Travelers' Intercom

The <i>Laos Pandaw</i> on the upper Mekong.

I was one of three grandchildren who, in March 2018, along with our spouses, retraced a trip that was taken up the Mekong River by our grandmother, Phoebe Ellison, in 1909.

We elected to go by period riverboats that were owned and run by Pandaw (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; phone +84 985 417 758, The boats had been rebuilt or were reproductions of those of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, the largest riverboat company in the world in the mid-19th century.

For her...

Fasciated antshrike, seen on the Pipeline Road. Photo by Sue Knabe

Birding away from Wisconsin in winter is a welcome relief. Don’t get me wrong, I like Wisconsin’s weather in all seasons, but my family (including my husband, Jerry, and adult daughter, Sue) has a 21-year tradition of going birding in different locations in February or March, for a respite from our coldest winter months. For our February 2020 destination, Sue picked Panama.

We typically visit two locations in a country: one in a higher elevation and one lower or along a...

Indian “hotel boys” showed off their climbing skills while wearing my necklace gifts. Photo by Donna Judd

Waves of 110-degree heat rolled off the barren, dusty alley I’d taken as a shortcut. A teacher on sabbatical in Egypt in 1990, I was heading toward a mosque whose white minaret rose above all the other buildings. I was alone, and the alley was eerily empty — no cars, no people, not even a chicken.

Suddenly, three women totally covered in black appeared from a side street and turned toward me, framed by the white mosque behind them. Wow! My photographer’s heart...

“Bruce Munro: Field of Light at Sensorio” — Paso Robles, California. Photo by Helen Melman

ITN is temporarily accepting brief write-ups about the US. Information on independent travel. cultural and traditional sites and sources of handmade crafts plus little-known natural wonders are welcome. Avoid touting commercial theme parks, casinos or highly publicized touristy sites.

Email or write to Travelers’ Intercom USA, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818.


Consider a day trip to Exeter, a...


To escape the winters in Michigan, my travel companion and I, now in our mid 70s, have been going to Europe and Southeast Asia each year for five to six months at a time. However, since none of the countries that we normally visit have been accepting US passports during the COVID-19 pandemic, on Nov. 3, 2020, we returned to Mexico, one of the few countries that will let us in and one that is familiar to us.

It was our ninth visit to the city of Oaxaca, in the state of Oaxaca.


The town of Cilaos in the Cirque de Cilaos caldera — Réunion. Photos by Ann Cabot

On our way to visit remote Madagascar in May 2019, my adventurous adult son, Eirik, and I decided to visit an even more remote place, a dot on the map named Réunion.

Located in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mauritius, this 28-mile-wide, 39-mile-long volcanic island is similar to Maui, Hawaii.

It was created at a hot spot in the Earth’s crust and, coincidentally, is at the same latitude in the Southern Hemisphere as Maui is in the Northern Hemisphere. Unlike Maui...

Path to Cirque de Gavarnie in the French Pyrénées. Photos by Marcia Reynolds

When my husband, Roger, and I visited the Pyrénées for 10 days in late September 2019, we flew in and out of Barcelona, Spain. Upon arriving in the morning, we drove directly to Montserrat, where we stayed in one of the few hotels on site.

Attractions in Montserrat included a monastery and a stunning basilica housing a Black Madonna. There was also a funicular to the top of the mountain for wonderful views. It was a good stop for our first day.

Our drive to and through Andorra...


I enjoyed reading about Dawn Vincent’s trip to Tunisia and Algeria (Dec. ’20, pg. 6). I’ve traveled extensively in the past 23 years and have enjoyed every minute, but I especially loved Algeria and Tunisia… for their culture, Roman ruins and mosaics, food, climate and, most of all, people.

I’ve been to both countries four times, and I have to say they are my favorites in the world.

I had no problems getting there with Air France, in Premium...