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Eric: New York City
New York City:
A Top Five For First Timers

by Nancy & Eric Anderson
Photography by Authors

hose familiar with The Big Apple forget it can be intimidating for tourists coming for an initial visit. It seems larger than life with its noisy traffic, frantic pace, towering buildings and mammoth stores. There’s so much to see and do and never enough time.

Some suggestions are valid for any large American city and are almost too obvious: wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes, get a small backpack for rain gear – and a padlock for the backpack – and buy a good guide book and walking map of Manhattan before you come. Do your online research at that time, too, for hotels and restaurants. Know the area you want to explore – there’s more to Manhattan than Times Square – and choose your hotel in your preferred place and book it before you come. Get an idea of what’s available by using a tourist agency website but before booking using an 800 number or agency website, always call the hotel direct as its direct prices may be better. Always ask at the hotel desk when you arrive if there is currently a better price than the one you came with.

You should choose a hotel close to a metro station. There are hundreds of hotels in New York city to choose from. Choices vary from, for example, the upscale Hotel Empire on the West Side at 44 W 63 Street about three minutes from the Lincoln Center Metro station and the less elegant, less expensive Pod Hotel over on the East Side at 230 E 51 Street two short blocks from the 51 Street station on Lexington Avenue. Check consumer reviews on the internet.

There are 25,000 restaurants in town, from cheap eats like the Flame Diner at 893 9 Avenue up north at 58 Street to, down south, at 75 9 Avenue at 16 Street the upscale Buddakan restaurant. Buddakan, one of those sophisticated restaurants that might make your entire trip, is one of the cool places our kids (who have a Manhattan apartment) enjoy when they are celebrating a particular occasion -- their other special restaurants being Balthazar at 80 Spring Street in SoHo; Il Giglios at 81 Warren Street/W. Broadway-Greenwich Street; Les Halles, 411 Park Avenue S at 28 Street; and Bar Americain at 152 W 52 street. All, say our kids, are big, busy, bustling, noisy restaurants that mirror the excitement of the city and offer visitors a memorable experience. But those same kids suggest other places that are much less expensive but still offer the New York experience: from simple pubs like the Emerald Grill at 308 Spring Street, and the Bleeker Street Pub at 56 Bleeker Street; to popular diners like the Carnegie Deli at 55 Street and 7 Avenue, and Rice N Beans at 744 9 Ave at 50/51 Streets. Bagel eateries like Columbus Gourmet on Columbus at 72/73 Streets, and Hot n Crusty at 85 and Lexington are always in style. But, of course, part of the fun of a New York City visit is finding your own favorite restaurants.

OK. If you’ve found your hotel and discovered your restaurant what comes next? You’ll have ideas if you’ve checkout NYCvisit.com and downloaded some of its brochures but a bargain these days is the 50 percent off discount pass it promotes that you can buy online at the City Pass website http://www.citypass.com/city/ny.html?id=ZHinM544. Valid for nine days, its value may be as much in guiding you to Manhattan’s best attractions as it is in saving you money. The pass has given us in the past three of our top five favorites in the city

NYC 1
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

If you had only time for one attraction in New York this would be it. Its easily found on the Central Park side of 5th Avenue at 82nd Street and easily explored though you might wish you’d brought a compass. It’s huge and we doubt that anyone has really seen it all.  But the difficulty isn’t that you can’t find what you’re looking for, the problem is more that you’ll get caught up in a tiny corner and engrossed stay there till closing time. If you love European art you’ll maybe never get to the display of musical instruments. Similarly  you may never reach Arms and Armor if you begin with the Greek exhibits. We were fascinated with the Etruscan 6th century BC bronze chariot inlaid with ivory found in a remote part of southeast Umbria in1902 and bought the next year by the Met.

Imagine, found one year and bought by General Luigi Palma di Cesnola, the first director of the Met the next! That was a great time in America when museums had clout and could appeal to wealthy benefactors who wouldn’t have the problem of income tax for a decade.

NYC 2
The American Museum of Natural History

The City Pass offers you other museum choices after the Met including the nearby Guggenheim Museum with its impressive Frank Lloyd White architecture just seven short blocks to the north or the Museum of Modern Art 29 blocks to the south and near to the Rockefeller Center. (In Manhattan 20 blocks north or south is one mile.) But we prefer the American Museum of Natural History which lies on the other side of Central Park. The entrance hall with it dinosaurs may be familiar to those who saw the $600 million 2006 box office success Night at the Museum some of which was filmed on site. Another movie Murph the Surf was filmed in 1975 about this museum that dealt with the largest jewel heist in US history a decade earlier when Jack Murphy climbed in a second story window -- and stole a legendary gem collection. The losses included the Star of India, the de Long Ruby and the Eagle Diamond. The Eagle Diamond was never recovered.

At the American Museum of Natural History you can roam around the animals of Africa or the peoples of Asia and painlessly, effortlessly learn about your planet. You can disappear into an elevator and arrive for Cosmic Collisions in the Hayden Planetarium but keep moving because there’s always something new and exciting going on even in a building that goes back to 1874. Like the Met this is a huge sprawling institution and you need again to give yourself enough time.

NYC 3
Circle Line Harbor Cruise

This has to be the New York City sleeper. You have choices between visiting the Statue of liberty National Monument and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum -- or the harbor cruise. Either would be great but the 2-hour semi-circle of the harbor cruise shows you a side of Mid and lower Manhattan that you seldom see or even have access to. You see the great New York architecture some of which Hollywood has used as backdrop for favorite movies from An Affair To Remember to An Officer And A Gentleman. The captain points out, in a really well-delivered travelogue, buildings featured in the city’s past and how 13 new piers are being built on the West Side just for recreation, one with ice rinks, bowling alleys and golf driving ranges. There’s a solemn moment as the boat passes Ground Zero but we go on as America has had to and finally turn round when we reach the United Nations Building. As we sail close to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island it’s easy to imagine what it must have felt like, a hundred and more years ago, for all those persons who came with hopes and heads held high to join the people of this great country.

NYC 4
Times Square

There are other choices on the City Pass: the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum, for example, and first timers really should make their way to the observatory at the top of the Empire State Building. But as classic as visiting the city’s tallest and most-visited attraction – it’s been featured in more than 90 movies – is heading for Times Square where you can almost feel and hear the heart beat of this spectacular city. If you get there just before when the theater office TKS opens for discount same day shows you may be lucky enough to snare the show you want though not if it’s a hot package still early in its run. If all that walking about has given you an appetite Times Square has its share of restaurants from the Roxy Deli that charges according to its pricey location (in the center of the excitement) to TGIF’s and McDonald’s right there in the same place with the same prices you’d get anywhere in mid-America. Georg Lobel’s statue of the celebrated composer and producer George M. Cohan stands guard as it has done since 1959. The inscription “Give my regards to Broadway” comes from his most famous song.

Jim Carrey, behind the statue of this legendary figure, looks down on the crowd in Times Square as if acknowledging the contribution Cohan made to Tin Pan Alley and in turn being inspired by his legends.

NYC 5
New York, A Walk in the Park. Anderson photograph posterized by authors

You should wander around lower New York to meet the people in places like SoHo and the Village. You can ask Frankie whose son owns Joe’s Dairy what’s so special about his mozzarella cheese and he’ll tell you, “It’s a secret!” You can ask a local why is there a Winston Churchill Square in Greenwich Village and get the reply, “Why not? He’s our Winnie. We made him an honorary citizen in 1963.” And you can pass by a sign on a blackboard outside a thrift shop that says, “The recession is God’s way of telling us to stop buying $300 jeans!”

But a walk in Central Park farther north is really God’s way of slowing you down. The park came into being in 1858, the result of cooperation between its first superintendent Frederick Law Olmsted and a British architect Calvert Vaux. Central Park has gone through periods of neglect and decline but has never been as impressive as today under a Conservancy that provides most of the park’s $27 million operating budget. As you stroll though this park rejoice that the city had the insight 150 years ago to protect 843 acres (6 percent of Manhattan) from the developers of New York and were able to create such an oasis of calm for future generations.

Summer Fun 2009, New York

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!

Raanana

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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.

Cheers!
Mike Richard, Editor, Vagabondish.com

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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 www.travelingboy.com! Your web-site is very interesting and I want to tell www.travelingboy.com 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

* * * * *

This is all genuine. I will return to scan.

Keflavik

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

* * * * *

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!

Miami

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

* * * * *

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 :http://access.im/3/babelfish. 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

* * * * *

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

* * * * *

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 (http://www.travelingboy.com/travel-eric.html) - 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

* * * * *

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

Jacksonville

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

* * * * *

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. http://www.aptouring.com.au/files/documents/17/29022_Moscow2.pdf .

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

BUT...

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 http://travelingboy.com/archive-travel-eric-russia.html and at http://www.ericandersonsworld.com/story.php?id=6LvDg.

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 TravelingBoy.com. 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

* * * * *

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

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
Seattle

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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.
Eric


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.

Gary
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

* * * * *


Dear David,

Thank you for writing to Travelingboy.com.

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.

Eric


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