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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Posted by: RasmaSandra | February 5, 2022

Idaho Falls By the Snake River

Our armchair travels across the US have taken us to the northwestern state of Idaho with mountainous landscapes, protected wilderness and outdoor recreation areas.

Our first stop is Idaho Falls hugging the Snake River.

Visiting the city you’ll enjoy taking the River Walk and seeing the spectacular views all around. The path is enjoyed by strollers, runners, and cyclists. The River Walk connects with many of the top attractions and natural spaces.

The Museum of Idaho has more than 25,000 artifacts and specimens that relate to history, biology, and the cultural importance of the state. The museum is known for its rotating exhibits and in-depth information on display. It hosts a variety of events for both children and adults.

Tautphaus Park is one of the oldest and largest parks in the city. There are plenty of trees and lots of green space. Here you can find baseball diamonds and a picnic shelter. On-site is also the Funland Amusement Park with waterslides and miniature carnival rides.

The highlight of the park is the Idaho Falls Zoo which has animals from all around the world. Among the popular exhibits are lions, snow leopards, and penguins.

The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho features five galleries and an interactive art area for children. There are also special events and classes.

Russ Freeman Park is located on the north side of the city adjacent to the Snake River. The park has hiking trails, lots of green space and access to the Snake River. There is an 18-hole disc golf course in the park as well as baseball fields, horseshoe pits, and a band shelter. Visit the Vietnam Memorial.

The Civic Auditorium of Idaho Falls has hosted concerts by such popular artists as Louis Armstrong and Johnny Cash. It opened in 1952 and is the central spot for Idaho Falls culture. The center hosts Broadway musicals, touring performances, and civic events.

Idaho Falls is home to one of the largest eagle monuments in the country. It is accessible via the River Walk. The huge statue depicts two eagles tending to their roost on top of a native Idaho rock with a mountain lion nearby. The memorial is called Giant Eagle Waterfall Nest or Eagle Rock Fountain but the artist, Vic Payne title his work The Protector.

The East Idaho Aquarium is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2013. It offers hands-on exhibits and displays that relate to aquatic and non-aquatic ecosystems. Among the permanent exhibits are a shark tank, bird-feeding stations, and freshwater life on display. There is the opportunity to feed and touch animals like stingrays, bearded dragons, and giant river fish.

Grand Teton National Park is located less than a two-hour drive from Idaho Falls. The park has glacier-fed lakes, alpine valleys, and the towering Teton Range. There is an abundance of wildlife like moose, bears, and marmots. There are many hiking trails to choose from and the park offers great campgrounds. It is minutes away from the valley of Jackson Hole including the resort town of Jackson and the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

Yellowstone National Park was the first designated national park in the country. Its west entrance can be reached from Idaho Falls in less than a two-hour drive.

The park has great campgrounds like the Madison Campground.

It has some of the best hiking trails in the area including the Upper Geyser Basin Boardwalk showcasing Old Faithful and hot springs, and geysers.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | February 5, 2022

London On the Thames

Buckingham Palace is usually one of the first places tourists head for when they visit the capital of England, London. Large crowds are drawn every day for the pomp and circumstance of the Changing of the Guard. The palace was built in 1837 and is the London residence of the Royal Family and has been so since the time of Queen Victoria’s reign. Take a look at the flagpole and if you see the royal standard flying it means the Queen is at home. On special state occasions, the Queen and members of the Royal Family come out on the central balcony to greet the crowds. When the Queen is at her summer palace in Scotland visitors can get tickets to tour the State Rooms, the Queen’s Gallery, and the Royal Mews.

The Tower of London is an amazing place to visit and is one of England’s most iconic structures. It is a World Heritage Site offering information about the rich history of the country.

In the White Tower, which was built in 1078 by William the Conqueror you can see the 17th century Line of Kings with displays of royal armaments and armour. Other highlights are the famous Crown Jewels exhibit, the Beefeaters, the Royal Mint and exhibitions about the executions that took place here.

The Bloody Tower offers stories of ancient torture.

The Tower Bridge adjacent to The Tower of London has two towers that rise 200 ft above the River Thames. It is one of the best-known landmarks. You can walk across the bridge to get great views of the Tower and a look at London Bridge. At the south side of the bridge is Butler’s Wharf a part of the city with many restaurants.

London comes to mind whenever someone mentions Big Ben, the 318-foot tower with the giant clock chiming the hours. It is an iconic landmark and the chiming of Big Ben is known all over the world as the time signal of the BBC. Below Big Ben are the Houses of the Parliaments, which has been the seat of the British government for centuries.

A tour of The Parliament Buildings offers a chance to see real-time debates and political discussions.

The best views of Big Ben can be had when crossing Westminster Bridge and looking back.

The British Museum has over 13 million artifacts including priceless objects from all over the world. Among the highlights are the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon, the Rosetta Stone, the colossal bust of Ramesses II, the Egyptian mummies, and the 4th century Roman silver known as the Mildenhall Treasure. There is a bookshop on-site and a shop selling souvenirs, games, replica sculptures, and jewellery. When you want to relax there is a restaurant and cafe.

The National Gallery is an iconic columned museum sitting on the edge of Trafalgar Square. It ranks among the top art museums in the world. You can see European paintings from 1260 until 1920. Among the highlights are the artworks of Dutch Masters and Italian Schools for the 15th and 16th centuries.

The Victoria and Albert Museum or V& A is part of the South Kensington group of museums including the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. V & A was founded in 1852 and has 145 galleries covering some 5,000 years of art and artifacts. Exhibits are arranged in four main categories – Asia; Furniture, Textiles, and Fashion; Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics, and Glass; and Word and Image. There are introductory tours and specific gallery or themed tours. Relax and enjoy The Main and Garden Cafes.

Among the two most popular tourist spots in London are Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. These are the gateways to Soho which is the lovely theatre and entertainment district.

Trafalgar Square was built to commemorate Lord Horatio Nelson’s victory over the French and Spanish at Trafalgar in 1805.

You’ll be impressed by Nelson’s Column, a 183-foot granite monument overlooking the fountains and bronze reliefs in the square.

The square is surrounded by Admiralty Arch, St, Martin-in-the-Fields, and the National Gallery.

Piccadilly Circus sits at the irregular intersection of several busy streets – Piccadilly, Regent, Haymarket, and Shaftesbury Avenue.

It is home to the best-known sculpture in London, the winged Eros balancing on one foot with his bow poised.

The Shard opened in 2012 and has become a most recognized landmark, It stands 1,016 feet tall and encompasses 95 stories. There is office space on the lower levels. It is also home to the Shangri-La Hotel and three spectacular restaurants. From the top, you can get amazing views of London from your choice of viewing platforms – indoor and outdoor.

Located on opposite sides of the Thames are two very impressive art museums – Tate Britain and Tate Modern. Tate Britain on the north side of the Thames in Millbank has a wonderful permanent collection of historic British paintings.

A transformed power station across the Thames became home to modern art collections Tate Modern.

You can take a walk across the Millenium Bridge, a footbridge that connects the two banks and is close to Tate Modern.

If you are a fan of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes visit Baker Street where the infamous detective lived, You can find a Sherlock Holmes Museum near the Underground Station. This area became particularly famous when the BBC televised “Sherlock.”

Westminster Abbey is officially known as the Collegiate Chuch of St, Peter in Westminster. It was founded by Edward the Confessor in 1065 and is his place of interment. Most sovereigns were both crowned here and buried here. Later it became a popular place for Royal Weddings. The church was built in the Gothic syle and has the highest Gothic nave in England. Among the highlights here are over 600 memorials in the Nave among them the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior; Poet’s Corner in the Transepts, with its memorials to the likes of Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Dickens; the Westminster Abbey Museum; and the attractive gardens.

Hyde Park is the largest open space in London. One of the highlights here is the Serpentine, an 18th-century man-made lake that is used for boating and swimming.

Apsley House is a landmark in the park and the former home of the frist Duke of Wellington. It is now a museum with an impressive collection of paintings and gifts presented by European kings and emperors. The Duke is commemorated at the Wellington Arch.

St. Paul’s Cathedral sits atop a Roman temple. When the church was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, Sir Christopher Wren designed the rebuild. There are two magnificent twin Baroque towers and a 365-foot dome.

Harrod’s is one of London’s most famous department stores known for serving the elite and super-rich, It opened in 1824. There are themed halls like the Food Hall selling delicacies and the Egyptian Hall selling fashion in opulent styles.

The London Eye is a way to see all of London spread at your feet and get a spectacular view of the Thames, It is Europe’s largest observation wheel. Individual glass capsules will take you on a circular tour rising 443 feet above the Thames. The journey goes for 30 minutes.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | January 26, 2022

Santa Fe In the Sangre de Cristo Foothills

Santa Fe the capital of the US state of New Mexico sits in the Sangre de Cristo foothills. It was founded as a Spanish colony in 1610.

Once a trade route, Canyon Road led to the community of Pecos on the eastern slope of the mountains. Today this is home to more than 100 art studios, galleries, and craft workshops. You can find all kinds of different art here like sculptures, paintings, jewelery, and pottery. There are also restaurants, cafes, and tea houses.

The Museum of New Mexico Complex has four museums exploring the state’s heritage.

The New Mexico History Museum includes the history of the state from the 16th century to the present. The museum is housed in The Palace of the Governors the former 17th-century seat of the Spanish government and is a National Historic Landmark. Visitors can tour the adobe palace and see the rooms.

Also at the complex, the Fray Angelico Chavez History Library has archival materials and historic documents. The Photo Archives has over 750,000 images dating back to the mid-19th century.

The Santa Fe Opera House offers a wide variety of different operas like traditional Madame Butterfly and contemporary Doctor Atomic. An interesting sight in Santa Fe is tailgating where theatergoers in formal wear mingle and enjoy finger foods in the parking lot. The opera also offers apprenticeship programs and backstage tours are available.

The Plaza is a market square built by Spaniards at the spot where the Santa Fe Trail ended. It is a lively place with shops, galleries, restaurants, and cafes. Visitors will find that this is a great place to find Native American Arts and Crafts. Cultural celebrations are held here.

The Museum of International Folk Art was established in 1953 and has the largest collection of international folk art in the world including baskets, textiles, wood carving and ceramics. The collections go by geographical area – Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, Contemporary Hispano and Latino, European and North American, and Latin American. Sections also cover Spanish Colonial and Textiles & Costumes. There are also temporary exhibits and events.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi is an impressive example of Romanesque Revival architecture. There are Corinthian columns, rounded arches, and square towers. The cathedral was built between 1869 and 1886.

The last remaining piece of the original church has a statue of the Virgin Mary known as Our Lady La Conquistadora. It is the oldest of its kind in the US and was brought to the site in 1626 from Spain.

The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum has the world’s largest collection of O’Keefe artwork with over 3,000 of her paintings, drawings, and assorted works.

Herb Lotz, Georgia O’Keefe House, Abiquiu, 2007

Her former home in Abiquiu, a National Historic Landmark can be toured by appointment.

Every Saturday morning at the refurbished Santa Fe Railyard you’ll find the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market with over 150 local growers and vendors. You’ll find a wide array of products from dried beans to vegetables to fruit and even breakfast burritos and coffee. Local musicians and other artists perform.

Loretto Chapel is a Gothic Revival style chapel, It was designed by French architect Antoine Mouly. The chapel has spires, buttresses, and stained glass windows. It has a unique spiral staircase made entirely of wood and supported by a hidden central column giving the appearance that it is hanging free in the air.

El Rancho de Las Golondrinas is located 10 minutes south of Santa Fe and is a living history museum. It is located on a former Spanish ranch dating back to 1710. There are 33 historic buildings among them are homes, barns, a general store, a schoolhouse, and a mill. Interpreters give demonstrations of everyday life. The ranch has traditional corrals and hosts special events.

The Randall Davey Audubon Center has bird watching tours and nature walks. It is set in the Santa Fe River Watershed and surrounded by forest. There are about 130 different species of birds, Visitors can walk the trails or take a guided walking tour.

The historical Randall Davey House can be toured where you can see the artwork of Davey an American painter and art educator.

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