Travelers' Intercom

A shot of the Matterhorn taken from our balcony at Hotel Testa Grigia in Zermatt, Switzerland. Photo by Donna Pyle

Flying from Denver to Zürich on Sept. 11, 2021, my husband and I spent 10 nights in Switzerland, then nine nights in Italy attending a photo workshop in the Dolomites before flying back to Zürich for an overnight (and COVID testing) prior to our flight home on Oct. 3.

Observance of COVID protocols was much stricter in Switzerland than in Italy.

In Switzerland, we weren’t allowed to eat or drink indoors without showing proof of vaccination. Proprietors told us they could be fined CHF10,000 (near $10,900) if they were caught violating this rule. Our CDC COVID vaccination...


My wife and I take frequent trips to foreign locations. We regularly travel business class because the additional room and services we receive are worth the extra cost. We also value the fact that, when taking an international flight in business class, we can use the business-class lounge before departure.  

It was therefore a considerable surprise to learn, when we checked in at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport for a flight to Fiji via Los Angeles in January 2016, that we would not be allowed to use the American Airlines Admirals Club lounge there. ...

At 2,351 meters above sea level, the Azores' Mount Pico is Portugal's highest mountain. Photo by our guide Filipe

For our second post-vaccination trip (the first was to Egypt and Jordan [Aug. ’21, pg. 10]), my wife, Susan, and I chose the Azores, a mid-Atlantic archipelago that is an autonomous region of Portugal. We liked the idea of visiting a temperate climate during a hot summer.

The only nonstop flights from the East Coast to the Azores were via Boston on Azores Airlines (, so we decided to drive to Boston and later do a post-Azores New England road trip.

Our round-trip airfare was $1,845. Our flight from Boston to Ponta Delgada, Azores’ capital on...

Inbound kestrel. Photos by Donna Pyle

ITN is temporarily accepting brief write-ups about the US. Information on independent travel. cultural and traditional sites and sources of handmade crafts plus little-known natural wonders are welcome. Avoid touting commercial theme parks, casinos or highly publicized touristy sites.

Email or write to Travelers’ Intercom USA, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818.


Back in the 1990s, I was given a copy of the old WPA (Work Projects Administration) guide to my home state of Iowa. These guides were written during the...

In Samarkand, Uzbekistan, on special occasions, Registan Square is lit at night. Photo by Nick Stooke

While my wife, Michaele, and I traveled with a group through the Five ’Stans with JMG Tours (Lauderhill, FL; 866/548-4238, in April 2017, we came across one of Central Asia’s most impressive restorations of medieval Islamic architecture: Registan Square in the city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan, along the old Silk Road.

Its three madrasas had been the hub of the Timurid Empire Renaissance. The square was a place where royal proclamations were read and where special celebrations (and executions) were conducted.

The buildings had been allowed to...

On our day tour in mainland China, children in an elementary school performed for us. Photos by Stephen Addison

The current COVID-19 pandemic is the most recent, and by far the worst, of a series of coronavirus outbreaks over recent decades. For multiple reasons, COVID-19 poses a high risk to me, so, like many others around the world, I’m hunkered down and not traveling. I wasn’t always so concerned.

The SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic of 2002 to 2004 started in, and primarily impacted, China, especially Hong Kong. The CDC issued travel alerts for Taiwan and Toronto also. Very few Americans were infected by SARS, and even fewer (maybe none, according to some...

One of the great culinary wonders of Portugal, the cinnamondusted pastel de nata (custard tart). Photos by Nita Swartz

It had been 20 years since we last visited Portugal, and we decided it was time to make a return trip to this delightful and friendly country.

We considered several companies that offered package tours, but none had an itinerary we liked. Then we saw an ad from Portugal Trails (Cascais, Portugal; phone +351 214 851 476, saying they arranged custom tours. The company had good service reviews, so we contacted them.

After we indicated places we were interested in visiting, the company responded promptly via email and made useful suggestions. A tour was...

Boys at a roadside market — Madagascar. Photos by Michael De Rosa

Madagascar is a “must see” for world travelers and anyone interested in wildlife. My wife, Norma, and I fit both of those descriptions, and we spent two weeks there in August 2018.

I did all of the initial planning and booking of our 2-week trip. Norma and I selected an itinerary along the RN7, a main highway, that would increase our chances of seeing wildlife.

In making inquiries to accommodations, I got answers from some after a week or more, and others never replied. I found that if I used Google to translate my message into French, I could reach most places. (...