MY HUSBAND AND I ARE TRAVELLING TO SOUTH AFRICA IN MARCH. WE PLAN TO VISIT PLETTENBERG FOR FOUR DAYS THEN DRIVE TO CAPE TOWN. WE HAVE ALLOCATED TWO DAYS FOR THIS TRIP. WHICH IS THE BETTER ROUTE, INLAND VIA OUDTSHOORN OR THE COASTAL ROUTE?
S. VECCHIO, THE PONDS
The inland route is definitely a happier choice. Take the Garden Route which runs along the coast from Plettenberg west as far as George, then head north to Oudtshoorn, which wears the proud title "ostrich capital of the world!", then take Cape Route R62 all the way to Cape Town. This is a scenic and far more attractive alternative to the busy N2 highway, which travels closer to but not exactly along the coast.
The R62, also known as the Mountain Route, takes you through some rugged mountain scenery but also vineyards, orchards and several historic towns. You can find plenty of information on what to see and do and accommodation recommendations on the R62 official website (route62.co.za).
I'D LIKE TO TAKE MY 15-YEAR-OLD SON FOR A HOLIDAY IN NEW YORK CITY IN 2015. ANY TIPS FOR TRAVELLING SAFELY TO CATCH ALL THE SIGHTS, AND WHERE TO STAY? WE WERE THINKING OF CLOSE TO TIMES SQUARE AND WOULD LIKE TO KNOW SOME NOT-SO-OBVIOUS MUST-SEE EXPERIENCES.
G. STORE, WERRINGTON COUNTY
Safety is something you really don't have to worry about in NYC. It's mannerly and polite and a long way from the mad, bad old days. My wife spent two weeks there in July and felt no sense of danger, even travelling around on the subway at 1am. Manhattan is going to be a better place to look for accommodation than Brooklyn, but Times Square would not be my pick. It's bumper-to-bumper crowded.
My choice would be somewhere south of the Flatiron District, with Union Square, the East Village, Greenwich Village, Little Italy, Nolita, Soho and Tribeca all as potential candidates. If you don't mind a squeezy room, an all-time bargain is The Jane (thejanenyc.com), a former sailors' hostel in West Village, within walking distance of Union Square and Greenwich Village. Room rates start from $106. A more upmarket choice is the Ace Hotel (acehotel.com), a hipster hangout at the heart of Little Korea and just south of the Empire State Building. An apartment would give you more room and would allow you to save on meals.
Check Fine Stay (onefinestay.com). As for secret treasures, my list would include The Frick, a lox bagel at Zabar's, the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park, Central Park, Eataly, the Guggenheim, the 9/11 Memorial, and walking the High Line - by night as well.
WE ARE LOOKING AT A SAILING HOLIDAY IN THE WHITSUNDAYS FOR TWO WEEKS EARLY IN 2015 AS A FAMILY OF THREE, POSSIBLY SHARING THE BOAT WITH ANOTHER FAMILY. WE WANT TO CREW THE BOAT OURSELVES AND WOULD LIKE TO FIND REVIEWS THAT HIGHLIGHT THE COSTS AND GOOD AND BAD POINTS.
D. MAXWELL, RATHMINES
There are plenty of bareboat charter operators in the Whitsundays, including Whitsundays Rent a Yacht (rentayacht.com.au), Whitsundays Escape (whitsundayescape.com), Sunsail (sunsail.com.au) and ISail Whitsundays (isailwhitsundays.com). If you Google "Tripadvisor" followed by the names of each of these operators in turn, you'll find all the reviews you could ever wish for, highlighting the good, the bad and the in-between. Regarding costs, you'll need to check the website of each operator. The bareboat cruising scene in the Whitsundays is highly competitive and although prices vary a lot, you can be confident that you'll get what you pay for.
CONVERSATION OVER TO YOU . . .
THE QUESTION WAS "DUBAI AND SINGAPORE ARE THE TWO MOST POPULAR STOPOVERS FOR AUSSIES EN ROUTE TO EUROPE. WHICH DO YOU PREFER, OR IS THERE ANOTHER FAVOURITE?"
According to A. Noel "Yes, Dubai! The airport alone is worth it, the largest fancy-dress gathering in the world. Choose a small hotel then make for the gold souk but take your sunnies, it is literally dazzling. When did you ever find yourself among shoppers glamorous in their long white robes and Lawrence of Arabia head-dresses and beautiful women in long black jellabas and impossibly high-heeled Manolos at the huge shopping mall? And while you are there, buy yourself a big ornamental bottle of scented oil such as you have never smelled before, all mysterious and Eastern. Go girl!"
E. Sayers writes "Two-and-a-half hours queuing to get out of Dubai Airport, then another couple of hours' wait at the hotel to get into our room, not a happy start. Dubai itself is a monument to consumerism with its extravagant shopping malls but prices no better than at home. Every tour stops frequently to try to persuade you to shop but the stop with the quality artefacts and handicrafts is a perfunctory toilet stop, while the delay at relatives' shoddy goods places lasts forever. And then an inconvenient airport experience to get out of the place a couple of days later. The contrast with the efficiency and options in Singapore could not be greater."
From R. Silber, "We have enjoyed three recent European Christmas holidays with two- night stopovers on return leg. Twice in Dubai (So exotic and different!) Once in Hong Kong (return trip after two decades ... wow!) This year we are stopping over in Abu Dhabi. Good to mix it up we think!"
Next question: Do you consult the hotel critiques on Tripadvisor before booking, and if so, are the opinions accurate?
Send response to firstname.lastname@example.org. The best response will win a Lonely Planet guidebook.