The Discerning Traveler

(First of two parts, click here for part two.)

“Grandpa, would you help me?” my 11-year-old grandson Casey asked. “When I was out, my friend Peter phoned from the Netherlands and left his number on the answering machine. I have been trying to call him back for over an hour but I keep getting a busy signal.”

“Which number did you dial, Casey?”

“0297-387 640.”

“That is a valid number, but only when the call starts and ends inside the Netherlands.”

“Oh,” he...


(Third of three parts, jump to part 1, part 2, part 3)

In this issue, I am continuing last month’s travelogue of the eastern Anatolia region of Turkey.

A visit to the Greek-Orthodox Sumela monastery should be on everyone’s itinerary. To reach it, take the highway leading from Trab-zon toward Erzurum and turn left at Macka. Continue on this road until you reach the Sumela restaurant, from where you get the best view of the building.

To me, the monastery looked like an...


by Philip Wagenaar (Second of three parts, jump to part 1, part 2, part 3)

In this issue, I am continuing last month’s travelogue of the eastern Anatolia region of Turkey.

From Mardin, my wife, Flory, and I drove via Midyat, with its fabulously carved rock mansions, to spectacular Hasankeyf.

For centuries, during successive civilizations, Hasankeyf was the capital of the region, and because of its strategic position in Mesopotamia it was one of the world’s first-settled...


(First of three parts, jump to part 1, part 2, part 3)

Language Note *In the introduction to this article, the Turkish word ılık is used. In Turkish, neither “i” in this word has a dot on top. The Turkish alphabet has two “i”s, one with a dot and the other without. The one with the dot is pronounced as the English “ee” and the one without the dot, as in the word “in.” — P.W.

“Çorba, çok ılık, lütfen” (“Soup, very warm, please”)*, I told the waiter when I ordered my first course....


Where to look for authoritative medical information

“I have been bleeding from the gums for the past few days,” my friend Audrey blurted out when I telephoned her. “You know I am taking the blood thinner warfarin, and my INR (a test to evaluate the effectiveness of blood-thinning medications) was normal a week ago. I am really worried.”

“Are you taking any new medication,” I asked.

“Oh, yes, my internist put me on cranberry...


“You can leave earlier if you travel standby on Delta,” the reservation agent told my cousin, Marcus, when he called Northwest Airlines about his JFK-to-Seattle flight.

“Fantastic! What a terrific service,” he commented.

He wasn’t quite so happy a few days later when he checked his seat assignment for the return trip to JFK online and found that his booking had vanished into thin air.

When he called the airline for clarification, he was informed that the original booking...


(Second of two parts)

In the last issue I analyzed the ins and outs of bill paying abroad. In this issue, I offer additional suggestions on this topic.

Debit card checklist

Once you have acquired your debit card, it is helpful to do the following.

1. Ascertain the expiration date of your plastic money (the same holds for credit cards).

2. Be sure that you have a PIN — which is furnished by your bank — that consists of four digits and no letters. If you...


by Philip Wagenaar

(First of two parts)

Olpe, Germany, May 9, 2005. . .

With disbelief, I stared at the notice on the wall next to the ATM in the Volksbank’s small foyer.

No, I was not mistaken. It clearly said, both in German and in English, that cash withdrawals were subject to a 1% fee if you used a card other than the bank’s or one of its affiliates’.

This was the first time that I ever had to pay a fee at an ATM abroad.

I checked the Sparkasse,...