Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - DOC HOLIDAY - LISA MAYOH

We are a cou­ple in our mid 50s look­ing to travel to Greece for four weeks. We were think­ing Septem­ber or Oc­to­ber, but re­alise that some Greek is­lands shut down af­ter sum­mer. What is­lands are worth vis­it­ing that aren’t too touristy? Do fer­ries still run?


The Greek is­lands are such a mag­i­cal place (I can’t wait to see the stun­ning scenery when the new Mamma Mia! movie is at the cinema this week). The beach life, the fresh food, the salt-ofthe-earth peo­ple – you just can’t go wrong with this des­ti­na­tion. But you are ab­so­lutely right, Greece dur­ing Septem­ber or Oc­to­ber will be much qui­eter, and some restau­rants and ac­tiv­i­ties will close down.

The up­side is prices won’t be as high and the crowds not as big – a plus, as far as Doc can see – but if there is some­thing spe­cific you want to see or do, in­quire on­line to make sure they will be open for your cho­sen dates.

Hel­loworld Travel’s Matthew Perre re­minds us that fer­ries be­tween Athens, Mykonos and San­torini can be up to seven hours each, so a local flight will be more time-ef­fec­tive. That said, the fer­ries still op­er­ate in the off-sea­son, but on limited sched­ules. And al­though they are long trips, trav­el­ling is com­fort­able with as­signed seat­ing and food and drinks avail­able to buy on board.

Given your lux­u­ri­ous time frame, you might like to con­sider a seven- or 10-day guided tour from Athens to visit the north­ern part of Greece vis­it­ing Olympia, Del­phi and Me­te­ora, fol­lowed by a few nights in Athens to see the Acrop­o­lis. Then un­wind and re­lax on the is­lands and travel more in­de­pen­dently. The main is­land at­trac­tions are the beau­ti­ful beaches, his­tor­i­cal sites and amaz­ing sun­sets (take a sun­set cruise).

Matthew says Mykonos and San­torini are very touristy (es­pe­cially when cruise ships are in port as thou­sands of ex­tra vis­i­tors de­scend) but Paros and Ios also of­fer great re­sorts and restau­rants. You will feast on some of the best food in the world – Doc can smell the fresh seafood and mouth-wa­ter­ing lamb grilling al­ready.

We are trav­el­ling to Bali soon and were told we need six months’ va­lid­ity on our pass­ports. Is that six months from date of en­try, or de­par­ture?


This is al­ways a tricky one, and I’m happy you asked be­cause it is a con­stant query from loyal Doc read­ers. Ari­anna Al­ber­tazzo of Hel­loworld Travel Pack­en­ham says you need six months’ va­lid­ity from your re­turn date into Aus­tralia. Cau­tious air­port staff may warn you oth­er­wise, but they just want you to be safe, not sorry.

Aus­tralian pass­ports are valid for travel to and from Aus­tralia un­til their ex­piry date, but some coun­tries may refuse en­try if you have less than six months’ va­lid­ity be­yond the pe­riod of in­tended stay. The pass­port buf­fer is mostly to do with visa pre­cau­tions. Gov­ern­ments tend to err on the side of cau­tion with th­ese things, fac­tor­ing in un­fore­seen cir­cum­stances that

We have booked and paid for our hol­i­day to Thai­land us­ing our ANZ credit card. The bank says we are cov­ered for travel in­sur­ance be­cause we used the card. Have you heard any good or bad re­ports us­ing this, or would you rec­om­mend tak­ing other travel in­sur­ance?


Doc has heard many travel hor­ror sto­ries about peo­ple who thought they were ad­e­quately cov­ered when they weren’t, so good to dou­blecheck. As a gen­eral rule, al­ways check the de­tails. Hel­loworld Pack­en­ham’s Ari­anna Al­ber­tazzo says things to look out for in­clude what you’re ac­tu­ally cov­ered for, what your ex­cess is, and whether the in­surer pays up­front in an emer­gency or if you have to fork out the cash to be re­im­bursed later.

So if there was a drama and you were hit with an $80,000 med­i­cal bill be­fore you got home would you be able to pay? (Just an FYI – CoverMore and SureSave both pay up­front for med­i­cal bills). Also, check your age and whether that is cov­ered by the bank in­sur­ance. One trav­eller who didn’t check what he was cov­ered for re­alised – af­ter two years of global travel – that he was too old to be in­cluded by the “free” in­sur­ance. Some banks re­quire you to spend a cer­tain amount us­ing that par­tic­u­lar card on your trav­els. Call the bank and check ex­emp­tions. If not 100 per cent sat­is­fied, get ex­tra cov­er­age from an­other in­surer.


We have two days in Bu­dapest in July. Can you ad­vise some in­ter­est­ing places to visit and things to do? Can we use eu­ros?


Bu­dapest is a boom­ing, vi­brant city and there’s loads to see and do, says Cathy Na­toli from Laze Away Travel in Sydney, a Hel­loworld Travel mem­ber. You can use eu­ros in Hun­gary, which makes life easy. Make sure you visit the Buda Cas­tle, which is a beau­ti­ful his­tor­i­cal mas­ter­piece (built in 1265!) and the home of Hun­gar­ian art. The Fish­er­man’s Bas­tion is also a stun­ning way to see the city – the tur­reted fortress looks like some­thing out of a Walt Dis­ney fairy­tale. The fa­mous Hun­gar­ian Par­lia­ment Build­ing is also worth ex­plor­ing, as it stands proud on the banks of Europe’s long­est river, the Danube.

It may be worth look­ing into a pri­vate tour to make sure you don’t miss any spec­tac­u­lar sights – but with only two days you may be pressed for time. Don’t be tempted to do too much. You can get car­ried away soak­ing up thou­sands of years of his­tory in Euro­pean cities – some­times you need to bal­ance it with a pic­nic in the park or a sleep-in af­ter an in­dul­gent din­ner.

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