ITN: a lot more substantive info than slick magazines

By Armond Noble
This item appears on page 89 of the January 2010 issue.

From the mailbag: “In just one issue of ITN I got a lot more substantive info and a broader range of possibilities than I did from a bunch of slick magazines, nice as they are.” Observant people there are in Austin, Texas.

I’ve talked to lots and lots of people who have been to Copenhagen, Denmark. Sadly, not a single one of them had ever been to a museum that has been on my agenda twice. And that is the Resistance Museum. (It’ s in the city center.)

I particularly recommend it to some of our younger readers who may not have a particular knowledge of the time frame involved. When the Nazis occupied Denmark, the Resistance smuggled a great number of Jewish people out of Denmark and across the water to Sweden. Some of the brave Danes, when caught, were themselves sent to the death camps in Germany.

In Oslo, besides a museum dedicated to one of my all-time favorite people, Thor Heyerdahl, there is another museum I recommend, one dedicated to the Norwegian Resistance. The Nazis were working on an atomic bomb. A necessary ingredient to the manufacture of such is something called heavy water, and there was a plant for producing it in Norway. After a first attempt, with heavy loss of life, the Norwegians on their second attempt were able to disable the plant. This is chronicled in the museum.

In my September 2009 column I mentioned that when on an organized tour (recommended because of the great savings involved), you can go off and see things of more interest to you, if you want, such as the Marconi museum or the Ferrari museum. I heard from readers who said they tried to do that but were told by the guide that it was forbidden. It must have been a tour where the guide got a commission,

on the sales made, from the shops he dragged the unsuspecting to. Sleazy!

Some readers have made inquiries about going to a particular location but say they have only one area of devoted interest; they don’ t want the museums, music events, etc. If you have an exact focus someplace, it would be best to call a tour operator specializing in that destination. They can fix you up with hotels, transportation and so on, in that area, for less than you’d pay on your own.

Then there’ s the other perspective. I heard from a tour operator who was asked for only one thing, a hotel room for one night in a really remote part of the world. The traveler later complained that he had paid the company in the US more than the overseas hotel charged.

First, the agent selected a hotel that would be satisfactory for the traveler. The agent then went through the effort of booking the hotel. It’ s also possible that, unbeknownst to the traveler, the Ouagadougou Film Festival may have been taking place that week and a decent hotel room would have been hard to find if he just showed up unannounced. Don’ t begrudge someone a few pesos for work done on your behalf.

I’d like to mention the ITN difference. The staff here doesn’t pretend to be oracles giving out the last word on any particular topic. Instead, this is a community of travelers, sharing.

This magazine is not a monologue. It is a two-way conversation. And our ears are open.

Also, I’d like to mention to newer readers that the feature destination articles are written mainly by travelers. Writing is not their occupation. They’re doing it solely to be of assistance to you. Which means you’re invited to do the same.