Frequent-flier trip delivered
Not all frequent-flier airline experiences ("Frequent Flier, Here's How to Take Your Seat," On the Spot, Sept. 2, by Catharine Hamm) are negative: After I jokingly offered my rabbi miles in exchange for a personally guided trip to Israel, he accepted.
The first airline awards agent practically hung up on me, but I got lucky with American Airlines, whose agent eagerly responded to the idea of such a trip. Ninety minutes later, we had booked flights.
I used all my miles, but the trip not only proved magical, it also provided the rabbi and me with our first (and perhaps only) pleasurable experience of flying business class. Several changes had to be made to our itineraries, but again, I can offer only positive reports.
Sometimes faith is rewarded.
Ruth Kramer Ziony
It was sad to read that the police in Barcelona, Spain, did nothing to help the travelers who wrote in about their experience ("Ripped Off," Letters, Aug. 26). My wife, son and I went to Barcelona, and while my wife was doing some shopping a pickpocket stole her video camera, case, etc.
We reported that incident to the local police, filled out the police report, including what had been taken. Back in San Diego about four weeks later, we received a phone call from the airport saying we had a box.
Surprise! The Barcelona police had captured the thieves and returned our belongings to us. I will go back to Barcelona.
Reading that letter reminded my wife and me of the unsolicited help two young men offered us in boarding a car in the Barcelona subway station. I declined by shouting a string of bad words, at full volume. Still, one chap dipped his hand into my trouser pocket. When my wife and I were safely inside the subway car, I kept the doors slightly open to keep the train from moving and hoping to kick one of these unwanted helpers.
Instead, the chap who had dipped inside my pocket gracefully handed back my dark glasses case. He had a slight smile.
Regarding "China's Visa Rules Change," by Jeff Yip, Aug. 26: China has made it so difficult to obtain a tourist visa that it's hardly worth the hassle.
As a tour operator, I'm helping my clients with visas for an October trip. The consulates and embassies keep asking for more and more, nitpicking us to death. Not to mention the cost: $140 plus appearing in person to drop off the application and pick up the visa a week later, or paying a visa service if you don't live near a consulate.
This will probably be my last trip to China. My clients, many of whom have been to China with me before, are saying the same thing.
In Focus With Michele Burgess
Thank you for promoting our beautiful — and serene — county in the Aug. 19 Weekend Escape about Alpine County, Calif. ("Nothing but Peace, Quiet," by Jay Jones). People can pick up a free, open-access Wi-Fi signal 24/7 at our libraries in Markleeville and in Bear Valley.
Some people even claim to get a cellphone signal, but I wouldn't count on it.
Alpine County librarian