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Letters | December 2009

Lynn Yaeger was right to recommend the Porte de Vanves flea market. We made several great finds there while furnishing our Paris apartment, including a beautiful hand-carved cherrywood sleigh bed—for only $150! The dealer would not deliver, so I grabbed the head- and footboards, my wife the side slats and supports, and we proceeded to take two hot, crowded buses followed by the Métro to get it to our place. For that sort of bargain, you do what you have to do. —Michael Dodd, Silver Spring, Md.

Going Local

I’m planning a family vacation to Italy next year, so you can imagine my excitement when I saw your Italy article. I couldn’t wait to learn how to “eat like a local,” but I would never have thought that meant having your own chef from a two-Michelin-starred restaurant as a personal dining guide and regularly spending $250 on meals. Maybe Ms. von Bremzen will allow my family to tag along on her next trip? Until then, I’ll be patiently waiting for an article on where the real Italians eat. —Brian Mccullough, Neckartenzlingen, Germany

Anya von Bremzen replies: “Eat Like a Local in Italy” features a range of the country’s best restaurants as well as artisanal products, including $3 gelatos and $10 pizzas, plus cheeses and wines that were recently on the brink of extinction. Yes, the chefs and critics in the story are celebrated for their expertise, but that doesn’t make them any less “real” or “local.”

Words of Wisdom

While reading Nancy Novogrod’s October Editor’s Note, I remembered something my mother would say: “You can travel anywhere with a book.” For many people—armchair travelers who are staying put due to lack of funds, family commitments, or physical difficulties, among other reasons—leafing through the glamorous pages of your magazine is the trip. —Peter Vaughn, South Kent, Conn.

Readers’ Find: Malaysia

I eagerly read “World’s Sexiest Affordable Destinations”—especially the part about Langkawi, Malaysia. My family and I visited three times, trying both of the hotels you highlighted. But our favorite is the Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa (doubles from $267), on the island’s southwestern tip. With its charming wooden chalets and private white-sand beach, it’s our paradise within paradise. —EJ Griffis Jr., Columbus, Miss.

Readers’ Find: Iceland

To celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, my wife and I went to Sjávarkjallarinn (dinner for $150), a “seafood cellar” in the heart of Reykjavík, one of your “World’s Sexiest Affordable Destinations”. We ordered a fantastic tasting plate of fresh salmon, tuna, monkfish, and Icelandic salted cod—but the pièce de résistance? A dessert of sorbets, presented on a large palm leaf and suspended over dry ice. When our server poured water over it, a white cloud enveloped the table and created a spectacle that had other diners taking photographs. —Peter I. Volny, Fountain Hills, Ariz.

Readers’ Find: Argentina

My wife, daughter, and I just returned from two weeks in Argentina. The highlight of our trip was the family-run estancia Rancho’e Cuero (doubles from $300, including meals), about 70 miles south of Mendoza and 8,000 feet up in the Andes foothills. The owners of the 7,000-acre estate, Analicia and Ricardo Palma, just finished building the second of its two rustic-luxe lodges. It was a very memorable experience, from our first lunch (steaks grilled in the fireplace and paired with a local Malbec) to horseback riding in the spectacular mountain setting. —Joe Studlick, Houston, Tex.

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