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Editor's Note
Our Message Boards took a serious hit yesterday when we discovered that files had become corrupted. Any posts dated May 15 through midafternoon yesterday were irretrievably lost. We sincerely regret this happening and offer our apologies to all of you who put so much into making our boards such a vibrant and thoughtful community.
Deals and News
Independence Air is here, and it's a doozy. The new low-fare airline based at Washington Dulles Airport announced its first destinations on Wednesday, and it'll be dragging down fares all over the East Coast.
Land-only packages are popular with several types of travelers: those cashing in on their frequent flyer miles, people who have the luxury of leisurely travel and aren't tied down to a specific return date, and those who have found a cheap roundtrip fare on their own, thus not needing that part of the standard package. Whatever your perspective, we've got some nifty deals for travelers once they're on the ground in Europe.
However you define a vacation -- from lazing on a beach to schussing down snowy slopes -- it can all be found in the Antipodes. We've assemebled a wide-range of options to suit your tastes.
Free, high-speed, wireless Internet in a $32 hotel room? Sounds like a dream. But budget hotel chain Microtel is bringing full-on Net access to their 266 motels around the country, raising the bar on the level of free stuff you expect to get for under $50 per night.
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Reader's Voice
From Joann Jones: "My mother wants to go to Italy with me in September. My mother is 78 years young and has not traveled to Europe before. She has always wanted to go to Italy because her mother and father were born there. My husband and I have travelled extensively in Europe and we are used to travelling on our own and doing a lot of walking. I am leaning toward an escorted tour because my mother wouldn't have to walk so much and the dollar is so weak. My mother wants to see all of the usual sites in Rome, Venice, Capri and Florence. (Her mother was born in a small town near Bari called Martina Franca but that is really off the beaten path.) I have considered the following tour companies: Insight, GoAhead, Gate One Travel and Collette but have been unable to commit to anything. If we go the tour route, I want some extra time on our own. I would appreciate hearing any suggestions or recommendations from anybody who has used these tour companies."
From Gordon Rice: "I just returned from Arizona ¿ what a beautiful state! I¿ve never been out west but wanted to visit a friend in the Scottsdale area. The location of the Courtyard couldn¿t be better. We visited at the hotel on the first day ¿ restaurant very nice for breakfast and staff was great in telling us all to see. The next day we ventured off into town ¿ SO much to see and do! We even got a great game of golf in before we walked to a fabulous restaurant for dinner. Definitely a place to revisit!"
From nicrid: "I will be visiting SF in June and I can't wait! The city sounds really great. However, this is my first trip to SF and I am unfamiliar with the city. I am coming in using an Amtrak Motorcoach service that stops at 4th and Market Street in Union Square (I think I read there is a BART station here?) and I was planning to take a cab to my hotel, The Stanford Court. On the Amtrak website it says that taxis are on call at this station. Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone can let me know if I'll have problems getting transportation or any safety concerns or other suggestions about how to get on my way? I just don't want to show up in SF and find that there are no cabs or anything and be stranded. I have read the other posts about the homeless situation in SF and while it doesn't particularly bother me (I am from the NYC area and have been hassled on the subway and in Penn Station more than once), I also don't think its good for a single female traveler to be wandering around an unfamiliar city, bags in tow, completely lost. Any suggestions, advice, help would be greatly appreciated."
From Lynn Vartanian: "Can anyone give suggestions for good breakfast restaurants? Someplace either in the French Quarter or near Canal St.--I'm staying at the Sheraton on Canal St. Thanks for any info."
From Ashley Best: "We are headed to Savannah at the end of May and many places are already booked. Can anyone recommend a moderately priced B&B with tasteful decor and attention to service? We are more casual people, not interested in more formal ornate decor. We just want to find a comfortable place with a great breakfast, and nice owners. We have already tried the Green Palm Inn and The Forsythe House and they are booked. Help!"
 
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