A TASTE OF MOROCCO

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - ASK THE EXPERT DOC HOLIDAY - KIM CULYER

My fam­ily of three adults is vis­it­ing Morocco briefly next year. We fly in to Mar­rakesh on April 24 and out of Casablanca on the 29th. We would like to see the var­i­ous sights and have a night in the desert. Can you rec­om­mend any com­pa­nies that can tailor a tour to fit with this short sched­ule?

DOC

Start with Tempo Hol­i­days (tem­po­hol­i­days.com) or Ad­ven­ture World (ad­ven­ture­world.com.au).

Th­ese com­pa­nies will work with you to con­struct an itin­er­ary in­cor­po­rat­ing ex­actly the sights and sounds you wish to ex­pe­ri­ence. You could start with a night in the for­mer cap­i­tal of Mar­rakesh and work your way through the maze of al­ley ways to the Place Je­maa el-Fnaa – the large square, to wit­ness snake-charm­ers, don­key carts and potion sell­ers.

Casablanca, the main port and Morocco’s largest city, is great for wan­der­ing through the Frenchin­spired ar­chi­tec­ture.

In­clude a stop at the Has­san II Mosque – its spire is 60 storeys high and the world’s tallest – plus the walls are made of hand­crafted mar­ble.

Then make your way to Fez, the largest liv­ing me­dieval city in the world. It too con­sists of al­ley­ways full of shops, hawk­ers and small boys promis­ing you amaz­ing things.

It’s over­whelm­ing and easy to get lost so stick with your guide.

HO­TELS FOR CEL­E­BRA­TION

In 2018, my wife and I will be cel­e­brat­ing our 50th wed­ding an­niver­sary. We will spend about four weeks on the east coast of Amer­ica. We plan to stay and cel­e­brate our an­niver­sary at Ni­a­gara Falls. Is there a spe­cial ho­tel you could sug­gest on the Cana­dian side? We would also ap­pre­ci­ate a sug­ges­tion for New York.

DOC

First, con­grat­u­la­tions, and next, be­cause it’s such a spe­cial oc­ca­sion, you must stay where there’s a view of the falls.

How ro­man­tic, wak­ing to that view? Here are a few prop­er­ties to com­pare: The Radis­son Fallsview (radis­son.com), Crowne Plaza (ni­a­garafallscrowne­plaza­ho­tel.com), Sher­a­ton (sher­atonon­the­falls.com) or the well-lo­cated Com­fort Inn (com­fortin­n­fallsview.ca) – all on the Cana­dian side.

While you’re there, here are some sug­ges­tions on how to make your visit even more spe­cial: Go for an early morn­ing walk to beat the crowds, re­new your vows at the Liv­ing Wa­ter Way­side Chapel, but don’t in­vite many friends – it only seats six – then book din­ner in the re­volv­ing restau­rant at the Sky­lon Tower. Fin­ish with a stroll be­side the il­lu­mi­nated falls.

In New York, the Edi­son Ho­tel (edis­on­hotel­nyc.com) is well placed in the cen­tre of Times Square.

The Ho­tel Bea­con (bea­con­ho­tel.com) of­fers af­ford­able views of Cen­tral Park, the Hud­son River plus mid-town Man­hat­tan, and the New York Edi­tion (edi­tion­ho­tels.com) is lux­ury at a good price.

RU­PEE GUID­ANCE

We are trav­el­ling to In­dia next year in­de­pen­dently so need to pay for trans­port and ac­com­mo­da­tion along the way. We will be trav­el­ling in cities and coun­try lo­ca­tions. Are there re­stric­tions re­gard­ing tak­ing ru­pees into and out of the coun­try?

DOC

You are cor­rect. There is a penalty for car­ry­ing more than Rs 25,000 (al­most $500) into or out of In­dia.

And, any­one who still has a few 500 or 1000 ru­pee notes ly­ing around for the next trip, can bin them.

They are now worth­less, il­le­gal and can only be ex­changed at In­dia’s Cen­tral Bank.

Since the scrap­ping of th­ese notes (they rep­re­sented 86 per cent of the cur­rency), more places ac­cept pay­ment by debit and credit card.

Take your debit card and with­draw cash as you need from an ATM, then whit­tle it down to­wards the end and per­haps do­nate any leftovers when you leave.

AHOY SMALL CRUISES

We will be in Costa Rica dur­ing April and May next year and want to do small ship cruis­ing in the Caribbean. Can you help?

DOC

Small ship cruis­ing on yachts, sail­ing schooners and river­boats – while prefer­able be­cause max­i­mum pas­sen­gers usu­ally sit at about 300 – can be quite ex­pen­sive.

You will pay for the lux­ury, lack of queues, per­son­alised at­ten­tion and ac­cess to smaller ports and lo­ca­tions, but if you can af­ford it – it’s worth it.

Wind­star (wind­star­cruises.com) of­fer many de­par­tures dur­ing April and May, rang­ing from seven to 14 days.

Is­land Wind­jam­mers (is­land­wind­jam­mers.com), re­fer­ring to the col­lec­tive name for old cargo ships, also have a good se­lec­tion of itin­er­ar­ies on their tall ships over th­ese months.

Or, if you would pre­fer to go it alone and char­ter your own pri­vate boat to ex­plore at leisure, the Moor­ings (moor­ings.com.au) have a range of sail, power, crewed and skip­pered ves­sels avail­able through­out the pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions of the Caribbean.

Boats of var­i­ous size and cabin al­lo­ca­tions can be hired in the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands, St Lu­cia, St Martin, Gre­nada, St Thomas and Puerto Rico.

VENICE TRANS­FERS

We are start­ing a cruise in Venice. We nor­mally look at pre-booked trans­fers to avoid has­sles but we were stunned to be quoted more than $300 for the trans­fer from the air­port to the ho­tel (Hil­ton).

Is there a bet­ter op­tion?

DOC

You have a cou­ple of choices.

A pri­vate wa­ter taxi with host­ess and porter service is about $150 a per­son one way, or try it with­out the ex­tras for about $80.

Make your reser­va­tions through the ho­tel (vce­hi_­concierge@hil­ton.com).

Pub­lic boat trans­port is also avail­able with Alila­guna (alila­guna.it).

They will stop at the Hil­ton Molino for a fare of about $25 a per­son, al­though the jour­ney takes nearly two hours, com­pared to about 30 min­utes by pri­vate trans­fer. Al­ter­na­tively, you can travel by land with bus, taxi or pri­vate car.

One op­tion is to jump in a taxi or the air­port (ATVO) bus to Pi­az­zale Roma (the main ve­hi­cle en­try point to the his­tor­i­cal cen­tre) for about $55 (which takes about 15 min­utes), then hop on a pub­lic boat ride to Palanca for about $10 a per­son – catch the west­bound num­ber two or 41.

When you exit the wa­ter taxi sta­tion, turn right and take the 10-minute walk along the wa­ter­front to the ho­tel.

PICTURES: ISTOCK

FEZ ME­D­INA In Morocco, wan­der the mys­te­ri­ous al­ley­ways of Fez, the largest liv­ing me­dieval city in the world; get around Venice on a wa­ter taxi; and stay in a ho­tel with a view of the in­cred­i­ble Ni­a­gara Falls.

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