The Tripologist: Europe in a nutshell

Seoul’s sights: Namdaemun is one of the biggest traditional markets in South Korea. Seoul’s sights: Namdaemun is one of the biggest traditional markets in South Korea.
杭州桑拿按摩

Seoul’s sights: Namdaemun is one of the biggest traditional markets in South Korea.

In June 2015 on our return home from the US we’re taking a three-night break in Seoul. If possible I’d like to stay in an area similar to the Marais in Paris – somewhere within walking distance to the metro but with cafes and a local dining scene.

G. RICHMOND, CHURCH POINT

Garosu-gil could be just the place for you. It’s a subset of the Sinsa-dong university district, sort of hipster-boho with lots of galleries, cafes, bars, little designer start-up boutiques and bookshops. You’ll see plenty of students in its tree-lined streets, which is what the name “Garosu-gil” means. When they graduate and become successful, many of those young students will take up residence in nearby Apgujeong, Seoul’s Double Bay/Woollahra, also the place to go for high-end fashion shopping. Apgujeong’s fashion boulevard is Rodeo Street, and the comparison with its famous LA counterpart is apt. Until they make it, those students will hang out by night in the cafes, bars, clubs and kimchi joints of Hongdae, another great place to go if you want to take the pulse of the city’s subcultures.

My husband and I are considering a beach holiday about three to four hours maximum flight from Melbourne, just before the Easter school holidays. Any ideas for a destination with natural beauty, not overrun by tourists and won’t cost the earth? We’re not into glitzy resorts but do like exploring the local area and eating local foods.

J. BREWSTER, BRUNSWICK

Vanuatu is a definite candidate, with Breakas Beach Resort (breakas杭州龙凤论坛m) as a front runner. Guest fares (bungalows) are scattered among tropical gardens set on the edge of a pretty lagoon about a 10-minute drive from Port Vila. It’s low-wattage on the glitz scale yet the natural credentials are all in place. The fares offer a sensible level of comfort and the daily rate is $269 for two, breakfast included. Rates with hotel booking sites are lower still,  about $191 per night, so you might contact Breakas direct and ask for a better deal. Access to Port Vila is easy and there are several adventure activities nearby, from river kayak trips to snorkelling. You could hire a car and spend a day driving around Efate, there’s lots to see. Don’t miss Ernest Kalakoa’s World War II Museum, an eccentric but fascinating collection of artefacts left behind by US forces.

I’m heading to Europe for the first time in July for my 40th birthday. We fly in and out of London, with four weeks in between. I’m finding it difficult to decide which countries and regions to visit – so much to see! We love food, wine, the sea and natural beauty. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

C. MURPHY, MELBOURNE

There are so many appealing possibilities here, but here’s a sketch of what I’d do, From London’s St Pancras International Station board the Eurostar for the two-and-a-bit hour ride to Paris, where you’ll be spending four nights. From there you’ll take another train to Barcelona. There are several daily services aboard the TGV Duplex trains, and I’d take the one departing at 2.07pm. This gives you half a day in Paris and allows you to take in most of the delectable scenery along the way in daylight. The train arrives in Barcelona at 8.40pm, and like all the following stops, you’re here for three nights. From Barcelona, hire a car and drive along the coast of Spain and into France where your next halt is St-Remy-de-Provence. Total drive time is just over four hours but stop somewhere on the Costa Brava and at Montpellier. St-Remy is a classic Provencale town with all the right ingredients, and easy access to Avignon, the Rhone Valley winegrowing district, the Camargue and the lovely villages of the Luberon. Next base is Cassis, just east of Marseilles for a taste of life on the French Riviera, and make sure you take a boat trip to admire the Calanques, the fiord-like indentations to the west. Continue along the coast but this time you’re staying slightly inland at Mougins, a pretty mediaeval village close to the coastal honeypots of Cannes, Juan-les-Pins and Antibes and also St Paul-de-Vence,  home to a small but wondrous gallery, Fondation Maeght. Next, you’re heading for Lake Como just north of Milan to stay somewhere on the western side of the lake, possibly at Mezzegra, not too far from George and Amal Alamuddin Clooney. From Lake Como, drive west to stay at Verona, the city of the fictional Romeo and Juliet, and one of the most likeable cities of northern Italy. After Verona it’s just a short drive north to Bolzano, where you’ll be admiring the wonders of the Dolomite region, and possibly doing an alpine walk, before driving through the mountains to Cortina d’Ampezzo and south to Venice, for your last few days on a final romantic whirl before catching a plane to London.

CONVERSATION

OVER TO YOU…

The question was “Ever tried to learn a foreign language to enhance your holiday experience, and what was the result?”

M. and C. Hopkins write “The scene: A restaurant in New Caledonia. A friend of ours announced to everyone that he would order in French, as he had been studying and was now fluent enough. So he ordered, and the waiter, who somehow managed to keep a straight face, then responded in perfect (accented) English, ‘Excuse me Sir, but are you aware you have just ordered a medium rare yellow pencil box?’ Years have passed, and we still laugh.”

From N. Torres, “On a recent five-month whirlwind South America journey, I learned enough Spanish  to feel confident to argue with a taxi driver who took us on the ‘scenic route’. As I was yelling at him he was shaking his head and waving me off. I was further incensed by his insolence but reluctantly paid. Later on, upon consulting my dictionary, I realised that instead of telling him “we are late for the plane now”, I was in fact saying “we feel goodbye this hour”!! He must have thought we had rocks in our heads! It was a very informative experience though and I loved learning a new language.”

A. Smith writes “In France with friends I usually order lemon juice during the day. My friends’ French was not good, but they tried to order. They had learnt the word for draft beer, which is pression. So they thought combined with lemon in a very French accent they would get pressed lemon juice. The drink came and it  looked very weird. It was beer with Creme de menthe! The order should have been citron presse but their pronunciation of “lemon” sounded like “le menthe”.

Next question: I’ve just come back from Ecuador, where popcorn is frequently added to soup. Got a strange flavour combination from your travels?

Send response to [email protected]杭州龙凤论坛m.au. The best response will win a Lonely Planet guidebook.

SEND US YOUR TRAVEL QUESTIONS

Include your name and your suburb or town and send it to [email protected]杭州龙凤论坛m.au All published questions will win a Lonely Planet guidebook.


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