Travel Q&A & You

YOUR REPLY TO David McIntire about Watkins Glen [Travel Q&A, June 5] contained good information. I would also suggest parking in the town and taking a taxi to the top of the Glen, then walking down. I would include another interesting site not too far away, the Corning Glass Museum outside Corning, N.Y. It contains beautiful and amazing glass sculptures, and (at least the last time I was there) you can watch the glassblowers at work.

Jerry Mann


Turin, Turin, Turin

"TURIN'S TURN" [May 15] triggered memories of a unique adventure our relatives Jean and Frank experienced during their September 2004 visit to Tuscany.

They found themselves one afternoon at a toll road gate sans ticket (or euro or lire). As they searched frantically for the ticket, drivers in the ever-lengthening line of cars behind them honked their horns in that inimitable Italian way.

Backing out of the line of cars was impossible. Mike's attempts to explain his predicament to the toll-booth attendant proving unsuccessful, he suddenly jumped from the car and began singing -- in his best Dean Martin baritone -- "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore." This spontaneous gesture seemed to delight the female attendant, who smiled broadly, applauded and waved them on through the gate.

Judith A. Dolson

and James V. Dolson


Great River Road, Cont'd

I KNOW THAT the article "Lolling on the River" [May 22] addressed the shore-side aspect of the Great River Road, but I wanted to clarify a few misnomers that you used referring to commercial inland water operations.

A typical-size "tow," not a "tow barge," on the Upper Mississippi River is made up of 15 barges (three wide and five long) wired together and pushed by a towboat; this unit, the towboat and its barges, is called a tow. And with three barges each 35 feet wide inside a lock that is 110 feet wide (leaving just 21/2 feet on each side of the barge as it locks through the chamber) you can see why it's close enough to talk to the "deckhands" on the barge -- not "stevedores," who work only shore-side.

And while a 15-barge tow may be typical on the Upper Mississippi, Captain Bob is right, the Mississippi really is two separate rivers, the Upper section being somewhat narrow and shallow, as opposed to the Lower section, which is wider and deeper, that can accommodate tows as large as the record 82 barges that were pushed by a single towboat back in 1983.

Gordon Angell


BWI Warning

IF YOU PARK at BWI's Hourly Parking garage, make sure your watch is in sync with the parking authority's time-stamp. The first hour of parking is free, but recently, when I arrived at the exit booth, thinking I had parked for less than an hour, I was charged $4. Turned out I was one minute late -- and according to the cashier, who was "just following the rules," there is no grace period.

Irwin Schorr


San Diego

I WOULD LIKE to share what I learned from my spring break trip to San Diego. After traveling nine hours, my two sons and I arrived at our hotel and tried to check in. It was only then I realized it was only 1 o'clock and check-in wasn't until 4. After being promised a "rush" and coming back to the counter several times, we checked in at 4. My heart sank when we entered the room. It looked nothing like the room advertised on, where I had booked it for seven nights. It smelled, the beds were like jelly and the bathroom was dirty.

I looked at my confirmation from Orbitz and it said no refunds. I wasn't sure what to do, so I took some evidence of the dirty bathroom to the lobby and explained that I couldn't possibly spend seven nights there. They said they had no problem with a refund, but that I had to ask Orbitz for one. I called and explained the situation and got a confirmation number right away for a refund, without even going into the gorey details.

So readers should know it doesn't hurt to ask, and not to believe everything they read. I booked a Marriott instead, where you always know what you're getting, and it didn't disappoint.

Susan Fusi

North Bethesda

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