Traveling via the movies – Only You

Movies – Another type of blog post I thought I might write from time to time.  I really enjoy watching movies filmed in places where I’ve been though sometimes it’s a bit disconcerting. Sometimes one city is used to represent another. Toronto and Vancouver are two of these and it’s weird when you’re supposed to be watching action taking place in New York City and you see the very distintive Vancouver Central Library in the background.

That’s not really what this post is about. The kind of movies I mean are the ones that are filmed in great locations that make you want to go visit there. It’s an added bonus if you’ve been there already, of course.  I tend to prefer movies that take place in one city or region rather than the world-wide locations found in a movie like, for instance, many of the James Bond adventure. You don’t really get a good feel for a place in those which only have a few scenes before scooting off to the next city or country.

One of my favourites of this type is Only You, released in 1994 and starring Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. It’s a Romantic Comedy and fairly predictable as are they all but I really like it. I always liked RDJ and Marissa Tomei as well.

The premise of the movie involves a woman, Faith, who, when she was a little girl, always believed in soul mates and was told by a Ouija Board and later by a fortune teller, the name of her future husband, Damon Bradley. She believes in Destiny on the whole but never meets him and gets engaged to a less than soul-mate-ish man but just before her wedding, she takes a phone call from someone who says he’s a former classmate of her fiance and his name is Damon Bradley. It’s Fate! It’s Destiny! Faith takes it on, er, faith, that this is meant to be and goes on a wild goose chase all over Italy to find Mr. Bradley, dragging her sister-in-law with her.  Does she find Damon Bradley? Does she marry the boring podiatrist  or does she find that through her quest to find the man she thinks is her soul mate, she will meet her true soul mate? (oh, come on, you should already know the answer to all of these questions!)

Positano, on the Amalfi coast of Italy, One of the locations in Only You

Positano, on the Amalfi coast of Italy, One of the locations in Only You

The locations you see are Venice, Rome, Positano, Sienna and a few more. It’s a wonderful tour around Italy. At the time the movie was released, I had only been to Rome briefly. Two years later I went on a bus tour around Italy and saw many of the places in the film. Now that I’ve recently been to Rome again, I’m going to have to find the movie and watch it again! And if that movie doesn’t make you want to visit Italy, here’s a few more that might:

Summertime, with Katherine Hepburn. This takes place in Venice.

Wings of a Dove with Helena Bonham Carter, which also takes place partly in Venice

Letters to Juliet with Amanda Sefried which takes place in  Verona and Tuscany

Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn filmed in Rome

Those are ones that I’ve enjoyed but there are many, many more.

Impressions of Copenhagen

In 2010, we decided to go to Copenhagen because a friend of my partner lived there with his family. They were acquainted with each other because my fella and his friend both do an internet radio show, featuring music not for the faint of heart! It wasn’t a city we had thought about before but while doing research, it appealed more and more so we booked it and flew over from Manchester for 5 days.

Here then are my overall impressions of the city.

Bikes! Yes this is a city full of bicycles, like Amsterdam but the bikes here seem in better condition. We’ve been told that people in Amsterdam use old bikes for around the city in case they get stolen which is very common there. Maybe it isn’t as much here? Don’t know. They also have bikes with a carrier box in front for cargo and sometimes kids. Yet, we haven’t heard many people lay on the warning bells on the bikes like we did in Amsterdam though you still need to keep an eye out and remember the bike lanes will be occupied by two wheeled vehicles who have the right of way there.

I saw one bike parking garage at Norreport station and I’m sure there are probably others around the city but we didn’t see them, mainly being in the old section of the city most of the time. The streets are mainly wide other than in the old “Latin Quarter”. The bike lanes are also wide and, on many of the roads, the bus stops on the street side of the bike lane, not near the sidewalk. Good concept!

The people were really nice in the restaurants and shops. Language hasn’t been a problem either. Saying “Hi” is the same in both languages, more or less and we made sure to say “Tak” for Thank you even when spoken to in English.

I couldn’t  seem to get a good strong cup of hot tea. It’s definitely coffee culture there.  And they serve coffee and tea in glasses quite often. There’s no coffee or tea makings in the hotel room and I don’t know if that’s common or just this hotel. We can get it free in the hotel lounge if we want.

I notice people don’t queue politely for the bus, they just crowd through the door to get in.  A bit disconcerting if you try to get off though you are supposed to exit through the back door of the bus.

There are lots of big parks and green spaces even in the old part of the city. There are lots of towers and spires on buildings and churches, usually elaborately decorated. Many buildings are brightly painted in warm colours, yellows, oranges, golds, rusts, with some blues, pinks and greens thrown in. The buildings have a lot of large windows, too. Many of the older houses and buildings have clay tiled roofs. Many of the streetlights are hung off wires that are strung down the centre of the streets. Thus, the power wires tend to clutter up the photos!

There are a lot of really nice squares and piazzas in the old part of the city, all of them with outdoor cafes and bars. Many of them provide small blankets in case it is chilly outside. Novel concept! Most of the restaurants and bars are now non smoking so you do get the usual group of people outside the entrances having a cig.

Latin Quarter, Copenhagen

Most of the cafes/restaurants we went to, you would order at the bar and pay up front and they’ll bring the food to you. Posher places will bring you a bill but the tip/service charge is usually included already. It’s useful but not so great if you do get slow or lousy service.

The city is flat with a lot of cobblestones on the sidewalks and many of the older streets but there are rows of flat paving stones through the cobbles as “lanes” that you can walk on to save your ankles.

Everywhere we ate, the food was so nicely presented, almost works of art sometimes. Lots of greenery on the plates and food, not always to our taste but it was pretty anyway. We have had the occasional meal that wasn’t that good but mostly it’s been really excellent food.

There are three castles/palaces in the city centre. We went through one of them and saw the other two including a Changing of the Guard at the Amalienborg complex. They seem to be very conscious of their history and heritage and even newer buildings often reflect the style of the older ones nearby.

Doing research, it seems that many of the hotels have free Wi-Fi, ours included which is very modern and very handy. Our hotel has free wi-fi but has a computer in the lobby that they charge for use.

Copenhagen is definitely a lovely city, beautiful architecture, good food and nice people. It’s expensive, most definitely, but it’s definitely worth visiting and it’s a place I’d visit again should the opportunity arise.

A little later on, I’ll post some travelogues from our visit to Copenhagen.

Word of the week photograph challenge – Wood

This week’s photo challenge from A Word In your Ear

Wood – shiny, smooth, raw, carved, sculpted, polished, burned. Wood is used for so many things in our lives from shelter to furniture to decoration. Wood on the fire keeps us warm and safe and that fire can keep us fed.  Wood comes from trees and trees live and give life and shelter life.

Many years and more lives than a cat.

Birch bark canoe Port Royal, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia

A door in John Ryland Library, Manchester, UK

Wood can be used to make instruments that bring us music of all kinds.

Didgeridoos, guitars, (and there are bongo drums just below the photo edge)

Man and Caber Highland Games, Nova Scotia


Wooden shoe and wooden tulips, symbols of The Netherlands

And finally, this piece of old charred wood was found in excavations in London near London Bridge. They have dated it back to Roman times, circa 50 A.D., probably a post from an old dock or pier. It was discovered in 1981 and this piece can be found in the courtyard behind St. Magnus Martyr in London, near London Bridge where the original bridge (or the one that stood the longest)  across the Thames stood.

Roman post


Fab Photo Friday – Minack Theatre, Cornwall

This is the view…

From here…

Minack Theatre on the south coast of Cornwall, UK

The Minack Theatre clings to the cliffs off the south coast of Cornwall, open to the sea air and breezes. The word “minack” means rocky place and it certainly is that.

As a child in Derbyshire, Rowena Cade enjoyed performing in productions that her mother put on locally. As an adult, she and her widowed mother moved to Cornwall and settled on the Minack headland, building Minack house. While Rowena participated in local productions and plays, she found she enjoyed backstage work more, creating costumes and scenery.

In 1929 she helped put on an open air production of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. Success soon promoted more and Rowena thought she could create an open air stage at the base of a gully and slowly a small area was cleared and created just beyond the garden of her house.

Over the rest of the 1930s, the stage and seating area were created out of local granite, pebble by pebble. All this was deconstructed during WWII due to security concerns and Rowena and her work crew had to start over. She was determined and she did it. She expanded and refined the theatre continually, helping out with the physical work alongside the crews well into her advancing years. She died just before turning 90 with future dreams for the theatre still filling pages of plans. There’s a lot more history and detail here.

On our visit to Cornwall in the spring of 2011, we made the journey to the theatre, though we weren’t there for a performance. There’s a lovely garden at the top of the site, near the parking lot and then a visitor centre with a little exhibit to show you the history of the theatre. You can climb up and down the paths along the granite seating that rises up from a small circular stage. You can look out over the sea. You can descend to the nearby beach (or drive there as well).

We didn’t get to see a performance but I can imagine how spectactular it must be to see one in that setting, open to the elements as the sun sets over the horizon. I highly recommend a visit, especially if you can see a play.

They are open for visits even in winter, though with reduced hours (closed by 4 p.m.) and it costs £4 with parking on site.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Delicate

A Word In Your Ear’s other challenge is a photo challenge as well, Delicate.

Delicate can be fragile. That’s what most people think of when they hear the word. Things that could easily fall apart or break. Delicate colours are pale, pastel, soft looking.

Here are some delicate things…

Whiskers on Kittens

Lavender is fragile and it’s light scent is delicate.

Tiny Starfish

Tiny Starfish

Moorhen chicks

A Word a Week Photograph Challenge – Light

This week’s word from A Word in Your Ear’s blog is Light.

Light… Light of day. Sunlight. Moonlight. Candlelight. Light and Dark. Light as a feather.  The light of my life. Light is revealing. You can see the light when you understand the truth.

Light is not always easy to capture in a photo, for me. It doesn’t always look the way I see it. But sometimes, it comes out better than I expect, a trick of light perhaps. Light and shadow is interesting to photograph.  Light at dusk doesn’t look that blue to the eye but it photographs wonderfully.

Here then are some photos about light.

Light refracted causes rainbows. This one, in the highlands of Scotland, seems to be laying on the ground but is probably the top of the rainbow.  It’s possible that the angle of the sun late morning and the height above sea level caused this phenomenon.

Glencoe, Scotland.

Fireworks light up the sky

Chateau Frontenac, Quebec City at dusk

Light and Shadow

Light gives you silhouettes

Loch Caron, West Highlands, Scotland

St. Anne de Beaupre, Quebec




Reality award!

reality-blog-awardI am very flattered to be awarded the REALITY blogger award by The Habitual Runaway’s blog. It’s lovely to know people are reading and enjoying armchair traveling and planning with me here.

To accept the award, I must answer 5 questions and then nominate 5 blogs I enjoy reading.

1. If you could change something, what would you change?
I would invent the Transporter, like they have in Star Trek. Flying and slogging through airports is such a chore. I always say I love to travel, I just hate getting there.

2. If you could relive one day, when would that be?
I guess that could be the day Graham and I got engaged, May 30, 2006. We spent much of the day in Blackpool, about an hour’s drive from Manchester under sunny skies, also a rarity for most of my visits overseas. We went up the Blackpool Tower, had fish and chips by the seaside, went to a Doctor Who exhibit and later, in the airport hotel that night, he asked me to marry him (I was flying home to Canada the next morning). Eee it were a Grand Day!

3. What one thing really scares you?
Losing someone I love is awful. Thinking that I will eventually lose others scares me.

4. What one dream have you not completed yet and do you think you will be able to complete it?
Keeping back it to a travel theme, I’d love to fly around the world. If I ever get to go to Australia and New Zealand, I will head there from one direction and head home from the other. Will I be able to do it? Hard to say. I’ll probably have to wait until I retire to have the time to do it and possible the money as well.

5. If you could be someone else for the day, who would you be?
Are there things about myself I would change? Yes. But would I want to be anyone else for a day? I am not so sure I would unless it was a lottery winner ;)

Here’s five blogs I like to read. I guess I can’t nominate the Habitual Runaway back though I do enjoy reading her adventures!

Kim at Tranquil Dreams – The movie reviews, the travel and the photos!

Nikki at International Travel Chick – a new follow for me and already I’m hooked on her travels!

Sue at A Word in Your Ear – For the wonderful weekly challenges, great travel stories and even her weird stuff that happens!

Gerty at Paradise Has Mosquitos – Another new follow – An Englishwoman living in Portugal with lots of various topics to explore

London Historians because History is my other love!

Planning: A Bite out of the Big Apple

St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York City

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City

Right. So. The next trip up on the planning board is New York City for May.

I was in New York once for a brief visit during a training course in New Jersey. A few of us students took the bus into the city and walked over to see the Empire State Building. We went up and watched as the lights started to come on as dusk settled over the skyline. Walking back to Port Authority bus terminal, we could see the lights of Times Square as we crossed over 7th Ave. I stopped in the middle of the cross walk in the middle of the street to gawp and take pictures!

I spent Saturday in the city, as well, since I wasn’t flying home until Sunday. I spent the morning in the Metropolitan Museum and met up with an aquaintance for lunch, walking around the general area and into Times Square in the afternoon with him. My impressions of New York then were twofold.

Colour. There was colour everywhere! It was high summer and there were bright banners on buildings, magazine stands with lots of colours on display, people were wearing cheery clothing, yellow taxis were rivers on the streets. Then there was Times Square. Talk about an explosion of colour! Even the garbage bags were pink and blue and there was a neon sign over the police station!

Smell. There was a wide variety of smells, both good and bad as I walked along. Food drifting out of restaurants. Chemical smells from hair salons. Masses of human beings. Diesel and gasoline engines of the vehicles. Perfumes on people. New York was an assault on the senses, to be sure, and now after nearly 15 years, I’ll be back. We’ll still only scratch the surface in just a few days but it’s a start!

Already, I’ve been looking at hotel prices and wow, what a shock I’ve had!

When I was looking for hotels in Rome, I expected the hotel prices to be very expensive and they weren’t. They were no worse than London where I can always find reasonable hotels in London within my budget, generally paying between $125 and $160 Canadian per night. On the whole, we were quite happy with the Bailey’s Hotel in Rome and I’d recommend it.

New York City was an eye opener. Even cheap chains like Days Inn and that sort of thing were a good bit over $200 a night! Anything under $200 includes shared bathrooms and facilities or is in New Jersey, or by the airport or in Brooklyn or Queens. I want to stay on Manhattan and I don’t want to be way down at the tip or up on the north of the island either. It’s better to be within relative walking distance of many of the sights so I guess I’ll have to resign myself to a higher budget this time.

I’ve already got my eye on a couple of likely candidates, several being suite hotels with a small kitchen which is good for stocking up for breakfasts and evening snacks. The drawback to one of them  is it’s only serviced by housekeeping once a week though they’ll bring more towels or pillows if you ask. That’s probably not a big deal, really. I *do* know how to make a bed! Haven’t looked too much further into the other similar ones but I will be doing so.

Looking on Expedia, I see they will combine flight and hotel for some good discounts in some cases. I think I’ll look into that further across a few sites that do packages and see what kind of a deal I can get that way. Anyone that has any recommendations, do feel free to comment. It’s much appreciated.

Things to do: Well, my partner wants to go up the Empire State Building so we’ll do that. I like going up high places, too! I would like to take the Staten Island Ferry over and back for a good view of the skyline and *that* statue, though otherwise not that interested in actually visiting it. I have been to the Metropolitan Museum and, looking around at the other big museums, I think the Frick Collection might be just the thing. We will probably take in the theatre, too, at least one night.  St. Patrick’s Cathedral is also on my list.

We’ll probably take the hop-on hop-off tour around to see the main sights and it will be useful for transportation, too. The companies that do it have 48 and 72 hour passes that cover a handful of different tours you can take including a night tour. There are several routes so you could break them up over a couple of days rather than packing it all into one day.

A Word a Week challenge: Blue

Blogger Sue at A Word In Your Ear posts two weekly challenges, one is a random word and one is a photo topic. The word challenge this week is Blue.

I generally post photos to go with the word chosen but you can post anything, a blog entry, song, poem etc.

Blue is the sky (one hopes). Blue is a mood, in which case, it’s more grey than blue. Blues music is about the soul, but you can rock it up to a foot tapping beat. Matt Minglewood’s Rockin’ the Blues comes to mind. Even better, his East Coast Blues, one of my favourites. Blue is soothing. Blue seems to be everyone’s favourite colour, though mine, personally, is red!

Blue is moody, atmospheric. Blue is exotic if you see it in a flower or a bird. Blue skies ahead means happy days and a bright future but Blue Christmasses are sad.

Here then, are some of my favourite photos featuring the all-encompassing colour of Blue!

Doctor Who’s TARDIS

The ladies’ loo in the Tyburn pub, Edgeware Rd. London

Spikey boots – used by a competitor in the Highland Games

Joe’s Scarecrow Village – Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

Coronation Street is a British serial that has been running for 52 years now. There is one actor that has been on the show since the very first episode and is in the Guinness Book of records as the person playing the same character the longest on current television. (William Roache)

Number 9 Coronation Street – Even though the Duckworths don’t own it now, it will forever be “Jack and Vera’s” house

Coins in the fountain

Porcelain figurine seen in a Bed and Breakfast in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia

And last, but not least, blue for atmosphere:

Rick Neilson of Cheap Trick on stage

WordPress Daily Prompt: Time Capsule

Gelato in Rome

Gelato in Rome

The idea of WordPress’s daily prompt is to get people to blog more. I don’t really need that incentive, but sometimes it’s fun to follow the meme anyway. Today’s is asking what you would put in your 2012 time capsule. Because this blog is travel-oriented, I’ll have to make it relate to my travels this year!

That would include:

Trip to Quebec City in May:

French dictionary
Toy train: We took the overnight train
Heating pad: Because I had back trouble through most of the trip!

Memories of Rome:
Italian dictionary
A skull: To remember our visit to the Capuchin monk ossuary in Rome
Poster of the Sistine Chapel ceiling

Memories of England:
Eccles cakes (made for and served to us on our visit to friends in Sunderland)
A broken camera (Aggh!)
A copy of Clockwork Orange (an exhibit in the John Rylands Library commemorating it’s 50th anniversary of publication)

Of course, there’s many more memories and probably one or two other things that I would put in the capsule but we’ll leave it at that :)