A Year of Travel 2018 Review

 

January 2018

Museum of Appalachia, Clinton, Tennessee
Museum of Appalachia, Clinton, Tennessee

January 2018 begins as it always does, with travel to Florida, bracketed by stops in Kentucky or Tennessee.  This year, I stopped in Nashville on the way south, and Knoxville on the way north.

I visited the Museum of Appalachia in Clinton, TN,  Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, and the Stones River National Battlefield.  Another interesting thing discovered:  Nashville has a replica of the Parthenon!

 

February 2018

Ha'penny Bridge, Dublin, Ireland
Ha’penny Bridge, Dublin, Ireland

I had booked a fare using WestJet and British Airways to travel to Dublin from London, Ontario.  A very cheap fare is US funds.  I arrived at the airport early to find a minor delay on departure, which grew as the afternoon wore on.  Clearly, I would not make my connection to the BA flight.  Westjet sent me on a two-hour taxi ride to the next airport.

I stayed at the Maple Hotel on Lower Gardiner Street.  Reasonable, considering the high cost of hotels in Dublin.  There are lots of bars to hang around, but I quite enjoyed the Palace Bar – a beautiful Victorian heritage pub on Fleet Street.

Temple Bar area was touristy as expected, but I liked Hanley’s Cornish Pasties in Merchant’s Arch.  The General Post Office and the Epic Museum are well worth your time, and I took in a show at the Abbey theatre.

Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast, Northern Ireland

I took a day trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland.  The guides from Wild Rover Tours were quite informative, and there’s some concern about the effects of Brexit.  There are currently no physical borders between the two countries.  I took a Black Taxi tour of “The Troubles”, and spent time at Giant’s Causeway.

April 2018

The Musée d'Orsay, Paris France
The Musée d’Orsay, Paris France

This trip I made a huge mistake, inadvertently booking “basic economy” on TAP airlines for a flight YYZ – ORY – OPO – YYZ.  Their carry-on restrictions are so tight, I had to pay an extra $140.00 for luggage.  Live and learn.

We were a bit late arriving in Paris, and there was a long wait for luggage, and then about two hundred waiting for a taxi.  I ventured forth and took the metro, arriving after the dinner hour at my hotel.

I split my time in Paris in two – for the first four days I stayed near the Opera, and for the last four days, I stayed near the Bastille.  It’s like getting two trips in one!

Everything in Paris is expensive, but there are lots of small streets to wander and take in the sights.  I visited the Louvre,  Musée d’Orsay, Palais Garnier, and stopped for lunch in a cafe in the Tuileries garden.  Versailles is an easy metro ride through the city, and a good afternoon was spent at Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Hotel Aliados, Porto, Portugal
Hotel Aliados, Porto, Portugal

Part two of this trip brought a stopover in Porto, Portugal.  Just as beautiful as Lisbon.

 

June 2018

Peggy's Point Lighthouse was built in 1915
Peggy’s Point Lighthouse

June brought me to Nova Scotia for a brief, unexpected trip.  We stayed in Halifax the entire time, except for a brief day trip to Peggy’s Cove.  I’ll be returning to Nova Scotia (by way of Newfoundland) in June 2019.

August 2018

Museum of Human Rights, Winnipeg, MB
Museum of Human Rights, Winnipeg, MB

Swoop Airlines launched earlier in 2018, and part of their promotion was a free flight two three different destinations – just pay the taxes and baggage fees.

I spent four days in Winnipeg and there’s lots to see.  Many historic buildings remain intact or a being renovated.  It’s easy to get around on foot and felt safe.  The underground walkways around Portage & Main are a disaster.

The Museum of Human Rights was free one evening, and I also went to the Dalnavert Museum.  Lots of places to eat and bars to attend.  I also took a day trip to Gimli, the Icelandic settlement not far north.

September 2018

Olkiombo Airstrip, Masai Mara National Reserve
Olkiombo Airstrip, Masai Mara National Reserve

September I spent three weeks in Kenya, Tanzania and the Netherlands.  More on that in another post.

December 2018

Jackson Square, New Orleans, LA
Jackson Square, New Orleans, LA

Lastly, a week in New Orleans.  The offseason, just before the holidays, so not very crowded.  Stayed at the Blake House on Charles Avenue.

Lots of exciting places to wander, and history to see.  I wasn’t far from the French Quarter which is an interesting place, although Bourbon Street itself is shit.

Dropped into the 1850 House Museum, the Presbytere and the Cabildo.

Interesting note:  Lafayette Square does not have a statue of the general and Lee Tower has nothing on top.  “Never turn your back on a Yankee”

 

 

Cemetery Tourism

I have always been fascinated by a cemetery.

There is a huge one near where I live, which dates to about one hundred years ago.  Many graves were moved here, and at the time it was considered so far out in the country it would last forever.  They estimate it will last another hundred years, but the city has grown around it.

There has been some neglect over time, and they have summer students doing research, and finding markers that have toppled sometime in the past and are completely grown over with grass.

Here, I look at a couple of historic cemeteries.

St Thomas Anglican Church

The Chisholm Monument
The Chisholm Monument

The Anglican church and cemetery date back to the early 1800s, and this is the most extravagant marker in the plot.  The Chisolm family have seven names attached to this marker, three of whom died in 1832.

Lafayette Cemetery #1

Lafayette Cemetery, New Orleans

Located in the Garden District of New Orleans, this active working cemetery was established in 1833.

“Society Tombs” were established in the days before government-sponsored children’s services. Orphans and foster children were relegated to children’s homes and orphanages and would be interred here due to the high mortality rate.

Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery

Santa Maria Cemetery, San Juan
Santa Maria Cemetery, San Juan
Santa Maria Cemetery, San Juan
Santa Maria Cemetery, San Juan

Located in San Juan, Puerto Rico,  construction for Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis began in 1863 and was administered by Carmelite nuns.  It is on the Atlantic shore at the foot of  Castillo San Felipe del Morro.

St Louis Cemetery #1

St Louis Cemetery, New Orleans
St Louis Cemetery, New Orleans

There’s a reason that I have saved this one for last.

The photo was taken from a tour bus as we drove by.  The cemetery is located on Basin Street and was established by the Catholic church in 1789.

I’m sure it is lovely inside.  However, it is a private operation, and not open for viewing unless you pay for a tour, something I was not prepared to do.  Not because I’m cheap, I just believe that charging for access like it is a tourist attraction is wrong.

 

Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

Very rarely do I make a trip that isn’t planned months in advance.  Although I don’t have a full schedule when I travel, I usually have the dates, methods of transportation and hotel reservations firmly in place.  On short notice, I booked a flight to Halifax.  Peggy’s Cove is thirty minutes away.

The Ford Taurus I rented, in bright red, made for an OK drive.  Not what I’m used to, and the navigation system was dreadful.  Exited Halifax by Prospect Road, then made the short, scenic drive down Peggy’s Point Road.

St John's Anglican Church, Peggy's Cove
St John’s Anglican Church, Peggy’s Cove

The Anglican Church is one of the first buildings noticeable in Peggy’s Cove.  It was built of timber about 1884 and is the only place of worship in the village.  It is a Gothic Revival building with an unusual corner tower and spire.

Peggy's Cove Harbour
Peggy’s Cove Harbour

Located at 110 Peggy’s Point Road is The Maritime Pasty Company, which isn’t much more than a take-out window and a bunch of picnic tables.  There is a constant stream of customers getting a lobster roll – the only item they sell.

The harbour above is directly across the street.  We were blessed on this day, with beautiful blue skies and perfect weather.

Peggy's Point Lighthouse was built in 1915
Peggy’s Point Lighthouse

The star attraction of the village is the lighthouse, which was built in 1915.  Constructed directly on the rocks, like all the buildings in the town.

Peggy's Cove Harbour
Peggy’s Cove Harbour

Peggys Cove is a rocky outcrop on St Margaret’s Bay.  The mostly wooden structures are built on rock.  Wells are deep, but most drinking water is now purchased at a store.  There are several restaurants and Bed & Breakfasts in the village.  The buildings are painted in a variety of soft colours (except one glaring purple one).

Fisherman's Memorial A
Fisherman’s Memorial A
Fisherman's Memorial B
Fisherman’s Memorial B

William deGarthe emigrated to Canada from Finland in 1926, and for many years summered in Peggy’s Cove.  He carved these images from a ninety-meter granite facing in his yard.

The sculpture thirty-two fishermen, their wives and children, St Elmo, and the legendary Peggy.  The property is now home to an art gallery.

Get Directions

Symmetry in Architecture & Design

Symmetry in Architecture & Design

I’m not one prone to haunt beaches.  I did spend a few days on Ambergris Caye in Belize a few years ago, but that’s about the extent of my tropical vacations.  My visit to Puerto Rico was mostly limited to San Juan and a few outlying areas, including El Yunque Rain Forest.

I do like wandering cities.  Walking the streets, enjoying the street art and graffiti (Athens), but mostly for the history.  Old neighbourhoods and buildings are a delight, sometimes even more so when looking up.

Shanghai Pudong Airport

It’s modern, and it’s huge.  Standard airport with lots of glass and seemingly endless shopping and eating experiences available, if you have time to kill.  Looking up, this was the delightful ceiling in departures.

The symmetrical ceiling in the departure area of Shanghai Pudong Airport.
The symmetrical ceiling in the departure area of Shanghai Pudong Airport.
Keleti Station, Budapest

My last day in Budapest.  I have checked out of my apartment rental, and took the long walk, suitcase dragging, to the train station, bound for Vienna.  Keleti station opened in 1884 – a glorious building from outside.  Inside it’s another story.  The platforms seemed a bit grimy and dark, but looking up provided two lines of sky.

Keleti Station, Budapest
Interior of Keleti Station, Budapest. The symmetric lines of light meet at the open end.
Lincoln Cathedral

Located in England, building began in 1088 and it was consecrated in 1092.  Part of the original cathedral remains, although there were many additions throughout the Medieval period.  It was the tallest building in the world for 238 years.  Perfect symmetry, even at this height.

Lincoln Cathedral
Interior view, Lincoln Cathedral
Hyde Park, London

Sometimes, symmetry can be found right in front of you.  Hyde Park was directly across the street from my hotel when I stayed in London in 2011.  I was at Bayswater Road & St Petersburgh Place, and the bike share was immediately inside the entrance.

Bike Share, Kensington Gardens, London, UK
Bike Share, Kensington Gardens, London, UK
York Minster

The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York, known by it’s common name, York Minster.  Although there were previous churches on this site, this building was began in 1230 and completed in 1472.  Note the dragon on the right.

The York Minster, York, England. Note the dragon on the right hand side.
The York Minster, York, England. Note the dragon.

So I have provided a sample of some of my favourites encountered during my travels.  There are many more.

 

 

 

 

 

A Year of Travel 2017 Review

My 2017 year in review.

 

The Year in Review – 2017

It was a long winter in Florida.  The temperature was hot, which is expected, but after eight years of spending winter in the same location, I was seriously bored.  Adding to that was America’s abrupt turn to the right with the election of Trump.  After an internal review, I sold my condo in February, and I left Florida for good at the end of March.

My first major trip began in May.  Although I originally booked with Air Canada, my flight was changed to Air Canada Rouge sometime before departure, which is a significant difference.  Thirteen uncomfortable hours to Athens, Greece.

Jockey of Artemision
Jockey of Artemision

I stayed at the Best Western Museum Hotel, near the National Archaeological Museum.  A decent area, very easy to get around.  Four days later, I was off to the island of Santorini.

Oia, Santorini
Oia, Santorini

Both flights on Olympic Air were short but dreadful.  Excessive baggage charges both ways.  I was in Santorini for three days, then returned to an apartment in Athens.

Acropolis, Athens
Acropolis, Athens

I had a wonderful apartment, lots of room, a balcony off the rear bedroom and a huge balcony at the front with this view.

July brought a road trip to Thunder Bay, which turned into a circle tour of Lake Superior.  First stop was in Sault Ste Marie.  The next day I passed through Alona Bay, Batchewana Bay, White River, Schreiber (where they have a cute railroad museum), and the Terry Fox Monument before arriving.  Should have scheduled more time, this was much too long.

Terry Fox Memorial
Terry Fox Memorial

I spent three days in Thunder Bay for the Blues Festival, before moving on to the south shore of Lake Superior, with stops at Split Rock and Iron Mountain.  Drove through the upper peninsula of Michigan (No phone signal!) and spent my final night in Alpena.

Lastly, in November, I made my first trip to China.

Chongqing at night
Chongqing at night

I had booked this eleven months prior – Sinorama has a yearly sale in December and these trips are very cheap.

Air Canada again – and another thirteen hour flight over the pole.

We started in Beijing, then flew to Chongqing.  We were four days (ugh) on a river cruise down the Yangtze and the Three Gorges Project.  Spent one night in Wuhan, than took a train to Shanghai.

Those were the big trips of 2017.  I’ve eliminated the smaller ones for space consideration, but there were several road trips around Florida, once to Kingston and twice into Michigan.

 

 

 

 

Photo Essay: The Royal Mail Ship Olympic

The Royal Mail Ship Olympic  1910-1935

 

The RMS Olympic in New York CIty, 1911
The RMS Olympic in New York City, 1911

The RMS Olympic was a cruise ship on the White Star Line.  Launched in 1910, it would be in service until 1935 – part of that as a troop ship in WWI.  It was the largest liner in the world from 1911 – 1913, except for the Titanic (also a White Star Line).

Her maiden voyage began on 14 June, 1911 in Southampton, England and finished in New York City on 21 June, 1911, seven days later.

RMS Olympic Grand Staircase, 1911
RMS Olympic Grand Staircase, 1911
RMS Olympic - another view of the stairs - 1911
RMS Olympic – another view of the stairs – 1911
RMS Olympic – 1st Class Dining Room – 1911
RMS Olympic reading room - 1911
RMS Olympic reading room – 1911
RMS Olympic Palm Court, 1911
RMS Olympic Palm Court, 1911
RMS Olympic 2nd class entry and deck - 1911
RMS Olympic 2nd class entry and deck – 1911

The Olympic was retired in 1935 and sold for scrap  Olympic had completed 257 round trips across the Atlantic, transporting 430,000 passengers on her commercial voyages, travelling 1.8 million miles.

 

Photos from:  Library of Congress

North Shore Lake Superior

Very early in 2017, I learned about the Thunder Bay Blues Fest.  The event features 100% Canadian talent, so I booked a VIP pass and began making plans.  Held during the first weekend of July, I made this into a road trip, planning to do a circle tour of Lake Superior.  Two days driving, but it realistically should have taken three.

Day one was an extremely long, tiresome day, having to first drive partly through the traffic mess that Toronto has become.  North on the highway, and by about 16:00 I was settled into the Watertower Inn in Sault Ste Marie.

First stop was Batchawana Bay, which is 71km north and west of the Sault.  Two centuries ago you would see voyageurs here, sheltered from the storms of Lake Superior.

 

Beautiful Batchawana Bay, North Shore, Lake Superior
Beautiful Batchawana Bay, North Shore, Lake Superior

Moving 43km north, my next stop was Alona Bay.  Here is Theano Point, believed to be the first uranium find in Canada.  Also nearby, the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Alona Bay, North Shore, Lake Superior
Alona Bay, North Shore, Lake Superior

Move along another 90km north, through Lake Superior Provincial Park, and the next stop is Old Woman Bay.  There are cliffs with forests, and a beach for your pleasure.

Old Woman Bay, North Shore, Lake Superior
Old Woman Bay, North Shore, Lake Superior

We now move inland, through the small town of White River (with a cute coffee shop) and travel 284km north and east to Aguasabon Falls, just west of Terrace Bay.  There is a well-built viewing platform to take you near the falls.

Augasabon Falls, North Shore, Lake Superior
Augasabon Falls, North Shore, Lake Superior

Travelling 204km west, we are nearing our destination.  We know we’ve arrived when we’re at the Terry Fox Memorial, just outside of Thunder Bay.  His goal was to run across Canada, beginning in Newfoundland.  This is where he was forced to end his journey.

Terry Fox Memorial, Thunder Bay, Ontario
Terry Fox Memorial, Thunder Bay, Ontario

The Lyceum Theatre opened its doors in the former Port Arthur in 1908, with seating for one thousand.  There have been many changes of ownership and usage, with the ground floor being used for office/retail.

Remodeled in 1932 for “talking pictures”, it closed permanently in 1955.

The Prince Arthur Hotel originally built by CN, is on the same street, and dates from 1911.

 

The Prince Arthur Hotel, Thunder Bay, Ontario
The Prince Arthur Hotel, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Thirty kilometers west of Thunder Bay is Kakabeka Falls, a waterfall on the Kaministiquia River.  It is the highest waterfall in North America.

Kakabeka Falls, west of Thunder Bay
Kakabeka Falls, west of Thunder Bay

 

Get Directions

 

Four Days in York, UK

York, UK

I just can’t resist a seat sale.

Early in 2016, Iceland Air had a seat sale to London.  I waffled over this for some time, and left it up on my screen.  $650 was a good price for a flight from YYZ – LGW, including a stopover in KEF on my return.  Finally, after three days I went for it.  Refreshed my screen, and the price is now $502.  I would be on my way to York in a few months.

During the planning process, I thought I’d spend time in London and Manchester.  My friend said why?  They’re just two big cities.  She’d go to York.  Then somebody else chimed in that if you’re going to York, you should do Lincoln also.

I arrived in London Gatwick at 11:45 and easily sailed through customs.  I had pre-purchased most of my train tickets, so my next stop was St Pancras International.  King’s Cross was right across the street, and I was on the 15:08 to York.

I had some rudimentary instructions to get to my hotel, so I decided to walk it.  I had to go past the Mickelgate Bar, and look for Scarcroft road.  Down that street would be the Wheatlands Lodge Hotel.

Wheatlands Lodge, York UK
My hotel in York – Wheatlands Lodge

Here we have a number of town homes converted into a hotel.  There is a bar and they serve a great breakfast.  My room was in one of the dormer windows.  No elevator!

York Minster

York Minster
The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York

The second largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, construction began in the 1200’s.  This is the main attraction in the centre of town, however there is still  the original wall, and various gates (called BARS).

The Micklegate Bar is the original Royal Entrance.  Think of King Henry VIII coming through here, or the severed heads of his enemies staked upon it.

St Mary’s Abbey

The remains of St Mary's Abbey
The remains of St Mary’s Abbey

Located in the gardens of the Yorkshire Museum, the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey, which was a Benedictine Order established in 1088.  The Abbey was closed and substantially destroyed during the dissolution of the church by King Henry VIII.

Get Directions

 

Day Trip to Sheffield, UK

September of 2016, I spent three wonderful weeks in England.  I arrived at Gatwick Airport, hopped a train to St Pancras International Station, crossed the street to King’s Cross, and boarded another train north.  My visit included York, Lincoln, Sheffield, London, Stratford and Bath.

I was staying in Lincoln for a few days, and one afternoon when I had nothing to do, I checked out the train schedule.  For a small sum, and little travel time, a visit to Sheffield was in order.

On arrival at the train station, I exited away from the city centre.  Up a rather steep hill, then a walk down Norfolk Avenue past the Shrewsbury Hospital Estate.

Gated entry to Shrewsbury Hospital Estate, Sheffield
Gated entry to Shrewsbury Hospital Estate, Sheffield

Further on, is the Cholera Monument Grounds and Clay Wood, part of Sheaf Valley Park.

First thing I notice is that it is very quiet.  There are a few people jogging around the path, but not much else.  A vast expanse of green, with the monument in the distance.

This park was used as a burial ground during the cholera epidemic of 1832.  402 victims are buried here, and the monument was erected in 1835.

Cholera Monument, Sheffield, UK.  Erected in 1835 after the epidemic of 1832.
Cholera Monument, Sheffield, UK. Erected in 1835 after the epidemic of 1832.

This area is also the home of Clay Wood and Norfolk Park.  The park opened in 1848 on land owned by the Duke of Norfolk.  The park was officially given to the city of Sheffield in 1910.

Cholera Monument, Sheffield, UK.  Erected in 1835 after the epidemic of 1832.
Archway in Norfolk Park, Sheffield, UK
Lime Avenue, a beautiful laneway of trees planted in the 1800's
Lime Avenue, a beautiful laneway of trees planted in the 1800’s

At the entrance to Norfolk Park on Granville Road, exists an original Victorian light standard.  Although originally gas, it has been converted to electric.

Victorian Light Standard at entrance to Norfolk Park on Granville Road
Victorian Light Standard at entrance to Norfolk Park on Granville Road

The Cholera Monument and grounds, Norfolk Park and the Lamp Standard have all been listed Grade II

Get Directions
.

 

 

Preview of Changes and Upcoming Travel

New Developments

It’s early 2017.  We’re having decent weather on the sunshine coast of Florida.  Mostly sunny, and starting to get warm.  There has been very little rain, and only a couple of storms. My only travel has been local –  to Orlando, Tampa and St Petersburg.

I’ve been spending my winters in Florida for the past eight years.  I bought a condo in an adult only development.  From here, I have been able to fly or drive to Puerto Rico, Belize, Las Vegas, Turkey, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Key West, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Panama City.

Now, it’s time to go.  The US government has made a sharp turn to the right, and I think it will get worse.  I’ve sold my condo, and will be departing on 16th March, not to return.

Packing up the house is a chore, and most of what I own has been sold.  I’ll be spending one night in Corbin, Kentucky, and should arrive in Canada by the 18th of March.

2017 Travel

25th April – This is a bit up in the air at the moment.  I have booked a few days in Lansing, MI, thanks to IHG Points Breaks.  Since then, an event has come up in Warrendale, PA that I’d like to attend.  Can’t do both, but I have some time to decide.

9th May – Today I depart for my first trip to Greece.  I’ll be based in Athens, and have a trip to Delphi scheduled.  There is a travel break to Santorini, then back to Athens.  I have booked an apartment through Ebab which has a view of the Acropolis.

6th July – This week I’ll be doing a circle tour of Lake Superior, by car.  First stop is Sault Ste Marie, then three days in Thunder Bay.

Poster for the 2017 Thunder Bay Blues Fest - last year attendance was over 18,000
Summer travel to the 2017 Thunder Bay Blues Fest – last year attendance was over 18,000

I’ll be at the festival for all three days, then departing on Monday for a leisurely drive to a place called Iron Mountain, MI.  Two days later I’ll be back home.

7th November – This day I depart Toronto for twelve days in China.  In addition to Beijing, I have a balcony cabin for a cruise on the Yangtze River.

That’s all that I have planned for this year, however I’m quite certain some smaller trips will work their way in.  Beyond this list, I travel to Kenya and Tanzania in October, 2018.