Frio Fan

THE recommendatipn in Travel Q&A to use Frio packets for carrying refrigerated items is excellent [Sept. 12]. I must take insulin with me in my travels and have been using this product for years. A trip through Spain several years ago in the summer proved its worth to me.

A couple of hints: Don't let the packet soak too long in cold water; the crystals will expand so much that it will be hard to get anything inside. Also, after soaking, put the packet in the fridge or an ice bucket for a few hours or overnight. This gets the packet truly cold and assures long-term use.

David Weiss

Charlottesville

Italian Lake Tips

SUSAN HARB described just a few of the beautiful towns and wonderful food to be found around the Italian lakes ["Of Lakes and Lanes in Northern Italy," Sept. 12]. My husband and I traveled a similar route a few years ago and found two gems seldom mentioned in travel articles.

In Sirmione, a short walk from the edge of town is the Grotte di Catullo (really an ancient Roman bath complex), a lovely area of Roman ruins near the tip of the peninsula. The view is spectacular.

In Bellagio, if you are willing to walk a short distance into town, there is a very special family-run hotel, the Silvio. We enjoyed watching the men of the family fish in Lake Como for the wonderful trout that they serve in their restaurant. Late in the afternoon, we would carry a pitcher of local wine, poured from a jug at the bar, up to our room, where we feasted on the magnificent view from the small balcony.

Diann Nickelsburg

Virginia Beach

Bad Exchange!

IN RESPONSE to the bad exchange at BWI of dollars for pounds [Message Center, Sept. 12], I've never heard of such a bad exchange as that; but there's an easier way. Get an ATM withdrawal card from your bank (guard it like cash) and you can buy local currency just about anywhere. There's usually a local charge and a charge at your bank, but it's better than the experience at BWI.

Jim Parker

Silver Spring

Inside Ecuador

I WAS thrilled to see the article about Ecuador ["The Galapagos Can Wait," Sept. 5], as I lived in that country last summer and had the opportunity to savor its varied experiences. I would only add that potential travelers should also be aware of the country's pitfalls. The roads are atrocious and driving dangerous. The Pan-American Highway through Ecuador is a joke, as the road disappears in towns and turns into dirt road at various points. English is not widely spoken, and petty crime is a serious concern.

Knowing those caveats, however, a traveler to Ecuador can have an unparalleled experiece, as Ellen Perlman indicates. I will always cherish memories of jumping off our whale-watching boat to snorkel in the Pacific, or tracking down giant tarantulas at night in the Amazon. I hope other travelers do make it to Ecuador and support the local economy there.

For those interested in a trip to the Amazon, I highly recommend Sani Lodge, which is one of a few jungle lodges run and owned by the local indigenous people, so the profits benefit the community rather than an absentee owner. Plus, the food, trekking, accommodations and hospitality are fabulous.

Carrie Callaghan

Washington

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