August Report Cards

FIRST, FAST & FURIOUS ? The following is a sampling of reports received from ITN readers around the globe. ITN invites you to join our corps of reporters ? just drop a card in the mail while the travel impressions are fresh in your mind. To obtain your ITN Report Cards, send a self-addressed, stamped, business-size envelope to ITN Report Cards, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818. You will receive eight cards.
Readers who are computer savvy can e-mail beth at (include your home city and ZIP code and the trip date) or click here to access access the online form. Pass along your hot travel tips!

From St. Petersburg, RUSSIA, June 2, ’06. . .
• Our tour of St. Petersburg, Russia, with DenRus St. Petersburg, Ltd. (Nevsky Pr. 1, St. Petersburg 191186, Russia; phone +7 [812] 3146881 or visit or call, from the U.S., 561/459-5534), cost $265 per person for the value tour.
DenRus provided everything that was outlined on their website. We did not need a Russian visa since we were on a cruise and staying less than 72 hours in St. Petersburg. DenRus has a number in the USA but called me from Russia and answered all of my concerns and questions. Our 2-day tour was a best buy. We were able to pay with a credit card.
Beware of cruise ship shore excursion scare tactics.
— Joan Donohoe, Haddon Heights, NJ

From Rome, ITALY, May 21, ’06. . .
• I found the tour office Enjoy Rome (Via Marghera, 8a, 00185 Roma, Italia; phone 06 4451843 or visit, with English-speaking staff, very helpful.
I took their 3-hour walking tour (€19) of the Colosseum, Forum, Pantheon and several piazzas. This office also has a trip to the catacombs and aqueduct ruins along the Appian Way (€40). The walks are led by archaeology students; the tours are lively and give a good physical workout. Groups are small.
• I had very good results booking hotels in Italy using
• Our best hotel was in Rome. Hotel Dorica (Piazza Viminale, 14, Rome, Italia), across from Ministry of Interior, has a 3-star rating and a 24-hour front desk. The staff was very helpful and the security, good. There was a lift.
For our stay, May 17-21, a large double with private bath cost €150 (near $193) per night, including a large breakfast.
Transport to the airport for two (with four bags) at 5 a.m. on a Sunday was arranged for us for €45.
— Kathleen Jewett, Kailua-Kona, HI

From CROATIA, May 3, ’06. . .
M.O.T.E.L. Pavlakovic (Karlovacka cesta 93 Sobe, 47280 Ozalj, Croatia; phone 731-153). We had a nice double bed in a large room with table and chairs, end tables and two good reading lights. No heat on a cold May evening! Price was 228 kuna (about $33.33) for two.
Ozalj, a nice, quiet, small town, is on the main road from Karlovac to Samobor. Karlovac is just southwest of Zagreb.
— Chris Scudder, East Bethany, NY

On UNITED KINGDOM, May-June ’06. . .
• My friend Robin and her parents and I spent 10 delightful nights in London, May 21-June 1, ’06, at the Westland Hotel (154 Bayswater Rd., London, W2 4HP, U.K.; call +44 [0] 20 7229 9191 or visit
The Westland is superbly located on Bayswater Road, across the street from the north end of Kensington Gardens and just between the Notting Hill and Queensgate tube stations.
This is a small, family-run establishment with about 30 rooms, all with facilities en suite. The staff is wonderfully friendly and helpful. Rooms start at £80 (about $150) for a single and £125 ($235) for a double, full English breakfast included.
— Dee Poujade, Portland, OR

On FRANCE, May ’06. . .
• We found Hotel de la Paix (63710 Saint-Nectaire, France), located near Clermont-Ferrand, through a French association of family-run hotels which has never let us down:
The amiable host speaks five languages fluently, and his wife’s cooking can’t be beat. Four nights’ half-pension (with buffet breakfast and dinner) came to just $500 for two people. Rooms are €40-€45 (about $50-$60) per night.
This area, the northern Auvergne, is known for its volcanic (inactive!) landscape and Romanesque churches. The local blue cheese, bleu d’Auvergne, has just the right mix of creamy and tangy.
— Dave Fulk & Mary Rack, Overland Park, KS

On AUSTRIA, May ’06. . .
• The restaurant/shop Altman & Kuhn (Graben 30, Vienna, Austria), at Stephansplatz, has the best chocolate anywhere! They specialize in really tiny pieces, so you can try many different kinds! They also have attractive wrappings if you can bring yourself to give any of it away.
• The restaurant Café Sperl (Gumpendorfer Str. 11) has the best Sacher torte in Vienna (and we sampled many!).
Located not on the tourist ring but at the corner of Gumpendorfer and Lehargasse, one block from Naschmarkt, this is a really pleasant café with upholstered banquettes and Old Vienna ambiance. We had two cappuccinos and a Sacher torte for €11.
— Marilyn Lutzker, New York, NY

On GUATEMALA, April ’06. . .
• I took a tour of Guatemala with Caravan Tours of Guatemala (Chicago, IL; 800/227-2826 or www., April 23-30. Our guide, Virginia Fuentes, should be president of Guatemala. She was so knowledgeable, caring, funny and beautiful!
After Copán in HONDURAS, we toured Tikal, Chichicastenango and Lake Atitlán, finishing in Antigua. Guatemala is still unspoiled by acres of tour buses. Outside of Guatemala City, the people unself-consciously wear traditional clothing (men too). The food is superb, not spicy. There is beauty everywhere you look.
— Barbara Johnson, Sierra Vista, AZ