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Letters to the Travel editor: Smartcards and European Union travel

Also: Traveling with animals and a father's travel journal.

November 13, 2011

I appreciated "Not on Board" by Catharine Hamm [On the Spot, Nov. 6] about smartcard credit cards. I am one of those European Union travelers who wrote letters to credit card companies.

At best, not having a smartcard is awkward for travelers from the U.S. At worst, it is dangerous being caught in a foreign country with no cash.

I travel to the EU a few times a year for extended stays. The situation is getting worse. More and more, places are shaking their fingers at my American Express, and ATMs are accepting European Union cards.

I looked into getting an EU credit card, but it seems impossible unless you have a bank account in EU.

There was one option Hamm did not mention, and this is a debit/chip card from Thomas Cook. On my way home after this latest trip, I got one at the airport. They do charge a fee but the card is a lot more convenient than travelers checks, and clerks won't shake their heads at you.

Millicent Borges Accardi


Quote quibble

Regarding "On Board for Adventure" by Chris Erskine [Travel Ticker, Nov. 6]: Like most of your Travel section readers, I'm neither a Marine nor the enemy. That would put me in Gen. William Thornson's dismissive category of "everyone else" with "a secondhand opinion." There I disagree. My view of the world as something greater than a collection of militaristic territories is what I've learned from travel, the ultimate teacher of firsthand experience.

Martha Mazarredo Freeman

Anaheim Hills

R.I.P. Jack the Cat

The incident with Jack the Cat, found two months after he was lost at JFK ("Jack Is Found," Need to Know, Oct. 30) and later euthanized, strengthens my belief to never to take a cat on an airline trip. Instead, put your cat in a responsible boarding facility or have a friend check on your cat daily.

Eddie Cress


Dad's journey

Regarding "Nobody's Home in These Old Ghost Towns," Oct. 30: My father arrived by ship in the port of Iquique, Chile, as an 8-year-old boy in December 1918. He kept a wonderfully detailed journal of his 2 1/2 -month sailing adventure to South America. With his ship captain father, mother and younger brother, Charles MacGregor chronicled his two-continent trip from Bellingham, Wash., to ports in California, Peru and Chile.

While loading nitrates/saltpeter in Iquique — which he noted was "a very pretty place" — Charles wrote that the cargo had been intended for war ammunition but would now be sold for agricultural purposes.

On the journey homeward, they entered San Francisco Bay and motored through Golden Gate Park and the Palace of Fine Arts, built just three years earlier for the Pan-Pacific Exposition.

Mary MacGregor

La Quinta

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