Return of the Reader Roundup

IT loves our readers. But lately we’ve been so caught up sharing our own discoveries with you that we haven’t published any of their (your) travel insights on the blog. But there’s no time like the present, so, without further ado, a long overdue reader roundup:

Elizabeth Chabot of Canaan, New Hampshire, wrote to tell us about her trip to Italy, during which she stayed in a pair of hotels recommended in our April 2002 issue: "Fortunately we only booked one night at the Hotel Romae. The rooms were clean and spacious, but there were no other amenities. It was particularly hot when we stayed there, but the air conditioning had been turned off for the season. The windows (which we had to leave open because of the heat) faced a busy and loud street; needless to say, it was a sleepless night.

I consoled myself by thinking about the wonderful breakfast and real orange juice mentioned in your article. Was I ever in for a surprise. The juice was the worst I had anywhere in Italy, and the rest of the breakfast was equally disappointing. The front desk attendants were friendly, but I didn’t feel I could have approached them with any challenging needs. I would not recommend spending 150 euros a night on this hotel. The Hotel Lancelot, on the other hand, was everything your article promised and more. The desk staff was tremendously helpful and we got one of our best day-trip suggestions from their chef! The rooms, while small, were comfortable and quiet. The breakfast was ample and the small bar was relaxing with a lovely terrace and the best cappuccino we had in Italy. I would recommend Hotel Lancelot in a heartbeat."

Tom Blaisdell of Saratoga, California, wrote to share his experiences with the website National Park Reservations: "They state on the home page that they charge a 10 percent fee, but it is not obvious, and the site looks much like an official National Park Service site. I was told by the hotel that I booked through this site that they had had ‘many problems’ with National Park Reservations. A better idea is to go to the individual website of any lodge in or around a park yourself and make a reservation with no fee. And if you have a problem getting a reservation directly from a lodge, you can get a no fee reservation at Hotels.com." IT also suggests booking via fee-free Xanterra, the nation’s largest national and state park concessioner.

Frank Lester of San Francisco, California, read "Speak Easy," Smart Traveler’s review of various language translators, in the September 2006 issue and sent us another recommendation: "Point It is a pocket-sized ‘traveller’s language kit’ containing 1,200 photos you can point at to communicate without words."

Paul and Renee Nostrand of Craryville, New York, both wrote independently in response to September’s "Secrets of the Island" section on St. Martin to warn readers of some risks associated with travel there. Paul wrote: "Several years ago I was at the top of Pic Paradis, when a couple of young boys appeared out of nowhere, and took cash out of a fanny pack that was stuffed under the front seat. Granted, I should have known better than to leave it in the vehicle, but I was no farther than 30 yards [27 meters] from the vehicle and left it unattended for less than five minutes to take pictures. A co-worker of mine was on the island the same week, and told me that on Pic Paradis the very next day two different boys came out of the woods, held her and her husband up with a knife and broken bottle, and stole their cash and credit cards." Renee adds: "Unfortunately, the police were not much help—after talking with business owners and other locals we came away with the feeling that the police look the other way with regards to Pic Paradis. There also seems to be a problem with rental cars having items stolen from their trunks on the island. We were advised to put our belongings out of view in the trunk, but came to understand that a local crime ring owned a master key for the trunks. The island is beautiful, the food in Grand Case is out of this world as well as the pastries in the breakfast places. Unfortunately, it isn’t one of the safest places."

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And earlier this month, in response to our guest post by Parent Hacks editor Asha Dornfest, reader Dipu Patel-Junankar of Boston, Massachusetts, wrote to tell us about her own parent-oriented blog: "I have lived all over the globe: India, Africa, and now the U.S. Inspired by my travels and love for culture and language, I have started a blog to encourage parents to expose their kids to their world in all ways possible. Brio is for all parents who want to raise well-versed, well-traveled kids. What better way to teach tolerance than to travel?"

We love hearing from all of you, so please click the comments links (below each post) or the e-mail address at the bottom of the page. The more mail we get, the more often we publish reader roundups.

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