Where in the world?

Last week’s an­swer: Ko­modo, In­done­sia

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - Doc Holiday -

I WOULD like to take my mother and sis­ter on a trip to Ja­pan. Weare first-time trav­ellers so want to do an es­corted tour some­time this year. I amun­sure who to book with and which cities and at­trac­tions weshould visit. Can you please help?

Doc: Cer­tainly, and I know of the per­fect com­pany for you. Ja­pan Hol­i­days (japan­hol­i­days.com.au), long-time op­er­a­tors of tours to Ja­pan has two up­com­ing trips that will in­ter­est you. I re­cently had the plea­sure of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing one of th­ese tours es­corted by the lovely Jan Hut­ton, who knows Ja­pan in­side out. Not only does Jan speak the lan­guage, she knows all the short­cuts, the best eat­ing houses and, most im­por­tantly is an ex­pert at nav­i­gat­ing the train sys­tem. She will es­cort The Wild­flow­ers, Walks & Won­ders tour, which de­parts on June 2 for 16 nights. On this tour you will take in the mag­nif­i­cent scenery of the Ja­pan Alps, dis­cover on­sens, see mon­keys in hot springs, walk in the foot­steps of samu­rai, visit cas­tles and more. You will ex­pe­ri­ence lo­cal cul­ture, visit tea­houses, stroll around ponds, gar­dens and beech forests and maybe even see a geisha. Jan is also es­cort­ing the Kumano Kodo Au­tumn Leaves tour de­part­ing Oc­to­ber 26 for 14 nights. This tour takes in Tokyo, Nara where you will find por­tions of this an­cient cap­i­tal built in 710 still in­tact, and Koy­asan. Here you will travel 900m by ca­ble-car to a plateau where the Shin­gon sect of Bud­dhism that was founded in 816 still lives. Then there is a visit to To­daiji Tem­ple, the largest wooden con­struc­tion in the world, which houses the Great Bud­dha stand­ing 16m tall. There is an overnight stay in one of the old­est tem­ples in Koy­asan, where Bud­dhist monks will serve you a tra­di­tional veg­e­tar­ian meal, fol­lowed by a walk in the foot­steps of an­cient pil­grims. Jan or­gan­ises all your train and en­trance tick­ets, helps you nav­i­gate the yen when shop­ping and has great lo­cal con­tacts. Most meals are in­cluded in the tours and, if not, it’s usu­ally put to the vote, giv­ing the group a chance to de­cide on what they feel like. For more in­for­ma­tion, costs and full itin­er­ar­ies you can call 3300 2396 or fill in the in­quiry form on the web­site.

WEARE look­ing for a package in­clud­ing flights and a cruise in the Mediter­ranean. Weare first-time cruis­ers and would also like to in­clude some time in Italy. Our bud­get is about $6000 a per­son all up and we wish to travel in Au­gust, for about three weeks. Would it be pos­si­ble to break our jour­ney on the way to Europe?

Doc: Ken from Noo­nan’s Travel in Mel­bourne (noo­nanstravel.com.au) has put to­gether the per­fect package for you. Fly­ing with Sin­ga­pore Air­lines, you would have a two-night stopover in Sin­ga­pore be­fore ar­riv­ing in Barcelona. Then you would be off on a 12-night Mediter­ranean cruise from Barcelona to Venice, aboard the new Royal Princess from Princess Cruises. Af­ter the cruise, your ac­com­mo­da­tion in Venice, near St Mark’s Square, also in­cludes a gon­dola ride. A train ride be­tween Venice and Rome is next, along with three nights in Rome. Ken has in­cluded full break­fasts and trans­fers in this package, which is priced at $5786 a per­son.

Tell the Doc:

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a day trip in Auck­land. I have re­ceived many ideas from read­ers about ad­di­tional things to do and see, whether on a stopover or an ex­tended stay. I have listed some of th­ese great read­ers’ sug­ges­tions be­low.

Villa Maria Vine­yard is only min­utes from the air­port and is well known for its ex­cel­lent sau­vi­gnon blanc. You can tour the premises daily at 11am and 3pm, and the cafe is open seven days a week, 11.30am to 3.30pm.

Visit Kelly Tarl­ton’s Sea Life Aquar­ium, on the waterfront of Ohaku Bay, it’s just mo­ments from Mis­sion Bay beach, and, if you buy your tick­ets on­line, you will save at least 10 per cent. If it’s your birth­day you get in free.

Lunch at Ecca Stone­house, right on the beach in Mis­sion Bay, be­cause it has un­beat­able views of the Hau­raki Gulf, and is open ev­ery day from 7am.

If you’re feel­ing more ad­ven­tur­ous: Take the ferry to Devon­port for lunch at the Es­planade Ho­tel on the waterfront, then walk up the ex­tinct vol­ca­noes to view the har­bour.

Or, get on a Fullers ferry to Wai­heke Is­land, about a 35-minute ride from down­town Auck­land. The is­land is a blend of farm­land, for­est, beaches, vine­yards and olive groves and has an in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion for its food and arts.

EX­PLORE THE PAST: Ja­pan’s an­cient cap­i­tal of Nara, built in 710, still has many build­ings left from the former im­pe­rial pe­riod and is pop­u­lar with tourists.

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