We've cruised in the Western Med and the Pacific - and loved it. Is the Eastern Med that much different?
The Eastern Mediterranean is full of those typical picture-postcard scenes we have all pinned on our wall at some stage in our life ... iconic whitewashed buildings tumbling down the side of craggy cliffs with sun-kissed turquoise waters lapping below It is one of the most popular cruise destinations we organise. The area termed Eastern Mediterranean covers Italy, Greece, Turkey and the Adriatic and highlights the culture and history of Italy, especially Venice (many cruises depart from there). Combine that with the splendour of the Greek Isles, the antiquity of Classical Greece, the sheer beauty of the Dalmatian coast, amazing Turkey with history dating from Byzantium and this area of the world delivers a powerful cruise experience that is hard to match. Avoid cruises that visit two ports in one day and instead choose one offering a longer day stay in port, or even an overnight stay. Also think about the size of the ship you wish to travel on as often a small ship experience means you visit little Adriatic jewels that big ships cannot. And lastly, don't be put off by days at sea as this gives you the chance to unwind and work on that Mediterranean tan.
My niece is marrying an Englishman in London in September and we're going over for the wedding. We've managed to get a clear three-day window (with no family commitments) straight after the wedding. Neither of us like flying with budget airlines. Where could we go for a spot of R&R?
There are so many options for a three-day R&R holiday from London. Europe is so accessible on British Airways, or there is the Eurostar to Paris or you could hire a car and head up to one of the pretty parts of Britain such as the Cotswolds (a personal favourite!). Here are some ideas:
Prague - A two-hour flight away on British Airways. The wonderful architecture of the town and natural beauty of Letna Park are sure to inspire you, the museums and galleries are fantastic and the music scene is well worth checking out. I highly recommend the Radisson Blu Hotel.
South of France - Fly to Nice and take a taxi to Cap Ferrat. Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is a seaside town with an ideal location, much sought after for the calm air. The Cap, situated to the far south, has given its name to the whole peninsula, which shelters on one side the harbour of Villefranche and, on the other side the Baie des Fourmis of Beaulieu. Gorgeous walks, amazing food and hopefully some sunshine awaits. The Royal Riviera is one of my favourite hotels on the Cap.
Cotswolds - Hire a car and drive up to the Cotswolds (two hours) and stay in a 16th-century Cotswold stone manor house, try the Manor House Hotel Moreton in March or the Lords of the Manor. Here you can revel in luxury, indulge yourself with fine food and drink and relax in a homely and friendly atmosphere.
Costa Brava, Spain - Fly to Barcelona On British Airways and then transfer (1½ hours) up to one of the magical hotels like the Vista Bella right on the coast with spectacular views of the Bay of Roses and the Mediterranean Sea. This location allows you to choose whether to relax and enjoy beautiful days in a hotel or take a day trip to one of the many surrounding attractions. The Dali museum at Figueres is only 24km away. Gastronomy plays an important role in this region, with many Michelin-starred restaurants on offer.
Michelle Botica (Malcolm)
helloworld North Harbour
Our 22-year-old has just finished her university studies and is heading off on her big OE. We'd like to treat her to a European tour, but nothing too rowdy. Any suggestions?
What a fabulous idea! What better way to celebrate your daughter's achievements than heading off to Europe! As she will be travelling on her own, we understand she needs to explore Europe with the safety and security of travelling with a group of like-minded people. I would recommend a "Hotel tour" with Contiki. This is not so much of a "party", but more about seeing the destinations and getting involved in the culture, while still meeting new friends and having experiences of a lifetime. The European Vista 21 day tour would be one of the best options for her. Visiting nine countries and including the cities of Paris, Rome, Venice, Prague and Vienna, this tour will give her the chance to explore Europe at its finest.
I would also suggest adding a Greek or Croatian island sailing adventure with Intrepid tours.
My husband and I are planning a driving tour of Europe and we'd like to see a bit of the east - like Sarajevo, Poland and the Czech Republic. Do we need to worry about visas?
All three countries you are planning to visit no longer require visas although your passports must be valid for at least three months beyond the period of your intended stay.
When booking your rental car ensure the rental car company's conditions allow cross-border travel to the countries you intend to visit. Check driver licence requirements and whether you need Permit or Tax stickers.
You are planning to visit a fantastic part of Europe - Sarajevo was extensively damaged during the Bosnian war and has been rebuilt into a vibrant busy city but isn't that car-friendly and very few hotels in the central area have car parking.
Prague is a wonderful historic city to explore - you must visit the astronomical clock, once the envy of all of Europe, and also the John Lennon Peace Wall
In the Czech Republic try to visit the beautiful town of Telc.
When travelling by car in Europe we tend to stay just out of the city centre and commute into the city by bus or train, avoiding the need to find parking which is usually very expensive.