Posts Tagged ‘photos’

My favorite months in Italy are May & September.  If you have an opportunity to visit any other month of year, I recommend you seize the moment.  The moment for me came in November.  My agenda was to revisit Rome and an overnight trip to Assisi.  I only had eight nights.  That’s rather short for me.  I generally always stay two weeks in Europe.  I decide eight will have to do and I shall be utterly grateful for them all.

I have visited a lot of the usual tourist attractions so for this trip, I decided let’s try to visit some places off the radar plus whatever I happen to stumble upon while roaming.  I did not think this fellow would be one of them.  We gazed at each other a long long time.  Love at first sight.

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My Buddy

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Let’s see what is going on in Rome & Assisi

 

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hot, sweaty & happy, Paul McCartney does it like that to you :)  but....we didn't get rain.

hot, sweaty & happy, Paul McCartney does it like that to you 🙂 but….we didn’t get rain.

Friday, July 12, 2013

What was supposed to just one night led to a two-night stay and it started off with a bang, me and my friend Kelly’s first ever chance in life to hear live THE Paul McCartney. It was great to finally see the man. We’ve recently been to Liverpool. How we never got to a concert floored me so it became my mission to make this happen. Well Paul made it happen in Washington DC and I won’t ever try to buy tickets feeling nervous and excited because I messed up so many times trying to get them online it’s a wonder I even got a ticket.

How to describe it?

THE BEST CONCERT I HAVE EVER EVER SEEN!

I have seen Led Zepplin twice. Lots of bands really but this was a one of a kind show and I’m so very thankful to have had this experience. You’re watching a legend. At 71 years old, he is still spitting fire and damn cute!!! Whether he is fluffing his hair or adjusting his pants with the boyish grin I could just scoop him up.

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A Beatles tour not to be missed. Is there anything better than seeing Liverpool, learning about the Beatles early history, visiting homes while listening to the tunes? I think not.

Penny Lane is in my ears and now in my eyes.

Website:  http://www.cavernclub.org/

Unfortunately, I did not get the time to write a proper trip report on Greece but instead did a travel video that I think captures the essence of Greece and our wonderful trip.

Delos is magic and has incredible history !   What a place, I am so glad that we made that a priority to visit.  At the little refreshment stand we meet a fellow who lives there.  I told him you are so lucky.  He said to me thank you really for that because my family says, “WHAT ARE YOU CRAZY STAYING THERE”?  there’s nothing around”?   He told us that’s why I love it so much and offers us to see some of his photos.  I said, “sure,”  and he brings me his camera and proceeds to show us some of the most incredible sunsets and photos of Delos that I have ever seen.

He gets a call that a group has lost their 80 year-old grandfather so he zooms off  in this tiny white truck to find him.  He says just keep the camera and when you’re done looking just give it to one of them inside.  It was getting close to the last boat leaving Delos and before you knew it he was back.  The elderly gentleman had taken an earlier boat.  Kelly and I say our goodbyes because we didn’t want to miss our boat and off we go walking while he waves.  On the walk, we come to a dead-end.  Ummm this isn’t it we realize.   In the next moment, the fellow comes around the bend in a tiny white truck with the dust blowing.  He yells, “says get in the back,”   The next thing you know we are speeding along the paths of Delos  being bounced laughing our butts off drunk from happiness.  Who would have thought we would be roaming around Delos like this?

He took us to the boat and stayed till we left.  Than he took the truck along the island following us waving till he was a tiny white dot left in Delos.  What a nice guy!  That’s Greek hospitality.

our wild ride:

This is a video I made for my trip to Sicily.   I am very happy with the results!

 

Maybe it was my cool room which I loved with all the Spanish touches that shot me with such a Spanish feeling.    This place evoked what I had always imagined.  It’s crazy but I felt Spanish.  In my own mind, I could start speaking it fluently at any moment.  Now to be fair, that is in my own mind.   In reality, I know maybe five things.

Seville oozes a charm.  It has the most orange trees I have ever seen in my life.   Thousands.  It’s a bittersweet thing because from what the locals told me you can’t eat them because they are very bitter.  Luckily someone told me that or I would tried to make my own juice in the morning.   They are beautiful and decorate the city in a magnificent way.

Not to take anything away from the other places I have visited in Spain but somewhere in my heart where I was feeling Spanish I have decided I am Andalusian Spanish.  It must be the case.   It has everything I want to see and feel….small tiny lanes, adorned balconies, siesta, yes God grant me siesta, I could do that in life.   There are bells, the tapas, animated conversations and a vibe I can’t almost describe but it’s there.  My friends felt it too!

Strangely enough I didn’t have a whole lot planned for Seville.  I usually have big ol list but for here I did not, I did have a few things but really left it to let’s see where the Spanish winds take me.  The winds first brought us to the Cathedral with the lane full of outside cafes which is extremely up my alley.   I am a huge fan of cafe life and people watching.  I found out that old saying from my mom “your eyes are bigger than your stomach” is true since I always ordered too many tapas.   I like the smiles in Seville.   I like the history as well.  One of my papers, I did bring along was on a free walking tour with Pancho.  It was a kind of spur of the moment thing.  We met the others at the fountain by the Cathedral and were off for a walk and a bit of history.  We learned of girl who snitched on her father in the Jewish quarter.  She had a boyfriend she wasn’t supposed to have and with that a great many tragedies were endured and deaths.  Roads of sorrow. See it’s not ALL beautiful oranges thru the lanes of Seville.   We learned of father and sons battles and King Alphonso’s gratitude for Seville’s loyalty.  The eternally grateful symbol is stamped all over Seville.     Look for it!  We know why several crosses were placed in areas to keep down the partying at residential squares.   We know what the local word  is for tourist girls and romance.  We saw a beautiful balcony that’s in a movie and up to that point I was thinking that needs to be my Juliette balcony but alas someone else already stole the idea for Don Juan.  We saw where the Romans have been and what they left as in columns.   Our guide was a lively bright girl from Poland.  I think her name was Anna.  I’m not going to tell you everything about the walk so you can experience this on your own.  One thing I do not recommend with Pancho Tours is the meetup later to go see the Flamenco.  I didn’t care for it or the location but I highly recommend the walking tour and DO TIP!!!

I recommend the following:

Do climb the Giraldo tower.  I had the bad knee from a spill in Barcelona and just took my time going up and made sure to stop at all the windows for views.  I spent so much time here I missed the entry for the Alcazar.  I thought I would be able to fit it in later in the trip but could not, big regret but something for next time right?  My friends did see it and absolutely loved it!

Do visit the Cathedral and the tomb of Christopher Columbus.  Will any of us especially in America ever forget the year 1492?   It’s been tattooed in my brain since I was a child.

I did not get to lots of things in Seville.  There just wasn’t the time on this trip but I am extremely happy and grateful with all that I did get to see and do along with cafe life.    I sacrificed a night to go to Granada for the Alhambra palace.  That was no mistake but I surely wish I would could have had more time for my  Andalusian Sevillian Spanish life I was leading.   It was incredible and that was just Seville!  Imagine visiting all the others?  I will!

Granada’s  post is next and the best reflection photo I have ever taken in my LIFE!!!  I’m so proud of that photo!

ciao for now,

I can tell you it has outstanding scenery, a town that’s not too big, friendly folks, musical folks, very close to stunning countryside, pubs, a sense of humor, green green fields, coastlines that no movie will ever do justice and rainbows.  Than there is the animals a plenty a favorite of mine and well it’s got rain.  Not a worry though because in about an hour you’ll see the sun, once you have that awhile the rain must get lonely and decides to come back.  The sun gets lonely too and decides to push the rain right back out to sea.  This tug of war between the two pretty much sums up each day.    While they work that deal out you must go about your day and experience all the gifts Ireland is going to bestow on you.  You won’t be disappointed I promise.

I feel like the way we organized our trip worked out perfect for me.  We booked Connemare & Cong with Galway bus tours.  We booked Celtic Compass Tours with Walt and Faherty tour for the Aran Islands.  I still got time to wander thru Galway on foot and tried to walk the promenade to Salt Hill but the wind wasn’t seeing it that way for me.  It kept blowing me back to town.  My umbrella broke in more ways than I thought possible so I attempted it again by bus.  That worked.

The musical people of Ireland are one of a kind.  I hope they never lose this talent.  Their sense of humor has its own brand of excellence as well.  A life without laughter is not really a life and the Irish get this.  I for one got my taste of it in the book Angela’s ashes which remains my favorite book of all time to this day.  Frank McCourt I will always love you.

Okay so back to Ireland and the animals.  I love how you ride down the roads and the sheep are deciding to cross or maybe not cross at all?    They may just decide to camp out till the driver yells out “come on Nelly, you’ve got to move over love.”   Walt took us to places with the animals.  He just would stop the car, we’d hop out and over a stone fence and would visit them.  Now I am afraid of the animal teeth.  The driver for Galway said watch the teeth and that stayed in my mind for every animal visit.   The donkeys were a delight too until I saw one get happy which truthfully I never saw anything like that in my life and ran to the van.  LOL   Oh my gosh and that’s all I have to say about that!

When you read or see photos about the natural beauty of Ireland that’s not tourist lure.  It’s 100 times better than you could have imagined.  Seeings believing so you seriously have to go for yourself and experience this.

I didn’t get to kiss the blarney stone for luck and the gift of gab but I did get to smooch an Irish man a couple of times for luck so I hope it’s still with me.  If not, I’ll go back and smooch another to get more!  joking……

Another benefit we had was the oyster festival so we sampled oysters that were to die for, excellent!    I love the names of pubs and restaurants in Ireland.   I could honestly take a trip and just photograph the names.    I bought a ring which I still wear today and was very surprised while just in Spain smoking at a stinky airport lounge when a fellow asks me if I’m Irish.  No, why did you think that I asked?   He said because of your ring.

My advise to you is to wear waterproof clothes.  On my day at the Aran Islands while on our way up to the ancient fort Ireland threw everything it had at us.  Raindrops as big as me, hail, wind and a path that turned into a river but no worry it gave us a dog too!   This dog barked hello and led us all the way up to the top!  He was funny he’d run ahead, stop look back, bark at us come on girls, than run ahead again.  He and Sandra made me nervous at the cliff’s edge, apparently she and the dog are not scared of heights.

Like I told you regarding the weather battles by the time we got back to the van the sky was turning blue, the sun was out but I was soaked thru and thru.  I thought I had waterproof boots on which did not turn out to be the case.  I did dress in layers and I can tell you every single layer was soaked.  This happened early on so I stayed a prune for the rest of the journey but that’s my fault.   I had to peel myself  like an apple later back at the hotel and I jumped in the bed and rolled myself up in the covers like a cocoon and swore I would never leave them again.  Never.

Promises are made to be broken and I did leave for dinner and music later because sadly our trip was coming to an end.  It was a wonderful journey thru London, Chester, Liverpool, Dublin & Galway.   The next time it will be all Ireland not combined with another country.  I didn’t realize how much more there is to see and experience.    As you can imagine, there’s still a lot on my list.    They say Irish eyes are smiling but I can honestly say so are American ones when I think of the memories of our trip to Ireland.

and did !  Prior to the trip, we had purchased the two-day hop on and off bus which if you ask me is a fantastic way to see countries.    I try to use these lots in my travels.  Dublin’s price is very good compared to what I have paid in other places as well.  We all purchased Guinness warehouse tickets as well.  I’ll do anything to get out of a line!  Let me add something, for the Kilmainham Goal, do try to get your tickets in advance so you do not miss the timings of the guided tour.

Our arrival was in time for breakfast in Dublin.  We checked in the hotel.  Pat & Chris had their own penthouse that’s what we called it because it was very large!  Kelly and I shared a double room at the hotel with bunk beds.  For the price and location, I will never complain, not even for a minute.  Ellen, Sandra and Susan were all on the same street so that’s great we are  nearby.  I’ve met lots of friends thru trip reports and researching travel and Sandra & Susan were joining us for the first time.   This was Susan’s first trip to Europe I believe and I think with Ireland she got the best introduction.    Sandra has already been to Ireland and was enchanted with her first visit and was eager to visit again.    They both had very long journeys coming from California.  The rest of us had already started our  trip thru London, Liverpool and Chester.  We were lucky enough to be rid of the jet lag and were on European time.  I have to say the girls did fantastic and looked rested and eager to explore on their first day.

We are all hungry and decided on pub in Temple Bar area and found one nearby.  There was a daily special with Irish stew and Guinness since Arthur’s Day was coming.  I never heard of Arthur’s day but stumbled across it doing research and thought okay we will experience Arthur’s Day too on this trip.  I have not had a Guinness and neither did some of the other girls.  Well a pint for $3 euro is a deal that cannot be missed.  So Guinness for breakfast it is along with Irish stew.  Now Chris wasn’t keen on trying it for breakfast but with persuasion she relented.  She wanted a 1/2 pint at first but we said what you don’t drink, we will.   We tell the waitress it’s our first pint and took photos.  We all get our first gulp and I’ll never forget Chris with the star struck eyes saying, “THIS IS BRILLIANT”!     I always joke she took to it like a baby to mother’s milk!   I can tell you there was not one drop left over to finish off for her.  Ellen, who doesn’t even like beer, liked the Guinness as well.  It’s a dark pretty drink I think and I love watching it settle.   The stew was more delicious than we could have imagined.

One the bus, we plan on visiting the Kilmainham Gaol first.  Gaol is pronounced jail by the way I did not know this.  For me, it’s the most important stop on the bus and anything else I get to see is a bonus.  I like history and historical places and this is indeed important in Irish history.   There’s dark history here.  Hangings took place in the beginning but later that stopped.  My thoughts while exploring were the words, “dark and cold.” which I had read about while researching before the trip. On the day of our visit, it’s a blue sky and sunny but to experience the reality of the situation keep the mindset of those words.  It scares me to death!   I’ve read that women got the raw deal here having worse conditions than the men actually.  You can imagine (or maybe not) being crammed into a cell here, filthy, cold and hungry.  Children went to prison for crimes like stealing bread.  Can you imagine jailing a child?  It’s not a pleasant place at all.

I kept getting the chills because you can sense the suffering that was here right down to your bones.   I did anyway.  Ireland’s struggle for independence is written all over these prison walls.  The leaders of the 1916 Easter rising were executed here and you will be led right to the spot of executions.  You will see the names who were at one time living breathing souls.  The man who was strapped in the chair because he was so ill and injured was James Connolly.  He had to be carried out to this chair before execution.  The Victorian wing you explore was built for guards to watch many prisoners at the same time.   Imagine the sounds while you stand there looking around.  Joseph Plunkett , a nationalist was married here right before his execution and you will see his wife’s cell and the mural she painted.   You’ve got cells with barely a peephole.  Horrible places.   As you go thru this prison, you are taken by a guide who explains the history, occupants and jail.  Our guide was excellent.  I will not write about every detail but know this — you will learn lots from a visit here.  I HIGHLY suggest a visit if you are going to be in Dublin.  I tried to take as many photographs as I could to capture the feel.  You can never photograph the coldness.

Kilmainham Goal visit photographs:

the mural by Grace

the mural by Grace

I suggest reading some history before your trip here

I suggest reading some history before your trip here

site of execution

site of execution

the executed

the executed

the prison

the prison

the ugliness

the ugliness

dark and cold and I bet this shows more light than there ever actually was

dark and cold and I bet this shows more light than there ever actually was

cells

cells

cells

cells

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cell

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Grace’s cell plaque

the Victorian wing

the Victorian wing

graffitti

graffiti

small cell

small cell

graffitti

graffiti

prison walls

prison walls

SREOG

prisoner staircase (the guards got the straight stairway)

prisoner staircase (the guards got to use the straight stairway)

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vintage photos

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courtyard

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outside the prison

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views of the prison

Luckily we have the privilege of leaving the prison and head back out to bright skies to explore more of Dublin.

It’s a neat Irish city.   In the evening, we have dinner in the Temple Bar area than hunt for traditional Irish music.   One spot we went to was very fun!  They had live music and a very lively crowd.  I think this is the craic I’ve always read about.  We make friends with Irishmen there.   We were hanging out with a crowd of them at one point and they burst out into song and suddenly I was lifted up in the air.  Yes in the air!   I can’t tell you what song it was but it must involve lifting the girl.

Life flows out of these Irish men, they are so funny and so are the women actually!  I am pretty sure of all the places I’ve ever been the Irish have top honor for humor.  Speaking of songs, one song I heard everywhere was cockles and mussels.   I wasn’t familiar with it before but now it’s playing over and over again in your head, bits of it anyway.  Matter of fact, I had some bits wrong because we were talking about it at home and I was saying I think it said “we had cockles, mussels and shells”.  Kelly who was humming it too in Dublin said no, there weren’t shells in the song.  We looked it up  and it is the Molly Malone song.   Be prepared, you are going to hear quite a bit and find yourself humming along.   I knew to look for her statue and the ample bosom in Dublin but didn’t know there was a song about her.

Here is Sinead O’Connor singing it if you would like to listen:

http://youtu.be/3ouqhCtIh2g

and here are the lyrics so you can start learning at home.

n Dublin’s fair city,
Where the girls are so pretty,
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone,
As she wheeled her wheel-barrow,
Through streets broad and narrow,
Crying, “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!”
“Alive, alive, oh,
Alive, alive, oh”,
Crying “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh”.
She was a fishmonger,
But sure ’twas no wonder,
For so were her father and mother before,
And they each wheeled their barrow,
Through streets broad and narrow,
Crying, “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh!”
(chorus)
She died of a fever,
And no one could save her,
And that was the end of sweet Molly Malone.
Now her ghost wheels her barrow,
Through streets broad and narrow,
Crying, “Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh

I didn’t get to see the statue but here is info on it:

Molly is commemorated in a statue designed by Jeanne Rynhart, erected to celebrate the city’s first millennium in 1988. Placed at the bottom of Grafton Street in Dublin, this statue is known colloquially as “The Tart With The Cart”, “The Dish With The Fish”, “The Trollop With The Scallop(s)”, “The Dolly With the Trolley”, and “The Flirt in the Skirt”. The statue portrays Molly as a busty young woman in seventeenth-century dress. Her low-cut dress and large breasts were justified on the grounds that as “women breastfed publicly in Molly’s time, breasts were popped out all over the place.”

We’re all making friends in the pub and I’m getting a low battery and regretfully do not have as many photos as I would have liked.   Day one and night in Dublin, very satisfying with food, history and merriment!

Day Two:  (Arthur’s Day)

It’s going to be Arthur’s Day and I’ve seen a bit of commercials “paint the town black.”  Arthur’s day is when Guinness drinkers are expected to raise a glass to the memory of Arthur Guinness at 17:59 (5:59 pm), a reference to 1759, the year the Guinness Brewery was established.

We’ve got tickets to the Guinness Warehouse this day so far as we were concerned you couldn’t start off in a better spot.  The tour usually starts out at one level than you work your way up to the sky bar at the top and have your proper Guinness with views of Dublin.  Fantastic views I might add!

Since Sandra has been here before and was touring something else that day, we decided to meet here.  She and Susan taxied there and we go straight up to the top and have our Guinness toast for breakfast which has me laughing because we’re always drinking Guinness in Dublin for breakfast it seems?  J   I thank both Sandra and Susan for coming all the way over there and buying a ticket to be with us there for that toast with the stunning views and celebrate our meeting and travel in Ireland.

Now you remember Chris who took to Guinness like mother’s milk is THRILLED with this visit and the exploration.  Sandra and Susan leave and me, Chris and Kelly split up and each explore on our own.  Chris is going to take her time and photograph lots and she is a fantastic photographer!  Now Pat has ancestors from near the Blarney stone area and she has to get there on this day and has arranged early transport and this is going to be a long day trip for her and we will meet her again in the evening.  Ellen was not here because she had a list of her own of things she wanted to do this day.  Again that is what I love about traveling with all these ladies.  You are always free to go off and do your own things like shop, sleep, explore, it’s all good, anything you choose.

to be continued:  (because I am suffering with an extreme case of poison ivy with eyes looking like Rocky !