windy roads lined with rock walls where virtually any speed goes? Veeery scary.

Nope, never have, but I believe you!

Last Thursday, I was flying back home from Singapore via Narita. Our connection was very close at around 3:30PM and, while standing in the security line, I said to myself that I wanted to miss my flight so I'd get a night in Tokyo. I'm glad that I made my flight.

Yes, I'd be deeply grateful.

Hello! Can the flight crew or any chatters weigh in: I will be in Dublin, Ireland for a conference in June. I will have some evenings free to explore Dublin, but also a full day free to tour other parts of the country. Are there any recommendations for itineraries, must-see sights, or even specific tour groups? I'm leaning toward visiting the Cliffs of Moher. Other ideas? Thanks in advance for your help!

Please refer to all the answer above!

Spending Saturday in Miami before heading out on a cruise on Sunday. Anything we shouldn't miss while we are there? Restaurant recommendations?

Get thee to the beach! South Beach is tons of fun. Great beach, fun restaurants, bars and clubs. Also check out Little Havana. If you're not into the beach, you can check out the Monkey Jungle, Coral Castle or Vizcaya, a historic estate. The Design District is also interesting. As for restaurants, AltaMar has good seafood, Michy's is Michelle Bernstein's place, Buena Vista Bistro is good. If you're just looking for a great sandwich to take to the beach, go to La Sandwicherie. I'm sure others out there have their favorite Miami restaurants. Please share!

I had an awful time finding the chats today. Hate the new design.

You should go over to Raju Narisetti's chat about the new design right now and express yourself -- be specific!

My family was doing a month-long whirlwind tour through Europe when my father got a kidney stone on the train from Bern to Rome (my brother and I, on the train, had both gotten sick earlier on the ride as a result of eating at a filling German restaurant). We were offloaded at Padua - my dad first, then our family following. With none of us knowing Italian and no one at the hospital knowing why we were there, my brother broke out his middle school Spanish, saying "mi padre!", which broke the ice. My brother, sister, and I spent the night with our mother sleeping in the deserted hospital waiting room, taking turns sleeping on a gurney that a member of the staff had wheeled in. We spent one recovery day in Padua, then headed to Paris the next day. During the planning of the trip, my sister's main highlight was wanting to go to Rome. In the twenty years since, both my brother and I have made it back due to work or vacation. She has still never had a chance to go, and she's still very bitter about it.

But what happened with your dad!?!

My lovely boyfriend will working at NATO all summer, and I'll meet him in Brussels in mid-August. We have about a week to travel and I need HELP with an itinerary! If it was up to him, we embark on a European military history tour, and if it was up to me, we'd stay the whole week in Provence. He's well-traveled, but willing to see things over again and I've been to the major metropolitan cities: London, Paris, Florence, Rome. Where should we go? Touring French countryside? Denmark? Germany? Ideally, we'd pair a few days of exploring with a few days of staying in one city. Would love to hear your ideas, as well as from the group.

If you opt for France, you could combine your idea of staying in the French countryside with a side trip to Normandy to satisfy the military history buff. And in Belgium, Brugge is very nice.  I am also fond of the Italian Alps and the Austrian lake district.  Any ideas from chatters?

any suggestions for our spring break trip to punta cana? we're going with two kids, but can put them in the kid's club during the day... (i mean, besides the usual ...)

If you are staying at an all-inclusive, pick one with endless activities. The Iberostar chain has lots of properties in Punta Cana with a long list of activities, such as sailing, tennis, water polo, yoga, etc. When I stayed in Punta Cana, I tried to go out on my own, but it's not really a place for independent wandering. Instead, you can set up tours either through the hotel or a tour operator, or hire a cab. Some ideas: Indigenous Eyes Ecological Reserve, Uvero Alto Ranch or Rancho El Diferente for horseback riding, Manati theme park, Punta Cana Ecological Park and the Casa Ponce de León museum. You might also consider a day trip to Santiago, the capital. You'll find rich history, museums, shopping, dining and sports -- a nice break from toasting on the beach.

I was studying abroad in college and spending a few days in Prague. My American friends and I wanted to watch the AFC championship game and heard there was a bar in Wenceslas Square that was showing the American football games. We walked in, and I saw a large 68 on the wall. Then I glanced up at the sign: Jagr's Bar. Then I walked in and saw hockey regalia everywhere. Being from Pittsburgh, Jagr is one of my all-time favorite hockey players and we randomly stumbled across his bar. (Sorry, Caps fan, he was ours first!) I was in my glory and took tons of pictures to show to everyone back home. A true (female) sport-lovers' dream!


Is there a nation on this planet that bans motorcycles? I have a phobia I guess of those things. Our neighbor has one. When he isn't reving it up in his backyard; he goes back and forth, back and forth the street as loud as he can. I just want to find a place that is quiet, peaceful and relaxing.

I don't know of such, but there are certainly many, many places where you can stay far from any busy roads and therefore motorcycles.

He was fine after recovering (he did the driving from London up to Edinburgh less than a week later). Thanks for asking!

Whew, good to hear!

Hi all, I'm heading to Cancun for a week in late April. Are there vaccinations that I am required to get before I travel? Thanks

Not required, but some are recommended -- ones you may have already had.

I am interesting in taking my grandma (late 70s) to Poland this year as she's a 1st generation immigrant who has never visited. Grandma is old but not frail, so hikes and raves are out, but days with mixed walking and sitting would be ideal. Any ideas of what to see and do?

When you say first-generation immigrant who has never visited, do you mean her parents immigrated and she was born here and never visited. Or she came over when young and has never gone back? Either way, I imagine she might have some ideas of what she'd like to see and do. Where in Poland did her family come from? That might be the first place she might want to go back and see. But beyond that, you should definitely try to hit Warsaw, Krakow and the mountain region in the south, the most popular town there being Zakopane. No strenous hikes for grandma, but she can ride the funicular up the mountainside and a wagon up to Morskie Oko, the spectacular glacial lake that's definitely worth seeing.

Other thoughts, chatsters?

Going to Paris, will be staying in the 3rd Arrondissement. What's the best way to shuttle between there and Charles DeGaulle Airport? Is a cab prohibitively expensive (will be tired upon arrival on a red-eye flight)? Is there a website with info re taking public transport (Metro?) between the 3rd Arrondissement and the Universite de Paris-Nanterre campus, where I'll be attending a conference? Merci!

Try the official transit site and also look at Paris by Train. I think it's fairly simple to get from the airport to the 3rd Arrondissement via the RER B train. 

If you have the chance take in a sheepdog trial. Nice way tos spend a day. the trials have vendors and some of the larger ones you cna pick up some interesting things. But nothing beats watching a dog and human work together as a team moving sheep around the course. Other attendees will explain what is happening and most important the trials usually have a beer tent.

Love it. Thanks.

I'm thinking of hitting Italy in October or June. I have two questions: 1) is there a huge difference in prices b/w the two months as far as flights, hotels and other activities go? 2) Is it late October/early November too cold? Thank you in advance for your response. Love the chats! Note to Editor: it's now impossible to find the discussions page on the opinions page. Why can't there be a link that states clearly "Live Discussions?"

I'm going to take parts 2 and 3, and leave part 1 for airfare guru Carol!

2) Weather: It depends on where in Italy you're going, but in central Italy the weather in late October/early November should have highs in the mid to upper 60s and lows in the mid-40s to mid-50s. Sounds nice to me!

3) The website redesign puts a big box about live discussions on the main home page, on the right just below a box about the redesign. It's pretty prominent, but it promotes in big type one featured chat a day (right now, that's the one with Raju Narisetti about the redesign itself), but there's also a link that says "See schedule of all upcoming live Q&As."

(You can -- and probably should -- bookmark this page!)

Re: airfares, it's typically cheaper to fly in October than in June. You'll probably save at least $200 if you go in October.

Of all the recent natural disasters, the earthquake in Japan is hitting me especially hard. Last year we spent our honeymoon walking the cherry blossoms of Tokyo, Kyoto and Hakone. Seeing landmarks surrounded by smoke and videos of the tsunamis makes me appreciate this one-in-a-lifetime trip that much more. We're thinking of you, Japan!

Yes, we are!

Any suggestions on fun things to do during a weekend Richmond, in addition to the museum featured last Sunday? Any restaurant or hotel recommendations? Suggestions for civil rights or African American history? Thanks.

Here's a relatively recent piece we did on food shopping in Richmond, which includes suggestions for restaurants (including the must-eat-at Comfort). As for lodging, you can't go wrong with the Jefferson.

The Jefferson's a bit pricey, so if you're looking for something that's a little less, I like the Linden Row Inn.

And for eating, the Tobacco Company or Sam Miller's  in Shockoe Slip are favorites.

Not saying when you're going, but you might want to hit the Picasso exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, and perhaps check out the Richmond Slave Trail, a walking trail chronicling the history of the slave trade in Virginia. We'll be doing an Escapes on that soon, so keep any eye out! And there's lots of other Civil War history -- visit the Confederate White House and the Museum of the Confederacy, or check out the many monuments to Southern generals on Monument Avenue.

Maybe 15 years ago I had time on my hands and travelled solo to Portugal. After some time in Lisbon, I decided I would go around the country by taking the first intercity bus leaving my current city after I got to the bus station. Fabulous experience, saw many VERY interesting things in small town bus stops along the way. I recommend it to everyone who has more time than money.

What a great adventure. Traveling by bus anywhere is a thrilling ride.

My husband and I are looking for a small beach cottage in Maine (Kennebunkport, maybe? but we are flexible) to rent for a week this summer, and are having trouble finding something good. Do you have any tips for finding great home rentals? I've used VRBO and Homeaway and I think they're okay, but what I'm really looking for are great agencies that can help manage the experience for you. It seems really hard to find such listings or reviews on the internet, especially for smaller places. Any suggestions for how to find good home rentals?

Check out Sand Dollar Real Estate in Kennebunkport, an agency that handles rentals (and sales) all along the coast there.

Avoid any restaurant with tourists specials in English. Learn enough Italian to know pollo is chicken, sugo is tomato sauce and vongole is clams. Ask locals where they eat. Eat where the locals eat not the tourist. You order a liter of white wine, some aqua minerale and some pasta. Its incredibly hard to get bad meal in Italy if you avoid any place with a menu in English.

Yep, this is true in many places!

I missed the first week of my senior year of high school to attend the 60th anniversary party for my great-aunt and uncle in the Netherlands. My mom was born there and was taking me for the first time. I certainly don't remember all the family members I met, but I'll never forget the trip.

Lovely, thanks!

First, for the chatter spending the third week of April in C'ville: Garden Week is April 16-23, so if that's the week you'll be here, check it out: Second, since Carol mentioned a driving tour of the Costa Blanca and that's what I'm doing next month, does anyone have any suggestions? Taragona and Valencia are on the agenda, but that's as far as I've gotten in planning. I'm starting from Barcelona.

Thanks for the tip.

Re: Costa Blanca, I love this part of Spain. Head to Moraira and Calpe - I'd skip Benidorm unless you like to party with young Brits.

I was in Quebec for a conference recently. Why is it that if even if they do speak english, they refuse to say a word in english?

Because they're proud of their language and their culture. It can be infuriating if they're rude about it, I know, but put yourself in their shoes: Don't you pretty much expect visitors to the US to at least try to speak English? You may have tried to speak French when you were there, and if so, good for you, but plenty of Americans just expect the whole world to accommodate them, you know? And don't return the favor to visitors here.

The chatter who had an awful experience flying with crutches should take heart - she's not alone. My wife blew out her knee skiiing at Jackson Hole a couple years ago, and the Jackson Hole TSA people were horrific. They took away her crutches and made her walk through the metal detector, then physcially inspected her knee bandages, while my wife yelled in pain. They simply couldn't accept that an obvious ski injury in a ski resort was actually just that. On the Brussels people looking for a week trip in August, how about doing a driving loop down through the French countryside to Geneva and then back up? You can visit WWI sites, get in one of the great cities of the area, see Lake Geneva and the Alps, then come back up into a bit of Germany and the American WWII military cemetery outside Maastricht. Something for everyone.

I'm surprised that the TSA in, of all places, Jackson Hole, wouldn't be sympathetic to someone with an obvious ski injury. There's a way to screen someone with a broken or injured limb without causing them even more pain. Maybe TSA needs to revisit some of its training procedures.

...check out B&B's on Trip Advisor. Choose the town where you want to stay, then on the left hand side of the screen will be "Places to Stay". From there, you can choose "Hotels" or "B&B's". You can read the various reviews and then look at the B&B website yourself for more info. I used this book all my B&B's in 2009 and they were all good choices. I have just finished doing the same for our upcoming trip in May. Also, for the person looking for something to see on their extra day in Ireland: If you want to see cliffs, but not crowds, I have heard that the cliffs at Kilkee in County Clare are as spectacular as the Cliffs of Moher, but a lot less crowded. Also, you might enjoy visiting the Burren to see the unique landscape and some prehistoric burial grounds, etc. Look at the area between Ballyvaughan and Corofin.

Great advice. Thanks!

was like traveling to europe.....

LOL. Maybe we need to offer GPS services to help people find the chat? MapQuest? Google Maps? Or start a chat-agent service.

I would recommend renting a car in Brussels drive to Luxembourg CIty via Bastogne (for the military history buff) and then continue on to Trier and through the Mosel Valley. The Mosel region produces most of the world's Riesling, and in the summer there are wine festivals in many of the small town along the river, with carnival rides, food, and fireworks. Along the river there are numerous castles, tons of vineyards, and great B&Bs and inns. I took the same trip 4 years ago and can't wait to go back!

Yes, I love the Mosel Valley. Don't miss Burg Eltz!

Where can one find info re planning a trip to Poland and Ukraine for the Euro soccer, I mean "football," championships in June 2012?

For info on the matches and tickets, you can go straight to the UEFA Euro 2012 Web site. As for hotels, etc., you might want to consult a travel agent, as I imagine demand will be pretty high. Maybe some chatters are already on this?

I've only been to Europe once, when I was fourteen years old, as a member of a school trip with my best friend's school. After four days in London, we took the ferry to France, staying the night in a tiny coastal town. The girls in my room and I ended up staying up all night talking and then sneaking out of the hotel to go to the beach (just across the street) to watch the sunrise. I'll never forget huddling together with those five girls (that I had just become friends with on that trip), sitting on a sea wall, watching the sunrise. We successfully snuck back into our room, but then promptly overslept our alarm and almost got left by the bus! For years now, I've tried to figure out what that tiny town was, so I can return as an adult to really appreciate it. One day!

Hope you find it!

I've never been to Doha, but I did spring for a similar deal in Singapore and it was essentially a business class lounge - nothing special, but a good use of money for the shower if nothing else (you also may be able to sleep on the chairs if you have a longer layover and you fall asleep easily). Make sure you bring a media device if the in-flight entertainment doesn't work, as well as an eye mask and some earplugs. Turn on the media device, put on something low-key, and you'll have as good a chance as any to snooze.

Great advice. Thank you.

Hi all! Can you offer any guidance on a reasonable fare from DC to Lima, Peru in June? Or is there a website that can do the same? Thanks!

I would check the usual suspects, such as TripAdvisor FlyerPower and Kayak (I see Copa has fares from $795 in June --not a bad price). Also sign up for fare alerts. And check TravelZoo, SmarterTravel, etc., for airline sales to South America. For example, American currently has a sale on flights to Latin America. Book by March 25 for travel starting  June 15.

Been there in August...depends on what time...early or late. Late August will be cooler than early August. Because of elevation, places like Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Zion can be a tad cooler. Moab will be in the 90s. Rememmber all of this area is a dessert so having water is a high priority. In Moab what you would want to try and do are hikes in the early morning and evening and then in the mid day go into Moab for lunch and shop and maybe schedule one of the afternoon boat tours where youll be on the water.

Thanks for the extra details.

I haven't been so many times that the trips are blurring together, but the best was probably the first: three weeks in the UK with my parents, to celebrate my graduation from high school and their 20th anniversary. We started in London, staying in a small B&B - basically, the owners rented rooms in their row house - with a "pet" pigeon named Percy in the back garden. We did the usual sights and some day trips, then off to the gorgeous Lake District, Edinburgh, Inverness, and back to London, all by train, always staying in B&Bs (but no others with resident pigeons). Except for one day, we had beautiful sunny weather. Couple more days back in London at an actual hotel (4 stars but some cheapo package deal, so teeny-tiny room), with a day trip to Southampton to visit a college roommate of my mother's whom she hadn't seen in 30 years. That was a special day, meeting this very nice, proper lady (and her husband) from my mom's wild youth.

Lovely, thanks!

I just got back from living in Ukraine for 2 years and from my experience travelling there without some basic knowledge of the language is difficult. There are a fair number of English speakers in the cities in Western Ukraine (especially Lviv) so if you just jump over there from Poland for a few days you should be fine. You could also probably get by in Kyiv with a little patience. If you have the time, I'd suggest becoming familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet and learning some basic Russian (for travel in the south, east, Kyiv or Crimea) or Ukrainian (for the west or Kyiv) before taking a trip to Ukraine. As a host of the UEFA 2012 soccer tournament, the country is making efforts to ease travel logistics for English speakers, but that's still a work in progress. Good luck!


I'm not the person who wrote to you about the chat being hard to find but I took your advice and posted at the other chat as you recommended! I hope it gets easier to find again because these chats are my favorite part of the WashPost site!

We're with you!

I live near Vienna, and for a minibreak my roommate and I decided to fly to Italy to visit my cousin near Naples. We had to fly into Bari on RyanAir to get the cheap flight. In Bari, we rented a car (we had asked my cousin, and she said if we were adventurous enough, to try to drive). We had several amazing days on the coast near Naples, and then drove to my roommate's grandmother's birthplace, in the middle of nowhere. I didn't even know there were such desolate, isolated places in all of Europe (and I've lived in different parts for the past 7 years). We drove and drove and drove and finally found the village on the top of hill overlooking miles and miles and miles of countryside with nothing but trees and hills. It was beautiful, but kind of creepy, like maybe a horror movie location. But it was a beautiful, beautiful medieval village and everyone was lovely to us. I'm pretty sure they don't normally get a lot of tourists! I don't think I'll ever forget driving for hours through rural Italy, though, convinced we were lost. The best part was that it had gotten dark, we hadn't seen any good road signs, and suddenly the road we were on turned into a dirt road! But we made it.

So glad, thanks!

When I was there, most people spoke English if you didn't speak French. And everybody was really friendly.

I don't doubt it! I just called a hotel there yesterday and after answering in French, the staffer was very quick and friendly about switching to English.

Be extremely careful and read thoroughly the Terms and Conditions re Baggage allowances, for the person flying into Dublin and onto UK with any local airlines. (Aer Lingus, Ryanair, Aer Arann etc) Strictly enforced number of bags, size and dimensions of bags, and, most of all, weight.

to the chatter thinking they had an extra day in their 4 day car itinerary - I would caution you that driving from place to place takes quite a bit longer than you might expect. I agree Dingle is much more interesting than the ring of Kerry. For another town that has wonderful food and bars, Kinsale is beautiful. Since they're going a bit north to New Grange, I'd leave Kilkenny off, go down to Kinsale and spend whatever remaining time on Dingle. have a great trip

It is worht the drive - Cressing Temple Barns in Essex, UK

My husband and I love this show. and can't help but notice that no matter what, at least once a season (sometimes, more than once) the racers have visited someplace where a natural disaster is occurring. like, um, last night's race was in tokyo. they were in australia where the show was aired right after the earthquake...and it seems to keep happening! what is up with that?

We'd have to ask the producers! Maybe they have some sort of weirdly negative sixth sense.

With reference to the Going Your Way Trip to Ireland for family of 4 adults, a couple of comments. Automatics are way more expensive in Ireland than manual, although I appreciate their convenience and comfort for US folks taking on Ireland. On the question of B&Bs, I notice the family involved wanted to stay in hotels. For those who want a slightly cheaper option, but, not a confined B&B, look to purpose built guesthouses or larger B&Bs that are more akin to small hotels. More often found in tourist areas outside of cities. Somewhere like Heaton's or Pax Guest House in Dingle, Co Kerry. One further warning re car rental in Ireland: get the Super or Excess CDW insurance which covers windshield and tires and is not covered by the ordinary CDW. You can get it a daily rate from the car rental company, at their counter. Or, there are many, mostly, UK companies which deal only in Excess CDW, which essentially covers the deductible. You do pay upfront if anything goes wrong and then claim back subsequently. An example would be insurance4carhire. They also have a wonderful information booklet online. On Day Trips out of Dublin, The Cliffs of Moher are a long day from Dublin with not much time at the cliffs themselves. Newgrange, Co Meath or Glendalough, Co Wicklow or Kilkenny would make more sense, timewise. Check out Bus Eireann and look at Day Tours, although the summer timetable is not available as yet. Also Irish Rail do a few day trips by train. Where can I find the past Travel Chat posts on your newly-laid-out web site?

Our lists of previous articles and chats should be migrating over at some point in the near future. But for now, here's the chat archive.

And thanks all for a great chat -- and in making your way to us, despite the somewhat confusing new route in. Hopefully we'll all get accustomed to the new Web design soon! Meanwhile, the winner of our prize today is the person who stumbled into Jagr's bar in Prague. Send your contact info to me at and I'll dispatch your prize soonest. Thanks again, all. Till next week.

In This Chat
Flight Crew
The Washington Post Travel section is your source for narrative tales and practical advice about journeys far and wide -- from weekend trips to the Eastern Shore, to two-week jaunts to the Far East -- plus consumer news, penny-pinching strategies and deals galore.
Recent Chats
  • Next: