I ended my blog yesterday with the Grandfather Rocks at the Museum of Native Americans......but it was still in the morning. Thinking that it is taking me two days to write about one - makes me smile. Writing or blogging isn't as easy as it seems...or maybe it is anyway - my morning and day continue.....
I have always loved visiting foreign capitals - often because the museums or archives are free. Yes - we will pay to visit - I don't mind those either but I had forgotten how amazing it is to visit Washington DC and the National Treasures ...and they are FREE !!!!!
After the Museum of Native Americans I made a quick stop at the National Botanic Gardens.
When I entered I was blasted by the colors of the season. On both sides of the aisle (how often can you say this....) they were splendid.
The displays captured the season of harvest as well as the enduring presence of the diversity of nature in its finest splendors. There are a number of different environments that the gardens display from the Tropics to the Deserts. Wonderful.
The light coming in the glass made so many plants glow.....I will only include a couple of pics here ....but it was peaceful, beautiful, warm and inviting.
I didn't go through the outside Gardens...I wanted to see more and to be honest the Botanic Gardens in Denver are absolutely magnificent in all seasons - especially winter. So I stayed for a bit then headed across the Mall by the Capital.
As I mentioned before and am saying it again ..... at the Smithsonian....the Museum of Native Americans....the Botanic Gardens the National Galleries.....going to the National Archives where the original Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bills of Rights are on display.....the Memorials are all FREE !!!!! It was a fabulous day to tour - in October - but I get ahead of myself and I am hungry.....
My sister had told me that there is an underground walkway between the East and West Galleries that houses a cafeteria and great shops with items from the galleries. She also said the walkway is kind of like the one between concourses in O'Hara...for those who have been there.......she was wrong....it was more like Star Wars !!!!!
It was really fun. I ate at the cafeteria and had some of the best homemade chicken noodle soup - ever. It wasn't crowded and my view was of the outside fountain - a cascading wall of water. Absolutely lovely. Afterwards on to the West Gallery.
There was an exhibition of Dutch Paintings of the Wind and Seas. I love how the masters were able to capture the light and the action of nature as man bobbed like a cork on what were then considered state of the art - magnificent ships. In addition to the paintings there were a few ship models that are now 100's of years old:
You can spend hours and hours here......but I will leave with a couple of shots from the American Gallery which you might recognize......and a room of Masters.....
But let's not forget the French Impressionists or DaVinci..........the gallery has a wide variety of world class art.......and it is FREE !!!!! Amazing.....
If you want to walk through art history with an extended with a variety of styles from all places around the world the National Galleries - East and West are for you.
From there - I walked to the National Archives where the founding documents of our country are located.
Normally I would show pictures.....but no photography is allowed and it is understandable. The documents are fading. Although kept under the best preservations possible today....they are fading. But what isn't fading - very simply is what each stood and stand for.
The Declaration of Independence: we will no longer be governed from Britain - we have the right of self determination....
The Constitution: the purpose, structure (three independent branches) and process for amending and ratifying the responsibilities of government for the future needs of the country.....
The Bill of Rights......the rights individuals - NOT GOVERNMENT - have! The four pillars of which are: Freedom of Religion - Freedom of Speech - Freedom of Assembly and Freedom of the Press.......along with other rights that will not be infringed.
The men and women behind these documents, the risks they took to secure them and the foresight to realized that they didn't have all the answers and that things would change so that we as a country could adapt and create a better country for the future........wow .....again I am always in awe of the history of places I have visited around the world but this "American - Experiment" that we living in today is something to be proud of and to behold. Reminders of what has come before and what we must preserve going forward......
BUT..... I wasn't done for the day.......I decided to take the Metro and visit Union Station before heading home.
Every time I visit Union Station I think of the activity this place housed during WWII. The comings and goings of the trains before air travel was vastly commercial......I love the Grand Hall - it is splendid. The wings of the station are now shops....a mall as such. This includes both the lower and the upper floors. But the Grand Hall is still the Grand Hall......I love it.
I caught the Red Line from the station back to my starting point. It was an easy trip and a delightful day.....one I will always remember....as long as I can remember.
If you get to DC.......I hope you have a wonderful time. You can't see it all - you just can't. I hope you have a chance to go and visit the Memorials I never talked about on my one day on the Mall. Keep in mind most of the Museums are open from 10:00 to 5:00 or 5:30. Check on line if there are ones you want to visit that need a time stamp because of the crowds. Enjoy and remember - this is our Mall - our Country.........."We the People" ...... !!!!
Travel Safe - Travel Well
I have had times where it is difficult to write a blog....usually because of the subject matter not so much to say about the environment around it. I often want to convey a feeling or stimulate a thought. I don't want to just sound like a travel book. There are plenty of those . I will be honest....this blog maybe the most difficult to write at this time.
We are living in very tumultuous - confusing - disheartening - up lifting - advanced - divisive - scary - "we can come together" - we are still - "We the People....." times. As I write this on October 25th the midterm elections are 11 days away. We are awash with with ads from every angle and political party - some true others so blatantly misleading it is sad. BUT - with that being said - this is NOT a political blog. I am only going to share my "One Day on the Washington Mall". I want to convey my reverence and awe and appreciation for that. Although some of the pictures and words are a little more than one day. We have a history that is shared by us and with the world when they come to DC. With a little bit of effort - maybe we all can appreciate the story in ALL of its glory and gory. We are not perfect as a people or as a Government. We are actually - quite messy. But if we show our "decency" along with our "offensiveness" and be indebted for not just the sacrifices but for the foresight of those who strive to share our story - maybe - just maybe we can all find a way to appreciate this place we call the United States of America.
I am going to share my visit.........
Lets start with this......WASHINGTON DC TRAFFIC IS HORRENDOUS !!!!! I am from the Denver area and the issues that we have - which are ridiculous - are magnified 10-fold in DC. So for those of you visiting - here is a hint - take the Metro if you can.
The system is simple - safe (always be careful you are in a big city) but amazingly manageable.
The lines are: Red, Orange. Blue, Green,Yellow and Silver. They flow into the suburbs in all directions and transfer stations are easy to follow. For the most part in the platform areas one side goes one direction the other side...the other. It is actually pretty difficult to get lost and at some point they all lead to the city center where you can change and catch a ride to your point of interest. I came in from the Medical Center at the NIH on the Red Line. I rode to the Metro Center - transferred to the Blue line and excited at the Smithsonian. It took about 33 minutes.....which by car may have been over an hour and then trying to find a parking space..The Metro is .fabulous. Walking maybe 200 yards - I entered the Smithsonian Castle.
The Smithsonian Castle. Why the Castle.......I read a fun book by Steve Berry called "The Lost Order". Berry does a remarkable job of weaving factual elements of history into a fictional adventure-mystery-action novel. He piqued my interest in James Smithson - who had never been to America but through his final wishes left over $500,000 to establish the Smithsonian Institute back in the mid-1800's. Smithson was a chemist and gentleman scientist. The institute was dedicated to collecting and disseminating information and knowledge for all. Wow -
I won't tell the rest of the story - but he died in Genoa Italy and was buried in a grave outside of town. As the town grew - they needed to move the cemetery. Alexander Graham Bell learned of this and through - sometimes questionable means - had the body brought to the United States and placed in the Castle.
The story becomes even more suspenseful when a fire of "mysterious origin" broke out in 1865 destroying much of his writings and collections that were there. Although it is now believed it was from a stove that had been improperly installed......Steve Berry does a fabulous job weaving history with questions into his tale.
I could go on but you should get the book and enjoy the story.
After paying my respects.....I left the Castle and made my way down the mall.
a It was an absolutely beautiful October day. What was even better - I have been to DC quite a bit - as I guess many of you have - but what was missing this day was obvious - PEOPLE and HEAT. It wasn't empty of tourists or tourist buses but there were so few compared to the high season. It was spectacular to be able to take pictures and walk and enjoy the moments. NEXT ........quick stop at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden.
There was a museum I had never been to. It was the Native American Museum....I have been there now and it was well worth it.
Coming from Colorado and the Southwestern United States with the Dakota's, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona we encounter a lot of Native American art, artifacts, jewelry, sculptures and creations. But to see a museum that includes cultures that stretch from the tip of South America to the far reaches of Canada and Alaska and from the Atlantice to the Pacific.....magnificent collections and history. Much of the history tragic .....but as they will tell you .....they are still here.
To begin with - the architecture is astounding. There are no right angles in the building. It flows. Every inch of it flows. Inside as well as outside. You feel as if you are in nature...in a moving stream with the sky above you. This is the ceiling looking up from the center floor. it reminded me of ascension into the heavens.
The artifacts and art are a collection from the bottom to the top of this side of the globe. Indigenous peoples who lived here thousands of years before the Europeans arrived and colonized the Americas. Beauty in nature, form and use.
This has become a longer blog than I intended but it was such an amazing day.......what I will continue with on my next blog is my visit to the Botanic Gardens and the rest of the day.....but I want to finish this one and my visit to this museum with this:
This is a Grandfather Rock. If you can read the inscription - the Cheyenne believed that Grandfather Rocks were the oldest beings on the planet. Surrounding the museum there are forty of them. The one shown is dedicated to Daniel Inouye - Senator from Hawaii who served from 1963 until 2013 when he passed away. This rock was dedicated to him.
As a grandfather myself -I love this. I never knew this about large rocks..but now I believe there is no greater honor than to be considered and represented by a rock. I am honored.
What a great morning !!!!!!
Travel safe - travel well !
From the movie Braveheart - the last words of William Wallace before his beheading and dismemberment were "Freedom". Knowing it was a movie we can doubt that it was what truly was said - but there is no doubt of this....even as Scotland has remained now united within the UK....there is a strong and enduring sense of individuality. They have a history of "Scottish" descent - not British but Scottish. There is no other place in Scotland that stands for this than the landmark city and castle of STIRLING - SCOTLAND. To try to separate Scotland from Stirling is ludicrous. They are one and the same.
Stirling sits about 32 minutes (driving) from Glasgow and about 50 minutes from Edinburgh. It sits on a ridge between the Scottish Highlands - and Lowlands in the broad expanse of the Scottish plains. The one region of the country where all the lands come together.
As you walk the path to the castle - there is a statue to Robert the Bruce. Memorializing the time that Scotland was a land of "tribes" or families that were under the brutal rule of Edward Longshanks of England. Longshanks was defeated in his conquest and rule over the Scots by Robert the Bruce. Unknown to this day why he was so driven by his desire to rule those lands....none the less - the wars continued for years and the legacy of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce are legendary.
I have to thank Mel Gibson for bringing this story to us. I know it was just a movie - a two hour venture trying to capture - entertainment style - an amazing story - but had it not been for that movie other than the Scots and some very worldly travelers we may never have known even a little about it. We tend to focus on our own history - that is one of the reasons I love to travel....learning and experiencing the world of others.
The castle sits on a volcanic perch that overlooks the valleys. It was here that the battles were fought over the lands of Scotland. It was and is said that "Whomever holds Stirling holds Scotland".
Stirling is easy to get to but making your way to the castle can be a bit confusing. We only drove around it three times trying to find a parking space - when it was directly in front of us. Oh well......
The city is quaint and the surrounding lands are spectacular. The Castle is trying to add value to the visit. They are recreating many of the rooms - halls - with elements or reproductions of the eras but what was particularly interesting was learning about the Unicorns !
Stirling is not to be missed. The Castle - the City are wonderful but to see the land - the valley to imagine what it was like to have armies covering the hills to wage war to conquer and expand their lands to live in such a harsh environment but one that is so magnificent and rich in beauty and history.....Scotland chose the right creature to represent itself. Unique formidable and beautiful. Forever Scotland. Land of Unicorn !
A Promise is A Promise - Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum ...Glasgow Scotland. MORE THAN WORTH IT !
This may be one of the shortest posts I have written. In two words ....JUST GO !!!
In Glasgow it is not only beautiful.....and amazingly interesting...it is FREE !!!! Just take the Underground or Tube to the Kelvinhall Station and with a short walk you are there. What I like most about this Gallery and Museum is the Eclectic collections...I felt as if I was in someone's home who had collected artifacts and art from around the world. It was MAGNIFICIENT !!!!! Even before entering it was particularly beautiful with lawn bowling greens at the corner of the building and people simply enjoying their day...under a beautiful Scottish sky.
Kelvingrove has over 20 Galleries and displays (according to the web) over 8,000 objects.
From Medieval Armor and Weapons to Salvador Dali's: Christ of Saint John on the Cross....
The galleries are breathtaking.........one had floating heads"
Another - a magnificent organ built in 1902 from world famous organs makers....it is played daily at 1:00 pm. Unfortunately I was there later in the day and didn't have the privilege of hearing it ....but oh my.....I did see it and it is beautiful:
I have been to so many museums and galleries this year......my first year of "Retirement Discovery" often they blend together. From Degas to Renoir to Dali to Picasso to Pissarro to O'Keefe to Magritte t0 ...whomever or whatever is next. I would come back here in a nano-second. I loved the mix of "collections". The creative skills of mankind and the infinite beauty of nature. Housed in a historic building - easily accessible by public transportation and free to all who want to meander the halls and expand their awareness of the world....AND if nothing else.....maybe take part in the game of lawn bowling.
Travel Safe - Travel Well
I feel so fortunate. I have had the pleasure of traveling to other countries and visiting ancient empires. But you don't always have to travel great distances to have new experiences. I have - not mentioned family members in my posts to protect their privacy....and I will continue that practice but with his persmission - Steve - my brother-in-law took me on a very different journey this week. I journeyed into the realm of NFL player grading!
My brother-in-law "Steve" is a football coach. He has been a head coach at a major D1 school - has been an offensive coordinator in college and the NFL - has coached and tutored some of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and was the interim head coach for the St. Louis Rams........he also played in junior college where he set the national passing record and when he played D1 was Sports Illustrated's Player of the week after engineering an amazing fourth quarter comeback throwing the winning touchdown with just seconds left in the game (and I was there to watch). He is brilliant at understanding and coaching football. He spends his time tutoring young players - quarterbacks playing in the NFL - is a player consultant and grades NFL offensive players for ProCoach.Network. This is where my journey went. I got to spend the morning reviewing "game tape" of the Detroit Lions vs Dallas Cowboys from this past weekend with him grading the offensive players.
The internet has changed everything. It obviously isn't game tape or film anymore. Everything is digitized. The big business of the NFL and Fantasy Football has also changed the way players are looked at. Information is power. Key players are scoured over. How they execute is evaluated by a number of coaches and they are given a grade. It is either positive or negative. As he explained there is a site: google it "PFF" which is profootballfocus.com. It is owned by Chris Collinsworth the broadcaster and former NFL player. This site is a data goldmine of player information.
The site "PFF" is chock full of statistics and player analysis. Did you ever wonder where they get all their information and how do they get it so quickly? Well, they hire people around the country to do the analysis. While I was sitting there on Tuesday morning Steve received an email with the Monday night game between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs. He had the game literally within 12 hours after it was over. They were asking him to grade it.
His expertise and focus is on the offense and offensive players. He told me that there are usually more than one person doing this type of work on the same game. About 70% of the time he agrees with the grading decision that was made. Which means 30% of the time they disagree. As we "watched film" he pointed out that a player may come across as missing his assignment or being out of position on a certain call - but that it may not be the players fault. It could be that the blocking scheme was wrong based on the defensive alignment. So in addition to the grading they will add comments. A way to explain why they graded it so and to look for a consensus over a disagreement.
I watched maybe 30 plays and players. Right guard - left guard - running back - quarterback - wide receiver covering a variety of plays. He would repeat the plays maybe half dozen times each to get a good look at what the player was doing right - or wrong. Where were their feet in relation to whom they were blocking? Where their hands were - their helmet placement. Their body alignment to the direction of the play.... did they move laterally or backwards or forward? Were they out of position completely? Did they hold a block too long? Did they even make the right block? What about the pass route. Did they read the defensive back correctly - make the right cut? Replay - repeat - replay until a decision was made as to the caliber of play and a grade assigned. Was their play "positive" or "negative" and why.
That data and information is then sent back to ProCoach.network which in turn compiles it and forwards to other sites including "PFF". All waiting to be accessed by subscriber, coaches and lovers of the game.
Finally - he showed me another website that is the access point for almost all players in the country down to High School and even JV in some cases. It is the highlight hub for teams, players, coaches, recruiter, etc. Anyone playing almost anywhere in the country can be found at: hudl.com It is the new "highlight" tape for young players wanting and hoping to play in college and beyond. It is where they can post their best plays and where college recruiters can see their skills. It is a new age....player evaluation without leaving the comfort of your home or office.
He does this every week. He will spend between 3 and 5 hours grading players. He has access to every NFL game played....although he is only asked to look at certain games. He will watch 2 games and grade the offenses of both teams. To say he gets to know tendencies is an understatement. He knows football and loves football.
What did I learn? I learned that what I see isn't always what is happening on the field. The nuances of the game often escape me. A friend of mine once told me "it is not what you don't know that will get you - it is what you think you know that just ain't so - that will trip you up". You think you know football until you sit with someone who really does..............
Thank you Steve - for sharing your time and knowledge with me this week. Great journey !
Travel safe - Travel well !
I recently had a question from a person in the UK who had read one of my reviews on TripAdvisor. Before I started doing some blogging - and continuing today I post some things on TripAdvisor. I found out I have had over 25,000 people read my reviews !!! Wow - I thought that was pretty cool - 25,000 - I never would have thought.
That doesn't compare to a bunch of folks I am sure but since I was only doing it every now and then it made me smile !! So in honor of the first 25,000 today's blog:
I read an article from the NYT that talked about Necessary or "Don't Leave Home Without Them" items the author packs whenever she travels. It got me thinking about the few things that I ALWAYS take with me. This blog is about those things that I never go without. I carry more but trying to focus I narrowed them down to five.
One caveat: taking my iPhone goes without saying. That little piece of technology has made travel significantly easier. Movies - Books - Books on Tape - reference guides - maps - access to the Internet - currency conversion - all in the palm of your hand. On another blog I will write about my GoTo Apps for travel......but this is about my stuff.
My number one item that I NEVER travel without are my BOSE Noise Cancelling Earbuds. I love these things. You can read a full review - matter of fact a number of reviews if you Google them. A lot are about the BOSE sound profile...it isn't loved by everyone but here is the thing I am not looking for perfect sound for music or movies. Often I will just put them in and use them to cancel the ambient sounds without plugging them into my phone or iPad. I use them to cancel excessive noise - especially while flying aIthough I also use them when I mow the yard!!!!!! I had over the ear BOSE headphones that were noise cancelling but I found traveling on an overnight flight I couldn't wear them and sleep. Plus they were bulky and took up too much room. So I went for the earbuds and now they are the number one gadget in my bag. They are not cheap - $249.95 but I have owned Sony's and Panasonic's which were less than half the price so if price makes a difference there are others on the market....but don't confuse Value and Price. These are worth it for me - I love em. They are a great Value.
Next item I make sure I have is a portable multi-port charger. It is an Insignia Four-port charger with collapsable prongs. I bring USB cords so that I can charge all of my tech overnight. I try to keep most items in full charge - that way I am not caught somewhere with a dead-worthless tech tool. There are other multi-ports but Insignia has been pretty rugged and has worked well. Side note: I didn't include adapter plugs or converters which are necessary when we go overseas - but since most of my travel is domestic...I am talking about items that I would use most often.
This is a mophie portable juice pack charger. I have had it for a number of years and still use it. It isn't the most powerful one on the market. I had to do a little calculation...it is 14.8Wh with 5 Volts so the output is 2960 mAh. There are more powerful and longer lasting ones on the market today - even though this isn't the top of the line I never travel without it. INCLUDING - when we are walking a city.
I take a lot of pictures and use a remote shutter release for my iPhone. This uses a lot of battery power. That with navigation drains my battery fairly quickly. When it gets down to about 20-30 percent I will click in the mophie and power it back up.
You have to have a USB - lightning cable for the iPhone or iPad and if you use any tech that has a micro input (like the BOSE earbuds) then you need that cable too. I had another charger from Brookstone that included both cables which were integrated into the unit. I used that a ton...but unfortunately for me (but lucky for someone else) I left it in a small GoLight daybag in the Barcelona Cathedral - fifth pew from the alter on the right - dumb me - but it happens.
To solve the multiple cable problem I found this:
I found A USB cable that has BOTH a lightning end for the Apple products AND a micro charger for my BOSE and other gadgets that use that type of input. You can't use both at once but It works great and does the trick without adding additional cords to haul around.
Although it works great...technology continues to advance I am looking to add a new charger with more power that includes both types of tips in one unit. Regardless of the make - a portable charger with different cable ends is a must for me.
Finally - as my fifth item I would include: pen/mechanical pencil notebook.
Pretty simple isn't it. With all the technology we have and use - I never travel without a pen/pencil and small notebook. Analog works.
It isn't just the simplicity and ability to take notes in an instant or the fact that it keeps a record of places - dates - people and thoughts but reviewing it after a trip - after looking at the pictures, reading my notes about where I have been - whom I have met or just what I was thinking about takes me back. It reminds me about my feelings - what I was thinking at the time. Thoughts can be so fleeting. Writing them down helps me not just remember but reading them brings back the moment. Flying into NYC past the sky scrappers in Manhattan at sunset with the light reflecting off the windows. The hotel in Kitzbuhel Austria - the rain the streets reflecting the purple city lights as we walked - the emptiness of Hallstatt when the tour buses left - of the plaza in Siena Italy - eating pasta and drinking wine - just the two of us......of seeing the Pope in the Vatican during Easter....of St. Patrick's Day in Dublin, I love to go back in time with my analog journals ....
That is it - my top five must travel with items....there are more for sure but if you see me on the road - you can bet I will definitely have these with me.
Travel Safe - Travel Well............here is to the next 25,000 readers !
I really didn't know what to expect when we began our visit to Scotland. I have had friends and family who have been there and even played golf on the Old Course.....but I didn't set that up in advance, we wanted to see as much as we could so we knew we would be on a whirlwind trip across the country anyway.....maybe next time. We hopped over on Ryan air from Dublin to Glasgow and continued our adventures there.
One of the ways we like to explore a new city is by The Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours. We find that when we have limited time -- unless there is something very specific we know we want to do - it is a convenient way to see some of the more impressive sights. We have also found that by circling those things that we are interested in during the tour - we can go back to the ones within our allotted time. The problem is never "not enough to see or do" - the problem is you see so many wonderful things that we "always, ALWAYS run out of time". Riding through the city our first impression was that Glasgow is a beautiful -artistic - historical - and gorgeous place to visit. Again - you hear about these places but until you can experience them first hand you don't really know. If you get the chance be sure to visit the city of "Glaswegians".
Founded by a Christian Missionary - St. Mungo around the middle of the 6th century the Glasgow Cathedral sits on the site where he was reported to have started his religious community. You may visit the Cathedral and the St. Mungo Museum - The Cathedral is dark and more austere than many we have visited but I found the plaques and memorials to individuals and groups around the inside walls to be most interesting.
I found this one to be particularly disconcerting. It appears we have been fighting wars in Afghanistan long before our current involvement.
It wasn't the only one. There were regiments which fought and and men and women who died or were honored from around the world. Battles in Europe - Egypt - Indonesia.....and on and on through the World Wars and even conflicts in the middle east today.
It is a sad commentary.
Behind the cathedral and up the hill sits the necropolis. As you can tell hundreds of stone monuments from so far back the rains have washed away the dates. I thought it odd - I wasn't sad going there. Time stands still for no one. Sometimes - selfishly I admit - I think mostly about my life and the people closest to me and I don't appreciate and think about those folks and families that have come before us who did wonderful things to shape history, to care for each other, make unimaginable sacrifices, who lived in very difficult times and still maintained their sense of the goodness of humanity. Just being kind is a way to contribute to the beauty of the world. Hmmmmmm........travel is not just enjoyable - it gives you the opportunity to think differently. I love it.
The University of Glasgow's main campus is a few miles from the downtown area. I decided I wanted to go and visit the Kelvingore Art Gallery and Museum. I will save that for another blog - it rightfully deserves its own pages...but the University alone is worth the visit. I needed to take the subway.....
It really is a "Tube". It is the second oldest Underground or Subway in the World. London was first. But it is fast - easy to navigate since it runs in a circle going opposite directions. An Inner Circle and Outer Circle....you can't get lost. I jumped into the "Tube" and set off for the University.
Established in 1451 - it is the fourth oldest University behind Cambridge, Oxford and the University of Edinburgh. Some of its buildings sit majestically on top of the hill looking as solid and stately as ever,
There is a park that sits in the campus with a peaceful stream, walking paths and benches throughout. It was a warm fall day so I decided to walk through the park to the Kelvingore. Fabulous -
But that isn't all that I liked about Glasgow it isn't just about buildings and parks and subways - it is about people......Glaswegians are whimsical and delightful.
Sitting in front of their city building is a statue of the Duke of Wellington sitting proudly astrid his trusty stead...with a bright orange traffic cone on his head.
The statute was commissioned over 141 years ago. Apparently some students (or student - no one knows for sure) climbed the statue and placed a traffic cone on his head sometime in the 80's. Some thought the prank was hilarious - a don't take ourselves so seriously attitude - but the City Council didn't think it was so funny. They removed it. A few days later another one mysteriously appeared. They again had it removed. This has been going on for over 30 years.
A couple years back the City Council hatched a plan to raise the statue so no more cones could be placed on his head. Apparently this caused a public outcry....petitions were signed, rallies were help, social media became involved. Glaswegians in mass wanted it to stay. The council scrapped the idea. So there it sits in this splendid and historic city - right in front of city hall as a reminder to the public and politicians alike...a reminder "don't take ourselves so seriously. Even in the midst of challenging times - keep a sense of humility - and humor. BRILLIANT !!!!!! I love to travel.
Travel safe - Travel well
What a wonderful day in St. Andrews, Scotland.
It was cloudy, rainy and windy....perfect Golf weather according to Tom Morris - the inventor of the game of GOLF ! But that was just a "wee bit" of what we found in St. Andrews. We found a wonderful pub with amazing Fish and Chips and service to match. Humble shop folks - helping and so kind. An amazing Church dating from 1140 - beautiful flowers amidst the shops, students in their school uniforms and finally ....of course - The Old Course.....it was a magnificent afternoon in St. Andrews.
We decided to take the train from Edinburgh. What you actually have to do is book a ticket from Edinburgh to St Andrews Bus...which we did with the direction of the Rail-line folks. They were so helpful. When we arrived in Leuchers...which is the train station...there was a bus waiting to take us to the city....there was also a young man who booked to Leuchers but not St Andrews......as he tried to board the bus he was told he needed another ticket. As is typical of so many young people today...he didn't have cash - he had a card - but they don't take cards...only cash. So we paid the 3.20 GBP for him so he didn't have to walk back to the station and get cash. He was thankful - the bus driver was amazed - maybe it was their introduction to American Generosity.....maybe - maybe not. It was the right thing to do at the right moment.......WE LOVE TO TRAVEL !!!
So entering St. Andrews we had a chance to walk through the Old Town. It was wonderful and beautiful. Maybe it was the rain that left a glisten over the city. It shimmered. St. Andrews has the third oldest University in the UK - only behind Oxford and Cambridge. It is a lovely city. A City - feeling safe and embraced in its history and the people of today so gracious.
We entered the Parish Church of Holy Trinity....as they say " We are a living congregation of today's "Church of Scotland" but our roots go back to 1140".......
We visited the OLD TOWN and the University of St Andrews Center. We decided to lunch there....at the Central Pub....it was the best decision we made that day among many GREAT decisions. The service was personal - the food - terrific and the feeling like we were in someone's home having dinner. It was special. Maybe because of the rain - there weren't many people or tourists ...or maybe because they were just that way...gracious, appreciative, attentive......whoa......wonderful.
Finally - the Old Course at St. Andrews
I bought some Souvenirs - and had my picture taken..and taken and taken. My dad loved golf. It started here. It is the game that individually can never be won but can only be played.....the best game as is the game of life. I thought about my dad and how I proud I was of him and how lucky I was to be his son and knowing he once played there even if I only had the chance to gaze over the 18th and inhale its magic.
It was a wonderful - cloudy - rainy - windy - beautiful day in St. Andrews. The town - the flowers - the course....the waves off the ocean......the people - my thoughts and gratefulness....it is more than just a golf course or THE golf course....it has shaped history...it means so many different things to so many people....and it now means more to me.
Travel safe - travel well
This will be a shorter blog - because it is Saturday and I don't have a lot of pictures to share - just a story.
One of the most enjoyable and fascinating things about travel is without question - the people you meet on your trip. We were traveling from Dublin by train to Skerries - then to Malahide where there is a most magnificent castle.........
It is well worth the visit - BUT that isn't the point of this blog.
We met a fine gentleman on the train - older but wanting to be conversant. He sat across from us on the aisle and we started to chat. Asking where we were from - we told him Colorado and he was pleased that we had journeyed so far to see his country. The he scooted over to the very edge and began his story.
He asked where we were headed and we told him we weren't sure. You see when we travel we often leave the middle days open so that if we run into someone or a place to see we are open to just going. I call it "vagatouring". We have a plan but it is very flexible...and yes we have been caught without a a place to stay or getting completely lost...but those make the best memories.
Anyway - he saddled over and asked us if we had ever heard of the "potato blight and the Irish famine in the 1800's". Of course we have we said...it sounded horrible and the cause for many Irish to emigrate to America. As he leaned closer he asked if we wanted to know what really happened........he piqued our curiosity - so we said yes.
He explained that the famine wasn't caused by a potato blight. It was caused by the British who were trying to rid Ireland of the Catholics. It was genocide. There was plenty of food available but it was held by the British to starve the people into submission. He went on to say that the only reason we don't know the real story is because history has purposefully omitted the true story. The people at that time were so desperate they ended up trying to stave off mass starvation by eating grass to the point their teeth became green. Eventually - it didn't work and the food was released to the people. By then many had died and/or left the country. But Ireland remained predominantly Catholic.
He sat back and said he learned this from his parents and grandparents and that we would never find this in the history books because they are written by the winners. We parted at the next station with heartfelt goodbyes.
I love to travel. I love to meet people and hear their stories. Whether true of not - I don't know but they are true to them and they mean so much to them that when they want to share them to just listen to their views and thoughts without judgement........it is priceless.
Travel safe - Travel well !!
It has been a few weeks since my last post. We have traveled to Ireland and Scotland and there are more stories to come but I wanted to start with this one.
In Ireland - there is a little town called Skerries. It is known for having the last remaining "working wooden windmills" in the country. It isn't a town that you will read about in many of the guidebooks....just a line or paragraph or two. It is north of Dublin on the train line so we decided to spend part of a day and make a tour.
When we arrived we were pleasantly surprised how peaceful and quiet the town was - especially after leaving the craziness of Dublin. It was wonderful.
As we walked through the city and learned a little more about the area we found out that it is believed that this was the place where St. Patrick first stepped onto Ireland. We read that his footprint is still in the rocks but you must find it on your own. It isn't located by any landmarks. After you locate it ----- you may either step into the footprint or dip three fingers into the water covering it and make a wish. You find it and believe through faith.
As I said the "sandal print" isn't marked. We walked to the Red Island or Red Hook looking along the coast for any indication of any type of footprint. Along our route we meet some wonderful people including a woman who talked about growing up on the knoll with her father manning the lighthouse on the point. She told us about how her mother would use signal flags to contact him and then they would use them through morris code to talk with each other. She spent some time telling us how it was "back then". Beautiful and other times when the weather turned how they feared for their father's life. The lighthouse can be seen from the edge of the water but it was at least one maybe two miles out to sea.
She told us that there was a time when walky-talkies were banned for civilians and how her mother and father smuggled them to use - until her mom was caught. They were confiscated....back to flags and morris code. It was a simpler time as you can imagine. But simpler doesn't mean less dangerous. Often it was worse. She was wonderful.
We continued to look for the footprint in the rocks on the shore. Finally - I thought I found it. It looked like the pictures we had seen but sometimes you just have to go with your instincts.
I dipped my three fingers in the water and made a wish.....one which I will not disclose. Did I really believe that I had found the footprint. I didn't know. But I decided to go with it.
To be fair - I didn't take this picture. I copied it from a website.....but that is the spot.
The story isn't over. You see - I had my doubts about St. Patrick leaving his footprint in the rocks on the shore. I mean come on - really?
As I caught up with my wife I expressed my belief that I had found the footprint....but was it actually St. Patrick's......I had my doubts............but just as soon as I said that - a bee stung my little finger. One that was NOT dipped in the footprint. It was immediate and painful but not debilitating.....just a quick sting and done. A wakeup call ! My finger swelled a little and itched like crazy. It itched for the rest of the time we were in Ireland but as soon as we left for Glasgow Scotland - it went away.
SO what do you take from this - I can't speak for you. I learned this: I found the sandal print of St. Patrick as he came upon the shores of Ireland. I dipped my fingers into the waters and made a wish and I believe the wish will come true. I was reminded by that bee sting there is more depth and beauty and miracles and coincidences and cause and effect and chance encounters in this world that we can ever imagine or understand......AND.........faith is a good thing and to be open to life and the experiences it offers.
Also.............I am glad I am not allergic to bee stings.
Travel safe - travel well !
BK Travel Tips
To enjoy travel and see the world and often yourself as if for the first time and with with the eyes of a young child.