JUST TO let you know that bars are not enforcing the smoking ban here in New York ["Drop the Cigarette! A Smoke-Free NYC," April 6]. I was in a bar on Saturday evening, supremely excited that for once my clothes would not have to be dry-cleaned after one night out. And yet, midnight hit, ashtrays were still out, cigarettes were still being lit and not one bartender said a word. Many bars would rather risk getting fined then alienate their clientele. I will complain to management in the future.
A FRIEND and I just returned from a week in Paris and had an absolutely wonderful trip ["This April in Paris," April 6]. The people could not have been friendlier or more welcoming, and the sights and food are, of course, incredible. The conversations we had about war-related issues were thoughtful and frank, never personal, and I appreciated the openness. I would not hesitate to recommend that people visit Paris and France now -- despite tensions between our governments -- because the French seem to still honor the goodwill that our two nations have fostered over many decades.
UNFORTUNATELY, the relatively rosy picture painted by the authors is not supported by press reports from that country. With the highest incidence of anti-semitic attacks in Europe, many involving physical beatings, desecration of synagogues and cemeteries, stabbings and shootings, France has established itself as a country hostile to the principles for which the U. S. stands.
Perhaps some other time in Paris, but not this year, with anti-American frenzy encouraged by a government antagonistic to anything American.
Distance Is Relative
DESCRIBING the Cook Islands as "just south" of Hawaii is rather a large stretch [What's the Deal?, April 6]. Rarotona is 2,838 miles from Honolulu. This is about the same distance that lies between Hawaii's capital city and Salt Lake City, Utah. It would be like describing Bogota, Colombia, as just south of New York City.
The Hawaiian Islands are the world's most remote land mass. So, in essence, there really is nothing on Earth that could be described as just south, just north, just east or just west of Hawaii.
(just west of Leesburg)
I SPENT a week in Vancouver last November and loved it ["Forests, Beaches, Trails -- and That's Just Downtown," March 30]. I'm surprised your story didn't mention the terrific public transportation. For one ticket you can ride the bus, transfer to the subway and then to the ferryboat. The system goes everywhere in greater Vancouver. And the subway is on the honor system, so there are no turnstiles.
For places to see, I'd include the Punjabi Market on Main Street. It's one block long, with Indian stores and restaurants lining both sides of the street.
HELLO FROM 1959. I enjoyed your article on my home province of New Brunswick ["Just Past Maine, Time Slows Down and the Tides Speed Up," March 30]. I've always said that anyone from the Northeast Corridor adventurous enough to take a drive up would think New Brunswick must surely be little else than a picturesque park.
Your article was right on the money, though. That is how we first appear. Just between us, though, here is another side of our little province:
* Three of New Brunswick's universities are ranked among the top 10 in Canada.
* Sixty-three percent of post-secondary students study business, engineering or science.
* Computer literacy has been a high school graduation prerequisite since 1996.
* New Brunswick boasts the most modern electronic infrastructures in the world, with ADSL broadband digital telephone and digital cable in homes and businesses. For more info, check out www.newbrunswick.ca/investment/innovation.
YOUR ARTICLES brought smiles to my husband and me.
A decade ago, we finished graduate school in Washington and took off by car for Canada -- entering St. Andrews via Highway 1 in early June and exiting the country via Vancouver in mid-August. We followed the Trans-Canada Highway from east to west, visiting nine of the 10 provinces on the way (Newfoundland was the exception).
Along the route, we watched the tidal bores around the Bay of Fundy, biked on Prince Edward Island, visited the funky neighborhoods of Toronto, camped along the Great Lakes shores, picked strawberries on the plains of Manitoba and hiked among glaciers in Banff and Jasper National Parks. What variety, beauty and sheer fun!
An ocean-to-ocean trip north of the border should be on everyone's "life list" for travel. Thanks for bringing back the memories.
The Sneaker Brigade
JUST FINISHED reading Mr. Platt's comments ["The Word On . . . Operation Security," March 30] on staying safe abroad by not calling attention to the fact that we are Americans. I was especially struck by his comment that "Americans like to wear sneakers . . .[and] jeans . . ."
I plead guilty -- to the shoes accusation, especially. When I travel to Europe, my goal is to see and experience as much as I can while I am there and to do it as comfortably as possible. When shoe manufacturers begin making dress shoes that are as comfortable as my favorite pair of New Balance athletic shoes, which allow me, a woman in her sixties, to walk from, say, the Bastille or the Arc de Triomphe back to my favorite hotel near the Odeon theater -- and to undertake similar walks on a daily basis -- without suffering, then perhaps I'll switch.
Perhaps I can give up my [logo-less] jeans and go to "a nice pair of slacks," even though the tennis shoes look a bit odd with them. And I never talk loudly.
But even taking these precautions may not help me. My French friends say that I just look "too American," whatever that means.
Brenda E. Sartoris
READER Verna Hawk might want to try Dramamine II, which I have used ever since it came on the market a few years ago [Message Center, March 23]. The "II" version did not leave me drowsy. I am rather prone to motion sickness, even in the backseat of a car, but there, too, Dramamine II did help.
TO THE reader planning a bicycle tour in Estonia [Travel Q&A, March 23]: Estonia is a wonderful place to travel for anyone who enjoys nature and is particularly good for cycling, since there are abundant roads through the rural and forested countryside. Large numbers of storks nest there in the summer. Southern Estonia has many small towns where comfortable accommodations, including huge breakfasts, are very inexpensive.
Write us: Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Fax: 202-912-3609. E-mail: email@example.com. Letters are edited for length and clarity.