Travelers' Intercom

Reading Rick Steves’ article about fado (Sept. ’20, pg. 27) brought back the memory of an exceptional opportunity I had in February 2020.

I had heard so much about fado, Portugal’s traditional ballads, and wanted to learn more, so on a visit to Lisbon I went to the Fado Museum (Alfama, Largo do Chafariz de Dentro 1, Lisboa; phone +351 21 882 3470,, which I highly recommend.

There, I asked where I could listen to fado and was...

Fishermen displaying their catch at the harbor in Trani. Photos by Helen Harper

Years ago, a colleague in an Italian-language class highly recommended travel in the south of Italy. I finally made the trip, Jan. 1-8, 2020, because I’d found a $2,700 round-trip business-class flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt to Bari in Puglia (Apulia), in Italy’s southeast.

The flight was pleasant, especially the leg from Frankfurt, Germany, when the skies cleared and we had gorgeous views of the snow-covered Alps and numerous Croatian islands surrounded by a...

Museum poster with the famous photo. Photos by Megan Pursell

I was obsessed by the Second Mafia War in Palermo, Italy, during the 1980s and early ’90s. This was the era of the “Maxi Trial,” when brave judge-prosecutors pursued the Mafia relentlessly. There were many bombings. I followed the news closely, and I mourned when Giovanni Falcone’s entourage was blown up and when his fellow judge-prosecutor and friend, Paolo Borsellino, was assassinated two months later.

After those assassinations, the citizens of Palermo rose...


The traveler’s afternoon tea recipe for jet lag when flying to Europe is intriguing (“English Tea for Jet Lag,” Sept. ’20, pg. 24). Luckily, I live in a city that offers a different solution.

Instead of taking an overnight flight to London, losing sleep and battling your way into the city during morning rush hour (only to find that your hotel room is not yet ready), take a daytime flight. Daytime flights are uncommon but available, at least from New York,...


I read Julie Skurdenis’ article “The Māoris of Aotearoa (part 1)” with great interest (Oct. ’20, pg. 27). My husband and I visited most of the Māori sites mentioned when we stopped in Rotorua on a cruise from Auckland, New Zealand, to Melbourne, Australia, aboard the Radiance of the Seas in February 2019.

Like Julie, we also used the travel agency Aspire Down Under (New York, NY; and their terrific travel agent Joanne Morgan (877/727-...

Marvin Feldman on the promenade at the Old Venetian Harbor in Chania, Crete. Photo by Carole Feldman

To begin our Greek adventures in 2019, my wife, Carole, and I, courtesy of the US Air Force (due to my status as a military veteran), flew from California to the US Naval Support Activity (NSA) Souda Bay in Chania, on the island of Crete.

Our 13th-century Venetian hotel, Porto del Colombo Boutique Hotel (Old Town, Chania; phone +30 28210 70945,, formerly the French Embassy, was a jewel. Our room, which we had booked on, cost about €80 (near $95)...


I have not found the full Japan Rail Pass to be cost effective for my trips, as I travel slowly. Instead of the main pass, good on Japan Rail trains for the whole country, I’d like to mention that rail passes are also available just for sections of the JR network.

On my last visit to Japan, in 2016, I bought a JR West Sanyo-San’in Area Pass (, which saved me money traveling only in western Honshu. I was able to buy it...


I have visited Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island, for 21 straight years. (That streak ended this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)

Based on my experience, the main selling points of Japan, as I see them, are…

• No tipping. Again, NO tipping.

• No inflation, so prices considered high 15 years ago haven’t risen.

• It’s one of the cleanest and safest countries in the world.

• Language is not as big a...