Expensive lesson on overstaying welcome in Europe

Thanks for publishing Catharine Hamm's article on extended European Union stays as regulated by the Schengen agreement ["Before You Book a Long Europe Stay," March 29]. Until her article, I had seen nothing in the news media nor travel sites that addressed this law. When my wife and I retired, we took a European trip that lasted four months. On departing the EU, we were fined $500 each for an overstay of 26 days.

Matt Pawley


Palm Desert


We visited the iconic Brandenburg Gate in Berlin (pictured with Hamm's column) on an excursion during a Baltic cruise. I vividly remember the frightening images of World War II and the newsreels of armies streaming past its columns.

Now, just as you proceed through, there is a Starbucks.

Karen Marks

Los Angeles

Miss the ship?

Rosemary McClure's bad dream ("Be Sure You Won't Miss the Boat," March 15) happened to me — twice. The first time I was left on the Greek isle of Hydra; 10 years later, the same thing on Rhodes.

If you miss your ship, my advice is to immediately check a sister ship, or any ship nearby. Its reception desk might offer to contact your ship to let your party know your whereabouts. (My story happened before cellphones.) Second, check ferry schedules to see whether you can catch your ship at the next port.

On Rhodes, a friendly taxi driver whisked me to the airport, then walked me into the terminal to make sure I got on a flight to Crete that evening. At the Crete airport, I booked a hotel room near the port. Next morning, I watched my ship come in, but approached it only after the passengers standing at the rails had disappeared inside for breakfast. Then I scurried up the stairway and into the buffet line, to the astonishment of my tour group.

I'm still traveling, but no more ships.

Carol Clark

Los Feliz

An easier trip


A couple years ago, I had to travel to Ohio to be with my mother, who was dying of Alzheimer's disease. My husband had the disease too but could still walk a few steps. I had no choice but to take him with me (I always fly with Southwest). I expected a difficult journey. To the contrary, the attendants on all flights were extremely helpful.

I made sure we got front seats close to the lavatory, and when my husband had to use the toilet, the flight attendant and I were able to help him. Because we couldn't close the door, the male attendant, who was quite large, made a barrier with his body for privacy.

I can't stress enough how important it is to communicate with — call again and again — whatever airlines you use and make sure that all requests are in place.

Thank you a million times again, Southwest Airlines, and thank you, L.A. Times, for your travel information.

Tina Stevenson