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Canadian Cities
The Charm of Canadian Cities
By Nancy & Eric Anderson
Photography by Authors

any people have tried to summarize the differences between Canada and our country. The award-winning Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood, for example, once said "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia." Maybe so, but we've read snarky comments about our cities but none about Canada's. We remember Chicago was once called a pompous Milwaukee, Cleveland two Hobokens back to back, Beverly Hills a pool's paradise and Pasadena a cemetery with lights but we've never heard such insults about Canadian cities.

Maybe they escape criticism because they've always had a well-scrubbed look and maybe visitors don't see much of the homeless because Canadian cities have better social services for their citizens. Who knows? It's certainly a fun experience to travel across Canada and check out its cities.

Here are some Traveling Boy favorites you'll find if you head west from the Gay Parree of Canada, Montreal. Each city offers one attraction you really should take in when in town and a suggested hotel that won't let you down.

Montreal, Quebec

top: interior of the Notre Dame Cathedral, Montreal; bottom: a room inside the Auberge du Vieux-Port, Montreal

Notre Dame Cathedral was always a favorite for visitors to Montreal but now the church hits them with admission charges even if tourists are not asking for 'indulgencies." It's still a gorgeous, impressive haven for its members; you can almost feel the silence.

And an old world hotel down near the St. Lawrence to please any traveler: the Auberge du Vieux-Port.

Ottawa, Ontario

scenes from Ottawa - top: the aviation museum showing World War 1 planes and a bust of Maj. William George Baxter; bottom: the Lord Elgin Hotel at night

The aviation museum will knock you over: airplanes from two world wars, airplanes flown by bush pilots, airplanes used by pioneer aviators and in our photograph a Sopwith Camel and bust of Major William George Barker, VC, DSO and bar, MC & 2 bars, Croix de Guerre and other awards that made him Canada's most decorated hero.

The hotel? Our favorite the historic Lord Elgin. It has its history and its location: downtown, an easy walk to restaurants, museums, bus stop for the airport and tourist kiosk for the Gray Bus Line. And great service.

Gananoque, Ontario

scenes from Gananoque, Ontario - top: the Boldt Castle; bottom: the Colonial Inn

We snuck this one as it's such a favorite Canadian small town and it is the "Gateway to the 1000 Islands." This is where you get the boat line that gives you a choice of 1-5 hour cruises amongst those islands scattered along the St. Lawrence River. You'll want to visit Boldt Castle, the islands' top attraction and also the museum in town that tries to explain the War of 1812 to its visitors, many of whom have never heard of it though it did ravage Gananoque.

Hotels? Contact the local tourism office which maintains a list of six or so all recommended. We stayed at the Colonial Inn for its convenient location to the river, the tourist office, the downtown area and the wildly popular coffee shop, the Socialist Pig whose young enthusiastic owners are rejuvenating this part of downtown.

Toronto, Ontario

scenes from Toronto - top 2 rows: shoes at the Bata Shoe Museum; bottom: the Strathcome Hotel

Canada's largest city still sparkles although it's a bit like Chicago, always in motion, the noise of construction part of the constant buzz this city gives you. One of our favorite museums is the Bata Shoe Museum. Yes, shoes! Shoes from the past through foreign civilizations, past cultures, primitive peoples, celebrities. In our image from top left clockwise: the wedding slippers of Queen Victoria, the Wimbledon tennis sneakers of Roger Federer, the booties of Elton John and Marilyn Monroe's scarlet high heels.

As becomes a large city more hotels than you could ever sample. We stayed at the Strathcona across the street from the Royal York but less fancy and less expensive. You get what you pay for: it didn't offer a complimentary breakfast and it did charge for wifi but it's just across from the train station and at a bus stop for the airport bus. A great modest place for travel writers who think they are paid too little and often picture themselves as holding out to their editor an empty wooden bowl as if they were Oliver Twist or Buddhist monks.

Winnipeg, Manitoba

scenes from Winnipeg, Manitoba - top: Inuit art on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery; bottom: the Delta Hotel

"Winnipeg," says Nisha Tuli, manager of digital marketing at Tourism Winnipeg, "at this junction of three rivers, has been a meeting place for six thousand years. That's why one of our strengths is our multiculturalism. Another is that we are a breeding ground in our cold winters for arts and culture – if we can't get outside, being inside makes us creative!"

Asked what the people here are like, she replies, "Hardy, independent – our license plates say it all: 'Friendly Manitoba.'" Most of the people here, she tells us, grew up here. They commonly move away then return when they have a family to be near family. This is one of the biggest cities in Canada yet it has a small town feel. It is bigger than visitors might realize; it's the seventh largest municipality in Canada and has grown 5 percent in the last five years. "The government has helped," Tuli says, "In the last ten years we have revitalized our downtown, our parks and our museums and now we have almost finished building the new Canadian Museum of Human Rights."

The Winnipeg Art Gallery has the world's largest collection of Inuit art. Inuit see their art as story-telling and fortunately many of the carvings carry a card explaining the artist's thoughts. The stories include surviving on a melting ice floe, the kidnapping of a local woman and, ouch, the decapitation by the winds of the Northern Lights of a man who was whistling.

We stayed downtown at the Delta Hotel – very comfortable especially after two nights in a VIA Rail sleeper from Toronto. We weren't familiar with the Delta group but there are more than 40 in Canada. Apparently the training for the staff is intense, a regular guest tells us over morning coffee. "They have a 10 to 5 Rule," he says and when we look bewildered he continues, "If a guest is approaching a staff member, when the guest is ten feet away, smile and at five feet ask, 'How can we help?'"

Regina, Saskatchewan

scenes from Regina, Saskatchewan - top: firearms display at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Heritage Centre; inset: photographs from the RCMP; bottom: the Colonial Square Inn & Suites

We'd long wanted to visit the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Heritage Centre in Saskatchewan's capital but the VIA Rail stop is in Saskatoon, the province's largest city. Saskatoon is so spread out, however, that a car might be necessary anyway and the 160 miles between the two cities along an attractive quiet highway seems like a walk in the park.

We have seen the 1936 movie Rose Marie where the opera singer fell in love with the Mountie and been greeted by equally handsome and attractive Mounties in uniform at Canadian press functions but we are not prepared for the details of the legends of the North West Mounted Police and the subsequent RCMP. We knew one of the Mounties' first revolvers was made by the Adams Small Arms Company in London who supplied handguns in the 1870s to the British military but not that the North West Mounted Police had to man the mountain passes at the border of the Yukon Territory during the Gold Rush with Maxim machine guns! Nor did we know that a RCMP ship St. Roch had made two epic transits of the Northwest Passage.

We find lots of sepia photographs from NWMP history and a favorite one of Sam Benfield Steele, who pioneered the development of the police in the last decades of the 19th century. The third officer sworn into the NWMP, his influence was such he was chosen to mediate with Sitting Bull who had fled into Canada after his victory against Custer at Little Bighorn. He also more successfully led a small group of mounted police against Big Bear in the last battle fought on Canadian soil, the Battle of Loon Lake. This great museum is more than a tribute to the Mounties. It covers the very history of Canada.

We were driving around Saskatoon so much we didn't need a fancy downtown hotel. We were well served by the simple Colonial Square Inn & Suites, next door to Peter D's Family Restaurant in an area that seemed more residential than business.

Calgary, Alberta

scenes from Calgary - top: looking down from the glass floor of Calgary Tower's observation deck; center and bottom: scenes from the Stampede

We admit it. Alberta is our favorite province (although we've never managed to reach Newfoundland and Labrador). And our favorite city there is Calgary a city that always reminds of Texas. If you haven't come for the Stampede maybe you'll want to get up to the top of what has been labeled the "highest observation deck in the world," Calgary Tower and stand on its glass floor and freak out. Don't try and Google whether it really is the highest; the results are all over the place (no pun intended) .At 4029 feet it's more than twice as tall as Toronto's 1814 foot tall CN Tower whose glass floor equally frightens.

the Banff Springs Hotel, the Chateau Lake Louise, the Bugaboo Lodge and helicopter hiking

Hotels? Calgary has many, all so very reasonably priced even during the Stampede, but if you're making a once-in-a-lifetime visit to this part of the globe you might want to consider those hotels in our image, top to bottom: The Banff Springs Hotel, the Chateau Lake Louise or the Bugaboo Lodge if you want to try helicopter hiking. All three lodgings will live forever in your memories.

Vancouver, British Columbia

For many people Vancouver is Canada's best city whether they are visitors or simply satisfied residents. It's like an upscale Californian coastal city! It has of course its famous aquarium and art gallery, it Punjabi Market in its Little India and its Public Market on Granville Island. It has its Chinatown and overlooking the city its Grouse Mountain but to us the charm is walking around Stanley Park or enjoying its harbor where there is always something going on near the Convention Center.

Our favorite hotel is the glorious Pan Pacific Vancouver. It towers over the harbor and the Alaska cruise ship terminal. In our last stay there we left our luggage in our room and the next time we saw our suitcases they were in our cabin on a Holland America cruise ship! More recently we have stayed at the more modest Moda Hotel on Seymour Street.

Victoria, British Columbia

scenes from Victoria, BC - top: woolly mammoth at the Royal British Columbia Museum ; botoom: the Empress hotel

Perhaps the only Canadian coastal city that could challenge Vancouver in charm stands Victoria, named after Britain's famous queen. We love its shops, parks, streets and so very British tearooms. The harbor bustles with places to interest tourists form its t-shirt booths and museums from Wax ones to the famed Royal British Columbia Museum with its big guy called "Woolly" its Woolly Mammoth. This relative of the Asian Elephant came into North America 65,000 years ago and died out 10,000 years ago although this one in the museum has had major overhauls in the last decade.

The signature hotel of the city is, of course, the Empress. We discovered its sensational afternoon tea once on a cruise and stayed there on another occasion when its afternoon teas weren't so sensational: they began at 11:30am and continued through 4:45pm with reservation limits as to how much time patrons could take to indulge themselves. The next time we came back we avoided its charge of Canadian $59.99 to savor its more reasonably priced Empress 1908 Tea Cocktail of "infused vodka, lemon juice and frothy egg white at $13 a more reasonable beverage – and no one pressured us to finish like the afternoon tea drinkers in an hour.

Related Articles:
Vancouver, British Columbia; Victoria on a Whim; Western Canada by VIA Rail; Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada; The Ravan in Edmonton; Prince Rupert/Digby Island Airport; Canadian Rockies; Toronto; New Brunswick Autumn; My Private Montreal; Banff: Creativity, the Raven and Balanced Cables

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Tell Eric what you think of his article.
In the meantime, here are some of the feedback we have already received:

Hey Eric and Nancy! As a fellow Traveling Boy journalist, and as a confirmed WW2 aficionado, just wanted you to know how much I loved your story on Arnhem. Really great stuff, and truly brilliant riveting writing.

I’ve been there twice and covered it on my KNX radio show when I was on LA radio, and your story and evocative photos brought back a ton of wonderful and poignant memories. This could have been an amazingly brilliant military operation – as you both know – that might well have ended the War in Europe maybe a year earlier. However, allied misreading -- and in my view disregarding certain aspects of the situation in Holland -- plus the fact that they dropped the paras over 3 days and not in one huge assault at night (and not in the day as they did) doomed the mission to failure.

Your clever words and great photos brought all this graphically to life, and it should be required reading for anyone interested in any aspect of WW2, and certainly should be read by today’s teenagers. Again Bravo and well done!!!!

John Clayton
Travel with A Difference

We just couldn't leave your website before saying that we genuinely enjoyed the high quality information you offer for your visitors... Would be back frequently to check up on new stuff you post!


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What a fantastic write-up!

I could almost copy and paste most of your narrative verbatim as it reflects our fantastic experience with Fantasy Cruises almost to a tee. It was truly one of the greatest vacations my girlfriend and I have ever experienced.

Mike Richard, Editor,

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One of my dreams is to go to Alaska by way of cruise. This article very much intensifies the longing for that dream to come to fruition. I simply cannot wait much longer. And I will never again be able to think of a waterfall without picturing myself "nosing up" to it. Thank you for this intriguing, virtual journey.

Sandra Mines, Seattle, WA

Thank you for writing, Sandra. Alaska really is a wondrous place. Re "Nosing up" to a waterfall: we have a different article up at Physician's Money Digest on the same cruise (Small Ship Cruising: Alaska by the Back Door). The third last set of images there shows a crew member filling a jug of ice water from a waterfall while standing in the bow of the ship! Best wishes. Get there! To Alaska one day.

Eric & Nancy

Loved your photos from Alaska! Because I am the Director of Sales & Marketing for Westmark Hotels, I am up in AK and the Yukon quite often to visit our hotels and staff! But your pictures were so enjoyable-love to see the "real" Alaskans!

Heidi Howeiler, Seattle, WA

Hi Ms. Howeiler, That was kind of you to write and yes, you do see real people in Alaska, don't you? Alaskans always remind us off rural Texans or Australians in the isolated Red Centre of their country: hard working, sensible, rolled-up-sleeves people with no affectations. We love your Westmark hotels and we take our hats off to the person who started your company, Chuck West. What a great guy!

Eric & Nancy

Enjoyed your realistic and practical comments on Provence. Always wanted to go there ever since reading Peter Mayle's 2 books on Provence. But the two times I went to France, time was always short, so we spent our days in Paris. And now you say, it is losing its unique charm to tourism. (Sigh). It's always a choice between sharing beauty, and keeping it hidden. The world lurches on. Thanks for your thoughts.

Dette, Iligan City, Philippines

Hi Dette, (Would love to see all your waterfalls), Thank you for writing. Provence is busy in the tourist season but it hasn't lost all its charm or the quirkiness Mayle talks about in his book Provence A to Z. It's still a place to visit. Appreciate hearing from you. Best wishes.

Eric & Nancy

What a great article, especially regarding Louis XIV. I was not aware there was a contemporary account of his execution. It was fascinating. Thank you!

Celtic fan, Nashua, MA

Dear Celtic fan, Thanks for writing. I didn't know about the account of his execution either till I stumbled upon it. Sad to think that the French revolutionaries thought they could be both judge and jury. We are lucky to have a more elegant system today. Thanks for writing.

Eric & Nancy

Nancy and Eric,

Enjoyed reading your article on Santa Fe, NM. I was in AZ travel nursing in 2008 and 2009 and made it to Santa Fe. Took a lot of pics and really loved walking around the old town while I was there. Hope to be able to take the wife there in the future.

Brett Eidson, Soso, MS

Hi dude! Nice to see your site. It's beautiful. My congratulations.

New York

Hi New York, Thank you for writing. Best wishes.

Eric & Nancy

Hi! Your web-site is very interesting and I want to tell G'night.

New York

Dear New York,

Thank you for writing. Glad you find the site interesting. We are here for you. Keep visiting.

Eric & Nancy

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This is all genuine. I will return to scan.


Hi Keflavik, Thank you for writing. We are happy you will return.

Eric & Nancy

Good article.

On Behalf Of Diane, Port Ludlow, WA

Thanks for writing from Port Ludlow. We hear that's a beautiful place. Best wishes.

Eric & Nancy

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When I was hurt in a boat accident my life would be changed totally. I really don't post much but thanks for the good times I have here. Love this place. Long time lurker, thought I would say hello!


Dear Miami, Thanks for writing. It's nice to hear from you. Hope you are getting better. Glad you get some good times at Traveling boy. Good luck.

Eric & Nancy

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Dear friends,

My name is Adelina. I am a 22 years girl from Italy. I was looking for a free translation software and I found one. Program's name is Babel Fish and it supports 75 languages. I installed it but I could not understand how to use it. I am not a computer expert. Can someone help me please on how to run this.The link is here : I thank you very much for your help.

Adelina, Celaya

Adelina, I didn't want to download it but I saw examples online. It seemed easy. You select the page you want translated, copy it and paste it into the box. You then click on the button to translate. You may have to do one page at a time. You can also use Google to translate a page; that's what I do because I don't want to load too much software.

Eric & Nancy

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Amiable brief and this mail helped me a lot in my college assignment. Thanks you seeking your information.

WordPress Themes, Gray Mountain

We are glad to have been of help. Best wishes.

Eric & Nancy

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What's up everyone? Great forum. Lots of lovely people. Just what I need. Hopefully this is just what i'm looking for. Looks like I have a lot to read.

Spanish John, Benidrom

Encouraging to get your feedback. Glad to hear from you. Thank you for writing.

Eric & Nancy

Nice dispatch ( - and this enter helped me a lot in my college assignement. Thank you as your information.

Gray Mountain

Hi Gray Mountain,

Thank you for your comment. Your email reminds us all at TravelingBoy how important it is to be accurate in what we write. Good luck with your studies and have a great life.

Eric & Nancy

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Hello people, I just signed up on this splendid community forum and wanted to say hey there! Have a wonderful day!


Hi Jacksonville, We are pleased to hear from new readers at TravelingBoy. Your feedback encourages us all to do better. Thank you for writing.

Eric & Nancy

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What a fascinating bit of Russian history you wrote about! How sad to learn that 100,000 churches were reduced to create skating rinks and such during the revolution, after seeing the photo of the interior of a magnificent church filled with art! War is so devastating on so many levels! The art of their culture is so beautiful as is shown in the image of the painted box! Thank you,

Yoka, Westlake Village, CA

Dear Yoka,

Thank you for writing. Nancy is originally Lutheran and Eric is a dour Scot, more used to the frequently cold and often cheerless churches of his native land so we were both overwhelmed to see the beauty of Russian churches. It was kind of you to write, Yoka.

Thank you,
Eric & Nancy

Interesting observations.... Very informative and thought provoking. Questions.... What would be the best way to get from Moscow Airport DME to boat dock? taxi? prearranged limo? prepaid Viking Tours transfer? Any idea on cost and travel time for taxi or limo or Viking Cruise pickup from airport to boat? We shall be flying to Moscow on our own. Do you happen to have an address for the river boat dock that Viking Cruises uses in Moscow? I would be nice to Google map the situation. Thanks,

Robert Hopwood, Ottawa, Canada

Hi Bob,

Excuse the delay; we were on a trip. I do understand your question and will try and get you an answer. The Viking river dock in Moscow was for us in the north part of the city but once we were on the boat it was an easy ten minute walk to the Metro station that had us downtown within 30 minutes. I'm a lot more relaxed at the end of a trip than at the beginning and therefore I always feel taking the cruise-line sponsored trip from the airport to the dock makes sense: What starts right usually ends right.

Eric & Nancy Anderson

Hi Bob,

I’m back with more information. The river port’s address is Northern River Boat Station Leningradsky Prospekt, Khimki. If you Google that you will see it is about 15 minutes’ walk from two Metro stations. .

I spoke to Nancy at customer relations at Viking Cruises at the new LNR Warner Center in 5700 Canoga Avenue, Woodland Hills, Calif.

She was very helpful and advises you to take the Viking transportation service. She is biased, of course, but she’s right. Moscow DME airport is 40 miles away on the opposite side of the city, at least two hours driving time. The airport has no Metro station; you’d have to take the Aeroexpress train to Paveletsky station then change to the Metro and go to Rechnoy Vokzal station then take a cab to the port. A cab all the way from DME would cost at least 2000 rubles (more than $70). That’s less than the $60 each that Viking would charge…but…I think you’d be ill-advised to do it on your own. Why start the trip where the potential to screw up is so likely? Moscow taxi drivers are as dishonest as most tourist city cab drivers and probably yours won’t speak English. I think the address in Russian is


I strongly discourage you from economizing on this and doing it on your own. Buy the transfer and save money somewhere else.

We have other Viking Volga web articles up at and at

Good luck. Great show Canada’s putting on for the Olympics!

Eric & Nancy Anderson

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Reseller Hosting, London

Hi, Is it Britni Freeman?

Thank you, we think... We suspect your comments are valid. In fact we think all of us writing for TravelingBoy are starting to get into the swing of things and do a better job -- and your encouragement spurs us to do even better. Thank you for writing. Have a good 2010,

Eric & Nancy Anderson

Dear Nancy and Eric

Thank you so much for the wonderful article on statues in Europe. Statues are my favorite art form and your descriptions were delightful to read - knowledge and fun together. I do still wonder about that foot in Rome...

Peggy - Pasadena, CA

Hi Peggy,

Thank you for writing. We appreciate your comments. We used to be critical of people who can't identify the persons on statues in foreign cities -- until one day a tourist stopped us in our own San Diego and asked us, in vain, for details on a statue we'd never noticed before! We wonder about that Roman foot too. If Eric had stood any closer he'd be in his typical foot-in-mouth position.

Eric & Nancy Anderson

I live in Santa Fe and see and delight in it every day, but your writing makes it sparkle even more. How nice to see Santa Fe through your eyes. Great photos!

Cynthia Whitney-Ward - Santa Fe, NM

Dear Dr. Anderson:

I have followed your writing career for as long as I can remember, and I think the thing I enjoy the most about your travel writing is the sense of joy and discovery that leads the reader to anticipate ever corner you turn in your travels.What a delightful traveling companion you are, and I know have always been, with that wonderfully eternally youthful joie de vivre...I wonder:do you feel that East, West, home is best? And where IS that place you have never been, but want to go most of all,yet? Bring we, your devoted readers ever along!

CAT -- San Diego (Scrips Ranch), CA

Dear CAT,

Thank for taking the time to write to You are very kind. We don't know that travel writers make the best companions; we suspect they may be obsessed with getting the best photograph or may monopolize the guide with questions so that others don't get to ask what interests them. What place is best? Well, it may be fun to sit in a rickshaw in Beijing or try to master the Metro in Moscow, but -- as you imply -- it is good to get home after trips.

Home is as comfortable as a pair of old shoes and home for many of us fortunately contains family.

We've never been to Easter Island and may have missed the boat (no pun intended) there. The island is losing its innocence; we've seen that happen at Machu Picchu or, closer to home, at Lake Powell in Arizona. So maybe the best travel advice is: Go when you are fit and healthy, before rising prices make a destination inaccessible -- and before hordes of tourists ruin any destination's mystique.

With best Holiday Wishes from Traveling Boy,

Eric & Nancy Anderson

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What a fantastic primer on New York City. I think you have really captured its essence with this exciting overview of its offerings. Well done!

Gillian Abramson - New York

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You describe a city on wheels - er, wings - and an absolutely perfect way to travel. SHOWERS & FLOWERS! Amazing! I love that your passion for all-things-aviation comes through in this story about an almost unbelievable airplane. Thanks for breaking the news in such an engaging way!

Richard Frisbie - Saugerties, New York

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Enjoyed your blog on Romania. Noticed you called Bucharest "The Paris of the East." I wonder, is there any city not called "The Paris of something." I've read San Francisco is 'the Paris of the West,' Buenos Aires 'The Paris of South America,' and even Tromso, Norway 'The Paris of the Arctic.'

Terry Cowan - Fresno

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Hi Terry,

Thanks for writing to TravelingBoy. And thanks for educating me; I didn't know that about Tromso, didn't even know there was a Tromso. I heard Bangkok called the Venice of the East when I was there and, in two weeks, I'm heading for the Venice of the North, St. Petersburg, Russia.

It does become a bit silly, doesn't it? But we are originally an immigrant nation that was Eurocentric. Maybe it gave our forefathers confidence even courage when they took old names, old ideas to the New World with them. I know I feel nostalgic if I drive around Ontario, Canada and see all the British place names.

I appreciate your email. Thank you for writing.


Eric -

Enjoyed your article on Madrid. I noticed that you find it superior to Rome. Most of the Spanish folks that I meet seem to prefer Barcelona. How would you rate that city?

Samuel K

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Hi Samuel,

We loved Barcelona although driving around the city was surprisingly complicated as our maps were inadequate. The cathedral had scaffolding around it so I couldn't get the pictures I wanted but we found the architecture fascinating and the Picasso museum rewarding. We were anxious to get on the road to Costa Brava and didn't have more than a couple of days in Barcelona.

Thanks for writing.

Great article on Madrid. I've heard there is a rivalry between the people of Madrid and Barcelona. In which city are the people friendlier? How about for hipness? I noticed you were Scottish. I felt a similar thing in Scotland, with a Glasgow v. Edinburgh vibe.

Santa Monica

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Thank you for writing to TravelingBoy, Gary. We found Barcelona friendlier.

Maybe that's because it's not the capital and it's not so busy either. Maybe it's because the Gaudi architectural influence is pervasive and -- to both its citizens and tourists -- comforting. Maybe it's because Barcelona is the gateway to the work of artist Salvatore Dali, and his spirit catches us. (I don't know much about art but I've seen a lot of Dali's work enough to think he never took himself too seriously and often painted tongue in cheek. Maybe fun people spring for fun places?) Hipness? Madrid is more formal and dressy but Barcelona, I believe, is more hip maybe, again, because it's more fun.

Your points about Scotland are valid. It's more than a joke. The Glaswegians are more down to earth. I think we see it here in the belief that if you had a flat tire in Middle America passers-by would be more inclined to stop and help than perhaps New Englanders.

- Eric

Dear Eric,

I liked the article. As I read it, I was wondering how you as a physician were influenced by Hippocrates. What influence did this historical figure have on the practice of medicine beyond the obvious 'oath.' Why is Hippocrates considered to be such a paragon of medicine? DWA - San Pedro, CA

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Dear David,

Thank you for writing to

Hippocrates is revered because he believed his duty was to the individual patient, not to the community at large. This is a very important premise. The Romans, whose empire followed that of the Greeks, achieved much in health matters by emphasizing clean drinking water and personal hygiene, and created great national works like aquaducts and public baths but wealthy Romans apparently preferred Greek doctors as their personal physicians.

Hippocrates is also respected because he brought intellectual thought to diagnosis. He taught his students to use their five senses in assessing patients and was openly critical of the junk science of his day as practiced by the priest-physicians who preyed on the fear and ignorance of the ill persons who came to them.

It is true that not all medical chools today require graduating doctors to take the Hippocratic Oath but most conscientious physicians base their lifetime commitment to the practice of medicine on the life and teachings of that one man.

Or so I think. Perhaps if we knew more about our heroes they would seem less heroic. But in Hippocrates' case he did leave a record of his thoughts and some of his principles are today as strong as ever.

Thank you for writing, it is appreciated.


Stay tuned.

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