How to get close to the red carpet at the Oscars

An Oscar statue is seen at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences following the 85th...

An Oscar statue is seen at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences following the 85th Academy Awards nominee announcements in Beverly Hills, California January 10, 2013. The Oscars will be presented Sunday February 24. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

ILONA KAUREMSZKY, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:02 PM ET

Q: When are the Academy Awards, and is it possible to get close to the red carpet?

-- T. Rondeau, Mississauga

A: Hollywood's biggest most glittering party -- the 85th Academy Awards -- takes place Feb. 24.

Fans around the world will be glued to their TV sets -- or electronic devices -- to watch the Oscars, but 700 people will be curbside in bleacher seats along the famous 120-metre-long red carpet. From this vantage point, these lucky fans will be able to see the stars strut their stuff before entering the newly renamed Dolby Theater. Unfortunately these choice seats are long spoken for and will be filled by the winners of an Oscar Fan Experience contest.

While you're too late to get close to the red carpet action, you can still enjoy the buzz at Oscar-themed events as Tinseltown is glitzed up for its big night. (Check the L.A. Tourism website, discoverlosangeles.com, and West Hollywood Tourism, visitwesthollywood.com.)

For the inside scoop on this year's show, you can register oscars.org to receive the electronic Oscar Insider newsletter.

Q: I'm an arts student and would like to check out Amsterdam during a one-week study break. I don't know whether the Van Gogh Museum will be open (I've heard it's closed). Are there other places worth seeing?

-- W. Cossman, North York

A: The Van Gogh Museum is closed for a six-month renovation but its collection is on temporary display at the Herenvleugel, one of the Hermitage Amsterdam's two exhibition wings (hermitage.nl/en). The Van Gogh Museum (vangoghmuseum.nl) is scheduled to reopen on May 2.

Also reopening this spring is Amsterdam's world famous Rijksmuseum, which has been closed for a decade-long renovation. The Rijksmusem reopens April 14 but expect it to be exceptionally busy for the first few months after.

Regardless of whether these reopenings fit in with your travel dates, art is always at the forefront in the Netherlands.

Haarlem has three excellent museums. From Amsterdam, you can take a leisurely afternoon sail up the Spaarne river with Post Verkade Cruises (postverkadegroep.nl). Stops along the way include three terrific museums. The Museum of Psychiatry (Het Dolhuys, hetdolhuys.nl) houses three rare pieces by the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age painter Jan de Bray, a Haarlem native. The boat continues to the Teylers Museum (teylersmuseum.eu) where, in addition to its famous collection of 25 works by Michelangelo, there is a fascinating fossil collection. The last stop is the Frans Hals Museum, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. The jubilee exhibition will showcase 50 masterpieces by Dutch painter Frans Hals alongside paintings by his peers -- Rembrandt, Rubens and Titian. The blockbuster exhibit "Frans Hals: Eye to Eye with Rembrandt, Rubens and Titian" opens March 23 and runs through July 28. See franshalsmuseum.nl.

Q: Is there a way to be budget-conscious during a trip to Cyprus? We'll be staying three days in Larnaca.

-- B. Grant, Ajax

A: The local tourism office is offering free Saturday excursions to the countryside around Larnaca. Highlights include a visit to pretty Lefkara where you will sample sykopitta, a traditional fig pie, and taste Zivania, the local liquor. Take a guided tour through the narrow streets and you will see children playing soccer in the squares, men playing cards, and lace-makers creating intricate designs. Another stop is the agrotourism hub Tochni. Spread across two hillsides, it has stunning views. While there, visitors can participate in a traditional cooking lesson.

The Larnaca Tourism Board says the Saturday excursions (from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ) run until March and are available to all tourists staying in local hotels or tourist apartments in the city. Reservations can be made at your hotel reception desk or by calling 24-664880. Visit larnakaregion.com for details and travel information.

Q: Where do I send air travel complaints?

-- E. Gupta, Richmond Hill

A: The Canadian Transportation Agency handles air travel complaints. For tips on resolving issues and details on how to file a complaint, go to otc-cta.gc.ca/eng click on the Air Travel Complaints link.

ilona@mycompass.ca


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