Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Van Orden New York Moment

It suddenly occurred to me that my family the Van Orden's were from New York near the Hudson River and ta-dah, I was in Albany. How close could they be? Could I find them?

Thank you Internet!!!

With very little effort, I found my way to the Catskills and to East Windham. A teeny tiny town where the "Peter Van Orden Rural Cemetery" lies. 

Unable to find it, I stopped to ask someone washing his car and many thanks....he knew all about Peter.

Peter was the first Dutchman in the area. He opened an inn for the people driving their cattle across the Catskills mountains to the Hudson River.  It turns out that despite the Indians being in the area and rather dangerous, they would not go up into the mountains because they believed the spirits lived there. That was to Peter's advantage. No Indian trouble.

Up a short steep hill and there I was generations later and I stood looking down at Peter's headstone.

So who is he to me?  His son, William and daughter Julia Ann, both joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. William by the way, married Julia Ann Haight and Julia Ann married Julia Ann's brother. Yep, Julia Ann Haight Van Orden and Julia Ann 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Travel Thoughts, Hints, Comments and oh ARGH!

 Good Bad and What I'd Do Differently

This grand adventure, I should count up the miles, it would be thousands (about 17680 or so give or take--I had to figure it out) and took 30 days. I've been in six countries and seen great thing after great thing.

So...what would I do differently? What great choices did I make? What mistakes?

Here are a few:

Great choices:
  1. If you're going to visit the Greek islands, do a cruise. Even though, I really don't like the cruise lifestyle, it was great to only unpack once.
  2. Renting a scooter on Rhodes and Santorini. So fun!
  3. Doing the hop on hop off bus in all four cities...Istanbul, Athens, Dublin and Edinburgh. It's a great way to get a feel for the city and know what you want to go back and see.
  4. Staying at the colleges. Even though Pollock Halls had the WORST mattress ever, the rooms were safe, clean and comfortable.
  5. Good shoes! I stumbled across a pair of sneakers at WalMart for $5!!! They have been wonderful and lightweight. Bad shoes will ruin a vacation!!!
  6. Umbrella, sunscreen and bug spray (for the Highlands)
  7. Pony trekking. I wasn't sure I wasn't going to pull it off, but both experiences were well worth it.
  8. Leaving my luggage at Dublin airport. Too much, too heavy. I grabbed a smaller bag and left the big stuff there.
  9. Here's a GREAT choice. I brought a lightweight blanket and my beach towel. In Arrochar, the hotel gave me a comforter that didn't even cover me. I was glad for the blanket.
  10. Renting the car and driving out to Gallipoli. Just a nice way to start off the trip. And went very smoothly.

Poor Choices:
  1. Despite trying not to overpack, going between so many climates made for a mess. BUT...still, I just should have brought less and not worried about just wearing things again and again.
  2. Bringing too many granola bars. I just didn't have the discipline to eat them and they were heavy!!
  3. Brought two rain coats....one was a special riding coat which weighs 2.2 pounds!!!! didn't need, didn't use. The other was what I thought would be a great raincoat. NOPE...it soaked through and was quite heavy besides. Rolling eyes.
Best Purchases:
  1. a tiny fan that is a USB. The hotels in Scotland and Ireland were hot and my fan made them comfortable and made white noise so I could sleep more easily.
  2. A white linen shirt (which I overpaid for) in Ephesus....but I wore it EVERY day in Turkey and Greece and didn't have worry about sunburn. Soooo good!
  3. Spices in Istanbul. If nothing else, I kept thinking how much our daughter in law might enjoy them.
  4. Turkish Delight!  REAL Turkish Delight!  Yummy!!!
Good Choices:
  1. Not pre-paying gas in my rental car. They wanted $50 pounds and I just didn't do that much driving around. I did, but they got great mileage. It cost me $33.15 to fill the car myself.
  2. Leaving my luggage at my hotel at the university and going to get my rental car THEN getting the luggage rather than having to drag it through Edinburgh.
  3. EasyJet. It was cheap and not bad. A long flight would not have been comfortable but funny basic “benchy” seats were kind of amusing. Just know you pay for EVERYthing. Even your dri

    nks. (tap water is free).
  4. Bringing little anti-bacterial wipes for those occasions without soap. And tissues... but I got a bit excited about those and over brought.
  1. Internet!!! The cruise company wanted $22 a DAY!!! for terrible connection. And the “free” internet that people said we'd find, meant...buy something at a cafe and maybe their internet would work.
  2. Phone!!! We changed our phones to have a Europe unlimited text and data. Well, the data didn't work. Ever! But oddly enough, I was able to text my children while out a sea...away from any visual land.
  3. My car was MUCH bigger than I'd hoped. Something tiny would have been less stressful. And I HATED paying $10 pounds a day for a satnav.
  4. Aer Lingus (like EasyJet) will give you a big discount on paying for luggage IF you book it ahead of time. Because I booked my flight with Expedia, Aer Lingus would NOT allow me to pick seats nor pre-pay my luggage. Sigh.
  5. ATM WARNING!!! My bank charged me $5.00 a time getting out cash. We weren't getting a lot out each time for a bit. BAD choice!!!!

Last Stop--Dublin--Another Ancient City

Dublin—Another Ancient City

I think that could be the title of this grand adventure. 

 One Ancient City after another.
Dublin is just plain old. No doubt. 
I passed a 4500 BC site today where they found fishing traps and the city was founded in 1256...I think..something like that—right century anyway. Yep. That's OLD!

This chain mail weighs a TON!
It's an interesting blend of Viking, Celt, Norman, English and finally free Irish.

They talk of Dublin being one of the wealthiest cities in the world (before the Normans did their damage). Trading with places as far as Istanbul. Hmm....been there recently. That seems appropriate somehow.
The Custom's House (rebuilt 3 times!)

They have anger toward the 1801 act which abolished the Irish Parliament and all the wealth Brits moved home to rule Ireland from there. Absentee landlords are never an easy prospect.

Replica Jeanie Johnston carried
over 2500 immigrants
I heard about the Potato Famine at the Jeanie Johnston--a famine ship. (No my students....potatoes don't come from Idaho!--nor do they come from Ireland—think Columbian Exchange...) Soooo, excited that I've stumbled onto some cool primary sources for my next year's discussion on immigration!

They speak with pride about the 1916 Uprising. Where 16 martyrs lost their lives by firing squad for their roles in trying to bring independence to Ireland. (Aren't we glad John Hancock and the like got away?)
The Presidents House in Phoenix Park

And of 1922 when Ireland finally got their independence. Oops...and some continued IRA activity blowing things up in the 1970s.

The city is a mix of architecture. Modern, sleek, weird, beautiful and Georgian, Victorian and then the old stuff. Churches and cathedrals sprinkle the landscape.

To a non-drinker, their marriage to Guinness and drink is amazing. The Guinness factory here still makes 10 million...that's million pints a day. And this is not their biggest factory. Realize this though. Poor Yorkshire farmers and Italian immigrants to America needed to fill the bellies of their hardworking men. They couldn't afford meat so what'd they do? Yorkshire pudding and pizza. Stout is Ireland's answer to that problem. Evidently, stout is very filling. As my guide said today, “Well, even if you don't like the taste, you won't be hungry for awhile. It does make some sense when you have 1.2 million people starve to death during the Potato famine, I can see people doing whatever it takes to survive.
The Green in Trinity College

So, I rode through the city, managing to take pics despite a brisk breezy trying to blow away my ipad before the rain started. Learning and remembering.

I'm staying at another ancient university. Trinity. What a privilege I've had to have stayed at four, two of those this trip. (Edinburgh, Trinity, Oxford and Cambridge.) Drove by St. Andrews but didn't stop.

Yes, it rained. Got wet up to my knees. But with all the museums, I could have stayed more days and not seen it all. (I walked 4.85 miles today...and it didn't seem like all that much.)

But tomorrow, I go home. At long last.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

And the Sun Came Out!

Look, it's the SUN! And to celebrate , I found a castle. And ....went riding. Twice. Yes, really.
I first took a lesson. After not riding for six weeks, it was a good idea, but Abby was a massive 16.2 hands and had a big moving trot. Even Eiger's moving trot makes me a tad nervous. Hers???  Whew! 

It was good to work hard. By the end, I was doing much better.
Then I went with Loch Lomond Trekking. Super sweet Suzanne and darling cobs. 
I've never ridden a cob. They're such traditionally British horse. Tilly was broken to drive and ride . She was massive!!! Broad back. Huge feet. Suzanne said she's a "doer" and can practically live on air.  Chuckle.
Big and sweet. With a Wintec saddle, I was fully at home and off we went.

The moor--pronounced me-ewer (very soft r) was lovely. The sun came out and  down below stretched Loch Lomond the largest fresh body of water in the UK.
I learned that a mountain over 3000 ft is called a Munro and Ben Lomond is the most southern Munro in Scotland.

Surrounded by ferns as tall as my pony's tummy, the sun dipping in and out of the puffy clouds, the breeze keeping things from being too warm, I felt swallowed by the Highlands.
I'd done it. I'd found the moment. The moment I'd dreamed of. The moment I'd hoped for. The moment I wanted but thought I'd lost when I couldn't do the big cross country riding because of my appendix.

I'd brought my riding boots, my breeches, sunscreen and bug spray.  

Now I can go home.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Highlands!

The thing about the weather in Scotland is that you can't look out the window and wonder what the day's going to be like. Just figure at some point it's gong to rain.
Maybe hard. Maybe this almost feathery sprinkle. Maybe a few splats, but it's going to rain.

This makes shirts and jackets tough. If the sun's out it's warm.  But this week anyway, that's few and far between. 

The mountains are breathtaking. This is outside my hotel in Arrochar (pronounced ahrow-car).
They're steep and sometimes craggy. But they're so green.  This is Loch Lomond. Notice the water fall.
I went looking for a riding stable and ended up basically four wheeling down a country road. (Never found the stable.)
But I did see a brown eagle. Massive wingspan.
The tiny towns are still so remote. This gives the countryside a very auld feel.  Delightful! 
Now if my hotel didn't have that same auld feel, it'd be just about perfect.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Crete...Not What I Was Expecting

Crete is the land of the Minoans. Theseus and the Minotaur.

And after several picturesque, well kept, beautiful islands, that's what I'd come to expect.

The rocky, dry hillside in the distance should have given me a hint.

The island of Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and the farthest south. We landed on the port of Souda, a small but very industrialized area and took the city bus into town. We had thought about trying to walk into town. No way! It was a full 20 minute bus ride.

Chania is the city. Second largest in Crete. And quite frankly, Crete seems tired, beat up. Like Athens it's plagued by graffiti and except for the most touristy parts, it wasn't very well kept up or clean.

In World War II, Crete was hotly contested by the Germans and the British and the Cretans...not Cretins.  It's value as a refueling and supply depot for either side, caused fierce fighting amoung brave partisans and their allies the British and the Nazis.  

There is a large mountain with steep cliffs jutting out on one part of the island quite a distance from Chania. Standing the harbor, looking off at it, I couldn't help but wonder if that very site inspired Alistair Maclean's "The Guns of Navarone."  If you haven't read the book or seen the movie with Gregory Peck...you should!

My one regret was not making it to the cemetery too far outside of town to walk and we couldn't manage renting a scooter. (Boy, did we try though.)

The old city and harbor was charming if you could manage to stave off the taverna and glass bottomed boat hawkers.
And the old lighthouse and crusader wall was great.

Despite the many days shopping,
there were still special things to find and we realized besides me need to taste baklava everywhere, we were in Greece and actually had not tried a gyro. A special treat at home. Curious they don't serve lamb. It was pork or chicken.  And only mediocre as it turned out.

We did not regret missing the Palace ruins where the labyrinth was. We heard the site has been picked over and all the best pieces are in a museum far away and it was five hours of driving.

Just before jumping on the bus, we found a local market and that's where we found the baklava. (It had almonds :( and the walnut flavor wasn't very strong. But seeing the fishermen's catch was wild especially for a landlubber like me.

The most interesting thing we saw? Queues at the Greek banks. People trying to get out the 60 euros allowed by the government each day due to financial crisis.  

The most peculiar thing we did? We stopped at a small spa and and had our feet kissed by tiny fish. They need to do this I the U.S.! People would love it!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Beautiful Mykonos

With a cooling breeze, Mykonos was a billion times more comfortable than sweltering Athens.

The port town is an unbelievably delightful maze of shops, tavernas and houses. Walt Disney himself couldn't have designed a sweeter, more enjoyable place.

Private Yachts. Those things
were huge!!

But, watch out for the trucks! Really. Tiny trucks which send all the pedestrians....shopkeepers included, scurrying for steps, alcoves or stores to get out of the way.

Everything here is white, white, white. It gives it a very clean feel.

My favorite thing was the beautiful handmade jewelry and art work--paintings, handwoven fabrics, pottery. Too bad I'm about shopped out.
Our ship anchored. We had to tender in.

But it was a fun day not to go out away from the town. Just grabbed the computer and TRIED to access the Internet.

And what else? Taste some....baklava, of course!

This is some of the best of the whole trip. To say that it's buttery, seems weird. But it was sweet but not too. And very gooey!
I really want some of those little knives and forks.....