Drombeg Stone Circle – Kinsale Ireland

In celebration of Halloween I thought I would post a few photos of the Drombeg Stone Circle taken near Kinsale in Ireland. This stone circle was a magnificent example located in a gorgeous area overlooking the sea and lovely farms. Its hard not to feel something otherworldly when visiting these locations or even when looking at them in a photograph.  No one really knows what they were or are used for. There is much speculation about religious centers, time travel, ceremonial altars, etc and one can come to their own conclusions.  Drombeg itself is oriented in the direction of the setting sun during the midwinter solstice. Most of these circles are pre-christian era in their design. It makes me wonder how the engineering and their creation was so precise so early on.

Having visited countless numbers of these circles in Denmark, Ireland, Scotland, England, and France I can attest to the sense of energy at each one.  Whether this sense is real or imagined I find myself searching them out on the map everywhere I go never tiring of visiting a new one.

Happy Halloween readers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drombeg_stone_circle

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Disneyland all decked out for Halloween

Disneyland gets all dressed up in fall clothes for Halloween. Who knew? Fall ribbon and flowers everywhere. Hay bales and pumpkins shaped like a mouse head. Jack Skellinton takes over the Haunted Mansion literally gutting and replacing the ride with new stuff. Children could enjoy a harvest festival full of crafts, pumpkin carving, face painting, and Disney characters dressed up on Halloween and fall costumes. Every Disney fanatic from all corners of the world dress up in costumes or various glow in the dark and pumpkin inspired Mickey t-shirts. Disney puts on a special Halloween street party. They even have Halloween themed fireworks shows at the end of the night.

Having been to Disneyland far too many time to count in polite company visiting for Halloween was a treat. Kids are even extra excited. Adults and inbetweeners are jazzed and in to it. Disney is always magical for children. But, visiting the parks during a holiday season makes it extra special for adults.


  
  
  
  
  
  

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Chateua des Tertres – Loire Valley – Onzain France

With a little extra effort one can really add a lot of meaning and enjoyment by not only traveling to amazing places but also sleeping in amazing places! When I travel I always attempt to find interesting places to stay that are still affordable.  Let’s face it I am not rich and famous. But, sometimes I get lucky.  I found Chateua des Tertres, located in the Loire Valley, through Hotels.com.  It was very affordable, included breakfast, and turned out to be one of my favorite places to stay in France.  (Although, to be fair they were all wonderful.)

As if staying in a 19th century manor wasn’t enough we were awakened to hot air balloons floating by our airspace.  I believe I turned to my husband and exclaimed, “Really?  Is this actually happening?”  The photo of the balloons were taken from my hotel window seat!  I have to assume the passengers in the balloon were taking a morning tour of the nearby Chateaus and probably enjoying their view as much as I was enjoying mine.

The Loire Valley is full of history, archaeology, and of course food and wine.  And it just happens to be gloriously beautiful.   It’s hard to come home when you visit places like this.

http://www.chateau-tertres.com/index_en.php

Lovely view of the front of the Chateau

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This actually happened!  I took this photo right out the front of the house through our hotel french windows.

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On a chilly fall morning we took advantage of the hotel’s bicycle collection and rode through the grounds.

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View from the rear of the house

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Pea Soup Anderson’s rest stop for the ages

Who hasn’t stopped here before? If you are from California then your travels have surely found you stuck in the doldrums of I-5 traveling north or south. California is a glorious state full of seriously amazing stuff. However, the in between bits are boring as all heck. And the state is big…very big. It takes forever to get from one end to the other despite what your GPS says.

One fun way to break up the long drive is to stop at Pea Soup Anderson’s for a Danish, some coffee, and a bathroom break. If you are lucky and have the time you can stop for a bowl of soup to give you the energy you will need to get up over the Grapevine and deal with the misery that is LA traffic.

   
    
 

French Street Art – Paris

Street art has gotten quite popular these days. Like any art it is in the eye of the beholder. What was once, and often still is, considered illegal graffiti some is done with such skill it is hard to avoid enjoying them.

Below are a few photos, courtesy of my good friend Manuela Renz, during a trip she took to Paris a few years ago. I have always liked them even using them as my screen saver at work occasionally. It has always struck me as fun to see interesting art like this in a City known for its world class masterpieces nearby in the Louvre, other museums and chateaus throughout France.

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Seattle gets prettier every time…

Seattle gets prettier every time I go there.  In fact, it probably doesn’t get enough credit for its beauty.   A city surrounded by water and lovely mountains deserves attention.  And when you add world class attractions, public art, top rate museums, markets, and delicious food it really is a perfectly lovely way to spend a weekend.  (I suppose when the rain and clouds settle in for most of the year people might think different but it seems every time I visit I bring the glorious weather with me!)

My husband and I flew up for the weekend to visit the Lemay car museum.  (Another post for another day.)  While in town we visited the space needle, the aquarium, Pike’s Place market, the underground tour, and the EMP museum (Music, sci-fi, and pop culture.  What’s not to like there?).

The highlight of the trip for me was stumbling across the Pink Door Italian restaurant.  We just happened to be walking by and saw people eating on a beautiful balcony with an amazing view of the bay.  We walked around trying to find the entrance to the restaurant and couldn’t find anything but a pink door with no name.  We opened it and voila!  I’ll never eat anywhere else in Seattle again!

http://www.empmuseum.org/

http://www.seattleaquarium.org/?gclid=Cj0KEQjw_IKiBRD7rPqut_OZ4qgBEiQASm4GAmLoDFQZDazHENpEZ4Lp6W_H3UkzoXJ3gExArVshwjYaAv7p8P8HAQ

http://www.pikeplacefish.com/

https://www.undergroundtour.com/

http://thepinkdoor.net/

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Three Stadiums one trip

My brother and our high school friend Eddie decided to take a baseball vacation. Why not? We flew to New York City to see a Yankees game before they tore down the old stadium. We also tried to take in a Mets game. Then we hopped on the train to go to the hallowed ground of the Boston Red Sox. The trip was just a ton of fun as any sports adventure should be.

My favorite part was tasting hot dogs at all three stadiums. Boston took the prize there for sure placing their dog on a piece of white bread folded over! This almost inspired me to visit the rest of the stadiums to taste their dogs but I thought of my waistline and decided to stick to my current plan instead.

It was great to see a game at Yankees stadium before they tore it down despite the fact it felt like it was 147 degrees outside. At one point, on the verge of heat stroke, I took a moment in the shade. It was there I met an old timer who had been going to the stadium since he was a kid. I asked him about his thoughts on building the new Yankees stadium. He thought the old stadium was just fine thank you very much. The way he looked at it the new stadium would only make it a better experience for those with money who would be in the new luxury boxes. Well, I can’t say that I disagreed with him there! I can only imagine what it was like watching the stadium you had visited for the last fifty years get torn down.

We took in a Mets game but were rained out! Thankfully I still got a hot dog at least!  (I’ll post hot dog photos some day if I can ever find them.  I know I took them!)

And then there was the Sox! Boston just has a great vibe about it. The stadium is old school and the fans are die hard. Hilariously and par for the course our seats were partially obscured by a structural post. But, it didn’t hinder our fun. Neal Diamond singing Sweet Caroline in person, well a recorded version anyway, is to Boston like the National anthem is for every other baseball stadium. I am pretty sure we called our other brother Sean when it played singing it in to his ear!

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Winged Victory of Samothrace- Nike – The Louvre, Paris

Have you ever seen anything that totally and immediately captivated you? Winged Victory is, in my opinion, quite possibly the most moving and beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. She is glorious and commands attention. Winged Victory represents the Greek God of Victory, Nike and was created to celebrate a great sea battle victory.  She was created in 200-190 B.C.  The sculptor is thought to be Pythokritos of Rhodes.

The Louvre places her at the base of a large staircase mounted on a platform all her own. She is the only art I recall seeing in a room all by herself.  This masterpiece is not flanked by any other single piece of art which certainly adds to her grandeur.  She stands eight feet tall even without a head. Some say she is even more mysterious and lovely without her face. Probably the most striking feature to me is the fact the artist managed to capture movement in stone. She is standing in the wind and her dress is blowing and it is utterly believable. And then there are her wings. They are huge and seem to defy gravity despite their obvious weight. (To say nothing about the fact they have survived undamaged all this time.) I could sit and stare at her for hours. I hope you enjoy staring at her for moments!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winged_Victory_of_Samothrace

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Winged Victory was moved to safety during WWII.  It was obviously quite the undertaking.

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Voodoo Donut – Portland – To go or not to go…

I have a love/hate relationship with places or things as touristy as Voodoo donuts in Portland,Oregon. The idea of it sounds awesome. But, that is where everyone goes, right? I feel like I would miss out on something cool and distinctly “Portland” if I failed to go. But, at the same time waiting in line for 20 minutes for a donut just seems crazy. I don’t even like donuts!

My decision was made for me when the large group I was traveling with ALL wanted to go there. So, we rode the MAX in to town and had a glorious time anticipating which donut all of us would choose. (I chose a delightful vanilla donut with vanilla frosting and small M&Ms on it. One of us chose peanut butter and jelly, another maple bacon, fruit donuts, old fashions, and more…) While waiting in line a street ping pong tournament was happening just outside the store. Passersby could ping pong with the actual Mayor. And, if that wasn’t enough, Voodoo donuts hired a magician to entertain the crowd. (And he wasn’t half bad!)

The highlight for me was watching everyone’s face dig in to their pink box full of specialty picked donuts. Our Danish exchange student Johannes even had to pick the “Tex Ass” challenge, a donut the equivalent of six donuts in size, merely so he could have his picture taken with it. He managed to pack that entire donut away without being sick! (Ahh, to be sixteen with that kind of metabolism again.)

So, was it worth it? I was left with the typical regret one feels after eating a donut. But, the experience was unusual, and fun, and full of energy and totally Portland.

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Keep Portland Weird

I love Portland. I love the weather, the food, the beer, the people, McMenamins, the Columbia…but, this time around I found something new. The food cart! I don’t remember seeing them last time I came. If they are new they certainly accessorize Portland’s fun vibe. It’s fun to have so many good choices all within one city block. Our large group got to choose what sounded good to them and we picnicked in a nearby park. Bon appetite!

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glorious food