Lonely Planet Writer

Traveller talk: June 2016

Solar eclipse See the 'unique' and 'spectacular' solar eclipse for yourself © oorka / Shutterstock

Every month our intrepid team of online moderators delve into the depths of the Thorn Tree forum to bring you the community’s pearls of wisdom. Whether it be finding alternatives to spicy food, the best place to see next year's total eclipse, or making spooky adventure plans – the community has the answers, whatever you’re dreaming of….

A white Christmas?

Yep, it seems that as well as being super helpful, Thorn Tree-ers are also a super organised bunch. Sillyrabbit has been researching places in Canada to pull a snowy Christmas out of the hat for an Australian family of three generations. Controlling the weather is no mean feat, but TT-ers rose to the challenge. ianw6705 suggested Cape Breton Island or around Halifax, Nova Scotia, as well as Quebec City. ksneds points out that Montreal and Quebec City have Christmas markets, but that the only place guaranteed snow is the mountains.

Next year’s total eclipse

Another forward planner is TT-er JohnPaulson, who is planning a road trip to Idaho to experience the total eclipse due to take place next August. He urges fellow TT-ers to get organising if they plan to witness it as accommodation is already getting booked up. Describing himself as a 'science nerd from the Los Angeles area', he writes that this is the first total eclipse since 1979 and the first to transit between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts since 1919. He adds that 'a total solar eclipse is unique, spectacular and should not be confused with either a partial or annular solar eclipse' – so there you go.

'Castled out' in Europe

oleole1393 has the enviable problem of being 'all castled out' during a five week trip through Europe and asks for some 'non-castle adventures'. TT-er fwoggie comes to the rescue with a stunningly detailed itinerary taking in the sights of Dublin, Edinburgh, Skye, London, France, the Alps, Venice, Tuscany, and Rome.

Castle Boccale. Night falls at castle Boccale in Livorno, Italy © Michele Marrucci / 500px

Things that make you go ‘boo’ in Japan

However, castles may be exactly what nescio is looking for. This TT-er wants to find 'cool abandoned places in Japan like old theme parks, buildings, ghost towns' and is 'also interested in haunted houses/buildings/spots.' This might seem like a bit of a nightmare question, but for the community it’s a walk in the park. Giora kicks off with a recommendation for the Iwami Ginzen World Heritage Site, which is a series of centuries-old abandoned silver mines, three hours north of Hiroshima. taka500 recommends Hashima island, which was abandoned in the 70s after its coal mine was shut down. One TT-er suggests a drive through the Fukushima exclusion zone, while another supplies a link to a list of abandoned hotels, brothels and other spooky locations.

Non-spicy food in Thailand

lor.mca is travelling to Thailand with her 14-year-old son 'who doesn’t eat spicy food' and was hoping for some menu suggestions to help 'keep him alive'. The parent in question wants to encourage him to 'appreciate different foods' so doesn’t want to opt for Western-style dishes. Many TT-ers point out that lots of Thai dishes are not very spicy and mum Westwood suggests a softy softly approach when dealing with teenagers. She adds that when it comes to street food in the tourist areas 'they will understand if you point to chilli and make a no signal with your hand and a shake of the head. Helps if you pull an ugh face.'

Sleeping on a plane

Max2005 wants to know how to sleep on a plane so he can bound off his night flight and dive straight into some Munich sightseeing. TT-ers suggest noise cancelling headphones, neck cushions (the ones with beads not the inflatable ones), a spare pair of cotton tube socks, earplugs, eye shades and comfortable clothes, including a hoodie to keep out drafts from the neck. Other suggestions include keeping hydrated, taking a couple of ibuprofen, listening to an audio book on low volume – especially the ‘classics’ – and (slightly odd) practicing sleeping in a chair.