Travelers' Intercom

Floral arrangement outside the <i>Westerdam</i>’s main dining room. Photos by Marsha Caplan

It was Oct. 12, 2017, and I was enjoying coffee on our cabin's veranda, watching the shoreline go by and thinking about my cruise adventure, which was coming to an end.

My husband, Michael, and I have been independent travelers for many years. Every two or three years, we would choose a country in which to spend five to seven weeks, then make advance reservations for a rental/buy-back car and for apartments in some locations, and off we'd go. Our last trip of that kind was in 2011, driving across northern Spain, which we recounted in an article in ITN (June '12, pg. 20...


My husband, John, and I spent several weeks hiking in the Swiss, French and Italian Alps in June and July 2018. At each destination, we took advantage of a multiday travel pass in order to traverse the network of hiking trails via train, gondola, bus and on foot.

• While staying in Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland, we purchased the 6-day Regional-Pass Bernese Oberland for €270 (near $306) per person. It enabled us to travel freely on the gondola from Grindelwald up to First Mountain and the First Cliff Walk, then take the train up to the Kleine Scheidegg and over...


My husband, Jim, and I thought we were smart, well-prepared travelers with our duplicate passport photos and our extra antibiotics. After all, we had traveled extensively and Jim even wrote travel articles for various newspaper travel sections and ultimately even the photography column for ITN. I guess we were in total denial about the possibility of actual death on a trip.

Unfortunately, last May Jim did indeed die suddenly as he was photographing flowers in Monet’s Garden at Giverny, France. And I was thrust into one of the most demanding, frustrating weeks of my life. I...


I would like to assure world traveler Albert Podell, whose letter “Longtime Traveler’s Reactions to His First Cruise” appeared in the May 2018 issue (page 24), that not all cruises are equal.

Naturally, there are variously priced cruises, and the one my husband, Peter, and I recently took, on a route similar to the one Mr. Podell took, was quite different than his cruise, on which, he wrote, “there was a relentless, never-ending selling atmosphere aboard the ship, including repeated public-address...

Awaiting the opera “Carmen” at the Verona Arena. Photo by Irina Stroup

Enjoying opera at the Verona Arena was first on our list when my sister and I decided to visit Verona, Italy, in summer 2018.

The Arena is a Roman amphitheater built in the first century AD, about 50 years before the Colosseum was built in Rome. It's elliptically shaped, with concentric galleries, and, counting the chairs on the field and the stadium seating facing the stage, it seats about 30,000 people.

Since 1913, the Arena has been used for concerts and opera performances under the open sky. The ticket office is located behind the amphitheater, which is where my...


I expected that the transfer from Cˇeský Krumlov, Czechia, to Innsbruck, Austria, on July 31, 2018, would be a challenge for my sister and me. A search online provided several options, including buses and trains. Our choice was to take a RegioJet bus from Cˇeský Krumlov to Cˇeské Budeˇjovice, a FlixBus to Linz, Austria (the FlixBus tickets purchased online from home), and then a train to Innsbruck.

I worried about buses arriving on time, being out of order, etc., but they didn't provide any problems for us that day. I had always considered trains to be the most reliable...

Kathy Dolan and Lorenz Rychner demonstrating an optical illusion.

Did you know that Maurits Cornelis Escher (1898-1972), usually known as M.C. Escher, was Dutch? I guess everybody has, at one time or another, seen some of Escher's fantastical works, where stairs simultaneously go up and down and where endless loops are hard to figure out with the naked eye.

In Den Haag (The Hague), my wife, Kathy, and I visited the permanent "Escher in Het Paleis" exhibition (Lange Voorhout 74;, located in Lange Voorhout Palace, on Aug. 1, 2018.

To see so many of Escher's works displayed in one place was...

The grand entrance to the stairs to the bridge level — Sydney. Photos by Lorenz Rychner

The majestic Sydney Harbour Bridge is probably the most photographed site in Sydney, rivaled only by the Sydney Opera House.

Few visitors realize the bridge can be crossed on foot in about 20 minutes and that the southeastern pylon is open to the public, rewarding a fairly short climb up a flight of stairs with wonderful, 360-degree views from a viewing platform. I’ve taken many visitors up there, and nobody has yet been less than enthralled.

Once inside the pylon, whether on the way up or down, one can study the fascinating displays showing how and when the bridge was...