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My husband, Peter, and I had a fabulous guide while in Palermo, Sicily, Oct. 9-11, 2013. 

A Sicilian, Dr. Laura Lanza (phone 39 333 619 79 80 or email speaks perfect English and is very knowledgeable and witty. She showed us churches, museums, Monreale Cathedral and food markets (a particular interest of mine).

Her fees are €150 (near $204) for four hours or €245 for eight hours. Highly recommended!


Santa Barbara, CA

The stave church from Gol at the Norsk Folkemuseum in Oslo, Norway, has been dated to at least AD 1212.

When in DENMARK, consider purchasing a Copenhagen Card (at tourist information centers and selected hotels, hostels and 7/11 stores in Copenhagen or online). 

On our September ’12 trip, my husband, David, and I each bought a 24-hour card to “get out of town.” That may sound strange, but the cards work on the regional trains as well as in the city and we wanted to see two castles that day: Frederiksborg (the “Danish Versailles”) and Kronborg (“Hamlet’s castle”). 

We paid DKK249 (then $42.20) each for the cards. (...


I would like to second the subscriber’s opinion in the letter “Found Easter Island ‘Beautiful’” (Aug. ’13, pg. 50). My husband and I spent three days on Rapa Nui in 2006 as part of a month-long visit to Chile. We had a wonderful experience exploring this fascinating island and enjoyed the people we met. 

The next year, we returned on a day visit from a cruise ship. We hiked to the island’s highest point, got soaked in a sudden shower and, at the bottom of the hill, found ladies offering us delicious pineapple-on-a-stick. They laughed at our being wet, but the pineapple was a gift!...

Riding camels to the Great Pyramids.

My wife and I spent a month traveling independently in Israel, Jordan and Egypt in March ’10. We engaged several very good guides along the way, but we were especially impressed with our Cairo guide, Samir Fayek (phone +2 0122 399 5147, Samir showed us a number of interesting sites that were well off of the normal tourist path, and his English was excellent. We really enjoyed the very special way that he arranged for us to see the Great Pyramids of Giza. While thousands of people were streaming into the site by bus, we took the back way in by camel. It...


For any of you intrepid travelers who may be planning to attend the Winter Olympics in Russia in February 2014, it is not too early to take a look online at the Russian visa application form. It is daunting.

Although the Russian Consulate will not accept a visa application until 45 days prior to your trip, finding out what is required ahead of time will help. 

After reviewing the application, myself, I decided to use a visa service company and chose CIBT (eight locations nationwide; 800/929-2428), which was recommended by the tour company my friend, Olga, and I were...


I spent a few days on my own in Bilbao, Spain, in August ’13 prior to joining a group tour. While researching the city, I came across the website for Bilbao Greeters, a volunteer organization and part of the Global Greeter Network. 

Bilbao Greeters has a group of 70 volunteers who speak just about all languages. Its members are willing to help visitors to their city by providing general tours or tailoring tours to visitors’ interests. 

I sent an inquiry email about a month before the visit, as soon as I knew the name of my hotel and the date I would be...


For our 10 days in Belgium, May 2-11, 2012, my husband, Ed, and I decided to buy our own GPS, a Garmin nuvi255 for $160, rather than opt for one (for an extra $210) with our Budget rental car. We did have to load it with European maps for an extra $100, but, this way, we had something we could take home and use in the US. We dubbed the GPS, which had a female voice, “Jill.”

Traveling through Belgium, we saw a great deal of road construction. This shows a prospering economy, but many of these sites and road closings were not noted on the GPS system. On the outskirts of...

Geiranger village seen from Ørnesvingen (Eagle’s Bend) Lookout. The road to the lookout is full of hairpin curves like the one on the left. Photo: Prindle

There is an old Norwegian saying: all Bergen babies are born with umbrellas. My husband, David, and I certainly needed an umbrella during our day in port during a Norway cruise with Royal Caribbean International in September ’12, but we found that in the afternoon the rain was intermittent. Therefore, our recommendation is to schedule any excursions you can for the afternoon, when the fog often lifts. 

Our ship, Vision of the Seas, sailed into Geirangerfjord before daylight, affording no photo opportunities on the way into this “most beautiful” fjord. At...



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