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.
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!
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
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.
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.
Five years ago I spent a weekend in Detroit. My friends waved me off, hoping that I’d return with more than a toe tag. I returned to Detroit in 2015 to be surprised how good the city is now looking. My first stop was the Detroit Institute of Arts, followed by a stroll down Woodward Avenue, then a trip into downtown.
The DIA was my first stop in Detroit. I always seek out major art venues, and I’ve been here before. It does not disappoint.
Founded in 1885, the gallery moved to the current address on Woodward Avenue in 1927. Many major galleries have vast, expansive entrances which have long been shuttered for a smaller entrance of more recent vintage. The Albright-Knox in Buffalo comes to mind – they have a magnificent entrance facing the park, which is unused.
Here in Detroit, the massive original entrance remains in use.
The Detroit Industry fresco cycle was completed by Diego Rivera in March of 1933. It is one of the most famous works in the gallery. It is considered the finest example of Mexican mural art in the US, and encompasses all four walls within the gallery.
The DIA is located at 5200 Woodward Ave in Detroit, closed Mondays.
In September, 2010, I spent a weekend in Detroit. My friends wished me away, hoping I’d come back without a toe tag. I actually had a very good trip, although the conditions in Detroit proper were quite alarming.
I spent an afternoon at the Walter P Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills. Truly, a splendid museum of beautiful cars, well organized, and with informative staff.
Five years later, I’m back for another visit to Detroit. The city has vastly improved. Unfortunately, the Chrysler Museum has closed, due to lack of visitors.
Here are some of the pictures I took at that time.
There are still signs on Chrysler Drive directing you to the museum, although once there, the doors are locked. It’s only available for private functions and employees.
There’s a story you can read here, about my first, and only, trip to Italy. I could have gone to Pompeii as a day trip from Rome, but since I was travelling south to Sorrento, it was much closer to go from there.
I remember passing by Pompeii on the train, and on my arrival in Sorrento, THIS HAPPENED. The next morning I was on the train, and passed by Pompeii again, never to return (so far).
Now, it’s the summer of 2015. The Royal Ontario Museum has another huge touring show coming in for six months. Pompeii: In the Shadow of the Volcano. Two hundred artifacts that tell the story.
Here are a few:
This represents a small sample on display at the ROM, which is a far cry from what would be a fascinating trip to the ruins of the city.
I’ll leave you with this, also quite common in the city.
The Aga Khan Museum is situated on Wynford Drive at the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto. Land was purchased from the Shell Corporation, and the modernist Bata Shoe Headquarters were demolished. The site is composed of the Museum, the Aga Khan Park and the Ismaili Centre. The museum opened in September, 2014.
The museum’s contents include collections from His Highness the Aga Khan, the Institute of Ismaili Studies and Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan.
Intact silk brocade tunic originated in Iran in the 1300’s. Note the extra long sleeves.
A panel of revetment tiles from Damascus, Syria in the 17th century.
The museum is closed on Mondays. On Wednesday, there are extended hours, and admission is free from 16:00 to 20:00. Surface and underground parking is readily available.
The Malus-Beauregard House is located at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The house was originally built by Madeline Pannetier Malus, in 1833 or 1834 in a French Colonial Style, facing the Mississippi River. She died in 1835, and the house was purchased by Caroline Fabrice Cantrello, and remodeled to the Greek Revival Style, as it now stands.
The rear veranda of the Malus-Beauregard house, identical to the front. The sweeping veranda and huge columns make the home appear much larger than it is. There are only five rooms on the main floor, and likely the same amount on the second floor, which was not open during my visit. All of the rooms are unfurnished.
Rene Beauregard purchased the home in 1880. He would be the last private owner. Subsequently, it was owned by the New Orleans Terminal Company until 1949.
Now, it is part of the Chalmette National Historical Park, and has been restored to the 1856 – 1866 period.
This location is where the Battle of New Orleans took place in 1815, and is also home to the Chalmette National Cemetery. Now closed to new interments, it is the home to soldiers from the Revolutionary War to the Viet Nam War.
Twice yearly I make the trek from Toronto, Canada to Sarasota, Florida, where I spend the winter. It’s a trip that can be done fast or slow, as the mood strikes. I have made the trip in slightly more than eighteen hours, but I now prefer to take three days. There’s lots to see along the way.
Not that long ago I had this little red convertible. It lasted for thirteen years before catching fire while I was waiting at a red light in Florida. White Hall is located just off I75 near Richmond, Kentucky. It was closed for the season when I arrived.
White Hall is a state historic site in Kentucky. The grounds were open and I was able to walk around, and also managed to get a glimpse of the interior through those huge windows.
From the official website:
Nestled in rolling farmland, the home was built in the late 1700’s, with a major addition constructed in the 1860’s. The mansion, built in Georgian and Italianate styles, boasts nearly ten thousand square feet with modern innovations of the time such as central heating and indoor plumbing.
November 1 through March 31 the mansion is closed to the public except for A Victorian Christmas the first two weekends of December.
This was a pleasant way to spend a break on the long trip south. The grounds are quite large, and I was the only person there that afternoon.
White Hall had been abandoned for some time. Pictures are difficult to find, however here is one from 1968 showing the windows boarded.
How did I find this? Driving down the highway, there’s a sign that says “White Hall Next Exit” or something similar. I took a chance and made the exit.
IHG Hotels had one of their point breaks specials, and I didn’t want to travel too far. Rochester is about three hours away and looked like a good fit for two days.
I crossed the border at Queenston without incident, and proceeded north to HWY 18, taking the scenic parkway that follows the south shore of Lake Ontario. Close to Rochester, the road was closed and detoured off. I found out later that portions of the parkway get shut down in the winter to avoid maintenance costs. I can understand why, there was almost no traffic in either direction the entire length.
Rochester was interesting enough, but it has a nasty loop road around the centre of town making driving a awkward. Street parking was plentiful.
The Holiday Inn express was in the south end of town, but easy to get to. Lots of promotion inside as it is being re-invented as a Country Inn & Suites by Carlson. It was a very basic hotel without much going for it.
Probably the most interesting place to visit was the Susan B Anthony House on Madison Avenue. I was the only person there so I got a private docent tour. Walked around the neighbourhood afterward and had a long chat with one of the local homeowners. It’s a nice neighbourhood and she had recently purchased a massive older home across the street from the park.
I did go downtown, but I think I hit the wrong area. Some huge old buildings, but the ground levels are mostly empty. Lots of construction downtown and almost everywhere.
The former Erie and Genesee Canals have been made into a park.
Hung out a few times at the Avenue Bar. All in, a decent way to kill a couple of days.
The University has a lovely art gallery built in the early 20th century, and the surrounding neighbourhood of the arts includes the van Gogh themed Starry Nites Cafe!
Once I left Cleveland, OH I had a specific destination in mind. I love museums, and have a fondness for automobile museums. I’ve been to both the Chrysler and Ford museums near Detroit. While researching, I found the National Packard Museum.
Having left Cleveland in disgust over the traffic situation (many, many roads closed for the filming of Captain America), I took a leisurely drive to Warren, OH, the birthplace of Mr. Packard. It was here that the Packard Automobiles were first manufactured.
Warren, OH is a small town near the PA border, steeped in history. The National Packard Museum is quite small, mostly confined to two large public rooms. The first room houses some displays, signs, check-in and the gift shop. The larger room houses the automobile collection. It was a bit crowded when I was there, although with cars, not visitors.
The wonderful people at Best Western had given me a free night which I had to use before it expired, so I stayed at the Best Western Penn-Ohio Inn, located in Hubbard, OH. A very nice choice. Welcoming (with cookies!), spotlessly clean, and an indoor pool. I never actually went in to Hubbard, but ate at a local restaurant which wasn’t so good.
PA is just minutes away, so my stop the next morning was in the town of Sharon. Another place that reeks of turn of the last century beginnings. There, I found Ryer’s Shoe Store. Self-promoted as “The World’s Largest Shoe Store”. They had a good sale on ECCO shoes, and in PA clothing and footware are exempt from state taxes. Bonus!
Next stop: Jamestown, OH
August: Fort Wayne, IN; Little Rock, AK; Oklahoma City, OK; Albuquerque, NM; Colorado Springs, CO