Travelers' Intercom

I stayed in London for two weeks, July 7-22, ’03, on a trip booked for $2,528 with Grand Circle Travel (347 Congress St., Boston, MA 02210; phone 800/221-2610).

I had a large, 2-room apartment with a full, furnished kitchen at the Somerset Apartments (Somerset Queen’s Gate Garden Hotel, aka Chequers Executive Apts., 58-66 Cromwell Rd., London, England; phone 020-7659-4321). My room wasn’t air-conditioned (although some rooms there are air-conditioned), but a large fan did the trick....


I visited the astoundingly beautiful, inspirational and impressive sites of Borobudur and Prambanan on Java, Indonesia, in September ’03 and am sad to report that both left a bad taste in my mouth because of what has been allowed to develop at these sites.

After climbing the 3-dimensional mandala of Borobudur and being awed by its 2.4 miles of bas-reliefs, in order to exit the grounds visitors are forced to walk a very long, Disneyland-like snake-line of stalls. This line seems to go...


In reference to the reader’s letter “Driver’s License Sufficient” (Dec. ’03, pg. 78), regarding International Driving Permits, years ago a friend of mine and her husband were on a trip to Italy when they had an accident in a rental car that was her husband’s fault. The police took his California license and kept it! He didn’t have an international permit, and my friend hadn’t taken her California license, so they couldn’t rent another car. This caused them a huge problem.

If her...


During the many years I have spent traveling throughout the world, I have used a number of private guides. None has provided such exquisite service as Francois Viljoen (P.O. Box 6178, Welgemoed, 7538, Cape Town, South Africa; phone/fax 27/21-9136150 or e-mail For three days in October ’03, he was at our complete disposal in Cape Town.

Francois’ background aptly fits him for the role of presenting Cape Town and its environs to visitors to this beautiful city. He’s...


We had been alternating cheap and luxurious hotels, $60 one night and $6 the next, during our September ’02 trip to Morocco, and now we were looking for a cheap place to stay between the Moroccan desert and the city of Fez. We had been told that Midelt was a nice town, and our guidebook reported that there was a family-run hotel in the middle of it, Hotel Atlas. As two women traveling alone, we were drawn to the idea of a family-run place. Also, the price was right: $6.

After the...


To sightsee Barcelona, I recommend the Bus Turistic. Run by the local transit authority, it is a 25-stop bus route featuring both a north and south loop. A multilingual tour guide is aboard each bus.

One- and 2-day tickets are available at €15 and €19 (near $17.50 and $22). They can be purchased at the Playa de Catalunya in the heart of the city. A 6-language guidebook is provided as well.

Facilitating planning a tour, brochures are available all over the place showing the...


The following will be of interest to art lovers, especially, since Rome’s Borghese packs one of the strongest punches of any museum in Europe.

I visited the Borghese Gallery (Piazzale del Museo Borghese, 5, 00197 Rome; phone 39-06-328-10) in April of 2003. Admission cost €8.50 (near $10).

Now, you are probably aware of how Italy falls on the process-oriented versus goal-oriented scale of societies; that is to say, you will find that Italians generally are not so concerned with...


We returned Oct. 16, ’03, from a month in Italy, where we had a car for 24 days. We found that if you’re planning to drive in Europe for 17 days or more, it generally pays to lease a car rather than to rent. We leased a brand-new mid-size Renault Laguna with air-conditioning and manual transmission for $1,337, everything included (all taxes; all insurance, including CDW, theft and liability; airport surcharges, etc.). There was nothing else to pay.

We booked through Renault at www....