Boarding Pass

By David Tykol

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 350th (!) issue of your monthly overseas travel magazine.

“This is just what I need. Where have you been all my life?!” That’s what Shifra Rosoff of Framingham, Massachusetts, said when she called ITN’s toll-free number to subscribe (800/486-4968) a month ago.

Don’t assume all of your traveling friends know about ITN. Ask if they’d each like a sample copy.

Phyllis Raulerson of Leonia, New Jersey, wrote to say, “Give editorial a pat on the back for the ‘choosing a tour’ article.”

That compilation of readers’ helpful letters appeared in our February issue. In this issue, readers share a few notes on choosing and reserving hotel rooms.

Noeline Kelly of Corpus Christi, Texas, had a letter about London’s Chelsea Flower Show in our January issue, page 81, saying, “. . . the crowds were such that we could barely view the gardens and exhibits.”

Well, she just sent us news that this year’s flower show (May 24-28) will be extended from four days to five — with the same number of visitors. Also new — one of the days it’s open is on a weekend.

Noeline tells ITN, “I like to think my ranting letter to the Royal Horticultural Society led to this improvement.”

I like to think it was the appearance of her letter in ITN that did the trick.

ITN reader George Dehnel of San Diego, California, rented an apartment in Paris for a month in summer ’04 and at the end of his stay had to pay for a repair. He wrote, “Half of the circular silver metal push mechanism on the toilet was missing. I told the owner it was that way when I arrived the first day and that it flushed perfectly well, but she said it would cost €51 to replace.”

ITN wrote to the apartment owner, who told ITN, “If it had been broken from the start, he would certainly have called me to have it repaired.”

She added, “By the way, €51 here covers only the cost of the toilet mechanism (impossible since 1960 to replace the handle without changing the mechanism), not the €100 of plumber’s time plus his €100 travel fee. Maybe in the USA this is all much cheaper, but this is what it costs here.”

George tells ITN readers, “I advise anyone who rents an apartment to, upon arrival, inspect it with a very fine-toothed comb. Look at everything: try the lights, flush the toilet, check out the sinks, look at the fridge and microwave, pull out drawers, look for loose banisters, chairs — everything.”

You learned that lesson the hard way, George, but by writing to ITN you may save many others such trouble and expense. Thanks for sharing.

An item by Larry Habegger and James O’Reilly in the San Francisco Chronicle warned that it’s a good idea to wash off any residue of sunscreen or cosmetics before smearing mud from sulfur mud baths on your skin. The sulfur may react with chemicals in the sunscreen and lead to damage similar to severe sunburn, as happened to two English travelers at the Hell’s Gate resort in Rotorua, New Zealand recently.

Doctors told them their faces might be permanently scarred by the burns. The offending reactive chemicals in the sunscreen were ethylhexyl-p-methoxycinnamate and benzophenones.

Speaking of red-faced, J.D. Rowell of Sacramento, California, read the “Missed Manners” letters in our November ’04 issue and submitted the following:

“A few years ago when I was in Tibet, I planned to send postcards back with the local equivalent of the English word ‘greetings.’ So I asked a person there for the Chinese word for ‘greetings.’

“This, of course, was a faux pas, as the person was a Tibetan and very much resented that I did not ask for the Tibetan equivalent for ‘greetings.’ Yes, I knew that Tibet was taken over by China in the 1950s, but it did not occur to me to ask for Tibetan instead of Chinese.

“I am quite sure that this is not the only faux pas that I have ever committed in a foreign country, but I think it may be the worst and the most embarrassing for me.”

Thanks for that confession, J.D. I made a similar blunder years ago in Sri Lanka. While entranced with dancers performing to traditional instruments, I said to our host, “I just love this type of Indian music.” With his instant frown, I realized my gaffe in attributing credit to that country’s larger neighbor.

Is there an appropriate thing to say or do following such a misstep? What should have been the next words out of my mouth? Anyone?

“ITN is still my favorite travel magazine/reference. We are off to Croatia in April, largely due to readers’ interesting tales of travel there.” That from Jack Harding of Westlake Village, California. He also asked us to send a sample copy to a friend, adding, “Many thanks. Keep up the good works!”

Frances Houston of Lompoc, California, took it a step further: “The Friends of the Lompoc Library will be hosting a program, ‘World of Travel,’ which will be open to the public without charge. Would you be willing to provide us with some complimentary copies of ITN? We would like to bring it to the attention of the attendees. I have been a subscriber for many years and have found it an invaluable source of travel information.”

If any of you will be attending a travel class, club meeting or any gathering of travelers and would like to pass out copies of ITN, let us know well in advance how many you would like and we’ll ship a selection of back issues.

How will they be received? Just look what travel author John Bermont wrote in the last (revised second) printing of his popular guidebook “How To Europe,” page 153:

“Saving the best for last, the International Travel News is unquestionably the one journal every traveler should read. The ITN is a monthly and features extensive letters, articles, and photos by readers, probably the most traveled group of any journal’s readership in the world. You’ll get more first-hand, inside, and upright information about every place on the planet than you’ll find anyplace else on the planet.”

He’s talking about you, folks.

—David Tykol, Editor