"If you are tempted by the awakening of your own long-dormant wanderlust, Going Gypsy can serve as a primer. . . . The questions [Veronica] poses about 'what next' are relatable ones for all empty nesters." —PBS's Next Avenue
We have been so incredibly fortunate to travel all across the world over the past ten years and never have any significant health issues. But for now we will be taking a break from traveling or posting any travel stories. This is the time to care for ourselves and several older loved ones that are at high risk… CONTINUE READING >>
We have been so incredibly fortunate to travel all across the world over the past ten years and never have any significant health issues.
The world is now a completely interconnected place, so stopping the spread of an extremely contagious virus is virtually impossible, but mitigating its damage hopefully is not.
For that reason we will be taking a break from traveling or posting any travel stories.
Now is the time to care for ourselves and several older loved ones that are at high risk.
Please, everyone do the same, and once this has passed we will all be able to enjoy exploring our wonderful world again.
Montreal is one of the most beautiful cities in North America. There are a number of beautiful destinations for people to take in during a visit and here are some of the best ones… CONTINUE READING >>
Montreal, in the province of Quebec in Canada, is one of the most beautiful cities in the country, and possibly the whole of North America. Its culture has been hugely influenced by the French, be it language or architecture. In fact, Montreal is the second-largest city in the world where French is the primary language, after Paris. This should be enough to show the impact that the French have had on this city, and that influence is evident today as well. There are a number of beautiful destinations for people to take in during a visit to Montreal, and we’ve tried to talk about some of the best ones here.
Old Port of Montreal
This is one of the most historically-steeped places in the city – while the port in its current guise was opened in 1830, itself almost 200 years ago, there are indications that the area was used as a trading post by French fur traders as long ago as 1611. It is no longer Montreal’s primary port, with the Port of Montreal in the eastern part of the city serving that purpose, and so now it is used for recreational and tourist activities. The port area includes the Montreal Science Centre, which has an IMAX theatre as well, and the historic and beautiful Montreal Clock Tower. Being on the riverfront, people have picturesque views in front of them as they walk, cycle, or even roller-blade, with the port being found at the eastern end of the Lachine Canal, which was itself refurbished to make it a popular destination for cycling and roller-blading. There are boats available to go out into the canal as well, while the port area also hosts cultural events such as the Igloofest, the Matsuri Japon festival and the Festival Montreal en lumiere. The port area has the tallest ferris wheel in Canada, while there is also an urban beach next to the clock tower. With all of these attractions, it is no wonder that the Old Port is one of the most popular destinations in the city.
The casino, found on the Notre Dame Island in Montreal, is one of the biggest attractions for tourists and residents alike in the city. It is the largest real money casino in the entire country, and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is a huge structure, consisting of three interconnected buildings, while the gaming floor clocks in at over 12 acres, or 526,000 square feet. That is certainly a lot of room for a variety of casino games, and it is no surprise that the numbers make for staggering reading: more than 3,200 slot machines, over 115 gaming tables, and even more speed lotteries and virtual gaming machines can be found on the casino floor. As with any top-notch casino, there are also other entertainment facilities available on site, with the Montreal casino having three bars, four restaurants, banquet facilities, meeting rooms and a cabaret as well. It is extremely well-connected in terms of transport links, and thus this is an experience which every visitor, and resident of Montreal, should have at least once.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
The city also boasts the largest art museum in Canada, with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts being the largest such museum in the country by gallery space. It is located on the iconic Golden Square Mile stretch of Sherbrooke Street, one of the most recognizable and famous areas of the city. The MMFA has over 140,000 square feet of exhibition space, with a total area of over 570,000 square feet. It is also the oldest museum in the country, being established in 1860. With some exceptional and exclusive collections available for art aficionados to admire, the MMFA is surely a must-visit destination for anybody in Montreal with even a passing interest in art.
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Even with all of the traveling we have done there are still some destinations we have missed. One in particular stands out as a very big missing link in our chain of journeys… India… CONTINUE READING >>
Even with all of the traveling we have done there are still some destinations we have missed. Many are small, out of the way places that could be easy to overlook, but one in particular stands out as a very big missing link in our chain of journeys… India.
When we got to thinking about going there the Taj Mahal jumped to mind, but as we dug a little deeper into our research we found that the Indian subcontinent is packed with many other marvelous monuments that easily rival that most famous mausoleum.
That led to us wondering what would be the best way to travel around in India to see them and Indigo was the airline that kept coming up. With flights to over six hundred cities we can get almost anywhere.
So we decided that we should begin with the World Heritage Site Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi, which while it is not as well known, is nearly as impressive as the TajMahal.
New Delhi is also home to the Hindu temple Swaminarayan Akshardham. This more modern landmark was opened in 2005 and features several unique attractions to go along with its spectacular architecture that is a blend of styles from all across the country.
We love boats, so the Sanskruti Vihar is definitely something we won’t want to miss. This twelve minute boat ride travels through ten thousand years of India’s history using state of the art robotics to depict life in the Vedic Age.
The temple also houses Delhi’s first and only large format screen theatre, showing the movie Mystic India. The film chronicles the pilgrimage of Swaminarayan across Indian subcontinent as an adolescent.
Before leaving Delhi we would certainly want to stop at the Bahá’í Lotus Temple as well. This is another modern marvel and is modeled after a lotus blossom.
After that we could book a flight ticket to the city of Junagadh for a visit to the Mahabat Maqbara. This magnificent mausoleum holds the tomb of Bahaduddinbhai Hasainbhai and incorporates elements of Islamic, Gothic, and European design.
Heading back up north to Agra we could finish up at the Crown of the Palace, the Taj Mahal. Made of white marble, the mausoleum dates back to 1632, when it was commissioned by the emperor Shah Jahan.
UNESCO has called it “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.” We just call it one of the last major items to check off of our bucket list.
As we investigated Indian culture further, we discovered a few traditions that could come in handy when we travel to India.
First, it is important to take off your shoes when entering all mosques, churches, and temples. While this is common for mosques throughout the world, in India it is considered rude not to remove footwear in any house of worship.
We will also want to perfect our Namaste, meaning I bow to you. This is perhaps the most popular of all Indian customs and is one of the five traditional forms of greeting that are mentioned in the ancient Hindu scriptures.
Lastly, we were excited to learn that it is almost always time for a festival in India. Because the country is home to so many diverse religions and groups, celebrations happen all throughout the year.
In honor of Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you!) we are taking a look back at this visit we took to one of the locations where the film was shot, Jedediah Smith State Park in Northern California… CONTINUE READING >>
In honor of Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you!) we are taking a look back at this visit we took to one of the locations where the film was shot.
For over one hundred years that dreaded cry filled the forests of the northern California coastal region.
Redwoods over three hundred feet high and a thousand years old came crashing to the ground at a frightening pace.
Over two million acres of these majestic trees were reduced to a few groves.
Thankfully the State of California stepped in and established Prairie Creek, Del Norte Coast, Humboldt and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Parks to protect the last of the Coastal Redwoods.
The National Park Service didn’t come on board until 1968, when 96% of the old growth forests were already gone. A sad commentary on the power that logging interests had on our government.
We assumed (and everyone knows what happens when you do that) that the biggest and best redwoods would be in Redwoods National Park.
Wrong. Because of their late entry into the save-the-redwoods movement, the National Park is a distant second to the State Parks when it comes to preserving big, tall, fat, ginormous, skyscraping trees.
Pure dumb luck brought us in from the north where we discovered Jedediah Smith State Park — and boy are we glad we did.
It turns out that this is where the Star Wars: Return of The Jedi chase scene on the flying motor bike speeder thingys was filmed. You know – the Forest Moon of the planet Endor, home to those adorable little kick-ass teddy bears, the Ewoks.
Pretty groovy, and a blast to talk about while gawking up at the surreal trees.
Named for the intrepid mountain man Jedediah (maybe his friends called him Jedi, get it, Star Wars?) Strong Smith, the park features some of the world’s largest redwoods by volume and untouched old growth groves.
Stout Grove is an easy hike from the road but a journey into a wet, dark mossy world so dense that the deluge of rain falling as we entered the grove barely made it to the ground.
It is difficult to maintain a sense of time and direction in this strange land, so there were a few times when we wished we had picked up one of these great compass watches from The Gear Hut.
It was also hard to keep a perspective of size in this extraordinary world without something or someone near the trees for reference.
Hence, David making his debut as a “tree model” for our photos and video.
The legendary Grove of Titans is also within this park but is nearly impossible to reach because its whereabouts remain a closely guarded secret.
It’s heartening to know that a grove of these magnificent monster trees is being kept pristine.
We headed south from old Jed’s place along US 101, known as The Redwood Highway in these parts.
The road connects all of the parks and feels like a trip through time. Mature coastal redwoods average over five hundred years old with
a few documented to have lived over two thousand years. They are among the longest-living organisms on earth and the forests have
a dreamlike prehistoric feel.
These are the tallest, most massive plants on Earth.
Many are over three hundred feet high, taller than a thirty story building and weigh in at well over a million pounds.
Currently the tallest is Hyperion in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, towering just over three hundred and seventy-nine feet, but others may have been larger.
A tree claimed to be three hundred and eighty feet was cut down in 1912. Humboldt is home to the oldest of the redwoods as well — one goliath is known to be 2,200 years old.
When US 101 was expanded a few years back, a new path was chosen to avoid disturbing the redwoods. Inside Humboldt Redwoods State Park the old highway, known as The Avenue of The Giants, was saved.
This is a road like no other.
Meandering into the forest, bright sunny days turn to twilight as the trees envelope the road.
The thirty-two miles of the old route running directly through the park were officially renamed California State Highway 254.
Once a stagecoach road to Oregon, later a US highway, now a national treasure, the narrow blacktop winds through the trees with the giants sometimes standing just inches from the pavement.
The temptation to gawk upward is great but keeping the rearview mirrors attached to the vehicle requires forward focus.
There are several interesting sights along the way and most are easily accessible. Founder’s Grove, The Immortal Tree, and the cheesy Drive Through Tree are all just off the road.
Further into the woods, The Rockefeller Forest is certainly worth the extra effort.
A very long couple of miles down the winding, beat up Mattole (rhythms with pothole) Road is rewarded with a walk through an untouched
stand along the banks of Bull Creek.
This is the largest old-growth coastal redwood forest remaining in the world. In the center of the grove stands Giant Tree.
Aptly named, it is an absolutely mammoth specimen, touching the sky at three hundred and sixty-three towering feet.
Continuing on 101 south of The Avenue of The Giants we would periodically pass through another grove, the headlights would come on and our necks would crane again.
After a while these giants began to seem almost normal. Weird as it seems, we had been desensitized.
Waking up the next morning, our memories were jogged as to just how huge these Sequoia Sempervirens really are.
And our necks were killing us from looking up so much.
Over the past ten years of our nearly nonstop travel we have managed to visit a ton of the destinations on our so-called bucket list. But one thing remains the same no matter where our adventures take us; we are always on the lookout for ways to save some money when we go gallivanting across the globe… CONTINUE READING >>
Over the past ten years of our nearly nonstop travel we have managed to visit a ton of the destinations on our so-called bucket list.
Most of these were typical classics that almost everyone has on their list, places like The Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu, The Grand Canyon, Rome, and Athens.
Many more that we had never thought of became bucket list items as soon as we saw them, such as Prague, The Galapagos Islands, Glacier Bay, and the Mayan Ruins in the Yucatan. And there are also some that we still have yet to see, such as Antarctica, Egypt, or the Taj Mahal.
It is actually hard to imagine kicking the bucket without seeing these amazing wonders or visiting Antarctica, which would mean that we had made it to all seven of the world’s continents.
But one thing remains the same no matter where our adventures take us; we are always on the lookout for cheap hotels as a way to save some money when we go gallivanting across the globe.
Wait a minute. Sometimes that phrase can cause the wrong reaction.
We don’t mean cheap as in some dumpy flea-bag or scary flop house. Nobody wants to stay in a place with funky towels or a squishy mattress.
We mean a good deal on a great place to stay. Because the right hotel can make or break a trip and a particularly great one can be a huge addition to a destination.
Sure sometimes a hotel is just a place to sleep for the night, and we always want to spend as little as possible for that while still having the amenities we like. But for a longer stay, we certainly try to find accommodations that have an interesting story to tell.
So when we look to book hotels in London, such as an inn with an historic past or a modern state of the art high rise, we love lodging that enhances our travels.
We have also found that not only the building, but the attitude of the staff and management of a hotel can have a huge positive impact on our explorations of a place we have never been before. Come to think of it, they can really help in cities we have visited numerous times by recommending things we never knew about.
That kind of inside information is priceless, giving “cheap” even more value in any price range. Having all of this material available at a moment’s notice is truly incredible.
We often speculate on just how much more difficult finding places to stay would have been in the days before the World Wide Web. It is hard to believe that we could have possibly researched and booked rooms all around the world using only phone books, magazines, faxes, and snail mail.
Nowadays we can hardly envision gallivanting around the globe the way we do without all of the knowledge, foresight, recommendations, and values we find with one click online. Lucky for us we have all of that information at right at our fingertips.
No time better than the present to put it to good use and start planning our next adventure.