Travelers' Intercom

This banyan tree in the botanical garden El-Hamma Jardin d’Essai was used by Johnny Weissmuller in at least one of his 1930s Tarzan movies — Algiers.

As part of my continuing quest to “see the world,” during four trips taken from July 2018 to March 2020, I visited the many countries in Western and Central Africa that I had previously missed, leaving only the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

Except for being one of 10 members on a group tour of Niger and Burkina Faso (organized by UK-based Lupine Travel [phone +44 1942 497 209,]), I planned and arranged all of these trips myself. Based on...

A few of my souvenir masks, now wearing masks, collected worldwide. Photos by Donna Judd

In the past 25 years, I’ve collected about 50 masks from six continents.

The first mask cost me about $10 in Kenya in 1995, while my brother splurged on a $40 one. As we continued collecting, our unofficial guidelines became that a mask had to be bought in the country of origin and cost less than $40. However, I quickly blew past that second stipulation as I gathered masks of camel bone, gourd, ceramic, turtle shell, bamboo, seashells, feathers, fused sand, blown glass, woven...

Etruscan urn in Volterra. Photo by Nili Olay

My daughter, Maggie Logan, chose Italy as her first European destination and asked me to join her. I recommended taking a Rick Steves tour, as I’d been on two previous tours of his: Scotland (Nov. ’16, pg. 27) and the Adriatic (March ’17, pg. 26).

We found that the Oct. 3-11, 2018, “Heart of Italy” tour would work with her October teaching break and also introduce me to some parts of Italy that would be new to me.

The tour met in Rome, went to...


Reading Rick Steves’ article about fado (Sept. ’20, pg. 27) brought back the memory of an exceptional opportunity I had in February 2020.

I had heard so much about fado, Portugal’s traditional ballads, and wanted to learn more, so on a visit to Lisbon I went to the Fado Museum (Alfama, Largo do Chafariz de Dentro 1, Lisboa; phone +351 21 882 3470,, which I highly recommend.

There, I asked where I could listen to fado and was...

Fishermen displaying their catch at the harbor in Trani. Photos by Helen Harper

Years ago, a colleague in an Italian-language class highly recommended travel in the south of Italy. I finally made the trip, Jan. 1-8, 2020, because I’d found a $2,700 round-trip business-class flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt to Bari in Puglia (Apulia), in Italy’s southeast.

The flight was pleasant, especially the leg from Frankfurt, Germany, when the skies cleared and we had gorgeous views of the snow-covered Alps and numerous Croatian islands surrounded by a...

Museum poster with the famous photo. Photos by Megan Pursell

I was obsessed by the Second Mafia War in Palermo, Italy, during the 1980s and early ’90s. This was the era of the “Maxi Trial,” when brave judge-prosecutors pursued the Mafia relentlessly. There were many bombings. I followed the news closely, and I mourned when Giovanni Falcone’s entourage was blown up and when his fellow judge-prosecutor and friend, Paolo Borsellino, was assassinated two months later.

After those assassinations, the citizens of Palermo rose...


The traveler’s afternoon tea recipe for jet lag when flying to Europe is intriguing (“English Tea for Jet Lag,” Sept. ’20, pg. 24). Luckily, I live in a city that offers a different solution.

Instead of taking an overnight flight to London, losing sleep and battling your way into the city during morning rush hour (only to find that your hotel room is not yet ready), take a daytime flight. Daytime flights are uncommon but available, at least from New York,...


I read Julie Skurdenis’ article “The Māoris of Aotearoa (part 1)” with great interest (Oct. ’20, pg. 27). My husband and I visited most of the Māori sites mentioned when we stopped in Rotorua on a cruise from Auckland, New Zealand, to Melbourne, Australia, aboard the Radiance of the Seas in February 2019.

Like Julie, we also used the travel agency Aspire Down Under (New York, NY; and their terrific travel agent Joanne Morgan (877/727-...