Travelers' Intercom

The Periclean colonnade at Achilleion Palace on Corfu. Photos by Carole Feldman

On previous trips to Greece, my wife, Carole, and I had explored the island of Crete, the city of Athens and several Mediterranean islands in the southern part of the country, so during our 2019 trip, we headed for northern Greece looking for new adventures.

From Chania, Crete, on Oct. 21 we flew via Athens to the island of CORFU (Kerkyra in Greek) in the Ionian Sea. Off the northwest coast of the Greek mainland, it’s almost a stone’s throw from southern Albania.

We planned on spending several days in Corfu so decided to stay in a private apartment. For about...


On almost all of the 6-week, twice-yearly trips to Japan that my husband, Clyde, and I have been making for the last eight years, and on annual visits beginning in November 1999, we have found the Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) to be a no-brainer money saver.

To quote Chris Rowthorn (formerly of Lonely Planet and now of, “If you do just one round trip on the Narita Express (N’EX) train between Narita Airport and Tokyo, and one round trip on the shinkansen (bullet train) between Tokyo and Kyoto, a pass WILL save you money” (

Sun and ocean meet at Playa Flamingo, Costa Rica. Photo by Glenn Schmidt

Costa Rica, in Central America, contains a total of 67 volcanoes, most of which are dormant. Before my wife, Kris, and I and two other couples visited in January 2020, I had known about only two.

Arenal, the volcano we saw during our visit, stands 5,479 feet tall, less than half the height of Irazu, the country’s tallest. Nevertheless, it looked pretty imposing from our perch at the Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa (, less than 2 miles away.

Surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows, we were having a delicious lunch at the lodge’s...

<i>Topinambaux</i> (Jerusalem artichokes) and other winter vegetables — Paris. Photos by Kitty Chen Dean

Like everyone else, my husband, Richard, and I have vacationed in Paris in warm weather, but after one trip some years ago and another Feb. 7-27, 2020, we became convinced that winter is a better time to visit. It can be chilly but not as cold as New York, and it can be rainy but only intermittently.

First, fewer tourists are about. The queues in front of the Louvre are shorter, and at opening time they’re hardly existent. Montmartre and the Place du Tertre aren’t crowded but still have a nice bustle, and you’ll surely be asked by an “artist” if you...


Lois Sundeen asked readers to write in on hostels (June ’10, pg. 14).

While we usually stay in B&Bs or apartments when we travel, we discovered hostels two years ago in Prague and Budapest and this year stayed in one in Madrid. We have been very happy with these accommodations. All arrangements were made via e-mail.

Hostal Gonzalo (Calle Cervantes 34, 28014 Madrid, SPAIN; phone +34 914 292 714). This hostel is in an excellent location just three blocks from the Prado and Thyssen museums and about six blocks from the Reina Sofia Museum.

There were about six...


The reader’s contribution titled “Madrid, Prague & Budapest hostels” (Dec. ’10, pg. 29) confuses “hostel” with “hostal.” Hostal Gonzalo in Madrid is not a hostel; it is a hostal.

As the Lonely Planet guidebook “Spain” explains in the “Accommodation” section, “Spain’s 200 or so youth hostels, not to be confused with hostales (budget hotels)…” and “…places to stay are classified into hoteles (hotels; one to five stars), hostales (one to three stars)…”



My husband, Dick, and I received five traffic citations in the mail in October ’09, each involving a €116 (near $175) fine, for traffic violations on a trip to Florence, Italy, that took place two years before!

Apparently, under Italian law, the police have 360 days to send the notices, UNLESS the car involved is a rental car, in which case the allotted year doesn’t begin until the rental company informs the police of the renter’s name and address.

The citations, titled “Notice of Payment Before the Notification,” were actually sent by a...


In January 2019, my wife and I booked a flight from Minneapolis to Portland, Oregon, on Delta Air Lines, the first leg of a June 2019 trip to South Korea, but we got our signals crossed and double-booked — a goofy first for us — so we had to cancel two of the tickets. They were nonrefundable economy-class tickets for $310.40 each.

The usual online flight-cancellation routine levied a $200 fee for each ticket and offered a future travel voucher for the balance, just $220 total. But I was given an option I had never before encountered: would I like a voucher or would I...