Oakland's Charms

AS A SECOND-generation Oaklander who revisits the Bay Area every summer, I can say with authority that your article ["Oakland on the Side," Nov. 28] missed the No. 1 attraction there: the Museum of California. It is one of the best regional museums in the country. The AAA guide to California and Nevada has it as Oakland's only starred attraction.

Wallace Spaulding


TOM McNICHOL did a credible job in his article on Oakland. Many San Franciscans do not even admit that Oakland exists! But as one who grew up in Oakland and still visits three or four times a year, I have a few additions:

* When one heads to the Rockridge neighborhood via BART, one should take five minutes to look at the walls of tiles that line the pillars supporting the station. These were done as therapy by survivors of the huge 1991 fire as part of the healing and community-building process.

* Redwood Regional Park is not the only park in the East Bay hills that's a well-kept secret. Among the others is Chabot.

* Lake Merritt forms the center of the primary walking track of the city. Hundreds of local residents walk its 3 1/4-mile circumference daily.

* McNichol also failed to mention Oakland's spreading Chinatown, probably second in size only to San Francisco's.

Marilyn Silvey


L.A. Underground

AUDREY DAVIDOW ["It Came From Below L.A.," Nov. 21] did not do justice to the art in the new Los Angeles subway stations. All stations are works of art as well as showcases for art works. No other system spends as much on art--far from "cheapo."

The most beautiful station is Hollywood/Western, whose walls of speckled tiles pay homage to native Mestizo heritage. Stone pavers inscribed with Native American, Chinese and Armenian pictographs symbolize the succession of ethnic groups at this place. The entrance presents fossils uncovered while digging the subway. And the wall facing the mezzanine bears a relief of two red streetcars passing each other, reminders of the subway's predecessor that served the area before auto-clogged freeways and that was the largest urban mass transit system in the United States.

Quon Y. Kwan


Bermuda: What Problem?

AS A THIRTYSOMETHING who has traveled to Bermuda since her early twenties, I consider Bermuda an ideal travel destination. David Segal ["Bermuda: Paradise With a Problem," Nov. 21] is the one with the problem. I won't even raise the topic of what he was doing shirtless in the city. It's Bermuda, not Ocean City.

One can easily see all of Bermuda's attractions by using its public transport system of buses and ferries, which is clean, efficient and cost-effective (one-, three- and seven-day passes are available).

Karin M. Krchnak


BERMUDA IS one of our favorite destinations. It is true that the restaurants can be expensive, but keep in mind that almost all meat and dairy products must be imported. There is an easy solution to this expensive meal problem; Go on a cruise ship and have your meals on board. (I am not employed by a cruise line). As for the stuffiness of the people, we found Bermudans both friendly and helpful to tourists, especially in the shops, where excellent service is still the norm.

Jay W. Kerpelman


I CAN ONLY hope that the Bermuda tourist office ignores the advice of David Segal. If there's anything Bermuda doesn't need, it's buzz. It is one of the few places around that hasn't been polluted by ya-ya hipsters wanting to make it like every other vacation "paradise." And what nonsense that you must have a moped if you stay in St. George's. Bermuda has a great bus system; with a bus card, you can get anywhere on the island. There are already too many mopeds polluting the air.

Marjean Willett


Tip Tips

TRAVEL TIP Tip 122 ["Battery Power," Nov. 21] was definitely a great tip. I was lucky: When I got a Lorus Quartz travel clock from L.L. Bean about 10 years ago, it came with a bit of red-colored cellophane to place between the battery and the contact when the clock was not being used. I thought that was the norm. Since it doesn't appear to be, it should.

Anne France


TRAVEL TIP 121 ["The $5 Mobile Phone," Nov. 14] is only a partial solution to the problem of short phone cords. It is a good probability that the end of the existing phone line will be hidden behind a piece of heavy furniture. The solution is to buy a line coupler (less than $2). Disconnect the existing line from the phone, connect it your line using the coupler, and connect your line back to the phone. That is the easiest way. And by using both cords, you gain additional line length.

Channing Jones



WE FOLLOWED up on your lead in response to our question on visiting Panama [Travel Q&A, Oct. 10] and booked a trip with Davis Stevenson of Condor Travel. We had a marvelous visit, highlighted by a tour of the locks, control tower and tunnels at the Miraflores Locks. Some of this equipment was made by the Wheeling Mold and Foundry, owned by my husband's grandfather. Our trip also included a partial transit of the canal and visits to the Atlantic side and Barro Colorado Nature Monument. Thank you for your assistance in planning our trip of a lifetime.

Josephine M. Blue


Argentine Visas

I JUST returned from a three-week trip to Argentina, and among the attractions I visited was Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. The guidebooks tell us that in order to see the falls from the Brazilian side, U.S. citizens need a visa to enter Brazil, and that it is easy and quick to get one at the border. This does not seem to be so. It requires a three-hour disruption in your tour to go into the town to get the visa. Another alternative, we were told, was to pay the guide $20 and "his friend" would drive us across in a taxi. I refused to do this and stayed at the hotel for the day.

I advise all American and Canadian visitors to get their visas before going to Brazil.

Jean P. Thompson

Silver Spring

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