Travelers' Intercom

I have visited Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island, for 21 straight years. (That streak ended this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)

Based on my experience, the main selling points of Japan, as I see them, are…

• No tipping. Again, NO tipping.

• No inflation, so prices considered high 15 years ago haven’t risen.

• It’s one of the cleanest and safest countries in the world.

• Language is not as big a...

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Hop aboard the fabled Orient Express train. Pedal the route of the famous Tour de France bicycle race. Explore the colorful canals and history-rich streets of Venice.

OK, so you can’t make these inviting journeys right now, but you can take virtual trips that immerse you in the sights, sounds and other appeals of those and other places and experiences … by reading about them.

The books described below are rated among the most outstanding travel writing in recent...

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A magical swoop of meadow along Alta Via 1, between Rifugio Averau and Rifugio Citta di Fiume — the Dolomites, northeastern Italy. Photo by Inga Aksamit

My husband, Steve Mullen, and I enjoy long-distance hikes. One of our most unforgettable hikes was one we took through the Dolomites in northern Italy in August 2018. It involved walking along the 75-mile-long Alta Via 1 (AV1), which wends its way through spectacular jagged mountains, lush green valleys and no towns, though several roads are crossed.

The hut-to-hut hike on the AV1 is one of eight roughly parallel Alta Via routes through the Dolomites range, a UNESCO World Heritage...

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I truly enjoyed Rick Steves’ recollections of staying in touch via postcards while traveling on a budget in the 1970s (June ’20, pg. 32).

Believe it or not, I’ve continued the habit of sending postcards from my travels to a small circle of those who appreciate this way of communicating. It doesn’t matter that cards arrive well after my returns. There is still an old-fashioned magic in colorful pictures with exotic stamps and postal markings from afar.

...

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Aboard Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth. Photo by Josip Palić

My husband, Josip, and I headed to Australia in late January 2020. This was my fourth visit and Josip’s first.

With such a long flight, nonstop from Los Angeles to Melbourne, we splurged on Qantas’ business class and were not disappointed. Qantas is the only airline where I’ve experienced quilted seat pads for making sleep more comfortable.

We saved money by having our flights booked by Justin Troupe (justin@bcconsolidator.com), a travel agent in Miami,...

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Passengers on one of the ship's tenders. Photo by Steve Plotkin

Ever since seeing the epic 1958 film “South Pacific,” I’ve enjoyed a rich, exotic fantasy founded on travel posters of South Pacific islands. Along with my wife, Marcia, I finally had a chance to fulfill this fantasy when we took the 12-day cruise “Fiji, Tonga, Cook & Society Islands,” Sept. 21-Oct 2, 2019, booked with Paul Gauguin Cruises (Bellevue, WA; 800/848-6172, pgcruises.com).

We paid $10,220 per person for a mid-ship outside stateroom (Deck 6...

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The Periclean colonnade at Achilleion Palace on Corfu. Photos by Carole Feldman

On previous trips to Greece, my wife, Carole, and I had explored the island of Crete, the city of Athens and several Mediterranean islands in the southern part of the country, so during our 2019 trip, we headed for northern Greece looking for new adventures.

From Chania, Crete, on Oct. 21 we flew via Athens to the island of CORFU (Kerkyra in Greek) in the Ionian Sea. Off the northwest coast of the Greek mainland, it’s almost a stone’s throw from southern Albania.

We...

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I have been traveling for decades. I’ve gone with small groups rarely and at times with a few special friends, learning to spread our wings and do what we wanted on a journey. Then, as my friends couldn’t travel as much as I, I traveled by myself throughout South America, Europe, Asia, India, the Pacific and a few parts of Africa.

I am a blonde and have never encountered any scary or difficult situations traveling alone, mainly because I first have studied each place I...

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