Travel Letters

Floating Market, Banjarmasin, Borneo, Indonesia:

Banjarmasin (pop 611,000)

South Kalimantan


March 7, 2015


Salamat Pagi – Good Morning

Before dawn, I am picked up by motorbike and delivered to a dock where an awaiting boat transports me up river.  The river is black.  The sky is black.  The shoreline, barely visible.

The delta city of Banjarmasin is known as the “Venice of the East.”  Four major rivers are interconnected by numerous canals.  The name of my river?  I haven’t a clue.

A thin daylight begins to illuminate the river’s mist.  And as the mist disperses, we encounter our morning goal.  

Muscat and the Mutrah Souk

Mutrah Souk

Muscat (pop 1.1 million)

Sultanate of Oman (pop 3.6 million)

January 12, 2015

Clear and Warm

So, what are those piles of round, tan-brown fruit I discover here in the market?   Larger than a walnut, but smooth.  Smaller than a tangerine.  The manager of the Ground Spices shop informs me, “Dried lemons.”

The manager senses my surprise and asks his helper to peel one for me.  Dried lemon tastes like a lemon yet not so sour, with a zesty flavor, chewy consistency and a delightful, palate-cleansing aftertaste.

Riga: Old Town



August 31, 2014

Dear Friends,

“What is your favorite city?” 

I am frequently asked this question and like other travelers, I am tempted to answer, “My favorite city is the city where I am now!”

Of course that is an unsatisfactory answer, even when it might be true.

At the moment I am in Riga, the capital of Latvia.  And if I were to give an honest answer, it would be: “If I make a list of my ten favorite cities, Riga would be on the list, perhaps even in the top five.”

Riga: Vermanes Park Stroll

             A Stroll Today?  Chess Anyone?


Republic of Latvia


August 31, 2014

On this sunny weekend afternoon, family and friends and friends and neighbors get out of the house and promenade, play, perform and pose in the public park.  What could be more civilized? 

Not counting the pointillist masterpiece by the French painter Georges Seurat, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884), I first encountered this civil and civilizing world-wide phenomenon in Greece fifteen years ago.   

Riga: Art Nouveau



September 4, 2014

To buy or not to buy? 

As the American actress Mae West (1893-1980) once remarked, “I never let anything tempt me, unless I can’t resist it.”

On Alberta Street, I couldn’t resist the book Art Nouveau in Riga.*

Despite my protestations, my pleadings , my sob stories and my best negotiating and bargaining skills, the Latvian (or was she Russian?) saleslady did not budge from the asking price of ten Euros for the book.  Honestly?  It is worth every penny.