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.
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.
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.
2016 was not a great year for travel. Due to circumstances out of my control, I was unable to spend my usual winter at my condo in Florida. I was in Canada from October until April 1st, when I went to Florida for one week.
Eartha Kitty stayed home for this trip. I took I75 south to Kentucky, where I turned onto secondary highways, passing through Crittenden, Dry Ridge, Williamstown, Mason, Corinth, Sadieville, Georgetown, Lexington, Nicholasville, Lancaster and Crab Orchard, finally settling in at Barbourville, KY.
Towards the closing of April, I went to Cincinnati for a long weekend, thanks to IHG Rewards Points. I stayed at the Staybridge Suites in West Chester out in the suburbs. No complaint; it was a decent hotel, and mostly free.
Surprisingly lots to do in Cincinnati. The American Sign Museum was a treat, situated near the old Crossley factory. The Taft Museum, Smashburger, the Findlay Market, the OTR Candy Bar and the Over The Rhine neighbourhood all worth a vist. Bonus for crossing the border to Newport, KY.
May brought a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. I stayed in a condo, on the top floor of an apartment building with a great view of English bay Beach. There was a new Nordstrom on Robson Street, and my first full day I had lunch at the Ovaltine Cafe on East Hastings Street. Late that afternoon, a trip to Horseshoe Bay and the Spirit Gallery.
Stanley Park, the Lennox Pub, Chinatown, the Vogue Theatre, Fountainhead Pub among the places I went. I rented a car and went to Whistler (Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre), Squamish, Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Harrison Hot Springs.
June 22nd I arrived in Los Angeles for the first time, staying in Westwood. Budget provided me with a Kia Soul for the week, which turned out fairly good. Not nice to look at, but easy to drive and comfortable inside.
The Getty Center was a great trip, as was Santa Monica. Rodeo Drive, Beverley Hills, The Walk of Fame, LACMA and the Petersen Automotive Museum were visited. Pueblo de Los Angeles, The Museum of Tolerance (Anne Frank exhibit) and the LaBrea Tar Pits were also included.
A side trip with friends took me to Santa Barbara and the Old Mission. I bought a painting, now hanging above my fireplace at the craft market at the waterfront.
Iceland Air had a seat sale, so in September I flew to England, landing in Gatwick on the 20th. From there, I boarded a train to St Pancras Station, switched to King’s Cross, and I was off to York.
I stayed at the Wheatlands Lodge Hotel – a series of Victorian town homes converted to a hotel; an easy walk to the Mickelgate Bar. York itself is a magnificent city dating to Roman times. One can walk the wall, visit the York Minster, the Yorkshire Museum and many other features. The Viking Museum was closed due to floods.
Highly recommended: a day trip through the Yorkshire Dales with BOB Holidays. It takes nine hours, and well worth it. Includes a stop at the “Oldest Sweet Shop in the World” in Harrogate and The Falcon Inn in Arncliffe.
A two hour train ride, four days later, and I’m in Lincoln. Everything seems to be uphill from here. I stayed at a B&B called The Poplars. Nice place with friendly cats.
Lincoln Cathedral is the highlight, as is the high street for shopping. While here, I took a side trip to Sheffield, checking out the Cholera Monument and Lime Avenue.
Four days later, I travel to London, where I stay for eight days.
One of the perks of travel with Iceland air is a free stopover in Iceland. I chose to take mine at the end of my trip, arriving on 4th October.
The entire stay was dogged with pounding rain, cold and violent winds. The Blue Lagoon was a wonderful respite, despite the weather. The Golden Circle Tour heavily marred by the storms.
I’ve purchased a new camera: Samsung WB350F. There’s much to learn, and it’s WiFi enabled. I took it to Siesta Key Beach today for a test run.
Siesta Key Beach has regularly been voted one of the top ten beaches in North America. Cross a bridge from the mainland, a short drive through the village, and there you are. There’s a large, but not large enough, parking lot. Pass over a small sand dune and you are greeted by a vast expanse of powdery white sand.
It was a less than optional beach day. Cool and breezy, with sporadic sun. One important thing with the new camera was when the sun did come in, the viewing screen became a mirror. Almost fully useless.
The green flags were out at the lifeguard stations. Here on the gulf side of Florida, one can walk out into the water for ages at still be only knee deep. However, even then, as I discovered, it still possible to be bitten by a sting ray. Ouch!
Every Sunday evening at dusk, there is a drum circle.
This is a beautiful beach, in a beautiful location. If you want to go, arrive early, or you will not get a parking spot.
IHG Hotels has a program called “points breaks”. Several times yearly a number of hotels are available for the bargain rate of 5,000 points nightly. For my third time, I spent two days at a Holiday Inn Express in Destin, Florida.
I drove due north on I-75, then travelled west on HWY-10, a boring journey only rivaled by the trip from London, ON to Detroit, MI on HWY-401. There were two surprises along the way. There are cotton fields along the way, and west of Tallahassee there’s a time change.
Destin is one town among a number along the panhandle, frequently referred to as the Emerald Coast. Truthfully, not much there. A short trip to nearby Pensacola proved quite interesting.
The architecture on Palafox Street reminds me of Ybor City in Tampa. Exterior galleries on the street and balconies above, with intricate fretwork. The street contains more than a few interesting visuals.
The above are two examples. The first shows how the original storefront has been maintained, down to the original store’s name in the tile. The second photo shows a new business that has had their name incorporated into the tile store front.
What at first glance I thought was a storefront was actually the beautifully restored Saenger Theatre. Originally opened in 1925, it was finally closed in 1975 and donated to the City of Pensacola. It was re-opened after restoration in 1981.
Plaza Ferdinand VII is a small park on Palafox Street. It was here, in 1821, that General Andrew Jackson received West Florida from Spain. The park has a bust of General Jackson and an obelisk in the centre.
And finally, on your way out of town:
Make a slight right turn and visit Pensacola Beach. Cross over a long bridge, pay a toll, and you’re there. From here you have easy access to Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Time to leave the sunshine coast of Florida. I’ve been here since early December, and usually leave late in March. Unfortunately, Easter arrived so bloody early I got stuck here. My travel day is set for Sunday, the 7th of April.
My first stop will likely be at the Best Western in Bennettsville, South Carolina. No particular reason, except I’m trying to keep my Diamond member status, and driving on I95 through the southern states is rather bleak. Most cities are located well off the highway.
From there, I’ll arrive in Bear, DE to visit a friend for a few days.
The next stop will be the Genetti Inn & Suites in Hazle Township, PA. A friend is staying there on a short golf vacation. I’ll be catching up with him for one day. After that, I should be in Canada on 12th April.
2013 is the first summer in some time that I don’t already have travel plans in place. I’m town between visiting the east coast of Canada or taking a trip down Route 66 in the US. The cost difference between the two is substantial.
The big event for 2013 has already been booked. I’ll be leaving for Turkey on 31st October, visiting Istanbul, Ankara, Cappadocia and a few other cities.