I grew up in Brooklyn and am still a frequent visitor—it certainly is the multilayered, culturally vibrant borough that Peter Jon Lindberg describes [’Brooklyn Bound,’ November]. But I was disappointed to read that the umbilical cord from Manhattan apparently does not stretch as far as Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, and Sheepshead Bay. These neighborhoods hold many secret delights for travelers: Bay Ridge’s Chinatown, Leif Ericson Park, bustling Third and Fourth Avenues in the shadow of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and the heavily Italian-influenced 18th Street. —JAMES DESANTIS, NEWARK, N.J.

Hats Off to Holland

Guy Trebay’s story on Amsterdam ["Going Dutch," October] emphasized the injustice of stereotypes. The writer demonstrates how unfair it is to describe Amsterdam only in relation to what is normal and acceptable to Americans. The residents’ free spirit is often misunderstood—fortunately for the readers, however, not by Trebay.


Guided Through France

Using the recommendation in Ask T+L [April], we traveled to Avignon and stayed at Mas Hardi [3910 Rte. de Baucaire, Sernhac; 33-4/66-37- 49-28; www.mashardi.com; doubles from $82], an affordable bed-and-breakfast in Provence. The owners, Franca and Victor Rodriguez, provided spacious rooms filled with antique wood furniture and oil and acrylic paintings. This find, paired with the bistros reviewed by Linda Dannenberg ["Great Bistros of Provence," May], made our six days in the south of France particularly satisfying. For us, it was truly a trip of a lifetime.


Tipping Techniques

I take issue with Jean Chatzky’s November column [Money], in which she proposes that the increase in tipping is partly due to a culture concerned with social status; she neglected to mention that the federal minimum wage has not been raised since 1997. Most service workers earn the bare minimum—often without health care or other benefits of the professional class. These workers—whose tireless efforts support the luxury lifestyle—deserve more than a "warm greeting," as suggested by etiquette coach Stephanie Horton. Such kind gestures will simply not pay the workers’ bills at home.

—Mary Jae Peterson, Durham, N.C.

EDITOR’S NOTE Jean Chatzky reported on international tipping practices; in many countries, waitstaff earn competitive wages and receive health benefits through government programs.

CORRECTION The phone number and Web site for Couples Swept Away (800/268-7537; www.couples.com) was listed incorrectly in the December issue ("The Ultimate Caribbean Hotel Guide").

E-MAIL T+L Send your letters and Reader’s Finds to TLeditor@aexp.com and let us know your thoughts on recent stories and your ideas for new places to visit. Letters chosen for publication may be edited for clarity and space.