Travel Theme – Autumn

Ailsa’s travel theme this week is Autumn which is nearly over. Ok, it’s not officially over until Dec. 21 I think or the 20th but once the colourful leaves on the trees turn brown and they fall off the branches, it feels like autumn is done, at least here in Canada. Having said that, I visited Paris in mid November in 2007 and there was still colour on the trees. Rome in November has no colourful signs of autumn at all though I do recall scarlet vines on buildings further north in Italy in places such as San Gimignano. Autumn in much of the UK where I’ve been at that time of year seems to fade from green to yellow to brown.

Here then, from my travels, mainly from that trip to Paris are some examples of autumn.

Abbesses Metro, Paris

Abbesses Metro, Paris

Etat General, Paris

The Louvre, Paris

San Gimignano, Italy

Black and White Monday

This is a photo that I’ve probably blogged before. It’s one of my favourites though it wasn’t always. It was a colour film photo that was drab and non-descript. When I scanned it, a few years after I took it, I played around with it in Photoshop and this was the result. I was quite pleased with it. Black and White photography can really “pop” a photo, with contrasting light and textures.

I was on a walking tour through Richmond and we walked along the Thames towards a pier. There was a boat builder just beside this where we stopped to hear about him persuing his craft using traditional methods. We later boarded a boat to sail to Hampton Court where we had a guided tour of the highlights of the palace. I really want to go back again someday and explore it all.

The Thames, at Richmond

Travel Theme: Numbers

This week’s travel theme from Where’s My Backpack has me thinking about numbers, budget numbers.  Do you set a budget and work within it when you travel? I do and I don’t. I don’t set a specific number as such but I do set limits for what I’m willing to pay for hotels and other expenses. I wait for seat sales, buy train tickets in advance, and book attractions online where they often have a little discount. Yes, you might be restricted to a particular day but that’s the…er..price you pay.

I lob all the prices and costs into a spreadsheet, add on a ballpark amount for “spending” money which would include food, gas, transportation (cabs, bus etc.), phone top ups and other miscellaneous purchases. Then I make a column to record how much has been put in the savings account and later, how much I’ve paid on my credit card once things are purchased or charged (flight, hotels, etc) so I can see how much more I need to save/pay. There’s X dollars that generally go towards the travel fund each pay so when I’m ready to book, there’s a good bit there already.

Most of the time, the bulk of the trip is paid for by the time I leave. Yep, sometimes I splurge while away, sometimes spend more than the allotted X dollars spending money. That’s ok, though. I’m pretty good for staying within the budget or reasonably so.

The travel has other advantages. Other numbers that add up. I’m a registered Aeroplan member and have a credit card that gets me points. I watch the miles add up and currently I’ve got enough for two flights in North America. Notice I don’t say “Free”. When I started using Aeroplan, there was a small fee to book using points. Now they charge you all the taxes and surcharges and your “free” ticket isn’t so free anymore. A flight to London from Halifax most of the time costs, with taxes and charges all in, about $1100 to $1200 depending on when you go and if you can get a seat sale. A “free” ticket on Aeroplan points costs over $600. It sometimes costs more than the price of the airfare.  I can remember when a ticket to London on Air Canada would cost about that much with all the fees and now it’s double.

Ah well. More numbers. The days always count down to the next trip. We don’t start counting “sleeps” until the plane ticket is bought. Now, however, we aren’t planning a trip, we’re planning a wedding. (196 sleeps in case you’re wondering)

And a few photos for the number challenge

Lombard Street in London. The banks and moneylenders used to use symbols instead of written signs because most of the everyday people couldn’t read.

Water measurement on the hull of a ship

Clock in the city of York, UK

Flight Connection Centre, Heathrow Airport, What number is your gate?

Flight Connection Centre, Heathrow Airport, What number is your gate?


WPC Challenge – Refraction

WordPress has a weekly photo challenge, this week’s is “Refraction“.  Refraction is the effect of light passing through something else and changing. Rainbows are refracted light. Reflections can be. Light through water causes really interesting effects. Here’s a few from my archives.

Light through the cut glass globes.
Chatsworth House, England

Cool Clear water. Off the coast of Newfoundland

Reflections through the glass show items upside down.

Sun on the Halifax Harbour

And finally, through a raindrop

Travel Theme: Broken

While in the UK this past spring, we visited two museums in the Lake District, one in the town of Coniston and one, the Lakeland Motor Museum. In both, I learned about a man named Donald Campbell who, along with his father, raced cars and later boats to try to break land and water speed records. Their racing vehicles were a bright blue and all named Bluebird. Donald Campbell created versions of the speed boat version of Bluebird, more and more aerodynamic and often raced them on Lake Coniston (or, locally known as Coniston Water) in the Lake District. Campbell broke 8 land and water speed records and is the only man to hold both a land and water record in the same year.

But it always has to be bigger and faster. Campbell’s last boat was a jet engine powered hydrofoil, the Bluebird K7.  His luck ran out in 1967 during speed trials on Coniston.

From this…

One of Donald Campbell’s Bluebird K7 boats

To this…

Wreckage of the Bluebird K7

He didn’t survive. He died in January 1967. His body wasn’t recovered until 2001 and the wreckage was raised out of the lake as well.

Ailsa’s Travel theme challenge (Broken)

A Word a Week – Fly

To fly. To soar. To be weightless. To leave the earth from under your feet and zoom through the air. As the crow flies. Fly me to the Moon. Fly and be free! From a landlubber caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly floating on the breeze. I think If i could have any superpower (other than teleporting, that is), I’d like to fly. Someday, I want to go up in a hot air balloon and that’s as close as I’ll ever get to flying.  I won’t be jumping out of a plane any time soon and I won’t be paragliding as in that first photo below.  In the meantime, I depend on airplanes for my travel needs.

Near St. Ives, Cornwall

The SR71 Blackbird could fly under the radar. Or should I say, streak. Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York.

Zuiderkerk, Amsterdam

Trying to fly. London Zoo

Sullivan’s Pond, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Travel Theme: Interior

I love architecture. But as much as i enjoy taking photos of the outside, what’s on the inside? More architectural detail, quite often. But not always.

Where’s my Backpack’s theme this week is Interior

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral

Altar of the Basilica of Our Lady, Bruges

Altar of the Basilica of Our Lady, Bruges

Le Poulbot, Paris

Dutch kitchen, Arnhem Open Air Museum

Entry hall, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Pantheon, Rome


Bath Abbey quire, Bath, England

And finally, inside and backstage.

Backstage. Old Granada studios, Manchester, UK

WPC: Dreamy

WordPress challenge this week is Dreamy. Two of the photos below have been put through the processing mill, one semi-successful (because the bit around the chair, in retrospect, should have been included in the soft focus) and one I really think came out well. The third photo is a foggy landscape which I always think looks dream-like.

Trinity Church, York

“In your dreams”

Yorkshire countryside

12 Cities in 12 Months

I recently read a great blog post from the Travelettes called 12 Cities in 12 Months. The post was inspired by a German book about a woman that won some money in a lottery and spent a year living in different places, one per month. In her case, she was a writer and could continue to do her job from remote locations so she didn’t have to use a lot of her winnings. It was just the push she needed to get out the door.

Feeding a giraffe in the Vancouver Zoo, 2003

Feeding a giraffe in the Vancouver Zoo, 2003

The writer of the Travelettes post, Annika, wrote about her choices and there are a few of hers that I might pick too, including  Venice, Barcelona and she also chose Nairobi. While I wouldn’t have really thought about anywhere in Africa, the lure of the Giraffe Manor is too much to resist! (Though, I *have* actually fed a giraffe, in the Vancouver Zoo!)

So which 12 cities would I like to live in for a month? That would take some thinking. I would probably take into consideration location as it relates to where else I could visit easily from that city so I could take in more of the area.  I should also pick one or two more exotic locations, places I might not normally choose for a vacation but which might be interesting even if there’s a culture shock! This is a “money is no object” journey and I would likely want an apartment or apartment-hotel for convenience in each location.

Here’s a list after some consideration: Paris, Barcelona, Florence, Bangkok, Japan (maybe not Tokyo, perhaps Kyoto), Shanghai, Aukland, Sydney, New York, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen or a city in Sweden, maybe Gothenburg, Nairobi

Why not London? Yep, my favourite city (so far). Not London because it is exactly that, my favourite city. There wouldn’t be a culture shock. While there are plenty of parts of London I haven’t seen, I’m still familiar enough with it that it wouldn’t have that fresh, new feeling of exploring a new city’s vibe. I’ve been to some of the others in the past, for short visits, enough to know I’d like to spend more time there.

Without a daily job, though, I guess you are basically a tourist in each city for a month. I’d spend my days with my camera, writing about what I’d seen and done, what I liked and didn’t like. I’d try to document my own view of the culture and surroundings.

passport_leafParis: I’ve been there and it’s a wonderful city. I think that I would love to live there for a month, experiencing the vibe of the city and soaking in the history and culture. I speak a little French, not a lot,  so it would help improve that, I think.

Barcelona: I’ve never been to Spain but I know a number of people that have been to Barcelona and all are wowed by the city, the architecture and the people. That’s good enough for me!

Florence: Another city full of history and art, Florence impressed me when I visited as part of a bus tour of Italy. I immediately liked the look and feel of it and wished we could have stayed longer. I had learned a little Italian before the tour so I would want to pick that up again, maybe take some Italian cooking lessons, too.

Bangkok: I used to be fascinated by Singapore. I traded postcards with a woman there for awhile and I loved the views I saw. I think, though, to live in that area, I’d want something a bit more exotic. Thailand seems just the ticket. And.. Thai food is awesome!

I thought perhaps somewhere in Japan would be very interesting but Tokyo just seems way too large and unwieldy so my choice here is Kyoto, the historic capital of Japan. I think there would be more of a deep-rooted historic feel to the city, even though it’s still a very large one.

I used to really want to visit Hong Kong. I think I still would but I don’t know as I’d want to live there for a month. Shanghai seems more historic, more Chinese if you will. And I could visit Hong Kong from there, anyway!

The Maori culture would be fascinating to discover

I’d love to spend a month either in Australia or New Zealand, too. Sydney is a good central point for a lot of Australia on the east and south which would not be too far by plane for a few days visits. New Zealand would be a beautiful country as well, with both having fascinating native culture with the Aborigines and Maori respectively.  Aukland would be a good base here.  I guess I’ll have to have a month in each!

If I’m going to try to touch all of the continents, I’ll have to have a month in Africa. I would probably go with Nairobi here because the lure of that Giraffe Manor is irresistable. I don’t know much about Nairobi so that might be a good thing. It would be a completely new experience. Many of the other cities, even ones I haven’t visited before, would still be new, but only a few would be so radically different from my Canadian home. Nairobi, Bangkok and Shanghai would tick that box.

Buenos Aires would be the city in South America. I hear it’s fairly sophisticated and has a lot of culture. The added bonus here is the availability of cruises to Antarctica, the final frontier so to speak.

One more in Europe, heading north now. I was thinking of Scotland but as it’s more familiar, I would probably go with Northern Europe. Copenhagen or Gothenburg since it has a friendlier feel than Stockholm. I don’t know why I feel that way but it is also closer to Copenhagen which would definitely be interchangeable. It was a difficult decision to choose. I really like Copenhagen but thought I’d pick somewhere I hadn’t been. Gothenburg it is.

42nd Street at night

42nd Street at night

Rounding off the list, back in North America, I thought I’d choose New York City.  I initially considered San Francisco but it’s too hilly! New York has everything you’d want for a month and then some and it’s close to quite a lot of interesting cities for weekend breaks, like Boston, Washington and Philadelphia.

I dropped a city in Scotland and one in Ireland that had made the first cut because they were too “safe”, if you know what I mean. I thought, if this is something I ever get to do, why pick locations that are familiar or at least that are well inside the comfort zone? If I went that route, I could spend the whole year in various cities around Europe including some of the ones in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. You gotta be adventurous!

So there you go. A fantasy year spending a month in 12 different cities. The next time I make this list, they’ll probably change!