QUESTION: Are automatic teller machines available for American travelers in European cities?
ANSWER: There are automatic teller machines (ATM's) in Europe and elsewhere overseas that are part of the Cirrus and the Plus networks. In them you use the same bank card you use at home - the name of the networks is usually printed on the card - and get cash in the currency of the country you are in.The Cirrus and Plus networks publish directories of their ATM's in the United States and Canada, listed by state or province, as well as other countries. The systems make the directories available to banks.
The current Cirrus directory lists ATM's in France, England, Wales and Denmark, as well as Mexico, Martinique, St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, Venezuela, Chile Israel, Thailand, and Japan.
A directory due in June will also list Italy, the Netherlands and Malaysia, Cirrus says. Cirrus ATM's in the United States and Canada can be located by calling (800) 424-7787.
The Plus directory lists ATM's in Britain, Australia, Colombia, Guam, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Ecuador and the Virgin Islands. U.S. ATM's can be located by calling (800) 843-7587.
You will need a personal identification number to get cash. As many overseas ATM's do not accept numbers longer than four digits, if yours is longer you should ask your bank to change it before you leave.
You will be charged by your bank for the foreign currency at the conversion rate in effect at the time of the transaction, but you will not know what that rate is until you get your statement.
Generally, the rate is a bit more favorable than what you would get walking into the bank and asking to convert American dollars or traveler's checks. Your bank may charge you an ATM transaction fee of 25 cents to $2.50. This fee will not be posted, and you might ask your bank about it before you leave.
QUESTION: How can I go about renting an apartment in Hong Kong for a month, rather than stay at a hotel?
ANSWER: Here are some furnished apartments in Hong Kong that will allow rentals for only one month, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Association.
Ascot Apartment, 54-56 Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley, Hong Kong; telephone 574 0066. Rent is $2,000 to $2,251 a month plus a 10 percent service charge. One month minimum.
Asia Hotel, 1A Wang Tak Street, Happy Valley; telephone 574 9922. Apartments are $83 to $165 a day.
Eastin Valley Apartments, 33 Village Road, Happy Valley, Hong Kong; 838 8800. A studio apartment is $1,105 to $1,602 a month and a one-bedroom apartment is $2,555 to $3,039.
On Lantau Island, the Park Chalet Apartments, at the Sea Ranch Club, Yi Long Wan, Lantau Island, Hong Kong, 989 2411, charge $120 a night June through September for a one-bedroom unit and $112 a night the rest of the year.
These agents may have listings of apartments: LTH&THD Associates, Room 12F, Bank of America Building, Harcourt Road, Central, Hong Kong; 810 8188, fax 845 5276. Midland Realty, 11F, United China Bank Building, 31-37 De Vouex Road, Central, Hong Kong; 525 8383, fax 845 0705.
QUESTION: Can I get information about the car train to Florida?
ANSWER: The Auto Train carries passengers and their cars between Lorton, Va., 15 miles south of Washington, and Sanford, Fla., 20 miles north of Orlando, a trip of about 900 miles.
Southbound trains leave daily from Lorton at 4:30 p.m., arriving at Sanford at 9 a.m. the next day. Northbound trains leave Sanford at 4:30 p.m. and arrive at Lorton the next day at 9 a.m.
Only passengers with cars are permitted. Autos will not be accepted less than an hour before the train leaves; Amtrak recommends arriving two hours early to assure that cars are loaded on time.
Cars must be no more than 65 inches high (most four-wheel-drive vehicles are too high) and have four inches of ground clearance; full-size vans and pickup trucks are not permitted. Luggage must be stored inside the car.
The regular one-way coach fare is $140; $70 for children, age 2 to 15. A roomette is an additional $145 a person and a two-person bedroom is $285; sleeping facilities must be reserved. Fares for automobiles are $200.
Through June 17, there is a limited number of discounted fares available: on the southbound run, $119, $60 for children and $150 for the car; on the northbound run, $69, $34.50 for children and $114 for the car. Round-trip fares during this period are $169, $85 for children and $238 for the auto. Sleeping accommodations are also discounted. Fares include breakfast and dinner.
QUESTION: My husband and I will be sailing on the QE2, dining in trans-Atlantic class, and will stay in England for the first three weeks of October. Could you give us an idea as to the type of clothing to take?
ANSWER: On the QE2's trans-Atlantic cruises, dining on the first and last nights is considered informal: women wear cocktail dresses and men jacket and ties, according to Cunard, which operates the liner.
Dining on the three nights in between is formal: women wear cocktail dress or evening gown and men wear dark suits or tuxedo (tuxedos and accessories can be rented on board).
In the Mauretania dining area, used by passengers in trans-Atlantic class, fewer passengers wear the most formal clothing, especially for the early seating, than in the first-class dining areas, which have only one seating.
Aside from dining, passengers share the rest of the ship, and after dinner, formal wear dominates in the ballroom and casinos, Cunard says. Formal dress is recommended for the captain's cocktail party as well. During the day, passengers dress casually; shorts and bathing suits are not allowed in the dining rooms.
The weather in late September can rangefrom warm and sunny to cool and crisp.