PLAY YOUR CARDS RIGHT FOR CUBA
My partner and I wish to travel to Cuba from Miami and are getting confusing messages about an entry visa to Cuba when travelling from America.
According to Australia’s Cuban Consulate, those entering Cuba directly from the US must buy their visa (or tourist card, as it’s called) in US territory. Unfortunately, you can’t buy it here. Once you’re in the States you can ask immigration authorities at the airport how to get a tourist card, or you can also contact a travel agent (Australian government recommended tourist agencies in Cuba include cubanacan.cu/en or cuba.travel/en/).
Also check with the airline you’re flying, as sometimes tourist cards are included in your ticket. Everyone needs their own, and it’s valid for a single entry and expires after 30 days – but you can apply to extend that for another 30 days if needed. To get a tourist card directly from the consulate, you’ll need your valid passport, a form, a plane ticket with arrival and return date, and pay a fee, normally about $US50 (about $69). Due to the US blockade against Cuba, credit and debit cards aren’t accepted if issued by US banks, or Australian banks affiliated with US banks. This includes all American Express, Visa and MasterCard cards, depending on the issuing bank, and Westpac Bank cards. Smartraveller.com.au recommends visitors take enough cash for their stay, in case your credit cards don’t work.
We are looking at visiting Chefchaouen as a side trip from the UK but can’t seem to find any short tours from the nearest major city in Morocco. Is it safe for two females to take a private tour?
Chefchaouen is one of Morocco’s best-kept secrets. Known for its bluewashed buildings, complete with blue doors, it’s not as touristy as cities such as Marrakesh. Companies including On the Go Tours go to the Blue City but most tours are 14 or 15 days (their 14-day Classical Morocco tour is about $3400 a person). They also do private, tailored tours so perhaps you could contact them and design your itinerary. Or you can do a day tour of Chefchaouen with Fez Tours for $75 (Fez is known as the cultural capital of Morocco).
In terms of safety, avoid walking around at night by yourselves, and wear dark glasses to avoid eye contact with men. It’s a place where women are admired by men and openly “hassled”, as Moroccan men have little chance to meet women outside their families before they are married. They may call out on the street or will stare a little too long, and it may make you feel uncomfortable. Wearing a wedding ring is another way to stop unwanted attention, according to Lonely Planet, and dress modestly, covering your shoulders and knees.
Doc would feel safe doing a private tour with a female friend – most attention is harmless. But just like anywhere, exercise caution, stay contact with enjoy such a special holiday.
THE FRENCH RIVERINA
We are interested in a French river cruise and prefer to relax a little more on holidays and spend as much time as possible with
experiences during the cruise. Could you please advise if there are any other companies offering this service?
Most French river cruises will have a lot of shore activities, so you’re off the ship more often than usual. There are of
– APT and Scenic for example, or try Avalon Waterways or Evergreen, says Caryn Thorsby, from Helloworld Travel St Ives, Sydney. Avalon has a 16-day Grand France tour that offshore Paris, Lyon, Avignon, Arles and the Côte d’Azur. Magnifique!
Caryn says Evergreen has some enticing specials at the moment. APT has a 21-day Paris to Prague trip for early birds for 2019 will get free flights to France and a free stopover in Singapore if you book a minimum 11day cruise by August 31. Just think of buttery croissants, soft cheeses and French champagne waiting for you.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
I will be visiting New York for a week’s holiday next month but have not been able to find reasonably priced My preference is for is clean and comfortable and, ideally, convenient to some of the key sightseeing attractions. What can you advise?
You can find cheap depend on your style what you want from your accommodation – is it part of the experience, or just somewhere to rest your head and leave your bags? When the search becomes overwhelming and you’re not convinced of benefit for the cost, Doc finds the best thing to do is to ask your travel agent. They know the best places to stay and can get you the best rates and give you options. The average daily rate of hotels in New York reached $US389 (about $535) in 2016, and it is the second most expensive city in the US for hotels, so wherever you look, it will come at a cost. That being said, Airbnb has made a change to the face of NY – rentals are in abundance, as are centrally located and convenient hotel rooms, which have to compete for business.
Depending on your budget, you may have to compromise on location, but most styles would be upwards of $2500 for a seven-night stay that time of year. Apartment rental websites newyorkstay.com and hometogo.com have one- and two-bedroom apartments on the Upper East Side or East Village for between $2600 and $3700 for a week.
If looking for hotels, booking.com has specials including hotels on Times Square (which is central, but noisy and busy) and Central Park for around $2500 for seven nights.
When visiting Cuba, a tourist card or visa must be obtained for 30-day entry; and Chefchaouen, or the Blue City, in Morocco is safe for women travellers but, like anywhere, exercise caution.