WHAT A nice surprise to see the article about Beach Road Chicken Dinners [Smart Mouth, Jan. 30]. I grew up in Jacksonville in the '60s and '70s, and we lived within a couple of miles of Beach Road. I was always excited whenever my parents went out on Saturday nights, because that meant I would get a carry-out dinner for myself. On Sundays, lots of folks would go to Beach Road for Sunday dinner.
I don't even remember the last time I had a real fried chicken dinner. I could sure go for one right about now.
Phuket Comes Back
I READ with interest your article, "Phuket: Should You Go?" [Jan. 30] and thought you might be interested in a project called Flight of Friendship, a people-to-people effort organized by a team of business, political and tourism officials from Oregon who were among the first to answer the call to help raise the public's awareness about the plight of the tourism industry in tsunami-affected areas. More information can be found on the project's Web site, www.flightoffriendship.com.
Ireland in Winter, Cont'd
AMBROSE CLANCY'S article on winter in Ireland ["Ireland's Warm Cold Season," Jan. 23] helps perpetuate something I have been trying to stamp out for years -- use of the term "high tea" when "afternoon tea" is meant. This must stem from the idea in America that the term "high" would equate to something "high-class" or fancy. In fact, the opposite is true. High tea is an evening meal of hearty fare served with tea. The term refers to the service of the meal at the high (dining room) table, as opposed to service at low coffee or tea tables.
Afternoon tea, on the other hand, is a light repast of tea, scones, finger sandwiches and sweets, served to ward off hunter pangs between luncheon and dinner. The photo accompanying the article, and the description of the offering in the Lord Mayors Lounge, is clearly that of an elegant afternoon tea.
Afternoon Tea Society
BEFORE COMPLAINING so much about restaurant prices in Ireland [Message Center, Jan. 30], James Dolson should reacquaint himself with the poetic suggestion of "a loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou." My wife, children and I have never found difficulty in finding all the essentials of a great picnic in our travels.
The fun of shopping in small groceries or market-day booths is highlighted even further by the discovery of a vacant bench or patch of grass on a sunny square (or even a doorway on a rainy day) for a lunchtime feast free from the delays, noise and smoke typical of many European restaurants.
A jar of mustard and some plastic utensils are about the only additions needed to the items you normally carry around with you. After that, it's just a lot of smiling and pointing to get all the food you need to eat both cheaply and well.
James D. Ashley
Dunn Loring, Va.
Travel Q&A and You
YOUR JAN. 30 Travel Q&A column was interesting for two reasons. First, my wife and I have been to Alberta and British Columbia several times, but have never made the trip between the two provinces by train because of the anticipated expense. Your suggestions may help make the journey affordable for us.
Second, there was a question from a person who wanted to take her 15-pound dog with her on a trip to Vietnam. During the war, I spent a year in what was then South Vietnam working with Vietnamese military personnel. I know that at least once during that time I attended a dinner party at which the main item on the menu was roasted dog meat. There were other meals that I attended at which I did not inquire about the meat was being served.
I am sure that there are still some individuals in Vietnam who would welcome a visiting canine.
I WOULD like to respond to the letter from the student who wants to visit Europe in August inexpensively [Travel Q&A, Jan. 23]. My family and I recommend Romania. It is a beautiful and interesting country -- and quite inexpensive to visit. Some Romanians take short vacations in August, but most cannot afford vacations. I understand that the Black Sea resorts are fairly crowded in August, but our experience is that the rest of the country is not.
It is quite easy to get around on the train. Many Romanians speak some English, especially college-age and younger people -- and they generally love Americans.
The exchange rate with the U.S. dollar is much more favorable than the U.S. dollar exchange rate with the euro.
Check out the Romanian Tourist Office site at www.romaniatourism.com.
IN ANSWER to the recent complaint by Dave Leckie [Message Center, Jan. 23] about the Delaware Toll Plaza on I-95, here is a suggestion -- which, incidentally, came from the Travel section several years ago. As frequent drivers of I-95 between D.C. and New Jersey, we find this route a convenient and money-saving alternative and have passed it on to numerous other folks.
Going north: Leave 95 north at Exit 109, following signs toward Newark. Continue three or four miles (the route number changes as you cross the Maryland/Delaware line) and several traffic lights until you see a small supermarket on the left at a traffic light. Turn right at this light and continue about two miles to a main traffic light, where you turn right onto Route 896. (There are various restaurants and gas stations there, with clean restrooms, and it's a good half-way stop if you want to change drivers.) Continue about a mile on 896 until you see the 95 north sign, where you rejoin 95 north after the toll booth.
Going south: Leave 95 south at Exit 1 (Route 896) and follow signs toward Newark. Move to the left lane and just past McDonald's, turn left at the second light. Continue about two miles and turn left at the first main intersection (small supermarket opposite). Continue a few miles until you see the 95 south sign, and rejoin 95 south after the toll booth.
This is couple of miles longer, but given the long backup at the Delaware tollbooths sometimes, it's about the same timewise. Good luck!
Northern Lights, Cont'd
ONE PLACE to see the Northern Lights is in Centre County, Pa. [Northern Lights 101, Jan. 9]. I have seen absolutely spectacular views on my way there from Fairfax.
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