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Ask T+L: San Francisco Dining, Affordable Cruises, Spain Tour

Q: I’ll be visiting San Francisco with my daughter next month. Any new restaurant recommendations? —Roe Mathis, Cape May, N.J.

A: A number of noteworthy restaurants have recently opened in the Bay Area. The blackboard menu at chef Dennis Leary’s downtown Sentinel (breakfast for two $14) changes daily, but standouts include walnut-cinnamon–streusel coffee cake and oatmeal with dried figs. For lunch, the concrete-and-glass Moss Room (lunch for two $56) serves grilled Monterey squid with chickpeas, chard, and jalapeño pesto. If you’re in the mood for suckling pig or Japanese sea bass, chef Louis Maldonado, formerly of French Laundry, has just joined the 58-seat Café Majestic (dinner for two $100) at the legendary Hotel Majestic, in Lower Pacific Heights.

Q: I am looking to book an affordable cruise this spring. How can I get started? —Allan Jurish, Fort Worth, Tex.

A: “It’s best to book far in advance,” says T+L’s A-List agent Betsy Patton of Betty Maclean Travel, “but last-minute options are abundant.” Begin by talking to your travel agent and search online consolidators such as cruisesonly.com, auction forums like luxurylink.com, and cruisecompete.com, which submits your desired ship, sail date, and cabin type to dozens of travel agents, who get back to you with competing offers in just hours. If these don’t turn up the rate you’re looking for, consider a fall or spring repositioning cruise, sailing from Europe or Alaska to the Caribbean and vice versa. While these excursions tend to spend less time at port, they last from eight to 15 days and are discounted by as much as 50 percent.

Q: Can you suggest a tour operator for my upcoming trip to Spain? —Nick Geordan, Greenwood Village, Colo.

A: A guided experience is a great way to explore Spain’s medieval streets, white-sand beaches, and olive tree–filled countryside. Made for Spain (doubles from $350)—founded by a Madrid native—designs one-day to two-week itineraries that emphasize local interaction (think visiting the Prado Museum with a Spanish painter). For history buffs, New York–based Heritage Tours (doubles from $2,375) has a collection of 7- to 14-day journeys that explore the country’s cultural highlights, from the art museums of Madrid to the small towns of Andalusia. And California’s Travcoa (doubles from $1,200) tailors trips around a theme of your choosing—on a culinary weekend, you’ll sample olive oil at ancient mills and tour Seville’s tapas restaurants.

Ask an Expert: T+L Contributing Editor Jeff Wise

Q: Where can I find a great ski resort in British Columbia? —Zachary Trimble, Macon, Ga.

A: “Canada has superb skiing without the crowds of comparable resorts in the States,” says T+L contributing editor and ski expert Jeff Wise. Deep in the Selkirk Mountains, Nelsen Lodge at Revelstoke Mountain Resort (suites from $263) debuts with 59 rustic suites this month (162 more are slated to open later this year) and is just 10 steps from the longest lift-serviced descent in North America, at 5,620 feet. The 273-room Four Seasons (doubles from $315), 68 miles north of Vancouver, is a five-minute walk from Whistler-Blackcomb’s 200 trails, where a new Peak 2 Peak gondola carries skiers to and from both mountains. Just west of the Alberta–British Columbia border, Kicking Horse Resort is perfect for advanced skiers, with 70 trails and two spacious Eagle’s Eye suites (from $1,800) overlooking five national parks.

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