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Christmas 2010 – Start thinking about travel plans

Written by webmaster on Friday November 26th, 2010. Posted in News

Q.

My boyfriend and I want to take a vacation to an international urban destination over Christmas break (late December/early January). We were thinking of Turkey, but a quick scan of airfares showed high prices (more than $850). And I read that winters in Turkey are cold. Would you suggest some places that we should consider?

Whitney Robinson, Ann Arbor, Mich.

A.

I contacted Jennifer Conlin, who wrote “36 Hours in Istanbul” (Feb. 7, 2010), which she reported last fall. In an e-mail, she warned that it does get cold, so winter is not an ideal time to enjoy some of her favorite activities, like drinks at a rooftop bar, boat rides on the Bosporus, and walks in the gardens — but she did add that you will encounter smaller crowds. I found one-stop round-trip flights from Wayne County Airport (Detroit) to Istanbul in late December for about $900.

Destinations in the Southern Hemisphere can be ideal during our winter, as December to late March is summertime there. But flights to these destinations — like Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro — are almost certain to be well beyond your price range.

For an international urban destination with mild weather and reasonably priced flights, consider Mexico. One-stop round-trip flights from Detroit to Mexico City in late December start at around $673. December-January is the dry season, which means a temperate climate (though evenings can get chilly). Mexico offers a range of destinations, including beach resorts and mountain villages, as well as a wealth of culture.

For a historical perspective, read Jonathan Kandell’s article, “Mexico’s Freedom Trail” (Aug. 22, 2010), about the country’s bicentennial celebration of its independence from Spain. Mr. Kandell focused on the state of Guanajuato, a three- to four-hour drive northwest of Mexico City where the revolt for independence began.

In Mexico City, be sure to visit the Zócalo, the city’s main square, formally known as the Plaza de la Constitución, where you’ll find Diego Rivera’s murals inside the Palacio Nacional, and the ruins of the Aztecs’ Templo Mayor, now a museum; you might follow this by the not-to-miss National Museum of Anthropology (mna.inah.gob.mx) near Chapultepec Park. A day trip to Teotihuacán takes you to palaces and ruins, including the Pyramid of the Sun (above), which you can climb. For more articles about activities, dining and lodging suggestions, go to our Mexico guide.

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