Why Xian, China, deserves more love

XI’AN, CHINA - Located just outside Xi’an City Wall, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda is an elegant seven-s
Just outside Xian City Wall, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda is an elegant seven-story monument that leans to the west.
(David Swanson )

I was in Xian at the time the Travel article ran in The Times and have just returned (“Historic Capital and Modern Hub” by David Swanson, Feb. 24). It was my second business trip to Xian in a year. Last year it was just before the New Year holiday, and this year it was just after.

The New Year holiday is one of the best times to visit Xian, in spite of the bitter cold. The nightly light shows are dazzling. When you arrive before the holiday, you can observe the daily addition of a new feature. On the other hand, by arriving after the holiday, you can see the whole effect. The city doesn’t remove the lights for several weeks. From my hotel window, I could watch the entire show in the High Tech district — streets adorned with brilliant lanterns and other lights as well as dancing lights creating pictures on the facades of tall office buildings. It’s magical.

I also highly recommend the Shaanxi History Museum. Chang’an (now Xian) was the ancient capital of China, and the museum traces the history from the Zhou to the Tang dynasties with many relics from each era. It’s a very worthwhile experience.

Emanuel R. Baker


Los Angeles

Going solo and doing fine

Regarding the Feb. 24 Departure Points, “Be Brave and Keep Going” by Julie Steinschriber: I took my first solo trip recently just to see if I could do it.

I had always admired my neighbor who did it, so I thought, “Why not?”

I took a two-week Canadian cruise starting in Halifax and going down the St. Lawrence River. It was a small ship carrying about 185 people.


After a few days, I met many nice people. The advantage of a cruise is you have dinner with different people every night and make travel friends.

Then a friend and I booked a trip to Cuba. Great, until he broke his arm and couldn’t go.

I was faced with canceling or going alone. I decided to head out for the next grand adventure solo — a one-week small-group land tour — and it worked out great. Everybody was very welcoming.

One of the last nights as I was dining with lovely couples from Florida and New York, one woman said, “I admire you for traveling solo.”

I said, “You know what my motto is?” and she said, “Live life”?

I replied, “No. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Words to live by.

Nora Barsuk



How not to worry about the gas level

Regarding “A Digital Eye on Your Rental” (On the Spot by Catharine Hamm, March 3): Another alternative to car rental is Lyft or Uber. No worries about the amount of gas in the rental car.

Scott Jessup


Keep mum’s about Mérida

I read your recent online article on Mérida, Mexico (“Easygoing Mérida” by Margo Pfeiff, Feb. 17): The unspoken rule about Mérida is if you’ve been there, you don’t tell anyone just how fantastic it is. OK? Thanks.

William Richardson