Posted by: RasmaSandra | May 4, 2022

Fabulous Flagstaff

Arizona State Line highway sign

Our armchair travels across the US have brought us to Arizona or the Grand Canyon State.

Our first stop is Flagstaff a city that is surrounded by mountains, desert, and ponderosa pine forests. It is the gateway to the San Francisco Peaks which is home to the tallest mountain Humphreys Peak in Arizona.

Walnut Canyon National Monument just east of Flagstaff is one of the area’s most impressive attractions. Ancient Sinagua cliff dwellings line the steep canyon walls descending to the bottom of dry Walnut Creek. From the Visitor Center, you can look out over the canyon toward the ruins. The best way to experience the monument is to take the one-mile Island Trail that begins at the Visitor Center. There are stairs that will take you down the canyon wall about 185 feet and then you can walk below the overhanging walls. The stairs have handrails and are paved. Along the way you can see large ponderosa pines and Douglas fir trees.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is the youngest of the over 600 volcanoes between Flagstaff and Williams. The cinder cone looks like a huge black sand dune with small grains of lava cascading down the steep hillside. There are trails that run along the base. The landscape has areas with fields of chunked lava. The vegetation that survives here are the pine trees.

Wupatki National Monument has a scenic road that you can take looping back to Flagstaff. It is covered by grassland on the Colorado Plateau north of Flagstaff and is home tp well preserved Native American ruins. There are many pueblos. The Wupatki Pueblo was the main center for trade among different cultures. Arriving from the north end you’ll see the Nalakihu and Citadel Pueblos. Climbing the Citadel Pueblo you’ll get an impressive 360-degree view from the top.

The Lowell Observatory sits on a hill above the main streets in Flagstaff. There are short programs on different subjects held at regular intervals all through the day and evening. At the Steele Visitor Center, you can find interactive displays that relate to the universe.

The Putnam Collection Center features items from the life of American businessman, author, mathematician, and astronomer Percival Lowell including his 1911 Stevens- Duryea auto and his very first telescope.

The Museum of Northern Arizona was founded in 1928. It had a collection of over five million pieces related to Northern Arizona and the Colorado Plateau, Among them are Native American artifacts, fine art pieces, and objects related to natural science. There are five permanent exhibitions focusing on the Colorado Plateau including the Hopi Kiva Gallery, the Geology Gallery, the Babbit Gallery, and the outdoor James Golightly courtyard. The museum also hosts special travelling exhibits and four times a year puts on special Heritage Festivals.

On the campus of Northern Arizona University hidden by some buildings and set among large pines is the Riordan Mansion State Historic Park.


The home can be seen on a guided tour. It has 40 rooms. There are period pieces dating from the turn of the century.

The Pioneer Museum has well-preserved steam engines and boxcars dating from 1929 in the front of the main building, The museum is housed in a former hospital dating from 1908. You can see artifacts and items from the early days of Flagstaff. The focus is on the development of Flagstaff from 1880 to 1960 featuring information and exhibits on the history of logging and ranching. On the grounds, you can see the one-room cabin of pioneer and former Flagstaff mayor Ben Doney, a 1915 Model T Forn and a Fire Engine that saved nearby Riordan Mansion.

In Historic Downtown Flagstaff you can find remnants of Route 66 and a collection of historic buildings. It is interesting to walk the 12 block area and also check out the boutiques, tourist shops, and restaurants.

Keep an eye out for the Weatherford Hotel, Orpheum Theater, Babbitt Brothers Building and the Hotel Monte Vista.

The Flagstaff Visitor Center can be found two blocks south in the old and refurbished train station which is still in use.

The Lava River Cave is 700,000 years old, It is one mile long and offers a real caving adventure. You need to bring light sources as there is no lighting and no guide, You can see stone icicles and interesting rock features. The cave is cold 35 to 40 degrees F and the rocks can be slippery. It is located about 14 miles from Flagstaff along paved and gravel roads.

The Arboretum at Flagstaff is just south of the city and is home to more than 750 different plants that are adapted to the climate of Flagstaff. Among the highlights are a variety of beardtongue plants also known as penstemon. These large flowering plants can grow up to 10 feet high. Their peak blooming period is mid-July.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | May 4, 2022

Lovely Cardiff

In our armchair travels about Northern Europe we have arrived in Wales. Our first stop is the capital and largest city, Cardiff.

Cardiff Castle was built on top of a nearly 2000-year-old Roman fortification. It is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Wales. Some of the castle’s oldest sections date back to the 10th century. Among the highlights are the State Apartments. The rooms are full of interesting displays and information that relates to the people who once lived there. Other highlights include the chapel, the clock tower, and the Banqueting Hall, full of artwork and murals. You can join a guided tour.

When visiting Cardiff Castle stop by to see the well-preserved Victorian shopping arcades. These dissect the city center and are old covered pedestrian thoroughfares letting visitors enjoy shopping indoors. The oldest of the arcades is the Royal Arcade dating from 1858.

Cardiff Bay is a wonderful area to explore and covers most of the former dockyards. The Cardiff Bay redevelopment is one of the largest in Europe. Among the highlights is Techniquest, an interactive science center kids love. There are many hands-on and learning experiences.

Visit the historic Norwegian Church where the author of classic children’s stories like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl worshipped. Named in honor of the author is the Roald Dahl Plass, a public square.

Senedd Welsh Assembly Building Cardiff Bay Cardiff South Towns And Villages

Among the newest structures of Cardiff Bay is The Senedd, housing the government offices of the country.

Wales Millennium Centre offers art and culture with many different performances like classical music, opera, ballet, and modern dance. The facility also offers educational events, lectures, and workshops. Guided tours are available.

The National Museum Cardiff is housed in the Civic Center Building. The museum offers displays about the history of Wales with collections that relate to archaeology and include amazing displays of Bronze Age weaponry. The large art gallery has paintings by Impressionists like Monet and Picasso and Rodin sculptures.

You can enjoy a rugby match at the Principality Stadium at Cardiff Arms Park. You can also get a guided tour that takes you behind the scenes.

Roath Park is one of the best parks in Cardiff to take a walk or run in. It is a large park with such highlights as the Nant Fawr Stream formed into a beautiful 30-acre lake. Along the lake are many benches to sit on and spots for picnics. You can go out on the water rowing or fishing. The park has a lovely lighthouse. There is a conservation area that is home to birds and waterfowl and the “Wild Garden” features lovely paths to walk on.

Roath Park, Cardiff, Wales, U.K.

The Botanic Garden has a wonderful collection of trees, shrubs, and flowers.
Recreational activities include tennis, basketball, and lawn bowls.

Llandaff Cathedral was built in the 1300s and is a lovely landmark. There is an impressive 15th-century tower and you can take a self-guided or guided tour to see the lovely features in the interior of the church.

St Fagans National Museum of History is an amazing open-air attraction like a living museum with costumed characters demonstrating traditional skills and crafts that helped to shape Wales. Among the highlights are many original and reproduction buildings among them farmhouses and cottages, gardens, workshops and mills.

Caerphilly Castle is a short 15-minute drive north of the city. It dates from 1628 and is the largest castle in the country. Among its notable features are two huge drawbridges. There are displays of old weaponry and armour.

Castell Coch also called the Red Castle is 200-years old and looks like a Cinderella-type castle with turrets and towers. There are interesting carvings of creatures and religious icons among them from well-known fairy tales, Displays let visitors get a virtual exploration of the castle’s unique history.

Adventurers will enjoy Cardiff International White Water which was built for the 2012 Olympics. It lets everyone enjoy water sports like a family rafting trip or a wild ride in a canoe or kayak. Children can enjoy Paddle School. Extreme sports include surfing, canyoning, and bodyboarding.

Cardiff City Hall dates back to 1906. It is used for events and functions and is open to visitors. The impressive interiors date back to Edwardian times. Among the highlights is the famous Marble Hall with marble statues and columns. The Assembly Room held ceremonies with dignitaries and royalty. There is an art collection in the old council chambers.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | April 6, 2022

Exploring Utah

Zion National Park has amazing scenery like red rock cliffs, waterfalls, and wonerful vistas. The most impressive sites are in Zion Canyon along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The Zion Mount Carmel Highway runs east-west through the park and offers lookouts with amazing views, The park is great for hikers and the most popular trails can be accessed off the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive and the Zion Mount Carmel Highway. The most popular is Angel’s Landing Trail.

Arches National Park has impressive stone arches and rolling petrified dunes with a back ground of the snow-capped peaks of the La Sal Mountains. It has an incredible 2,000 natural stone arches with the most popular being Delicate Arch looking like a horseshoe jutting out of the ground. There are many walking trails and among other places to visit are the Devil’s Garden, Fiery Furnace, Double Arch, Park Avenue, Balanced Rock, the Windows, Broken Arch, and Sandstone Arch. The park is well known to mountain bikers and outdoor adventurers. There are many good campground in the area.

Monument Valley looks like a scene from on old Western movie with red rock buttes and at times people on horseback passing by. This is Monument Vally Navajo Tribal Park which is located on the Navajo Indian Reservation on the Utah-Arizona border. You can see some dramatic landscape along Valley Drive but if you want to see more you have to arrange for a guide at the visitor center. The view form the Monument Valley Visitor Center is amazing.

Canyonlands National Park is sort of like the Grand Canyon without any crowds. The park ahs three sections the main one attracting most sightseers is Island in the Sky, There are carved canyons with a background of snow-capped mountains. In this section the highlight is Mesa Arch forming a window to the canyons, buttes, and landscape. The other two sections are Needles District and The Maze with varied landscapes.
Bryce Canyon National Park has Bryce Canyon and stone pillars that glow in shades of orange, pink, cream, and cinnamon. There are exicitng hiking trails to explore and a great surprise are the Bristlecone pine trees.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument offers visitors a landscape of canyons, arches, hills, waterfalls, forest, and scrubland, It is the largest national monument in the US. It is popular with hikers. The park has campgrounds but if you prefer one of the best resorts in Utah is next to this park.

Dead Horse Point State Park had one of the best lookouts of any state park in Utah, The main viewpoint looks out over a gooseneck in the Colorado River carving through the landscape, there are cliff walls rising 2,000 feet and plateaus in the distance. On a shelf of land below the viewpoing, the Potash Road is the Thelma and Louise Point where the final scene in the movie “Thelma and Louise” was filmed. The best way to see the park is the walking trail along the rim.

Capitol Reef National Park has interesting landscapes and huge wall of banded sandstone that rises above the Freemont River, There are canyons, rock spires, cliff walls, arches, and gorges. This is a great place for sighseeing and for hiking. The nearest twon is Torrey where visitors can find accomodation and camping options.

Sand Hollow has unique features along with a large lake. The Sandpit Campground is just back from the beach. Among the activities here includ motorized off road riding among sand dunes, swimming, kayaking, and boating.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | April 6, 2022

Beautiful Belfast

Northern Irland is part of the UK and is located northeast of the island of Ireland and shares a border to the south and west with the Republic of Ireland.

The capital of Northern Ireland is Belfast which was the birthplace of the RMS Titanic.
Titanic Belfast opened in 2012 is considered to be “the world’s largest Titanic visitor attraction.” The building has nine interactive exhibitions. Over a century ago the ill-fated ocean liner, Titanic was built right at the docks in the city, There are guided tours around the slipway and gigantic dry-dock. The building is star-shaped to represent the log to the White Star Line and has many artifacts that are related to the ship among them letters, brochures, and menus.

At the same docks, you’ll find the SS Nomadic which can be boarded and explored. The vessel was built to transfer passengers and mail to and from RMS Olympic and RMS TItanic.

The newest addition to the Titanic Quarter is the HMS Caroline which is the last surviving vessel to have served in both world wars. It has been open to the public since 2016 and is a floating museum with information about WW I and the history of the ship, Among the highlight are audio-visual displays, tours of sections of the ship, and hands-on displays for children, There is a gift shop and cafe and onshore a picnic area and playground.

The Waterfront Hall overlooks the River Lagan and is about a mile from Titanic Belfast. This is a world-class entertainment and conference venue open since 1997. The venue has musicians and performers from all over the world and also hosts a number of exhibitions. The building looks particularly impressive when lit up at night and you can see concerts from pop to symphonic. There is a great restaurant on-site and offers panoramic views over the river.

The Ulster Museum is a national museum with exhibits that include a 2,500-year-old Egyptian mummy, the Armada Room, and a gallery with modern art masterpieces on display. Other highlights are a collection of ancient relics, and a large diverse collection of art, history, and natural science spread over several floors.

Belfast City Hall is located right in the center of the city, Visitors can have a guided tour of this impressive building, Among the highlights are an art display and historic stained glass windows as well as an exhibit about the history of Belfast, On-site is a gift shop and cafe.

The grounds of the city hall include the Titanic Memorial Garden and vast lawns for picnicking. At night the building is colorfully illuminated.

The Botanic Gardens were established in 1828. There is an elegant Palm House with tropical plants. The Tropical Ravine was built in 1889 and has many exotic plants like bromeliad, banana, orchids, and cinnamon. It protects some of the world’s oldest seed plants, The gardens host concerts and festivals.

North of the gardens is Queen’s University with impressive Tudor-style buildings.

St Anne’s Cathedral is the main church of the Anglican Church of Ireland. It is also known as “Belfast Cathedral” Built in the neo-Romanesque style it has three west doorways with sculptures. There are fine stained glass windows, marble tiles, woodwork, and carved stonework.

The Grand Opera House dates from 1895 with a large extension that was built in 2006. It hosts musicals, operas, and live performances and is one of the city’s best-known landmarks. Guided tours are available.

Belfast Castle has become a popular wedding venue. It dates back to the 12th century. You’ll find the Cave Hill Visitor Center here and a restaurant, For children there is the Adventure Playground and the grounds are a popular place to have picnics.

Not far from the castle is Belfast Zoo with views over Belfast Lough. It is home to over 140 species. Among the highlights are ring-tailed lemurs, Asian elephants, monkeys, Malayan sun bears, Sumatran tigers, and Barbary lions. The Rainforest exhibit is popular with tropical plants and animals like sloths and fruit bats.

The Parliament Building is home to the Power Sharing Executive or Northern Ireland Assembly. It dates back to 1921. On the front lawn is the statue of Unionist Sir Edward Carson, The scenic grounds are popular with walkers and joggers, The building is open on weekdays for tours.

St George’s Market is the oldest covered market in the city, It has 300 vendors selling everything from food to arts and crafts, There are also food festivals, art shows, dancing and pop and rock concerts. Among the highlights is the Twilight Market with extended evening hours and entertainment.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | March 26, 2022

Lovely Salt Lake City

Our armchair travels across the US have taken us to the western US and the state of Utah. This is a landlocked state bordered on the east by Colorado, northeast by Wyoming, north by Idaho, south by Arizona and to the west by Nevada. A corner of the state in the southeast touches New Mexico.

We begin with the capital, Salt Lake City which is the religious center of the Mormons, Latter-Day saints. When the city hosted the Winter Olympic Games it grew in popularity.

Among the highlights of the city is Temple Square. This is the holy place of the Mormons and has lovely flowering trees, flowers, and fountains.

The four key Mormon Buildings at Temple Square are the Mormon Temple, Mormon Tabernacle, the Temple Annex and the Assembly Hall. You can find two information centers at the entrances to the square.

The Mormon Temple is one of the most iconic landmarks. It is a huge granite structure with three towers with the highest at the east end with a 13-foot-high gilded figure of the angel Moroni. It may be entered only by Mormons.

The Tabernacle is a massive building with a done perched on 44 sandstone piers. Free tours are offered. At the west end is the gallery for the celebrated Tabernacle Choir.

Also on the square is the Joseph Smith Memorial Building named for the first president of the Mormon Church, The building is ten feet high with glazed terra cotta bricks that shine in the sun. Some of the highlights are marble columns, art glass, and the grand staircase. On-site is the Legacy Theater, conference rooms, the FamilySearch Center and three restaurants. The Rooftop Restaurant on the 10th floor offers views over Temple Square and the city.

Place Heritage Park is located 15 minutes from Salt Lake City. The park traces the history of early pioneers and settlers to Utah. There are many interesting things to do here including pony and train rides.

Among the highlights is This is The Place Monument a huge sculpture commemorating the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Mormons in Salt Lake Valley.

Liberty Park is the city’s largest public park, People enjoy waking here and having picnics, There are tennis courts, bocce ball courts, basketball courts and a public swimming pool. There are two jogging paths one paved and one with woodchips. The park is home to Tracy Aviary. It is on the National Register of Historic Places along with Chase Mill the oldest commercial building in the state.

Tracy Aviary has a large variety of birds from North America and other parts of the world, It is one of the world’s oldest aviaries. There are 19 indoor and outdoor exhibits. Among the highlights is Andy the Andean Condor.

The Beehive House was built in 1845 as the residence of the Governor of Utah and leader of the Mormons, Brigham Young. For many years his family with 19 wives and 56 children lived here. Free tours are available. The beehive on the turret of the house is a symbol of Mormon industriousness and appears on the Utah Coat of Arms.

The Hogle Zoo has more than 800 animals from around the world. There are seven major exhibits among them Elephant Encounter, World of Flight, Great Apes, Primate Forest, Rocky Shores, African Savanna, Asian Highlands, and lastly the Small Animal Building.

City Creek Center is the premier shopping destination. The mall has over 100 top retailers. It is unique in that it has a creek with fish and a retractable roof to open on warm days, The is a water fountain with dancing flames set to music. Children have a large indoor play area with a dinosaur theme.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | March 26, 2022

Beautiful Edinburgh

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. It is a beautiful city with many interesting things to do and see. It has a medieval Old Town and an elegant Georgian New Town.

Edinburgh Castle is the most famous landmark in the country as well as one of Britain’s most visited tourist attractions, Among the highlights are the famous One O’clock Salute from Half Moon Battery when cannon fire commemorates the tradition of helping ships to synchronize their clocks,

the Scottish National War Memorial and the National War Museum, and the collection of Crown Jewels.

Don’t forget the Stone of Destiny which is also known as the Stone of Scone, stolen by Edward I and placed under the English throne in London and then returned to Scotland 700 years later in 1996.

Holyrood Palace or The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the Queen when in Edinburgh. The palace was built in 1878 and the place where James II and James IV were married, where James V and Charles I were crowned, and where “Bonnie Prince Charlie” held court in 1745. While the Queen is away typically 51 weeks of the year and only in residence for “Royal Week” each summer the palace is open to the public. You can see the Historic Apartments and the State Apartments. The Great Gallery displays portraits of Scottish kings both real and legendary. The Queen’s Gallery hosts changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection.

The Holyrood Abbey was founded by King David I and dates back to the 12th century.
Children enjoy dressing up in costumes in the Family Room. For refreshment and relaxation, there is a cafe and you can enjoy a proper afternoon tea. Guided tours are available.

The Royal Mile includes the streets that link Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace. It is lined with townhouses, churches, and historic landmarks. You can stroll the mile and enjoy the shops, museums, cafes, and restaurants.

Along the Royal Mile, the most popular attractions are at the upper end known as Castle Hill and include Outlook Tower and Camera Obscura, and the Tolbooth or St John’s Highland Church with the tallest church tower in the city. It is home to the People’s Story Museum and Gladstone’s Land, a six-story merchant’s house.

Stop by to see Lady Stair’s Close which is home to The Writer’s Museum. Here you’ll find memorabilia from poet Robert Burns and writers Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Arthur’s Seat at 820 ft is the highest point in Holyrood Park. You can get spectacular views from all around. From there it is a nice climb to the dramatic Salisbury Crags which are a series of 151-ft cliffs.

Other features in the park are ancient cultivation terraces and the picturesque ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel.

The Royal Yacht Britannia is one of the most popular attractions in Britain that is associated with the monarchy The Queen has welcomed heads of state and famous people from all around the globe to this luxurious yacht. Today the 60-year old yacht is anchored in the port area in Edinburgh and the highlight of the Britannia Visitor Centre. You can explore all five main decks including the Royal Apartments, the sun lounge, and the Royal Deck Tea Room where you can enjoy tea and cakes.

The National Museum of Scotland includes national archaeological collections; medieval artifacts; and displays focusing on natural history, geology, art, science, and technology. There are 16 galleries with over 8,000 artifacts including Dolly the Sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal and the elaborate stage costumes of Elton John.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh was founded in 1670. It is the second oldest such garden in Britain. The garden has an amazing 13,200 plant species.

You can see the biggest palm house in Britain and a tropical house with exotic orchids, There are giant rare trees from the Himalayas, North America, and China. Among the highlights are the woodland garden with azaleas, hydrangeas, camellias, and rhododendrons and an aquatic house with tropical water plants.

Prince Street is the main thoroughfare of New Town and is lined with colorful gardens and elegant shops. You can find Jenners of Edinburgh here which is one of the oldest department stores in the world. There are fountains and cafes and restaurants.

New Register House is home to the Scottish National Archives dating back to the 13th century.

Among the historic landmarks on Prince Street are a 200-foot-tall Sir Walter Scott Monument

and the David Livingstone Memorial honoring the missionary and African explorer.

At Prince Street Gardens you’ll find the world’s oldest floral clock.

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery has paintings of historic figures from the 16th century to the present day. It was founded in 1859 and displays Scotland’s biggest collection of European paintings and sculptures.

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art or “Modern One” includes paintings by Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso; surrealistic works by Rene Magritte, Joan Miró, and Max Ernst; and contemporary paintings by Bruce McLean, Callum Innes, and Gwen Hardie. It is also known for its sculpture collection. The extensive grounds are lovely.

Across the road, you’ll find “Modern Two” that is housed in an old hospital from the 1830s. There are works by Surrealists among them sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi and artwork by Dada.

St Giles Cathedral also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh is the city’s principal church. It has an impressive 161 ft tall central tower with eight arched buttresses. These form a huge crown, the Crown Steeple. Inside there are memorials to fallen soldiers from WW I, lovely stained glass windows and a statue of John Knox, leader of the Protestant Reformation.

The Thistle Chapel is known for its oak carvings, heraldic emblems, and seals of the “Knights of the Thistle.” This is Scotland’s oldest order of knights, You can take a rooftop tour and listen to a choir concert.

Calton Hill offers amazing views of the city. On the hill is the National Monument erected in honor of those who died in the Napoleonic Wars.

Opposite Calton Hill is a memorial to Scottish poet Robert Burns.

Edinburgh Zoo sits on the edge of Edinburgh and was established in 1913. It is the only UK zoo to house koalas and pandas and was the first to breed penguins, You can see chimps and wallabies and view amphibians and insects in an area known as Wee Beasties. There are special events and animal interactions as well as Animal Antics shows.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | February 28, 2022

Exploring Boise

Boise is the capital of the US state of Idaho.

The Boise River Greenbelt stretches for 25 miles and is a very popular park. There are tree-lined paths that follow the Boise River. It is a place to relax, stroll, and enjoy the views.

The Old Idaho Penitentiary dates back to the 1870s. Here you can learn about criminal history and the history of the prison system. Visitors can take a tour of the penitentiary and see the cells and solitary confinement. It is also interesting to hear the stories and scandals surrounding the prisoners that once did time here.
The Idaho State Capitol Building is of rich historical significance. It is an architecturally impressive building that was completed in 1920.

The World Center for Birds of Prey is a great place to explore. It is dedicated to the preservation and care of many birds of prey among them owls, eagles, falcons, hawks, and vultures. You can enjoy shows like the Live Raptor Presentation as well as indoor exhibits and educational programs.

The Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial is an education park. You can enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings.

Among the highlights here is the Quote Wall, the Anne Frank Statue, and the Stone Bookcase.

Kathryn Albertson Park offers over 40 acres of natural beauty. Here you can see local wildlife and enjoy the tranquillity. There is a lovely riverside setting.

The Idaho Botanical Garden is a wonderful place to see natural beauty with colorful flower displays. Various events are held here such as live music.

The Julia Davis Park dates back to the early 1900s and is located near the Boise River. Places of interest within the park are the Idaho Historical Museum and the Boise Art Museum. The Boise River Greenbelt stretches through the park. Among the highlight is the lovely Rose Garden and the statues in the park.

The Boise Art Museum offers new exhibits every year that range in a variety of artistic styles, media periods, and cultures. There are also monthly education programs, studio art workshops, children’s ARTexperiece Gallery, and special events.

The Aquarium of Boise opened in 2011 and is an interesting interactive aquarium. It offers a range of hands-on exhibits like touch tanks filled with crabs, corals, starfish, and rays. You’ll see tanks featuring giant octopuses and a shark nursery. Besides creatures of the sea, there is a bird aviary.

Zoo Boise is a large zoological park with a vast array of animal species. The zoo is divided up into themed sections like Butterflies in Bloom and the Sloth Bear Encounter. Some parts of the zoo are interactive like the farm where children can hand feed farm animals like sheep and goats.

Camel’s Back Park is a popular open space located at the north end of the city, at the edge of the Boise Foothills. Here visitors can play tennis and there is an outdoor gym. There are picnic areas and open-play spaces. There is access to the foothills and sprawling Ridge to Rivers trail system. The two miles of the larger trail system climbs up to offer fantastic views of the city. Several trails lead through the Boise Foothills from Camel’s Back Park including Hulls Gulch Trai which is one of the best hiking trails in Boise.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | February 28, 2022

Glasgow On the River Clyde

Glasgow is located in the Western Lowlands of Scotland. It is a port city on the River Clyde. The city is known for its Victorian and Art Nouveau architecture.

Glasglow Cathedral also known as St. Mungo Cathedral is the most significant historic building in the city dating from the 12th century. Inside of the church, the Blacader Aisle was named after the first bishop of Glasgow. The crypt is the most impressive room in the cathedral and houses the tomb of St. Mungo, founder of the bishopric. Guided tours are available free of charge.

Next door is the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art where world religions are looked at, their rites, and how their doctrines deal with issues of life and death, There are exhibits of Egyptian mummies and Hindu statues. You can enjoy the Zen Buddhist garden in the courtyard.

Beside the Glasgow Cathedral is the Necropolis, a Victorian Gothic garden cemetery that is described as the “city of the dead.” There are beautiful memorial stones as well as sculptures and buildings designed by Glasgow artists. You can ee carved Celtic crosses and weeping angels. The cemetery has shaded walkways and informative walking tours are available.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum opened in 1901 and offers a collection of British and Continental paintings among them Van Gogh’s portrait of the Glaswegian art collector Alexander Reid, and Salvador Dali’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross.

A series of galleries feature the Glasgow School of Art with complete furnished rooms, pottery, metalwork, furniture, and other artworks. Other exhibits include weapons and armor from the 15th and 16th centuries, as well as Flemish tapestries, Glasgow-made jewellery, silverware, glassware, and pottery from various periods.

The museum is located on pedestrianized Sauchiehall Street. Here you can find many shops, cafes, restaurants, and hotels.

George Square sits in the heart of the historic Victorian city center in Glasgow. You can see 12 statues of famous people associated with the city here among them Robert Burns, Walter Scott, and Queen Victoria.

At the east end of the square is the Town Hall with a 230-foot tower.

The Merchant’s House is the headquarters of the oldest Chamber of Commerce in Britain dating from 1605.

South of George Square is a group of warehouses from the mid-19th century that are a part of the Merchant City district. Here you’ll find unique cafes, restaurants, and designer boutiques. In the winter the Christmas lights displays here are spectacular.

The University of Glasgow dates from 1451 and is the second-oldest school of higher education in Scotland. At the Visitor Center, you can find a permanent exhibition about the important discoveries teachers at the university like James Watt, Adam Smith, and Joseph Lister made.

On-campus at the Hunterian Museum famous scientist William Hunter, an 18th-century doctor from Glasgow bequeathed his collection of anatomical parts, coins and object d’art. The museum also has collections from the ethnography, zoology, geology, and archeology departments including finds from Roman sites. On display are artworks by Rubens, Rembrandt, and Reynolds.

The Riverside Museum is an ultra-modern and award-winning museum. There are exhibits from the city’s former Transport Museum among them model ships, locomotives, trams, vintage cars, and horse-drawn carriages. The majority are Glasgow-built. There is the reconstruction of a Glasgow street in 1938, exhibits on immigration and disasters, featuring the sinking of the Lusitania.

Just docked outside of the museum is the Tall Ship at Riverside giving visitors the opportunity to explore the Glenlee, a Glasgow-built three-mast barque. Guided tours are available.

The Glasgow Science Centre is located in the waterfront area near the Riverside Museum. It is housed in a titanium-clad building that is shaped like the hull of a ship. There are exhibits about human health, technology, and general science. Kids can enjoy trying some practical experiments at various laboratory-type stations. There is a planetarium, an IMAX cinema, and a science theater.

You can get to see the Glasgow Tower which claims to be the world’s tallest freely-rotating tower from which you can get spectacular views of the surrounding area.


Pollock House is located four miles southwest of the city center. It is the home of the Maxwell family. The Edwardian mansion was built in 1752. The majority of the buildings are open to visitors. On display, you can see Sir William Stirling Maxwell’s collection of Spanish paintings by El Greco, Goya, Murillo, and Velázquez. There is some artwork by William Blake, Guided and self-guided tours are available.

Those seeking adventure might like to try the unique “Escape the Past” game which is an interactive exhibit that challenges players to solve puzzles and find their way back to the present day. The grounds include the Pollock Country Park with gardens and walking trails leading through woodlands and to the riverside. You can follow the footsteps of characters from the hit TV show “Outlander.” Relax and enjoy a meal or snack at the Edwardian Kitchen Cafe.

At the Botanic Gardens, you’ll find the Kibble Palace which was built in 1873 has one of the largest glasshouses in Britain with a collection of rare orchids, tree ferns from Australia and New Zealand and plants from Africa, the Americas, and the Far East. There are other greenhouses and Victorian sculptures. You can relax at the tearoom with its lovely patio.

Glasgow Green is the oldest of the parks in the city laid out in 1662.

One of the main highlights here is the People’s Palace, a museum telling the story of Glasgow from 1750 through the 20th century.

At the back of the palace is The Winter Garden a large conservatory with a lovely collection of tropical and subtropical plants.

There is the beautiful Doulton Fountain which is the world’s largest terracotta fountain. It was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.

Another highlight is Nelson’s Monument, an impressive column that was built in 1806 to commemorate the victories of Horatio Nelson.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | February 19, 2022

Beautiful Coeur d’Alene

Coeur d’Alene might sound like a place in France but it is a city in northwest Idaho. It is known for watersports on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Coeur d’Alene City Park has lovely views overlooking the water. In the wintertime, Lake Coeur d’Alene is visited by hundreds of bald eagles flying in to feed on spawning kokanee salmon. All kinds of watercraft can be rented to get you on to the water. Scenic cruises are available and possibilities for chartered fishing. There is also a beautiful beach to enjoy.

McEuen Park is home to the city’s largest playground. There are spaces for basketball. You can see lovely pavilions and for your best friend a leash-free dog park. There is plenty of green space to relax, throw frisbees, and picnic.

There is a beautiful grand plaza area with landscaped waterfalls and garden beds. A place for reflection is the nearby Veterans Memorial.

Downtown Coeur d’Alene offers shopping, dining, and live entertainment. The area has a lovely backdrop of the waterfront and more than 100 retail stores.

Tubbs Hill is a natural space featuring a higher elevation overlooking Lake Coeur d’Alene. There are miles of hiking trails up and around the hill including a 2.2-mile lakeside interpretive loop circling the entire hill. The hill is accessible from various locations with the main trailhead next to the Rotary Harbor House in McEuen Park. There are concessions and restrooms.

The North Idaho Centennial Trail is a 23-mile pedestrian path that offers some of the best sights in the region. The trail stretches from the Idaho/Washington border to Higgins Point on the eastern shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene. The trail can be navigated by walkers, joggers, and bikers.

Mineral Ridge is a historic, scenic area located east of town. Part of it is the 3.3-mile National Recreation Trail overlooking Beauty Bay. The trail starts at the parking area with interpretive markers along the way that corresponds to a guidebook by the Bureau of Land Management. You learn about the flora and fauna of the area and the history of this site. There are picnic shelters to relax at and vault toilets. There are spectacular views atop Mineral Ridge. In the wintertime, you can see migrating bald eagles.

The Museum of North Idaho has exhibits about the history of the Coeur d’Alene region. There are photos and information about the 1941 Playland Pier and the introduction of Hydroplane Races on Lake Coeur d’Alene in 1958.

Between Coeur d’Alene City Park and McEuen Park overlooking Lake Coeur d’Alene, you’ll find the impressive Coeur d’Alene Resort with more than 300 accommodations offering all kinds of choices like lake-view tower rooms and spacious suites. There are spa options and several dining areas. There is an outdoor pool, fitness facility, and complimentary breakfast in the morning.

Cherry Hill Park is another beautiful open space northeast of downtown. This park includes a BMX track and a leash-free dog park. There is an 18 hole disc golf course and tennis and pickleball courts are available. The playground area is popular resembling a large firefighter’s helmet and is dedicated as a 9/11 Memorial Playground.

The surrounding Fallen Heroes Plaza offers interpretive information and a memorial for fallen heroes from Idaho. It is a popular place in the winter with sledding and kid-friendly winter recreation.

Forty minutes north of Coeur d’Alene on the southern tip of Lake Pend Oreille, the largest lake in Idaho is Farragut State Park. The park was once home to the Farragut Naval Training Center during WW II. It is a great place for hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders with miles of trails. The lake is great for boating and swimming with access from Beverly Bay Beach. There is access to many amenities like showers and restrooms. It is also a known disc golf destination with four professional 18-hole courses.

Coeur d’Alene National Forest encompasses a large swath of forest directly east of the city. It is part of the larger Idaho Panhandle National Forests covering land between Idaho, Montana, and Washington. There are multi-use trails, campgrounds, freshwater lakes, and a chance to fish and enjoy nature.

Hayden Lake is one of the most popular recreation spots just a 20-mile drive from the city. You can find Little Guard Lookout rental cabins or spend the night in the Honeysuckle and Bumblebee Campgrounds.

Hayburn State Park is the oldest state park in the Pacific Northwest and less than a 43-minute drive south of Coeur d’Alene. There are three lovely lakes Chatcolet, Benewah, and Hidden. Nearby is also the St. Joe River. Popular activities are hiking, biking, and bird-watching. On the water you can swim, kayak, canoe, and paddleboard. It is a popular place for camping and has full RV hookups. Cottages can be rented.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | February 19, 2022

Inverness and the Scottish Highlands

In our armchair travels through Northern Europe we have left England and are now in Scotland.

The first city we’re visiting is Inverness on the northeast coast of Scotland at the point where the River Ness meets with Moray Firth. It is the largest city and the cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands.

The Scottish Highlands stretch from Inverness north to Thurso and are separated from the rest of the country by the Great Glen, Glen More.

This ancient fault line was used to create the Caledonian Canal, a waterway extending from the west coast to the east, from Loch Linnhe to the Moray Firth with the amazing Loch Ness along the way. This mountainous region is great for hiking and biking and there are many lovely small towns and villages to see.

We begin our adventures at Inverness Castle. The castle provides a lovely backdrop that overlooks the River Ness. It is worth seeing but only the north tower is open to the public.

The Inverness Museum and Art Gallery has displays that offer a look into the city’s cultural heritage and the history of the Highlands.

The neo-Gothic St. Andrew’s Cathedral from the late 19th century stands opposite Castle Hill on the banks of the River Ness.

Abertarff House is the oldest building in Inverness dating back to 1592.

The Titanic Inverness Maritime Museum is a small interactive maritime museum with nautical displays among them the world’s largest model of the Titanic.

Inverness Botanic Gardens are lovely and a wonderful place for strolling.

Take a look at the old Victorian Market, an indoor shopping arcade that was built in 1890.

Loch Ness is a beautiful spot to visit located just a 30-minute drive from the city center, This is the supposed home of the well-known Loch Ness monster, Nessy. The lovely freshwater lake is also home to Urquhart Castle, which is one of the country’s most iconic fortresses.

You can learn more about the mythical Nessy that inhabits Loch Ness visit the Loch Ness Center and Exhibitions with displays relating to the Loch Ness monster and the surrounding area.

Even though today only ruins remain it is not hard to imagine how magnificent Urqhart Castle once was and its role in the rich history of Scotland. The castle dates back to the 13th century and you can get information at the visitor’s center.

There are spectacular views over Loch Ness and visitors have access to the Great Tower and can visit the dungeons that once held prisoners captive. You can relax at the cafe on-site and visit the gift shop. This popular attraction requires that visitors purchase tickets in advance from its official website.

On April 16, 1746, in Culloden, the last great battle was fought on Scottish soil and the fate of the Stuarts and Scotland was decided. This historic site has a visitor center that offers first-hand accounts of this battle, a 360-degree film that portrays the events, and awesome rooftop views of the battlefield.

You can see the gravestones of the Scottish clans and Memorial Cairn, a six-meter high monument erected in 1881 to commemorate the battle.

Other landmarks here include Old Leanach Cottage and the Cumberland Stone which commemorates the spot where the Duke of Cumberland issued orders to his troops. The battlefield has memorials including the Keppoch Stone indicating the location where Alastair MacDonell, head of the Kepploch clan, fell. The English Stone commemorates those who fought alongside Cumberland.

Cawdor Castle is located just 16 kilometers northeast of Culloden and is famous for being the place where Macbeth murdered Duncan in the story by William Shakespeare. Here you’ll find a large collection of Shakespearean literature and can see fine period furniture.

Dating from 1370 a hawthorn tree was the first sign to the first Thane to build a castle here. There is a beautiful garden. You can explore the nature trails and there is a nine-hole golf course. If you prefer to stay overnight there is a cottage for rent.

Fort George is a huge artillery fort that was built soon after the Battle of Culloden. The fort also is home to the regimental museum of the Queen’s Own Highlanders. There is a visitor center and a gift shop.

About 61 kilometers east of Inverness on the road to Aberdeen is Elgin with some historic attractions. You can visit the Elgin Cathedral tower left behind among the ruins. This church was once known as the “Lantern of the North.” You can still see the west facade and the 13th-century choir as we;; as the great east rose window and the octagonal chapter house. Guided tours are available.

In Elgin, you can also find Birnie Church, the oldest church in Scotland dating from 1140.

You can also visit the impressive Spynie Palace with the massive David’s Tower that was built in 1470.

Brodie Castle and County Park the seat of the Brodie family since 1160. You can see fine French furniture from the 18th and 19th centuries, Chinese porcelain, and a collection of paintings among them artwork from French Impressionists and English and Dutch artists.

Take a tour of the grounds and visit the 1.8 meters high Pictish Rodney Stone which is carved with Celtic animal symbols and inscriptions.

Some of the loveliest Highland scenery is located 35 kilometers north of Ullapool around the beautiful Loch Assynt. Fishermen can enjoy salmon and trout fishing. There are majestic mountain panoramas.

At the eastern end of Loch Assynt are the ruins of Ardvreck Castle dating from 1590.

Nearby is Inchadamph Nature Reserve which is home to the largest network of caves in Scotland.

There is Chairn Bhain’s seal colony

Eas a Chula Aluinn Falls, which at 200 meters high is the highest waterfall in Britain.

The most northwesterly point of mainland Scotland, Cape Wrath offers amazing views over the North Atlantic toward the Orkney Isles. This is one of the wildest parts of the Highlands.

Among the man-made structures here is the lighthouse built by Robert Stevens in 1872 on the spectacular Clo Mor Cliffs. It is a popular area for bird watchers and hikers with trails leading to the beautiful Loch Nevis.

Dunrobin Castle is located a mile northeast of Golspie and is the seat of the influential Counts and Dukes of Sutherland. The castle was built in the neo-Baronial style and has attractive corner towers with conical slate roofs. The castle has 189 rooms and one of the highlights is the Drawing Room with Louis XV furniture, portraits, and 18th-century tapestries. Enjoy strolling in the Italian-style gardens overlooking the Dornoch Firth.

The Orkney Isles are popular with hikers, nature lovers, bird watchers, and anglers. Two of the most famous sites here are Maes Howe Chambered Cairn which is the best-preserved Stone Age burial chamber in Britain dating from 2500 BC and the Skara Brae Prehistoric Village which is an open-air museum with well-preserved houses.

Of the 67 Orkney Islands, only 18 are inhabited. Others are breeding grounds for seabirds, kestrels, peregrine falcons, sparrow hawks, and golden eagles.

The largest town is Kirkwall with interesting historic sites like Magnus Cathedral.

The Shetland Islands are enjoyed by hikers and mountain bikers. For those who enjoy water sports, there are over 350 lakes and the vast Atlantic Ocean. Altogether there are nearly 100 islands.

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