Tag Archives: Travel

Thursday Doors – London 2

London was the first stop on our Europe trip. We bought the Europe land tour package from a travel company and purchased air tickets separately because we wanted a flexible flight schedule.

We arrived in London five days prior to the tour so that we could visit family and friends. After that, we joined our tour for the resting of sightseeing. The tour bus drove us around London to overview the major attractions, then took us back to the hotel. Some people elected to visit places on their own, but we paid for the excursion for the guided tour. On the last day of the tour, we took the cruise around the city on River Thames.

Windsor Castle is in Berkshire, England, and was built as a motte and bailey castle by William the Conqueror (r. 1066-1087). Converted into stone by Henry II of England (r. 1165-1179), the shell keep tower was rebuilt by Edward III of England (r. 1327-1377). The castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world and the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II (r. 1953-).

Windsor Castle entrance

As part of the admission, we received the audio device for the self-guided tour. It is available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Mandarin. When we key in the room’s number or place where we were in, we could hear a full commentary.

Queen Mary’s House, Windsor Castle

Framlingham Castle was built during the 12th century and maintains much of its original features, including its incredible stone architecture and many features that were classic of that era. It is here Mary Tudor, “Bloody Mary,” was crowned Queen. Queen Mary I made no secret of her religious beliefs and she was a devout Catholic upon taking the throne in 1553. To convert England to Catholicism, she would persecute over 300 protestants in the name of religion. This reign of religious terror earned her the nickname of ‘Bloody Mary.’

Guard

Buckingham Palace is the London residence and administrative headquarters of the monarchy of the United Kingdom.

Buckingham Palace

Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic abbey church in London, just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is one of the United Kingdom’s most notable religious buildings and the traditional place of coronation and a burial site and 17 royal weddings.

Westminister Abbey

The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

Palace of Westminister

Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the striking clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London.

Big Ben

The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London.

Tower of London

Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge built between 1886 and 1894, designed by Horace Jones and engineered by John Wolfe Barry. The double-leaf bascule, movable bridge raises to permit passage of a ship having masts too tall to pass under at this point.

Tower Bridge

Thursday Doors – London 2

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Thursday Doors – London

London was the first stop on our Europe trip. Amsterdam was the second stop. We bought the Europe land tour package from a travel company and purchased air tickets separately because we wanted a flexible flight schedule.

We arrived in London five days prior to the tour so that we could visit family and friends.

My childhood friend Shirley lives in London. Shirley and her husband took us to the cities outside of London. We went to Bath, Longleat House, and Stonehenge.

Bath is famous for its Roman-built baths. While in Bath, we visited the Jane Austen Centre. Jane Austen was living and writing in Bath from 1801 to 1806. While her most well-known novel Pride and Prejudice takes place in the countryside, her two books, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, are set in the historic city of Bath that captures a unique Georgian metropolis. They both have the spa town as a primary location. Our visit was after the BBC Masterpiece Theatre broadcasting the show Pride and Prejudice. Colin Firth, the actor’s portrait was on canvas painting, stationery, CDs, and other souvenir items.

City of Bath

Longleat House is in Wiltshire, Somerset, 97 miles west of London. The house is set in 1,000 acres of parkland with 4,000 acres of farmland and 4,000 acres of woodland. It is not only a historic visitor attraction but also a residential home. The house is the best example of high Elizabethan architecture in Britain and one of the most beautiful stately homes open to the public. The estate includes the first safari park outside Africa. This incredible estate was completed by Sir John Thynne in 1580 and has now been called home by 15 generations of the Thynne family.

We took a tour in the section open to the public. I saw a painting with Hurdle as the last name of the author. I pointed it out to my husband. He got a chuckle.

Longleat House
Longleat Estate, well kept

It was a cloudy and windy day when we visited Stonehenge. Lynton said during his two years in London, there was no fence around Stonehenge. He remembered going around and under the stones. Because of tourism and preservation of the historical site, there was a fence with signs prohibiting tourists from getting close to the stones.

Archaeologists believe England’s most iconic Stonehenge was built in several stages. The work started on this super stone circle around 5,000 years ago in the late Neolithic Age. It took over 1,000 years to build, in four long stages! The last changes were made around 1,500BC, in the early Bronze Age.

No one knows the purpose of the stones, but the stones themselves give the experts a few clues to many theories. But one thing is for sure Stonehenge was used as a cemetery. Experts estimate that about 200 people are buried on the grounds. They also think that important funeral ceremonies would have been performed at the site.

Lynton’s family is from England and moved to Australia. Before immigrating to the United States, his family went from Australia to London and lived with his grandmother for two years. After we arrived in London, his cousin picked us up from the hotel and took us to visit the house where his grandmother lived. We also visited the school he attended. There were two entrances to the school courtyard, with one marked Boys and the other one marked Girls. He bought some candy from his favorite store. Another cousin lived by a river and had a boat. He wanted to take us on a boat ride, but there was pouring rain. We had a barbeque in the rain and a pleasant visit, catching up with the latest news.

Thursday Doors – London

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Thursday Doors – Amsterdam

Amsterdam was the second stop on our Europe tour. The tour guide told us that Amsterdam is below sea level. This capital city of the Netherlands has a Canal Ring of one hundred kilometers (62 miles) with 1,500 bridges.

The first thing that impressed me was the number of bicycles. It was mind-boggling to find out there are 881,000 bicycles and one of the parking structures accommodates 7,000 bicycles. When we arrived at a location, I got off the tour coach and almost got hit by a bicycle because I didn’t realize that the riders have the right-of-way. I saw one lady with the business skirt-suit carrying a backpack and paddling the bicycle with the tennis shoes. It must be a common practice to change shoes when people arrive at their offices.

We visited the Anne Frank House. When I was teaching, my second-grade class read The Diary of Anne Frank. It was intriguing to find out more about the Frank family’s hiding place.

Anne Frank House – green building

During World War II, Anne Frank and her family hid from Nazi persecution in a room in the building’s rear of the Secret Annexe. The room was hidden behind a movable bookcase.

Anne Frank wrote her diary in this hiding place. She and her family were hidden there for two years and one month until they were arrested and deported to their deaths in concentration camps. Anne and her sister Margot died from typhus and malnutrition in March 1945 in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, Germany, just a few weeks before the liberation by the British army on April 15, 1945. Otto Frank, Anne’s father was the only one who survived the concentration death camps.

The hiding place was cleared by order of the arresting officers and all the contents of the Frank family were seized. Before the building was cleared, Miep Gies and Bep Voskuijl, who had helped hide the family, returned to the hiding place against the orders of the Dutch police and rescued some personal effects. Amongst the items they retrieved were books and papers that would eventually be compiled into The Diary of Anne Frank. 

Anne wrote tales and planned to publish a book about her time in the Secret Annexe. After Otto Frank returned to Amsterdam in June 1945, he was given Anne’s diaries and papers and subsequently compiled the two versions of his daughter’s diaries into a book published in Dutch in 1947. Anne Frank’s Diary has been translated into over 70 languages.

Anne’s diary was in a display case on the ground floor. We picked up a brochure that chronicles her life from 1929 to 1945. Photos from the brochure:

One night we walked around in the Red-Light District. This area has red neon-lighted windows. The prostitutes sit or stand behind their windows from 8:00 am until 6:00 am soliciting their services.

As we walked on the street in the same area, I saw a shop that has a potted plant display in the window. I made a comment to my husband about the pleasant look of the plant. He told me it was marijuana. We went inside the shop and found different sizes of packaging that looked like snack items. Soft drugs are legal in Amsterdam.

It was a great experience to visit the diamond factory and learn about the different grades of the diamond. The factory guide explained that the value of the diamond goes higher with the increased facets of the diamond. She also pointed out that when reflecting the colors of the diamond, the blue color is more expensive. After she said that, the ladies moved their rings under the light to check on the reflecting colors.

Diamond factory

Our other visits included the tours of the ceramic painting factory, wooden thong factory, and the cheese factory.

On the last day of the tour, we had a free afternoon. My husband and I wanted to walk around but there was pouring rain. We then took the free trolley to the Van Gogh Museum. It was an educational visit to learn about how Van Gogh developed his style of painting.

Thursday Doors – Amsterdam

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Thursday Doors – Key West

Florida Keys Map, Map of Florida Keys

One of my husband’s hobbies was scuba diving. When we traveled, he loves to go the places where he could go on a diving trip. He has dived in Big Barrier Reef, Australia, North Carolina, Hawaii, Aruba, and Key West, to name a few.

I don’t dive. I don’t swim. We decided to go to Key West because it is an interesting island. Lynton made one diving trip, and we did sightseeing the rest of the time.

Key West is an island in the U.S. state of Florida. Together with all or parts of the separate islands of Dredgers Key, Fleming Key, Sunset Key, and the northern part of Stock Island, it makes up the City of Key West.

Key West is the southernmost city in the 48 adjoining United States. The Island of Key West is about 4 miles long and 1 mile wide, with a total land area of 4.2 square miles. It lies at the southernmost end of U.S. Route 1, the longest north-south road in the United States. It is about 95 miles north of Cuba at its closest points.

We visited the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. It was crowded with visitors shoulder to shoulder. Hemingway owned a 38-foot fishing boat named Pilar. It was acquired in April 1934 from Wheeler Shipbuilding in Brooklyn, New York, for $7,495. “Pilar” was a nickname for Hemingway’s second wife, Pauline. Hemingway regularly fished off the boat in the waters of Key West, Florida. Several of Hemingway’s books were influenced by time spent on the boat, most notably, The Old Man and the Sea (1953) and Islands in the Stream (1970). I wasn’t able to take too many photos. Here’s one photo of the model boat Pilar.

Scale model of Pilar on display at Hemingway’s home in Key West (Credit)

We also visited the Martello Museum and a Shipwreck Museum. We climbed a tower where there was a camera connected to a website. Lynton called his friend Randy, who went on the website and could see him while talking on the phone. We went downtown to hang out from late morning to evening. The Cuban cigar was legal there but he couldn’t bring back any so had a couple of puffs just for fun.

A Theater with the statue of Marilyn Monroe in her movie The Seven Years Itch
Foggy Night
Lynton and his Cuban cigar

In this post, I highlighted the Little White House.

Being built in 1890 as quarters for Navy officers, the Little White House later was used by American Presidents William Howard Taft, Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. Truman used the facility as a vacation home and functioning White House between 1946 and 1952. National legislation was drafted, and official government business was conducted daily from the site. Perhaps the most important of these actions occurred on December 5, 1951, when Truman enacted a Civil Rights Executive Order requiring federal contractors to hire minorities. President Eisenhower used the site in 1956 while recuperating from a heart attack. Secretary Colin Powell and foreign leaders held an international summit here in 2001. The Little White House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

The sunset was gorgeous. The sun was huge. We were taking a walk on the other side of the street. As the sun went down, I ran across the street and literally chased the sun to take as many shots as possible. I was happy with this one.

Thursday Doors – Key West

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LAPC #183 – Memorable Events

The theme for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week is Memorable Events. Ann-Christine invites us to show some memorable events – new ones or delightful memories! 

Our family trip to Hong Kong and Japan in January 2019 was full of memorable events and emotions. My husband Lynton, my daughter Mercy and her husband Will, their daughter Autumn, and I traveled to Hong Kong to attend my nephew’s wedding. We took advantage to stop by Japan on our return trip.

We arrived on January 12. Three days later, I got a message from sister #12 Yolanda, mother-in-law to be. She said sister #8 Canty was in the hospital. Later that day, Canty’s son messaged me that his mom had liver inflammation, hydrocephalus, and congestive heart failure. On the 17th, the third day of being in the hospital, Canty’s condition made a sharp decline at noon. The family was rushing to the hospital by taxi. She died in the evening with the family by her side.

Canty was passionate about Ballroom Dancing. She took part in the Dance Championship Fundraising on November 4, 2018, two and a half months before she passed away. Here is the video – 1:42 minutes. She wore purple and yellow.

My nephew’s wedding was a marathon ceremony. They played Chinese traditional games when the groom picked up the bride in the morning. The bridesmaids made up the games and the groom and best men responded. When the games had favorable responses, they opened the door for the groom to pick up the bride. There was a church wedding in the afternoon. After the wedding, we went to a restaurant for a cake ceremony in the garden. We took a break to wait for a nine-course Chinese banquet in the evening. The bride and mother-in-law (my sister) changed their gowns four times during the banquet.

Here is the wedding photo gallery.

“I do”
The Cake ceremony Garden

Two days after the wedding, we were in Tokyo for four days visiting Mercy’s and Will’s college friends. Both husband and wife were engineers there on a five-year contract. We took the bus sightseeing.

Tokyo’s Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples are some of the most interesting sites in the city. We stopped by several.

We went to the top of Arashiyama to visit the Monkey Park.

In the Reindeer Park in Nara, Japan, the reindeer are used to the visitors. They were persistent in asking for food.

There were about 1,500 deer living in the park in July 2017. Wild Sika deer freely roam in Nara Park. This deer bowed to us asking for food.

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LAPC #183 – Memorable Events

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