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Ask T+L: Cologne, Passport Trouble, Film Fests, Apple Farms

Courtesy of Spichern HÖFE At Spichern Höfe, an art-and-design center in Cologne.

Photo: Courtesy of Spichern HÖFE

Q: I’ll be visiting my son in Cologne, where he’s studying. What should we plan to do while I’m there? —Judith Levy, Newton, Mass.

A: Artsy and sophisticated Cologne is the perfect base from which to explore the history-rich southern section of the Rhine River. Stay at the Hopper St. Antonius, a 54-room hotel in the Old Town decorated with striking black-and-white photography. Nearby, the 13th-century French-Gothic cathedral (5 Dompropstei Margarethenkloster) houses relics of the Three Wise Men. In the Belgian Quarter, Spichern Höfe is the latest cultural space, with art galleries, designer showrooms, and restaurants. Twenty miles south is bustling Bonn, the former capital of West Germany and the birthplace of Beethoven. Or head an hour west toward Aachen, Charlemagne’s imperial seat and final resting place.

What should I do if my wallet or passport is stolen while traveling? —Louis Franklin, Boca Raton, Fla.

Either scenario can quickly become a traveler’s nightmare, but a few small measures can steer your trip back on track. First, cancel your credit cards and report the incident to local authorities. Your credit card company can arrange for cash advances. Next, you’ll need to prove your identity to the nearest U.S. consulate for a new passport; bring any copies of photo ID’s or credit cards you might have. Robert Smith, executive director of the Washington, D.C.–based National Association of Passport and Visa Services, recommends storing duplicates of itineraries, passports, and credit cards on a flash drive or a PDF sent to a secure e-mail account. Also consider buying a comprehensive insurance plan before you go. As part of its standard coverage, AIG Travel reimburses passport fees, as well as transportation and accommodation costs incurred in this type of situation.

I would like to plan a quick weekend getaway around a fall film festival. Any suggestions? —Mason Tsai, Bend, Oreg.

Some of the year’s most anticipated film festivals take place during the fall. This year, the New York Film Festival will screen Clint Eastwood’s Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie, and will also feature a tribute to Japanese film legend Nagisa Oshima (In the Realm of the Senses). The 10-day Toronto International Film Festival draws movie aficionados from across the globe; it was here that directors David Cronenberg and Deepa Mehta emerged on the international scene. Meanwhile, the Vancouver International Film Festival showcases numerous East Asian films, including the latest from China’s growing film industry.

My husband and I want to go apple-picking during an upcoming trip to New England. Can you recommend some farms to visit? —Amelie Hughes, San Antonio, Texas

At the 300-year-old Red Apple Farm, 80 miles west of Boston, you’ll find 50 varieties, from classic Red Delicious to sweet-yet-tart Winter Banana. Or head to Nashoba Valley Winery in the heart of Massachusetts’s apple country, to pick apples and sample 20 fruit wines, including sparkling apple wine and blueberry Merlot. And in central Connecticut, Lyman Orchards offers hayrides, “eco-apples” (not quite organic, but treated with the least harmful pest-control chemicals), and pie-making workshops.

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