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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...


When, after an absence of several years, I walked into my favorite London restaurant, Denise’s (79 Southampton Row, London, Greater London, WC1B 4ET, U.K.; phone +44 20 7436 1562), I was warmly greeted by the owner, who never forgets a face!

Denise asked about my family and proceeded to insure that my daughter and I enjoyed our meals.

The cuisine is French, the ambiance is cozy and bistro-like, and the food is wonderful and reasonably priced. My daughter had pork chops, I had calf’s liver, and we both had wine and shared a dessert for a total cost of £60 (near $95). 



Every two years, hundreds of walkers gather for the International Volksmarching Convention. In 2013 the 4-day event took place June 25-29 in Val Gardena, Italy, located in the Dolomite Mountains several hours north of Venice.

According to the website of the International Volkssport Federation, Volkssports are “non-competitive, non-motorized sports such as walking (Volksmarching), biking, swimming, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating, kayaking, in-line skating, etc.” Volkssports originated in Germany and were brought to the United States in 1976.

This was...


I was in Istanbul with three family members in September ’13. It was my third trip there, the first for the others. 

One of our group had trouble walking, so we had to use taxis several times. On two occasions, one of us, after giving the driver either a 50- or a 100-lira note, was handed back either a 5- or 20-lira note, far short of what we were owed, with the driver stating that that was the correct change. We couldn’t prove anything so ended up being cheated.

If I ever need to use another taxi in Istanbul, I will, upon paying the driver, say aloud, “I’m handing you 50...


We traveled in Bulgaria with a private guide, Patrick Peneff (phone +359 887 364 711), July 27-Aug. 9, 2013, and had a wonderful time. We discovered Patrick through an article in ITN (Jan. ’13, pg. 32).

We told Patrick we were primarily interested in history, literature and politics, and the itinerary he arranged, with certain museums and places of interest, reflected these priorities.

For our 14-day, 13-night trip (and including a 10% discount for early booking), we paid €2,620 (near $3,550) for accommodations, with breakfast; his services as a guide and driver; fuel, and...



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