Grif­fith Park and the Getty Cen­ter are good adds to a Los An­ge­les itinerary

The Washington Post Sunday - - TRAVEL - TALK ABOUT TRAVEL

Mon­days, at 2 p.m., The Wash­ing­ton Post’s travel writ­ers and ed­i­tors dis­cuss your travel sto­ries, ques­tions, gripes and more at live.wash­ing­ton­post.com. Here are some edited ex­cerpts from our most re­cent dis­cus­sion:

I will have one Sun­day in Los An­ge­les. Beaches are not of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est, and I want to check out the Chi­nese The­ater hand­prints at some point. What else should I add to my list?

De­pends on your in­ter­ests and whether you have trans­porta­tion. Grif­fith Park is a nice place to hike and take in the views and it has a neat ob­ser­va­tory. The Getty Cen­ter is a great choice if you’re in­ter­ested in art. I’m also a big fan of the Getty Villa, but it’s out of the way in Pa­cific Pal­isades. Peo­ple-watch­ing on the board­walk in Venice Beach is al­ways in­ter­est­ing. — Carol Sot­tili

Do you have any ex­pe­ri­ence and/or feed­back on us­ing the Chase Sap­phire credit card? The $450 an­nual fee is steep. Is it re­ally that easy to con­vert the award miles? I’ve also heard that South­west is ac­com­mo­dat­ing, but what about other car­ri­ers? What about get­ting the an­nual $350 kick­back for travel ex­penses? Am I go­ing to spend hours on the com­puter re­deem­ing all the ben­e­fits of the card?

That’s a lot to pay for a card. As a com­mit­ted loy­alty pro­gram skep­tic, I know you’re prob­a­bly ex­pect­ing me to say “Don’t do it!” But if you’re re­ally into points col­lect­ing, and have the time to read all of the mileage blogs and are ded­i­cated to your hobby, it might be worth it. For 99.9 per­cent of the folks read­ing this, I would strongly ad­vise not play­ing this kind of game. It’s like Ve­gas: House al­ways wins. — Christo­pher El­liott

What is the best means of trans­port from Barcelona to St.-Jean-de-Luz, France? We are look­ing for a route that is in­ex­pen­sive and does not take too much travel time.

You could drive, which is the most di­rect way but also the most ex­haust­ing for the driver (about six hours of car time). Or fly Vuel­ing to San Se­bas­tian (fares from $30 one way) and catch a bus to St. Jean for about $5 or $10. — An­drea Sachs

I’m in need of some new lug­gage. In an ideal world, it would be a set of three pieces, easy to ma­neu­ver (four spin­ning wheels, per­haps) and a rea­son­able cost. I’ll pay more for qual­ity, but up to a point. No strong pref­er­ences on hard- or soft­sided. Any sug­ges­tions?

I’m a con­vert to the hard-sided lug­gage. I like the Blues­mart, but it scuffs eas­ily and I’ve found my­self not us­ing the built-in gadgets. — C.E.

We are a group of 12 (six adults and six young chil­dren) go­ing to Ja­maica in June. We will have a 16-pas­sen­ger van and a driver for the week. Do you or any­one have any sug­ges­tions on what to see and do?

It de­pends on your in­ter­ests. My kids liked Dunn’s River Falls and the bi­o­lu­mi­nes­cent la­goon in Fal­mouth. Since you have such a large group, you can also do your own cata­ma­ran boat tour. Shaw Park Botan­i­cal Gar­dens is nice for na­ture en­thu­si­asts. Keep in mind that Ja­maica is a very large is­land, so choices may be de­ter­mined by where you are stay­ing. — C.S.

How much au­thor­ity do front­desk per­son­nel usu­ally have in giv­ing room up­grades, food and drink vouch­ers, et cetera, with­out con­sult­ing a man­ager? Is it ap­pro­pri­ate at all to “tip” be­fore or after re­ceiv­ing an up­grade?

The front-desk staff can of­fer such perks, within rea­son, but you need to have the cor­rect ap­proach. I think kind­ness is a bet­ter in­cen­tive than cash, though. At the end of your trip, you could hand the front-desk em­ployee a tip for a great stay. If you had a rough trip to the des­ti­na­tion, the staff per­son might try to cheer you up with an up­grade or free drink at the bar. If you are a fre­quent guest, tell the em­ployee how much you en­joy the ho­tel and how you of­ten stay there when on busi­ness or vis­it­ing fam­ily or what­ever the rea­son is. The ho­tel’s main goal is to at­tract — and keep — re­peat vis­i­tors. Also, write a com­pli­men­tary re­view and men­tion the per­son’s name who helped you. Telling the man­ager how great your stay was can also boost your chances of an up­grade on a fu­ture stay. — A.S.

Yes­ter­day, I flew with hus­band from Lon­don Heathrow to Dulles. When we booked our seats months ago, we paid an up­charge to select two aisles seats across from one an­other. Be­tween the book­ing and the flight, Bri­tish Air­ways changed the flight to a dif­fer­ent, smaller plane. In do­ing so, they re­as­signed our seats to one aisle and one mid­dle seat. When we checked in on­line, we could see there were no other seat op­tions, so we took it. What can I do to re­claim that up­charge on one seat? Is there any­thing else we would be en­ti­tled to?

The re­fund should be au­to­matic, but I would send a brief, po­lite email to BA ask­ing about it — just in case. — C.E.

We are con­sid­er­ing hik­ing the Grand Canyon in Septem­ber and there are many dif­fer­ent out­fit­ters. Have you had any ex­pe­ri­ence with guides go­ing to Phan­tom Ranch? We’re cur­rently look­ing at the Wild­land Trekking Com­pany.

I’ve just spent hours re­search­ing Grand Canyon white-wa­ter raft­ing out­fit­ters, so know that dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing be­tween com­pa­nies is not sim­ple. It’s also pos­si­ble to do it your­self.

Phan­tom Ranch books up way in ad­vance, how­ever, so make sure you have reser­va­tions, un­less you want to take the chance on a last-minute can­cel­la­tion. — C.S.

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