Trip Coach: Nov. 1, 2005
Budget Travel editors answer your questions
Budget Travel Editors: Thanks for joining us. Let's get to your questions!
Layton, UT: Do you have suggestions for areas, cities in Spain to visit. I do not like beaches. This trip is for cultural, historical and family reasons. I have never been to Spain. I want to go there to see where my family came from. Is spring a good time to go? I would like to see the northeast, because I believe that is where my family came from (around Burgos).
Budget Travel Editors: Burgos itself has a wealth of history, and especially if you're looking into the homeplace of your ancestors you'll want a full day to explore. Most likely you'll get started in Madrid, where you can get into the Spanish way of life with tapas in one of the older cave-like mesons around Plaza Mayor. You can visit the Palacio Real as well for a taste of royal life and luxury. Madrid has an absolute ton to explore, so if you'd like a bit more in depth knowledge about the different historical elements of the capital city, try a guided tour through the Tourism Office (descubremadrid.com). North of Madrid, on your way up to Burgos, Segovia is definitely worth a visit. Its most notable landmark, the Roman aqueduct, is largely believed to date back to the first century BC. The Alcázar in the old town is reputedly the inspiration for the castle at Disneyland (though it vies for this title against Neuschwanstein in Germany). The House Museum of Antonio Machado is also worth a visit if the early 20th century Spanish poet's life and work interests you. Moving further north you can also stop into Valladolid, a bustling university town now, it was at one point home to Cervantes, Spain's famed son who penned Don Quijote de la Mancha. On to Burgos, a city laid out around the Arlanzón River. It's easy to orient yourself in the city as the main cathedral is visible from most parts. I hope these suggestions get you started, but also look into spain.info for more in depth trip planning, and check out the podcasts on notesfromspain.com for historical and cultural insight into many different parts of the country. And as for your inquiry about spring travel, the capital city is mostly warm and sunny in April and May (temperatures in the 60s and not very rainy), but you can check temperatures in more detail on weather.com or wunderground.com.
Fairfax, Va: I am taking a cruise at the end of April 2006 out of San Diego. I have never been to San Diego and thought I may go early and spend 2 nights there before getting on the ship. Any suggestions for a nice hotel which would be close by the port but still convenient for seeing the city?
Budget Travel Editors: A short walk from the Bay, the revitalized restaurant-heavy Gaslamp Quarter, and Little Italy, the W San Diego is a convenient jumping off point--if you're in the mood for an indulgent blow-out stay (with the $250+ nightly rates to match). The lobby doubles as a throbbing nightclub on weekend nights, there's an outdoor, tropical-themed bar dubbed the Beach for its sandy floor, plus a tiny pool with an open-air gym and a spa. For something more wallet-friendly, try the quaint Victorian Horton Grand Hotel, four-story European-style La Pensione, or the no-frills Comfort Inn, all reliable downtown options.
Glendale, CA: What is the time difference between Vietnam and California?
Budget Travel Editors: There is a 15 hour time difference between California and Vietnam, (ie, when it is 8AM in California it is 11PM in Vietnam). The website timeanddate.com is a great, simple resource for figuring out time differences around the globe. Another great resource for making international phone calls across time zones is countrycallingcodes.com.
Weehawken, NJ: What is the best online website for discounts on Cruise vacations?
Budget Travel Editors: By far one of the best websites for cruise deals is cruisecompete.com. Submit a ship name and sail date and travel agencies across the country will compete to offer you the best package for your vacation. You'll be contacted via email with a price quote for your trip, then simply contact the agency directly to book your cruise. There's no obligation to purchase a cruise once you're quoted a price, the service is totally free, and if you're flexible with your travel dates and itinerary, you'll get some of the best bargains around.