Solvang dowdy? Try tranquil and charming.

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I take exception to Andrew Bender’s depiction of Solvang as dated, dowdy and kitschy in the July 19 Weekend Escape, “Updates to Its Danish Design.”

Perhaps Bender should treat himself to a luncheon of open-face Danish sandwiches with toppings that include pickled herring and dill or sample roast pork with red cabbage slaw.

As for hotels, we escape the hubbub of L.A. to a traditionally appointed Danish suite overlooking the courtyard of the Old Mission Santa Inés. In contrast to dated, dowdy and kitschy, we find the town to be charming, tranquil and enchanting.


Karen Neville

La Puente

Chinese visas

I have made 13 trips to China as a tourist, so I have quite a bit of experience with Chinese visas, which were the focus of the On the Spot column July 26 [“Avoid Trouble, Get That Visa,” by Catharine Hamm].

The tourist visa, which could be obtained for multiple entrances, was formerly limited to one year, meaning that another visa would be required after one year. I was surprised to see that the policy has changed and that the time limit has been extended to 10 years.

I have processed about half of my Chinese visas while I have been in Washington, D.C. The line at the D.C. visa office is about a third of the one in L.A. Since I now live in San Diego, I either have to use a visa service through my travel agent or plan a trip to L.A.

A. Stephen Dahms

San Diego

Do visit Greece

I have just spent six weeks in Greece (not on a tour), and I’d like to add some information to “The Bottom Line on Greece,” by Mary Forgione [July 19].


I would go back in a heartbeat: The people are wonderfully friendly, and most speak English. We also learned the words for “hello,” “goodbye,” “please,” “thank you,” etc., and that added to our experience.

Credit cards are a challenge for some merchants. Yes, they are accepted for the most part in the major tourist areas such as Athens, Mykonos and Santorini, but they also cost the merchant a percentage of the transaction.

Matt Schulz of suggests using credit cards for everything, but I disagree. Yes, perhaps for major purchases, but not for the daily kinds of expenses we tend to use cards for. We carried smaller euro bills that we had gotten in the U.S., and we kept several 1 or 2 euro coins in our pockets for tips, which were very much appreciated. We always left tips for hotel housekeepers and the breakfast wait staff.

We stayed in wonderful, small, Greek-owned hotels that always included substantial breakfast buffets. The hotels had small refrigerators in the rooms, so we could purchase drinks, cheeses and breads fresh from the small bakeries.

I urge anybody thinking about European travel to go to Greece, an affordable and marvelous country to explore and experience.

Hannah MacLaren