Tag Archives: florida

Travel Review 2016

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.

Downtown Barbourville, Kentucky. An interesting place, the Magic Theatre has been closed for ages.
Downtown Barbourville, Kentucky. An interesting place, the Magic Theatre has been closed for ages.

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.

GhostSign for the former Dennison Hotel, downtown Cincinnati, Ohio
GhostSign for the former Dennison Hotel, downtown Cincinnati, Ohio

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.

The view from my condo, just off Davie Street in Vancouver.
The view from my condo, just off Davie Street in Vancouver.

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 Hammer Museum was almost across the street.

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.

Interior of historic Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, opened in 1939.
Interior of historic Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, opened in 1939.

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.

The Norman House, in Lincoln, UK, dated to 1170.
The Norman House, in Lincoln, UK, dated to 1170.

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.

When visiting Iceland, take tons of money.

Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran Church and one of the tallest buildings in the country.
Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran Church and one of the tallest buildings in the country.

 

 

 

Fading Signs

I have a certain attraction for signs when I’m on my travels.  Painted signs are excellent, and neon are particularly fine, even if they aren’t working.  There are lots of neon signs to view in museums, but I have a fondness for those left in place.

New Castle, Delaware

This town was originally settled in 1651 by Peter Stuyvesant of the Dutch West India Company.  In 1680 New Castle was transferred to William Penn.

Overlooking the Delaware River, New Castle has 5200 residents and is the oldest continuously occupied town in the Delaware Valley.  The town itself is not a museum.  The historic homes are privately owned and operated.

Ivory Soap
Fading Sign: Ivory soap on a wall in New Castle, Delaware
Coca-Cola
Fading Signs: Two on this wall – Coca-Cola and the N Katz & Sons Fine Tailors

Hot Springs, Arkansas

There are many signs on this wall.  It appears to have been a hotel a some point, but the most obvious is the Tom Moore Ten Cent Cigar.  Underneath that is a Coca-Cola sign.  At the very bottom is the words “Milwaukee Wis”.

 

Hot Springs
Fading Signs: Multiple use wall in Hot Springs, Arkansas

 

Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Carriage House of Established 1886.  Located at 115 N Tejon Street, Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs
Fading Signs: Carriage House of Colorado Springs

 

St Augustine, FL

Somewhere in St Augustine, Florida, a cocktail lounge and package store, long forgotten.

St Augustine
Fading Signs: Cocktail Lounge somewhere in St Augustine, Florida

This is just a small sampling of what I have.  You can check my Pinterest account for more, under the topic “Signs in History”.  Vancouver and San Francisco offered a plethora of neon signs, both restored and somewhat battered.  From time to time I’ll be making more posts like this, if only for my enjoyment.

 

 

Siesta Key Beach

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 Public Beach
Siesta Key Beach Historic Marker
Siesta Key Beach
Welcome to Siesta Beach

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.

Volleyball
Volleyball on Siesta Key Beach
Lifeguard Stand
Lifeguard Stand on Siesta Key
Lifeguard
Second of three lifeguard stations on Siesta Key Beach

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 water goes on forever
Siesta Key Beach

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.

Pensacola, FL

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.

 

Fountain
Fountain in Plaza Ferdinand  VII, Pensacola, FL

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.

Meyer
Original storefront showing the tile entrance
Storefront
Storefront

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.

Saenger Theatre
Saenger Theatre

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.

Fountain
Fountain in Plaza Ferdinand VII, Pensacola, FL

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:

Marlin Sign
Visit Pensacola Beach with a 1960’s flair

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.

 

Key West, FL

 

Get familiar with these guys.

Fancy chickens are everywhere in old town Key West.  They wander the streets, enter bars and shops, have fights in public.  They are protected, so you can’t interfere.

The story goes, that long ago, cockfighting on the island was banned.  Since the birds were no longer making money for their owners, out in the street they went.

And there they remain.