Ask Lonely Planet: Delhi delights... then the camels

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Tomb of Humayun, Delhi. Photo / Supplied
Tomb of Humayun, Delhi. Photo / Supplied

We have booked a trip with Intrepid, leaving from Delhi and hopefully taking in the Pushkar Camel Fair. How much time should we allow in Delhi before the trip? We are interested in culture, religion and the arts. We also want to spend a few days in Mussoorie, where my husband was born. What is the best way to get there?

- Joan and Peter Minchin

Lonely Planet's Sarah Bennett and Lee Slater write:

Delhi is a truly multidimensional metropolis, and fascinating to visit. You could spend a week here, but here are some suggestions for a four-day stay.

Day one: Acclimatise gently at tranquil sites, such as the National Museum, Gandhi Smriti and Humayun's Tomb. In the evening go to Hazrat Nizam-ud-din Dargah to hear the Sufis sing qawwaalis.

Day two: Ramble around Old Delhi's Red Fort, then eat jalebis (fried sweet "squiggles"), launch into the old city's action-packed bazaars and visit the mighty Jama Masjid, India's largest mosque.

Afterwards, grab an autorickshaw south to Connaught Place for dinner and to explore the hassle-free, treasure trove government emporiums.

Day three: Wander round the religious buildings of Qutb Minar complex before indulging in some quiet meditation at the Bahai House of Worship. In the evening, go to Bengali Market for dilli ki chaat (street food), before kicking back at a bar.

Day four: Wonder at the glories of the laid-back Crafts Museum and nearby Purana Qila, then go to Hauz Khas to wander around the forgotten lake and mausoleum, and browse in its boutiques.

To get to Mussoorie, perched atop a ridge 2km high, you'll first need to get to Dehra Dun.

It's quickest by air (one hour) but you can also get there from Delhi on a six-hour train ride or an overnight service that takes almost twice as long. The least comfortable option is the seven-hour bus ride.

From Dehra Dun it's a 90-minute bus or taxi ride up to Mussoorie.

Memorial visit

I am in Auckland and I have a friend in Edinburgh. We are planning to meet in France or Italy and do a tour together. We want to go to Venice, Rome, Florence, Paris and anywhere else in between. The most important thing for me is to visit the burial site of an uncle who was killed in World War I in a place called Colincamps. There is a memorial to him in Grevillers. We are both in our 60s so the hitchhiking I did throughout Europe in the 1960s is out of the question. I thought we might be able to do it all by train. My friend says there is also a bus option. Any ideas?

- Colleen Wheeler

Most airlines allow you to fly into one European hub and return via another, and Paris and Rome are popular options. Deciding which way to travel really comes down to personal preference.

Let's assume you're going to start your grand tour in Rome, although our information will be relevant in either direction.

Travelling by train is a comfortable and efficient way to get around both countries. Trenitalia runs most services in Italy and its website is excellent. Under Customer Assistance, click on "Traveller's Guide" for advice on services, ticketing and offers.

Decent discounts for over-60s are available with a Carto d'Argento (€30).

Another useful site is raileurope.com, an information and booking portal for rail travel all over Europe.

It's easy getting from Rome to Florence and Venice on the major InterCity and Eurostar Alta Velocita train lines, but there is also a decent network of regional and inter-regional services for exploring more remote regions.

In Venice you can catch international trains to Paris. Italy also has an extensive and largely reliable bus network, but rail is better for long-distance travel in France. Buses may be your only option if you want to travel to mountainous areas such as Umbria.

From Paris' Gare du Nord station, it's an hour's train ride with SNCF to Amiens or Arras, both excellent towns from which to explore the Battle of the Somme memorials. Grevillers is 24km south of Arras, and Colincamps is 48km northeast of Amiens.

Your transport options are limited to local buses, taxis or picking up a hire car.

But tours can be arranged through reputable tour companies such as Battlefields Experience and Western Front Tours.

It's heart-warming to hear of your desire to honour your uncle's memory, so thanks for writing in.

- NZ Herald

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