Travelers' Intercom

I am so grateful for all the information I receive by reading International Travel News and would like to share something with my fellow readers.

My husband and I took an independent, 3-week trip to Japan, Oct. 14-Nov. 4, 2019. It was a “challenging adventure,” but we never could have done it without the help of a website that lists organizations throughout Japan that provide volunteer guides.

The website,, lists...

Street in the Quartier Mazarin, Aix-en-Provence, France. Photos by Stephen Addison

Aix-en-Provence is not one of France’s more sought-after destinations by international travelers, but the city is pleasant, very walkable and affluent. Plane trees are abundant and accentuate the city’s French ambiance.

The city was a favorite of Cézanne, so there are plenty of Cézanne-related sights and activities. It’s also a great base for exploring Marseille, a 40-minute drive away. You can spend the day touring gritty and busy Marseille, then return to the...

Many of Reykjavík’s buildings and homes are made of corrugated metal. Under the city streets, hot water running through pipes keeps the surface relatively free of snow in the winter. Photos by Deanna Palić

I had the opportunity to make a brief visit to Reykjavík, Iceland, in July 2019. 

For my transfer from Keflavík International Airport (KEF) to the city, I used Airport Direct, purchasing their Economy service for $34 one way. You can book online at (If you’re not sure your flight will be on time or how long it will take baggage to arrive, book a flexible ticket instead of reserving a specific time.)

The bus stops at a terminal outside the...


Comparing Crystal, Viking and Silversea cruises

In the article “Luxury on the Sea: A Month-long Cruise from Dubai to Cape Town” (Jan. ’19, pg. 18), I wrote about a cruise on the Crystal Symphony with Crystal Cruises (888/722-0021, On that trip, taken in November 2017, I paid $9,006 (plus $120 in port taxes) for 30 nights in a level-3 veranda cabin.

In November 2018, I cruised for 21 nights from Miami to Los Angeles with Viking Ocean...


Editor’s note: In the letter “Couple’s Experience with Azerbaijan Guide” (Dec. ’19, pg. 28), ITN subscriber Neil Johnson of Nipomo, California, described a couple of disappointments with a private guide whom he and his wife traveled with in May 2019 from Baku, Azerbaijan. ITN had sent a copy of Mr. Johnson’s letter to the guide, Elnur Babayev, but had not received a reply. After publication, ITN received an email from Mr. Babayev stating, “I’m...


On a transatlantic cruise aboard the Seven Seas Explorer, I sailed from Miami to Lisbon, Portugal, stopping at a few islands along the way, March 25-April 8, 2019. Including business-class airfare (Lisbon-Miami via London), trip insurance, shore tours and tips, the price of my trip, traveling as a single with Regent Seven Seas Cruises (Miami, FL; 844/205-8890,, was $12,398.

The ship sailed from Miami and after two days at sea arrived at Bermuda, where we spent two days....

Interior view of the Star Mosque in Dhaka. Photos by Peter Calingaert

Dhaka stopover and Nijhoom Tours

En route to an escorted tour of Sri Lanka in January 2018, I paused for four nights in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh. By stopping in a time zone 30 minutes later than Sri Lanka’s, I got a 4-day head start on adjusting to the local time before joining the tour.

My first day in Dhaka was reserved for rest. I left the hotel only for a brief walk in the early afternoon at what turned out to be the hour of the main Friday prayer....

Ukraine independence day scene in Chernihiv, Ukraine. Photo by Tony Leisner.

Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus had been on our list for a while. Exhaustive internet searches took my wife, Patti, and me all over the map, from bargain bus tours ($7,000 for two people for 16 days) to very expensive motorcoach tours ($15,000 for two people for 14 days). All were limited to the major cities, spending four to five days in Kiev, Minsk, Odessa and Brest. 

But Eastern Europe is so much more than the big cities. The countryside and small enclaves with castles,...