Trip Coach: Jan. 10, 2006
Budget Travel editors answered your questions
Budget Travel Editors: Welcome to this week's Trip Coach. Let's get to your questions!
Bayonne, NJ: Hello,: I am going to Gibraltar in March 2006. I am interested in doing a day-trip to Tangier, Morocco. Do you have any available information so I can make the day-trip possible?
Budget Travel Editors: There are two main ways to get to Tangier, Morocco from Gibraltar. Your first option is to leave directly from Gibraltar, where the only Tangier-bound ferry leaves once a week on Fridays at 8pm for a weekend trip, returning at Sunday evenings at the same time. (Tanger Jet Turner & Co. 011-350/78305, frs.es, $71 roundtrip). But your better option is to pop over to the neighboring Spanish port of Algeciras where ferries to Tangier leave every hour year-round. (Buses from Gibraltar leave every half-hour from the bus station for the 30-minute ride to Algeciras and cost $2). Many companies run the high-speed ferries from Alegeciras to Tangier, but tickets ($71 round-trip) are valid for all companies. You can buy tickets at the port and hop on the first vessel you like. Your best bet might be to book a day trip with a company like Viajes Transafric, which runs day-trips to Tangier, leaving every day from Algeciras at 9amand including transportation, guided tour, lunch, and time for shopping (011-34/956-654-311, $59). For further information, contact the tourism office of Algeciras 011-34/956-572-636. As for the border crossing, U.S. citizens don't need visas (just a valid passport) for visits to Morocco under 90 days.
Tampa, Florida: I am considering driving from Bucharest, Romania to Dubrovnik, Croatia which would mean traveling through Bosnia. Considering the current State Department advisory, should I be concerned about making this drive. What is the condition of the highways in Bosnia.
Bottom line - is this advisable or not?
Budget Travel Editors: While conditions along your route through the Federation section of Bosnia and Herzegovina and rapidly-developing Sarajevo are improving, they are still annoying at best, hazardous at worst. With only about six miles of highway in the entire country, expect hours of overcrowded two-lane roads, which you'll be sharing with the truckers. Locals aren't exactly known for their flawless driving behavior either; speeding and drunk driving are increasing problems. You would be wise to drive in a convoy, and only during daylight hours. (Roads along your alternate route through Serbia and Montenegro are not any better.) So unless you'll get a thrill from white-knuckle driving in some of Europe's least forgiving conditions and the lingering presence of landmines, stick to the bus and train system.
Salt Lake City, UT: We fly into Milan, Italy on 14Feb06 and are going to rent a car for 6 days. Where would you suggest we go?
Budget Travel Editors: Before hitting the road, I'd suggest devoting a day or two to Milan itself. Italy's business and fashion capital gets a bad rap for its overcast weather, high prices and (comparatively) fast pace of life, but the city may surprise you-it has a vibrant cultural scene (its famed opera house, La Scala, recently reopened; Da Vinci's Last Supper resides here) and sophisticated sense of style (stroll down Montenapoleone, its rough Fifth Avenue equivalent). You'll have a wealth of options for exploring Lombardy and Piedmont during the remainder of your trip.
The Winter Olympics, Feb. 10 -- 19, will be in full swing in Turin, about an hour-and-a-half drive to the southwest from Milan; you could try for last-minute event tickets (cosport.com), but expect lodgings to be scarce. Ten miles west of Turin in the Val di Susa, the 12th century Benedictine abbey Sacra di San Michele is perched atop craggy Monte Pirchiriano. Its formidable and maze-like structure was the inspiration for the setting of Umberto Eco's novel The Name of the Rose. Follow the trail, about one-and-a-half hours, from the town of Sant'Ambrogio up to the abbey (open daily, 4 euros). Hiking and driving directions are available on their website. The Barolo valley's wine-producing villages lie about 35 miles to the south of Turin. You can sample the regional fruits at Castello Falletti in the town of Barolo (daily, 2 euros per tasting) or explore the area by car (complete list of area wineries: barolodibarolo.com).
To the east of Milan, you can explore the beautiful mountain-ringed lakes Como and Garda. The city of Bergamo lies just beyond while small and lovely Cremona, best known for its world-class violins, is an hour to the south. Of course, distances are much smaller in Europe than in the U.S.; you could high-tail it to Florence (186 miles) or to Venice (151 miles) instead if you prefer to hit up major tourist attractions.