Travelers' Intercom

My wife, Marilyn, and I took a customized 3-week trip to India arranged by Swagatam Tours (New Delhi, India; in February 2019. A tour guide was provided in each of the various cities, and two were outstanding enough for us to recommend.

Both were friendly, thorough, well informed and entertaining and spoke English that was easy to understand. They both provided suggestions on the best angles and locations for taking pictures and took good pictures of us at the...

Joan Cone on the hike between Kafr Malek and Al Auja — West Bank, Palestine. Photo by Bob Cone

My wife, Joan, and I (ages 74 and 76) took a 125-mile hike in Palestine with the nonprofit organization Masar Ibrahim al-Khalil, or MIAK  (Old City of Beit Sahour, Palestine; phone +970 [0] 2 2749264,, Nov. 2-16, 2019. Masar Ibrahim al-Khalil is also the name of the trail we hiked through the West Bank. We’ve done many long-distance solo hikes in Peru, Spain, France, Italy and the UK, but this one had an added incentive for us.


The torii tunnel, surrounded by azaleas, at Nezu Shrine — Tokyo. Photo by Clyde F. Holt

At the end of each of our annual Japan sakura (cherry blossom) visits, my husband, Clyde, and I look for more gardens with flowering plants as we return to the Ueno district in Tokyo’s Taitō ward.

In past years we visited the Fuji Matsuri, or Wisteria Festival, at the Kameido Tenjin Shrine in Tokyo’s Kōtō ward. It’s held during the last few days of April. We were last there in 2017, when I decided that I really don’t like the scent of wisteria and that the 2017...


On a cruise my husband and I took aboard the Norwegian Star (leaving Venice, Italy, Sept. 8, and returning Sept. 15, 2019), my husband and I traveled to Montenegro, Greece, Croatia and back to Venice.

For a day trip to Dubrovnik, Croatia, we were told by the ship’s staff that we didn’t need any local currency. However, I’d suggest getting at least $10-$15 in kunas because if you want to use a public restroom, you do need local currency.

Bathrooms in cafés...

Vernon and Nancy Hoium in the Furnas Valley — São Miguel Island, the Azores.

My wife, Nancy, and I spent a week in the Azores, a Portuguese archipelago approximately 930 miles west of Lisbon, in August 2018.

Through a travel agent, we booked a package* for about $1,365 per person. It included round-trip air from New York and accommodations at the 4-star Hotel Ponta Delgada (Rua João Francisco Cabral, 49, Ponta Delgada, São Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal), with breakfasts.

Our hotel was well located, in the center of Ponta Delgada, capital of the Azores...


While visiting Chile’s Lake District in November 2019, my wife, Arnette, and I stayed at a nice hotel beside a beautiful lake within a mile of the center of the delightful town of Pucón, which is also on the lake.

Hotel Antumalal (Camino Pucón a Villarrica Km.2, Pucón, Novena Region de La Araucanía; phone +56 45 2 441011, has a nice spa. The food was good and the service, very professional.

Our rate for a lake view was about $400 a night, including the...


My wife and I took a tour of India in November-December 2019, and I thought I would share what I learned about obtaining a tourist visa.

Any US citizen planning to visit India as a tourist must get an e-Visa in advance. Per India’s Immigration and e-Visa portal (an official government website,, “… you cannot apply for a visa at the airport. You need to have an e-Visa before travelling to India. Then you can get the visa...

Second floor of the Amelia Boutique Hotel in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Photo by Edna R.S. Alvarez

My daughter (53) and I (80) took a private tour of Uzbekistan in May 2019. Details were arranged by MIR Corporation (Seattle, WA; 800/424-7289, In each city, it was just the two of us plus a guide and a driver; we had three different guides and two drivers. We visited three cities, the last of which was Bukhara (Tashkent and Samarkand being the other two).

In Bukhara, we were fortunate enough (due to last-minute cancellations) to stay at the Amelia Boutique Hotel (1...