So happy to see your debut with The Mature Traveler. At least as important to most of us seniors as the price of travel is the search for smokelessness. Many of us suffer from emphysema, asthma and other bronchial weaknesses, and try to find cruises, bus trips, etc., in foreign countries that guarantee that we will find separate dining areas as well as restricted bus travel for those of us who must be protected from smoke pollution. Please do devote some space to this problem.
A "10" for Yugo Tours on the mature travelers' Hit Parade. They were very inexpensive, but top-drawer all the way. They promised and delivered. Our accommodations in Opatija, Dubrovnik and Athens were the best in town. Our representatives were helpful and friendly, our arrangements for travel and luggage taken out of our hands, and our concerns handled intelligently and with concern for the individual.
A bonus: Wonderful fellow travelers. We had stereotypical impressions of our group--gray, gray, polyester and pills, querulous, slow-moving folk. Were we ever wrong! A warmer, more interesting group of 60-plus I have yet to meet. They came from every walk of life, every type of professional life, and most were really experienced, flexible travelers.
Congratulations on the column. It's about time! We are newly retired teachers and raring to go. What joy not to have to travel summers ever again. Give us lots of bargains and we'll test them all out for you.
Last fall my wife and I spent a month in Portugal and discovered that we could go first-class, both in Lisbon and in rural Portugal, for $100 a day or less. . . . The best hotels, best restaurants, lodging in fine inns and pousadas. We also learned that Portugal has a great deal more to offer than an inherent bargain. This small country off the beaten path offers a true "European experience," replete with interesting architecture, palaces, monuments, museums, sidewalk cafes, waterfront charm, etc. We found the scenery beautiful and surprisingly varied, accommodations clean and appealing, food excellent and wine outstanding, the people cordial and most helpful.
Our trip was so pleasant and relaxing that we plan to do it all over again next fall, maybe including parts of Spain and its paradors, too.
For other mature travelers considering this experience, we would offer some advice: You can hire drivers to take you throughout the countryside, but there's more fun and sense of discovering in driving yourself. We found it neither difficult nor dangerous, and distances between stops were 75-125 miles a day. Such travel is leisurely, but even so, we'd recommend that every third night you stay over an additional night and take the next day easy.
. . . There are, of course, tours offered in Portugal. But if you want to see the heartland of Portugal in your own way, at your own pace, better plan it yourself and drive it yourself. If you do, you'll enjoy the benefits of independent travel at basic prices so low that they're almost like tour bargains, anyway.
In response to your Mature Traveler column, would be interested to hear more of your bargain specials.
Enjoyed reading Jerry Hulse's article, "Senior Class" (Feb. 3). Most interesting and informative. Being a senior, am looking forward to reading The Mature Traveler column by Bill Hughes and Hank Kovell.
FRANK L. ARGALL
I'm delighted to read that you have a special column for mature travelers--I am one. How discerning The Times is to present an article on the graying of America--and now this. Maturians (as Helen Hayes would like us called) are a large part of the marketing future. Not many seem to recognize this fact.
Last May I took a grand circle countryside tour of France, four or five days in each place and optional tours--one of my best trips.
I especially enjoyed the Feb. 3 "Senior Class" article. The Travel section is outstanding. Thanks for all my reading pleasure.
RUTH C. DOYLE
I am looking forward to more of your new feature, The Mature Traveler, not only for its information on traveling but the way you are addressing people 50 and older as mature and not senior citizens. I don't know when a person becomes a senior citizen, as the term is thought of by most people, but being over 50 doesn't make you one. I hope you start a trend in addressing us who are over 50 as mature.
Thank you for the wonderful information on travel for seniors. I am so delighted to know about all those marvelous bargains which no one gets to hear about without your help. I plan to make use of some of it.
The Mature Traveler column will be read with much anticipation. Am hoping you will locate tours geared to the senior having difficulty walking only. Stairs, early and long hours no problem, actually no problem other than walking any distance. Anxious to travel again. Hoping to start packing. Thank you.
LOIS M. NEWBURGER