Travelers' Intercom

We waited until we arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, to book our rental car in February ’10 and we’re so glad we did.

Because we did not want to rent two separate cars to cover both the North and South Islands, a local tour office suggested an independent rental company operating in both Australia and New Zealand: Jucy Rentals (2-16 The Strand, Parnell, Auckland 1010, New Zealand; phone 0800 399 107 or, toll free from the US, 800/650-4180,

Jucy was one of the very few companies allowing customers to take the car on the ferry from Wellington to Picton, which...


Here are some notes on our October-November ’03 trip to New Zealand. We spent 13 days on the North Island and 16 days on the South Island.

Our car from Ace Car Rentals (based in Parnell, Auckland, N.Z.; call anytime +64 9 3033112 or visit cost about US$750 for 30 days. As we shared the cost with another couple, it was quite reasonable. Another advantage to traveling as a foursome was that we often stayed in 2-bedroom motel units that cost little more than a 2-person room. They always had fully equipped kitchens, which allowed us to eat breakfast in the room....


In September ’01, shortly after the tragedy of 9-11, we traveled to Ireland for two weeks and then to the Isle of Man. As U.S. citizens, we were met in both places with kindness, understanding and concern.

When we arrived on the Isle of Man, a game of golf was immediately scheduled. But on the chosen morning, when we arrived at the King Edward Bay Golf Club via taxi, the only person around was the golf pro. After renting clubs to my husband (I don’t play), he told us he was leaving for the day and said, “Just put them in the locker room. I’ll leave it unlocked.”

So off we...


I visited the astoundingly beautiful, inspirational and impressive sites of Borobudur and Prambanan on Java, Indonesia, in September ’03 and am sad to report that both left a bad taste in my mouth because of what has been allowed to develop at these sites.

After climbing the 3-dimensional mandala of Borobudur and being awed by its 2.4 miles of bas-reliefs, in order to exit the grounds visitors are forced to walk a very long, Disneyland-like snake-line of stalls. This line seems to go on forever with no way of escape. It is tacky and certainly not in the spirit of the ruins.



In Amsterdam, Hotel Fita (Jan Luykenstraat 37 1071 CL Amsterdam, Holland; phone [020] 679 09 76, may be the best value in Europe!

It’s only one block from the Van Gogh Museum, one block from the Steldelijk Modern Art Museum and three blocks from the Rijksmuseum and Concertgebouw. A parallel street, Pieter Cornelisz Hoofstraat, is lined on both sides with elegant clothiers for men and women, from Armani to Zegna, plus attractive cafés and restaurants.

Hosts Hans and Loes de Rapper provided a homelike, informal atmosphere. The rooms are welcoming and nicely...


My husband, Norman, and I found a gem of a hotel in Panama City. We stayed at the three-star Hotel Bahía Suites (Calle 31 con Justo Arosemena; phone 011 507 225 8578), in the Calidonia area of Panama City, Aug. 24-Sept. 1, 2010.

Our queen standard room, $69 per night, included a fabulous full breakfast served in the rooftop restaurant with its panoramic view of the city, the Casco Viejo and the Bay of Panama. King standard rooms cost $79 per night.

Although the décor, furniture and linens were very basic, the hotel was the cleanest place we’ve stayed in all our travels. Not...