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Not So Frequently Asked Questions

 

I’m thinking of travelling to Wales.  Do I need a passport? Kristina

 

Um, no, but while you don’t need a passport to travel to Wales or Scotland where people have got into trouble is trying to get on planes (particularly budget airlines) recently without passports, even if the destination is in the same country.  Basically you cannot fly without ID and a passport is generally the easiest form of ID for them to deal with.

 

In some countries I have been asked for my passport in hotels, and you may find it’s just a handy thing to have with you in any case!  I would recommend that you pack your passport to be on the safe side, or, if do not have a current one, double check with your airline about any other acceptable forms of ID.

 

You’ve just given me reiki - does this make me a Christian? Alex

 

No sweetie - reiki, although it does have a spiritual aspect, is a non-religious treatment which any and all religions can practice (or indeed people without a religion.)

 

I need to book my family summer holiday and want to go somewhere different - I’m divorced with a son of 12, any suggestions?   Patrick

 

I’d have to say Croatia, it’s so clean, beautiful and safe that it’s the kind of place you could take your kids without worrying about them the whole time (what they’re eating, are they brushing their teeth with tap water...)

 

The chain of hotels I would recommend is Falkensteiner:-

http://www.falkensteiner.com/en/hotel/punta-skala

 

We stayed at the Hotel Adriana, which was very elegant, but then it had the Club Funimation next door which is a child friendly hotel (with bunk beds in some of the family rooms), and has an enormous spa.

 

Their Punta Skala apartments and hotels are a little bit further north.  They have two hotels and a block of very modern, beautifully kitted out apartments, and they all share the swimming pools and beaches, and they are still fairly close to Zadar (a short bus or cab ride.  See The Rest for local information on taxis etc.)

 

Zadar is a really lovely town, with lots of day trips - although they are the whole day - some going at 8.30am in the morning and returning around 6pm (good value for money!) - you can visit the Kornati islands (approx. £30 for boat trip and refreshments including lunch), or - and this is one I definitely want to try - you can take a trip to the Krka waterfalls, where you can swim just below the waterfalls.

 

And if you don’t want to do a whole day excursion, or pay for a private boat, you can do excursions on the Jadrolinija ferries http://www.jadrolinija.hr

 

They run really frequently between Zadar and Preko, and also (which I think is a much more beautiful journey) between Biograd and T’kon - they also run to Italy if you want a longer excursion!

 

Also, if you do decide to go down to Biograd (it's kind of a local touristy place) they have a submarine ride that runs 3 times a day and it's an hour round the nearer islands - so you can see the fish and plants, without actually having to dive - they also do an evening tour, which is half an hour but I am not sure what you would see.  We didn't do this one - but next time!

 

If you want to see photos or videos of Croatia then please check out the links and I hope you have a great holiday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My friend and I are planning on going to Marrakech - any ideas about where to stay and what to do while we’re there? Katie

 

My friend who organises surf trips to Morocco recommended this hotel to me.  (For my more recent trip to Morocco and a resort hotel stay see Morocco Spa Princess.)

 

And it's much cheaper on Expedia than the website that I originally booked it!

 

I think I stayed in the Jasmine room.  The riad has lots of lovely little places to sit down and relax, or sunbathe on the roof - and they will bring you water or a tray of tea and pastries anytime you want - they really look after you - but if you want to eat dinner you normally have to book in advance - as they have to go to the market.

 

I stayed there two nights and it's such a lovely retreat from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech.  It’s in the old Kasbah area - still fairly busy - a very short walk to the big government shop where you can go to either buy without haggling or check out prices.

 

It’s in the old part of the city, near the best preserved of the city walls, but not the bit where the roads are really, really small and a bit scary to walk down.  In the evenings there are a lot of people walking around and so it’s safe then to walk back to the hotel, but when there are less people around I would take a taxi (barter hard!)

 

On my first night there I didn’t have any change to pay the taxi driver and he couldn’t break a note, so I asked the lady at the riad if she could let me have some change.  She couldn’t open up the till, so she actually lent me her own money to pay the cab - that’s how lovely they are here.  (And I did pay her back, along with a very big tip.)

 

It's really safe to walk around by yourself, but everyone will warn you to be careful with your bag, so it’s useful to just sling it across the front of you, or you will be stopped twenty times by people telling you to do so - they worry about their tourists and want to make sure you have a good time!!

 

Also, although you can walk around by yourself with a good map - don’t forget that the street signs are in Arabic!!  If someone offers to show you the way they will ask for a tip, which is fair enough but I had this young guy who got me hopelessly lost and I told him that I wasn’t giving him anything for that!  (I mean, I was getting lost perfectly well by myself!)

 

In the morning you have breakfast in the courtyard - really great strong coffee and pastries - and I chose one table one morning, and the next morning I came down and they had set that particular table with just one setting - for me.

Also, because you are in a courtyard hotel, other people staying in the hotel are very friendly - when my phone wouldn't work another English couple insisted I use theirs - but if you are sitting in a corner by yourself, reading, people will leave you alone.

 

The view from the roof is fantastic, you can hear the call to prayer, and it's unbelievable for sunbathing - but the smell from the tanneries was quite intense when I was there (but it does kill the mosquitoes!) and the only other thing is that there was a ridiculously long queue for immigration - just nasty when we got in.  If you want to see the actual airport it's the one in SATC2!  And I think the souks in the film are the ones in Marrakech too!

 

There are some photos at the bottom of the photos page if you want to check it out.

 

One of the reasons that it took me so long to put this on the website as an escape yet is that I had this fab place to stay in Marrakech but I didn’t manage to go to a great spa until March 2011.

For shopping make sure you pick up some argan oil, it’s fantastic - you can also get extremely cheap essential oils, such as rose and orange flower blossom, and perfumes like jasmine in blocks - great for putting in your suitcase.

 

I would recommend the Place des Ferblantiers for a quieter shopping experience, where there are great spice shops.  Also some of the more low key small museums / palaces really give you an idea of what they were like when they were filled with orange trees and fountains (unlike some of the ruins which I found a bit disappointing.)

 

One place I would avoid is the Jardin Menara, which I went quite a way to visit and it was really dull and dirty.  I think my guidebook was a bit out of date too as it listed this as one of the top 3 things to do but I was the only tourist there!

 

Enjoy, and whatever you do, make sure you get to a hammam - one of the best things about Morocco.

 

I’m off for a family do in New York in August.  The flights were extortionate and I may be staying with my family, but I’d like to find out if there are any reasonably priced hotels.  The cheapest I could find was £200 a night and if my parents stay in the hotel too then it gets very expensive.  Any ideas? Marion

 

Wow, yes prices do go up very steeply in August, especially for flights, I had a look after we spoke and was shocked they have gone up to £750 minimum for a direct flight!  When we stayed in New York in 2008 we managed to get a last minute deal for £500 each for 4 nights, including flight and sharing a double room at the Marcel (now called the Marcel at Gramercy) on Expedia.  Considering the costs of New York hotels, booking your flight and hotel together on Expedia can save you shedloads of cash.

 

I also like booking in the UK as they give you prices including sales tax and occupancy charges, which sometimes aren’t so clear on US websites.

 

Anyway, one option I did find (although please remember that I have not stayed here so this is not a personal recommendation) is the Doubletree Guest Suites in Times Square.  It’s very highly rated on Tripadvisor (no.12 out of 420 hotels in New York)  and the reason it would work out quite cheaply for you is that it is a two room suite with a sofa bed in the living room, so that your parents could stay in the bedroom and you could take the sofa bed if you were happy with that.  It rates very highly in terms of customer service and you get a cookie on arrival!  Despite being in the centre of Times Square it is also apparently very quiet as it is so high up - which means most of the rooms have excellent views as well.

 

The cheapest price I found on Expedia is £2,107.11 for a non-refundable King Suite for a week.

 

I hate to say it - but going directly to their website http://doubletree1.hilton.com/en_US/dt/hotel/LGASFDT-Doubletree-Guest-Suites-Times-Square-New-York-City-New-York/index.do is actually a bit cheaper - for a non-refundable King the price is £1,963.54 - which is slightly cheaper than Expedia, which I am surprised at as they normally have such good deals - although this may be due to the exchange rates used.

 

On lastminute.com I found a real bargain - the Affinia Shelburne (rated 59 out of 420 http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g60763-d93543-Reviews-Affinia_Shelburne-New_York_City_New_York.html ) for £1,996.52 for two rooms with double beds (down from £2,716.46.)  If you feel like booking this one then please click on the text link to the right (then I get commission and it doesn’t affect the price you pay!)

 

You might also be interested in the Ace Hotel (it’s rated 100 out of 420 by Tripadvisor http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g60763-d1201072-Reviews-Ace_Hotel_NYC-New_York_City_New_York.html ), their double - 2 twins/bunk bed room is £881.93 for the week but your parents may want a small double, which at £1,286.25 probably makes the Affinia a better bet, especially for location.

 

Slightly higher rated (82 out of 420 http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g60763-d93358-Reviews-The_Pod_Hotel-New_York_City_New_York.html ) and slightly cheaper is the Pod Hotel - with similar pricing to the Ace Hotel this is another funky hip hotel popular with younger travellers (my friend raved about one she stayed in elsewhere in the States) - the very cheapest rooms have shared baths - but the doubles and queens have their own bathrooms - a double is £1,039.85 on Expedia - so once again I would still go for the Affinia!

 

Have a great trip!

 

Thanks Pearl!  I did stay at the Affinia and it was even better than expected as some sites had it down as 3.5 stars, but it was new, clean, big rooms, nicely decorated, their burger restaurant did a good breakfast - nice rooftop area / bar!     Marion

Henrhyd Waterfall
in the Brecon Beacons National Park

 

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