WPC: Shiny – Let’s Visit Worcester, UK

The WordPress Weekly challenge this week is “Shiny”, or, to use their description, “Diversions, Distractions, and Delightful Detours”. Things that catch your attention and divert you from your original goal or intention, something you can’t resist. It might, indeed, be something shiny but it could be really, anything.

When I’m traveling, I always have my camera handy. I’m always on the lookout and the things that might take my attention, things I can’t resist photographing are sometimes a unique architectural detail, something interesting, weird or wonderful in a shop window, or perhaps a small and unusual museum.

I was sitting in a very old pub once, The Cardinal’s Hat in the city of Worcester, with a friend and he looked at me, baffled as to why I appeared to be taking a photo of the wall beside me. I pointed out that there was an old door there. “Yes…..”. “Look at it.” “Erm….” What I was pointing out was the existence of two locks side by side on the door, a modern Yale type lock and a very old latch. This is the detail that caught my eye, such contrasts over time.

Old and NewThe building dates back to the fourteenth century and has had many names over the centuries. When I visited, in 2003, it was an Austrian bar and defied licensing laws by serving beer, not by the pint but by the litre! It has since been refurbished again. The building now mainly reflects the Georgian era so I presume that’s the origin of the latch.
The pub is on the main historical street, Friar Street, where you will also see old buildings such as the Alms House and Greyfriars and many of the shops on the street are housed in buildings with some origins as old as the Tudor era.

Worcester itself is an old city with a lovely cathedral overlooking the River Severn. There’s a beautiful Guildhall. There is the cathedral that has parts of the building dating back to the 10th century (crypts). Royal Worcester porcelain was still a going concern when I visited and could shop in the “seconds” outlet but it’s closed now. There is, I believe, a museum. Worcester is also the home of the famous Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce which is still made here. It was a Roman occupied area at one time and later, it was a Royalist city during the English Civil War. There was a battle nearby and a defeat for Charles I in 1751. Worcester was also chosen to be the retreat for the British government in case of a German invasion in WWII. It’s a really interesting city if you’re a history fan. Here are some of my old photos from my visit there, scans from film so they’re not the best quality but I think will represent some interesting aspects.

See more distractions and ‘shiny’ here

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WPC: Elemental Wind and Water

The WordPress Challenge this week is Elemental, with the four elements featured. Earth, Water, Air and Fire. I’ve found some photos that capture some of these:

The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world, as high as 16 metres at the Minas Basin inner end of the bay. All that water coming and going can play havoc and these two photos from the Fundy National Park in New Brunswick of the “Hopewell Rocks” show you what water can do to stone over centuries. The tide comes a fair way up the cliffs where those stairs are and you can only see the sculpted rock from over the top of the hole upward, at high tide.
Hopewell Rocks 020

Hopewell Rocks 018

This is another part of the Bay of Fundy at Blomidon, near the Minas Basin. Low tide means it’s quite a walk to the water. The red in the earth is caused from a high clay content. You also see the red earth in Prince Edward Island in the Bay of St. Lawrence.
Blomidon beach

Here are a couple of shots of Niagara Falls. The sound of all that water gushing over into the river can be heard through most of the centre of the city. It’s quite a sight to see, even in the winter when there are boulders of ice choking the sides of the river, caused by the mist freezing over the snow.
Niagara Falls Maid of the mist

Niagara Falls Canadian falls

Now we see the effects of wind on a tree over time, on the moors in Cornwall.
windswept tree
This is a very old geographical formation of rock. I’ve had this photo published in a textbook that explains what it is but I’d have to dig it out to jog my memory.

Blue Rocks Rockscape

Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia

The Golden Rule of Travel

In a travel email newsletter from Bite-Sized Travel this week, there was a link to a blog post at Outside Online telling Americans to stop telling people that they’re Canadian when they travel. You can read that here. The gist of it urges American travelers to stand up for themselves and their country to Make America Great again. Be proud of where you’re from. They say it makes the traveler lie to people they meet right from the start and it doesn’t fool anyone. (Krista at Bite-Sized Travel says the easiest way to tell an American from a Canadian is to pronounce the letter Z!) It certainly won’t make you any safer traveling abroad.

American travelers pretending to be from Canada is nothing new. It might be an urban myth but I remember hearing that American travelers and backpackers have been sewing the maple leaf on their jackets or luggage even back when I was young, in the 60s and 70s. I’m from Canada so it wasn’t an issue for me. I am what I am. American tourists had a reputation as “ugly”, that is, loud and rude when they travel so people from other countries allegedly didn’t care for Americans. From my limited experience, I can tell you there are loud and rude travelers from pretty much every country, *including* Canada.

Having said that, Canadians do tend to be polite and friendly on the whole. I have a small number of experiences with the perception of where I’m from by someone in a European country when they discover I’m from Canada and not the United States.

The first time came when I was on a school trip to Paris. A few of us were trying to explain to someone in a cafe that we wanted hot dogs but couldn’t quite manage the French needed to make the waiter behind the counter understand. He seemed dismissive and we were getting frustrated. Our French teacher arrived and within the space of a minute, after she explained where we were from and what we wanted, the waiter was all smiles. “Oh, les Canadiennes!” What we got wasn’t quite a hot dog, more of a sausage in a bun but it was served with a smile.

Because the general Canadian English accent isn’t really that different from many of the American regional accents to the foreign ear, I often get mistaken for American and I’m always pleasantly surprised when someone recognizes my accent as Canadian straight off but I do think that my East Coast Canadian accent is a bit more recognizable. I do remember someone asking me a question about products on a shelf in a pharmacy in London that we were both perusing and when she heard my accent, immediately expressed her sympathy. It was about 2 weeks after Sept. 11, 2001. It was very kind of her but I did tell her where I was from but that it was quite frightening to have something like that happen so close to home and there were some Canadians that had died in the towers.

I’ve taken a few bus tours over the years. Most of the time, at least half of the passengers have been from the United States with various other countries represented as well. Sometimes, there have been fellow tourists that have been loud and opinionated and yes, they were from the USA. But there have also been some very lovely passengers from there as well. One older single lady traveling on her own complained through the whole trip. Everyone else sympathised with the other single traveler that was paired with her to share a room (saving that single supplement cost) and the tour guide must have had his work cut out for him. She was from Canada. In stereotypical response, most of the rest of us Canadians on the bus always felt like we should apologize on her behalf! (Canadians have a reputation for apologizing a lot and it’s true, we do!)

One last anecdote: On another bus tour through Italy, a group of 5 or 6 Canadians from Montreal kept themselves to themselves and didn’t join in at all with the rest of the passengers. They used the bus for transportation only and went off on their own all the time while the rest of us mingled and chatted with each other about our own cultures where our respective native languages made it possible. For most of us taking a bus tour, the camraderie between tourist from different countries is part of the fun. So, you see, tourists of all stripes and attitudes can come from any country.

Mainly, though, I haven’t really experienced any difference in attitude in people when they learn where I’m from, one way or the other, though I have had a friend say she’s noticed a thawing from a frosty service person when she’s self-identified as Canadian. It is true that there are a few countries on this planet where the USA is not welcomed and perhaps some travelers feel safer pretending to be Canadians out on the streets. For me, I wouldn’t travel to a country where I wouldn’t feel safe but I’m not an adventurous traveler.

I have had it (smugly) suggested that I am still considered an American because I’m from North America. That person happened to be from Scotland. Right. So, I suggested, it’s perfectly all right to call you European because the U.K. is part of Europe or perhaps I could refer to him as British because he was from the British Isles? That person’s national identity raised his hackles and he insisted that no, he was Scottish. I made my point. He conceded. (In fact, you won’t find anyone from the U.K. agree that they are European, in my experience, and even moreso now since Brexit.)

I think the writer of the Outside blog post is right, American travelers, (or travelers from anywhere) you should be proud of where you’re from and when you travel, just remember the Golden Rule. It all comes down to respect, doesn’t it? If you treat people with respect and use good manners, they’ll respect you in return. Don’t get cranky because things are not the same as at home. You aren’t home! You travel to experience new things. Why would you want them to be the same? If you find that people from other countries assume Americans are rude and obnoxious travelers, prove them wrong and change that reputation.  Travel, enjoy, come home with wonderful memories!

You can see what Krista at Bite-Sized Travel is up to here, and she does a great weekend mailing list with loads of interesting finds about travel, packing and planning and you can also read her blog posts about all the places she’s been and is planning to go.

Travel theme: Primary Colours

Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack’s weekly travel theme this week is Primary Colours, those being the three basic colours from which you can combine to make any other, Red, Blue and Yellow. Here’s a handful of photos I found, most with all three colours, one with only two and a couple that have a few more besides.

Polish beer

Polish beer

Keswick stick

Rock /stick candy from Keswick, England in the Lake District

Blue Angels

Fighter jet from the Intrepid Air, Sea and Space Museum, NYC

Halifax Natal Day Fireworks 2011

Local fireworks

Zwickers WoodWork

Zwicker’s Woodwork, Lahave, Nova Scotia

Llanberis coloured houses

Corner cafe, all “Primed” for business. Llanberis, North Wales

St Andrews stained glass closeup

Stained glass window in St. Andrews church, Quebec City

Where Have I Been?

Galway Bay, Ireland

Galway Bay, Republic of Ireland

It occurs to me that, while I have posted twice before about travel wish lists (here and here , both fairly similar posts, I’m afraid),  I haven’t really made a post listing all the various places I have visited. I’ve probably posted photos from every country I’ve touched down on, or a good many of them at least but a full list, for my own records as much as anything (and probably more detail than you’re interested in), includes:

Countries:

  • Canada (where I live): I have visited the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, where I live. We’re going to BC again this fall, my husband’s first trip there, and hope to see a bit more of Vancouver Island and maybe outside of the Vancouver area if we have time.  My husband hasn’t been to Ottawa so we really should go there so he can see the capital of his adopted country.
  • United States. We’ve both visited (me alone and us together) the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, New Jersey (that one’s just mine), Massachussetts. New Hampshire and Vermont were drive-thrus and New Jersey was for a training course so I didn’t see much of it aside from the hotel and training facility, and a little of the countryside on a bus between Parsippany, Newark to Manhattan.
  • United Kingdom including Wales and Scotland but not yet Northern Ireland. Obviously, I’ve spent a lot of time visiting England to see my fella before we were married but I’d already had a handful of visits there before I even met him, including a couple of bus tours.
  • Ireland (a bus tour, Dublin as part of the tour and also just to see friends, twice to see friends in Cobh including a wedding)
  • France (Paris, twice for me, once for him, and I was also in Nice with day trips both east a little ways and west into Monaco which were part of a high school trip)
  • The Netherlands (We took in Amsterdam and the open air museum in Arnhem)
  • Belgium (Brussels, Bruges)
  • Denmark (Copenhagen)
  • Italy (I’ve been on a bus tour around the country including San Marino, a short visit to Rome as part of my high school trip to Rome, Paris and the south of France and we visited Rome a few years ago)
  • Vatican City (Part of the high school tour,  bus tour of Italy and the two of us together)
  • San Marino (a tiny principality in Italy, we stayed here overnight on the bus tour)
  • Monaco (as a day trip from Nice on the high school tour)
  • Iceland (that was just in the airport, changing flights en route to London)
St Peters and Via Concilliazone

St. Peter’s, Vatican City

In the grand scheme of things, my list of countries I’ve visited isn’t that long compared to how many there are but I have made a lot of repeat visits to the United Kingdom.

 

I won’t go into the wish lists again, you can read through those links above if you have a burning desire to know. I won’t be insulted if you don’t!

I’ll never be able to afford to travel as much as I want but I enjoy what I can do and try to go some different places even if I’ve been to a location before, maybe just a museum new to me or a different day trip outside of a city.  I’ve been to London over a dozen times and *still* haven’t seen quite a lot of the areas such as Notting Hill and much of the East End which has a few really interesting museums and loads of markets.

I’m determined to lengthen that “been there” list a little more before I shuffle off my mortal coil.

Oh: Edited to add: I meant to add this link. I’ve got my own website where I have travelogues written for most of the trips I’ve taken, long and short journeys, here at The Voice of Reason.

Wi-Fi in the Sky

I notice more and more airlines are allowing wi-fi service on board the flight. That’s pretty cool. You won’t be able to access it until the plane rises over about 10,000 feet or close to that, so you can’t go online on the way up or down but hey, on a long flight it’s especially handy.

I remember the old days when you couldn’t use anything electronic. Then you could, but only after the seat belt sign went off but you still had to have things like phones in “airplane” mode, that is, so it isn’t getting a signal. I don’t know if that’s still the case with these wi-fi enabled planes. If you are allowed to get a wi-fi signal, wouldn’t you be able to use your phone? (if you could get a phone signal, that is) Actually, I hope you still can’t use the phone. Haven’t you noticed that when people are on mobile phones, they speak a lot louder? Dozens of people in an enclosed space shouting on their phone would be utter cacaphony.

Anyway. Wi-fi. Don’t everyone jump up and down and cheer just yet. It’s available but it’s not free. Of course it’s not. I discovered this week that Air Canada Rouge (the no-frills category) is installing Wi-Fi on some of their jets starting this summer.You actually buy a pass from Gogo. A one hour pass is $7 which is next to useless, really. If you’re on a short flight, you’re barely up in the air and down again. The 24 hour pass is $19 which isn’t too bad but if there are two or more of you in your group and you all want to use it at the same time, that’s one per person. Add to the fact that, if you aren’t flying in Premium, you’ll have to buy any food you want (Canada, U.S. flights). Pricey.

Still, it’s available and it will be appealling, especially for long flights. Rouge does have an onboard entertainment system that they stream over smart devices via the Air Canada app. You can rent an iPad for $10 if you don’t have something that will pick up the streaming service. Premium passengers get the iPads for free. We don’t have a tablet but we have our phones. I don’t think there’s a laptop-compatible app (unless you have a Chromebook or possibly a Mac Air).

I don’t know how good their streaming service is, probably fairly decent, so there should be enough there to keep you occupied without a connection to the internet. Once the novelty of checking in to Facebook at 40,000 feet wears off, and email isn’t all that popular anymore, anyway, you’ll probably go back to streaming the movies anyway. I would imagine someone flying for business will take advantage and they can right off the expense.

Air Canada’s 777-300, Not as big as the double decker planes but pretty frigging big all the same

Air Canada has had wi-fi on their regular service flights already, with a different plan again for flight duration. They have a short, one hour pass and the next one they offer is for the duration of a one way flight. It doesn’t say if it includes connections. It’s $21, a bit more than Rouge’s 24 hour pass. Both Rouge and Air Canada offer a monthly pass for those of you up in the air often.

Air Canada’s nearest competitor, Westjet, also has a streaming service and on board wi-fi. They stream through the Westjet app, naturally, and their wi-fi prices seem cheaper than Air Canada’s. No surprise there, actually. Their passes are 30 minutes, 3 hours and flight duration for the longer journey. I think that’s quite sensible, actually though if you have a lot of transfers to get where you’re going, the price of Air Canada’s 24 hour service is better.

Again, I’m sure business travelers would find the wi-fi service handy but for me, I think I’d be just as happy with the in flight streaming service. The regular Air Canada flights mostly have the touch screens on the seat backs for the streaming service and I think they have or are upgrading that.

I’m not pushing people to pay for wi-fi passes, I’m only putting it out there that it’s available and what it’s going to cost you. I’m pretty sure most other major airlines have or will soon have similar services. It’s a bit of a cash cow. The no-frills airlines already make you pay for pretty much everything.

I was particularly interested to research this topic because our flight to Hawaii from Vancouver will be on Rouge and it’s a 5+ hour flight. I think I’ll more than likely stick to the streaming service. It’s a far cry from the days when there was one movie playing (maybe two if it was a really long flight) on overhead screens that you couldn’t always see depending on where you were sitting.

 

Wendy Perrin, Travel Guru

Wendy Perrin in Egypt copyright http://www.mccooltravel.com

I first became aware of Wendy Perrin though the Conde Nast Traveler magazine. Most of the magazines I read are travel-related and CNT had some very good regular contributors. Wendy Perry wrote a fantastic column focused on practical matters to do with all aspects of travel called the Perrin Report. She’s also been an Ombudsman for the magazine where she investigated complaints and tried to get the best resolutions. She’s branched out and now has WendyPerrin.com and she is also a travel advocate for Tripadvisor, that giant in the travel industry.

Wendy has given me a lot of inspiration and ideas over the years, adding to my wish list of destinations many times. Her website is one of the first places I go to see what she’s written about a destination I’m planning to visit. She posts articles about practicalities, good deals, connects people to top notch travel agents and specialists, (the “WOW” list) who will charge for their services but you’ll get an unforgetable dream trip.

There is a whole section on tips and advice, you can email Wendy directly if you have specific questions, a newsletter to get the heads up on deals and pointers and lots and lots of destination information. It’s true, though, the deals and prices may only apply if you are from the U. S. because it’s an American-based site/business but the advice and the information is all free and definitely worth losing yourself on the website.

Wendy’s been in the travel industry the better part of 30 years. There are loads of websites in the world that can provide information, links to sponsors, etc. Of course there are. Wendy Perrin is one of the travel gurus that I find comes across very sincere and that means, for me, she’s trustworthy. I don’t really have the budget for the WOW list but her advice is truthful and doesn’t gloss over the critical side of things.

The articles she publishes on WendyPerrin.com will most definitely inspire you. They certainly did inspire me not two weeks ago. I followed a link posted on Twitter about Newfoundland on the east of Canada via one of Perrin’s travel experts and it pointed me to the small town of Twilingate, in the middle of “Iceberg Alley”. Icebergs! Something I’ve always wanted to see and now we’re planning to take a trip to Newfoundland in the near future to see them. Coincidentally, one of my friends in the UK has just returned from a trip to Newfoundland that pretty much mirrored the one I thought about taking, similar locations and everything.

There’s a very good travel profile about her here on McCool Travel (from where I nicked the photo above)

I’m going to dig in there and see what I can find to add to the list for our upcoming trip to British Columbia and Oahu. I may be some time.

Wendy on Twitter and here on Facebook

 

2017 Travel: Cape Breton

Baddeck lighthouse on the Bras D’or lake, Cape Breton

I’ve been blogging about our big trip to British Columbia and Hawaii in November, but there’s another shorter trip that we’ve been looking forward to, as well. We have a house guest visiting form the U.K. in mid September and we’re planning another “Three Amigos” tour, this time to Cape Breton Island (The last Three Amigos tour was to Northumberland in the UK, read about that here)  Cape Breton, an island off the east end of Nova Scotia, has often been voted one of the best islands to visit, not just in Nova Scotia but in the world. The magazine Travel + Leisure had it ranked number one  and number 3 in two different years in the past few and it’s also been mentioned by other travel magazines.

It’s not your usual beach and resort type island. There are beaches, yes but the real beauty is in the scenery and the history. Hiking, fishing, golfing for those that want active things to do. The mountains of Cape Breton and the winding Cabot Trail around the tip of the island, with lots of little coastal towns and villages along the way will take you a full day of driving with stops for the local craft shops and tea rooms and cafes. Fortress Louisbourg brings you 300+ years of history. The small city of Sydney has arts and culture and a nice waterfront area. Discover Alexander Graham Bell in Baddeck where he had a summer home. You can go whale watching and spot the seals and birds and other nature from the boats. There’s even a whiskey distillery in Glenora near the Margaree Valley.

Louisbourg gates

Gates at Louisbourg

We won’t get to do all of that, but we do hope to go whale watching somewhere off the Cabot Trail and we will definitely go to Louisbourg. (My photos here) It’s an easy day trip from Sydney where we’ll land after a day or two driving around the Cabot Trail exploring. I also fancy seeing the Highland Village Museum  and we’ll likely stop in at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. It’s really very interesting. . We have a couple of motels and a hotel already booked. All we need is a picnic lunch, some flasks for coffee and tea and a full tank of gas to get us on the road! The great thing is that this year, to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, all of the national parks and historic sites are free to enter!

Nova Scotia’s Bluenose II

We have a few more of those on our list besides the ones in Cape Breton. We are thinking of other day trips to go on to take our friend around more of this beautiful province. A big bonus, the schooner Bluenose II has been refurbished and will be taking public sailing out of Lunenburg, another World Heritage Site, while our friend is here so we’re going to make plans to drive down the south shore and do that. I’ve never been out on the water in the Bluenose. It just never worked out, timing wise.  Lunenburg is a beautiful town as is nearby Blue Rocks,  Mahone Bay and Chester, also very nice places to stop.

There are museums and the Citadel fortress here in Halifax that he’ll enjoy. Maybe we’ll get into the Annapolis Valley. He might like the Grand Pre National Historic Site commemorating the French Acadian settlers who were the first non-Indigenous settlers in Nova Scotia (which was called Acadie back in the 17th century, thus…Acadians).

September is usually a month of pretty good weather so we’re hoping for as much sun as we can get.

Blue Rocks, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia

Travel Theme: Flavour

One of the great things about travel is trying out local food, local beer and wine, going to restaurants, scouring the markets, sampling street food. I’ll never forget the ambrosia on my tongue from the creamy liqueur I found on the Isle of Iona in Scotland, called Columba Cream. Heaven! Chocolate from Belgium melts in the mouth. I tried Guinness in a hotel after-hours residents’ bar in Dublin, the city where it’s made, and I became a believer.  Scottish haggis, anyone? Pancakes in Amsterdam make a filling meal.

I haven’t been anywhere really exotic (yet) but I have perused some interesting spice markets in the Chinatown neighbourhoods of Vancouver and Toronto. There’s usually food kiosks from a lot of different countries at Farmers’ and Christmas markets anywhere you go. That gives you a little taste of travel without leaving home.

Here’s a few photos of tastes and flavours from places I’ve been:

Testing the grape

Domaine de Grand Pre winery, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia

Bruges chocolate shop

Chocolate in Bruges

Camden Lock food vendor

Camden Lock, London

Fudge!

Fudge in the Manchester Christmas Markets

 

More flavours from Where’s My Backpack