Ask an Expert: T+L International Editor Mark Orwoll
Q: We want to rent a car in Europe. Have any money-saving tips? — Paul Demonte, Ronkonkoma, N.Y.
A: You’ll find the best rates across the Continent by using a regional firm such as Sixt Rent A Car or Europcar. If you’re staying longer than three weeks, consider a cost-efficient short-term lease from AutoEurope(888/223- 5555) or Renault Eurodrive(888/532-1221). Another option: joining Zipcar(866/494-7227) in the U.S., then picking up your ride in London, where loaners include Honda Insight hybrids and Audi A3’s (if you’re leaving the city, request a “vehicle on-hire” certificate from Zipcar a week before your trip). Lastly, you’ll save on fuel—and squeeze through medieval streets more easily—by choosing a small car.
Q: I’d like to book a charming hotel for my trip to the south of France. What do you recommend? — Priscilla Kauff, via e-mail
A: At the 15th-century Villa Mazarin, in the walled town of Aigues-Mortes (33-4/66-73-90-48; doubles from $172), rooms overlook a leafy central courtyard. Tiara Yaktsa(33-4/92-28-60-30; doubles from $334), in Cannes, welcomes guests with a drink of their choice upon arrival, while the cocktails at Café Marianne lure locals to Hôtel Juana(33-4/93-61-08-70; doubles from $375), at Cap d’Antibes, on the Côte d’Azur. Just up the shore, rooms in Hôtel Le Meurice(33-4/97-03-05-21; doubles from $170) recall the romanticism of Old Nice with stucco ceilings and Belle Époque lamps.
Q: Our annual trip to Cape Cod is coming up. Are there new restaurants that we should check out? — Suzanne Davis, Portland, Maine
A: In Dennis, Fin(508/385-2096; dinner for two from $85) is housed in a centuries-old “half Cape” house and specializes in offbeat pairings (crab cakes with grapefruit mousse; swordfish and soba noodles). At the Cape Cod Center for the Arts, Summer Stock(Dennis; 508/385-8300; dinner for two from $60) has live music during dinner (try the Portuguese stew, made with locally caught cod and oysters and served with a grilled leek flatbread). Ten Tables Restaurant & Bar(Provincetown; 508/487-0106; dinner for two from $75) is the toast of P-town: owner Krista Kranyak sources everything—spring onion soup; braised pork cheeks—from her farmer and fisherman neighbors.
Q: Do you know of any great, small-ship cruises around New Zealand? — Ilene Aluma, Weston, Fla.
A: On Real Journeys’ two-day Fiordland Navigator(64-3/249-7416; from $410 per person, double occupancy), you can kayak the South Island’s Doubtful Sound with the world’s most agreeable tour guides: chattering bottlenose dolphins. Passengers on Coral Princess’sNew Zealand Journey of Discovery(931/924-5253; 12 nights from $8,555 per person, double occupancy), aboard a 36-cabin ship, explore the volcanic isles of the far north and spot humpbacks in Kaikoura. And on Orion Expedition Cruise’s two-week New Zealand & Sub-Antarctic Wildlife Adventure(877/674-6687; from $9,735 per person), guests see the rarely visited Sub-Antarctic Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where yellow-eyed penguins and 16-foot-high tree daisies dot the glacial landscape.