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Ask T+L: Great Museum Shops, Peru Tour Operators, and Travel Insurance

Q: Can you recommend a few great museum shops? — Joe Niles, Waterloo, Ill.

A:The Musée des Arts Décoratifs, in Paris, has a well-edited selection of European ceramics. Vienna’s MAK-Austrian Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art and the Istanbul Modern spotlight cutting-edge creations. One recent find at MAK: a cotton-and-mesh breadbasket resembling a folded napkin. Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum is worth the 52-story elevator ride for the colorful textiles, while the 18th-century Museo Franz Mayer, in Mexico City, houses an excellent decorative-arts collection. If you’re looking to splurge, the best in Viennese design—from reproductions of Biedermeier wallpaper to J&L Lobmeyr crystal—can be found at New York City’s Neue Galerie.” —T+L contributing editor Raul Barreneche, author of the forthcoming The Tropical Modern House (Rizzoli; March 2011).

Q: I’ve heard that fall is a good time to visit Peru. Which tour operators should we put at the top of our list? —Cara Knight, Athens, Ga.

A: Classic Journeys (doubles from $3,595) organizes a seven-day Peru and Machu Picchu trek, which includes three days in the Incan city and activities such as Andean weaving demonstrations. For more of a physical challenge, try the eight-day Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley route from Country Walkers (doubles from $3,898); in the evenings, you’ll join local Quechua families for homemade dishes of roasted guinea pig. And on the intensive 12-day Walk Through Peru with Off the Beaten Path (doubles from $5,595), you’ll begin in the 13th-century city of Cuzco and scale the 14,700-foot passes of Humantay Peak.

Q: What’s the best way to protect my trip in case of a natural disaster? —Andrew Lovito, St. James, N.Y.

A: Since this spring’s volcanic-ash crisis in Europe, there’s been a sizable (as much as 50 percent) uptick in interest in travel insurance. User-friendly sites such as csatravelprotection.com and accessamerica.com allow travelers to purchase weather-related insurance plans tailored to specific trips. There are four different areas of coverage: trip cancellation, trip interruption, missed connection, and travel delay. Plan costs vary (expect to pay $40 to $80 for every $1,000 of trip expense), so be sure to do the math. Check out sites like quotewright.com that compare plans from a multitude of companies.

Q: I’ll be spending a long weekend in Berlin next month. Where should I stay, and what should I do? —Sue Dyer, Franklin, Ind.

A: The 40 stylish rooms at the recently opened Soho House (doubles from $150), in the bohemian Mitte district, are outfitted with plush white armchairs, vintage record players, and freestanding tubs. Head to nearby Münzstrasse to browse design boutiques. Kitchenware empire Iittala stocks an enviable collection of tinted glassware. In the afternoon, stop by the 103-year-old department store KaDeWe; you’ll find 30 food stalls, an oyster bar, and 3,400 wines. For dinner, the canal-front Restaurant Horváth (dinner for two $112) spotlights regional dishes such as lamb with chanterelles, fresh tarragon, and apricots.

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