Boarding Pass

By David Tykol

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 361st issue of your monthly overseas travel magazine. This is our 30th anniversary issue!

The following was sent to us by one of your fellow ITN readers, Robert E. Pine of Boulder, Colorado: “As a longtime subscriber to International Travel News, I thought you might be interested to know that my wife, Dorothy, and I have recently become the most widely traveled couple in the world. In October ’05 we visited Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kashmir, completing the last four of the list of 315 destinations recognized by the Travelers’ Century Club.

“We entered Kurdistan of Iraq via Turkey and spent a fascinating day visiting with the locals in Zokhar. To enter Afghanistan, we traveled over the Khyber Pass from Pakistan accompanied by two armed Khyber rifle guards and spent the night in Jalalabad, where I don’t believe they had ever seen a tourist! On this same trip, we happened to be in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Oct. 8, the day of the worst earthquake there in nearly 100 years.”

Robert continued, “I began my travels while a young Navy pilot in the Pacific Theater during WWII. My wife and I have been traveling together for the last 60 years, taking numerous cruises and tours, and we have found ITN to be an invaluable resource.

“These last five years, we have traveled to places that tourists do not go or have never heard of, such as Sudan, Chad, Angola, the two Congos, the Tokelau Islands, the British Indian Ocean Territory, North Korea, Lampedusa and Nakhichevan. We have found ourselves in the middle of civil wars (New Guinea and Ivory Coast), ducking from gunfire (Albania), negotiating the release of our arrested guide (Bangladesh), on a sinking boat in piranha-infested water (Amazon River) and nearly blown up by a truck bomb (Karachi, Pakistan).

“We have also seen the wonders of the world and met friendly, helpful people of all nationalities and all walks of life.”

The Pines say they are not done traveling but, now that they have hit the “315” mark, are planning to stay a bit closer to home.

ITN contacted Klaus Billep, chairman of the Travelers’ Century Club (310/393-7419 or, who wrote, “Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Pine visited all 315 countries and are the first couple to do so.”

Adventurous people read ITN.

Helen Basberg of Clarkston, Michigan, wrote, “I am planning a trip to Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, with Oakland University. As part of the planning, I went through some old copies of ITN that I had and found an article by Contributing Editor Wayne Wirtanen. In the article, he promised to send a tape of Russian folk tales to any reader who requested it (Feb. ’02, pg. 153).

Since the article was a few years old, I was not sure if it was still possible to obtain a copy of the tape, but what did I have to lose? I sent a letter to Wayne.

“Much to my surprise and delight, I received a telephone call from Wayne and he assured me that the tape was going into the mail. He also asked if I was interested in other information on Russia. My answer was ‘Yes.’ I received a few days later an early ‘Christmas present.’ The box held not just the tape but two videos and a Russian CD.

“I wrote Wayne and thanked him for the presents, asked if there was a way I could repay him and also asked him additional questions. A few weeks later I received a manila envelope with more information, this time about the Amber Room in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.

“I think that Mr. Wirtanen went above and beyond what he needed to do; it was certainly beyond my expectations. His information will be useful to me, and his reaching out and giving me much more than he had to is a real prize.”

Wayne writes the “Adventure Travel for the Mildly Adventuresome” column and is also ITN’s expert on travel insurance. He is pleased to answer questions from readers. Call him in Placerville, California, at 530/644-1084 or e-mail

G.F. Mueden of New York, New York, has a reminder for readers: “Keep this in mind while reading any story on Venice: vaporettos (English), or vaporetti (Italian), are not water taxis. They are water buses and have their own fixed routes. Water taxis are ‘go where you want’ and are very expensive.”

From Ontario, Ohio, Dan Henige writes, “In the August ’04 issue (page 65), I read a letter from a reader touting JMG Tibet Tours (Lauderhill, FL; 866/548-4238 or and their tour of China, including Tibet and Mount Everest. I took this tour in October and it was the most interesting I have ever been on.

“To stand at Base Camp Everest and see the north face of this mountain from about 12 miles away was breathtaking, an experience of a lifetime. I’ve been to 40 countries, and Tibet is certainly the most unique.”

He added, “I get many travel magazines, and I must tell you that ITN is the least glitzy. It is also the most informative and most interesting to read.”

Carol and Fred Sponsler of McDonough, Georgia, told us, “We have been receiving your magazine for a number of years and appreciate so very much all the useful information it contains. We keep our old copies for reference, and the index you print twice each year is very helpful when we begin to plan for a trip.”

The Reference Index appears in this issue and, in response to a couple of readers’ letters, we’ve paid special attention this time to not having news or article “content” on the back of the first or last page of the index. We place it in the center of the magazine so that it may be lifted out as an “insert.” It’s good to know that some of you are taking advantage of that for your travel planning.

The ITN Reference Index can be found in each March and September issue and includes a listing of half a year’s feature articles, letters and news items printed in ITN. In addition, the index will be posted on the ITN website in a searchable, text-only PDF file, downloadable at no charge.

Also in this issue — a new ITN travel award, this one for any of you who have reached the 40-country mark. (Attention, Dan Henige!) You’ll find the qualifying rules on page 124.

And this is your last chance to vote for the “heroes” and “villains” among airlines, tour companies, etc. If you haven’t yet filled it out, see the survey on page 140. Results will be printed in the magazine.

All of you are charged with sending in ITN Report Cards on your next trip. If you happen upon a worthy café or come up with a helpful travel tip while on the road, report! See page 122 to get started. Remember that the “Date” we want is the date of your travel, not the date you’re mailing the card (we do allow you to write after you return home), and if you’re e-mailing us, please include the address where you receive ITN or, at least, your city, state and ZIP code. Thanks.

We love opening our mail. The letters we get are not only entertaining, they spread knowledge to tens of thousands of travelers.

— David Tykol, Editor