The essence of Lourdes

I have been to Lourdes, France, twice -- once as a pilgrim in 2001 and last year as a tourist. Susan Spano wrote such a fine article, which caught the essence of Lourdes ["Slice of Heaven," Sept. 7] that I felt as though I were there again.

Spano didn't miss a thing. She is right in saying that traveling as a pilgrim gives an insight that is not possible as a tourist. I imagine that is probably true in many other places.

Thank you for the article. Spano always captures more than the obvious.

--Marge Lauerman, Burbank

Loved the article on Lourdes and wanted to let you know there is a Lourdes of the West right here in Altadena, at Lake Avenue and New York Drive.

It is a beautiful grotto with a statue of the Virgin Mary and is well visited and used by the parish of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

A real slice of heaven for me, and it is local.

-- Tom Joyce, Pasadena

Too much of a good thing?

The first thought when reading about Ken Burns' new contribution on films ["Ken Burns Turns His Lens to the Trees," Sept. 7] was "now, how will I ever get a reservation?"

Been to Yosemite or Yellowstone lately? The whole national park experience is becoming more like a Disneyland experience: Get in line, jostle for a good look and don't spend too much time enjoying the experience because the guy behind you wants his turn.

If you want the national park experience that Burns so fondly recalls from his youthful sojourn long ago, hurry up.

--Khaki Sheybany, Santa Monica

Motown -- how sweet it is

In her On The Spot column on Aug. 31 ["Flier Frostbite"], Catharine Hamm describes sitting on a flight listening to Motown sounds of the '70s: "You're doing nothing but losing body heat and killing brain cells with bad music."

That kisses off landmark albums by Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder and such classic singles as Diana Ross' "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," the Temptations' "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" and the Commodores' "Easy."

I'm glad Hamm is a travel writer and not a music critic.

--Paul Grein, Studio City

Editor's note: Grein co-wrote the liner notes for the "Hitsville U.S.A.: The Motown Singles Collection" box sets.

Moldova, from one who knows

Friends kindly sent me the excellent article Kay Mills wrote on Moldova ["Moldova's Going Underground," July 20].

I am well acquainted with the country, having served as U.S. ambassador there from 1995 to 1998 and visited regularly thereafter. Mills' article reflects the Moldova I know.

I would recommend it to anyone planning a trip to this corner of Europe.

--John Todd Stewart, Sun Valley, Idaho