Netanya, Israel–Mediterranean Seaside town

June 8, 2017

This is a great town from which to visit the nearby sights of Jaffa, Caesarea, Mt. Carmel, and Megiddo. One of the advantages of staying here is that the Mediterranean Sea is just out your door! After a day of touring, a meandering walk along the seashore is great way to unwind or just cool your feet in the Sea. It’s a good starting point for a tour of Israel. Get acclimated to the time change, change money for the upcoming trip or just enjoy being by the sea.

La Brea Tar Pits

May 6, 2017

I’ve always wanted to go see this  unique site.  Fascinating!  A treasure trove of bones right in downtown Los Angeles! Interesting museum. Definitely has an aroma of asphalt!  Apparently the pits actually have asphalt, not tar.  I’d recommend it for all ages!

Club Med Sandpiper Bay, Florida

March 28, 2017

This all inclusive resort located about 2 hours south of Orlando and about the same distance north of Fort Lauderdale, sits on the St. Lucie River with a large bay in front of the resort. The sandy beach facing the river is a great place to relax with a cold drink or take a class in the skill of kayaking, paddle boarding, or sailing. There are a variety of included educational programs offered that Club Med calls the Club Med Academies. They include sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, golf, tennis, fitness, beach volley ball, and even trapeze!

Daily programs for children aged 4-10 years—Mini Club Med, as well as a separate program for those who are 11 – 17 years—Latitude 27 Club are offered. Both are open seven days a week.
At this time, this is the only true all-inclusive in the United States. Food, drinks, and evening entertainment are included with the price of the room. There are programs for younger children as well at an additional cost.

There are three swimming pools (one of which is for adults 18+ years old) and 22 tennis courts (They are serious about this sport here!). The included group golf classes focus on a different aspect of golf each day (putting, pitching, chipping, etc.) and are taught by golf pros Mike Berger and Marie-Clare de Bortoli, LPGA.

This is a very nice 3+ star resort. They are in the process of upgrading the facilities. Our room was spacious, new bathroom fixtures, a comfortable bed, and most important it was clean. It may not have new buildings, and be a 5 star resort, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t just right for many people. It’s a great place for families! The food is served buffet style, with even a station with fresh food to be pureed for babies. There is a “specialty” restaurant (The Riverside) that is by reservation only. Again, it is not a 5 star restaurant, but we have eaten there twice on the deck overlooking the bay. The service was attentive and the view lovely.

Historic Carousel, Albany, Oregon

February 11, 2017

Established as a city 11 years before Oregon became a state, parts of Albany are a showcase for history. Restored homes give a feeling of times gone by and people who care about history. Our goal yesterday was to visit the site (503 1st Avenue West) of the soon to be opened Historic Carousel & Museum that is being constructed using donations and volunteer labor. People around here have been working on this project for 14 years. They hope to open the Carousel for business in June of this year. There will be a Carousel Museum on the site along with the working carousel. The drive mechanism was used by the Dentzel caroursel in Point Pleasant, New Jersey from 1909 to 1953. The animals are all carved by hand from Basswood. We stopped at the Carving Studio at 250 Broadalbin St SW, in Albany where we visited with docent, Donald Albright and watched two carvers carefully bringing about the shapes that will be part of this amazing project. The hope is to have 32 animals when the carousel opens in June. Because of limited space, many of the animals that are already finished are housed in local places of business. I’ve attached pictures of a few of them. My favorite was probably The Guardian, a hippocampus. I was unable to get a good photo of the front due to not knowing how to avoid the glare on the glass. I guess you’ll just have to go see it for yourself!

We were very impressed by the local people. As part of a fundraiser, a local photographer, Dee Brausch (deebrauschphoto.net), was taking photos and donating proceeds to the project. How could we resist?

Locals were polite (we were able to cross at crosswalks without fearing for our lives) and one man even stopped to ask if we needed directions. We are making plans to go back and take a ride when it is finished. In the meantime, check out their website: http://albanycarousel.com/

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

October 17, 2016

These natural wonders are just my cup of tea, or hexagon of stone. Once you are in the parking lot at the Visitor Centre, you can either walk or take the bus down to the water’s edge. As you can see from the pictures, these aren’t just stepping stones but huge pillars of basalt! There are folks in red jackets to help should you need information or just a suggestion of the best way to get down once you climb up a ways further than you intended! If you are ever in this area, it is a sight not to be missed! As is the way, there are legends about these seemingly mystical stones. That’s part of the fun, hearing about two giants giving each other a hard time. We enjoyed the day, the wonders of God and fun stories told by the guides! You can even buy cute earrings in the gift shop! Not that I would do that of course!

Ballygally Castle Hotel, Ballygally, Northern Ireland

October 17, 2016

This hotel provided one of the most beautiful settings of the hotels we stayed in on our CIE tour in the British Isles. The rooms were very nice, the castle itself was fascinating. The gardens were absolutely incredible! Located on the north of Belfast along the coastline, this hotel would make a great place for a wedding. In fact, there was a wedding going on in the hotel the night we were there! Friendly staff and a wonderful breakfast–including some oatmeal with honey and Bushmills whiskey! It’s good to try new foods–or old foods presented in a new way!

Alnwick Castle, County of Northumberland, England

September 14, 2016

Alnwick Castle is the second largest inhabited castle in England and seat of the Duke of Northumberland. It was also used in the first two Harry Potter movies for Hogwarts Castle. The powers that be make use of that notoriety, and you can’t blame them. It looks mystical from a distance, but it is huge and the upkeep expense must be immense. The day we were there, it appeared that there was an event that included learning to the proper way to ride a broom! The State Rooms are amazing but, of course, photos were not allowed. I just had to take a photo of a child on one of the toy tractors provided for visiting children! It would be a great place to spend an afternoon with your family, even if the young ones probably wouldn’t be interested in a lavish ballroom or where the Duke ate his dinner.

The water cascade leading up to the gardens was impressive and the gardens beautifully kept. I highly recommend it if you are in the area!

York, England–Beautiful and Historically Significant!

September 14, 2016

Our time in the city of York was short, but it did whet my appetite to return. I love old cities that work to retain their history and heritage while still moving into the future with energy! Obviously from the photos, you can see that the Cathedral in York, known as York Minster, was a focus for us. It opened in 637 AD. That just boggles my mind! Put simply, the building is beautiful Gothic architecture. It is massive. My church would fit into one small corner. Yet when you see the hymnal open to music you recognize, there is a connection that is undeniable.

We walked the narrow cobblestone streets that were built for wooden wheeled vehicles. The Shambles Market street, though changed from times past, is still a market. Roman ruins are in evidence. I had to include the picture of a window with the picture of the Queen waving. It shows someone’s sense of humor and understanding that this will bring a smile to the tourists at least, if not most people!

York Marriott Hotel, York, England

September 13, 2016

Maybe only a fantasy in my own mind, but I felt like I might be living in a Dick Francis Book when we walked around the grounds of our hotel in York. Pleasant room. Good breakfast. It’s a very nice place to stay. Having said that, I LOVE the grounds around this hotel! The views of the York Racecourse, the patio and views of the countryside are relaxing and probably exciting on race meeting days! I’m sorry we were there only one night. The proximity to the beautiful city of York and that area of England just make it all the more enticing!

Bladon, England, Resting place of Winston Churchill

September 6, 2016

Of the places we visited in England, this will remain a favorite of mine. There isn’t much going on here in Bladon, located about 6 ½ miles northwest of Oxford, England. The road to this village of less than 900 people is quite narrow. I was glad we didn’t meet any other buses on the way there! Our goal was to visit the graveyard where Winston Churchill is buried, along with his wife, Clementine and others from his family. The church is St. Martin’s. It felt good to know that someone like Winston Churchill, a great man to be sure, wanted to be buried here with his family rather than in some huge cathedral in London. I loved the fact that individuals had crafted their own “kneelers” for the pew they used for services. No souvenir shop, no postcards for sale. I’m glad we stopped.

Then we went to have coffee at the White House. What a nice little place to have coffee, tea or lunch while in Bladon!