TRAVEL: YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR PANEL OF EXPERTS
Sunday 11 July 1999
I would like to do a flat-swap and live for a year in San Francisco. What advice can you give me on arranging this? Ideally I would like to move in September.
The Travel Editor replies: Several British companies provide a list of overseas houseowners keen to swap. For fees ranging from pounds 38 to pounds 89, you can register with one, and keep updated on available properties in the area. HomeLink International (www.homelink.org) has the largest list (around 12,000 subscribers) and has more than 150 properties in San Francisco. At pounds 89, it is the most expensive but your property remains on its internet listing all year, and you can check out its listings details before joining. You also get five directories a year. Other organisations include: Intervac International Home Exchange (tel: 01225 892208, www.intervac.org), Home Base Holidays (tel: 0181 886 8752) and Green Theme International (tel: 01208 873 123).
My wife and I would like to see the total eclipse in August, but we don't really trust Cornwall to give us a clear sky. We have heard that the eclipse is also visible in north Turkey, in an area of the Black Sea coast line between Zonguldak and Samsun. That would be perfect, as we can turn the trip into a beach holiday. However, none of the travel agents (even some specialised ones) we contacted organise any holidays in that area. Can you help us?
Hans and Mani Venmans
The Travel Editor replies: There are only a few tour operators based in the UK who deal with holidays to the Black Sea coast of Turkey and it is uncharted territory for packages tour operators. Pontic Tours (tel: 01548 550449) can offer a tailor-made holiday on the Black Sea coast with hotel accommodation either in the coastal town of Sinop, or in Amasya, about one hour's drive inland to the area of totality (directly in the centre of the path of the eclipse). They recommend staying on the coast as the temperatures inland can become uncomfortably hot in August. The price of one week in a two-star hotel is pounds 220 per person with breakfast and transfer by local bus included. The flights (to Istanbul), encompassing 11 August, would be pounds 210 per person. Car hire can be arranged. Green Island Holidays (tel: 0171-637 7338) are also organising a tour which incorporates a stopover in the eclipse path. This 10-night tour of western Turkey (incorporating Cappadocia, Pamukkale and Kusadasi) provides four-star hotel accommodation plus breakfast, return flights to Istanbul and all transport. The per person price is pounds 840, based on two sharing. There is still availability on this trip. Anatolian Sky (tel: 0121-643 3546) can offer a tailor-made holidays, though they don't cover the coastal region you refer to in terms of accommodation. Availability is low but, for pounds 875 per person, you could fly into Cappadocia (the main eclipse viewing area in Turkey) and spend three nights at a three-star hotel, with breakfast, sightseeing and eclipse tours included, along with car hire for two weeks. For more information about the eclipse in Turkey call the Turkish Tourist Office (tel: 0171- 629 7771).
We would like to take our six-week-old son on a driving holiday in France this summer. What precautions should we take?
Dr Larry Goodyer replies: A holiday in France should not pose any serious health risks. Take the obvious precautions regarding making sure the baby does not get overheated in the car and screen the back windows from direct sunlight. It would also be a good idea to have completed all your post-natal checks before leaving. The biggest inconvenience would be arranging formula feeds, so it would obviously be easier to manage if breast feeding. Travel sickness is rare in under twos, so at least you should have no worries on that account. Be prepared that if baby sleeps a lot while travelling, the change in routine could mean less sleep at night. Perhaps arrange your tour around a relatively small area.
Dr Larry Goodyer is a lecturer in clinical pharmacy at King's College, London. Contact the Nomad Travel Health Helpline (tel: 0891 633 414; calls cost 60 per minute).
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