Reflections of quirky Portland
I just finished the Aug. 3 article "Cycle City" by Chris Erskine, on biking in Portland, Ore. As an L.A. native who attended Portland State University and then lived and worked in Portland for another dozen years, only to move back to L.A. (now Burbank), I feel I have a good perspective on the town. The truth is that there is a quirkiness to it that the show "Portlandia" has never explained or given any context to.
The book "Radicals in the Rose City: Portland's Revolutionaries 1960 to 1975," by Matt Nelson and Bill Nygren, looks into Portland's transition from a sleepy Northwest town with a decidedly conservative outlook, both politically and culturally, to the cutting-edge environment for all sorts of zany directions in human activity. It tells readers all about an explosive time in America and how one city, Portland, was permanently transformed by it.
I enjoyed Erskine's "Cycle City" article. We all know about Portland being a bike-friendly city — not to mention Seattle and San Francisco — but nobody ever does good articles about L.A. Maybe it's because of all the news stories about bikers getting killed. Despite this, people still ride bikes everywhere, and unlike Portland/Seattle, we have year-round perfect biking weather.
The most beautiful bike path in all bikingdom is Ballona Creek, from Culver City to the ocean. As a senior, I can unequivocally tell you this is the most beautiful scenic bike ride in the world, and all the birds and wildlife make it a very nature-inspired holistic experience. Try it sometime.
Loire even more lovely by bike
Regarding "Lovely Loire," by Louise Dreier, Aug. 3: My husband and I also did the Loire Valley by bicycle but started in Angers. One of our major stops was in Amboise to visit Leonardo da Vinci's house. Our tour ended in Chartres, where we learned about Jean Moulin, a controversial personage in World War II.
If the French on bicycles returned your greeting, you were lucky: In all the times we cycled in France, we don't remember anyone waving back. Have times changed?
For the next cycling trip in Europe, I suggest giving Belgium's Ardennes a try. We did it with full panniers, having started our tour in Normandy. I swore with some regularity each time we approached another hill.
Mine, all mine
As a child, I enjoyed searching for "buried treasure" that a relative of mine would hide. Jay Jones' article "Opal Hopefuls" [July 27], in which he described visitors trying their luck at the Royal Peacock mine, brought back pleasant childhood memories of my treasure-hunting days in the San Fernando Valley.
In the fall, I will go on vacation in Lake Tahoe. I wish I had known about this mine before making my travel arrangements, as I probably would have better luck at the mine than at the slots.
Sarajevo on the mend
I was very pleased to read "Sarajevo Begins to Heal With Time" by Christopher Reynolds [July 27]. I have lived in the U.S. since 1957, so it was a pleasure visiting Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and its people in the summer of 2010. I grew up in Belgrade, once the capital of Yugoslavia but now in Serbia.
When I arrived in Sarajevo four years ago, I was greeted warmly by everyone I met. They knew I was Serbian and Orthodox, but nationality and religion were not important. We never talked about who was who. We all got along. The people were happy to talk to me about America and Belgrade, and they shared with me what had happened to Bosnia and Sarajevo in 1990s and how hard those years were. They are still trying to put their lives in order.
They need more foreign and domestic tourism; it would definitely help the economy. Bosnia-Herzegovina is very picturesque. Their food is delicious, especially rostilj (barbecue), cevapcici, a kind of kebab, and pljeskavica, a patty of ground meats. No one will be disappointed.