Travelers' Intercom

Sapporo, Japan, has 1.9 million people and is the centerpiece on the northern island of Hokkaido, known in winter for its skiing and in summer offering golfing and hiking. Because of the long, harsh Hokkaido winters, the people of Sapporo have many spring, summer and autumn festivals to celebrate the great weather and relax, enjoying food and drink in famous Odori Park.

In 2008, to promote local products around Hokkaido, the city’s first autumn fest was held in Odori Park, lasting one week and occupying two blocks. Now the fest is two weeks long, covers five blocks and draws 1.3...


Like Jack and Anne Dini (“Returning to the Homeland: Albania,” Oct. ’13, pg. 52), my companion and I also followed the advice of Carol Probst (“Albania — Enjoying Europe Without the Costs and Crowds,” Dec. ’12, pg. 36) and took a tour with Albania Travel Net (Him Kolli str. 35, Pallati Agolli, Tirane 1003, Albania; phone +355 42247518) and guide Enea Kumi.

We toured Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro, Sept. 28-Oct. 8, 2013, and found Enea’s services to be excellent. Since that information has already been discussed, I thought ITN readers might like to know what they’re likely to find...


To cruise or not to cruise? That is the question. Cost is not the major drawback. What to consider is your body, your patience, your endurance and your ability to find pleasure in many new experiences.

A quick summary of the positives — great food, usually anything and everything you desire plus new experiences with cuisine; great cabin service, with stewards smiling, anticipating and pleasing; great ports of call (places you wouldn’t see otherwise), and great opportunities to learn and experience new things.

A quick summary of the negatives — tendering, i.e., transferring...


My husband, John, my daughter, Dorie, and I booked a private tour of Ethiopia for Jan. 16-Feb. 1, 2013, with someone whom friends of ours had used two years before, Daniel Damtew Aseffa of Glory Ethiopia Travel & Tours (P.O. Box 15303, Comoros St., Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; phone +251 11 860 1099,

After speaking to Mr. Damtew via Skype and sending emails back and forth, we paid him by means of wire transfers a total of $9,194 for the three of us.

We met Mr. Damtew in Addis Ababa, in central Ethiopia, and traveled to and around the Omo Valley...

Komodo dragons and one of the guards. Photo by Ronald Dohanick

My husband, Ron, and I are inveterate travelers, having been on 67 cruises and all seven continents. We also are enthusiastic viewers of nature programs and have long been fascinated by the huge lizards on the island of Komodo in Indonesia. So when we found that “The Great Barrier Reef Experience” cruise with Holland America Line (Seattle, WA; 877/932-4259) stopped there, we immediately booked it through our travel agent.

The 16-day cruise aboard the Volendam, Nov. 24-Dec. 10, 2012, left from Sydney and made stops in Australia at Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef and Darwin...


Two friends and I spent two weeks traveling to several areas in the wonderful country of Panama, Aug. 26-Sept. 6, 2013. Our favorite place was Boquete. This small town is at an elevation of about 4,000 feet, so the temperature was quite pleasant during our visit. Many expats make their homes there. The area is full of coffee plantations.

We stayed just outside of town at a wonderful property called Los Establos Boutique Hotel (Entrega General, Boquete, Chiriquí, 0413 código Postal, Panama; phone 011 507 720 2685 or, in the US, 888/481-0656). We booked through an online company,...


While on a driving tour of the Benelux countries with my husband, Colin, April 2-30, 2013, we mainly took back roads, wandering through the countryside. We had made some lodging reservations in advance, but since we were uncertain where we would be some days, we chose to rely on last-minute accommodations at those times.

After driving from Luxembourg through Belgium and into the Netherlands, we found ourselves in an area with many small towns but no lodging options readily apparent. We stopped at a Rabobank in the town of Veghel and asked if there were any inns nearby. We discovered...


My favorite city is Bucharest, Romania. From my 18th trip there, I have some wonderful hotels and restaurants to recommend.

May 1-5, 2013, I stayed at Hotel Scala (C.A. Rosetti nr. 19, 020011, Bucharest, RO; phone +40 31 104 11 11, fax 31 814 61 48), a beautiful boutique hotel in a former architect’s home in a location very handy to the center of the city.

It contains 11 lovely guest rooms with all the nicest amenities. The cost of $95 per day for one person included taxes and a wonderful buffet breakfast.

On my return to Bucharest from Transylvania, I stayed at the...