July Report Cards

FIRST, FAST & FURIOUS ? The following is a sampling of reports received from ITN readers around the globe. ITN invites you to join our corps of reporters ? just drop a card in the mail while the travel impressions are fresh in your mind. To obtain your ITN Report Cards, send a self-addressed, stamped, business-size envelope to ITN Report Cards, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818. You will receive eight cards.

Readers who are computer savvy can click here to access access the online form. Pass along your hot travel tips!

From Budapest, HUNGARY, May 14, ’06. . .

• Tour guide Kata Balazs (Vorostorny lejto 5, H-1025 Budapest, Hungary; phone +36 70 224 73 41 or e-mail balazskati@hotmai.com).

Four of us had a very good, comprehensive half-day tour of Budapest with Kata. A very interesting young woman who smiles easily, she conducts tours in English and/or Swedish.

She arranged for a 6-passenger van and a driver ($80), and for her guide services we paid her $60. They picked us up at the riverboat and dropped us off at our hotel after the tour, thus saving us cab fare.

Kata also gave us a list of nontouristy restaurants and things to do in Budapest. We recommend her highly.

— Susan Jewell, Lincoln, CA

On ITALY, May ’06. . .

• We took the “Treasured Sicily Tour” with Elderhostel (Boston, MA; 877/426-8056 or www.elderhostel.org) through Trinity Collge — in-depth study of Sicily’s history and culture.

The trip was 17 days, with 10 nights in Mondello (near Palermo), three nights in Syracuse and three nights in Giardini-Naxos (near Taormina). The land-only price in April, May or June was $3,868.

The lecturers, program coordinators and guides were excellent.

— Betty Gilleland, Winter Park, FL

From Goa, INDIA, April 15, ’06

• Ate at Da Luigi Trattoria in the Park Hyatt Goa resort and spa (Cansaulim, Goa 403712, India; phone 91832 272 1234 or visit http://goa.park.hyatt.com), one of several restaurants at this hotel. We had a large tomato-and-mixed-greens salad, one tenderloin steak with roast potatoes and fettuccine Bolognese and a bottle of wine for RS2,387 (about $56), including the 32% tax. A delightful setting and most delicious food.

Jet Airways (www.jetairways.com) is a superb way to travel around India.

— A.J. Goodhead, La Jolla, CA

On PERU, April ’06. . .

Restaurant Pizzeria Giorgio (Jr. Lima 430, Puno, Peru; phone [051] 36 7771 or visit www.restaurantgiorgio.com).

Terrific find for those going to Lake Titicaca. Comprehensive Italian and Peruvian menu, with meals expertly prepared and presented. Entrées about US$5-$7.

— W. Silver, San Rafael, CA

On CHINA, April ’06. . .

YMCA International House (23 Waterloo Rd., Kowloon, Hong Kong, China; phone 2771-9111, fax 2388-5926 or visit www.ymca.org.hk/eng) — excellent location, within walking distance of Jade Market, Nathan Road and Star Ferry. Shuttle to and from airport available.

A full 25-floor 4-star hotel with all amenities, restaurants, lounge, business center, Internet, tour desk and more. Great accommodations for a reasonable price. HK$820 (about US$105) plus 10% service charge. Corporate rates are available.

— Ed Lifset, Oceanside, CA

On NEW ZEALAND, April ’06

Bolton Hotel (12 Bolton St., Wellington, New Zealand; visit www.boltonhotel.co.nz).

We stayed at the Bolton for three nights and were delighted to get a weekend rate (through Sunday night) of NZ$195 (about US$125) per night for a one-bedroom suite with a very nice kitchenette that included a washer/dryer and coffee/tea. For only NZ$10 more, a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom suite was made available to us when our reserved suite did not include two beds.

Free Internet (one P.C.) in the lobby.

Although it was a bit of a hike from the Bolton to tourist places, we saw that as a plus, given the larger meals we were eating!

— Pat Minami, Rockville, MD

On AUSTRALIA, March-April ’06. . .

Pavilion on Northbourne (242 Northbourne Ave., Canberra, NSW, Australia) — within walking distance of the Dickson area for restaurants.

Nice atmosphere. Aus$119 (about US$90) for a large, clean, comfortable room. Booked online.

Asian Noodle House (29 Wooley St., Canberra) — in Dickson area.

Thai, Lao and Malaysian food. A meal for Aus$11 (US$8). Excellent quality and quantity. Pleasant atmosphere. Clean.

Many restaurants are in this area off Northbourne Avenue, but this is the one to visit.

University House (Balmain Crescent, Acton) — at the Australian National University, Canberra — pleasant academic environment. Can walk to city center.

We had a very quiet, comfortable suite. Excellent value, Aus$126 (US$95). No elevator.

Boffins Restaurant has great food and their pub is fun.

Nariel Haven B&B (RMB 3031, Murray Valley Highway, Corryong, NSW, Australia; phone/fax [02] 60762251).

Barry and Jenny Byatt rent a cottage as well as two rooms in their home. Wonderful hosts. They have a dog and cats which are well behaved. Our rate was Aus$70 (US$55) and included very hearty breakfasts.

— Rosemary McDaniel, Trenton, FL

On VIET-NAM, March ’06. . .

• We spent three weeks in Vietnam. While there, we ran into a new restaurant in Nha Trang. Turkish, if you can believe it! The owner is married to a Vietnamese lady. He brings all of his spices in from Turkey.

During the busy season he has döner kebabs on the spit, but there are always marinated meats and delicious fresh-baked pie. It was a very nice change after two weeks of Asian cuisine.

The name is Kebab Restaurant (24B Hung Vuong St., Nha Trang; phone 84 58 525328). Our meal was less than $10 for two, including beer. Highly recommended! The owner is a delight to talk to and very proud to be Turkish.

— Gary Backlund, Tahuya, WA

On AUSTRALIA, March ’06. . .

• The York Apartment Hotel (5 York St., Sydney, Australia; visit www.theyorkapartments.com.au) — centrally located. It’s a 10-minute walk to The Rocks and 15 minutes to the Opera House and the Australian Museum.

We stayed in a deluxe, one-bedroom apartment (renovated) for five days and were VERY pleased. The rate was Aus$240 (about US$180) per night.

I arrived about midnight and simply rang for the porter to gain entry and the key to the apartment. The apartment was well maintained and included a washer and dryer plus a kitchenette to cook meals in, if desired. When we needed assistance in operating the dryer, someone came promptly.

The complex has an exercise room and an outdoor swimming pool.

Note that the “standard” apartments have not been renovated.

The Internet at the Travel Lodge next door was practically worthless and expensive.

— Pat Minami, Rockville, MD

Shoot us YOUR on-the-road report.