Tripologist: picture-perfect Canada

Spirit Island in Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park.
Spirit Island in Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park. Photo: Getty Images

I am taking my mother to Banff and Lake Louise in Canada and we would like to photograph scenery similar to that in the travel brochures. What is the best month to travel to Banff? We would like to stay downtown — how do we get to Lake Louise without having to drive and is there a coach to Banff from Calgary? How long would it take?

V. Lee, Kingsgrove, NSW.

Any time between September 20 and October 5 should put you in the sweet spot. The classic position for pictures of Lake Louise is the hill at the head of the lake. If you're there when the rising sun spotlights the Victoria Glacier, you'll be selling the pictures.

You can travel from Calgary to Banff in about two hours aboard the Brewster Banff Airport Express (brewster.ca). Brewster also operates tours and coach services between Banff and Lake Louise and Jasper, and you really should do the one-day trip along the Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper.

Another photographic hot spot is Spirit Island on Maligne Lake. The lake is about a two-hour drive from Jasper and cruises cross the lake to the island at frequent intervals. From Jasper you might make the rail journey to Vancouver aboard the VIA train (viarail.ca).

Take a look at the "Best Places to Photograph in the Canadian Rockies" section of the canadiannaturephotographer.com website for some useful tips and inspiring images.

Discretion during Ramadan

I will be travelling with my dad to London next August to attend the Olympics. On our way we are stopping in Dubai, then doing a nine-day tour in Egypt and on to Turkey, visiting Istanbul and Gallipoli for a few days. I've just realised that it will be Ramadan when we are in these Muslim countries. How will this affect us?

D. Cummins, Mortdale.

In 2012 Ramadan will last from July 20 to August 19. During that time, Muslims are forbidden to eat and drink between sunrise and sundown. The same restrictions do not apply to non-Muslims but out of respect, it's advisable to be discreet when eating during the daytime. If you eat in hotels, you should be fine.

Since they will be hungry and thirsty and it will be scorching hot, your guides and drivers may be lethargic and possibly somewhat off their game, and a little understanding on your part will go a long way.

Amalfi Coast a clear favourite

My wife and I are travelling to Italy for several months next September. We plan to base ourselves in Sorrento in an apartment for about three weeks as we love the Amalfi Coast; and also intend to travel to Sicily and Sardinia. Is Sorrento a good base? Can you advise us on apartments in Sorrento, good contacts, price guides and best locations? Also, can you give us info on ferry travel to Sardinia? And whether ferry is the best means of travel to Sicily, or would you recommend train or car?

B. Smith, Rozelle.

Sorrento sounds like a happy choice. It's large enough to have plenty of dining options and local attractions and by September, the crowds that pack the town at the height of summer will be less bothersome.

The gorgeous Amalfi Coast is right on your doorstep and you can get the Metro del Mare ferry (metrodel mare.net) from Sorrento to towns such as Positano and Salerno, which avoids the traffic snarl on the coast road. These ferries also travel to Capri, Ischia and Naples and, despite its reputation, Naples is a cracker of a city.

Since this is a highly desirable part of the world, you can pay anything between €450-€900 ($600-$1200) a week for an apartment in Sorrento.

At the upper end of the scale, Apartment Praiano is small and gorgeous, available from Sorrento Apartments (sorrento apartments.com). You can find a few cheaper options at Sorrento.cc (sorrento.cc).

Tirrenia Navigazione (www.tirrenia.it) operates ferries between Naples and Sardinia. You might hire a car for your travels around Sardinia, since bus services connect only the major towns and the train is pretty woeful.

SNAV Ferries (snav.it) operates a daily service between Naples and Palermo, Sicily; a car would be ideal in Sicily as well.

Detroit rocks if cars get your motor runnin'

We are a couple in our 60s and would like suggestions on the best way to see New York and Detroit. Some years back we did a tour of London that was great and not overly expensive and were thinking of something similar.

S. Thomas, Tweed Heads.

I'm guessing there's a love affair with American automotive heavy metal somewhere in the picture because Detroit or "Motor City" is not usually high on visitors' US wish lists.

If that's so, then Detroit's Henry Ford Museum and possibly the Motown Historical Museum are going to be standout attractions for you. As far as I can tell, there are no tours that include both New York City and Detroit. Detroit City Tours (detroittours.net) do offer city tours, however, they last only a couple of hours. In New York, pictured, you have heaps of choice for tours.

Gray Line (newyorksightseeing .com) has many, some aboard a double-decker bus that allows you to hop off, explore and catch a following bus.

From New York City you might also want to see more of the surroundings - and if so, a tour of New England would be ideal.

Tauck Tours (tauck.com) offers a couple of options and their tours are highly regarded, although they are not the cheapest. New England Tours (newenglandtours.com) is another option.

Most of these tours take place in September and October, when the autumn foliage is at its stunning best. To help with planning your US holiday, you might want to contact your nearest Flight Centre, either in Centro Tweed mall or in Coolangatta.

Comments