The Washington Post

Talk about Travel: A family vacation in Greece, remembering the Titanic in Belfast and more

Apr 16, 2012

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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.

Hello travelers. Hope everyone had a glorious weekend and has tons of questions to toss at us.

For today's topic, tell us about a trip back  to a place familiar and personal, one filled with family memories and lore. (For inspiration, see last Sunday's article about the writer's journey to his grandfather's Greece). Most moving and heartwarming story wins a prize!

Where do you suggest staying on Bequia?

I've not been to Bequia, an island that is part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but have heard that it's a fairly relaxed place with several smaller inns and private vacation rentals. Bequia Beach Hotel is one of the more upscale properties. Any chatters have a favorite place?

Do English language camps exist for foreign kids ages 9 to 12 somewhere in USA?

I know nothing about it, but a quick Google search brought up the Ojai Valley School in California. This is really more of a question for your local school system. I imagine the ESL/ESOL staff might have some ideas.

Have you heard anything about our credit/debit cards without chip andpin not being usable in Germany? We had the problem in The Netherlands last October but not in Germany. Have the credit cards company's had anything to say about it. Thanks.

I hear about American credit cards not being accepted in Europe from time to time. With some US banks now issuing these cards, it should become less of an issue. The credit card companies also have a number you can call when a merchant refuses to accept a valid card. Short of that, the only way to make sure it doesn't happen is to get a chip-and-pin card from your bank, if it offers one.

I want a romantic weekend for our 20th anniversary near Washington D.C. My husband loves casinos, so I was looking for recommendations. I also like to see shows, so if there is a casino that has those too, that would be great.

The obvious response is Atlantic City.  I would recommend staying off the boardwalk, at Borgata. Or try the newest resort on the block, Revel, which has a soft opening through Memorial Day weekend. 

I am not sure what you are looking for in terms of shows, but most AC performances involve comedy or music. (All of the major casinos stage shows.) For  Broadway-style theater or spectacles,  you need to go to Las Vegas.

Personally, I would suggest Mohegan Sun on the Connecticut shore. In addition to the beaches and adorable seaside towns, there are many regional playhouses, such as Goodspeed and the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center.

We are three ladies looking to travel to Tuscany to celebrate our 40th birthdays in nJuly of 2013. One of us is a teacher so that limits the time that we can travel. We are interested in horseback riding and cooking. We found a trip we like but are unsure about the company. Are they reputable? Will they speak English when we get there? Is there a company that is a better bet? Sincerely, Shelby Rothrock (

It would help if you would name the company you found. :-)

What lesser known destinations would you recommend visiting in Paris?

I love Malmaison, the little palace where Josephine lived after Napoleon divorced her. It's in the suburbs (Rueil-Malmaison), but you can take a bus/train combo to get there, or take a taxi, which is quicker and not too exorbitant. It's definitely off the beaten path, very few tourists. Also love the Hotel des Invalides, where Napoleon is buried; not really lesser known, but not hugely overrun, either. The Museum of the Romantic Life is also very nice and little known. And the Victor Hugo house in the Place des Vosges has long been on my list -- next trip!

Chatters please add your favorites.

Is it true that Orlando is a cultural wasteland?

Not  true.

Is it possible to buy an air/hotel deal and extend the time at the destination with a stay at another hotel, not part of the original deal? For example, I often see package deals for a 4 to 7 day trip to Ireland or France. As Old Fogues, the time change to Europe from the West Coast is horrendous for us. Once it took 2-3 days to adjust. That would leave only 2-3 days at the destination before we'd have to endure the reverse time change. Doesn't seem worth it. We'd like an additional week or so. Does any airline or travel agent offer anything like this?

Plenty of tour operators will provide trip extensions. And plenty of tours are longer than seven days. Yes, a knowledgeable travel agent can help you find the right tour. Another resource is the United States Tour Operators Association

I got a little behind in reading the transcripts, but the posters indicated these trips were far enough in the future that this might be helpful: Oklahoma - I'm afraid I don't find this state as interesting as others did. I have to go there regularly to visit family and always take lots to read. There is a new attraction, however, which we came across that I can strongly recommend: The Museum of Osteology in southeast Oklahoma City. It's run by a guy who cleans skeletons for a living. It was very professional, educational, and fascinating. Kentucky - We did the Bourbon Trail a year and a half ago. There is a B&B off the main square in Bardstown that used to be an old jail. The woman who ran it is a hoot. In Louisville, we were able to stay in the Brown Hotel, thanks to Priceline. It's a stop on the Urban Bourbon trail. Most of the restaurants associated with those watering holes had very good food. Nothing amazing to eat in Bardstown or Frankford sticks in my mind. Two tips (one of which I learned in this chat): Don't go in the summer when the barrel warehouses are very hot. And hit the free tour of the cooperage on the main road between Markers' Mark and Four Roses distilleries.

Thanks for the info.

Hi, Up until a few weeks ago, every Wednesday, I used to get the complete package, i.e. travel stories and the weekly travel chat. I am still getting the 'travel' Post on Wednesdays, but no chats and no link to the archives. Can you shed light on this? Thank you!

I suspect you're talking about our newsletter that goes out on Wednesdays. I sent your question to the person who does that, and she says she's been including the chat and archives links. It's possible there was a week or two when something was left out, I guess, when she was out of the office.

If it helps, you can always find our archives and links to upcoming chats here.

Hello. I'll be taking my first trip overseas in September to Barcelona. Yay! Any tips on the best time or sites to find reasonable priced airfare? I blinked and the prices jumped from the 700s to the 900s. Should I wait a little longer or bite the 900 dollar bullet? Thanks!

All surveys say that fares to Europe are going to be ridiculously expensive, with few dipping below a grand -- or even $1,500. If you see a fare that doesn't make you cry, grab it. Also, sign up for fare alerts.

The article about people getting sued for posting negative reviews of their vacation rentals was chilling -- and not in the good way that we all would like to "chill" today! Wow, confidentiality clauses on vacation home conditions? Yikes! How about if renters also post photos of what's wrong, to illustrate their reviews -- would that strengthen the vacationers' position or give the home-owner/rental agency something else to sue about? How about the reviews on Also -- What's next? Do I dare post an honest review of a salon that gave me a bad haircut, or might the salon sue me?

I was troubled by my findings, too. When I was working on my book about scams last summer, I encountered other businesses that require their customers to sign similar confidentiality clauses. They becoming popular among doctors, for example. I'm afraid we may be seeing more of this in the future. I would check your contract before you post any review of a product.

Want to do an overview of India. Has anyone done this on the train? How was your experience? Do you have a better suggestion?

Wow, India's a BIG country. Hard to do an overview in a single trip, I would think. But if someone has taken the train around the country, please help this chatter out.

Hi Travel Experts! Hubby and I were looking at resorts and noticed a few hotels with a AAA 5 diamond rating. What does that exactly mean? We did a wiki search and all it had was a sample checklist of what the property must have (i.e. closet with at least 10 hangers or some nonsense). Does a AAA 5 diamond rating really constitute luxury or is the qualifications purely physical (i.e. pretty propery)? The one AAA 5 diamond resort was $1k more than the nonrated (5 star) one. We were just trying to figure out if it was really worth the price difference.

I followed around a AAA inspector for a story and watched him seriously test and grade a number of  hotels, including the Hay-Adams. (a long-running four-ster). The inspector takes every facet (no pun intended) into consideration, from the hotel's physical state to the service to the amenities. In short, the hotels are supposed to treat you like a raja.

That said, I persoanlly see little difference between four and five diamonds; however, when you drop to three, two and one, you will notice a difference.

In Oct, 2011 I bought 2 round-trip tickets, through Travelocity, on Delta Airlines between Washington Dulles and St. George, Utah, with 1 stop in Salt Lake City. Travel would be in June, 2012, eight months later. On Mar 12, 2012 Delta changed the return itinerary so that the original non-stop from Salt Lake City to Dulles now included a layover and change of planes in Detroit. I paid for non-stop to and from SLC but now am not getting it on the return. Can they do that to me? Is there any recourse for me so that I eliminate this extra stop other than by sacrificing lots of money?

You have two options -- you can ask for a full refund and buy a new ticket, or you can take the rescheduled flight Delta put you on. You may also be able to persuade Delta to change your flights to more convenient ones by asking nicely. But to answer your question, unfortuately, they can do this to you.

we are going to Florida beginning of may, any suggestion of a nice, relaxed hotel, along a beach?

Florida's Gulf Coast  is a big area, offering everything from low-key family-friendly communities to upscale resorts. I'd take a look at Sanibel Island. There are plenty of small cottages right on the beach and lots of private homes for rent. Any chatter have a favorite place to stay?  

This summer, my family would like to take train from Paris to Venice. On the way, we would like to stop over at any lovely small or not so small place in France with a "castle" for bed and breakfast and to do a daytrip from there. We will have children and we will be traveling by train. Any recommendations? Thank you very much for your help here!

Check out this Web site, which lists 35 French castles that are open for business as B&Bs. There are photos, prices and contact details for each one. You'll have to do a little homework to find ones that are close to your train route, but this seems like a good place to start.  And, of course, your fellow chatters might be able to offer advice.

Hi there! While my daughter is in a five day camp in San Diego, I have the time to myself. I don't want to travel more than two hours away to avoid using all my time driving. Any suggestions? What would you do if you had this unexpected gift? Thanks so much!

I think you'll find lots to do in San Diego. Go to Balboa Park, where the San Diego Zoo is located; shop and stroll in La Jolla; go to the farmers' market in Little Italy; bike or walk on the boardwalk along the Mission Bay/Pacific Beach/Mission Beach; shop and eat in downtown San Diego's Seaport Village and Gaslamp Quarter; take a drive along the north coast through the beach communities of Del Mar, Solana Beach, etc.  A little farther from San Diego is Laguna Beach. If you like desert, Anza Borrego is a lovely place.  

The Concordia Language Village in northern Minnesota offers 15 world languages and attracts students from throughout the US.


I LOVE the Musee Marmottan-Monet. Its a small museum, on the edge of the Bois de Boulougne in the 16th. It wasn't at all crowded either of the two times I've been, and while it doesn't hold a lot of the more famous Monets, it does have the largest single collection of them. Its a little off the beaten path and a good 5 block walk from the closest metro, but totally worth it.

Thanks.  I hadn't heard of this one, so definitely less well known.

My husband and I want to go to Iceland summer, 2013. Do you know of any company or tour that would be good for us? We aren't particularly athletic. We saw one that used boats, but I get sea sick easily and am dubious about that means of transportation.

Anyone have something to recommend? You can browse the Iceland tourism site for ideas.

I would start with Icelandair's packages. The carrier has an array of air-land tours that cater to various interests and active levels.

I tried to send this while you were having technical difficulties so I hope I am not taking up your time twice. I have a military reunion in Deerfield, IL, in mid-August. I was hoping to use a free airline ticket I have from AirTran but they only fly into Midway and our hotel is a $30 cab ride from O'Hare. I am afraid the trip from MDW will be prohibitive. Do you or any of the chatters know if there is inexpensive travel between the two airports so I could still use my pass and then share the cab ride from ORD, or should I just save my pass for another trip elsewhere and pay for the flight from FLL to ORD?

If you don't mind a train ride (bring reading!), it's easy to get between the two airports on the L. Take the Orange line from Midway, and downtown switch to the Blue line to O'Hare. If you wanted to avoid the cab entirely, it looks like you can take the Blue to the Montrose station and from there connect to the Milwaukee District/North line on the Metra commuter rail. That will take you straight to Deerfield.

You can plan it out on Google Transit.

I find it amazing - in the best way - that a story on Belfast didn't mention The Troubles (and the recommendation for the Europa didn't mention that it's the most bombed hotel in Europe). Sometimes things do change for the better. (Note that not all of Belfast has such a reverent attitude towards the Titanic - a popular T-shirt says "She was all right when she left here!".

Thanks. Glad you liked the story. I must confess that the details box did originally call the Europa the most-bombed hotel in Europe, but we took it out, since there was, as you note, no other mention of The Troubles. (Love that T-shirt slogan, btw.)

You had a recent query on staying in Castles in Ireland. Please note not every hotel that has the word 'castle' in the title, is in fact an actual castle. As well as the Celtic Castles, look at Irish Castle Hotels. Another alternative is to go The Country House route through Hidden Ireland and Ireland's Blue Book accommodation:

Thanks for the tips!

We will be staying at Victoria Jungfrau in Interlaken Switzerland in mid-August 2012. Do you have any suggestions or comments about this resort and area?

Have not been to this resort, although the Interlaken area is fantastic, absolutely gorgeous. Chatters, anyone familiar with the Victoria Jungfrau resort?

Hello, I visited New Orleans this past weekend and Cartagena in December. They look similar but are culturally different. Cartagena has been in the news this week and it is a charming albeit hot city on the northeast coast of Colombia. Plenty of music, architecture, and food to explore. Hillary Clinton is pictured in the post at the wonderful Havana Club-an excelent spot for jazz just outside the walled city. I had the pleasure of attending the French Quarter Festival in New Orleans this weekend. It is a free festival with ~18 stages Thursday-Sunday with local area musicians of all types (we saw rock, blues, zydeco, jazz, and opera). We strolled the streets daily and enjoyed meals at NOLA, Herbsaint, and po boys from Verti Mart. This is the perfect place for a getaway to experience culture close to home. Go any weekend-it is always a joy.

Thanks for the report!

Skip the Louvre; go to the Musee d'Orsay instead.

Giverny. Very easy to get to via train. Monet's house and garden, which is interesting and lovely year round. A great American impressionism museum there as well, with wonderful cafe. Lovely little village to stroll through!

I think the chatter was actually looking for off-the-beaten path sights closer in and around Paris, but I agree that Giverny is lovely.

[I got an error message when I submitted this before, so I apologize if this was already received]. Since last July, several times a week I have been tracking airfare for RT WAS to LAX for the week of July 4th. It has been hovering at around $400-$450. I also had several alerts set up, but they never seemed to pan out. I was about to give up and buy the 4 tickets I needed, when I got another alert about a low fare with American. Without much hope, I went to Orbitz, and sure enough, they were showing the exact dates and reasonably good times at $309!!! Remembering your good advice, I bought the tickets on the spot. So - I ended up saving over $400. What I found interesting is that when I checked again a few hours later, it was back up to $420. I feel so lucky I was near a computer and was able to get that fare when I did!

So glad to hear that our nagging brings results! You have seats and confirmation, right? was listed in the original post. The company is Go Learn To.

Ah. I'm not familiar with this company. Chatters, thoughts on this tour company in Tuscany?

My husband and I recently booked a trip to the caribbean through Luxury Link for early June. I want to buy trip insurance in case of hurricanes or health reasons (I have a condition where I may not be up for traveling at that time). Can you recommend a company? It's hard to tell what is legit or not. Also, a lot of the policies seem to require cancellation at least 48 hours before. We bought trip insurance through a travel agent a year or so back and I could have sworn we coudl cancel up until the flight left and it wasn't that expensive. Do we have to go through an agent to get this? Any suggestions are appreciated!

Are you trying to purchase "cancel for any reason" insurance? Those policies may have cancellation time restrictions. Plus they don't cover the entire cost of the trip - there is often a hefty deductible. You can compare policies online at sites such as InsureMyTrip, QuoteWright and SquareMouth. If you're looking for a health policy, act quickly, as pre-exisiting conditions are typically included only if you buy your policy within a short period after reserving your trip. 

Remind people to clear their history and to change browsers, email addresses, etc. when searching for prices. It helps to have several email addresses and access points as the prices can and are adjusted on the fly. I reserved flights for my husband and when I went to reserve the same flight within two minutes of the first the price had gone up a few dollars.

That's not bad advice, if it works. The airfare differences can be caused by something called caching, but that is said to happen on the server side, between the online travel agency, the company, and the reservation system. But still -- if clearing your history works, why not?

Don't forget Coronado Island!

Yes, I stayed there a couple of months ago. Lovely, quiet location with beautiful beaches and the historic Hotel del Coronado

After two years of Portuguese language classes, I finally was brave enough 10 years ago to take my first trip to the Azores, where my father's parents were born. I'd begun emailing with a probable young distant cousin I'd located through his website (thank goodness for search engines!) -- and while his older relatives were unsure of exactly how they were related to one of my great-grandfathers, they were certain that we must be, owing to the surname and sparse population (archival research a couple of years later confirmed we were in fact 5th cousins). Despite a considerable language gulf on my first visit, the young cousin showed me some of the breathtaking scenery on the island; we stopped to meet numerous relatives (including the last of my grandparents' generation, an ailing elderly gentleman who died later that year), and then his mother graciously hosted me and two other cousins for dinner (a great honor). I'd drawn up, and brought them, family trees illustrating all of my relatives on that side in America, which they appreciated greatly as gifts. We've continued to stay in touch via email over the past decade, and I've visited them three more times since our meeting (fortunately, my Portuguese skills are improving). Best of all, I've gotten to meet the sister and mother of one of these cousins, who'd already immigrated to the US and live only a couple hours' drive from where I was born/raised (small world!).

What a wonderful family reunion!

You can easily stay in Reykjavik and book day tours through your hotel. Iceland is a very hassle-free place to visit and there are a ton of amazing day trips from Reykjavik. Icelandair has some great specials that combine airefare, a couple of day tours, and hotel, although their hotels tend to be a little off the beaten path.

Yup, I've been looking at a few of those myself!

We stayed at Chateau de Jonvilliers and it was so lovely! Slightly rustic, slightly artsy, completely French Chateau! It's a B&B. When we stayed a few years ago. The owners are a 30s-40ish couple with young children, so it's definitely family-friends. I would stay there again in a heartbeat! (I have no connection other than had a great stay there!). Info:

Sounds lovely. Thanks!

We are planning a trip to Europe this September either to southern England (Cornwall and south coast) or northern France (Brittany and Normandy). Although they are not far apart - we are wondering what the local weather patterns are in each area that time of year. Is one sunnier or at least less rainy than the other? Ideas of places to see and things to do would also be much appreciated. Thanks!

I'm seeing average temps in Cornwall in September as ranging from the mid-50s to the low 60s, while in Brittany/Normandy they hover around the low 60s. So that sounds pretty similar. Not sure about sunniness vs. rain, though. But September is usually a pretty nice month most places. As for what to see/do, in Normany there are of course the D-Day beaches, plus Mont St. Michel, Giverny and much more. I haven't been to Brittany or Cornwall, so chatters we will need your help there.

The person looking to exchange their home in Alexandria, VA back at the end of March could do worse than contact Joan Scales Travel Editor of the Irish Times by email. She answers specific questions every Saturday. This week's set of questions is here. Email: jscales@ irish-times. ie.


I'm afraid to stay at hotels ever since even expensive ones started getting bedbugs. Is there anything I can do to make sure a hotel is bedbug-free, and to protect myself from bringing any back?

The bedbug scare has waned substantially. In addition, the better hotels have tackled the problem by bringing in exterminators and keeping a sharp eye on any bedbug reports. When you book, ask the front desk about any bed bug complaints and whether the hotel has treated its rooms.  You can also check the hotel on this registry.

You can also be a smart guest and follow a few rules, such as: Don't put your luggage on the bed. Check the small creases in the bed for evidence of bedbugs. Seal your clothes in baggies. And once home, put your clothes in a hot dryer and keep your luggage in the garage.

There are some beautiful--and expensive--bed and breakfasts in Asheville NC. And now that word is out The Hunger Games filmed there and the cast stayed in some of them, it's hard to get reservations. Are there any other North Carolina locations with great B&Bs? Maybe we need to head away from the mountains and over to the beaches?

The beaches along the Outer Banks are always fun. Farther down along the coast, Wilmington has some very nice B&Bs, and it has the advantage of being a university town, so there are lots of cultural and recreational opportunities there, plus fairly quick beach access. I think it's a great place to visit.

If you are interested in Roman history, check out the Arenes de Lutece, a Roman amphitheatre in the middle of the 5th arrondissement of Paris.  Just go to Rue Monge, and enter at #47...right in front of you will be a first century Roman arena! Another good place is the Parc Monceau...beautiful, quiet, stunning gardens. Both were favorite places of mine to study when I was in sschool in Paris -- many years ago. I go back to both places every year,

Great ideas, thanks!

I am beside myself thrilled that I found this chat! I am going to Switzerland with an 11yo boy and a 15yo girl for several weeks. Our home base is going to be near Bern, Switzerland. We know Switzerland very well, but I'd like to make a few day trips (if need be overnight, but it is hard to house 3 in European hotels). We are going to Venice and have been to the big cities, but am looking for something, preferably in France or Germany because I speak the languages, that's fun for all of us for a day or two. We are not museum-friendly, sadly. Also, tell the teachers who want to go to Italy that they have a whole YEAR to learn Italian. My daughter and I are studying 15 mns a day and in 4 weeks we've gone through so many lessons and now can get by in Italian for very basic things.

Bolzano and the Italian Dolomites may be a good destination. Even though part of Italy, German is also spoken. I also love the Austrian Lake District

Coronado is a great little beach community, with a beautiful beach and nice restaurants, just over the bridge from San Diego. Palm Springs is about a 2-2.5 hour drive east.

Another vote for Coronado! As for Palm Springs, unless you like to golf, I'd stick with San Diego. 

What are the best areas to stay in while visiting Milwaukee? I was hoping to get a great deal on hotels in the downtown area, but alas the prices seem to be a bit steeper for the weekend I'm going. Any other areas that would be nearish the attractions, food and/or nightlife scene?

Our former writer Nancy Trejos suggested a couple of hotels in a piece she did on Milwaukee last year. They don't sounds too exorbitant (at least one of them doesn't). Beyond that, we will have to ask the chatters once again for their help.

My father served in WW II. He went to a Red Cross dance in Cambrai in northern France and was invited to Sunday dinner by a nurse. She lived with her cousins, and the older couple took Dad in as a son. They developed an enduring friendship. I became penpals with the nurse's daughter and, when I was 19, I went to Paris to study for a year. The nurse's family invited me to Cambrai on the weekends and I became the fourth child in their family. I got to the city park and immediately went to look for the butterfly made of flowers -- my dad had told me about it. I met people who had known my dad and could recite stories to them about their time with him. I knew which church had the Rubens painting. I knew where his airfield had been. Seventy years later our families are still more "family" than friends, haviing exchanged visits many times.

What a touching story!

My grandmother was from a teeny little town (Morolo) perched on the side of a mountain in rural italy. Many of my cousins still live in Italy, but mostly in larger cities and towns, and we had lost touch with any family still in Morolo. One day a few of us decided to take a trio there, and began walking around. It is not a tourist destination, so the four of us cousins began attracting a great deal of attention. Finally one old woman leaned out of her thrid story and asked who we were. We told her we were relatives of (grandmother's name) and she said something funny like "Oh yeah, she left for America about 80 years ago." (in Italian, of course) and we all laughed. She started talking about all my great aunts and uncles and shouted out for another old woman, who threw open she shutters, and we we were regaled with tales of our relatives... all from two old ladies hanging out of third story windows in a small mountain village.

 I see you found the town gossip!

Plan for rain every day, pretty much all year (except summer). It's just the way it is there.

Ah dear. So it's not all sunny all the time the way they make it look on "Doc Martin"?

I must 2nd the Musee Marmottan-Monet, it's a bit of a walk from the metro, but you can go through the sweetest park. Musee National du Moyen Age (Musee de Cluny) is pretty neat with Roman ruins, medival tapestries, a lovely garden etc. and is in the Latin Quarter, convienent to everything.

Try the Parc Monceau area with several small museums, including the Camondo house, the preserved mansion of a Jewish family with a very sad story. Or drink a bunch of absinthe and head to the Moreau Museum, very trippy.

Hi! My husband and I are looking to get away the end of May (26-30). Would like to be able to drive and bring our two english bulldogs along. Do you have any suggestions for location we are open to anywhere that is dog friendly for two lovable and behaved dogs?

Might be a little tougher since some places cater mostly to smaller dogs. is a good resource, as is Also check out our dog round-up from the other year. If they'll take your bulldogs, I highly recommend the two places I stayed, the Savage River Lodge and Inn at Meander Plantation. (Those are my two guys below.)


We're traveling to Medford, Oregon (closest airport to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland) in mid-September. Flights are around $625 (round trip, one stop, from DCA or IAD) now. Should we wait, or buy, keeping in mind that we really need to get one specific flights, to make our schedule work?

When you need to fly into a smaller airport on specific dates, probably not going to get a deal. That said, I'd keep checking for at least a few weeks before buying at that price.  Also, when you check the flights, you can see how many seats are left - if it looks as if your flights are wide open, better chance of snagging a deal. If they are nearly full, buy now. 

Many questions: How long do you have in India, have you been there before, what class do you plan to travel, how patient are you? Traveling in India by train is wonderful *IF* you have a lot of patience, are OK with schedule changes, are OK with close quarters and close interactions with others, have a lot of time, and are OK with eating random food. I lived in India for 2 years, and LOVED taking the train. But even given that I was over any kind of culture shock and traveled 1st class, I still limited my travel to anything 36 horus or less. Even in 1st class, bathrooms are challenging, food is challenging, and you're surrounded by people, bugs, and noise. But you can't beat it for seeing the sights, meeting great folks and having a wonderful experience. I would say that only the truly hardcore could handle a whole trip around India like that.

Thanks for the great advice.

Also in the Hotel des Invalides is an amazing display on the French Resistance. I don't know if it counts as "off the beaten path", as everyone seems to recommend it, but the Rodin Museum is not to be missed.

Yes I love the Rodin museum, too, but the last time we were in Paris (late last August) we had to skip it because of the incredibly long line to get in. So be aware.

You were almost right on the EL advice, but I would advise to take the Orange line from Midway, get off at Quicy and walk 2 blocks to Union Station to get the Metra to Deerfield. The reason is that all trains don't stop at Montrose station especially during rush hours. and for details.

I'd like to say, we stayed at the Hay Adams for our 10th wedding anniversary on the the 4th of July a couple of years ago, and I can't imagine what a 5 diamond has that they didn't. For example: we went outside to watch the fireworks for a grand total of 40 minutes and the room was beautifully cleaned (for the 3rd or 4th time) and we had flag cookied on our pillows when we got back. We thought we'd walked into the wrong room at first! All in all, everyone was super nice and it was not outrageously expensive at all!

I agree. I felt like a queen there, and I wasn't even a guest.

I feel as though I am in the old days of the chat... I need to keep refreshing in order to see new responses! Love you guys ANY way I can get you!

Yes, we've been working through some technical problems today. Thanks for hanging in there!

We walked through the lobby of the Victoria but that's about it. I think it's one of the most expensive, and probably largest hotels in Interlaken. We stayed down the road. That said, it's beautiful! For things in the area, the Jungfrau, of course. Be sure to dress for the top. Even if it's sunny when you leave, take sunglasses, fleece jacket, hat, gloves, wear sturdy shoes-it's cold and snowy/icy at the top. Investigate all the little towns around...Meiringen, Thun and others. Go to Gimmelwald (not Grindelwald), fewer tourists, and hike down to the Lauterbrunen Valley. Maps are easily available showing the hikes. A day in Bern is worthwhile, too. A rail pass is an excellent idea, you'll get a lot of use from it. Have fondue and white merlot! Have fun!

Great insights. Thanks!

The Picasso Museum, which has the added benefit of being in a fabulous neighborhood whose name escapes me right now....


Hi, everyone! For the past three summers, our family (mom, dad, two 12-year-olds, one 8-year-old) has spent a week at a family-run Lake George resort kayaking, hiking, fishing, swimming, river rafting, ropes climbing, and taking various day trips. Having exhausted the day trip opportunities, we need a new vacation spot, but the kids adore having a lake right at our doorstep for fishing and kayaking to the nearby islands. Any lake locations come to mind? We've been fairly spoiled in that this resort's kayaks, canoes, and sailboats are plentiful and come included with the cabin rental. Also, we've considered spending the last week of August in Oregon making a circle from the coast to Bend to Mt. Hood. It appeared to us that between the seals, aquariums, volcanic area, and the rafting near Mt. Hood that we could probably keep the kids happy and exhausted. Thoughts? Thanks! Kim

The Oregon trip sounds great. But should you decide to stay closer to home, have you considered the Finger Lakes? Not quite as far away as Lake George, and there are resorts that have canoes, kayaks and other amenities.

My 85-year old mother has always wanted to see the Grand Canyon. I've never seen it either so would like to plan for us to make the trip together. My mother is ambulatory but not for long distances. Where would be a good location for us? Is there a particular time of year that is best? We would fly separately and rent a car. Thank you for any insights!

The National Park Service has a Web page devoted to Grand Canyon accessibility. I'd start with that. She'd probably be most comfortable in summer. Take a look at the park service's page on weather conditions. 

I spent summers as a child in India. First of all, the train the poster mentioned seems to be some sort of private tour, and is definitely NOT an overview of India! It focuses on North India only. Which is fine, but just realize that. Also, not sure if this train will be better since it's privately run, but while train travel in India can be wonderful, there are some routes that are notorious for lateness -- and I mean 12 hours plus, not just minutes. Traveling around India generally is not easy to do in an efficient manner. If you really want to do it, six weeks minimum. Also, I agree about the previous poster's culture shock issues.

Thanks much!

My son and his future wife have chosen Vietnam as their honeymoon destination. They say it's changed since the 1970s, has all sort of natural and cultural sights to see, etc., but I frankly don't get it! Why would anyone ever want to go over to that place?? I didn't know many people personally who faught over there but it was such an awful time period and there are so many less controversial places to go. Can anyone explain to me what the draw is? Is it really safe like they say?

Two friends of mine took an around-the-world cruise a couple of summers ago, and when they got back I asked them what their favorite country had been. Without hesitation they both said they liked Vietnam above all others and would even love to live there. They said the country is beautiful, the people are friendly and the food is great. I'm sure other chatters will want to weigh in on this.

And we recently ran this Vietnam story. It does sound quite nice, and perfectly safe. Vietnam's still communist, but things have definitely changed since the '70s.

Thanks everyone for the inspiring hour, and thanks for sticking with us during our technical troubles.

Today's winner is the WWII story. I am a softie when it comes to veterans. Please message me at; include your contact info.

See everyone next Monday!

In This Chat
Carol Sottili
Carol Sottili is a former Washington Post travel writer, specializing in travel deals.
Andrea Sachs
Andrea Sachs is a staff writer for Travel.
Zofia Smardz
Zofia Smardz is the acting editor of Travel.
Christopher Elliott
Christopher Elliott writes The Navigator column, clearing the way through the fog of consumer travel issues. He is also National Geographic Traveler magazine's reader advocate.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is Travel's editorial aide.
Jane Touzalin
Jane Touzalin is acting deputy Travel editor.
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