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16 Search Results for ""hidden lake""

  • 10 Luxury Family Holiday Desti 10 Luxury Family Holiday Destinations 2014

    • From: dharmender
    • Description:

      As travel to the four corners of the world has become more accessible, an abundance of choice has been created for the family traveller. Yet at the same time as the globe opens up, the options available for a rarefied experience narrow. 

      For family holiday makers in search of luxury, the chance to provide their children with culturally rich excursions that expand their world view are proving to be key drivers in determining choice. To help, here is a list of ten destinations that offer children and adults alike the chance to indulge in the luxury of experience in the maximum of comfort. 

      Barbados 

      The culture the exotic island of Barbados is defined by is its West African, British and Indian historical legacy. This ensures that cricket, afternoon tea and Christianity remain staple passions of the local Bajans, who need no excuse to proudly boast of the fact that there are more churches than bars on the island. 

      The aesthetic too is shaped by this legacy, as the old stone churches and sugar plantations characterise the scenery of this Caribbean gem as much as the glorious white sandy beaches and dreamy ocean views. In terms of luxury hotels, Sandy Lane provides a plethora of activities and facilities to cater for every family need. 
       

      Dubai 

      As recently as 20 years ago, Dubai as we know it simply didn’t exist. Now, however, it’s a bustling ever-changing metropolis set in the heart of the Persian Gulf. A destination of complete opposites, the tranquillity of the desert close by provides a taste of traditional Arabia that is of stark contrast to the ultra-modern shopping malls and extravagant opulence found in the city. 

      Excursions and activities for the whole family are integrated into Dubai’s vibrant tourist economy. For example, one of the most expensive and extravagant hotels found anywhere in the world, the Burj al Arab, now runs the the Jumeirah project; a turtle rehabilitation programme that in its final stage allows children to release the reinvigorated reptiles back into the sea. 

      Egypt 

      Since the dawn of its ancient civilisation Egypt is a country that has been synonymous with luxury. And with its wide range of world class hotels and facilities, this statement is as true today as it ever was. 

      For family travellers looking to indulge into the rich history of Egypt, the city of Luxor provides the ideal central location to plan your adventures from, with the Valley of the Kings nearby. Similarly, as Egypt is home to two of the Seven Wonders of the World in the form of The Great Pyramid of Giza and the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the timeless options for families in search of cultural enrichment are plentiful. 

      France 

      From the romance of Paris right through to the mountainous vistas of the Alps, France is home to a rich and varied landscape. In terms of culture, food and drink is central to the way of life. Therefore France is the perfect country to refine the palette of young and old, with dynamic markets, top class restaurants and hidden eateries aplenty.      

      The Evian resort, just 3km away from the gorgeous Lake Geneva on the Swiss border, provides a fantastic family choice regarding accommodation. For more information on the Evian resort and the activities on offer there, visitwww.totstoo.com/destinations. An additional consideration for those with a very young family intent on embarking on a foreign holiday is the relatively short travel times between the UK and destinations in France. 

      Italy 

      An expedition to Italy offers families a varied spectrum of classical ruins, impressive architecture and fine food, that as a collective represent an amalgamation of culture and history which any place in the world will struggle to compete with. 

      Venice and Florence are just two of many cities that offer a multitude of iconic and beautiful experiences. Whilst Lake Garda which resides within the foothills of the beautiful Dolomites, presents a package of gorgeous hotels, stunning scenery and outdoor pursuits to satisfy even the most demanding of luxury family holiday makers. 

      The United Kingdom 

      For those families with a large brood, travelling abroad in search of a luxury experience can be a daunting and stressful experience. This is why many are choosing keep their holiday plans restricted to local shores, as destinations can be reached simply by jumping in a car or on a train. 

      Rural escapes like the Yorkshire Moors, the Cotswolds and the Jurassic Coast provide rugged and beautiful landscapes full of adventure and opportunity for exploration. Furthermore, cities such as London and Liverpool offer vibrant, multicultural environments that provide an illustration of what defines modern Britain.  

      Seychelles 

      Even though the land mass is small, the Seychelles landscape is diverse, encompassing mountains, tropics, coral islands and  isolated beaches that are the epitome of paradise. For tourists that hold nature close to their hearts, the islands are home to the world renownedCousin Island Special Reserve, a national park teeming with wildlife that is famed for its approach to conservation and eco-tourism. 

      As tourism is the lifeblood of the island, there is a number of beautiful and facility laden hotels and resorts optimised for family comfort. All things considered, the Seychelles offers a unique opportunity for families to explore and absorb the rarest of things; paradise on earth. 

      Finnish Lapland 

      It’s not just the prospect of seeing Father Christmas that makes Finnish Lapland a magical family holiday prospect. Situated near the Arctic Circle, the country is one of the few places on earth that is ideal for viewing the spectacular skies that the Northern Lights produce. 

      Surrounded by amazing alpine surrounding, Hotel Kakslauttanen presents the perfect winter bolthole complete with a range of family-centric activities nearby. These include snow rides led by both huskies and reindeers that traverse icy roads and a possible visit toSanta’s resort.

      It goes without saying that for the best experience families should visit during the festive period, and although this will be expensive, children will be provided with an experience they will never forget. 

      Oman 

      Sweeping deserts and idyllic coastlines provide the unadulterated beauty that has seen Oman fittingly referred to as the Jewell of Arabia. Juxtaposing modernity and tradition the country of Oman delivers a holiday experience that is unique to anywhere in the world. Although because of the extreme heat experienced in the summer months, the best time to visit Oman is between October and March. 

      The influx of wealth to the country has ensured that holidaymakers are able to enjoy access to an innumerable range of world-class, child-friendly facilities, which include resorts, shopping districts, attractions and hotels that cater for every family need conceivable. The most accessible part of the Oman coast resides near the capital of Muscat, where there is the opportunity to embark on dolphin watching tours that will cast each generation in a state of awe and provide an unforgettable experience.  

      Greece 

      For children who are old enough to appreciate it, a visit to Greece offers the chance to appreciate the uniquely rich cultural heritage of a country that has shaped much of what continues to define western civilisation. 

       

      Made up of over 2,000 islands, Greece includes golden sandy beaches, seafront taverns and amazing hotels, including Westin Resort Costa Navarino. From here families can engage in water sports and other activities, as well as using it as a hub for nearby excursions which take in the countries rich historical legacy. 

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  • Enjoy a Horse Riding Tour in T Enjoy a Horse Riding Tour in Tibet

    • From: tibettravel
    • Description:

      When you search Tibetan festivals on internet, you will find that there are many festivals in Tibet relating to horse race. Hence, we can conclude that Tibetan people is a nation loving horse riding. For travelers, why not enjoy a horse riding tour in Tibet to remote wilderness of Tibet to explore the hidden interests of Tibet.

       

      When you do a trekking in Tibet, you can hire a horse and enjoy a horse riding in the countryside of Tibet. For example, you can do a horse trek around the famous Mount Kailash in western Tibet or around the heavenly Lake Namtso. But it would be more interesting to ride a horse on the grassland in northern Tibet. You know, Tibetan people would hold Horse Racing Festival on the grassland in Nagchu in every August which is the best month to travel to Tibet.

       

      The Nagchu Horse Festival is the most important festival in north Tibet plateau. Nagchu is one of the highest, coldest and most windswept towns in Qiangtang Grassland. In this breathtaking spot on the road between Qinghai and Tibet, from August 10-13, more than 10,000 nomads, with their tents, children and animals come to participate and enjoy the colorful Nagchu Horse Festival. A gathering of traders, pilgrims, dancers, gamblers, drinkers, and picnickers, Nagchu is a cultural fair representing a wide range of ethnic and tribal groups. There will be horse racing and acrobatics, dancing and singing at night, and the chang, or Tibetan beer will flow freely. The Nagchu Horse Racing Festival will be held for a whole week in August 2013.

       

      Making a Nagchu Horse Racing Festival Tour in 2013, you are supposed to see:

       

      1. Thousands of Tibetan nomad spectators.

      2. Beautiful horse racing and yak racing.

      3. Competitors with well dressed ethnic Tibetan attire.

      4. Yaks and horses are well decorated with Tibetan styles.

      5. Buying and selling of horse attracts thousands of Tibetans far away from other parts of Tibet.

      6. Tradition dancing and performance of Tibetan operas.

      7. Well trained Tibetan Herdsmen displays horse riding skills.

      8. The grasslands are dotted with tents with full of Tibetan spectators forming a small town for a week.

       

      Except Nagchu Horse Racing Festival, Gyantse Horse Racing Festival Tour is also very popular among travelers. This festival is established in 1408 and the farmers and herdsmen from every parts of Tibet gather in Gyantse for horse racing, archery competitions, horsemanship display followed by few days' entertainment or picnicking. These days, ball games, track and field events, tug of war are also playing at the field for about a week. The businessmen from every part of the Tibet display some local products and butter system is still there.

       

      What you will see on Gyantse Horse Racing Festival

       

      1. Fast running horse competition

      2. A well decorated horse.

      3. Many horsemen with typical local Ethnic dress up.

      4. Hundreds of businessmen displaying the local products.

      5. Showing different skill during Archery competition.

      6. Hundreds of Tibetan spectators with typical ethnic dress up.

      8. You can still observe the ancient butter system there.

      9. Thousands of foreign visitors and journalist.

      10. Hundreds of Tibetan tents with full of spectators.

       

      If you have experience in riding horse, you can ask permission from the owner of a horse to enjoy a different horse riding on the Tibetan Plateau. But be careful. 

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    • 10 months ago
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  • ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA offers new c ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA offers new cycling tours in Vietnam for 2013

    • From: acitvetraveasia
    • Description:

      ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA), one of the leading adventure travel companies in Indochina, announces to offers new cycling tours in Vietnam for 2013. 

      These cycling tours will focus on itineraries of Ba Khan Rustic – Mai Chau Valley, Pu Luong Nature Reserve, Cuc Phuong National Park, Hoa Binh Lake & Moc Chau… Travelers who are looking for a budget scenic tour of Southeast Asia combined with greater mobility and adventure, a mountain bike tour may be right up travelers alley because “Bike touring is the perfect holiday: cheap, fun, and good for your health and kind to the environment.", as Mark Hodson from the Sunday Times said.
      Following are the three new cycling tours:
      Cycling & Home-stay in Ba Khan Rustic 2-days (Hanoi – Ba Khan Rustic – Mai Chau Valley – Hanoi) is a 2 days tour depart from Hanoi, the beautiful capital of Vietnam, to Ba Khan Rustic then to Mai Chau Valley. Tourists will be overnight in home stay in a stilt house that looks over Hoa Binh Reservoir, lying in a green valley of paddy fields dotted. The rest of the day travelers can swim in the lake, walk around the village or relax in the garden of the house.  
       
      Highlight:  Ba Khan Rustic - A new and unique

      destination of ATA, travelers have opportunity to interact with Thai, Muong ethnic minority who’re very warm, friendly and have unique culture.

      Cycling Hoa Binh Lake & Moc Chau – 3 days (Hanoi – Ba Khan Rustic – Moc Chau – Hanoi )
      This is a 3 days 2 nights tour departs from Hanoi, pass Ba Khan rustic to Moc Chau and back to Ha Noi, stay overnight in Ba Khan Rustic and Moc Chau. Moc Chau is known as not only the land of greenery but also the paradise of fog, smog and cloud. Tourists will spend some time to visit a tea farm and tea tasting, learning how the Vietnamese cultivate tea, cycling routes about 125km/3 days. The tour includes support vehicle, home stay permission, meals, sightseeing fees & entrance fees…
      Great Cycling Adventure Northern Vietnam  (Hanoi – Ba Khan Rustic – Mai Chau Valley – Pu Luong Nature Reserve – Cuc Phuong National Park – “Halong Bay on rice field” – Hanoi)
      This is a 4 days tour, different from 2 above tours that travelers will have chance to explore Pu Luong Nature Reserve – Cuc Phuong National Park – “Halong Bay on rice field”. The Pu Luong Nature Reserve is an area of outstanding beauty, cultural interest and biodiversity, stretching from Mai Chau in the northwest and to Cuc Phuong National Park in the southeast. The region is blessed with rich forest, Limestone Mountains, magnificent rice terraces and breathtaking scenery. Biking in Pu Luong is one of the best ways to discover the natural beauty of the region and exotic culture of minority groups. Travelers will stay overnight in Ba Khan rustic, Hang Village and Hin Village in Pu Luong.
      About ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA): launched in Vietnam in 2006, one of the Indochina's leading adventure travel companies, offers a wide selection of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia adventure tours, including hiking and trekkingbikingmotorcyclingkayaking, overland touring and family travel packages. ATA’s packages and tailor-made private itineraries will take travelers through exotic destinations to really experience the culture, history and nature of Asia. 
      Supported by ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA – Explore the hidden land!
      Hanoi Office:
      Add: Floor 12 Building 45 Nguyen Son Street, Long Bien district, Hanoi, Vietnam
      Tel: +844 3573 8569
      Fax: +844 3573 8570
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    • 2 years ago
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  • Kathmandu to Lhasa Tour via Ev Kathmandu to Lhasa Tour via Everest Base Camp

    • From: redpandatravel
    • Description:

      Potala DarbarPotala Darbar

      Kathmandu to Lhasa Tour via Everest Base Camp Day to Day Itinerary

      Day 01: Kathmandu to Nyalam (3750m)-123Kms. Early morning drive (Approx. 5 hours) from Kathmandu to Kodari (1873m). After completing immigration and custom formalities drive up hill to Zhangmu (2300m). This is Tibetan border town. The Tibetan Guide will meet the Group on arrival at the check post and we drive further road climbs and climbs to Nyalam for overnight. On the way you will see fantastic view of deep valley with some overflowing waterfalls.

      Day 02: Nyalam to Lotingri/old Tingri (4050m) -147 Kms. Drive (Approx. 5-6 hours) to Tingri crossing two spectacular passes. Nyalam pass (3800m) and Lalung La pass (5082m). This drive provides fabulous view of the high mountains including, Mount Everest (8848m) Jugal Himal, Mt. Makalu (8464m) and more. Overnight in Lotingri/old Tingri.

      Day 03: Lotingri/old Tingri to Ronbuk (5050m/16564ft) - 105 Kms - visit Everest Base Camp (5,250m/17,220ft) After breakfast easy and short drive to Rongbuk. Rongbuk monastery first, it is the highest monastery in Tibet. enjoy the unique view of Mt. Everest (Mount Quomolangma),you can have a face to face experience of Mt. Everest, afternoon drive to Base Camp by lcoal bus, walk (16 kms round trip)around base camp. evening time back to Ronbuk.The base camp itself is dry and barren, but the views of Everest more than compensate for this. It is a truly awe-inspiring place with the sheer north face of the highest mountain in the world towering above you. Overnight in Rongbuk.

      Day 04: Ronbuk to Xegar to Lhatse (4050 M)- 245 Kms. Morning enjoy the sunrise of Mt Everest and vist Rongbuk monastery first and it is the highest monastery in Tibet, then drive down to Lhatse via Xegar. Today we cross the highest pass on our journey, the Gyamtso La [5220m]. From here we descend to the plains, passing lonely monasteries and the camps of nomadic herders,Shortly after leaving Shegar, we turn off the Friendship Highway and head south over the Pang La [5150m] towards the main Himalayan range. The view from the top is incredible with uninterrupted views stretching from Makalu to Shishapangma. Below the pass, Everest initially is hidden from view, but as we turn the corner into the Rongbuk Valley it reappears, more impressive than ever.Overnight in Lhatse.

      Day 05: Lhatse to Sakya & Natang Monastery to Shigatse (3900m)- 185 Kms. Morning drive to Sakya (30 Kms), visit famous Sakya Monastery. This is the ancestral temple of Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It was built in the 6thyear (1073) of the Xining reign of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) by Khon Konchog Gyalpo, the founder of Sakyapa sect of Lamaism. Sakya, meaning "Grey Soil" in Tibetan since the soil surrounding it is gray; it is the central monastery of Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. In the Yuan Dynasty, the fifth Sakya Throne Holder, Drogon Chogyal Phakpa, known as Phakpa, was appointed as the National Priest by Yuan Emperor Shizu. He took charge of the Buddhist and executive affairs of Tibet and initiated the history of monk's reign in Tibet. In the 2ndyear (1265) of the Zhiyuan reign of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Phakpa returned to the Sakya Monastery. Three years later, with the subsidy of Yuan government, the Sakya Monastery commanded a great number of Han, Mongolian and Tibetan craftsmen to rebuild the Sakya Monastery. It became the political center of Tibet at that time. At the end of the Yuan Dynasty, the Sakya Monastery's position was replaced by Kagyu sect. Sakyapa sect only retained its religious and political power in Sakya region. As a result, the Sakya Monastery gradually declined and fell into disuse.

      After lunch, we drive to Natang Monastery, The Natang Monastery in Xigaze is one of the survivors. At its peak of prominence, the monastery had a population of some 3,000 monks and 13 sutra hall. Its sutra printing house was the oldest of the three major ones in the Tibetan -inhabited areas. It boasts a huge collection of Tibetan printing blocks and hand-copied Buddhist scriptures. Tripitaka engraved and printed in 1732 and 1742 were the oldest of their kind. Gangyur of the Tripitaka is legendarily the only authentic edition of the Gelug Sect. Evening time, we arrive in Xigatse, the second biggest city in Tibet

      Day 06: Shigatse to Gyantse via Shalu Monastery (3950m)-90kms In the morning visit the Tashilunpo Monastery and the free bazaar of Xigaste. After lunch embark on a pleasant 2 hours drive to Gyantse. Here you visit the Khumbum Stupa and Phalkot Monastery.En route you visit Shaulu Moanstery. Shalu Monastery is located 20 kilometers southeast of Xigaze. It was first built in 1087. It demonstrates a combination of the Tibet and Han architectural styles. It is famous for its sandalwood slips carved with Buddhist scripture and a jar for filling sacred water. It is said that for years the water does not decrease or deteriorate. The murals in the monastery are rich in contents and excellent in workmanship and are one of the rare fine arts in Tibet.Overnight in Gyantse.

      Day 07: Gyantse to Lhasa (3650m)-259kms. The drive to Lhasa takes 08 hours, crossing 2 passes The Karo La (5010m) and Kamba La (4794m) pass and lake Yamdrok Tso(Turquoise Lake). You will cross the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahamaputra) river and see the distant views of the Potala Palace. O/nt. in Lhasa.

      Day 08: Lhasa Sightseeing Tour Foremost, our tour begins with a visit to Sera Monastery. An experienced tour guide also working as an interpreter escorts we to this preserved monastery of white-washed walls and golden roofs. Equally adventurous and exciting tempo builds up while touring Norbulingka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama. Jokhang Temple is another important sacred site which unravels more deep seated mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism. Visit to Barkhor Market can be quite a change from other visits as we roam around the city savoring every tiny detail from stall hawkers coaxing their clients to purchase their goods to exhibition of Tibetan culture, custom and tradition. Eventually, the tour for the day concludes as you return to the comforts of your hotel.

      Day 09: Lhasa Sightseeing Tour Like the previous day, you experience invaluable insights during your visits to Potala Palace and Drepung Monastery. This 17th century Potala Palace offers an awesome view of entire city and also has private quarters of the Dalai Lama, numerous grand state rooms and chapels. Ancient history has it that Drepung Monastery which was built in 14th century used to shelter around 10,000 monks but as now there has been quite a declination resulting in only few hundreds. Tibetans' respect and belief are immensely knotted with this monastery.

      Day 10: Final departure from Lhasa or extend your tour From today you are free; so make your own itinerary or contact us to extend your trip. You are responsible for making all the necessary arrangements and return journey to Nepal or towards to mainland China. However, if you would like to fly out from Lhasa to Kathmandu or any other city of mainland China, we can manage the air or Train ticket in advance.

      LashaLasha

      Trip Cost Includes

      • Sightseeing by Land Cruiser as per program.
      • English speaking guide, Sherpa staff comprising of guide, cook and helper.
      • Camping equipment (tents, mattress, Sleeping bags, Dining tent & Table/ Chairs).
      • Freshly cooked full board vegetarian meals during trek.
      • Upper Humla trek permit.
      • Yak & Yakmen during Parikarma.
      • Tibet / China Visa fee.
      • Oxygen & Gamow Bag.
      • Full board in Kathmandu.
      • Sightseeing in Kathmandu
      • Donation includes

      Trip Cost Excludes

      • Domestic airport taxes and excess baggage.
      • Riding Yak or horse.
      • Liaison officer Rs. 2500.
      • Tips for trek staff.

      Lasha TourLasha Tour

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    • 2 years ago
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  • Kentucky RV Camping – Camp in Kentucky RV Camping – Camp in the Land of Bluegrass

    • From: camping
    • Description:

      RV camping is defined as camping in an enclosed vehicle that resembles a living space. Most of these recreational vehicles come with a sleeping area, dining area, kitchen and a basic bathroom. The more luxurious units come with enhanced features and often include a living space or entertainment area. If you own a recreational vehicle and are wondering about where to camp this summer, Kentucky can be a great option. Known for its fields of bluegrass and horse farms, this state offers numerous facilities for RV camping. The most popular attractions for most of the campers are Mammoth Cave National Park, Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Abraham Lincoln's birthplace, locks along the Ohio River, Churchill downs, the Bluegrass Museum, and the Kentucky Derby. Better yet, Kentucky houses many RV campground and parks.

      Most of the Kentucky RV campgrounds feature large open spaces and can accommodate the biggest rigs available in the market. You will find all kind of RV camping sites including full-hookups, water and electric only sites, primitive camping sites, back-ins, and pull-thru sites. Besides, they all offer easy access to the major highways and interstates. These RV campgrounds and parks also offers a wide variety of outdoor opportunities such as fishing, boating, hiking, swimming, horseshoes, volleyball, basketball, badminton, and playgrounds. Some of the RV camping facilities also organize special events and planned activities throughout summers.

      The following are some of the popular RV Parks and campgrounds of Kentucky:

      Cave Country RV Campground: Located close to the Mammoth Cave National Park, Cave Country RV Campground is just off Exit 53 on Interstate-65 in Cave City, Kentucky. This RV campground features around 51 campsites with all kind of modern amenities. It has a comfortable clubhouse and a new fitness room. It is a pet friendly facility with fenced pet run area. Propane is available on-site and the camp store sells souvenirs, gift items and first-aid items. Cave Country RV Campground offers easy access to several area attractions such as The National Corvette Museum, Lost River Cave & Valley - Underground Boat Tours, American Cave Museum & Hidden River Cave, and Dinosaur World to name a few.

      Bluegrass Music RV Park: This RV park is located in Franklin, Kentucky. It is only a few minutes from Opryland, Bowling Green, Nashville, and the Cave Country. Bluegrass Music RV Park is close to Interstate-65 at Exit 6. There are around 118 RV camping sites including 90 full-hookups and 28 water and electric only sites. The back-in & pull-thru sites can accommodate larger units and this RV campground offers repair and wash services. In addition, Bluegrass Music RV Park features one and two bedroom cabins and tent camping sites.

      Indian Hills KOA: In Russell Springs, the Indian Hills KOA overlooks Lake Cumberland, the most scenic recreational areas of Kentucky. This RV campground offers a combination of conveniences with comforts. There are around 180 RV camping sites. It also offers cabin rental and designated tent camping space. For recreational purpose, this RV campground features 18-hole miniature golf course, scenic trails, playgrounds, tennis court, TV lounge, swimming pool and a recreational building.

      Kentucky Road Rules
      The state follows a seat belt law and hence, all passengers are required to wear seat belts and children less than 40 lbs. need to be in a car seat, which should be federally approved. Though you can use hand-held cell phones while driving, texting is illegal in Kentucky as your drive.

       

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    • 2 years ago
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  • Alaska: Orca Whales Alaska: Orca Whales

    • From: mbbondar
    • Description:

      Our recent family trip to Alaska was a photographer's dream.  We had heard that Alaska was beautiful, but nothing prepared us for the expansiveness of the scenery and the profusion of wildlife we saw.  Bald Eagles soared along the coastline ... such a big surprise to us that we thought we imagined it at first.  The dove for fish and carried them back to their nests.  The Orca whales were only a few of those we saw on a whale watching trip from Juneau ... there were many of them along with humpback whales and sea lions. We expected the glaciers to be hard to reach and very, very cold.  This picture was taken near Juneau, just a little ways from a parking lot!  The beautiful colors heralded the coming fall, although it was only mid-August.  This lake was hidden by the nearby mountains, which reflect on its placid surface.  Another glacier is just visible in the rear righthand of the picture.  Finally, this vintage train through the tundra near Skagway was a lucky shot ... again, beautiful scenery showing fall beauty.  All of these were taken by non-expert, family photographers using affordable equipment.  .... This is a further testament to the expansive beauty and mutliple opportunities for a "photo moment" that Alaska offers.  Don't miss Alaska for a trip.

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 357
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  • Alaska: Glaciers in Fall Color Alaska: Glaciers in Fall Colors

    • From: mbbondar
    • Description:

      Our recent family trip to Alaska was a photographer's dream.  We had heard that Alaska was beautiful, but nothing prepared us for the expansiveness of the scenery and the profusion of wildlife we saw.  Bald Eagles soared along the coastline ... such a big surprise to us that we thought we imagined it at first.  The dove for fish and carried them back to their nests.  The Orca whales were only a few of those we saw on a whale watching trip from Juneau ... there were many of them along with humpback whales and sea lions. We expected the glaciers to be hard to reach and very, very cold.  This picture was taken near Juneau, just a little ways from a parking lot!  The beautiful colors heralded the coming fall, although it was only mid-August.  This lake was hidden by the nearby mountains, which reflect on its placid surface.  Another glacier is just visible in the rear righthand of the picture.  Finally, this vintage train through the tundra near Skagway was a lucky shot ... again, beautiful scenery showing fall beauty.  All of these were taken by non-expert, family photographers using affordable equipment.  .... This is a further testament to the expansive beauty and mutliple opportunities for a "photo moment" that Alaska offers.  Don't miss Alaska for a trip.

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 351
    • Not yet rated
  • Alaska: Bald Eagles Soaring Alaska: Bald Eagles Soaring

    • From: mbbondar
    • Description:

      Our recent family trip to Alaska was a photographer's dream.  We had heard that Alaska was beautiful, but nothing prepared us for the expansiveness of the scenery and the profusion of wildlife we saw.  Bald Eagles soared along the coastline ... such a big surprise to us that we thought we imagined it at first.  The dove for fish and carried them back to their nests.  The Orca whales were only a few of those we saw on a whale watching trip from Juneau ... there were many of them along with humpback whales and sea lions. We expected the glaciers to be hard to reach and very, very cold.  This picture was taken near Juneau, just a little ways from a parking lot!  The beautiful colors heralded the coming fall, although it was only mid-August.  This lake was hidden by the nearby mountains, which reflect on its placid surface.  Another glacier is just visible in the rear righthand of the picture.  Finally, this vintage train through the tundra near Skagway was a lucky shot ... again, beautiful scenery showing fall beauty.  All of these were taken by non-expert, family photographers using affordable equipment.  .... This is a further testament to the expansive beauty and mutliple opportunities for a "photo moment" that Alaska offers.  Don't miss Alaska for a trip.

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 313
    • Not yet rated
  • Alaska: Hidden Placid Lake Alaska: Hidden Placid Lake

    • From: mbbondar
    • Description:

      Our recent family trip to Alaska was a photographer's dream.  We had heard that Alaska was beautiful, but nothing prepared us for the expansiveness of the scenery and the profusion of wildlife we saw.  Bald Eagles soared along the coastline ... such a big surprise to us that we thought we imagined it at first.  The dove for fish and carried them back to their nests.  The Orca whales were only a few of those we saw on a whale watching trip from Juneau ... there were many of them along with humpback whales and sea lions. We expected the glaciers to be hard to reach and very, very cold.  This picture was taken near Juneau, just a little ways from a parking lot!  The beautiful colors heralded the coming fall, although it was only mid-August.  This lake was hidden by the nearby mountains, which reflect on its placid surface.  Another glacier is just visible in the rear righthand of the picture.  Finally, this vintage train through the tundra near Skagway was a lucky shot ... again, beautiful scenery showing fall beauty.  All of these were taken by non-expert, family photographers using affordable equipment.  .... This is a further testament to the expansive beauty and mutliple opportunities for a "photo moment" that Alaska offers.  Don't miss Alaska for a trip.

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 354
  • Alaska: Train through the Tun Alaska: Train through the Tundra

    • From: mbbondar
    • Description:

      Our recent family trip to Alaska was a photographer's dream.  We had heard that Alaska was beautiful, but nothing prepared us for the expansiveness of the scenery and the profusion of wildlife we saw.  Bald Eagles soared along the coastline ... such a big surprise to us that we thought we imagined it at first.  The dove for fish and carried them back to their nests.  The Orca whales were only a few of those we saw on a whale watching trip from Juneau ... there were many of them along with humpback whales and sea lions. We expected the glaciers to be hard to reach and very, very cold.  This picture was taken near Juneau, just a little ways from a parking lot!  The beautiful colors heralded the coming fall, although it was only mid-August.  This lake was hidden by the nearby mountains, which reflect on its placid surface.  Another glacier is just visible in the rear righthand of the picture.  Finally, this vintage train through the tundra near Skagway was a lucky shot ... again, beautiful scenery showing fall beauty.  All of these were taken by non-expert, family photographers using affordable equipment.  .... This is a further testament to the expansive beauty and mutliple opportunities for a "photo moment" that Alaska offers.  Don't miss Alaska for a trip.

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 450
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  • Hidden Lake, North Cascades Hidden Lake, North Cascades

    • From: sheriryden
    • Description:

      A great destination for hiking in the U.S. is the North Cascades in Washington State.  One of the prettiest spots we found on a trip there in July 2009 is Hidden Lake in North Cascades National Park.  The trail to Hidden Lake starts just west of the park and climbs up to a fire tower.  This photo is a view of Hidden Lake from just under the fire tower.  Isn't it a gem?

    • 5 years ago
    • Views: 1872
  • Mountain goat at Glacier Mountain goat at Glacier

    • From: marty603
    • Description:

      This is a view when hiking to the scenic overlook on the way to Hidden Lake in Glacier Nationa Park. Summer flowers and wildlife were in abundance.  The round trip hike was three miles: time well spent.

    • 5 years ago
    • Views: 369
  • Salzburg: Trip into the Salt M Salzburg: Trip into the Salt Mine

    • From: vbmc327
    • Description:

      Just outside the gates of Salzburg is one of the oldest exhibition salt mines in the world. Salt, one of nature's inconspicuous yet generous gifts, has been hidden in the depths of the mountain for millions of years. We began our journey into the depths of the salt mine by donning the traditional miners' uniform. We entered the salt mine tunnels on a small train. Then we slid down smoothly polished slides from one level to the next until we reached the heart of the mountain.  We went across the famous salt lake on a raft.

    • 5 years ago
    • Views: 441
  • Salzburg Salt Mines Salzburg Salt Mines

    • From: vbmc327
    • Description:

      Just outside the gates of Salzburg is one of the oldest exhibition salt mines in the world. Salt, one of nature's inconspicuous yet generous gifts, has been hidden in the depths of the mountain for millions of years. We began our journey into the depths of the salt mine by donning the traditional miners' uniform. We entered the salt mine tunnels on a small train. Then we slid down smoothly polished slides from one level to the next until we reached the heart of the mountain.  We went across the famous salt lake on a raft...which is where I took this picture from.

    • 5 years ago
    • Views: 811
  • Rhonda's Egyptian Journey Rhonda's Egyptian Journey

    • From: rhondaj1030
    • Description:

      Cairo

       My trip began in Cairo, where I had a couple of days to look around before the tour started.  694.JPGThere are close to 20 million people living in this city (out of a total 80 million in Egypt), so it’s a little crowded.  The thing that really hits you in the face, though, is the traffic - it's completely insane and there are no rules whatsoever.  The lines that divide the lanes must be the result of an unfortunate paint spill because they certainly don’t mean anything.  I think I only saw one traffic light in the entire city.  From what I can tell, the general idea at the other intersections is that all drivers should honk their horn repeatedly as they approach oncoming traffic.  (The honking is an indication to the other drivers that they are NOT going to stop.  Seriously.  Don’t test them on this.)  You have no idea how scary it is trying to cross a street in Cairo.  (I could never get our tour guide to admit to this, but I am firmly convinced that there are no Egyptian laws against killing pedestrians.)

       My first impression of the people was that they were very friendly, but as it turns out it’s only because they want to sell you something.  There are about a million little hole-in-the-wall stores in Egypt selling papyrus paintings, jewelry with hieroglyphic engravings, and perfume.  Yes, that’s right, I said perfume – Egypt produces many of the “essences” that go into French perfume.  Most of these stores aren’t on the main roads, so the locals have to find a way to get you to their particular store.  Some of their tactics are painfully obvious (“Oh, you’re going to the Egyptian Museum?  Too bad, it’s closed today – you should come to my shop instead!”), but a lot of them will come up to you and start a conversation and somehow, ten minutes later, you realize you’re standing in a perfume store and you have no idea how you got there.  (“Welcome to Cairo!  Where are you from?  England/Canada/America?  Oh, I have a cousin/brother/friend who lives in/goes to school in/married someone from San Francisco/Minneapolis/Chicago… I’m going to visit them next week/month/year.  Here, have you ever smelled the essence of Lotus flower before?”)  I fell for this 3 times in one day (out of at least 10 attempts), and I’m not a particularly gullible person… so I’ll give them credit for their skills.  It reminded me of that scene in "Animal House" during Rush week, where the nerds visited the cool frat house and were seamlessly herded over to the corner with the other nerds ("Welcome to Omega House!  Don't be shy about helping yourself to punch and cookies.  Now, have you met Jugdish and Clayton?").  If I ever visit Egypt again, I’m going to be sure and learn enough Arabic beforehand in order to say “So help me, if you take me to a perfume store, I’ll kick your ass.”

       One quick observation – the soda cans in Egypt still have pop tops!  (For those of you who are under 30, I’m not going to explain to you what those are because I hate you for being under 30.  Go look it up on Wickipedia.  And remember to respect your elders.)  It was a bit like being a kid again, when the streets were littered with pop tops and you had to be careful where you stepped.  (Actually, in Egypt, there are a lot more reasons than just pop tops to watch where you put your feet.)

       We started the tour the next day with a visit to the Egyptian Museum.  The museum is chock-full of lots of interesting stuff, including practically an entire floor filled with the treasure they found in King Tut’s tomb alone.  However, it’s horrendously over-crowded and hardly anything is labeled - you definitely need a guide to clear a path through the other gangs of tourists and tell you what you’re looking at.  Here’s a bit of free travel advice - if you’re ever there and you’re wondering whether to pay the extra money to see the mummies, DO IT.  It’s the only place in the building that’s air-conditioned, which is probably why the mummies look so relaxed.

       Side note – it turns out there is a big traveling exhibit of treasures from King Tut’s tomb opening in Atlanta next month.  Makes me question whether it was worth flying 7,000 miles around the world.

       Next up was a short drive outside of Cairo to see the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx.  If you ever imagined that these would be standing majestically in the middle of a desert in the middle of nowhere, well, you’d be wrong.  The suburbs of Cairo stretch out right to the edge of the pyramids (look closely below).  In fact, if you were so inclined, you could sit in a Pizza Hut and gaze out the window overlooking them as you scarfed down your breadsticks.  069.JPGIn spite of this, they are still quite impressive (How the HECK did they do that???).  However, here’s travel tip number two – don’t pay the extra money to go inside the pyramid, especially if you’re claustrophobic like me.  It’s crowded and at least a billion degrees inside (I don’t know if that’s Fahrenheit or Celsius), and all you really do is climb up this narrow shaft to a small, dark room with an empty sarcophagus.  (All that effort, and not even a dead body to look at!)

       At the end of the day, we boarded an overnight train south to Aswan.  Well, actually, before we boarded the train, we sat around in a parking lot outside a coffeehouse where most of the group smoked from a sheesha pipe.  This is a VERY big deal in Egypt – the entire country is filled with “coffeehouses” where men (but not women, of course) sit around smoking sheesha out of these big fancy pipes.  Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of filling my lungs with smoke, so I passed on this particular cultural experience.

       Aswan

       Aswan sits along the Nile, as of course most cities in Egypt do (since the rest of the country is a desert).  FYI, if you’ve read “Death on the Nile”, this is one of the primary settings of that novel and in fact Agatha Christie stayed at the same Old Cataract Hotel mentioned in the book while she was writing it.

       As always when you’re in a foreign country, just finding food can seem like an ordeal sometimes.  I was walking around Aswan with one of my travel companions looking for some place to have lunch, and we were practically dragged into a particular establishment on the square by the owner, who seemed quite anxious for our business.  However, I’m not sure why that was since it turned out to be a coffeehouse that didn’t serve any food, or women apparently… it was filled with men only (staring at us and smoking sheesha, of course).  We clearly didn’t belong there, but even so, the owner went out of his way to make us feel comfortable.  He even offered to seat us in front of the “air conditioner”.  This particular “air conditioner” was actually what we would call a “fan”, circa 1960, and approximately the size of a Greyhound bus.  In fact, he had to use the same complicated system of levers and pulleys that was used to build the pyramids in order to point it in our direction.   

      164.JPGLater that afternoon we went for a camel ride on the opposite side of the Nile.  It took me a while to find a comfortable seating position (I won’t go into details) but eventually I got the hang of it and enjoyed myself, especially for those very brief periods when my particular camel allowed himself to be persuaded to move.  Because we were being accompanied on our camel ride by some kind of guard carrying an AK-47, I wanted to ask him to shoot off a few rounds at my camel’s feet to perhaps encourage him to pick up the pace a bit... but in retrospect perhaps it’s just as well that I didn’t.  Trust me, though, you’d better hope that somewhere in the world someone is hard at work on an alternative energy solution, because when the world runs out of oil, you do NOT want to have to rely on a camel to get you to the office every morning.

       194.JPGWe went on an excursion the next day to see Abu Simbel.  This is a temple built by Ramses II that sits on the shore of Lake Nasser.  Hands down, this was the most impressive thing I saw in Egypt.  Even more amazing when you consider that back in the 1960s when the Aswan High Dam was built, the entire thing had to be taken apart piece by piece and relocated to higher ground to prevent it from being flooded.  I’m really glad they went to the trouble, because I would hate to have missed seeing it.

       

      Abu Simbel is actually made of two temples.  After building the first extravagant shrine to his own personal magnificence, Ramses II decided to build another, smaller temple for his favorite wife, Nefertari (I’m assuming he must have given his other wives new vacuum cleaners or something).  It’s especially nice how Ramses included 4 huge statues of himself at the entrance to “her” temple.  Based on the images of Nefertari in the temple, she looked a lot like Marlo Thomas in “That Girl”.

       222.JPG

       559.JPGOh, here’s something you need to know about visiting Egypt.  When traveling through the desert (which is the same as traveling just about anywhere in Egypt), tourists are required to go via regularly-scheduled convoys.  Even if you had a rental car, you wouldn’t be allowed to just pick up and drive from Aswan to Luxor on your own, for example (although the locals can).  I’m not sure if this is purely because of safety concerns (i.e., if your car breaks down in the desert you’re pretty much screwed), or if it’s more of a security thing.  After all, there are what appear to be military checkpoint stations all along the roads, manned by soldiers with big rifles.  (I hate that I wasn’t quicker with the camera when we passed by the one station with the “Chickpoint” sign.  Clearly this is the one desert outpost that all Egyptian soldiers dream of being assigned to one day.)

       238.JPGWe spent the next day sailing along the Nile on a traditional Felucca sailboat.  It was really nice – surprisingly cooler than you’d think thanks to the breeze on the river, and the scenery was beautiful.  At sunset, we anchored on shore and spent the night sleeping on deck.  Now, when I first read the trip itinerary, I assumed we HAD to sleep on the boat because after sailing all day we would be in the middle of nowhere between Aswan and Luxor, but that didn’t turn out to be true.  We had zig-zagged back and forth across the river all day with a couple of long stops, so it turns out we only travelled about 12 miles down the Nile… which would have meant about a ten minute drive back to our Aswan hotel.  Sigh.  I hope you’re impressed by the fact that I lugged my sleeping bag all the way to Egypt and slept on a boat in the Nile, because I guess that’s the only reason I did it.

       The next morning we got on a bus headed for Luxor.  Along the way, we stopped at the Kom Ombo temple:283.JPG

       

       and Edfu temple:299.JPG

      Luxor

      363.JPGLuxor (previously known as Thebes) was once the seat of power of ancient Egypt but now it's just a big tourist destination.  The Luxor temple ruins are smack-dab in the middle of the town beside the Nile, and the spectacular complex of temples known as Karnak is a short walk away.  There was originally an avenue of Sphinx statues connecting the two temples – these are currently being excavated, which means everything that has been built up over the avenue is now being torn down.

       

      If you’ve ever been to the Place de la Concorde in Paris, there’s an obelisk standing there that used to be part of the Luxor temple.  Gustave Flaubert wrote once of it, “How bored it must be… how it must miss the Nile!”  I point this out mainly just because it’s a really cool quote, but it’s also a good segue way to the fact that Egypt was pretty much looted by every other country in the world before they finally realized it might be a good idea to hold on to their heritage.  Today, there is a Supreme Council of Antiquities dedicated to protecting their relics and retrieving stolen artifacts.  For example, they are now insisting that the British Museum return their Rosetta stone.  (Yeah, good luck with that!)  What’s that saying about closing the barn door after the cow’s already gotten out?

      Now here’s something you weren't expecting... I was at the Luxor Museum where they had the mummy of Ramses I on display.  According to the little sign next to the display, this particular mummy was a gift to Egypt from “the city of Atlanta”, where it had been held by the Michael C. Carlos museum at Emory for many years.  I guess my thank you note from Egypt must have gotten lost in the mail, though… and no matter how good of an example we set, I still don’t think the British Museum is going to give up that Rosetta stone.

       421.JPGAcross from Luxor, on the west bank of the Nile, is the Valley of the Kings.  After crossing the river, we rode donkeys the rest of the way.  (By the way, as an addendum to my earlier discussion of Egyptian traffic, I would hazard a guess that it is also not illegal in Egypt for motorists to kill tourists on donkeys.)

       

       

       

       

      The Valley of the Kings is the final resting place for most of the famous pharaohs, along with the many, many, many earthly possessions they wanted to take with them in the afterlife – well, technically, I guess it WAS their final resting place until they were carted off and put in museums.  The tombs are underground and they were previously sealed off and hidden away. 

      454.JPG

       King Tut’s tomb is here as well, although everything that was once inside of it is in the Egyptian Museum now (or, as mentioned earlier, in the Atlanta Civic Center less than 5 miles from my house).  Important fact – Tutankhamun (Tut) was actually a very insignificant pharaoh who died at age 17 and accomplished very little.  The reason he is so famous is simply because his is the only tomb that was found intact – i.e., none of the fabulous treasure he was buried with had been stolen.  Over the centuries, tomb robbers have located the other tombs and taken off with everything they could carry – all that remains is the images on the walls and maybe an empty sarcophagus (still worth seeing).  By the way, my group gets the “lazy tourist” award for this portion of our trip.  Your entrance fee into the Valley of the Kings allows you to visit three tombs… we chose the three with the shortest lines.  Which is kind of like going to the Hollywood Walk of Fame and only seeing Paula Abdul's square.  (In our defense, it was way freakin’ hot.)

       Also near the Valley of the Kings is the temple of Hatshepsut, Egypt’s only woman pharaoh (she actually usurped the throne from her stepson, so she might not be the best of role models for the Egyptian feminist movement... but from what I could tell, she may be all they have).458.JPG

       Let me just say that by this stage of my trip, it was clear I wasn’t wasting enough money, so the obvious solution was to sign up for a sunrise hot air balloon ride.  The great thing about this was that we got to get up at 4:00 am, take a boat ride across the river, cram into a bus and drive in circles for an hour looking for where our balloon landed, only to be told that it was too windy to go up.  Personally, I think they just gave up on finding the balloon and wanted to go smoke some sheesha.  I’m pretty sure that even now, there are a dozen stranded tourists still wandering around a corn field on the banks of the Nile trying to get a ride back to their hotel in Luxor.323.JPG

       

      540.JPGTwo mornings later, we set off on part II of “Great Balloon Attempt 2008”… which meant we got to get up at 4:00 am AGAIN, take a boat ride across the river, cram into a bus, etc.  But this time, we were the first group to go up, so they hadn’t had time to lose the balloon yet (I’m sure they did later).

       

      The Red Sea

      After Luxor, we switched gears completely and headed off to the Red Sea.  We spent one night in Hurghada on the western coast and then took a ferry across the sea for two nights in a place called Dahab.  It shocked me to learn this, but Egypt actually gets more tourists at its Red Sea resorts than the traditional ancient Egyptian sites, and you wouldn’t believe how much new and modern construction is going on all over the coast.  It seems like a totally different country.  The visitors there are mostly from Europe and Russia, and you know what that means, of course - fat men in Speedos (I will spare you by not posting a picture of that). 

      594.JPG

       At any rate, the Red Sea is spectacular.  A few of us went out on a boat and did some snorkeling out on the reefs, and there was another reef right by our resort as well.  Truthfully, I think I enjoyed it more than the Great Barrier Reef – there seemed to be a bigger variety of fish and the coral seemed more colorful.

       Mt. Sinai

      649.JPGNext we drove across the Sinai Peninsula to visit St. Catherine’s Monastery.  Within the monastery is the well where Moses is believed to have met his wife, Zipporah, and also a supposed descendant from the original burning bush.  Behind the monastery is Mt. Sinai, which we climbed that afternoon to watch the sunset (here's me at the top).

       

      Mt. Sinai, of course, is generally revered as the spot where Moses was given the ten commandments by God (here is the sign from God pointing Moses towards the facilities).657.JPG

       

      Then it was back to Cairo for one last night, where we went on a dinner cruise on the Nile.  We were entertained by a belly dancer and a “whirling dervish”.  The belly dancer concept is probably self-explanatory (although it seems incredibly out of place in a society where women are supposed to dress modestly), but I’m not sure how to describe the whirling dervish… it’s basically a dancer who spins around and around very fast wearing multi-colored skirts and creating a blur of color.  (It sounds silly but it was very enjoyable to watch.)

       

       

       

      Final Notes

       

      This was my first time visiting a Muslim country so I'll add a few notes regarding that.  First of all - last travel tip - don't visit when it's really really hot because it sucks not to be able to wear shorts (although it's more acceptable to do so in the touristy areas).  I visited a couple of mosques during my trip, but they get a lot of tourists and presumably for that reason they did not make us cover our heads with a scarf, but I imagine most of them do.  Also, I learned that it was only fairly recently that women were even allowed to enter the mosques, and even now they are forced to sit in a separate section on the second floor or in the back, always behind the men (I’ll keep my opinions to myself here).

       A big part of being Muslim is that you have to pray 5 times a day.  Mosques are traditionally built with a minaret (tower) where the Iman (preacher) could call out to the congregation to pray (it’s really more of a song).  Nowadays, though, they use loudspeakers and because there are mosques all over the place you can’t really avoid hearing these no matter where you are.  FYI, if I had to guess, a typical job posting for an Iman reads something like this:  “Iman position available.  No singing ability required.”  According to our guide, the calls to prayer are done at sunrise (no sleeping late for the weary Christian tourist!), noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and evening.  However, as far as I could tell none of the mosques stick to the same schedule.

       As much as I enjoyed my trip, I was definitely ready to come home after two weeks.  There are a lot of things about Egypt that really wear on you after a while – mainly the constant harassment from people demanding a tip or trying to sell you something.  You can’t walk through a market without every single shopkeeper getting in your face and trying to stop you and talk to you and follow you around – and it’s even worse if you actually walk into the store!  I hardly bought anything on this trip, just because the whole situation made me so uncomfortable.  (Did you pick up that very subtle hint?  I’ll spell it out for you - don’t expect a gift.)  Then there’s the haggling – NOTHING in the tourist areas has a set price.  I don’t mind haggling over big-ticket souvenirs, but it’s completely exhausting having to argue over absolutely everything (including food and drinks).   I put less effort into buying my car than I did just trying to feed my Diet Coke addiction every day in Egypt!

       

      Well, that's all you need to know about Egypt (at least, from my warped point of view).  I'm sure most of you have passed out from boredom now, but thanks to those that hung in 'til the bitter end...

    • Blog post
    • 6 years ago
    • Views: 971
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  • Fort - a family getaway Fort - a family getaway

    • From: timm
    • Description:

      “Ti Pi” she said, naming the pizza place outside of Fort Ticonderoga when I asked my daughter what her favorite part of the trip was.

       

      Now, you need to know that we folks in the tri-state area hold some truths to be self-evident. We believe, for example, that when we say “tri-state area” you’ll understand that we mean New York/New Jersey and Connecticut. We are vaguely aware that some other states in the Union may simultaneously touch still more states in the Union but to us “tri-state” uniquely identifies NY/NJ/CT in the same way that “Four Corners” connects Arizona and three other states that most of us here cannot name without a map.

       

      We also – and more to the point – believe that said tri-state region is undisputedly renowned for three things… pizza, bagels and service. It is widely held that the first two have to do with the water while the third probably has something to do with the whole “make it here, make it anywhere” thing from that old Sinatra song. It was a little surprising, then, that my own little daugher approved of such distant pizza. (Let the record show that both the pie and the service at TiPi were exceptional.)

       

       

      I had hoped for a little more, though. This, after all, was Fort Ticonderoga, a place barely img_3295.jpg paralleled in importance in American history, a place of importance before there really was an America. This seemingly peaceful spot was the sight of uncommonly common violence.

       

      It was likely here in 1609 that Samuel de Champlain, making that warm and fuzzy that the French are known for, came ashore long enough to fire upon local Iroquois farmers. It marked the spilling, perhaps, of the first but hardly last, blood shed in anger at the spot.

       

       

      It was here in 1758 that the vastly outnumbered French contingent repelled an attack by the British. You can still see the low-lying mounds that were erected to protect soldiers on one side from shots fired by the other. History books often describe earthworks being “erected,” sometimes emphasizing that the labor was completed over night. I’ve always drawn an image of industrious men toiling ceaselessly from dusk to dawn to raise great mounds of rock and soil. The actual barrier, though, is startlingly small leaving anything taller than a small collie exposed to enemy fire.

       

       

      Within a year the British would return and lay siege to, as the French called it, Fort Carillon. Carillon had been the southern-most holding of the French empire in North America and surrendering it marked, appropriately, the tolling of a death knell for French influence in the region.

       

      Rechristened Ticonderoga, peace reigning in the land, the Old Ti should have been eligible for stately retirement. Unfortunately, the treaty left the French bitter and the British in debt. Within a generation there were shots being fired and heard around the world, declarations signed, a navy docked in Boston Harbor and the sounds of soldiers and gun fire again echoing through the valley.

      img_3277.jpg Benedict Arnold knew from trading on Lake Champlain that the Fort was vulnerable. As tensions mounted and boiled over at Lexington and Concord he conceived a plan to capture the Fort. Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys heard about the plan and demanded getting in on the adventure.

       

      Arnold envisioned a professionally executed, properly conducted military exorcize. Allen, with other intentions, announced he was taking the Fort “in the name of the Great Jehovah, and the Continental Congress” (not exactly “Remember the Alamo” but it seemed to work.) The Green Mountain Boys then proceeded to conduct what sounds a bit like panty raid; a sloppy one at that. Despite their varied approach the mission was successful and the Fort was taken.

       

      The British were back again in 1777 to re-take Ticonderoga under General John Burgoyne. Burgoyne, “Macaroni Burgoyne” as the Americans called him, was a card player; a playwright; a Member of Parliament and a brilliant field general. He would surrender in abject defeat within months but his plan for victory was as audacious as it was simple: take control of Lake Champlain, Lake George and the Hudson River and divide the Colonies in two.

      img_3273.jpg

       

      H is second, Major General William Phillips, demonstrating an underdeveloped skill for war jingoism that matched even Allen’s, looked across to Fort Defiance and noted, “Where a goat can go and man can go, where a man can go he can drag a cannon.” And thus, up the hill with a clear shot of the Fort went British cannon.

      Arthur Sinclair, the American in charge at Ticonderoga knew that any position exposed to a Greek delicacy with a gun was untenable. He organized a withdrawal before a single shot was fired. Later, when Burgoyne surrendered at Saratoga the British garrisons at the Fort burned most of the buildings before leaving for Canada.

       

      These days the only danger comes from crossing Route 74 (the light is tricky, be patient) but you’ll see the remnants of battles past. The best perspective on the Fort itself is lake-level. Descend the 70 wooden stairs (we have a seven year old, count everything and make math problems out of them… if we had ten more steps how many would there be? if we go one step at a time how many steps does your right foot touch? if he falls now, how many days will be Daddy be out of work?) near the picnic area and stroll across the meadow to the water’s edge. You’ll feel dwarfed by the enormity of the imposing structure on the hill in front of you.

       

      I tried to imagine rowing ashore here and convincing my comrades to dodge cannon and img_3274.jpg musket fire, scale the wall and rush the place. I couldn’t have done it; I only got my daughter back up the stairs with promises of ice cream at the concession stand and the only thing I could imagine my comrades rushing is $3.00 a gallon gas.

       

      Up close the Fort actually seems to shrink before your eyes. Imagine meeting Charles Barkley in person and finding out he was 5’8.” We entered the Fort through the very gates where Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold led their men on a surprise attack in 1777. I knew instantly why no one ever deployed the cavalry to overwhelm the Fort; a man riding anything larger than a Shetland Pony would have to dismount to avoid bashing his head along the ceiling. (And, really, whom have the Shetland Cavalry ever defeated?)

       

       

      After touring the Fort and chatting with caretakers we looked over at Fort Defiance and I boldly pronounced "W here a goat can go a Volvo can go." At Fort Defiance we parked the car and followed the path up to the summit a large gazebo. After a while t he girls headed back to the car but after years of reading about the events that took place in this area I wanted to linger behind for a moment to take in one final look.

       

       

      img_3290.jpg Invisible breezes billowed the sails of tiny leisure craft on the lake below as a ferry slid easily across gently rolling waves. A few seagulls, silent to me at this distant, clustered in the air along the shore while a red-tailed hawk hang-gliding overhead looked for lunch. It was near closing time and I should have enjoyed having the view to myself but there on that hill I felt isolated and puny.

      The hilltop offers a commanding view of the Fort Ticonderoga but I wished it didn’t. Hidden beneath pastures lush with the growth of another spring was the blood of sons of Europe and America. Standing there alone I tried to un-see the fort and imagine what it was like in the times before man. I tried to un-remember what I knew, or thought I knew, about the battles and skirmishes that took place in the arbitrary defense and defiance of the rules of man.

       

       

      And I almost could but each time the image would emerge so would the melancholy question; How could it have all gone so wrong? How could God have built a mountain offering this view of His benevolent handiwork and not have seen its simultaneous military value to man? Was there some cosmic misunderstanding of the hearts of men by they their Maker that left us doomed to forever make wars and build tourist attractions on the sites of their primary battles?

       

       

      I ambled slowly down the hill wondering if there might ever come a day when visitors would come from distant lands to see the spot where people farmed or broke bread or made love or cured diseases. I hurried along the path, alone in my thoughts, knowing the girls were waiting for me. It had been a long day and they were tired and hungry and we’d promised our daughter we would find pizza for dinner but I really didn’t know where we’d look or how it would taste.

       

      More like this: normanpress.com

    • Blog post
    • 6 years ago
    • Views: 1637
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