Embedded in the window of our favorite coffee house with a yellow pad and pencil - and faced with a pile of unanswered correspondence.
What is encouraging is that all the letters indicate that, despite the current conflict, people are still traveling ... or at least planning to travel.
Going abroad under wartime or orange alert conditions obviously requires extra caution - even when the destination is not directly involved in the action.
Denmark seems like a good example of a neutral enough place. But Karen P. of Toledo wonders if we have any words of wisdom for her son, who is going there with a church group later this month.
As this is an organized tour, all the basic details will hopefully be taken care of, but there are still a few points worth making. And, Karen, we'd like to address your son directly:
EVER SINCE we began traveling overseas, we've carried a small AM/FM/SW radio to keep us informed about what's going around the world. This is especially important today. Frank C. of Oregon wants to know where he can buy one.
Our best source over the years has been Universal Radio, 6830 American Parkway, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068. Phone number is 800-431-3939.
Universal is the acknowledged short-wave expert in the area and a good place to turn for advice. Expect to pay between $75 and $150 for a good set like a Sony or Grundig.
AFTER WAXING lyrical about our newly acquired Eagle Creek Latitude luggage, readers are asking where they can get it. We have seen Eagle Creek on display in Toledo Trunk in the Westfield Shoppingtown Franklin Park (formerly Franklin Park Mall), but for a wider selection, and knowledgeable service from a family-run business, contact Travel Essentials in Ashland, Oregon. Call them at 800-521-6722 or log onto www.travelgearnow.com
Incidentally, the Latitude 22-inch model that we purchased has now been superseded by the Expandable 22-incher, which has even more bells and whistles, apparently. Retail price is $200 (with a lifetime warranty).
Eagle Creek's Web site is www.eaglecreek.com and the phone number is 800-874-9925.
A MUCH TOUGHER request comes from Helen B. of Toledo, who wants to know where to get a Leaning Tower of Pisa jigsaw puzzle for her great-grandson, aged 7, who is fascinated by the tilting structure.
We found ours at some anonymous gift shop in Florence, but we suggest you seek advice from the Office of Tourism in Pisa, Via Commeo 2, 56100 Pisa, Italy. At the same time, ask for a poster of the Leaning Tower that the great grandson can keep over his bed!
DUBLIN AND CORK are on the Irish agenda of Fred D. of Blakeslee. And he'd like to use public transportation to get around, if possible
While Ireland has a somewhat limited rail system, there is good service between Dublin and Cork, with 18 trains a day making the three-hour trip. Tralee and Galway are also accessible by train from Dublin, and many more communities can be reached by bus.
To see the truly sensational coastal sights, particularly on the Dingle Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry, we suggest you either rent a car out of Cork or sign up for an organized bus excursion.
For further information, contact the Irish Tourist Board at 800-223-6470 or www.ireland.travel.ie.