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Travel letters: The mean (?) streets of Rio and San Francisco

Plus, kudos to Chris Erskine; an incredible vacation in Las Vegas; fees on British Airways.

February 12, 2012

The streets of Rio, SF: Mean or nice?

Amanda Jones is way off base in suggesting that visitors to Rio de Janeiro wear lots of jewelry ["Hey, Let's Swoon," Feb. 5]. Quite the contrary. When we were there, we were warned not to wear watches. We found this to be true, as we were robbed of them as we walked down the street. Caution is the word of the day. Enjoy the city, but be aware that you are being observed and targeted as tourists. More responsible reporting, please!

Lynne Feldman

San Diego

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Chris Erskine writes that San Francisco's streets are "hell to walk on." Could he possibly be speaking of the city I know and love? As a native San Franciscan, I find there is nothing greater than walking those beautiful streets. Neighborhoods are close together, there is diversity, people are friendly, the coffee is fabulous. Really great restaurants are everywhere. Where's the "hell"? Yes, bring a sweater — and definitely a warm coat — because San Francisco is always cold.

Theresa Naumann

Los Angeles

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He had her at Erskine's byline

This morning as I was scanning the paper, I noticed an article about Paris. After chuckling through the first few lines, I knew it had to be — sure enough — Erskine. He makes reading the L. A. Times a pleasure no matter where his material runs.

Diane Volpe

Westchester

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Serenity in Las Vegas

I really enjoyed the article "Hey, Let's Swoon." While I might understand the reasons for leaving Las Vegas off the list, I wouldn't paint all of Vegas with such a negative brush. My wife and I had a memorable time at the Mandarin Oriental in Vegas just before the Christmas holidays. There's no casino (if you want one, it's right next door at the Aria). Serenity pervades the hotel. Its impeccable service, amazing gym and awesome spa added to an incredible experience.

Frank Lavac

Malibu

British Airways? Not with those fees

Thank you, Catharine Hamm, for warning your readers consistently about British Airways' charging exorbitant amounts for frequent-flier award tickets and advance seat assignments ["Seating Roulette," Jan. 29].

I recently spent $2,000 on two "free" award tickets on British Airways to Europe. I had been aware of the airline's practice of overcharging its customers on "taxes and fees," but I was stunned when informed by the British Airways reservations agent that a specific seat assignment in business class would be an additional $65 to $120 per ticket (depending on the location of the seats, on the lower or upper deck on the 747 aircraft). I don't understand how an airline can stay in business with this blatant disregard for customer service. It will definitely be my last flight on British Airways. Fortunately, there are many airlines offering competitive service to Europe that don't rip off their customers to the extent British Airways does.

Klaus Pfund

Palm Springs

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