WE'RE STAYING AT THE HATAY HOTEL ISTANBUL ON JULY 5 AT THE BEGINNING OF A 10-DAY TOUR. THE FIRST NIGHT IS FREE AND ALSO MY BIRTHDAY, SO WE ARE LOOKING FOR SOMEWHERE WONDERFUL FOR DINNER. CAN YOU RECOMMEND SOMEWHERE SPECIAL TO CELEBRATE A 40TH BIRTHDAY?
C. PIPER, GORDON
The place for you is the Tugra Restaurant at the Kempinski Hotel (see kempinski.com). This is one of Istanbul's finest Ottoman restaurants but the real attraction is the fact you're dining outdoors, right on the Bosphorous.
Contact the hotel ASAP, tell them the occasion and request a table at the very front of the restaurant, on the balcony that overlooks the legendary seaway. Allow about 20 minutes for the taxi ride from your hotel, but plan to get there well before dinner, and at least an hour before sunset, which happens at 8.39pm that evening, and take a stroll around the hotel's terrace on the edge of the water - it's luscious. Kick off the evening with a cocktail amid the palms at Le Fumoir, the better of the hotel's two bars, and you should book a special table here as well. Finally, mutlu yillar (happy birthday, in Turkish).
AS A FAMILY WE HAVE SEEN A LOT OF ASIA (BALI, THAILAND, VIETNAM, MALAYSIA), BEEN TO HAWAII, NEW YORK, BANFF, VANCOUVER, ZIMBABWE, BOTSWANA AND SOUTH AFRICA. MY CHILDREN ARE 17 AND 19 AND WE WANT TO TAKE THEM AWAY DURING SCHOOL HOLIDAYS NEXT YEAR, BUT NOT SEPTEMBER WHEN VCE EXAMS LOOM. WE ARE LOOKING FOR A REASONABLY PRICED DESTINATION WITH A BUDGET OF UNDER $3000 PER PERSON THAT WILL SUIT ALL OF US.
C. HOPKINSON, PATTERSON LAKES
One major omission from your been-there-done-that list is actually Australia. I'm assuming you're looking to travel in the July school break and the Top End is absolutely prime in mid-year. However I don't see those kids putting their hands up for a campervan holiday, and the sad fact is the connoisseur experiences that show the Northern Territory and Arnhem Land at their amazing best are outside your budget. Therefore I suggest Japan because no matter how much you've travelled, Japan is an eye-opener.
The kids can check out the weird street fashions on parade in the Harajuku area and admire the very latest electronic wizardry while you tour gardens and temples, and you can all compare notes while polishing up your chopstick technique over some of the strangest food that will ever pass your lips. As far as possible, eat and stay local style and immerse yourself in local culture and you'll have a deeply illuminating experience. The Japan Guide (see japan-guide.com) is an essential source of information and advice.
I'M A SINGLE WOMAN IN MY 30s TRAVELLING TO SPAIN WITH FRIENDS IN SEPTEMBER, AND I'D LOVE TO DO A SOLO SIDE TRIP TO SOME SMALL TOWNS IN SWITZERLAND. I'M INTERESTED IN MILD HIKING, THERMAL SPAS AND MARKETS.
A. KOSKY, NEDLANDS, WA
One of the best places to walk in Switzerland is the Bernese Oberland, which is pretty much the postcard version, amply furnished with lakes, woodlands, waterfalls and green hillsides dotted with some of the prettiest houses you've ever seen. Soaring in the background are the snow-covered peaks of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, names to drop among mountaineers.
Base yourself in Interlaken and take the short train ride to the village of Grindelwald, which lies in a glacier-carved hollow at the foot of the Wetterhorn with a view to the north face of the Eiger. More than 300 kilometres of walking trails unwind from Grindelwald, and although none are flat, there are plenty of short options. Switzerland has several thermal spas, but one of the best is Therme Vals (therme-vals.ch), in the Graubunden Valley, which is an architectural wonder, constructed from quartz quarried from the surrounding mountains.
OVER TO YOU . . .
The question was: "Got a travel wish-list, and if so, what's item No.1?"
"Myanmar," writes M.Donovan. "I've been longing to go ever since the thaw in relations and I've booked a trip for September to include Mandalay, a cruise down the Irrawaddy and Inle Lake. I'm now experimenting with a new camera bought especially to capture the experience."
P. Lim writes "I've been harbouring romantic notions of what the Arabian Peninsula is all about and I'm doing a tour of Oman en route to Europe in September. I'll be visiting date palm oases, desert forts, bazaars where live goats are traded by men with daggers in their waistbands and the coastal villages of the Musandam Peninsula - wonderful!"
From L. Enright, "The first time I saw a wildlife documentary on Antarctica I knew I had to go and I've signed on for a cruise from South America at the end of this year. The voyage also takes in the Falklands and the former whaling station of South Georgia, teeming with seals and sea birds."
F. Capraro writes "My grandfather came to Australia from Sicily. I've always wanted to visit the village where he grew up, and in 2015 that finally looks like happening. He has a much younger brother who still lives there who I've never met so that should be awesome, and I speak the same dialect."
Next question: Breakfast at a safari lodge with elephants in the background or dinner on Santorini watching the sunset over the caldera - what's the most amazing meal from your travels?
Send your response to firstname.lastname@example.org. The best response will win a Lonely Planet guidebook.