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18 Search Results for ""kite flying""

  • Wind on the Beach Wind on the Beach

    • From: BobM1845
    • Description:

      Where the D river meets the Pacific Ocean in Lincoln City, Oregon is where you will find one of the biggest, flattest and windiest beaches in the West.  An almost constant breeze makes this one of the best places to fly a kite of most any size by kite fliers of most any size.

      Besides kite watching, the beach is a treasure trove of riches from the sea.  Only 11 ft. above sea level, tides wash the sand clean every day and deposit a new supply of shells, sea stones, and sea life in return.

      measuring over 300 ft. wide and 7 1/2 miles long,. this is the beach for everyone.

      Oh yes, you can fish, swim, surf, and even walk out over 50 ft into the low surf, then let the tide chase you inland where you build a toasty fire with old driftwood.  Doesn't get any better.



    • 2 years ago
    • Views: 1347
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  • Everyone loves kites Everyone loves kites

    • From: BobM1845
    • Description:

      Where the D river meets the Pacific Ocean in Lincoln City, Oregon is where you will find one of the biggest, flattest and windiest beaches in the West.  An almost constant breeze makes this one of the best places to fly a kite of most any size by kite fliers of most any size.

      Besides kite watching, the beach is a treasure trove of riches from the sea.  Only 11 ft. above sea level, tides wash the sand clean every day and deposit a new supply of shells, sea stones, and sea life in return.

      measuring over 300 ft. wide and 7 1/2 miles long,. this is the beach for everyone.

      Oh yes, you can fish, swim, surf, and even walk out over 50 ft into the low surf, then let the tide chase you inland where you build a toasty fire with old driftwood.  Doesn't get any better.



    • 2 years ago
    • Views: 826
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  • Where the D river meets the Pa Where the D river meets the Pacific

    • From: BobM1845
    • Description:

      Where the D river meets the Pacific Ocean in Lincoln City, Oregon is where you will find one of the biggest, flattest and windiest beaches in the West.  An almost constant breeze makes this one of the best places to fly a kite of most any size by kite fliers of most any size.

      Besides kite watching, the beach is a treasure trove of riches from the sea.  Only 11 ft. above sea level, tides wash the sand clean every day and deposit a new supply of shells, sea stones, and sea life in return.

      measuring over 300 ft. wide and 7 1/2 miles long,. this is the beach for everyone.

      Oh yes, you can fish, swim, surf, and even walk out over 50 ft into the low surf, then let the tide chase you inland where you build a toasty fire with old driftwood.  Doesn't get any better.



    • 2 years ago
    • Views: 836
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  • South of D Sands South of D Sands

    • From: BobM1845
    • Description:

      Where the D river meets the Pacific Ocean in Lincoln City, Oregon is where you will find one of the biggest, flattest and windiest beaches in the West.  An almost constant breeze makes this one of the best places to fly a kite of most any size by kite fliers of most any size.

      Besides kite watching, the beach is a treasure trove of riches from the sea.  Only 11 ft. above sea level, tides wash the sand clean every day and deposit a new supply of shells, sea stones, and sea life in return.

      measuring over 300 ft. wide and 7 1/2 miles long,. this is the beach for everyone.

      Oh yes, you can fish, swim, surf, and even walk out over 50 ft into the low surf, then let the tide chase you inland where you build a toasty fire with old driftwood.  Doesn't get any better.



    • 2 years ago
    • Views: 821
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  • Kite weather Kite weather

    • From: BobM1845
    • Description:

      Where the D river meets the Pacific Ocean in Lincoln City, Oregon is where you will find one of the biggest, flattest and windiest beaches in the West.  An almost constant breeze makes this one of the best places to fly a kite of most any size by kite fliers of most any size.

      Besides kite watching, the beach is a treasure trove of riches from the sea.  Only 11 ft. above sea level, tides wash the sand clean every day and deposit a new supply of shells, sea stones, and sea life in return.

      measuring over 300 ft. wide and 7 1/2 miles long,. this is the beach for everyone.

      Oh yes, you can fish, swim, surf, and even walk out over 50 ft into the low surf, then let the tide chase you inland where you build a toasty fire with old driftwood.  Doesn't get any better.



    • 2 years ago
    • Views: 883
  • The D Sands The D Sands

    • From: BobM1845
    • Description:

      Where the D river meets the Pacific Ocean in Lincoln City, Oregon is where you will find one of the biggest, flattest and windiest beaches in the West.  An almost constant breeze makes this one of the best places to fly a kite of most any size by kite fliers of most any size.

      Besides kite watching, the beach is a treasure trove of riches from the sea.  Only 11 ft. above sea level, tides wash the sand clean every day and deposit a new supply of shells, sea stones, and sea life in return.

      measuring over 300 ft. wide and 7 1/2 miles long,. this is the beach for everyone.

      Oh yes, you can fish, swim, surf, and even walk out over 50 ft into the low surf, then let the tide chase you inland where you build a toasty fire with old driftwood.  Doesn't get any better.



    • 2 years ago
    • Views: 782
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  • Beijing Insight Beijing Insight

    • From: UrbanAdventures
    • Description:



      Get a local’s insight into what makes Beijing tick with this tour of the sights of the Chinese capital. Watch locals enjoy traditional activities in the Temple of Heaven Park, learn about the importance of Tiananmen Square and take a tour through the Forbidden City. With a delicious lunch of dumpling or noodles, and the chance to get a bird’s-eye view over the ancient city, this tour will give you a unique perspective of some of the city’s most famous sights.


      • Join tai chi and traditional pastimes in the Temple of Heaven Park.
      • Indulge in a tasty local lunch.
      • Travel by subway to Tiananmen Square.
      • Discover the secrets of the Forbidden City.
      • Climb to the top of Jingshan Park for great views over ancient Beijing

      Tour style: Sightseeing, Local Life & Culture, Heritage & History

      English speaking guide, Transport & Entrance fees as indicated, entry to Temple of Heaven Park, entry to Forbidden City, entry to Jingshan Park and meals: 1 lunch


      Items of a personal nature, Tips or gratuities for drivers or guides.

      Group size:Maximum 12
      Schedule details:

      • Duration: 8-9 hours
      • Meeting point:

        Sunworld Hotel 天伦松鹤大酒店


        Dengshikou Street

        Dongcheng, Beijing, China, 100006

        +86 10-58168999



        Dengshikou Station, Metro Line 5, Exit A,

        Turn left, then turn left at the Dengshikou Dajie, Sunworld is 250m down Dengshikou

        street on the left handside of the road.

      • Start time: 8.00 AM-8.30 AM
      • Finish point:

        Finish at Jingshan Park

      Additional information :

      • Voucher exchange details:

        Please present your voucher to the local guide at the beginning of the trip.

      • Confirmation of booking:

        Please contact Beijing Urban Adventures to confirm your trip 24 hours prior to departure.

      • Additional information:

        During national holidays and on weekend sights in Beijing can be extremely crowded. If you wish to avoid the busiest times we recommend visiting Beijing outside of these periods or taking your Urban Adventure on a week day.

      • Dress standard:

        We will be on our feet exploring for most of the day so please make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes

      • Child policy:

        Children must be 6 years of age to 11 years inclusively.

      • Language: English

      Also runs from:1 Jan 2012 to 31 Mar 2013


      From the gilded ancient temples to the buzz of Tiananmen Square, get under the skin of the Chinese capital with this unique tour of Beijing.


      After pick up from your hotel and meeting your group and local guide, start the adventure at the Temple of Heaven Park. This is one of Beijing’s most popular parks and it’s full of people of all ages taking part in traditional pastimes such as tai chi, fan dancing, diablo, kite flying, water calligraphy and more.


      Join in some of the activities or just wander around the park, soaking up its relaxed atmosphere. Perhaps grab the chance to visit the Temple of Heaven, a Taoist temple where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties would offer sacrifices to heaven and pray for good harvests. Enjoy an early lunch of dumplings or noodles from a local eatery before jumping on Beijing's efficient subway to travel to the very heart of the city - Tiananmen Square.


      Discover why Tiananmen is so special to the Chinese people as you wander through this immense square. Enter the Forbidden City through the Gate of Heavenly Peace, which is adorned with its famous Mao portrait. Off-limits to most of the world for 500 years, this ‘city’ houses the best preserved cluster of ancient buildings in China and is a must-see destination in Beijing. Discover some of its secrets and learn about some of the legends while enjoying a tour through its many buildings.


      After leaving the Forbidden City, get a new perspective over this immense structure from the top of the pagoda in Jingshan Park. High on a hill overlooking the city, this is the best place to take in stunning views of not only the Forbidden City, but the ancient heart of Beijing. End the tour in Jingshan Park, where you are free to spend more time exploring or head back into the heart of Beijing to take in more of the city’s sights.


      Your trip:

      For your Urban Adventure you will be in a small group of a maximum of 12 people.


      If you are happy with the services provided by your local guides and drivers a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid Urban Adventures destinations. Please consider this when budgeting for your extra expenses on this tourForbiden City Bird's Eye ViewBeijing Forbiden City

    • Blog post
    • 3 years ago
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  • Washington DC Kite Flying Fest Washington DC Kite Flying Festival!

    • From: ollylarson
    • Description:

      We were in Washington DC for spring break and lucked out and saw the annual kite flying festival. Kites as far as the eye could see on the Plaza. 

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 253
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  • Washington DC Kite Flying Fest Washington DC Kite Flying Festival! Part 2

    • From: ollylarson
    • Description:

      We were in Washington DC for spring break and lucked out and saw the annual kite flying festival. Kites as far as the eye could see on the Plaza. 

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 387
    • Not yet rated
  • Fall at Oregon beach Fall at Oregon beach

    • From: serenaviolet
    • Description:

      After much kite flying and wave chasing on a chilly autumn Oregon beach, we all sat down to enjoy the sounds and scenery. The family sat, lay, and dug in the sand in a perfect shot lineup begging to be photographed and the sepia tone made it even better!

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 344
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  • Kite Festival Kite Festival

    • From: Vonelle Viajera
    • Description:

      In Lincoln City, the kite flying capital of Oregon.

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 203
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  • flying on the jersey shore flying on the jersey shore

    • From: globalsistah
    • Description:

      I took a mini (mini) vacation to the jersey shore for memorial day.  very, very much needed and looking up from my beach chair, i saw my first kite of the season. 

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 211
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  • Australia + New Zealand Australia + New Zealand

    • From: moniefilms
    • Description:

      I love the city of Sydney, I travel there every so often to spend some time with my college mates. This time around I finally took the time to see New Zealand and loved it as well.

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 60
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  • The Kite Runner The Kite Runner

    • From: escography
    • Description:

      A young boy flying a kite in Varanasi India.

    • 5 years ago
    • Views: 245
  • Amelia Island, Florida & The R Amelia Island, Florida & The Ritz-Carlton

    • From: Funkidivagirl
    • Description:

       *To see the photos and (funny) video that accompanies this blog post, please visit Funkidivagirl.com and look in the category "T as in Tango"


      The day after Christmas my family took a vacation to Amelia Island, after a couple of days first spent in Savannah (read our adventures in Savannah in another blog post).  This was our first time on Amelia Island and really our first family vacation in Florida that didn’t include The Mouse.  The weather was really nice, most days there was a high of 68 degrees; jeans, a tee shirt and a hoodie were our everyday attire.  

      The Ritz-Carlton, Ameila Island

      We stayed at The Ritz-Carlton (we are brand loyal fans of The Ritz), which is right on the beach and very casual.  Our room was very comfortable; the closet and drawers were big enough to hold ALL of our luggage and clothes (if you saw the video from the Savannah blog post, you would know that’s a big deal).   I found the beds comfortable and there always enough towels.  The bathroom was large and accommodated all of our toiletries.   We started off with a coastal view room of the dunes and the ocean around the corner, but we were upgraded to an ocean view room and it was very nice (we could see the sunrise).  Every room has a balcony with a table & 2 chairs.  There is a mini-bar in the room (that we didn’t use).   I’m not sure if there was a dvd player because we barely turned on the TV.  There was space near the terrace door for Girly to play on the floor. 


       The the rest of the hotel was just beautiful and decorated to evoke an elegant, yet relaxing atmosphere.  Because it was Christmas, all the common areas were  beautifully decorated for Christmas with greenery, lights and a Christmas tree; there was even a HUGE gingerbread ship in the lobby.  Unfortunately the decorations were taken down without warning overnight on Dec 30th and we didn’t get to take any photos. The hotel had 2 pools, 2 hot tubs (indoor and outdoor) and a kids’ pool with a rain umbrella.  There was also a playground near the pool.    Outside of the lounge on the patio was a big firepit surrounded by sofas.  Beyond the patio was a lawn perfect for playing and used for various programs.  Surrounding the green space were lawn chairs and fire pits.  We really enjoyed sitting by our own fire pit each evening talking and gazing at the stars.

      There are 2 restaurants on site and food could be ordered in the lounges and at a poolside grill as well (the poolside grill was closed for the winter).  We ate at the lobby lounge a couple of times; there is a limited menu of burgers, cheese plates, salads and chicken wings.  We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at Café 4750 and it was very good, if expensive.  The breakfast buffet was the best!   The lunch and dinner menus were similar, so  it was good that we were able to eat outside the hotel for variety (and less expense).  We did not eat at Salt, the 4 diamond restaurant, although we heard it was very good.  There was also an adult sports bar with a pool table.  We didn’t go in there because of our kids, but we did poke our head in; it was very nice and had a more contemporary vibe than the hotel lobby bar.

      This Ritz-Carlton is very family-oriented.   Although my kids didn’t take advantage of it, there is a Ritz Kids room that looked very welcoming and fun (for an extra fee); it was located just beyond the pool.  In addition, there is an unsupervised teen space for ages 13+ called “Our Space”; my son hung out there a bit and really enjoyed it.  There were video games, table games and a fantastic movie theater showing movies all day long; in the evening there were snacks and drinks as well.   Besides the dedicated kid spaces, there were 3 drop-in unsupervised ball rooms set up all week: a toddler room, a family game room (ping pong, pool table, basketball shot, air hockey) that we utilized every night and a movie room filled with bean bags, a popcorn machine and drinks; a different family movie was shown every night.  I got the feeling that these rooms are not in operation during non-holiday times.  

      If that wasn’t enough entertainment, there was a list of (complimentary) activities available throughout the day like shark tooth hunting, a puppet show, zoo animals brought in from the Jacksonville zoo, pool and beach games and an astronomer with a powerful telescope.  Daily activities were listed in the lobby or a schedule could be had from the concierge.   And my favorite: just about every evening there was a bonfire either on the beach or on the hotel lawn with marshmallows, s‘mores fixings and hot cocoa.  Sometimes these bonfires were accompanied by a ghost story-telling pirate lady. 

      Most of our time at the hotel was spent on the beach. The beach was right outside the hotel accessed by 2 boardwalks that crossed over the dunes.  There were lounge chairs already there and on the warmest days a hotel employee was available to set up beach umbrellas, distribute towels and bring water.   There are many shells on the beach up near the chairs, which some people don’t like, but since collecting shells is one of Girly’s favorite things to do, it was perfect for her.  Just know that you will need shoes on this part of the beach, although the sand was smoother near the water.   The water was freezing, so we didn’t go in, but some people did.   We absolutely loved the beach and it was perfect for flying our kite, collecting shells and making sandcastles.  The beach was pitch black at night, and when we went to the bonfire, we could have used a flashlight to find our way.   However, I believe that at certain times of the year, flashlights are forbidden at night because of the turtles hatching eggs.  The hotel has a sunrise watch every morning on the beach, but we didn’t make it (although we did watch it from our balcony).


      The spa was awesome!  Check-in was friendly and gracious.  Next I was taken on a tour of the facilities, shown how to use my locker and given a robe and spa slippers.  After putting on my swimsuit I went to Wet Lounge for a soak in the huge hot tub before my massage.  This room also has a steam room, sauna, showers and lounge chairs.  Cold towels laced with ice and cucumbers were a welcome treat after my soak.  Refreshed, I went into the lounge to wait to be called in for my appointment.  The lounge is very soothing, decorated in green and white tones, with spacious and comfortable lounge chairs.  There was tea, water and banana chips for snacks.  I got to peek into the co-ed lounge; it has a fireplace and looks very inviting also (James and I have to come back for a couple-only trip).  There is also an outside private spa pool and hot tub; you could really stay there all day.  My massage–a Signature Massage with hot stones on my back–was fantastic.  

      We were at the hotel for New Year’s Eve; there was so much going and it was packed.  There was a big bowl game the next day, so it was a strange mix of football attire and New Year’s Eve glamour.  The big deal at the hotel was the Masquerade Ball and people came dressed to the nines in tuxedoes, ball gowns and masks.   Salt also offered 2 prix-fix dinner seatings.  We didn’t do either of those things, but hung out in the lobby and had dinner there.  Ritz Kids and Our Space had special programs going on that night (pre-registration was required and it was an extra fee).  Even though it was expensive, it would have been nice to register our kids because all the children in the hotel were there and they looked like they were having fun.  After dinner we went to the bonfire, family game room and movie room.  Promptly at midnight the hotel had a fireworks show on the beach; we sat on our balcony and had a perfect view.  


      Restaurants on Amelia Island

       Even though the food at the hotel was good, we enjoyed other restaurants on Amelia Island as well.  Brett’s in historic downtown Fernandina Beach served the best fried shrimp basket that we ever had!   We stopped in there between meals, so it was a limited menu; we need to go back next time for lunch or dinner.    Sitting outside on the pier, watching the boats and huge pelicans, Brett’s was really nice.


      Another day we ate at The Happy Tomato Café, also downtown.  We were surprised that they served BBQ as we thought they only served sandwiches, but it was very good and we were impressed.  The Happy Tomato is very casual with counter ordering and courtyard (outside) seating.

       Not very far from The Ritz was Gourmet Gourmet near American Beach.  Although we didn’t eat there (we stopped in the use the bathroom and bought key lime bars), the food looked very good .  There is a small dining room, but this would be a good spot to get take-out to bring to the beach (we should have done that when we went to Fort Clinch).

       Our Activities on Amelia Island

      Besides eating in historic downtown Fernandina, we browsed the shops lining the main street.  It’s a cute town to walk around, but there weren’t really many stores that we would actually shop.   I bought an ornament at the Christmas shop and some books about seashells in the bookstore for Girly.  

      For us the highlight of downtown was the fudge at Fantastic Fudge.  Seriously this was the best fudge that we have ever eaten and we went back a few times!   To stop each other from giving sharp elbow jabs, we had to carefully equally divide the fudge; it was that good!

      The island is small and easy to get around, so we were eager to explore.  One day we went to Fort Clinch State Park; we were not sure what we would find, but eager to stay away from any alligators.   Initially we didn’t intend to go inside the fort, thinking that it was just a bunch of stones, but when we did go in we were pleasantly surprised by all the history and details (staged rooms, real canons and even a costumed soldier present to answer questions).    We really enjoyed the experience and stayed quite a long time (until theConfederate soldier started talking and we had to leave before my husband felt compelled to bring him back into the present).

      In the rest of the state park there are nature trails for bike riding or hiking, but after the fort we headed straight for the beach.  The beach was beautiful!   We stayed all day trying to fly a kite and collecting seashells (the sand was smooth and not full of shells like The Ritz-Carlton beach, but still plenty of shells to hunt).   We met a wonderful family on vacation from New York and the highlight of the day was seeing a beached jellyfish.

      Another day we went to American Beach.  Tucked away in a little neighborhood of the same name, it was hard to find but we were determined because this beach is part of African American history.

      There’s so much that we didn’t get to do on this trip to Amelia Island (more beaches, horseback riding on the beach, ferry to Cumberland Island, tour of the lighthouse, bike riding), that I’m sure that we will be back soon!  







    • Blog post
    • 5 years ago
    • Views: 3166
  • China 2009 China 2009

    • From: Bryan and Mona
    • Description:

      January 4

      Pop and I are off this Friday for a week in China!  Although it will be a whirlwind trip, we are looking forward to seeing the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Terra Cotta Warriors, and all that China has to offer--except perhaps the bitterly cold temperatures that await us.  As long as I can get an internet connection, I plan on updating this journal while we're there.  Keep checking back for updates.

      January 9

      And we're off!  Up early this AM to drive to the airport to catch our flight.  We're actually flying Air Canada to Toronto and then on to Beijing.  It's a 13 1/2 hour flight from Toronto.  It will be 5:00 PM local time tomorrow when we get there.  Fortunately, there are individual entertainment options at each seat so we'll be able to pass the time.  I've got the Benadryl at the ready to help me sleep some.  Until tomorrow.

      January 10

      We are in China!  Our flights worked out very well—on time with no problems.  The flight from Toronto to Beijing was 13½ hours and we didn’t get much sleep.  There were LOTS of babies, and although they were generally well-behaved, there was a still lot of crying from time to time.  We arrived in Beijing at 5:30 PM.

      Beijing has a brand new airport that has only been open about a year or so.  The terminal building is huge and I suspect it may be the largest airport I’ve ever traveled through.  Customs and baggage claim was a breeze.  We entered the arrivals hall and were met by our local guide Jo Lin.  She is 29 and has been a local guide for about five years.  She studied English and worked in Manchester, England for four years prior to returning to China.  She and our driver Mr. Wang will be with us throughout our stay in Beijing.

      Our home away from home in Beijing is the InterContinental Hotel Financial Street.  It was about a 40 minute ride from the airport to the hotel.  The room is very nice and spacious.  I wasn’t sure whether or not there would be any English language channels or not, but there are a few.  One channel was actually showing Oprah with Chinese subtitles.  We need our fix of Oprah, so I’m glad we won’t be deprived.  Pop has CNN so we’re good to go.  We can’t drink the water here, not even to brush our teeth, but the hotel has provided some bottled water for us.

      We’re both tired from the long flight and change in time zones.  Beijing is 13 hours ahead of the east coast.  Hopefully, we will be able to sleep through the night as we have a full day of sightseeing tomorrow, including Tian’anmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace.  Until then…..

      January 11

      Bryan & Pop in Tian'anmen SquareWe were able to sleep through the night, which I hope means we are quickly over any jet lag.  After a great breakfast, we met Jo Lin and Mr. Wang in the lobby at 9:00 AM for a full day of sightseeing.  First stop – Tian’anmen Square.  The square is very large—800 meters long by 500 meters wide and is a central gathering place for all Beijingers.  In nice weather there are lots of kite flyers in the square, but now it is too cold.  The wind today would be great for kite flying and it has been a very quick reminder that it is winter.  The forecast high is only 30F, but the wind chill is making it feel much colder.  After the requisite picture taking and being approached by various people wanting to sell us everything from Chinese military hats to postcards and gloves, we crossed over to the Tian’anmen Gate where the large portrait of Chairman Mao hangs to enter the Forbidden City.

      Forbidden CityThe Forbidden City is a vast complex of buildings and courtyards that dwarfs the size of Tian’anmen Square.  Originally built beginning in 1406, it was the home of the emperor of the Ming and Qing dynasties for some 500 years.  The official name of the complex is the Palace Museum, but its more common nickname is due to the fact common Chinese could not enter.  Although only a small fraction is open for public viewing, you could probably spend an entire day and not see it all.  The geometric design, symmetry of layout, and detail are marvelous to behold.  Each area and building was designed and used for a specific purpose and have such names as the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Gate of Heavenly Purity, and the Palace of Earthly Tranquility.  It is difficult to fathom the amount of effort to construct and maintain such a complex.

      After the Forbidden City, we went to a traditional Chinese restaurant for lunch.  All of the food was placed in the middle of the table on a lazy susan and you served yourself.   Although we weren’t sure what all of the dishes were, we did try some of everything.  It was entirely too much for two people.  Dessert consists of a small plate of fruit.  One of the most interesting things we ate was something that resembled an eyeball.  We thought it was some type of translucent grape with the seed in the middle, but Jo Lin told us they call it “dragon eye” and it is not a grape but a different type of fruit.

      Bryan in the Long Corridor at Summer PalaceAfter lunch, we traveled to the Summer Palace where the emperor stayed during the summer.  It was built into the side of a hill and with a large man-made lake, it was much cooler in the summer than the Forbidden City.  They also constructed a Buddhist temple at the top of the hill within the complex that towers over everything, but unfortunately were not able to view that.  The summer palace was just as spectacular in design as the Forbidden City, albeit on a much smaller scale.  They even had the enjoyment of a marble boat—nice to be on to enjoy the water, but you didn’t actually go anywhere.  We had extra time so we were able to visit a silk factory and see how silk was made.  A very interesting process, and one in which the Chinese are very proud.  Conveniently for us (by design I know) was the fantastic showroom of all the silk items you could purchase—from clothes to bed linens, already prepackaged for you to take with you.

      Bird's Nest--Olympic National StadiumOur final touring stop for the day was the Olympic complex where we were able to see the Bird’s Nest stadium and the Water Cube up close and personal.  I remember seeing them on TV during the games and thinking they were spectacular.  They are even more spectacular in person.  Definitely worth having on the itinerary.  We were unable to go inside either one, but we could walk all around the complex and take pictures.

      We finished our evening with another meal at a traditional Chinese restaurant.  We thought the lunch restaurant was fairly upscale, but I believe this one was even nicer.  Totally different menu than lunch, but equally as tasty.  We got back to the hotel about 7:00, exercised a bit in the fitness center and called it a night.  Today was a wonderful day.  Having a personal guide and driver take us to all the sights has been excellent.  We’ve been able to keep a good pace and not worry about the inherent delays and other issues you invariable encounter with large groups.  Tomorrow is a full day of sightseeing with the main attraction being the Great Wall.

      January 12

      I was having problems getting yesterday posted due to the internet connection in the hotel.  Fortunately, there is a Starbucks in the building next door so Pop and I went there a little after 8:00 and I was able to post and get pictures uploaded much easier while he drank his coffee.  We may need to do this again.

      We started out touring today with a visit to a Jade Factory and shop.  It was very interesting learning the various types of jade used and the different things that are made from jade.  While we usually think of jade as being green, there are actually various colors of jade that are made in to jewelry, statues, and the like.  Much like the silk factory, it is somewhat geared for tourists as they like for you to shop and make purchases and there are plenty of salespeople to “help” you pick out the perfect gift.

      Hall of Eternal Favor--Ming TombsWe then went continued traveling north from Beijing and visited the Ming tombs and Sacred Way.  We visited the Chang Ling tomb, which is the best preserved.  Thirteen of the Sixteen Ming emperors are buried in this area as they believed it to have good feng shui.  The Hall of Eminent Favor was constructed in the late 1300’s and has huge 43 foot columns made from fragrant cedar supporting the building.  The interior of this building was very Walking Along the Sacred Wayimpressive with the size of the columns and wooden beams supporting the roof, all constructed without the benefit of nails, screws, or the like.  We also walked along a portion of the Sacred Way, which leads to the tombs.   The entire Sacred Way is about 4 miles in length and we walked about a mile of this.  The section we covered contains 18 pairs of marble statues of officials, animals, and mythical creatures.

      Bryan & Pop at Stele PavilionOur lunch stop was on the way and after a brief respite, we were on our way to the main attraction for the day—hiking the Great Wall.  As we traveled into the mountains, we could see portions of the wall in the distance, and as we got closer, we could really begin to appreciate its scale and magnitude.  The wall is not actually one continuous structure, but is actually in several different sections.  We visited the Badaling section, which is the best preserved and easiest to reach from Beijing. 

      Bryan at Great Wall of ChinaThe first thing we noticed once we reached the wall was that it was much colder and much windier than yesterday at Tian’anmen Square.  The forecasted high in Beijing was about 33F, but it feels much colder and the wind is probably a steady 25 mph with gusts over 40 mph.  The wall is also extremely steep.  I had heard that it is quite steep, but you don’t really have an appreciation of it until you start walking.  Parts of the wall actually have stairs that you climb, but there are also portions that are like ramps.  The wind made the climbing sections very difficult, but we persevered.  We climbed several sections of the wall between various towers.  I took lots of pictures, but it is difficult to adequately capture the size and impressiveness of Great Wall of Chinathe wall.  The Great Wall was one of the main reasons that Pop wanted to visit China, and our time here will definitely rate as one of the top highlights of the trip.

      We finished our day by dining on Peking Duck, which is a Beijing delicacy.  Not knowing exactly what to expect, the duck was delivered to our table already carved.  We had very thin pancakes that we place some of the duck meat after we dipped in the sauce along with some fresh onion and then folded the pancake like a sandwich wrap to eat.  It was very tasty.  As with all of our meals here, we had way too much food for two people as they had brought rice, another meat dish, vegetables, soup, and the fruit plate for dessert.  I can’t recall having eaten duck before, but it was very tasty.

      Jo Lin left us at the restaurant as it was easier for her to go home from there and Mr. Wang drove us back to the hotel.  Pop and I have been laughing at his driving, because he navigates traffic as if he were race car driver, cutting people off, switching lanes at a moment’s notice, etc.  The traffic is very congested, just as our guide books describe.  Neither of us would want to drive here as it is definitely worse than driving in New York or LA.  Tomorrow we can sleep in a little as we don’t have to get going until 11:00 or so.  We may try to explore a little on our own. :o)

      January 13

      We were able to sleep in this morning as we weren’t going to meet Jo Lin until 11:30.  After breakfast, Pop and I went to Starbucks so I could update the journal for yesterday.  I also talked to Mona via the internet using Skype to make a video call.  We’ve done that three times now.  It is very cool to be sitting in China and talking to Mona and seeing her on the screen—all for free.  Technology is great! 

      Bryan & Pop at Temple of HeavenOur first stop touring this today was at the Temple of Heaven.  This is one of the largest temple complexes in China and one of the icons of Beijing.  Completed during the Ming dynasty, it dates back to 1420.  The focal point is the Qinian Dian or Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.  This structure has a three tiered roof painted blue, representing the color of heaven.  (Conversely, the roof of the buildings are painted yellow—the color of the emperor).  A gold finial is at the pinnacle of the roof 125 feet high.  There are many dragons and phoenixes painted on the exterior of the building, representing the emperor and empress.  The most impressive aspect is that it was constructed without nails or cement.

      The Temple of Heaven complex (Tian Tan) is in one of Beijing’s large parks.  Many locals, especially retirees, come here for recreation—practicing Tai Chi, exercising, playing cards, or flying kites.  We saw a group of retirees dancing in the square to western music—some were ballroom dancing and others were line dancing.  We saw a group of folks playing hacky sack and they invited me to join in which I did.  I believe I was a good 25 years younger than the Pop & His Flagothers, both men and women.  Even though they didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Chinese except for hello (Ni Hao) and Thank You (Xiexie), we all knew how to play and had a great time.  Pop watched a lady waving a flag for exercise and he tried that out himself as well.  Everyone at the park had smiles on their faces and were enjoying life.  I can see why this place is so popular.

      After lunch, we next visited one of Beijing’s Hutong areas.  Hutongs are narrow alleys that run between rows of courtyard houses.  These areas are quintessential to Beijing life and many folks still live in these Bryan & Pop touring a Hutonghouses.  However, they have been disappearing at an alarming rate to make way for development.  Efforts to preserve the ones that are left have succeeded so that many of these houses are now state-owned and are being renovated.  We had a local guide Victor walk us through one of these neighborhoods and explain the history and what life was like in these areas.  Victor is a native Beijinger who was raised in a hutong that has since been demolished.  He is very proud of his background and hutong life and was an excellent tour guide.  We toured a completely renovated hutong “mansion” that was the home of an emperor’s brother.  These roofs were green acknowledging his preferred status in society, while most hutong roofs are grey for commoners.  We also visited a Beijing family that allow tourists to Bryan taking Peddycab Ridesee their home.  The lady we visited was very proud of her home and it was very nice simple living—a three room home plus kitchen and bathroom.  This particular home had been in her husband’s family for 150 years.  The hutong homes are very desirable as the ones that remain are centrally located in Beijing.  We finished our tour of the hutong area by taking a peddycab ride through the area.  Peddycabs are rickshaws that are connected to bicycles.

      Our final stop before dinner was to the Shichahai Sports School where many Chinese athletes and Olympic champions have trained since childhood.  We saw students practicing gymnastics, table tennis, volleyball, and tae kwan do.  The gymnastics was especially impressive.  I can see why the Chinese have been so successful at the Olympics after watching a ten-year old girl with very well-developed muscles practicing on the high bar. 

      Beijing OperaDinner was at a restaurant famous for its Chinese dumplings.  There were pictures on the wall where Colin Powell, Laura Bush, and several Asian celebrities have all dined there.  Pop and I enjoyed our meal very much but I think we’d both agree that we’ve liked some of the other meals on this trip better.  After dinner it was on to a performance of Beijing Opera.  This isn’t Madame Butterfly or La Boheme.  Beijing Opera combines singing, speech, mime, and acrobatics and tell stories based on Chinese literature and history.  For me, the visual aspect is much more enjoyable than the music.  It was a great experience but one not high on our list of things to do again.

      This was our last night in Beijing.  Back to the hotel to pack and get ready to fly to Xi’an.

      January 14

      We’re up early as we had to be in the lobby ready to leave at 8:00 AM.  Mr. Wang was prompt as usual and drove us out to the airport.  Jo Lin was waiting for us at the terminal.  She helped us get checked in and then we said our goodbyes as we made our way to the gate.  We’ve enjoyed having the private tour with our own personal guide.  Jo Lin was great and definitely made the trip extra special.

      Our flight to Xi’an was on Air China and was 1½ hours.  We were pleasantly surprised to find out that we were served lunch on the flight and not just the typical pretzels and drink.  The first thing we noticed when we landed in Xi’an was the incredible amount of smog.  We had heard the smog in Beijing would be bad, but Xi’an is much worse.  While we noticed some haziness in Beijing, the smog in Xi’an is very noticeable to the eyes and the nose.

      Our local guide here in Xi’an is Jenny, a young mother of a three-year old daughter.  Mr. Chiu is our driver while we are here.  Jenny gave us a little background on the area during our drive to the hotel.  Our home for the next two nights is the Xi’an Garden Hotel.  Our room is not nearly as nice as the one in Beijing, but the hotel has a nice courtyard with a fountain, ducks, and a peacock and is in a good location.  The rest of our day is free to explore as we will do all of our touring tomorrow.  We are looking forward to seeing the Terra Cotta Warriors.

      The hotel is located next to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda which we will tour tomorrow.  We went out and walked all around the square surrounding the Pagoda.  There were many stalls along the way where vendors were selling various souvenirs and such.  This entire area appears to be the size of six to eight city blocks and has been completely redone—it looks almost brand-new.  There were lots of art work and statues in various places and a huge fountain area that has a nightly light show.  We didn’t buy anything from the vendors but I can tell we’ll be able to bargain if we do decide to make a purchase.

      Since we were on our own for dinner, we decided to take a break from Chinese food and ate at the hotel’s “Western” restaurant.  We each decided to go for the American burger and fries.  Not knowing what to expect, it was actually quite good.  We washed it down with the local Chinese beer—also surprisingly good.  After dinner we walked back down to the Pagoda area where there is a large series of fountains and watched a fountain/light/music show where the fountains shot water choreographed to the music.  We really enjoyed that and will go back for a repeat performance tomorrow.


      This journal is beginning to exceed space limitations.  Click the following link to read about the rest of our trip.




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  • The Day We Got To Be Birds The Day We Got To Be Birds

    • From: melissak
    • Description:

      Mount Vogel, Slovenia, July 9, 2008

      "The only thing you have to do is run. When I tell you, you must run as fast as you can--at least 15 or 20 kilometers per hour--and not stop until we are in the air."

      I rise on my toes in preparation, like a sprinter.

      The voice behind my ear yells "Now, run" and I try to push off. But my feet are being lifted slightly off the ground--the man strapped in behind me is taller than I am--and the great red sail above us is catching the air like a kite, trying to pull us backward. Against such resistance I can't get any purchase, and I have the feeling you get when you're trying to run in a dream and your legs are churning and churning but nothing happens.

      But the bulk behind me pushes me forward--all the while screaming at me to run, as I scream back "I'm trying!" And we scrabble closer to the edge of the mountain and then over and settle with a jolt into the seats of our harness, slowly sinking.

      "That was not good," he hisses. "Not fast enough. Very dangerous to take off that way."

      But then, a second later, the air fills out our sail and we move forward smoothly, with a sigh of relief.

      At that moment it really sinks in that I'm gliding high in the air over pine-covered foothills, with tall mountains and jewel-blue Lake Bohinj spread out below and in front of me. It's breathtakingly beautiful, and I'm not even frightened (the motion is too gentle for that), just utterly awestruck to be here. Ahead of me is another sail with Melissa and her pilot sitting underneath. I can't see her face, but I suspect it looks as amazed and delighted as mine.


      For days before we went paragliding, I'd look up at the mountains around our village and doubt whether I could actually jump off one. But when the time came, we had so much company at the takeoff spot that it seemed the most natural thing in the world. It was the first clear morning after days of rain, and (as we later learned) the best day for paragliding in months. So, as we rode a cable car and then a chairlift up Vogel mountain and trudged to the clearing for takeoff, we were joined by eight or nine other paragliders. Some had tandem passengers, like us, but most were individual fliers, there for the sport. Watching other people run off the mountain and go airborne ahead of us made it seem a lot less scary.

      After a minute or two of gliding, we turn and begin to climb, higher and higher in slow circles like a bird. The air grows colder; my fingers start to freeze, and I wish I'd worn thicker socks on my dangling ankles. The mountain with its cable-car station dwindles away below us. The altimeter behind me beeps incessently, the tones coming closer together as we rise. My pilot calls out the altitide: 2,600 meters; 2,800; 2,900 (nearly 9,000 feet). Across the lake I have a clear view of the Julian Alps, including their crown: Mount Triglav, the highest point in Slovenia. At 2,864 meters, it's now lower than we are.

      From here, my pilot tells me, nodding directions, you can see Austria, Italy, Croatia, and the Adriatic Sea, as well as most of Slovenia. Now I finally start to feel frightened, because it seems like our two sails and four people are tiny specks of almost nothing, dangling by a few threads and a bit of cloth way up here all by ourselves. There's an awful lot of air up here and not much else. (I can't see any of the other gliders that took off before or after us, as they remain far below.)

      Having gone as high as paragliders can legally go in this area without hitting controlled airspace, we descend a little. The temperature, which had fallen to 6 degrees at our peak, warms up and I begin to feel my fingers again. But the fun isn't over yet.

      "You like adrenaline? Do you want to try some acrobatics?" my pilot asks. "Sure!" I call back to him. And next thing I know, the horizon is spinning and swerving, the lake seems to be above and the mountains below, and I have to close my eyes to keep from getting impossibly dizzy. After a few minutes of that my stomach is starting to protest, so we right ourselves again and circle in over the lake toward the big meadow at one end.

      It's so beautiful up here that I never want to land. But soon the voice over my shoulder tells me that we'll be touching down in 30 seconds. That's hard to believe; we still seem pretty high. But the ground approaches quickly, and in a moment my pilot is telling me to stand up in the harness. I brace for a heavy impact but get only a light one. I stumble forward a few steps and fall to my knees, and we're back on terra firma. Wow! It feels like no time at all since we took off, but we actually flew for almost 40 minutes.

      I turn in time to see Melissa coming down a little ways away. And then we're unbuckled and sitting on a bench swapping stories of our flights while our pilots swiftly pack up the sails and harnesses into backpack-size bundles. From the efficiency of their motions, you can tell they've done this a few times.

      As we share a drink with them afterward, we discover several things. Our pilots---who call themselves the Loop Team---have been paragliding for 21 years. They've competed in flying events around Europe and abroad and even set a world record. So we were in safer hands than we'd realized. We also got incredibly lucky in our chosen day. Apparently, the conditions we had occur only a few times a year. And according to the pilots, we were the first passengers they'd taken as high as 2,900 meters. Even when the air conditions are right for that height, most people don't like going that far up and opt for a lower, smoother flight, they said.

      Back in town, I stop at the bankomat to get out cash to pay for our flights. Although we're usually as tight-fisted as a proverbial Scotsman when it comes to money these days, I don't bat an eye as I hand over 240 euros (half a week's budget). For the chance to be a bird, it was worth it.

      Incredibly, Melissa had her camera around her neck during her flight. She managed to take some wonderful pictures, despite freezing fingers and a fear of dropping her lens cap a few thousand meters into the lake. For a glimpse what we saw, click here and then click "paragliding."

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    • 6 years ago
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  • Mystery meat on Texel Mystery meat on Texel

    • From: bberwyn
    • Description:

      Texel: A Dutch treat in every way



      We're flip-flopping along the cobblestones, trying to catch the streetcar headed to Linz Hauptbahnhof. 

      "Did you remember to grab the tickets?" I ask, jogging the last few meters. 

      Dylan sprints behind me, toggling his pack, and says, "No, Dad, I forgot. I'm so sorry, Dad," casting a dejected look down the tracks. 

      It's a truckin'-it kind of day, and we're trying to make every second count. Just that morning, we talked about how each of us had duties, divvied up to make everything go smoothly. The tram tickets were Dylan's job. I'd make sure we had our passports and other important items, like the iPod and crispy bakery snacks.

      The trolley leaves without us. As we fish around for a few Euros to plunk into the ticket-vending machine, I stifle the impulse to give a stern rebuke. Instead, I opt for the patient approach: "it's important to be organized when you're traveling abroad. You have to make a list, and double-check it before you go. Sometimes, you don't get a second chance when you're traveling."

      He takes it all in stride, and when we arrive at the Frankfurt airport, we discover that I've made the bigger blunder. Somehow, I misread the time on the ticket for what was to be his first-ever solo flight, a quick one-hour trip to Dublin to meet his mom. 

      But we're an hour late. I can see Dylan fighting back both a grin and tears, thinking about my morning lecture on being organized. Luckily, there's an evening flight, and with the help of a friendly Lufthansa ticket agent, we re-book. Settling in at the terminal, we chew Gummi Bears, play video games and watch the world stream past. I'm probably more nervous than he is about his solo trip. At age 10, Dylan takes flying for granted. He's been across the Atlantic more times than he can remember. 

      You don't know lucky you are, boy!

      My girlfriend, Leigh, has been traveling independently, and her flight is scheduled to arrive in Frankfurt just before Dylan's departure. Once he's safely in the air, Leigh and I will cash in our 14-day Eurail voucher and head for Amsterdam and then the Wadden Islands off the coast of Holland. 


      July 8: Mystery meat

      texel dunesAfter a good night's sleep and a hot shower on the train, we stumble into a wet Amsterdam daybreak. We ramble on foot most of the day, past the floating flower market and houseboats bedecked with  grapevines and veggie gardens. 

      Stocked with a few goodies, we jump on a northbound commuter train to Den Halder. Between the train station and the Texel ferry, we wander past a mile-long dockhouse, now home to a maritime museum. The windows offer glimpses of the country's ship-building tradition, crowned during the East Indian trading era.

      On the ferry, I look for the most exotic snack in the vending machine. It's a travel hobby of mine, so I choose the mysteriously labeled Red Band packet. From the outside it looks like it could be a powerful laxative, but it turns out to be a delicious chocolate-mint. I duly note the discovery in a journal, alongside scribbles about a kid clutching a toy dinosaur, as his dad, clad in a sailor-striped sweater, lifts him from the back of their bike.

      Pocket-size Texel is at the southwestern end of the Wadden Islands (Frisian Islands), a patchy swath of dune barriers that shelter the mainland from the open sea. The island sits at the end of the Waddenzee, a 10,000-square-kilometer tidal mudflat and wetlands ecosystem stretching 500 kilometers northeast to Denmark. The vast patchwork of sea gullies, tidal channels and salt marshes nurtures millions of sea and shore birds. Sandy strand

      We're looking forward to exploring the coastal dunes of the protected national park, and also looking for possible ancestral roots: Leigh's last name is Wadden, so, who knows, we might find a long-lost relative. As she walks off the ferry in Horntje, her golden hair streams in the Atlantic breeze. I sense some Viking blood in her veins, knowing that the sea-faring warriors from the north settled some of these coastal towns.

      The bus circles the island and drops us at De Koog, where we check into a comfy inn near the beachfront. The resort town is a hub for cycling and hiking around the island and in the national park. Mid-summer light lingers late this far north, drawing us to the broad beach, where sunset afterglow shines orange-colored against a backdrop of purple clouds mounding over the sea. 

      At that point, we're thinking about a deluxe seafood meal. But among a few other Dutch quirks, we learn that restaurants mostly shut down at 8 or 9 p.m. That leaves Happy Burger, a native fast-food joint, where glaring neon lights from the adjacent bowling alley, along with a techno-pop rendition of Do-Re-Mi, jar us back to the 21st century. We munch on a plate of ubiquitous krokets: Breaded, deep-fried packets of what we skeptically view as mystery meat in a creamy sauce. It's Holland's own national fast food, easily washed down with a draft Heineken.


      Texel lighthouseJuly 9: 'Keen dribble'

      Our plan the next morning is to cycle a leisurely lap around the island. Bike shops dot the roadside and the pancake-flat countryside is threaded with dedicated trails and a simple road grid.

      Holland has a rich bike culture, expressed through the ease by which parents often carry two youngsters, along with a load of groceries and a bottle of wine in a handlebar basket. Juggling a meter-long loaf of bread and carrying on a cell phone conversation, they casually dismount while rolling up to their stop.

      I venture out early in the morning, stopping for a cup of coffee with froth so thick that the little cookie served on the side floats for more than a minute while I scan yesterday's Herald Tribune. At the bike shop, I ask about the weather.

      'Keen dribble!" the owner says with a smile, guaranteeing a nice day for our tour. "There's no bad weather, as the Germans say, only bad clothes," he reassures me.

      We mount the late-model Gazelles, admiring the nifty and super-comfortable touring bikes with components integrated into the frame and sheltered by lightweight housing. Leading the way, Leigh heads north on the coastal path, toward the lighthouse at De Cocksdorp, where an opening to the sea allows tides to flood the coastal plain behind the dunes. On the beach, we munch olives, feta, flat crackers and more mystery meat, this time packaged as a creamy salad.Texel field

      In a sheltered spot in the dunes, bees buzz around soft pink flowers. We settle down for a nap, laughing with sheer happiness at having discovering this serene spot. A few inches away, one of the bees stops, doffs a tiny top hat and says "Guten Tag" in flawless German. "I'm so happy to be here, collecting pollen on this gorgeous day. My Queen is going to be so happy," he buzzes at me before flying away.

      Flabbergasted, I call to Leigh, but her delicately freckled nose is buried deep in her favorite reading material — a guidebook. 

      "That does it," I say to myself. "I need to be a travel writer. That'll get her attention!"

      Near the lighthouse, the air is abuzz with the sound of kites in the wind. It's another small wonder on this magical island, a place where the breeze is so steady that people come from all over to pace their paper and plastic contraptions through swirling loops and dizzying dives. The atmosphere vibrates with the electric buzz of kite strings taut against the wind.

      On the east side of the island, along dikes and past ancient windmills, the roads are so flat and straight that we often hold hands gliding along, even leaning toward each other for a kiss at the risk of a crash.

      WaddenhavenAt Oosterend, we duck into a lively harbor bar for a thick slice of apple cake, coffee and a shot of the local liquor, brewed with a mix of island herbs. Our route takes us across the center of the island through Den Burg, the largest town, and back to the coast for the final leg. A strong southwest tailwind makes the last few kilometers easy. We miss out on the restaurants once again but tumble into bed tired and happy, dreaming about that big seafood platter.

      Little do we know that we'll end up with a Belgian Waffle instead.

      Belgian Waffle


    • Blog post
    • 6 years ago
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