Report Cards

This item appears on page 4 of the November 2009 issue.
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From ST. ANDREWS, Scotland, Sept. 6, 2009…

The Kelvin (15 Buckingham Terrace, The Great Western Road, Glasgow, Scotland G12 8EB, U.K.; phone +44 141 339 7143, www.kelvinhotel.com) — located on the west end of Glasgow and about half a mile from the western side of the University of Glasgow.

This is the best, most well-kept “rowhouse” hotel I have ever visited. It sparkled! The staff all were very friendly and helpful.

Our bedroom was very spacious and well furnished, with an astonishing, huge window, beautifully draped. Most rooms have facilities en suite. During our stay, Aug. 28-Sept. 3, the room cost was £32 (near $52) per person, double occupancy.

Breakfast was included and consisted of fresh fruit, dry cereals, juices, yogurt and your choice of cooked meats, eggs in several styles, toast and beverage.

We cannot say enough about this beautiful property, well located on a bus line in an area of many restaurants and shops.

• On Sept. 6, on a day tour recommended by our hotel near St. Andrews, we visited sights nearby and in the area of Fife with Barbara Millar of More Than Golf Tours (P.O. Box 14644, Leven, Fife, Scotland, KY9 1WX, U.K.; phone 01333 340643, www.morethangolftours.com).

Barbara is well traveled, herself, and a most pleasant companion. She is very knowledgeable and was quite willing to tailor the day to what we wanted to see. We actually stayed out longer than originally agree upon but at the same price.

Including guide and vehicle, the flat price for our tour was £200 (about $340) — a little steep, but it would be less per person with more people sharing; the vehicle could seat six passengers.

Janet Leonard, Winnetka, IL

From PRAGUE, Czech Republic, September ’09…

• On four of the six nights we spent in Prague, we ate at Pasticka (Blanická 25, Praha 2; phone 222 253 228, www.pasticka.cz/en/index.php), a small pub in the Vinohrady area of the city, outside of the typical tourist area but easily accessible by Metro A or Tram 22.

We had a variety of Czech dishes, mainly consisting of the pork selections but also some beef, along with side dishes and beer each evening.

Our favorite dishes included Robin’s Hit the Bull’s Eye, consisting of sirloin of pork, bacon, leek, mushrooms and cream, and Smuggler’s Steak with Cranberry Sauce. We also enjoyed the green beans, cooked in bacon, and the potato pancakes.

The total cost each evening ranged between 700 and 800 koruny (near $39.50-$45) for two people. They have English menus, and the wait staff spoke English.

We did not make reservations and were able to get a table each evening, but it is a small place and reservations may be warranted for a larger group.

The service was not fast (we were typically there for about two hours), and the interior could get a bit smoky, but the food was excellent, and the experience of being in a Czech pub away from the tourist crowds was very enjoyable.

• We spent six nights in Prague at an apartment arranged through Prague-Stay.com (Benediktská 3, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Rep.; phone +420 222 311 084, www.prague-stay.com).

We stayed in the Glass Suite Apartment, which was located at the edge of the Old Town area near Wenceslas Square. We were very happy with the accommodations, which were exactly as described on the website.

In a secured building with only four or five other units, the apartment had two bedrooms, 1½ bathrooms, a full kitchen and a small balcony plus a clothes washer/dryer and WiFi Internet access.

The booking process was easy, and the agent quickly answered all questions. The only problem we encountered was that we were instructed to meet a representative of the agency at the nearest metro station on arrival, but she was waiting at the apartment. It only took a phone call to clear it up, but it was still annoying.

We paid €935 (near $1,343) for the six nights, which included everything (no extra payments for utilities). However, this was a discounted rate; we had originally inquired about a studio unit in the same building, but as that was already booked they offered us this one for the same price as the studio.

I highly recommend Prague Stay for booking an apartment.

— Neil Johnson, San Jose, CA

From QUITO, Ecuador, Aug. 8, 2009…

• If you have only one day in Quito, like we did before flying to the Galápagos, and you’re interested in birds and can handle the high altitude (the first stop on this tour was at 11,500 feet), I suggest a trip to the Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve (Jorge Washington E7-25 y 6 de Diciembre, Quito, Ecuador; phone [593-2] 290-3166, www.bellavistacloudforest.com).

I arranged a tour through the fine folks at the reserve, and I highly recommend my guide, Robert Jonsson, of Avestravel (e-mail info@avestravel.com or visit www.avestravel.com).

Robert picked me up at the hotel in Quito at 5:30 a.m. for an all-day trip that included a boxed breakfast and lunch at our Bellavista eco­resort, returning me to the hotel by 6 p.m.

My cost was $260 (the per-person cost is less if more people go) — not inexpensive but well worth it, as I saw or heard nearly 70 species of birds, including 19 species of hummingbirds, many colorful tanagers and a toucan.

— Andy Cubbon, Marietta, GA

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From ST. ANDREWS, Scotland, Sept. 6, 2009…

The Kelvin (15 Buckingham Terrace, The Great Western Road, Glasgow, Scotland G12 8EB, U.K.; phone +44 141 339 7143, www.kelvinhotel.com) — located on the west end of Glasgow and about half a mile from the western side of the University of Glasgow.

This is the best, most well-kept “rowhouse” hotel I have ever visited. It sparkled! The staff all were very friendly and helpful.

Our bedroom was very spacious and well furnished, with an astonishing, huge window, beautifully draped. Most rooms have facilities en suite. During our stay, Aug. 28-Sept. 3, the room cost was £32 (near $52) per person, double occupancy.

Breakfast was included and consisted of fresh fruit, dry cereals, juices, yogurt and your choice of cooked meats, eggs in several styles, toast and beverage.

We cannot say enough about this beautiful property, well located on a bus line in an area of many restaurants and shops.

• On Sept. 6, on a day tour recommended by our hotel near St. Andrews, we visited sights nearby and in the area of Fife with Barbara Millar of More Than Golf Tours (P.O. Box 14644, Leven, Fife, Scotland, KY9 1WX, U.K.; phone 01333 340643, www.morethangolftours.com).

Barbara is well traveled, herself, and a most pleasant companion. She is very knowledgeable and was quite willing to tailor the day to what we wanted to see. We actually stayed out longer than originally agree upon but at the same price.

Including guide and vehicle, the flat price for our tour was £200 (about $340) — a little steep, but it would be less per person with more people sharing; the vehicle could seat six passengers.

Janet Leonard, Winnetka, IL

From PRAGUE, Czech Republic, September ’09…

• On four of the six nights we spent in Prague, we ate at Pasticka (Blanická 25, Praha 2; phone 222 253 228, www.pasticka.cz/en/index.php), a small pub in the Vinohrady area of the city, outside of the typical tourist area but easily accessible by Metro A or Tram 22.

We had a variety of Czech dishes, mainly consisting of the pork selections but also some beef, along with side dishes and beer each evening.

Our favorite dishes included Robin’s Hit the Bull’s Eye, consisting of sirloin of pork, bacon, leek, mushrooms and cream, and Smuggler’s Steak with Cranberry Sauce. We also enjoyed the green beans, cooked in bacon, and the potato pancakes.

The total cost each evening ranged between 700 and 800 koruny (near $39.50-$45) for two people. They have English menus, and the wait staff spoke English.

We did not make reservations and were able to get a table each evening, but it is a small place and reservations may be warranted for a larger group.

The service was not fast (we were typically there for about two hours), and the interior could get a bit smoky, but the food was excellent, and the experience of being in a Czech pub away from the tourist crowds was very enjoyable.

• We spent six nights in Prague at an apartment arranged through Prague-Stay.com (Benediktská 3, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Rep.; phone +420 222 311 084, www.prague-stay.com).

We stayed in the Glass Suite Apartment, which was located at the edge of the Old Town area near Wenceslas Square. We were very happy with the accommodations, which were exactly as described on the website.

In a secured building with only four or five other units, the apartment had two bedrooms, 1½ bathrooms, a full kitchen and a small balcony plus a clothes washer/dryer and WiFi Internet access.

The booking process was easy, and the agent quickly answered all questions. The only problem we encountered was that we were instructed to meet a representative of the agency at the nearest metro station on arrival, but she was waiting at the apartment. It only took a phone call to clear it up, but it was still annoying.

We paid €935 (near $1,343) for the six nights, which included everything (no extra payments for utilities). However, this was a discounted rate; we had originally inquired about a studio unit in the same building, but as that was already booked they offered us this one for the same price as the studio.

I highly recommend Prague Stay for booking an apartment.

— Neil Johnson, San Jose, CA

From QUITO, Ecuador, Aug. 8, 2009…

• If you have only one day in Quito, like we did before flying to the Galápagos, and you’re interested in birds and can handle the high altitude (the first stop on this tour was at 11,500 feet), I suggest a trip to the Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve (Jorge Washington E7-25 y 6 de Diciembre, Quito, Ecuador; phone [593-2] 290-3166, www.bellavistacloudforest.com).

I arranged a tour through the fine folks at the reserve, and I highly recommend my guide, Robert Jonsson, of Avestravel (e-mail info@avestravel.com or visit www.avestravel.com).

Robert picked me up at the hotel in Quito at 5:30 a.m. for an all-day trip that included a boxed breakfast and lunch at our Bellavista eco­resort, returning me to the hotel by 6 p.m.

My cost was $260 (the per-person cost is less if more people go) — not inexpensive but well worth it, as I saw or heard nearly 70 species of birds, including 19 species of hummingbirds, many colorful tanagers and a toucan.

— Andy Cubbon, Marietta, GA