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Posts tagged ‘Travelogue’

Bite of the Big Apple

Back from a birthday weekend in New York, which pushed my step counter to record highs. Ask anyone in Bermuda and we don’t walk anywhere here. So it was lovely to walk and walk especially knowing that the option of getting into a yellow taxi would mostly end in frustration as the driver won’t have any idea of where you are wanting to go, and unlikely to understand much English.

Possibly because my best mate is a black cab driver, but few things in life wind me quite up as much as a local taxi driver not having a solitary clue to where they are going.

We crammed a lot into the weekend and I ate more pasta than I have in a long while, mostly because Eataly, which was close to our hotel, was like a huge gnocchi shaped magnet for us. If you are a foodie and haven’t been in an Eataly then you should add it to your bucket list.

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Travelogue – Belize

The only English speaking nation in Central and South America, Belize was known as British Honduras from 1862 to 1973 but in anticipation of independence became Belize, named after the countries biggest city. Independence took until 1981 mostly due to neighbours Guatemala’s asserted claims to Belize.

Post 1981 Britain retained a military presence in Belize until only four years ago when the last of the British forces left the colony.

Archaeologists estimate that at their peak, 1 to 2 million Mayans lived within the borders of present day Belize. Christopher Columbus sailed along the coast of Central America in 1502, and named the area the Bay of Honduras but Columbus never stayed and the first settlers were English Puritans, setting up trading posts along the coast.

Ship-wrecked sailors, buccaneers, and pirates came and went and the Spanish continually attempted to expel the British buccaneers but finally signed treaties in 1763 and 1786 allowing the British to continue to harvest timber in exchange for protection against pirates preying on the Spanish galleons.
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Travelogue – Brussels

My only ever visit to Belgium had been a day trip to Ostende to break up a drunken boys weekend in Ramsgate many moons ago. My Mum’s bucket list had for the longest time had a trip on the Eurostar listed on it, so I decided this was one she should tick off and my son and I took her to Brussels in August for an overnight trip.

The only way to get the Eurostar from their home near Eastbourne was to get up at the crack of dawn and drive the country roads to Ashford International. The one Brussels train of the day departed at 7.28am, but we hardly saw another car and took our window seats and were soon in the tunnel and on our way to Calais.

Noticeably in both directions the train was 15 minutes late arriving as it slowed through Calais due we suspected to the illegal immigration problems at the French side of the tunnel, but despite bouncing forward an hour we were in Brussels at just after 10am.
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Cross Channel

My son and I fly back to the UK tonight to spend a week with my parents down on the sunny East Sussex coast, which culminates next Saturday with a trip up to The Valley for the Addicks’ first game of the new season.

My Mum for the longest time has had on her ‘bucket list’ a trip on the Eurostar, so in the middle of the week my son and I are taking her to Brussels for a couple of days. I think, hope, that the crazy stuff going on at the moment is restricted to the freight trains and not passenger. Certainly trains seem to be getting through unhindered.
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Travelogue: Calgary and Banff, Canada

I was in Banff sometime ago, 18 months to be precise but I never got around to writing up my Travelogue of my experiences, and the beauty of the place fully deserves my recognition.

I was there for a work event and had flown into Calgary International Airport and spent the night at a downtown hotel. The next day I got myself out of bed early, aided by jet lag, to whiz around and see a bit of this city situated at the foot of the Canadian Rockies.

The downtown area is dominated by the 626-foot scepter shaped Calgary Tower. There is a restaurant on top as well as a ‘torch’ which is lit for special occasions, but alas not for my morning walk.

I walked through Olympic Plaza, a park containing a skating rink. It served as the medal ceremony arena for the 1988 Winter Olympics. Not far away was another park called Devonian Gardens, which had not long been re-opened on my visit. The difference with this park is that it is all indoors occupying two and a half acres of a shopping mall.

Back nearer towards my hotel was the cool area of Eau Claire, a hub of pedestrian walkways, shops and restaurants plus a market backing onto the Bow River, which runs for 365 miles through the province of Alberta.
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Travelogue – Mexico City

Based on our visit last August to Mexico City, an ancient city once the largest in the Western Hemisphere has seen all number of iterations and occupants in its long history.

From the cultural and commercial centre of the Mesoamerica’s around AD 650, to the arrival of the Aztecs from the north in the late 1300’s and the Spanish Conquest in 1521. Mexican Independence came in 1824 but was soon crushed by the American invasion in 1847.

The French had their time in the 1860’s before they were ousted, although not before Emperor Maximilian I created key parts to how the city looks today. The Mexican revolution of 1872 followed which led the country to flourish as the capital grew exponentially.

The revolution ended when Alvaro Obregon took control in 1920 and from then until the turn of the century Mexico rode many economic ups and downs with great wealth disparity, particularly witnessed in the countries capital.
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Travelogue: Scottsdale, Arizona

In 1888 a United States Army Chaplain called Winfield Scott bought 640 acres of Sonoran Desert for $2,240. Now Scottsdale has some of the most expensive real estate in the country.

The area was named as Orangedale after the huge orange groves that were planted by Winfield and his brother George, who cultivated the land to great effect. The town was renamed Scottsdale after it’s founder in 1894.

The Old Town retains much of it’s 19th Century Wild West flair. It’s more than a little kitsch, with it’s tourist souvenir shops selling cowboy boots and indian jewellery. It is also the centre of much of Scottsdale’s nightlife with many bars and restaurants. The oldest saloon in Scottsdale, the Rusty Spur has to be worth a stopover for a pint.

One building with genuine history is the 1909 Little Red School House, now home of the Scottsdale Historical Museum. Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is Arizona’s only permanent showcase to modern art and is very cutting edge. Also worth a closer look was the beautiful Adobe Mission Church. A white building made of 14,000 individual adobe blocks. Someone was inside willing to answer questions.
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Travelogue: Sonoran Desert

We hired Jesse, a self confessed cowboy with an off-road jeep for a tour of the northern part of the Sonoran Desert. Jesse strapped us all into his slightly battered and bruised open sided jeep and took off down the highway, and as the wind took our breath Jesse talked of indian reservations and bikers conventions and how in this part of the desert the valleys are narrower, the mountains are higher, the winters are colder and the summers are warmer, and we were going to see it all.

The Sonoran Desert covers the southwestern part of Arizona, part of California and the northern part of Mexico and is approximately 120,000 square miles in size.

Jesse drove us slowly away from the busy roads to a point where hundreds of mail boxes were bundled together on dirt, and the track moved from gravel to sand.

“This is as far as the mailman comes,” Jesse announced and then with a steep drop we were off.

What amazed me was for miles tucked away amongst the terrain of cactus, trees, flowers and nothing were houses, big houses. All with roof top gardens. No one is safe in there own garden Jesse told us, that land belongs to the snakes and scorpions, so people sit on the roof. Interesting I thought as I peered over the side of the jeep.
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Travelogue: Nicaragua

Nicaragua has had to endure a very sad history, and the smiles on the faces of every Nicaraguan we had the pleasure to meet suggested that there is a much brighter future ahead for this beautiful land.

Many of the locals we met had returned to the country because they wanted to help rebuild it after decades of adversity. You name it, and the Nica’s have seen it. Wars, military dictatorships, meddling Americans, natural disasters, contras and bent governments.

Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere yet it’s people talked in absolutely perfect English affectionately and emotionally about their country with real enthusiasm of a better future. It was a very sobering experience.

Despite all of the tales of destruction and strife what no one could ever destroy was Nicaragua’s natural beauty. Part of a biologocal corridor that for a million years has allowed plant and animal species from two continents to mingle, and thus it boasts extraordinary geographical beauty and wildlife.
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