Correction on Hummel Founder

You may want to correct your May edition ("Coburg") comment that Rödental was the birthplace of Berta Hummel, the remarkable artist who, as Sister Maria Innocentia (thus M.I. Hummel) created the artwork Goebel uses for its prized figurines.

As you said, Rödental near Coburg is the home of the Goebel factory and a highly-enjoyable destination for visitors, but "Sister Hummel" was born in the market village of Massing, east of Munich, where her family still operates a Hummel Museum. This is also a great destination for travelers. A third Hummel site worth a visit is the convent at Siessen, near Salgua south of Stuttgart where Sister worked, lived and died. She is buried on the grounds of the convent.

Fred Hoffman
Rochester Hills MI

Train Reservations: Another View

I would like to thank you for the detailed explanation of rail travel in your April 2002 issue. I feel obliged, however, to respond to your comments on rail reservations as I think it essential your readers be aware of recent changes in rail travel.

Since 2001, European railroads have been yield-managing trains like Eurostar and Thalys, where advance reservations entitle travelers to low-end fares which, by and large, will not be available on a walk-up basis. They have also begun to distinguish between full-fare ticket holders and pass holders (which they view as discounted tickets) on trains such as the ICE, TGV and Eurostar Italia. Each train has allotments for pass-holders and it is totally possible that they will not be accommodated on a walk-up basis thus another reason to reserve in advance.

Finally, though traditionally trains have been rarely full, that has changed dramatically since 9/11. Heightened security in European airports has driven passengers increasingly to the railroads who are experiencing a load factor level never before seen.

Jim Prchlik
Pacific Area Sales Manager
Rail Europe Group

Rocks of Ages in Evolène

I read with interest your recent "Hidden Treasures" article featuring the hamlet of Evolène. I concur that it is truly a lovely village and as close to traveling back in time as is possible in much-touristed Switzerland.

However, you left out a most interesting feature of visiting this hamlet. This is the drive up from Sion and the opportunity to view the remarkable geologic formations known as "capstones;" unique "balancing" rocks formed during the ice age when glaciers left granite boulders suspended precipitously atop softer limestone columns. They are worth the trip up the valley themselves, but with Evolène as a destination it makes for a truly unique travel experience.

David Womack
Greenville NC

June 2002