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Maine
Post Cards from Maine
While Driving "Down East"

By Nancy & Eric Anderson
Photography by Authors

ravel writers tend to be opinionated… so may we mention our thoughts on Maine?

Our favorite villages in that state are the two Kennebunks and we think the prettiest fishing village in the Pine Tree State is Camden – and the most interesting city to visit by far is Portland, Maine (although we do concede Portland, Oregon gives it a run for its money).

Fortunately the distance from Kennebunk to Camden is less than 110 miles and the route goes past Portland and even touches Freeport, Maine home of the legendary L.L. Bean and the clothing it sells that has famously helped those from the our southern states safely survive Maine winter weather.

The drive will take longer than expected because Highway 1 can be pokey slow even in the low season, plus there's always a lot to see skirting those fingers of Maine land that jut out into the Atlantic. It's about 225 miles as the crow flies from the edge of New Hampshire (the only state it borders) to where Maine hits Canada but it's 3,500 miles along the coast at high tide level.

The old sea captains in Boston sailed downwind to get to Maine whose coastline was actually east of them. It sounds strange as we drive up north to think they were sailing down east, but there's a lot in life that's strange.

Maine! This state is more than 90 percent forested yet it's a land of 6,000 lakes and 60 lighthouses – the only state in the USA with only one syllable to its name. It's a land, too, with an annual harvest of more than 100 million lobster and a population of less than 1.33 million; that's the 41st lowest state population in the United States. Although Maine was the first state to give laptop computers to all its 7th grade students it is still the butt of comedians who declare, "Maine has only three seasons: winter, blackfly and mud," and writers like Dave Barry who say the state's motto is "Cold but Damp."

What to Look At

writer's sports utility and the lighthouse at Cape Neddick in foggy weather

And we are driving a sports utility into it from the New Hampshire border – at the tail end of the most miserable winter in decades. The coastal road sparkles at times in the weak sun; the ice is melting. We are making time on a detour to the 1876 Nubble Light at Cape Neddick. The lighthouse is one of the most famous on the coast of Maine. It has had many keepers over the years although one was fired in 1912 because he was making money on the side charging tourists for entry to the lighthouse.

saxophone and other items at an antique shop, Maine

Occasionally the fog is so intense, traffic actually comes to a stop. We park off the highway and poke about in stalls outside an antique shop. The saxophone for sale looks interesting.

more items inside an antique shop, Maine

Inside the antique shop we see the cornucopias of stuff that accumulates in every antiques shop. The market is changing, say some observers; the baby boomers aren't interested much in the past and prices are dropping.

York Old Gaol and the Big Freeport Indian Statue

The fog clears and we resume our drive. We pass York Old Gaol, built in 1719, the "oldest surviving public building in the United States." We make an effort to remember that in case we are ever on Jeopardy!

L.L. Bean's retail store and original boots on display

Up comes L.L. Bean's, a sprawling colossus of stores that personalize the town the way businesses owned towns in the old days. Bean's original boots are on display and they sure look in good shape.

Franklin Simmons' 1888 monument to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the Portland Museum of Art

Portland is an eye-opener. It has all the resources a city dweller would want including some marvelous restaurants. "New Hampshire has the beaches," says a Portland friend, "But Portland has the restaurants!" Attractions in Portland include wandering the waterfront to check out the day cruisers and lobster boats and walking past the corner of Congress and State Streets to look at Franklin Simmons' 1888 monument to the city's favorite son, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Nearby the Portland Museum of Art is a treasure house of unexpected art from dramatic sea landscapes to narrative art that tells the very stories of America.

collections inside the Maine Maritime Museum at Bath

A mere detour of one mile in Bath takes you to its superb maritime museum. It recalls an era when Maine built some of the largest ships in the days of sail.

vintage cars at the Owl's Head Museum of Transportation

And a detour of ten mile or so before you get to Camden brings you to an equally impressive museum, the Owl's Head Museum of Transportation. Clara Bow's Rolls-Royce... and Bentleys… and MGs… and airplanes from the early days of aviation.

replica of the Wright Brothers' Flyer and antique bicycles at Owl's Head Museum of Transportation

Owl's Head has a replica of the Wright Brothers' Flyer and a great series of antique bicycles which reminds us much of the advances in mechanized transportation came from persons who did exactly that: build bicycles.

Where to Put Your Head

Once you know where you are going to stay the night, it becomes easy as there are clear favorites.

the Kennebunk River, sign at the Mathew Lanigan Bridge and the White Barn Inn

Kennebunk. If you end up on the bridge that crosses the Kennebec river (the river whose ice insulated by sawdust was sent all over the world in the Great Days of Sail) turn south west a bit and head for the Relais et Chateaux inn, the White Barn Inn.

rooms at the White Barn Inn

The service at The White Barn Inn service is very European. Relais & Chateaux is, of course, very French originally but the company has now made significant inroads in upscale accommodations in North America. We are heading for the first of its two in Maine. All four of the inns we mention and stayed in are upscale and somewhat expensive but there's not much more to spend money on in Maine villages. Here is not expensive theater or multitudes of extravagant gift shops. Once you've paid for your accommodations your only other costs really are the price of gas and modest museum admissions.

the Captain Lord Mansion, Kennebunkport

We have crossed the bridge and gone the mile or so to one of our favorite New England inns, the Captain Lord Mansion. The staff has almost no turn over and they say they remember us from 20 years ago. We actually remember them and the innkeepers Rick and Bev Litchfield who bought the inn in 1978. The inn sits on the village green.

The house is 200 years old. Maintenance of such a gorgeous Old Dame is, not surprisingly, costly yet if owners let things slide it becomes even more of a challenge. The mansion last year redid its parking lot at a cost of $25,000 and repainted one wall at a cost of $32,000.

two of the bedrooms at the Pomegranate Inn; breakfast

Portland, Maine's largest city has a marvelous art museum but one of its inns, the Pomegranate Inn is a veritable art museum in itself. This inn is full of modern art collected by the former innkeeper, Isabel Smiles. And smiles is what her guests got when they came here. The inn's collection has made many art critics come looking, too. Michael Kimmelman, The New York Times art critic, told the Smiles "the inn reminded him of a place he'd stayed at in Paris – only better." There are eight bedrooms. None look the same. One has vases and a Matisse theme; Martha Stewart chose to stay in that one!

the harbor at Camden and the Camden Harbor Inn

All four inns provided marvelous breakfasts but the inn at the end of our trip, the second and most recent of the Relais et Chateaux inns, also had a restaurant on the premises for dinner.

We drove into this delightful village and there was the Camden Harbour Inn, perched above the ocean. Relais & Chateaux began in 1941 and was established in France by 1954. However the inn itself was built in Camden in 1874 for guests who came by steamer – with servants and steamer trunks to last the whole summer season. Dutch friends, now partners, Raymond Brunyanszki and Oscar Verest saw the potential and became owners.

The Dutch are used to traveling, says Brunyanszki. It's a small country and within an hour you're in Germany or France. Dutch workers get 27 days of vacation every year which gives them an opportunity to travel. "We give our own staff two weeks off a year and two days off every week. We have 17 million people living in the Netherlands with a language that no one else speaks so we have to adapt and our former Colonial empire translates into a multicultural community." The 20 rooms and suites in the Camden Harbour Inn are named after former Dutch ports of call in the Dutch East Indies. "It's New England with a touch of Europe," Brunyanszki says with a smile.

view of the harbor from a Camden Harbor Inn room; Eggs Benedict with Lobster

But to us Californians it's also an amuse-bouche of Maine – when, for breakfast, did you last or ever have Eggs Benedict with Lobster?

Related Articles:

Maine: Rugged and Friendly; Visiting New Hampshire in Winter; Autumn in New Brunswick; Rhode Island's Culinary Museum; Nova Scotia in Four Days


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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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