The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - DOC HOLIDAY - LISA MAYOH

We fly from Perth to Van­cou­ver with a stopover In Auckland In Au­gust. We ar­rive In Auckland at 5.25am and leave at 8.10pm. We'd I Ike to take the op­por­tu­nity to have a look around. At such an ea rly time, I Imag­ine lit­tle would be avail­able, but we could break­fast some­where and then look at a tour or­some other op­tion. Can you make some sug­ges­tions?


Get­ting out and ex­plor­ing a new city is a great way to stretch the legs be­fore another big flight. A 20-minute taxi ride from the air­port will get you to Brit­o­mart in the cen­tre of Auckland. It's a dy­namic hub of shops and cafes - you should get there just as cafes open at 7am. Shaky Isles has all things Kiwi, with a funky, New York-style vibe while nearby The Store is known for its fresh juices, pas­tries and artisan bread. Then, when you're suit­ably charged, you could visit the Sky Tower for a bird's eye view-it opens at 9am. From there, head to the Auckland mu­seum for a Maori cul­tural per­for­mance - on daily at Liam and in­cluded in your ticket if you up­grade to the high­lights tour pack­age for $NZSS (about $50.30) - but book ahead if you can. For just over $NZ40 you could do a 90-minute Waitem­ata Har­bour sight­see­ing cruise with Fullers 360 Dis­cov­ery Cruises. It leaves at1.43pm and in­cludes af­ter­moon tea. You could shop along Queen St, get in­spired at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o

i, and have some best fish and chips for an early din­ner at Mt Eden’s The An­cient Mariner. You should then be suit­ably sleepy for the 13-hour flight to Van­cou­ver.


My sis­ter and I re­cently had an amaz­ing hol­i­day at a beau­ti­ful re­sort In Thai­land, and pre­paid our ac­com­mo­dat­lon months In ad­vance. But on check-In, the ho­tel wanted a credit card pre-au­tho­ri­sa­tion of THB2000 (about $82)a day. They would not ac­cept a debit card. Do credit cards have to be a part of life and travel now?


Un­for­tu­nately, credit cards are a nec­es­sary evil in mo­dem-day life, par­tic­u­larly when trav­el­ling. Julie Woodall of My Travel Expert, a Hel­loworld part­ner in Nowra on Sydney's South Coast, says you should al­ways cover your bases with three forms of money while you're away - a cash pass­port card (which is a multi-cur­rency, pre­paid travel money card from Master­card that of­fers 11 cur­ren­cies and locked-in ex­change rates), as well as for­eign cash, and a credit card, which is re­ally handy to have when you need it One of Julie's reg­u­lar clients never uses her credit card ex­cept in emer­gen­cies. If you're stay­ing at a ho­tel or hir­ing a car, they'll all need a credit card im­print - and even if they did ac­cept a debit card, you'd hate for them to put a block on money that you likely need for your trav­els. A credit card is safer.


My sis­ter and I are trav­el­ling to Me­laka at the end of Septem­ber and would like to do a cook­ing class. We’ve heard a ho­tel does classes but can’t find a con­tact num­ber to book without stay­ing there. We’ve been told we need a Baba Ny­onya cook­ing class.


Oh, you are lucky. Me­laka is known for its cui­sine, and a cook­ing class is the per­fect wayto make the most of your ex­pe­ri­ence. The cook­ing style is a fu­sion of cuisines, like Malaysia in so many ways- a melt­ing pot of cul­tures, and peo­ple, liv­ing to­gether in per­fect har­mony. There's the in­flu­ence from Kuala Lumpur (just an hour-and-a-half away) and Sin­ga­pore (two hours away). Chi­nese styles of stir-fry and brais­ing, us­ing Malay in­gre­di­ents like can­dlenut, lemon­grass and co­conut, have be­come known as Ny­onya cook­ing. Baba Ny­onya were a group of mi­grants from China who set­tled in Me­laka, and their tra­di­tions, like their cook­ing, have sur­vived to this day.

For classes, the most pop­u­lar is Nancy's Kitchen- she's a lo­cal chef who runs classes on week­days (closed Tues­days), and passes down recipes from three gen­er­a­tions for about $60. You'll make can­dlenut paste, co­conut gravy and bean paste stew, and feast on your cre­ations at the end of the ses­sion (eatat­ for more de­tails). There is also a home cook­ing class at Casa Del Rio Ho­tel (casadel­rio-me­, or a 30-minute class with lo­cal chef Cathe­rina, in her home, where you'll le am to make a tra­di­tional en­tree or main. It's usu­ally pre­pared us­ing sam­bal-chilli paste, shal­lots and shrimp paste. The cost is about $100- look at the Vi­a­tor web­site for book­ings.


My friend and I will be trav­el­ling to Amiens, France, next July and stay­ing two to four days. We’ll visit Crouy Bri­tish Ceme­tery as my friend’s great un­cle is buried there, and ex­plore Amiens it­self. Can you rec­om­mend any other places to see near Amiens?

Amiens, in northern France, is known for its iconic gothic-style ar­chi­tec­ture and me­dieval her­itage and there is much to see and do.

Amiens Cathe­dral is World Her­itage listed and has the tallest spire in France – 112.7m. On the west­ern side of Amiens, in walk­ing dis­tance of the cathe­dral, the city’s 65km net­work of canals through re­claimed farm­land be­gin. These float­ing gardens are the “hor­tillon­nages” – mar­ket gardens that have been a part of the land­scape since me­dieval times. The best way to ex­pe­ri­ence them is on a flat-bot­tomed bar­que tour, which takes about 45 min­utes and talks about how the gardens were formed.

Musée de Pi­cardie shows cen­turiesold art, and about 20 min­utes north of Amiens is the town of Naours, where for more than a mil­len­nium the peo­ple would seek refuge un­der­ground in a lime­stone tun­nel net­work.

If you dare, you can be guided 33m un­der a hill into kilo­me­tres of gal­leries, learn­ing about the salt smug­glers who used the sys­tem to avoid the salt tax of the day.


Ar­rive early to a view of Auckland CBD across Waitem­ata Har­bour; ex­plore the float­ing veg­etable plots of Amiens’ hor­tillon­nages – mar­ket gardens; and Ny­onya cook­ing classes spice up a visit to Me­laka.

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