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Ask T+L: Eco Lodges, Cooking School in Mexico, Digital Cameras, Avoiding the Flu

January 2007

READER'S FIND

Argentina
While in Buenos Aires recently, I visited Bar Uriarte [1572 Uriarte; 54-11/4834-6004; www.baruriarte.com.ar; dinner for two $20] for a casual dinner. Three of us shared a homemade basil, prosciutto, and Brie pizza baked in the fiery coal oven. The crowded bar has low tables and sofas that are tailor-made for chatting while you sip brimming glasses of Malbec. Not able to help myself, I made a second trip there that same week and I was still in love with the bustling and warmly lit atmosphere. This is another gem by Buenos Aires restaurateur Luis Morandi that is absolutely worth a visit, or two! —Ashley Steen, Danville, Calif.

Can you suggest some great eco-lodges in Costa Rica?
—Ellen Wilcher, Chicago, Ill.

On the Pacific coast, Aguila de Osa (011-506/296-2190; www.aguiladeosainn.com; two-night package $514 per person, double), with 13 breezy hillside rooms above Drake Bay, arranges easy horseback tours through the lush rain forests, where you'll spot spider monkeys, jaguars, and scarlet macaws. At Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge (011-506/735-5206; www.bosquedelcabo.com; doubles from $300), you can take a steel-cable zipline ride over the rain forest canopy, then go snorkeling among the Golfo Dulce's brightly colored fish, all with expert guides to point out the abundant plants and wildlife. Back at the lodge, you can sit on the porch of your minimalist bungalow to enjoy a private view of the Pacific Ocean. On the Caribbean side, Laguna Lodge (011-506/709-8082; www.lagunatortuguero.com; doubles from $398, all-inclusive) offers tours of the nearby canals of Tortuguero, to see keel-billed toucans and crocodiles. Or, if you visit between July and October, a guide will take you down to the beach at night to observe endangered green sea turtles— and, occasionally, rare hawksbill sea turtles—coming in to nest.

I'm going on a major trip and would like to finally invest in a high- quality camera. What would you recommend?
—Ned Allen, Reno, Nev.

"Look for an ultralight point-and-shoot—something professionals use on their own vacations," says T+L deputy photo editor Whitney Lawson. She suggests a tiny digital such as the Sony T50 ($500; www.sonyusa.com), with a Carl Zeiss lens (very important for those in the know) and a big viewing screen. "If you prefer the look and feel of film, invest in a classic—the Contax T3 is a cult favorite among the pros," she says. "The lens is tack-sharp, and the size is so practical. You can find this vintage camera online [at press time there were several on eBay for around $400] or at a pro camera shop." T+L tip: If you're shooting with film, when you return ask your lab to process each roll and scan it onto a CD—the extra cost buys you the convenience of digital and the ability to e-mail those gorgeous vacation photos right away.

Where can I find some authentic cooking schools in Mexico?
—Tim Pile, Portland, Oreg.

Learn to make central-Mexican favorites like chiles rellenos and pastel tres leches at Sazón (22 Correo, San Miguel de Allende; 52-415/154-7671; www.sazonsanmiguel.com; classes from $45, three-night packages from $990 per person, double, with tuition for one guest; additional classes extra), while staying in a Spanish colonial mansion. Or try Culinary Adventures Inc. (253/851-7676; www.marilyntausend.com; seven-day tours from $2,800). Marilyn Tausend, an American chef who has been cooking Mexican food for more than 20 years, takes you to Zitacuaro to master corn-masa antojitos, an indigenous treat; to Puebla, for mole poblano; or to Chiapas to roll sweet tamales de mole chiapaneco with cinnamon and plantains.

Any tips for avoiding the flu while flying this winter?
—Mark Alford, Norfolk, Va.

"The only surefire way to protect yourself is to get a flu shot," says Dr. Jim King, of the Kansas-based American Academy of Family Physicians. But the vaccine is only effective after two weeks, so plan accordingly. It also never hurts to take preventive action: Close the air vent above your seat. Planes recirculate air, so this reduces your exposure to germs.

• Carry sanitary wipes and swab down your tray table and armrests.

• Wash your hands frequently or use a hand sanitizer (check www.tsa.gov for the latest carry-on regulations).

• Finally, although there is no medical proof that taking dietary supplements will prevent the flu, many travelers (and quite a few Travel + Leisure editors) swear by remedies such as Airborne, Emergen-C, and Cold-eeze.

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