From Barcelona, we travelled by train to Madrid. The Ave Train is a high speed train that whisks along at speeds up to 300 kph and gets you very comfortably from Barcelona to Madrid in just over 3 hours. We … Continue reading
During our time in Scotland, we spent 3.5 days in Edinburgh (2.5 before we headed north and 1 additional day at the end of our trip). It is a great city and I’ll share some of our highlights. Edinburg is … Continue reading
The drive from Oban to Glasgow was an easy journey, with the sun shining brightly across the hills, castles and lochs. We stopped at Inveraray Castle. This residence of the Duke of Argyll has a striking exterior, a beautifully decorated … Continue reading
From the Isle of Skye, we made our way to Oban, also on the west coast of the Highlands. On our way, we took a detour to the Glencoe Valley. The spectacular scenery of this valley may seem familiar to … Continue reading
After leaving York, we took a train journey to Edinburgh, where we spent 3 nights. However, we will be returning to Edinburgh for 2 more nights later in our trip so I am going to hold off blogging about our … Continue reading
We left our Heathrow hotel again on the Piccadilly underground line to Kings Cross Station, where we hopped on a train to Cambridge. The train was very comfortable with lots of luggage room. We once again stayed at the Ibis … Continue reading
London is one of those great cities – where there is a great sight around every corner. You could spend weeks if you were to visit each of these things to see and do.
We last visited London in 1983; we plan on being back at least once in the next year. So on this visit, we decided we wouldn’t spend time seeing all of the sights. We chose to ride the hop-on hop-off bus tour one day to reorient ourselves to the city, and we also took a short cruise down the Thames.
London was decked out for the Christmas season. Some of the great light displays were on:
We took in the Burroughs Market in the Southbank area. It would be great to shop there regularly – for both prepared foods and quality fresh ingredients to prepare your own.
For the Christmas season, a huge area in Hyde Park becomes Winter Wonderland. This includes 3 main areas, each impressively expansive – a Christmas Market, the Bavarian Village and an incredible amusement park, as well as many individual presentations. We wandered around for a while, made a few purchases and had our last Gluwein of the trip.
The large department stores were of course well into the season. Being fans of the TV show, Mr Selfridge, we enjoyed visiting Selfridge & Co. We also stopped in at Harrods. The window displays are fabulous to view.
Kristin took the train in from Cambridge to spend Saturday with us. We walked a bit, had a great dinner and then took in Bat Out of Hell, the Musical. It was great. An excellent job of creating a story based on Meatloaf’s songs and the cast were very talented.
The Brexit vote in Parliament was to occur the day we left London and the protesters and news media were out in full force. At the last minute, the vote was cancelled. It will be interesting to see how that progresses.
We walked a lot – one day, our Fitbits registered over 34,000 steps.
Here are some photos of the many sights we passed in our travels.
Trafalgar Square is London’s central square and is dominated by the world’s biggest Corinthian column. Admiral Horacio Nelson gazes in the direction of one of the greatest naval battles, where in 1805, Nelson defeated Napoleon’s French fleet and saved England. At the top of the square sits the domed National Gallery and to the right of the Gallery is the steeple of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, built in 1722.
Of interest, the Christmas tree in the square is given to London each year from the people of Oslo, Norway in appreciation for British help during World War II.
In 1983 when we visited London, the Elizabeth Tower that houses the 13 ton bell of Big Ben was covered in scaffolding. And it was the same on this visit, although one clock face was showing. Maybe someday we will see it in its grandeur – although it is apparently undergoing a multiyear renovation.
Opposite Big Ben on the south bank is a giant Ferris Wheel. The London Eye, built to celebrate the millennium, stands 443-feet high and is one of the world’s highest observational wheels.
Of course, one of the major tourist sights is Buckingham Palace. We did a walk-by…
On the banks of the Thames sit the Houses of Parliament, home to the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Across the street is Westminster Abbey, where royalty have been wedded, crowned and buried since the 11th century.
St Paul’s Cathedral is England’s national church. This baroque cathedral with the 365-foot-high dome was constructed from 1670-1710.
The Tower of London started with the ‘White Tower’, built by William the Conquerer in 1077. Enlarged over the centuries to its current 18-acre size, the Tower has served as a lookout for invaders coming down the Thames, a royal residence, the Royal Mint, the Royal Jewel House and most famously as a prison and execution site.
The iconic Tower Bridge was built in 1894 with a Neo-Gothic look. The bridge is a fully functional drawbridge, opening close to a thousand times a year.
Now, we are home and busy with our own Christmas preparations. Thanks for reading about our travels and we will be back again in 2019 with more journeys!
Bev & Harv
Harvey and I are spending two weeks on the east coast. We have started with a week ‘on the rock’ – in Newfoundland.
On Saturday, we flew to St John’s – a great Air Canada flight that touched down in Ottawa, but we didn’t even have to deplane. It’s a bit of a shock to have a 3 1/2 hour time change with what seemed like a relatively quick flight. Speaking of that, I’m sure you are aware that Newfoundland is the only area in North America with a half hour time zone difference. There are a number of other areas of the world with this quirky time, but did you know that there are some with a 15 minute difference?! That would be very strange!
We spent Saturday night at a new Holiday Inn Express, a stone’s throw from the airport – I would recommend this hotel if you happen to need one near the St John’s airport.
Sunday morning, we took off on the TransCanada Highway (known here as the TCH). We can now say we have been on both ends of the TCH, as well as most of it in between. We travelled over 600 km, arriving in Deer Lake to spend the night. The highway was great and there was some great scenery. In the St John’s area, we thought we wouldn’t be seeing much fall foliage as the majority of the trees were conifers. But this changed as we headed east. I think we may be a wee bit early for the height of the fall colours, and the colours are primarily yellow and orange, lacking the reds of the northeastern U.S. You may know that we are connoisseurs of fall foliage (right, Deb?), and this isn’t the best, but still pleasant to see.
We stopped in a couple of small villages and viewpoints and enjoyed the scenery. Here are some photos taken at Norman’s Cove and near Gambo (at Joey’s Lookout, named after Joey Smallwood).
We had a picnic lunch at Notre Dame Provincial Park. The park was closed for the year, but we thought it looked like it would be a great place to camp – however, it’s a bit of a drive from Stony Plain.
Deer Lake’s claim to fame is being the heart of the snowmobile world. They apparently have many miles of groomed trails in the winter. Great cuisine is not one of their high points, and we ended the day with dinner at Jungle Jim’s. To my surprise, the food was actually quite tasty, although the Sangria was more like tropical juice. 😦
Monday morning, we were on the road again, heading north on The Viking Trail. We entered Gros Morne National Park, stopping at the Visitor Centre for our park pass and some information. Many of the park attractions and activities closed for the season at some point in September, but we are here to see the area and aren’t concerned with the closures.
Gros Morne National Park is located on the west coast of Newfoundland. At 1,805 km², it is the second largest national park in Atlantic Canada. Shaped by colliding continents and grinding glaciers, Gros Morne’s ancient landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is named for Newfoundland’s second-highest mountain peak (at 806 m or 2,644 ft), which looms over the park.
We travelled through Rocky Harbour and stopped at Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse. The light at this lighthouse was activated in 1898 and the exhibit shows details of life there over the years. The final lighthouse keeper retired in 1970, a year after automated equipment was installed.
Travelling north, we stopped in Cow Head and Parson’s Pond, where we paid homage to the homeland of Harvey’s work mate, Ted.
Speaking of Parson’s Pond, we have no idea what constitutes a pond in NL. What we would call a very large lake in Alberta is often called a pond here! Likewise, many ‘brooks’ would definitely be rivers in Alberta.
We stopped for lunch at the Arches Provincial Park. Here three natural arches have been formed by tidal forces. At low tide, you can walk under the arches – but you certainly wouldn’t have wanted to try that when we were there.
Our next stop along the way was at Port au Choix. This area is considered of the richest archeological finds in North America. Burial sites uncovered in the town in the 1960s & 70s provide evidence of its earliest settlers – from the Maritime Archaic Indians to the Groswater and Dorset Palaeoeskimos to the Recent Indians (ancestors of the Beothuks). It is a National Historic Site of Canada. The Visitor Centre is closed for the year, so we didn’t see any of the archeological findings.
However, we continued on the road to the Point Riche lighthouse, where we encountered one of the day’s highlights – a family of caribou! They were not phased at all by our presence and it was great to watch them grazing.
We travelled the rest of the way non-stop to our destination of St Anthony. Our journey today was ~425 kilometres. We are staying at the Grenfell Heritage Hotel. In my next post, I’ll tell you some of the Grenfell story and more about St Anthony.
Again, many of the area restaurants are closed for the season, but we were directed to one known for its home cooking. The grilled salmon and pan-fried cod were excellent!
By the way, the weather on Sunday was great – sunny and 16. Cooler on Monday – high of 6, mix of sun and the odd shower.
More later on our day today on the Northern Peninsula!
B & H
As I indicated in the last post, we recently vacationed in Missouri. You ask: Missouri? Why?
Well, for a while now, we have discussed visiting Kansas City to explore the B’s: barbecue, baseball, beer, blues…… And then Harvey decided it was time for another NASCAR race – and the timing was right to go to the race in KC. After a few days in St Louis, we hopped in our rental van and were down the road to KC. Oh – another reason – one of my bucket list items is to visit all 50 U.S. states. I had 3 left – Kentucky, Oklahoma and Kansas. The Kansas Speedway is in Kansas – Check! Only 2 to go!
We had 4 days in KC – 3 to explore and one dedicated to the race. We were pleased to find there was lots to see and do. Here are some of our highlights:
Kansas City has more than 200 fountains, which is more than any city in the world except Rome. We lost count but think we saw about 30. There are maps of the fountains available and it would be a fun way to spend a day (Harvey thinks not). The majority of the fountains we noted were spouting blue water in support of the Royals!
America Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
These two museums are housed in the same building in the historic 18th & Vine Jazz District.
The American Jazz Museum was opened in 1997 and features the sights and sounds of jazz through interactive exhibits and films. It was very interesting to view the exhibits and learn interesting facts about jazz music and artists. The multiple ‘audio stations’ enhanced the experience. You can learn more about this museum at: http://americanjazzmuseum.org/about-us/#sthash.kl2tgoQl.dpuf
The museum also includes the Blue Room Jazz Club, which offers live music nightly. We didn’t make it back in the evening this trip, but would plan this in a future trip.
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is dedicated to preserving the history of African-American baseball and does a great job of this using exhibits, photos and film. We found it very interesting and informative.
Downtown Kansas City
We enjoyed visiting the City Market, the Union Station and the WWI Liberty Memorial.
Since 1857, the City Market has been one of the largest public farmers’ markets in the Midwest. In an open-air format, the market offers an eclectic mix of dining, shopping, entertainment and attractions.
The Union Station served rail traffic in KC from 1914 – 1985. In 1999, the refurbished station reopened with public attractions and in 2002, it once again became an active train station, servicing Amtrak public transportation.The Liberty Memorial, dedicated on November 11, 1926, honours the men and women who served in WWI and is located at the National World War I Museum. We didn’t visit the museum on this trip – another item for a future trip.
Further Afield in KC
One afternoon, we took a trip to the southern suburbof Overland Park to the Museum at Prairiefire. This museum is a natural history museum and has a partnership with the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It looked very interesting from peering in the windows because unfortunately it was closed when we arrived. However, the trip was not wasted as the outside of the building is spectacular on its own! We also took a trip past Kaufman Stadium as the KC Royals were playing our Blue Jays. We had looked at getting tickets but the only available were single tickets at ridiculous prices, so we watched the games at various venues. The stadium itself is situated right next to the freeway and it was quite a site to see the masses of blue (for the Royals) in the stands.
One morning while Debbie and Larry were on a walk near our hotel, they came across the American Truck Historical Society. They went in and decided that Harvey must see this, so we stopped in for a visit later that morning. This society is dedicated to the collection and preservation of the history of trucks, the trucking industry, and its pioneers. The building contained some interesting memorabilia, but it serves most prominently as an archive of literature surrounding the trucking industry – brochures, manuals, newspaper ads and articles – anything to do with trucks. The readers who know Harvey well, will know of his passion for automobile literature and thus, he was fascinated with this collection. He could have spent hours perusing the items, but in deference to his travelling partners, he just took a brief look around, bonded with the staff, and committed to spending a day there if we were to return to KC.
It is difficult to describe a NASCAR race to anyone who has never attended one. It is a spectacle like none other that I have ever been to, and I’ve attended major league baseball, football, basketball and hockey games, as well as international soccer and skating events. NASCAR fans are a breed of their own – an eclectic mix of car lovers, good old boys and wide-eyed newcomers – 70,000 of them at this race. The camping and tailgating is crazy and the smoke and aroma of barbecue hangs in the air. It’s hard to imagine that watching 43 cars drive in circles 267 times around a 1.5 mile track could be so enthralling. It is not a social event while the race is going on – it’s too loud to hear (and you need earplugs when you aren’t wearing the scanner headphones) – so interaction consists of pointing and pantomime. It really is something that anyone who enjoys cars, racing, big events or just people watching should do at least once!
As I mentioned in my St. Louis post, we tried out a number of local restaurants, bars and coffee houses. Stay tuned for the details on those in St. Louis and Kansas City soon.
Kansas City was a fun place to visit and as mentioned, there are a lot more things we would love to do on a return trip.
Bev & Harv
Yesterday, I had what people call a milestone birthday – I turned 60. That’s a lot of miles travelled on this long and winding journey and on reflection, I realized that each of my “milestone” years has actually been quite significant. Just for fun (or if you think not, you can stop reading now), I thought I would share these memories with you.
1964 – I was 10. I started Grade 6 at South School. Significant for two reasons. I had left the comfort of South Hill School (they really weren’t too imaginative with school names in Red Deer at that time) where I had spent the first four years of my school life. At South Hill, frankly I was the ‘in’ kid – in those days, academic accomplishment really ruled. This was about to come to a crashing halt.
Not only was I now at a school with many new children thrown into the mix, I was with an entirely different grade. I had skipped grade 5 – my girls are now groaning as my mention of this has become a family joke! However, this had a very significant impact on my life. I was lucky enough to have friends in this class – most notably, my life-long pal, Darlene – so I wasn’t alone, but my status had definitely changed. While my confidence was boosted for academic reasons, I think that for many years, this event had a negative impact on my degree of social confidence.
On the up-side, if I hadn’t ‘accelerated’, the term they used at that time, my life might have taken a totally different path as it’s really all about what, or more importantly, who, we meet along our journey.
On the down-side, I missed learning about explorers in Grade 5! And they groan again……
1974 – Here I am, 20 years old, in Edmonton, completed my Med Lab training at NAIT and the Edmonton General Hospital, working at my first job at the Canadian Red Cross. I go for a weekend to the small town of Barrhead to visit my bestie, June. And I meet a guy by the name of Harvey Padget. This was quite the milestone. Here we are now – next month, we will celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary!
1984 – wow, already 30. Harvey & I have had a pretty great 10 years – travelled, established a home and our careers. I have even left the comfort of the Red Cross and am working as the Blood Bank supervisor at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Perhaps time for another significant milestone – on January 8, 1985, we become the proud parents of Kelsey Jean Padget. And three years later, October 30, 1987, her sister, Kristin Alana arrived. The greatest blessings of our lives – and my goodness, the journey changed.
Anyone who has had children knows how dramatically life changes. I was an independent, confident career person who suddenly was at the mercy of an 8 pound baby, with colic. She didn’t follow the established procedure manual! But that crook in the road passed quickly, although it seemed forever at the time, and the next time, I had the baby who slept through the night in the hospital.
Along with parenting skills, over the next few years, I paralleled my lab career with that of the perpetual volunteer (playschool treasurer, classroom helper, parent council chairperson, helper to soccer coaching Dad, skating club treasurer/ president/ webmaster/ event planner, skating association board member, etc. etc.) – and loved every step along the way! So many new experiences, so many new friends!
1994 – Lordy, Lordy, look who’s 40! I was back working for Red Cross (or had it become CBS yet – who knows?) – casual job in the lab. And my dream job came up. How lucky was I to become the program coordinator for the ALQEP TM program! This job has given me the opportunity to use my passion for immunohematology, to liaise with blood bankers across Canada, and the flexibility to not only continue with my many out of work activities, but also to take on other career challenges. Becoming an AABB assessor has been a highlight – combining my love of travel with the opportunity to visit labs all over North America, as well as Hawaii and Italy.
2004 – 50 – half a decade – so hard to believe. That year, another turn in the road led me to become an Assessment Coordinator with the CPSA Lab Accreditation Program. This has led me to new career challenges as an Accreditation Consultant with the CPSA. I am truly enjoying the miles along this road!
2014 – and that brings us to today – 60 years old. My goodness, time certainly changes one’s perception on when old age begins. I know there will be some significant events in this milestone year and I’m looking forward to saying some farewells and following some new turns in the road.
Bev (aka ‘the old boot’)