Travel Letters

Chao Phraya River and Ko Kret

February 16, 2015

Dear Friends,

It seems that the only time I travel to a local attraction is when I have a visitor and he makes a suggestion.  I suppose that I am so busy planning my next international journey that I forget that my own locale around Bangkok offers many rewarding adventures.   (I think I am not alone in this contradictory situation.)

The latest case: My old family friend, David L. made a stopover in Bangkok after he completed his work in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  He had read about Ko Kret.* We decided to visit.

Olympia: The Marathon

May 1, 2015

My Fellow Athletes,

Can we agree on one thing?  Frank Shorter started it all.

In 1972 at the Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, Frank Shorter became the first American man to win the Gold Medal in the Olympic Marathon.  (The Marathon by definition is 40.2 kilometers or 26.2 miles.)

In 1984, Joan Benoit added her name to Olympic Legend when she became the first American woman to win the Gold Medal in the Olympic Marathon.  Actually she was the first woman ever to win Gold since the female Marathon event was first added to the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles that very year.  (Joan had already won the Boston Marathon in both 1979 and 1983.)

After Frank’s championship and surely after Joan’s extraordinary Olympic accomplishment, we Americans decided to emulate our two new heroes.  We donned our sweat suits and our Nike Waffle Trainers and Adidas County Striders, dutifully performed our stretching exercises, and headed out the door for our training run. 

Three Castles


The Peloponnese


May 4, 2015


Civilizations are born, grow, prosper, decline and disappear.

Empires are here for a moment and fade into history books.

Fortresses are built. Castles and walls are constructed, besieged, breached and conquered.

Here in Greece I encounter three such examples.

How many past examples do we need?

The American writer William Faulkner wrote: “The past is not dead.  It's not even past.”

Vartolomio - Population 4271

May 6, 2015

So my friends,

It’s the end of my journey in the Peloponnese.

What shall I do?

Visit yet another marble site of Ancient Greece?

Explore the crumbling remains of the Byzantine Empire?

Climb the stone ramparts of one more Venetian Castle?

Admire the aqua view of the sea once again?

I decide on “None of the above.”

Shkodra: A Pizza and A Fortress

Shkodra (pop 135,612)

Republic of Albania

Republika e Shqipërisë 

May 11, 2015


Pizza. Pizza. Pizza!

Isn't there anything else to eat here in Northern Albania?

Apparently not.

My driver, Mr. Edmond * and I search and search and search for some local or traditional Albanian fare along the main pedestrian promenade here in Shkodra (Shkodër).   Finally we find an outdoor café and order, you guessed it, pizza.  We also order a salad and a meatball dish that passes for “local” food.