Hop a fast train to Valencia
When in Valencia, Spain, be sure to see the City of Arts and Sciences, the city's most important modern attraction. It houses an oceanographic park, performance spaces, science museum and planetarium. ROBIN ROBINSON/QMI Agency
Q: Would you recommend taking the train from Seville, Spain, to Valencia?
-- S. Ravi, Brampton
A: Absolutely. According to the Tourist Office of Spain, these two dynamic cities are now connected by new fast trains called AVE. The state-owned railway operator RENFE reports there are two daily trains (one in each direction) with service between Seville, Cordoba, Puertollano, Ciudad Real, Cuenca and Valencia. Travel time is under four hours, and the direct rail service means passengers no longer have to change trains in Madrid. See renfe.com.
Q: I am attending university in Toronto this year, and would like to visit an Ontario park to see fall foliage. Is there a way to get there without a car?
-- C. Mann, Toronto
A: Parkbus.caoffers express bus service to several parks in Ontario. During the Thanksgiving weekend, for instance, their are trips to Killarney Provincial Park, Grundy Lake and the French River area. For details, go online or call toll-free 1-800-928-7101.
Q: Do you know of a place near Toronto to watch car racing? I have family visiting from Indianapolis and wanted them to see races here.
-- M. Ferrier, Toronto
A: Sunset Speedway in Innisfil (about an hour's drive) has been holding stock car races since 1968. While not on the scale of Indianapolis, NASCAR drivers Mark Dilley, Peter Gibbons, Kerry Micks, as well as Canadian legends Jr. Hanley and the late Don Biederman have raced there. For details, see sunsetspeedway.ca.
Q: I've been given the task of finding ancestral information about my boyfriend's family. He is Canadian, but his mother's family came from Wales. I'm hoping you could provide some tips. -- T. Banes, Brampton
A: I found a company called Where You're From that specializes in Welsh family history tours. Their website, familyhistorywales.com, contains some basic information and links for those getting started in Welsh genealogy. On the tour side, proprietor Joanna Masters says North American clients often add a few days to a U.K. tour to visit their ancestral towns.
"We put together visits that provide a highly emotional response," she says. "No tour is considered a success unless tears are shed!"
Masters has even been known to track down the current family farming the ancestors' land and arrange a visit. For more, e-mail email@example.com or call +44 1656 768992.
Q: I want to "go green" on a holiday to Paris with my husband. Is this possible?
-- T. Marconi, Woodbridge
A: Rated as Europe's 10th-greenest city, enviro-chic has arrived in Paris. Last spring's Nature Capitale -- a green-focused art installation on the Champs-Elysees -- attracted 2-million visitors, and countless businesses -- from shops to spas -- are putting organic, natural, bio, eco or green front and centre. There are even guided ecotours of the city (ecovisitparis.com).
Here's some green suggestions:
* Hotel Gavarni is run entirely on renewable energy and has received the EU's eco-label.
* Near the 1st arrondissement, Boco is a fast-food whole-foods haven run by Michelin-starred chef Madame Anne-Sophie Pic and four other notable chefs.
* Near Jardin des Tuileries, Sixth Senses Spa dips into its rooftop honey-well for its honey facials. Patrons slip on biodegradable slippers and head to cocoon-like treatment rooms designed by landscape-architect Pierre David.
* Melvita's is Paris' first eco-boutique. It's buzzing with clients hankering for organic beauty products.