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Ask T+L: Paris Apps, Advice for Solo Travelers, and More

Q: I’m traveling to Paris, and I need a good map of the city. Any thoughts? —Janet Tucker, Winchester, Mass.

A: The City of Paris just released the Patrimap App (free; iPhone, iPad), which recommends walking tours and uses GPS to highlight museums and monuments. The SmartCity Paris App ($5; iPhone, iPad) includes 900-plus points of interest and lets you filter activities by type—you can even make restaurant reservations. A more traditional option: the pocket-size Paris Spiral Guide ($20; whsmith.fr), featuring shop addresses, walking routes, day-trips, and maps color-coded by district. A bit more compact, the laminated Streetwise ($8; streetwisemaps.com) series has updated its Artwise Paris foldout to include a Métro map and a museum index. —T+L Correspondent Tina Isaac

Q: We’re planning a trip to the big island of Hawaii this spring. Where should we stay? —Dave Myers, Brooklyn, N.Y.

A: There’s never been a better time to go to the Big Island: Continental just added daily flights from Los Angeles and weekly flights from San Francisco to Hilo International Airport. Consider dividing your stay among the island’s recently renovated hotels: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel (doubles from $500) has 258 newly refreshed rooms equipped with 40-inch flat-screen TV’s and teak furnishings. The Four Seasons Hualalai (doubles from $775) has added 20 ocean-view suites and updated the Beach Tree restaurant. And rooms at the family-friendly Kona Beach Hotel (doubles from $299) have been outfitted with balconies overlooking the water.

Q: What’s your best advice for solo travelers? —Sara Raney, Austin, Tex.

A: The experts agree: confidence and safety are the two most important factors when traveling alone. Refer to resources such as the U.S. State Department (travel.state.gov) for international warnings and country tips, and register your trip with your destination’s U.S. consulate office. Organizations such as Solo Travel (solotravel.org), Women’s Travel Club (womenstravelclub.com), and Connecting: Solo Travel Network (cstn.org), have additional safety and destination advice. You can also travel with companies such as Absolute Travel (absolutetravel.com), Intrepid Travel (intrepidtravel.com), and Gap Adventures (gapadventures.com), which don’t charge a single supplement.

Q: Where can you see some great architecture in the tropics? —Justin Morrison, Franklin, Tenn.

A: According to T+L contributor Raul Barreneche, whose latest book, The Tropical Modern House, is due out this month from Rizzoli, Brazil has the best tropical architecture anywhere, from the retro-futuristic capital city of Brasilia, designed by Oscar Niemeyer and Lúcio Costa in the 1950’s, to the Portuguese-colonial buildings of Salvador’s Pelourinho district. Don’t miss Niemeyer’s flying saucer–like contemporary art museum in Niterói, near Rio de Janeiro, and the egg-shaped art pavilion and other structures he created for São Paulo’s Ibirapuera Park. Also in São Paulo, check out the Fasano Hotel and the Numero bar, both designed by Isay Weinfeld, the king of Brazil’s architectural new guard. T+L A-List agent and Brazil specialist Martin Frankenberg can create bespoke multicity design itineraries.

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