MY HUSBAND and I really enjoyed your article about Zion National Park ["Park It . . . Then Park It," July 3]. We visited the park in 2000 on a loop of the Southwest national parks, joined by a German cousin who had dreamed of this for years. We thought the shuttle at Zion was a great idea and so did all our fellow passengers. The night at the lodge was immensely peaceful, except for being woken up by a skunk in the morning. I'm glad the shuttle has worked out so well.
EXACTLY A YEAR ago, I stayed at Zion Lodge. I encountered no hassles in driving back and forth from the lodge to the Canyon Overlook on Route 9. I also used the shuttle to go deeper into the canyon.
Besides being a better place to stay than a generic motel, the scenery is marvelous, as the article indicated. I've stayed at the lodge multiple times since my first visit in 1989 and will try to when I go there the next time. Being able to bring my car into the park is a big plus so that I can drive to favorite spots like the Canyon Overlook trailhead (I can't remember if the shuttle goes there or not).
Onsen a Lifetime
A WORD of caution about onsen (hot mineral springs), which were touted in the Travel section ["Japan: Bed, Onsen and Beyond," June 26]: For the novice bather, it is best to begin with only brief dips in the hot spring. My husband, although in excellent physical condition according to his doctor, emerged from his first bath feeling extremely weak and looking white as a sheet. This was caused by the inability of the body to maintain its normal temperature while submerged (except for the head) in hot water. Fortunately our companions, who were experienced with hot springs, knew the antidote: Flood yourself with cool water. It was several hours before my husband returned to his normal coloring. The experience did not deter him from future dips in hot spring baths, but he did limit his time in them.
Wynn Las Vegas
I ENJOYED YOUR your article on the Wynn Las Vegas resort [Lab Report, June 26]. I was there on May 31, shortly after it opened, and found it to be a fairly nice hotel, although I was only in the casino for a couple of hours. I stayed at the Flamingo, which I think is the best bargain for mid-Strip in Vegas.
I did have dinner at the SW Steakhouse that evening around 9 p.m. and was seated within a couple of minutes. The service was absolutely horrendous; it took them almost 15 minutes to bring me a refill on my tea, a couple of times, and it wasn't that crowded.
I think I will stick with the Fiore in the Rio, where they spoil you with good service.
Travel Q&A and You
"THE WORD ON Burma" [Travel Q&A, June 26] is misleading in several ways. First, notwithstanding the U.S. State Department bulletin, travel in Myanmar is very safe and the instances of bombing in the markets were directed at the government and specifically not at tourist venues.
Tourists are greatly prized in Myanmar, as they are the only potential source of income for many subsistence-level businesses. Street crime is essentially nonexistent, and the chance that a tourist will "stray" into off-limits areas of the country is nil, since these off-limits areas are substantial distances from the cities and the roads in have roadblocks closely managed by the government. In roaming around Yangon, the only limitation I ever faced was the occasional government compound with its guards and the blockaded area around the residence of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Second, all of the large tour companies have an accommodation with the ruling military junta such that a significant portion of the tourist dollar goes to support the junta. To not support the junta, a tourist has only to use smaller local travel agencies and less luxurious hotels. Not only will this save travelers incredible amounts of money, but they will actually meet the people of Myanmar (of which the Burmese are only one tribe of 130 or so). The luxury tours isolate tourists in air-conditioned buses and whisk them from sight to sight and purposefully isolate them from the locals.
Third, credit cards and travelers checks are not accepted in Myanmar. Cash is the only method of payment. If you do find a luxury hotel or other venue to cash your travelers' check or give a cash advance, you will pay as high as a 20 percent fee.
For useful information on travel in Myanmar, go to www.lonelyplanet.com and find the Thorn Tree forum on Southeast Asia. The Lonely Planet guide to Myanmar has an extensive discussion on the ethical issues of travel to this glorious country and is an invaluable guide to in-country travel.
By the way, the price for a cruise on the Irriwady for $1,900 for three days is grotesque when you can get a clean hotel room with air-conditioning and breakfast anywhere in Myanmar for less than $15. Myanmar is the lowest-cost travel venue in Southeast Asia; I traveled through Myanmar for three-plus weeks in February with my adult son and our joint expenses were much less than $1,500 for the entire three weeks, including in-country air flights.
YOUR ARTICLE on Zurich was excellent ["In Zurich, More Than Steeple Chasing," June 19]. Since the Thomas Mann Archives were highlighted, I can't resist mentioning to your readers with literary interests that both James and Nora Joyce are buried in a charming Zurich cemetary (next to the zoo) and that the Zurich James Joyce Foundation (Augustinergasse 9, CH-8001) offers a superb library. The James Joyce Pub is around the corner.
Joyce lived in Zurich during the first World War and returned at the outbreak of the second World War. He died in Zurich a month later, in January 1941.
I ENJOYED John Deiner's story about the Vegas-style wedding and especially got a chuckle out of Elvis ["The Renewlywed Game," June 12]. My wife and I eloped to Las Vegas almost 10 years ago and checked out the Little White Chapel described in the story -- it was still the same almost 10 years ago.
We had previousely decided to marry at the Grand Canyon (without Elvis or Klingons being present), but maybe we'll have the King renew our vows as the author did.
THERE HAVE BEEN discussions recently about recommended routes to Greenwich from London [Father's Day 101, June 19]. May I recommend another, perhaps more memorable way to get there?
There is a relatively unknown (by Americans) pedestrian crossing connecting London and Greenwich: the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. The tunnel is a 1,200-foot, tile-lined passage from London's Island Gardens park, under the Thames to Greenwich. There are stair- and lift-equipped entry cupolas at either end of the tunnel, and the tunnel itself is a gently sloping walkway for pedestrians only.
At the beginning of your crossing, the Island Gardens park offers an excellent preview of Greenwich across the river, and the tunnel delivers you in the immediate vicinity of the Cutty Sark in Greenwich.
And for the trip back into London, I also highly recommend taking the ferry. To get to the tunnel, take the Docklands Light Railway to the Island Gardens station.
Best of the Beach, Cont'd
MORE INPUT on the subject from a couple who have vacationed at Ocean City each year since 1981 ["Best of Two Beaches," June 5]:
We always try to make the General's Kitchen on one day, mostly for the atmosphere. However, we have found the chipped beef at Layton's (92nd Street) to be as good if not better, plus in-season it serves breakfast all day.
In our view, there is not a better crab cake anywhere that beats the one served at the Hobbit (81st Street): large lumps of Maryland blue crab with just a little mayo to bind.
Lastly, go to Wockenfuss on the Boardwalk for the best taffy, and hit the Fudge Factory (118th Street) for some great varieties.
Thanks for the opportunity to add our favorites.
MY HUSBAND and I (both retired) have just returned from Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Slovania and Austria, utilizing only youth hostels at more than $24 each per night. Although small, every one of them was immaculate, friendly, quiet and often included a decent breakfast.
The Lonely Planet guidebooks were often our only source for them, but it was the map of each city or town that was so essential and valuable in the books.
Our one and only disaster in the six-week trip was Prague. One definitely requires a reservation in the most popular city in Eastern Europe.
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