CROSS THAT BRIDGE

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

My sis­ter and I are do­ing a river cruise from Prague to Bu­dapest at the end of Au­gust next year. What else can we see while that far from home? Should we base our­selves in Bu­dapest and do day trips?

DOC ¿

As you say, you’re a long way from home, so pack­ing as much sight­see­ing as you can into your time away is a good idea.

Your cruise will no doubt in­clude parts of Ger­many and Aus­tria in its itin­er­ary, giv­ing you the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence these coun­tries, so per­haps con­sider a few days be­fore your de­par­ture in Prague to ex­plore more of the Czech Re­pub­lic.

Give your­self at least two days to wan­der around Prague. There are many ar­eas in­clud­ing the pic­turesque Old Town Square with the 600-yearold As­tro­nom­i­cal Clock and Town Hall, plus churches and cathe­drals. Tak­ing in Charles Bridge and the 1000-year-old Prague Cas­tle – the largest cas­tle com­plex in the world – will take a whole day in them­selves.

You should take a day trip to the town of Cesky Krumlov. The di­rect train ser­vice leav­ing at 8am will have you there by 11am giv­ing you all day to wan­der the streets and quaint shops, then head to the cas­tle court­yards and gar­dens. The train ride through the coun­try­side is de­light­ful and this old town­ship with Baroque homes and cob­ble­stone streets is worth the visit.

At the end of your cruise and once you’ve fa­mil­iarised your­selves with Bu­dapest, look at do­ing the fol­low­ing day or ex­tended trips: Hop on a lo­cal train to the town­ship of Vac about 45 min­utes away, where you will find this and other lit­tle vil­lages of the Danube Bend. These vil­lages in­clude Ro­man ru­ins, 300-year-old mum­mies, thatched roof houses and cas­tles. Or you could join a guided tour. Bu­dapest River Cruise (bu­dapestriver­cruise.com) pro­vides a 10-hour tour to the pop­u­lar vil­lages of Viseg­rad, Eszter­gom and Szen­ten­dre, plus it in­cludes a photo stop in Slo­vakia. Ho­tel pick-up and lunch is in­cluded. The his­toric town of Szf­var, a 40-minute train ride from Bu­dapest, is also worth a visit. It fea­tures the Bory Cas­tle, a replica of me­dieval times. (Most of the town was de­mol­ished in the 1600s).

Bu­dapest is known for its ther­mal baths, but one of the best is about two hours away in Miskolc. The Miskolc Cave Baths can be reached by taxi or bus from the town’s train sta­tion, and you could stop in Eger on the way back to see the Eger Cas­tle. An­other sug­ges­tion is to spend more time in Vi­enna – you can get there with a sim­ple three-hour train ride.

Bratislava, the cap­i­tal of Slo­vakia is about the same dis­tance from Bu­dapest and this pedes­trian-only town should be con­sid­ered for an overnight stay. The old town has lively bars and restau­rants and its cas­tle has great views over­look­ing the Danube.

Salzburg, the home of Mozart, plus the Mirabell Gar­dens and Palace is about five hours by train and you should also con­sider a night or two there. The old town is lovely to ex­plore and you can see the lo­ca­tions of the Sound of Mu­sic, tour St Peter’s Church and Ceme­tery and ride the fu­nic­u­lar to the fortress for amaz­ing views.

PLANE FARE

We are fly­ing to Bali and won­dered if we could or­der food on Jet­star or do we have to do it when we make our book­ing?

DOC ¿

Jet­star In­ter­na­tional (jet­star.com.au) of­fers three fare types on its flights to and from Bali. There is the Starter, Plus Bun­dle and Max Bun­dle.

Starter fares do not in­clude meals, but Plus and Max Bun­dles will in­clude a meal/snack, or an in-flight voucher you can use to make pur­chases when on-board.

If you are on a Starter fare and would like a meal, it must be pre­pur­chased as they are not avail­able for sale on the flight. Pre-pur­chased meals will in­clude one hot and one cold non-al­co­holic drink with ev­ery meal ser­vice. You can pre-or­der your meals through the “man­age my book­ing” func­tion on the Jet­star site.

Other­wise, you can buy snacks such as cheese and bis­cuits, noo­dles, muffins and wraps dur­ing the flight (sub­ject to avail­abil­ity).

SHANG­HAI TRAN­SIT VISA

We are trav­el­ling to Shang­hai in Au­gust, and will stay there two days be­fore our cruise. Is it pos­si­ble to ob­tain the tran­sit visa from Aus­tralia prior to de­part­ing? If not, what is the time re­quired to ob­tain it at Pudong Air­port on ar­rival.

DOC ¿

It would be eas­ier to get your visa sorted prior to ar­riv­ing, from the cor­rect site – visaforchina.org. You can down­load the ap­pli­ca­tion form on­line, and then ap­ply in per­son at one of their cen­tres in Can­berra, Syd­ney, Mel­bourne, Perth or Bris­bane, or by post. The cen­tres are open 9am to 3pm Monday to Fri­day. You can make an ap­point­ment and the ap­pli­ca­tion should take about four days to process. A reg­u­lar sin­gle en­try at the time of writ­ing is $110.

MIND-BLOW­ING MONA

We are head­ing to Tas­ma­nia soon for a cou­ple of weeks’ trav­el­ling in a mo­torhome, and we have heard of Mona, a mu­seum in Ho­bart that was built by a gam­bler and con­tains re­ally weird ex­hibits. What can you tell us about it?

DOC ¿

Pri­vately funded and lo­cated within the Moo­rilla Win­ery near Ho­bart, Mona (the Mu­seum of Old and New Art) is de­scribed as a sub­ver­sive, adult Dis­ney­land by owner David Walsh. Its un­usual col­lec­tion in­cludes every­thing from an­cient Egyp­tian mum­mies to odd­ball and thought­pro­vok­ing con­tem­po­rary art. Each vis­i­tor is given a hand­held de­vice which tracks where they are in the build­ing, then pro­vides in­for­ma­tion on the par­tic­u­lar dis­play.

There are three types of com­men­tary to choose from, as they call them: Art wank – tra­di­tional; Gonzo – thoughts from the owner on what the piece means on a per­sonal level, and Ideas – small bits of in­for­ma­tion and in­ter­views with artists. There are about 300 works on dis­play, plus on-site you’ll find a cel­lar door and wine bar, restau­rant, cin­ema, li­brary, gallery and ac­com­mo­da­tion.

The best way to get there is via ferry from Ho­bart’s wa­ter­front, and note: it is closed on Tues­days.

PIC­TURES: ISTOCK, TOURISM TAS­MA­NIA

Charles Bridge and Prague Cas­tle will take a whole day to ex­plore; visit Mona, Ho­bart’s sub­ver­sive adult Dis­ney­land, and get your tran­sit visa be­fore ar­riv­ing in Shang­hai.

SHANG­HAI

HO­BART

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