I subscribe to five travel magazines and often get frustrated with the fluff out there, but yours is all meat and potatoes. The May issue in particular is jam-packed with fun features—like “Best Secret Islands on Earth.” Many of the places you highlighted do not even have tourist boards to promote them, and discovering them would have been difficult. Thanks to you, I’m always dreaming up my next vacation. —Betsy Hicks, Delavan, Wis.
I usually flip through T+L with a mix of awe and inspiration, but when I read “Keith Johnson's Ultimate Travel Outfit” I nearly fell out of my proverbial armchair. To say that an $8,300 watch is “not so precious” is one of the most absurd statements I’ve ever heard—and I live in our nation’s capital. —Daniel Atherton, Washington, D.C.
Editor’s Note: What Johnson meant is that his watch is hard-wearing and travels well. Panerai has been making watches for the Italian Navy since 1890; over the years they’ve become once-in-a-lifetime investments, but their history is rooted in durability and lasting design.
Going Solo in Marrakesh
The restored riads and palaces that Richard Alleman describes in “Marrakesh’s Stylish Transformation” [May] are truly incredible, but women should exercise great care when traveling to the city alone. I recently went on a trip without a tour guide, and I experienced a lot of unwanted attention. I have traveled extensively in 40 countries, and my best advice for solo female travelers is to wear loose clothing, avoid eye contact with locals, and be respectful when taking photographs. —Beverly Dale, Moscow, Russia
My personal indulgence has always been to splurge on a fabulous meal upon landing in a new place. But Adam Sachs’s “2 Ways to See Berlin” [April] made me realize that the many things you can do in a city are worth much more. —Judith Jones, Los Angeles, Calif.
Hot Topic: Affordable Alternate Routes
Traffic Down Under
Mark, do you have any ideas for getting from Australia’s Melbourne Airport to downtown? I’ve been there twice, and friends have picked me up both times. The highway traffic is dreadful. What about a train? —Maryanne Lovell, Huntington, Ore.
Mark Orwoll Replies: There is no train service from the airport, and a taxi will cost you about $48. I’d suggest taking the SkyBus (skybus.com.au), which offers departures to central Melbourne every 10 minutes. It’s $16 one-way or $26 round-trip.
Another NYC Option
No smart New Yorker would take a cab or a bus to JFK. How did you leave out the subway/AirTrain? It drops you off right in your terminal and it’s cheaper than the bus. Plus, it’s not at the mercy of city traffic. —Matt Collins, Via Iphone
Mark Orwoll Replies: You’re right—JFK’s AirTrain connects to the subway at several stations and costs $7.25 (including the subway fare); you’ll find this information in the online version of my column. That said, I’ve taken it—and I think it’s a hassle. The subway is a lousy place to carry luggage, the connecting stations are out of the way, and—apart from rush hour—at 50–65 minutes it’s really not much (if any) faster than the bus.
Hitting the Mark
I’ve actually cut out your piece and saved it for reference. This is news we can use—it’s what makes your magazine head and shoulders above the rest. Keep it up! —Joe Scholl, Raleigh, N.C.
Reader’s Find: An Island-Style Restaurant in Aruba
To celebrate my birthday and our wedding anniversary, my wife, Barbara, and I decided to spend a week in Aruba. We’d heard great things about the weather, the beaches, the people, the water—and, yes, the food. We love to eat and booked dinner reservations every evening. On our second to last night we cabbed it to Madame Janette, in the northwestern part of the island. A low-slung, historic Aruban house with outdoor seating and a tamarind tree, it was the only one of the restaurants we tried that actually looked like it belonged in an island paradise. Someone at our hotel had been raving about the potato-crusted red snapper, but we opted for the shrimp casserole—a delicious choice. As they served our chocolate mousse dessert, local musicians took to the stage. It was a very memorable evening. —Arnold Hollander, Via E-Mail
T+L Asks: If You Were to Plan an Entire Trip Around Food, Where Would You Go—and What Would You Eat?
I would go to Mexico. Especially the Baja peninsula, for fish tacos. —Jennifer Hanley Kerns, Via Facebook
On a trek through the Swiss Alps followed by some healthy Alpine cuisine, plus Swiss cheese and chocolate. —Iolanda Martinez Vilaseca, Via Facebook
India. I can taste the samosas and lassis now. —Jennifer Tobkin, Los Angeles, Calif.
Martha’s Vineyard for fresh seafood, Hawaii for tropical fruit, Japan for sushi, and Italy for everything else! —Lisa Michelle, Chicago, Ill.
I’d do a patisserie tour of Paris. I can’t think of a challenge more enjoyable than seeking out the flakiest croissant or the most uniquely flavored macaroon in a city where dessert is often a work of art. —Erica Goss, Athens, Ga.
The Philippines, to try inihaw na bangus (grilled milkfish) and dinuguuan (pork blood stew)—exotic food at its best. —Ferdinand Idio, Via Facebook
Sometimes you needn’t go farther than your own backyard. I’d opt for a mom-and-pop restaurant tour of the U.S. —Ron Magnin, Beverly Hills, Calif.
I want to go on a tapas crawl around Spain—including Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo, Málaga, Granada, and Seville—to sample aceitunas (olives), croquetas, empanadas, tortilla de patatas (potato omelette), Manchego cheese, and paella. Or, how about Belgium—Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp, and Bruges—to eat chocolate, french fries, and (of course) Belgian waffles? —Charlcye Christa Bryson, Fort Worth, Tex.
The Languedoc region in France, for excellent cassoulet. —Lisa Gerber, Sandpoint, Id.
Duh! Italy. I’d eat everything...and gain 10 pounds. —Terri Lundberg, Via Facebook
Coming next month: If you had your entire summer free, how would you spend it?
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Your Restaurants Hit List
Here, the most clicked-on restaurants on TravelandLeisure.com at press time.
1. Le Chateaubriand, Paris
2. Le Pure Café, Paris
3. Le Comptoir, Paris
4. D.O.M. Restaurante, São Paulo, Brazil
5. Shokudo, Honolulu
6. Shaw’s Fish & Lobster Wharf, New Harbor, Maine
7. Le Voltaire, Paris
8. August, New Orleans
9. Cochon, New Orleans
10. Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy
A low-slung, historic Aruban house with outdoor seating and a tamarind tree with delciious potato-crusted red snapper and shrimp casserole.