Travelers' Intercom

Prior to embarking on a 7-country cruise in late October 2019, my wife, Patti, and I spent four days in China, and while in Shanghai, Patti discovered that she was blocked from accessing her Gmail account.

I learned from the desk clerk in the hotel we stayed at that all Google services (including Gmail, search and Maps) are blocked in mainland China, as is Yahoo.

We were able to access Google in Taipei and Hong Kong, so we used Gmail there.

I recommend obtaining an...

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Patio of Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild — Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France. Photos by Stephen Addison

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, on a peninsula between Nice and Monaco, was not on my radar when I began planning a trip to the French Riviera, but the more I studied, the more appealing it looked when I compared it to higher-profile locations.

During our September 2019 visit to France, my wife, Paula Owens, and I ended up taking a day trip from Nice to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and nearby Villefranche-sur-Mer instead of visiting Cannes and Antibes.

Arguably, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat...

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On a wonderful group tour that my wife, Sandy, and I took through the South Caucasus mountains with MIR Corp. (Seattle, WA; 800/424-7289, www.mircorp.com), Sept. 16-30, 2019, the hotels were superior.

“Treasures of the South Caucasus” ($7,795 each, double occupancy) was led by a bilingual Russian woman, and we visited three countries — Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia — getting to see people and sights that many don’t get to see.

My favorite hotel...

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My mother and I booked a trip to Bangkok, Thailand, that included a 5-day hotel stay, after which we intended to take a couple of weeks to fly around visiting “new” countries.

Orangutans are found in the wild in only two places in the world: Borneo and Sumatra. My mother had been to Borneo but wanted to add Sumatran orangutans to her list, so we decided to visit.

We booked all of our flights online through Expedia.com. The prices were extremely affordable, and we...

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My wife, Susan, and I had a 22-hour overnight layover in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, in April 2019. Through the former Viator Private Tours website,* we found Deepjyoti (Deep) Biswas (www.deepjyotibiswas.com), the best guide we have ever had in the world.

For $150, Deep provided us two tours of the city. The evening tour, beginning at our hotel, was a 2-hour walk around Esplanade town. Afterward, he took us to a restaurant and helped us with the menu.

Deep doesn’t just...

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Ray Bahde with <i>Himbeerkuchen</i> at <i>Café Stephan’s Dom</i> — Passau. Photos by Wanda Bahde

My husband, Ray, and I have always preferred active travel, but after April 2018, when Ray’s cancer erupted with complications, his oncology doctors advised us to cancel our forthcoming trip to Morocco. We weren’t ready to be grounded, however, so after Ray’s health stabilized, we explored the idea of taking an “easy” European river cruise.

His doctors approved visiting countries with good medical care but cautioned us to have trip insurance,...

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We had lunch at a <i>cachaçaria</i> (serves the distilled sugarcane spirit <i>cachaça</i>) by Baía Formosa, eastern Brazil. Photos by George Stoll

My husband, George, and I visited Brazil, Sept. 7-25, 2019. Once again, this remarkable country surprised and impressed us with its amazing, little-known wonders and friendly, interesting people.

This was our third multiweek trip with Filipe Cortês, owner of Cariri Ecotours (Rua Joaquim Fagundes 719-Tirol, Natal - RN 59020-435, Brazil; phone +55 [84] 99993 0027, caririecotours.com.br). The fact that we’ve traveled with Filipe three years in a row (with a fourth trip in...

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Among the readers’ letters on the subject “Staying Healthy Abroad” (Dec. ’19, pg. 36), none mentioned disinfecting airplane seat areas as the first step to staying healthy while traveling.

My husband and I always take a small packet of disinfecting wipes and a zip-lock bag to hold used ones, which I toss into the trash bag when the flight attendants make a final pickup pass through the cabin.

We disinfect the obvious: armrests and any buttons on the...

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