Ask Joan: your travel questions answered

La Mortella, a garden of music on Ischia, Mexico in January and train tripping around Europe

Italy, Campania, Ischia Island, Aragonese castle  Lifelong friends choose Ischia in Italy to visit Lady Walton’s garden

Italy, Campania, Ischia Island, Aragonese castle Lifelong friends choose Ischia in Italy to visit Lady Walton’s garden

Sat, Apr 5, 2014, 01:00

We are lifelong friends in our 50 s planning a garden trips to visit Lady Walton’s garden on the island of Ischia . We can only get away for five nights in May and want to travel independently. We are wondering about the logistics of transferring from Naples airport to Ischia and back again, and would also to take in a trip to Pompeii. – MQ Longford
La Mortella, the Garden of Myrtle on Ischia, is Susana Walton’s homage to the music of her husband, the late William Walton. Aer Lingus’ direct flights to Naples will be operating in May, ideal for your trip. In Naples, the Hotel Chiaja de Charme in the old town and near to the port, costs about €130 per night for two, hotelchiaia.it.

There are regular ferry and hydrofoil services to Ischia. It takes about an hour and head for the port of Forio d’Ischia, as it is closer to La Mortella. A daytrip from Naples is possible. Or the Hotel Villa Bianca, hotelvillabianca.com is a nice three star in Forio, about €130 per night half-board. During the summer season, there are concerts and recitals at La Mortella, see lamortella.org.

Getting to Pompeii from Naples is easy with the Circumvesuviana train, it takes about 35 minutes, see timetable on eavcampania.it/web. Try and visit Herculeneum too. Roberto Baguzzi and Sons taxi service in Naples is recommended by a friend, 0039 24775 44929, limoservicenaples.com.


We’re getting married at the end of December. What are the best options for a relaxing beach honeymoon in January? We were considering Mexico but have been told that daylight hours are quite short. – LB, Sligo
I would not rule out Mexico’s Caribbean resorts as they are beautiful and January is high season with average daily weather of 21-27 degrees and eight hours of sunshine. If you are looking for longer daylight hours you will have to travel below the equator to find summer in places such as South Africa, Zanzibar, Kenya, Bali, Mauritius, Maldives, Australia and South America, and it will be more expensive than Mexico.

High season also brings high prices and using a good travel agent will help you get the best value, try classicresorts.ie, topflightworldwide.ie, trailfinders.ie and tropicalsky.ie. They have good knowledge and great prices for honeymoon resorts. The resorts of Dreams and Riu Palace in Punta Cana and Secrets and Iberostar Grand Paraiso in Playa del Carmen are lovely for honeymoons.


Are there reduced rates for seniors on European trains? I am hitting 66 this summer and for a bit of excitement, I’d like to take a rail trip, probably from Paris to Budapest, and with stops on the way, in Munich and Vienna, but I’m on a budget. – EJ, Dublin
The simple answer is that it depends on which country. For some countries you must purchase a discount card in advance and it could be up to €56. By the time you buy the senior discount card, you could save the money by booking ahead and being flexible on times.

Rail companies offer the cheapest fares usually up to two months in advance and you can stop along the way. For example, Paris to Munich cost from €39, and Munich to Vienna is the same price. Travelling overnight will also save on the cost of accommodation. See bahn.ie for Germany; voyages.sncf.com for France; and oebb.at/en in Austria for timetables and fares. You can always contact the railshop.ie in Dublin for help in booking train tickets.


Send your travel queries to jscales@irishtimes.com

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