Travelers' Intercom

While driving a leased car in Spain in the fall of 2003, I encountered the following incidents that should serve as warnings to other readers.

Driving into Barcelona on a quiet Sunday afternoon, we began to encounter “windshield washers” at the stoplights. Trapped at the lights and not having any coins or cash readily available, we tried to stop them. This happened three times at different locations.

Minutes later in the very heart of the city, my rear tire went flat. You...


The Traveling Tightwad (my son, Geoffrey Templeman) and I took the 14-night repositioning cruise of Royal Caribbean International’s Brilliance of the Seas in October-November ’03. The route was from Barcelona to Miami via Málaga, Lisbon, the Canary Islands and St. Maarten (Dutch West Indies).

We heartily endorse the comments of ITN readers Frank and Bev Stokes (Oct. ’03, pg. 40) and would like to add some more plus advice for future passengers.

For once, we had a captain who...


I returned Nov. 24, ’03, from a fantastic 19-day tour through western Turkey with Grand Circle Travel (phone 800/221-2610 or visit In light of the Nov. 15 bombings in Istanbul, I thought some readers would be interested in the safety issues facing American tourists.

Although we were not in Istanbul when the bombings occurred, many people on our tour were encouraged to e-mail their families that they were safe. In actuality, I found that the Turks were more concerned...


What would you do if you discovered that you were booked on a nonexistent flight? This was the unbelievable situation that my wife and I recently encountered.

We believe in firming up travel arrangements as early as possible to avoid the disappointment of unavailable space. In April ’03 we booked, through Adventure Center (800/227-8747), a September tour of Romania, Explore Worldwide’s “Village Folklore and Danube Delta,” land only.

An intensive search on the Internet finally...


I read ITN reader Helmut Richter’s letter, titled “Yangtze Cruise Curtailed” (Nov. ’03, pg. 34), about the river cruise portion of his trip “Imperial China, Tibet and Yangtze” with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT), and have some comments to add.

My husband and I took this identical trip Oct. 15-Nov. 4, ’02. When we signed up for this trip, we were told that this was OAT’s most popular trip and we had the impression that OAT schedules frequent departures. In fact, during the course of...


Re the letter “Yangtze Cruise Curtailed” (Nov. ’03, pg. 34), about a cruise that was to begin in Chongqing, China, on April 8 but ended up being curtailed on two sections of the river, it is just by coincidence that on April 9, ’03, we were leaving Yichang and heading upriver on the MV East King to Chongqing. . . we thought.

There was never any doubt in our minds that the cruise no longer left Wuhan. Our tour company, Laurus Travel (#45 - 3195 Granville St., Vancouver, B.C. V6H 3K2,...


My husband and I booked a “Grand European River Cruise” with Vantage Deluxe World Travel which offered a voyage from the North Sea to the Black Sea. Our departure date of Aug. 15, ’03, coincided with the hottest and driest summer in Europe in the past 150 years.

As time for our departure approached, we became concerned about the situation after reading that the Danube River in Eastern Europe was at its lowest level in years. The story appeared in several newspapers and magazines. Two...


My husband, Don, and I took another fine trip with Viking River Cruises (phone 877/668-4546 or visit, “Vienna to the Black Sea,” via the Danube, on the Viking Europe, Sept. 14-Oct. 2, ’03. In a little over two weeks we visited Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia & Montenegro, Romania and Bulgaria. We could see some of Croatia, but no stops were made there.

Because the river was very low, the pontoon bridge at Novi Sad, Serbia, caused delays and itinerary...