We're going to Spain this winter, and want to bring along our dog. Are there any special requirements we should know about?—B.N., WEST PALM BEACH, FLA.
For entry into the European Union, dogs must now be ID'd with a microchip inserted (painlessly) under the skin—most vets offer this inexpensive procedure. Upon arrival, a customs official will scan your pet and read the number on the chip, which is then compared with the one on your veterinary certificate stating owner's name, animal's description, and proof of a current rabies vaccination. Sign up for a registry that lists your contact information alongside your pooch's ID number. Should you lose your dog, you can be reached if a local animal shelter finds him. Finally, before your flight, be sure to label the pet carrier with your name and the address and phone number of your hotel in Spain. Most hotels will allow dogs, but it's best to check on individual policies before booking. For more advice and tips, log on to www.pettravel.com.
I've been to cooking schools in France and Italy. Can you suggest more adventurous alternatives?—K.L., BROOKLYN, N.Y.
On Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, Los Dos (517 Calle 68, Mérida; 212/400-1642; www.los-dos.com; six-day course for two $2,310) is the first school to specialize in Yucatecan cuisine. Classes explore everything from the health benefits of the habanero to Mayan cookery with banana leaves. In British Columbia, the culinary school Après Gastronomique (1034338 Main St., Whistler; 604/935-0200; www.apresrestaurant.com; five-day course for two $5,200) stays true to its Slow Food roots, holding some classes at a nearby farm and focusing on the local catch of the day. Gourmands can extend their education with tours of organic farms and wineries. Gourmet on Tour (44-207/396-5550; www.gourmetontour.com; eight-day course for two $4,390) offers epicurean journeys that circle the globe. Learn to prepare lamb tagine and perfect couscous on the Moroccan adventure, held at the eight-room Dar Liqama luxury villa just outside Marrakesh. Included: a visit to lively Djemnaa El Fna Square market and a leisurely trek to Berber villages in the Atlas Mountains.
I want to stay at one of the smaller luxury hotels on St. Bart's—which are the best? —M.Y., BENICIA, CALIF.
For a shady retreat with nine modern bungalows amid lush surroundings, try La Banane (Baie de Lorient; 590-590/ 520-300; www.labanane.com; doubles from $395). Rooms are equipped with tented canopy beds, outdoor showers, and private gardens. Most of the 12 cottages at the hillside François Plantation (Columbier; 590-590/298-022; www.francoisplantation.com; doubles from $371) have terraces with expansive ocean views. The open-air French restaurant has an enormous wine cellar. Although Hotel St.-Barth Isle de France (Baie des Flamands; 800/810-4691 or 590-590/275-666; www.isle-de-france.com; doubles from $590) is a higher-profile getaway, it retains a snug exclusivity. The crisply whitewashed main house anchors the hotel's 33 rooms, including a private suite right on the white-sand beach. Plus, there's plenty to do: tennis, scuba diving, and horseback riding. write to us!
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