I have a week of personal time on a work trip to Italy in July and so my husband is coming with me – neither has been before. We start in Milan and depart directly from Rome for Perth a week later. Lake Como seems unmissable, but what else should we try to see? Views and meals are more important than museums!
J. Mackay, St Kilda Vic
July is problematic in Italy. The cities are mostly hot, crowded with tourists and exhausting and the coast will be crowded, and with only a week to spare you want to keep travel time to a minimum. What I suggest is three nights in Lake Como, using the ferry system to explore the villages, the fabulous Villa del Balbianello garden and the lakeside bars where you can sip Aperol spritzes and sigh . The family-run Villa la Mirabella (villamirabella.com) is a favourite, in a privileged position overlooking Lake Tremezzo, close to the famous Villa Carlotta gardens and opposite Bellagio.
Next stop, Modena, a glamorous mid-sized city in Emilia-Romagna that sees few tourists. Modena is one of the foodie capitals of the universe, with the usual assemblage of churches, palaces and pleasant northern Italian spots to sit over an aperitif and watch the world go by. Epicureans come to love the three-star Michelin Osteria Francescana (osteriafrancescana.it) but it’s tiny and you’d have to book now. Spend three nights. The fastest trains will get you from Como’s San Giovanni Station to Modena in just over three hours with one or two changes.
Last stop, Rome, another three hour, one night train journey in Rome is almost criminal, but maybe a taste for next time.
I am fascinated by Tibetan culture and want to plan a trip to Ladakh in India. Is it possible to do this solo and arrange my tour when I arrive or do I need to pre-book a tour?
A. Reynolds, Killarney Heights NSW
You can fly from Delhi to Leh, the capital of Ladakh, and Qantas now offers several weekly non-stop flights from Sydney to Delhi. It is best to plan the first few days in Leh doing nothing more strenuous than breathing, with very gentle walks. Leh sits in the valley of the Indus River at an altitude of 3500 meters and even a slight climb takes your breath away. And everything is upstream from Leh. You’d better take a lung function test before you put your plans into motion,
You have to take a ride. World Expeditions (worldexpeditions.com) offers several Ladakh trips that range from easy to challenging, while Banyan Tours (banyantours.com) offers an upscale, culturally immersive trip to village houses that have been upgraded to local standards. western standards. There are also several Leh-based tour operators, easily found via Google.
Four friends are traveling to the UK in September and are looking to take a houseboat holiday for about a week. Hoping for great countryside, lots of pubs and not too many locks to navigate.
B. Appleby, Ballarat Vic
A houseboat cruise from Whittington to Llangollen, which straddles the Welsh-English border, might be just what you’re looking for. The 20 kilometer journey takes you through the beautiful Llangollen Valley, along the incredible 307 meter Pontcysyllte Aqueduct which spans the River Dee and through the 421 meter Chirk Tunnel, both built more two centuries. If you happen to be in Llangollen on a weekend, take a ride on the historic Ruabon to Barmouth line which winds through the North Wales countryside, an absolute crack. From Llangollen you need to return the boat to Whittington, allow three days each way. See Whittington Wharf narrowboats (whittington-wharf.com) for more information.
I’m going on a Hurtigruten cruise from Bergen, is it worth taking the Flam Train?
H.Andersen, Picton NSW
Absolutely yes. The Bergen line (vy.no) from Oslo to Bergen takes you across Europe’s largest high mountain plateau, without ever getting bored during the seven-hour journey. Get off at Myrdal and board the Flam Train (norwaysbest.com) for the steep 20 kilometer journey to Flam on the edge of the Aurland Fjord, a regular feature on any list of the world’s greatest train journeys. The train takes you through spectacular granite formations and the Kjosfosse sinkhole where a waterfall disappears into the ground at your feet. If you can, spend the night in Flam, it’s a world-class wonder.
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The travel advice appearing on these pages is general; readers should consider their personal circumstances.