Ask T+L: Bike Trips, New Hotels in Madrid, and Great Travel Doctors
Published: April 2011
Ask an Expert: T+L Managing Editor Laura Teusink
Q: I’d like to take a bike trip in North America this summer. What do I need to know? —Alexander Humphrey, Astoria, N.Y.
A: This has been a banner year for cycling news. Thirty states have petitioned for official routes on the U.S. Bicycle Route System, a network of more than 40,000 miles. Some fresh trips to consider: the Adventure Cycling Association’s Underground Railroad Alternate (map available at adventurecycling.org), following the trails that slaves traced to freedom through Detroit; and Butterfield & Robinson’s six-day La Belle Province (866/551-9090; butterfield.com; from $5,995 per person) in Québec, where you’ll sample trout galettes in fishing villages and swim Lake Massawippi (try not to teeter on your wheels after your tasting at Chapelle Ste.-Agnès vineyard).
Q: Are there any newsy hotels to book for our upcoming trip to Madrid? —Dave and Cathy Brooks, via e-mail
A: The city is buzzing with them, and many are affordable. Set along Plaza de Santa Ana, the Deco-era Me Madrid hotel (14 Plaza de Santa Ana; 877/954-8363; memadrid.com; doubles from $257) was beloved by bullfighters until it was discovered by the fashion set thanks to a club-worthy United Designers renovation. The new 44-room Selenza Madrid hotel (67 Claudio Coello; 34/91-781-0173; doubles from $173) has a 19th-century façade and 21st-century accoutrements, such as a Michelin two-starred restaurant. In Las Letras, the NH Palacio de Tepa (2 San Sebastian; 34/91-389-6490; nh-hotels.com; doubles from $232) is a quick walk from the Plaza Mayor; at Radisson Blu Hotel, Madrid Prado (52 Calle Moratin; 800/333-3333; radissonblu.com; doubles from $249), many of the Modernist rooms overlook the Prado Museum, just across the street.
Q: I’m off to Ecuador in July. Are there any natural wonders that are must-sees (besides the Galápagos)? —Cecilia Bowman, via e-mail
A: Thankfully, July is near the start of Ecuador’s dry season and a perfect time to get outdoors. Just two hours from Quito, Antisana Ecological Reserve (ecuador.travel) is the place to hike through sweet-smelling Andean paramos (high-altitude meadows); keep your eyes out for the anteater-like endangered mountain tapir. On the central coast of Manabi province, Machalilla National Park (ecuador.travel) brings you close to the humpback whales that have been protected there since 1990. Feel like flying high? T+L A-List agent Maita Barrenechea arranges helicopter rides over the Avenue of the Volcanoes (ecuador.travel), a 200-mile stretch of the snowcapped Cordillera peaks.
Q: How do we find a great travel doctor? We’re going to Rwanda and need our shots. —Susan Cook, Encinitas, Calif.
A: With yellow fever (and more) making headlines, we recommend finding a specialist: your regular M.D. may not be right for this type of checkup. “Some physicians just say, ‘Don’t drink the water,’ and then you know you’re in the wrong place,” says Phyllis Kozarsky, M.D., expert medical consultant for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Plus, many won’t have the vaccines you’ll need on hand (typhoid, for example). Search the International Society of Travel Medicine (istm.org) database for a list of health providers specializing in pretravel immunizations. The CDC Travelers’ Health Web page (cdc.gov/travel) offers a vaccination guide as well as notices for high-risk locations, and the World Health Organization puts out a helpful International Travel and Health report annually (who.int).