Travel Questions from the Road
Q: I wanted to ask you what you r thoughts were about going to Spain in Oct. Because of what is going on in the news. Syria. Thank you.I am going on a cruise over there.
A: Good question and thanks for writing me. I’m getting this one a lot lately. The situation in Syria has nothing to do with your travel dreams. In fact, the Spanish have been dealing with terrorism much longer than we have. I studied in San Sebastian in College and there were many terrorism threats during my stay. I also was in Europe when America first went into Iraq after Sept 11. Believe me, life goes on…You have nothing to fear as the situation in Syria should not really effect your travels in Spain. The weather should be really lovely in Oct. I say go for it. Just be careful of pickpockets in Barcelona. There are more in Barcelona than in any other city in Europe. Be sure to use a money-belt or some kind of undercover security device when you don’t have access to a reliable hotel safe.
Q: We are going to Turkey and wanted to know if we should exchange money here or at the airport in Istanbul? Also, do the guides, bellmen, etc. like to be tipped in U.S. or Lira?
A: For Turkey, it is best to do all of your transactions in local currency (Turkish Lira). Even tipping is okay and customary in Turkish Lira and US Dollars are not expected. When you are at the airport, you can get Turkish Lira from a bank owned ATM (Cashpoint or Cash Machines). There is no need to exchange money before you leave as you are unlikely to get a better exchange rate than the ATM machine. Just make sure you withdraw enough to last you a while so you don’t have to keep going back and withdrawing more. That will help minimize the ATM fees. Before you leave home, be sure to advise your bank you will be using your ATM card in Turkey (and anywhere else on your trip).
Q: How to you handle the dirty clothes? When you pack clean everything it is nice, neat and efficient but when you start your travels, on day 2 or 3 you have shirts and slacks which are not clean. Before you get to the hotel or other place where they can be washed, how do you handle them in your suitcase? The original cubes become empty and the clothes which were there become dirty until washed but still need to be packed.
A: This is a great question! I use an Eagle Creek compressor bag to segregate my dirty laundry from the clean clothes in my suitcase. The beauty of this product is that it takes the air out (compressing) of your clothes so your dirty laundry isn’t taking up a lot of room in your suitcase. Alternatively, you can also use 2-sided cubes by Eagle Creek to segregate dirty laundry. The cubes are perforated in the middle. You therefore have a clean side and a dirty side.
Q: Do you have any suggestions for lunch and sight-seeing in Milan? I am traveling with an alumni group. The morning is programmed, but lunch and the afternoon is on our own. I think the cathedral and La Scala and the Duomo are already included. Any special tips? It will be a Saturday afternoon.
We will be based in Stressa. We have a couple of free afternoons and evenings there, so recommendations for dinner would also be very helpful. Are there trains from the lake region into Switzerland that are accessible to one without a car?
The travel dates are Oct. 1 to Oct 10.
A: For lunch I would recommend Paper Moon. It was recommended to me by my Italian friends and I ate lunch there last fall. They serve good cuisine and the service is prompt and respectful. Here is the Yelp page: http://www.yelp.com/biz/paper-moon-milano-2 It is very close to the center/Duomo.
For sightseeing, you should get a small guidebook to give you the basics. Even on a quick trip, I would not miss The Galleria, Duomo, Castello Sforza. Da Vinci’s Last Supper (Il Cenacolo) is also in Milan. Reservations are compulsory. Here is the website http://www.vivaticket.it/?op=cenacoloVinciano
Remember, Milan is not the sightseeing/cultural capital of Italy. It is where fashion/design/corporations are based.
Since the Duomo is included in your city tour, you may want to take the time to take the elevator to the roof for a great birds-eye view of the city.
Also, in the Galleria you must stop for a coffee at Savina, head over to Bric’s of Italy to check out some amazing luggage/handbags and then browse through one of the world’s greatest travel bookstore Rizzoli. All of your designer shopping needs can be taken care of on Monte Napoleone.
For dinner on Lake Como, I would not miss Locanda dell’Isola. I had dinner there last year and it was one of the most memorable and unique experiences I’ve ever had in Italy. Truly wonderful food and dinning. http://www.comacina.it
Trains can easily be booked to Switzerland from Como Station. The town most people head to in Switzerland is Lugano. About 30mins by train. Just check the schedule so you can daytrip. Remember, they do not accept €uro in Switzerland. You will need Swiss Francs. It’s also a good idea to take your passport with you.