Laughing All the Way
Forget your credit card, but never leave home without your sense of humor. And to really keep it in hand, take along "The Humorists' Guide" series to Europe -- England ("In a Fog"); France ("Savoir Rire"); Italy ("When in Rome"); and the ocean cruise ("All in the Same Boat"). What better companion than classic travel humor from Thurber, Benchley, Perelman, Lardner and Bemelmans, as well as amusing and once popular writers like Margaret Halsey and Emily Kimbrough.
More recent contributions include Art Buchwald on the national sport of Italy, "far rumore" ("to make noise"), and the many uses of French bread (for "hailing a cab" and waving "a cat off the vegetables"); and Roy Blount Jr.'s hilarious attempt to make reservations in Italiano at a Roma ristorante.
Due out in May is "Here We Are: The Humorists' Guide to the United States." The books are sometimes available at local bookstores, but also can be ordered from Catbird Press (44 North Sixth Ave., Highland Park, N.J. 08904, 201-572-0816) for $9.95 each, plus $2 for shipping. A Stink About Service
Business travelers recently asked about the ways they don't love their hotels were only too happy to count them. And what they made the biggest stink about in the Wyndham Hotels & Resorts survey was "stale-smelling rooms." Now, we've stayed in some small hotels in Paris where that would be about the best thing you could say. But business travel is different, and small offenses compound quickly. Hence the survey respondents' litany of unpardonable hotel sins, with No. 2 being "inefficient and unfriendly front desk personnel" and No. 3, "late or missed wake-up calls." More Top 10 peeves were showers with low water pressure; anemic pillows and bath towels; and room keys that don't work.
We would've thought that slow room service, rooms lit like the Luray Caverns, stingy phone cords no longer than your arm and headless hangers would've been higher on the list (they did make the Top 20), but would we complain? On a business trip, we wouldn't stay in rooms that stink, so why should you? TRAVEL TRIVIA In 1808, Uncle Sam bought Ellis Island from New York state. What was the purchase price? ANSWER BELOWTRIVIA ANSWER: $10,000END NOTES ON TOURS
No plans for New Year's Eve -- yet? There's still time to discard the usual options and get up to New York for an "Adventure on a Shoestring" instead. Howard Goldberg will lead a walking tour -- what he calls an alternative to a pricey evening in Manhattan -- around historic Chinatown, starting at 6 p.m. Cost is $5, and the evening ends with an optional dinner for $8, including tax and tip. For reservations, call 212-265-2663. FAIR WARNINGS
Mummers Parade, Philadelphia, Jan. 1.
Art Deco Weekend Festival, Miami Beach, Jan. 11-13.
Bermuda Festival of the arts, Jan. 11-Feb. 23.
International Finals Rodeo, Oklahoma City, Jan. 17-20.
Hong Kong Arts Festival, Jan. 19-Feb. 10.
St. Paul Winter Carnival, Minn., Jan. 23-Feb. 3.