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Tuesday, 01 November 2022

Maine in Summer

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What could be more iconic than Maine? Maine in summer! We began our trip at Two Lights State Park, a popular destination for both residents and visitors to the greater Portland area who enjoy the state’s rocky coast. The park opened in 1961 and encompasses 41 acres of rocky headlands. The sweeping views of Cisco Bay, rolling surf, rocky coast and the open Atlantic Ocean are a definitive Maine experience. The park's name originated from the twin lighthouses, built in 1826, and located nearby at the end of Two Lights Road. One of these towers was the subject of Edward Hopper’s iconic painting. Fresh lobster rolls, haddock plates and veggie burgers are served at the Lobster Shack at Two Lights. Hopper painting Our day was not complete without exploring the shores of Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth. Portland Head Light is located at the entrance of the shipping channel…
Wednesday, 31 August 2022

Historic Nantucket

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“If you live on Nantucket, you can’t avoid its history, and “Moby Dick” is the way most of us get into Nantucket’s history” - N. Philbrick. Shores of Nantucket Island We traveled for a few days to the pristine shores of Nantucket Island for a family gathering. Always on our slow travels, here and abroad, we have a strong curiosity to explore the local history, public libraries, bookshops, cafes, pastry shops, and gardens. Our focus is on architecture, history and art. Nantucket's Atheneum In past visits we always admired this present day Greek Revival building, which was established in 1834. In 1841, Frederick Douglas gave his first major speech before a mixed-race audience. In 1848 Nantucket suffered a tragedy still known as the Great Fire. The fire swept through the downtown, destroying businesses, homes, and the original Nantucket Atheneum. In 2000’s, the Nantucket Atheneum began an extensive renovation that rescued…
This spring we traveled to Santa Barbara, California for the first time to visit our granddaughter. The random images we had of Santa Barbara were Spanish architecture, U2’s song about Santa Barbara (There is No End to Love), coastal views, healthy foods, sunshine, vineyards, hot springs, and plenty of sandy beaches - All true, but there is much more! Many reputable guidebooks can describe the wonders and sites of beautiful Santa Barbara. I'll mention a few of our favorites. Our granddaughter wanted us to visit Lotusland in Montecito. One of the “ten best gardens in the world,” says one guidebook, and I agree. Founded by opera singer Gianna Walska, Lotusland is a 37 acre estate, and has 25 different gardens ranging from ferns, aloes, lotuses, lilies, palms, topiary and cacti. Spectacular in every sense! Well played, and thank you, Annika!. Annika's parents know the hippest cafes and restaurants in and…
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: 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…

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