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Sunday, 01 May 2022

Cotswolds Barns

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Part Two of Our Favorite Villages in the Cotswolds, England The Cotswolds contain some of the finest traditional barns in all of Britain. They are an important part of historical architecture. For me, barns are as important to discover as the pretty villages, sheep grazing in the countryside, hedges, thatched cottages and Norman churches. In fact, William Morris called “the barn as noble as a cathedral.” In the Middle Ages, the tithe barns were an important part of the community, as they stored the church tax which was one-tenth of the grain, produce and other items the parishioners produced. Its interesting to observe the evolution of the barn's beginnings, which had two porches on each side, some made of Cotswold stone, others curved timbers or cruck blades. Modern farming techniques require different uses of barns, and though these have outlived their working lives, they've been marvelously preserved. We selected some…
We pushed our comfort zone to explore another continent. China has a landmass about 2.2 percent larger than the United States, and a population 4.35 times that of the states. The country's Gross National Product ranks second only to the US. Our purpose was to explore several of the most important historic sites in China and familiarize ourselves with the culture. Beijing & the Great Wall We spent time in one of the oldest cities in the world, three thousand years old to be exact. The Peking Man lived in this area over 500,000 years ago. Beijing is the home of seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In the center of Beijing lies Tiananmen Square. At one end is Mao’s Tomb, and at the other end of the square is Mao’s portrait, which looms over the imposing Gate of Heavenly Peace. Beyond these walls lies the Forbidden City Imperial Palace. The…
We've been very fortunate over the years to have spent many months exploring and recording over 5000 years of history and architecture in the Cotswolds. As slow traveling seniors, we are continuously inspired by art, informed by culture, and motivated by curiosity. Our cherished experiences with the people we met left with us grateful and wanting to share our experiences. Instead of selecting the more well known tourist locations, such as Woodstock, Chipping Norton, Broadway, Bibury, Burford, Castle Combe, Woodstock, Painswick, Burton-on-the-Water, and the Slaughters, which we very much admired and appreciated, we selected our favorite villages and towns where the historic or architectural experiences were the most vivid and memorable. Our criteria was that each must have a historical church or 13th-14th century tithe barn. That still included multitudes of villages and towns. I cannot speak of whether or not each village we selected had lively pubs, bookshops, cafes,…
Occitanie was created in 2016 by the combining of Languedoc - Roussillon and Midi-Pyrenees regions in southern France, and at 28,000 square miles is France's second largest region, with a population of 5,840,000. This region accounts for 40% of protected natural parks and reserves. We secured our Peugeot in Marseille and we were off for our two months of exploring. After a two hour drive we arrived at our flat in Saint- Quentin- la -Poterie (pop. 3,100). The small apartment had a modern kitchen and an interesting bathroom/shower, and would be our home base. Saint-Quentin was just 5 km from the town of Uzes (pop. 8,500). Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie is best described by the website: cleopatraknows: “The town is built on a hillside, a cascade of rectangles, cubes, arcs, cones and prisms facing southwest. Cézanne could have painted it. On a hot day, you bake in St. Quentin, as if the whole…
Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Incredible India

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Our journey was memorable in many ways, initially for the 28 hour flight from Portland to Boston to London to Delhi, through 14 time zones, and those delightful economy seats. No jet lag for us. Up at 7:00 for breakfast and a leisure ride in a tuk tuk to have a look around this upscale neighborhood of banking, consulates and embassies in Delhi. Delhi is everything you imagine: chaotic, thousands of people on motor bikes, and as colorful and festive as can be. Yesterday was the festival called Diwali, but it continued today in all its brilliance and illumination. The homes, apartments and shops were decorated with colorful lights, reminiscent of Western societies during the Christmas season. The aroma of incense and marigolds, the sights and sounds of firecrackers last into the night. They tell us “that India has more festival days than days in the year.” For four days,…
Saturday, 01 May 2021

Hangzhou & Shanghai, China

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Part 3 of Fortunate Cookies: A Father-Daughter Adventure in China Hanging Out in Hangzhou When Marco Polo wrote about his visit to Hangzhou in the 1400’s, he described it as “the city of heaven” and “beyond dispute the finest and noblest in the world.” With its lush gardens, peaceful West Lake, and arguably the best tea in the world, it’s easy to understand why. About seven million residents call Hangzhou home today, and it remains a serene heaven on earth. After a filling dinner in the private room of a local restaurant, we went to our hotel and saw a beautiful lake and garden from our hotel’s room. The Crown Plaza Hangzhou Xanadu Resort is a destination in itself. In the lobby, a magnificent stone (with a multitude of landscape and seascape scenes carved into it) centered the room and drew our attention. It must have been nine feet tall,…
Monday, 01 March 2021

Xi'an & Suzhou

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Part 2 from Fortunate Cookies: A Father-Daughter Adventure in China Part 1 is here: https://intravelmag.com/intravel/in-depth/fortunate-cookies-a-father-daughter-adventure-in-china Wild Geese, Big and Small Our next destination was the ancient city of Xi’an—the first capitol of Unified China. Even though there are more than eight million residents, Xi’an had more of a small-town feel than Beijing and Shanghai. But eight million is small-town compared to the twenty-one to twenty-five million in each of the larger cities Our tour guide picked us up at the Xi’an airport and took us directly to our first destination in the city: the Jianfu Temple and the Small Wild Goose Pagoda. It was built in the early 700’s and was meant to store and protect sutras (or scriptures) brought back from India. The temple was named in honor of the divine experience of a monk who traveled for two years in the Gobi desert (on foot) and almost died…
Part 1: Beijing and the Great Wall From Little China to Big We make a great globetrotting team: a sixteen-year old high school student and a forty-something writer. With the rest of the family, we travel often, normally to places in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe. But this time, it’s a father-daughter trip. And this time, it’s west meets east. We consider ourselves fortunate cookies, to be able to take this exotic trip. Although, admittedly, we never once encountered a fortune cookie in China. The last time we took a big father-daughter trip was about nine years prior when we went to Walt Disney World. At Epcot Center, we visited little China and imagined one day we’d make it to the big one. Finally, we did. The two weeks were even more packed than our line-hopping theme park adventure of nearly a decade before. The weather in China was ideal…
Our six week Iberian slow-travel road trip took us from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela to Madrid to Seville to the Island of Mallorca, and on to Barcelona. The adventure covered the peninsula from coast to coast, east to west and north to south, and utilized cars, trains, buses and planes. We've been very fortunate in the past to have had many slow-travel road trips in Europe, but this was the largest in terms of area to explore, and the greatest distances to travel. It was a memorable historic and cultural learning experience that we shall always remember. We arrived in Lisbon after eleven hours of flight time and 18 hours of wait time = 29 hours to paradise. A twenty-minute Uber ride to our small boutique hotel on the impressive Praca do Comercio. No vehicle needed to visit this exciting city with a population of 504,000. Lisbon, in my…
We were excited to explore two of the three southern Italian boot regions: Basticata (Instep) and Pulia (Heel). The other boot region is Calabria (the toe). ‘The North of Italy may have the Euros, but the South has the Soul.” Slow-traveling fosters careful planning and promotes boundful energies. However, once one is actually on the road these factors proved to be essential: An informed and calm navigator; a regional paper map (we used the Michelin Tourist & Motoring Atlas 2019); careful attention to the driving laws and being aware of the residents driving nuances, and finally, hitting the “Avoid highways” option on Google Maps makes for additional enjoyment and discoveries. As slow-traveling seniors, we are inspired by art, informed by culture and motivated by curiosity. Although everything on our agenda had been pre-planned, one of the marvels of slow travel is discovering what has not been planned: Slow travel and…

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