The Tripologist: where should a family stay in Banff?

Seasonal stay: A winter streetscape along Banff Avenue.
Seasonal stay: A winter streetscape along Banff Avenue. 

MY HUSBAND AND I AND OUR FOUR CHILDREN, ALL IN THEIR 20S, ARE HOPING TO SPEND A WHITE CHRISTMAS IN BANFF OR SOMEWHERE ELSE IN CANADA. CAN YOU RECOMMEND AN APARTMENT HOTEL OR CABINS WITH A WEBSITE THAT WOULD HAVE THREE TO FOUR BEDROOM ACCOMMODATION?

W. DUNNET, NARRABRI

Apartment hotel accommodation is none too plentiful in Banff for six adults, and most would be an expensive proposition at Christmas time. Almost certainly you'll be better off going for an entire house, and HomeAway (homeaway.com.au) has several three- and four-bedroom properties in Banff as well as other towns in Canada's Rockies that will certainly deliver a white Christmas. Cottages in Canada (cottagesincanada.com) and Flipkey (flipkey.com) are a couple of other possibilities.

Thirst for fun: A bar in Barrio Santa Cruz, Seville.
Thirst for fun: A bar in Barrio Santa Cruz, Seville. Photo: Getty Images

WE ARE CRUISING TO HONG KONG VIA JAPAN NEXT YEAR. IS IT SIMPLE TO LEAVE OUR CRUISE IN YOKOHAMA AND REJOIN IT TWO DAYS LATER IN NAGASAKI? DO WE NEED TO PRE-ARRANGE TRAVEL ON THE BULLET TRAIN FROM YOKOHAMA TO NAGASAKI OR CAN WE BUY TICKETS AT THE STATION?

C. RIVERS, PORT MACQUARIE

Leaving your ship in one port and rejoining it in another is usually no problem for your cruise operator, but you will need to let them know in advance. As an Australian passport holder, you will have no difficulty in travelling freely through Japan. Yokohama to Nagasaki is about 1300 kilometres by train and involves three changes. Total journey time is 7½ hours.

While it's easy to buy Japan Rail Passes from outside the country, buying a point-to-point ticket is anything but. Therefore you will have to buy your train tickets at the station but this should not be difficult. In Yokohama, your ship will dock at the Osanbashi International Passenger Terminal. From here it's a short walk to Nihon-Odori Station, where you can catch a train to Yokohama Station. From there, it's a 12-minute train trip to Shin-Yokohama Station, which is where the bullet train departs. Alternatively, take a taxi from Osanbashi to Yokohama Station and begin your train travels there; this would be my suggestion.

MY WIFE AND I AND ANOTHER COUPLE ARE PLANNING TO DRIVE AROUND SOUTHERN AND EASTERN SPAIN FOR 10 DAYS NEXT APRIL AND WONDER IF YOU COULD SUGGEST PLACES TO GO. ALSO, DO WE NEED TO PRE-PLAN AND BOOK ACCOMMODATION?

D. ROBSON, BARRACK HEIGHTS

The southern region of Andalusia holds a special place in the heart for lovers of Spain. The capital Seville is a rich mosaic of tradition, atmosphere and extravagant architecture. By all means visit its cathedral and the Museum of Fine Arts, but absorbing its character involves midnight excursions to the city's bars, strolling the tangled alleys of the Barrio Santa Cruz and visiting La Maestranza, the world's oldest bullring. There is no better place to see flamenco than Seville, the city of its origins. Seville is also the gateway to the whitewashed villages of Andalusia. A highlight is Ronda, which clings to the heights of its gorge in the Serrania de Ronda Mountains. From here, you might head for Cartagena.

Next stop should be Barcelona, a city so celebrated it scarcely needs any introduction. In April, you can book hotels as you go.

Two sources you might consult are Sawdays (sawdays.co.uk) and i-escape (i-escape.com).

CONVERSATION

OVER TO YOU . . .

THE QUESTION WAS: "WHAT'S THE MOST ROMANTIC DESTINATION YOU'VE EVER VISITED?"

A. Sinclair writes, "An escape from friends and family during a European holiday, just the two of us for 10 days at Riva del Garda at the northern tip of Lake Garda, Italy. Surrounded by mountains and water, old world charm in the town, great food, wine and sightseeing and out of the tourist season. Perfect."

From G. Clarke, "At the foot of the Acropolis in Athens is an ancient amphitheatre. One night many years ago, my partner and I listened to a symphony concert there while above us stood the Parthenon bathed in light. Love was truly in the air."

"Lord Howe Island," according to S. Montague. "It was our honeymoon and we spent a week exploring palm forests and watching exotic birds and leaving footprints on lonely beaches. It was heaven, and just what we needed after all the dramas of the wedding."

"Venice, Valentine's Day, quite a few years ago now," writes A. Bailey. "I'd been working in Europe for several weeks and my partner flew out to meet me. We stayed in a gorgeous little B&B on a canal close to St Mark's Square. I remember dropping off to sleep one night with the doors open to our little balcony with the curtain wafting in a breeze, and from somewhere in the distance I could hear a violinist playing Vivaldi. All the 'V's in concert, you might say."

Next question: Dubai and Singapore are the two most popular stopovers for Aussies en route to Europe. Which do you prefer, or is there another favourite?

Send response to tripologist@fairfaxmedia.com.au. The best response will win a Lonely Planet guidebook.

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