My First Manbag Review

 

 

For years I’ve admired the young men in the world that carried a manbag. I watched as they threw everything inside and tossed the strap over their shoulders. Being from Texas I was, to say the least, tentative about the possibility of carrying one myself. I generally thought I would receive snark remarks in regard to my manhood, testimony about my missing boots and general degradation in regard to my lack of masculinity. Fifteen to twenty years ago I wouldn’t even have considered carrying a manbag, for fear of being ostracized by my male friends and shunned by society.

 

Having said all this, along with my travels through Asia, South America and Europe more recently, brought me to the conclusion, that given my age, it didn’t really matter what others think. As one gets on in years, fitting in gets less and less important. I decided I would start the process of looking for a manbag that came across rugged, constructed from hearty materials and a lack of flash. Even though I wore Hawaiian shirts for ages, I am not really inclined to tote gaudy items or accessories.

 

The Satchel Pro by NutSac

 

I came across a company founded in 2009, in Corvallis Oregon. The name of the company is NutSac and it manufactures cool, well-designed, American-made bags. The company name is explained in this direct quote from their Home page. “NutSac was named because the founders realized that you’d have to be a little bit nuts to manufacture in America and compete against cheap products. You’d also have to be a bit nuts to try to source American-made materials. And you’d have to be really nuts to trust that your customers will value your commitment to fair business practices and quality design.”

 

There are round magnets on the bottom corners of flap that folds over the top and secures the bag. This component is appreciated more than you can realize! This additional perk is the icing on the cake and helps make this satchel a superb product! You just toss the flap over and it stays in place without zipping it closed.

 

NutSac Logo

 

The bag is constructed from full grain leather plus has a waxed canvas covering. It comes in this natural color or a black. The bags are hand sewn in the US and guaranteed for life! The Satchel Pro has ample room inside of it as shown in the photo below. I can carry my tablet and all my items that normally go in my shirt and pants pockets.

 

Going through security at airports isn’t a nightmare any longer. I just pull my tablet out, zip the main compartment and walk through the x-ray machine. In the past I fumbled with my glasses, wallet, business card holder, keys, Swiss Army Knife, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, pen, handkerchief, passport and money clip. Now I just send this wonderful bag through on its own. There is a zippered compartment on one side of the interior, two slip in pockets on the other side and an expandable middle section that opens to around two and a half inches wide, more than enough room for my 12 inch Samsung tablet.

 

Satchel Pro Interior Pockets

 

My first venture outdoors was in Brussels recently, when we all went to a neighborhood outdoor organic market filled with all sorts of fresh produce, bread, pasta, sweets and of course waffles. I loved seeing what fruits and vegetables were available and how pricing varied with US prices. One item I came across was golden kiwis. I’ve never had them before. They were delicious. The market also had organic breads, cheese, sweets and of course Belgian Waffles. You know I had to try one and it was so good!

 

Brussels Satchel Pro in the Organic Market

 

On the fourth day in Brussels we went to a park located nearby and ran into people of all ages walking, riding bicycles and treating their pets to some fresh air, along with the fact that it was a rare day filled with bright sunshine rather than the usual gloom and foggy atmosphere. It was a gorgeous park and I couldn’t believe how green Belgium was, especially given the temperatures at night. I thought this rock bridge made for a good photo with the huge felled tree in front of it.

 

Satchel Pro in a Local Park in Brussels

 

On the exterior is another zippered pocket in which I show my new favorite flavor of gum, Trident pineapple. The pocket unzips to the length of the bag and approximately seven inches deep. The shoulder strap can be removed, adjusted in length and is made of heavy duty webbed cotton material that would take a lot of pressure to tear or cut through and with the metal hardware it’s very secure.

 

A quote from the Satchel Pro page describing the bag’s dimensions, “Technology just keeps getting bigger doesn’t it? Not to worry, the Satchel Pro will make your life easier. The Satchel Pro is designed for the iPad Pro or other pro-series tablets. Larger than our Satchel or Mag-Satch, the Satchel Pro has extra capacity for your larger devices. The Satchel fits larger tablets like the 12.9″ iPad Pro and Surface Pro.” The bag is 12.4 x 9 x 2.5 inches and weighs only 1.94 pounds or .88kg. I rarely make such a strong case for travel items and as much as I am for my NutSac manbag, you know it must be a quality product!

 

Satchel Pro Exterior Pocket

 

In the end I am more than pleased with my new manbag and it goes with me everywhere now. I love tossing it over my shoulder and taking off. I am passionate about the quality of this bag and I know it’s going to last longer than I will. Over time it will take on a character of its own with the waxed cover getting scratched and marked by things it comes in contact with. Regardless of my travels this manbag will accompany me where I go from now own. Did I tell you I really love it yet? At the end of the day I am more than pleased with this manbag. It is an extension of me and I can’t believe I waited so long to acquire one. NutSac has several sizes and I am sure you can find one that suits your needs. I highly recommend this product and am so happy I am working with this company now.

 

 

***NutSac sponsored the bag for my review. As always, all opinions, as always, are those of my own.

 

Viking Cruises, Strasbourg

We arrived in the double port of Strasbourg France and Kehl Germany. Having never been in France we decided to take the Viking River Cruises walking tour through Strasbourg. We loaded on buses and the first memory I have from this gorgeous city was driving by the European Parliament. My sincere apologies but I had to take my photo through our bus window. I think it still gives you an idea how impressive it is. The European Union has to be happy with its appearance.

 

European Parliament Through the Bus Window

 

We disembarked from the buses and walked past the Barrage Vauban, a bridge over the River Ill. It was beautiful and serene. The historical bridge was erected in the 17th century by Jacques Tarade and displays various ancient copies of statues and gargoyles from the Strasbourg Cathedral. On the roof there is a viewing terrace and the bridge was designated as a Monument “Historique” in 1971. The bridge has 13 arches and is 120 meters in length and three of the arches are raised to allow navigation. The Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is located adjacent to the Northern end. One can see the Petite France section of Strasbourg from the roof terrace. The name Petite-France (“Little France”) was not given for nationalistic or architectural grounds. It comes from the “hospice of the syphilitic” (Hospice des Vérolés, in French), which was built in the late fifteenth century on this island, to cure persons with syphilis, then called Franzosenkrankheit (“French disease”) in German.

 

Barrage Vauban Bridge on the River Ill in Strasbourg

 

As we walked towards the Petite France section of Strasbourg and over the River Ill, I captured these passenger boats/taxis. They are fairly common and I can only gather they have to be fun to ride. I noticed that one had its top removed. I would guess when the weather is good they do not cover the taxis and you get awesome views of the city and areas you traverse. We will take one of these taxis next time, and there definitely will be a next time, as Strasbourg is now one of our favorite cities in Europe, much less the world.

 

Passenger Boats/Water Taxis in Strasbourg on the River Ill

 

I was immediately drawn to the half timber houses as our Viking guide led us to the Petite France area of Strasbourg. The half timber architecture strewn throughout the area is magnificent. I couldn’t stop taking photos of the structures. Petite France is a historic quarter in Strasbourg and is located at the eastern end of Grand Ile, the historical center of the city. The river Ill splits up into a number of channels, which run through an area that once was the home of tanners, millers and fishermen in the middle ages. It is now one of Strasbourg’s main tourist attractions, along with being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. The river splits into four channels just downstream from the Barrage Vauban and flows through the half-timbered buildings together with the narrow lanes and footbridges that connect them. The passageways date from the 16th and 17th centuries and are gorgeous to stroll.

 

Viking Walking Tour of the Petite France Area of Strasbourg

 

The sloping roofs of many of the buildings include open lofts where hides were once dried. Three of the four channels flowing through the quarter run over dams that once drove mills and other industries. The northernmost channel is navigable by passenger boats and water taxis. This channel passes through a lock and the “Pont du Faisan” swing bridge is in  the center of the quarter. On the north bank of the river Ill, at the center of the quarter is the Maison des Tanneurs. The former tannery was built in 1572 and is known for its timbered balconies and slanted roofs, where dyed hides were once sprawled to dry in the sun. It was transformed into a restaurant in 1949, the Tanners House is now home to La Maison de la Choucroute, which serves traditional Alsatian cuisine in original surroundings, with the authentic 16th-century beams complemented by ancient furnishings and window boxes brimming with geraniums,  These flowers can be found growing all over Petite France on the Half-Timber houses.

 

 

Maison des Tanneurs, home of the Tanner’s Guild

 

There were several classic, historic restaurants in the Petite France area of Strasbourg and the section is quite well known for its Alsatian food. Alsatian cuisine incorporates Germanic culinary habits and is distinctive by the use of pork in various forms. Alsace is also well known for its “foie gras” made in the region since the 17th century. In addition the region is known for its wine and beer. Alsatian food is synonymous with festivity, the dishes are significant and served in generous portions and it has one of the richest regional kitchens. One of Viking’s “optional tours” was a guided tour in which passengers sampled Alsatian flavors and met food merchants, a French sommelier and a local chef. A second optional tour was tasting Alsatian wines at a local winery. As I do not indulge, we passed on these two options. Other passengers were thrilled with their optional tours.

 

Lohkas Restaurant in Petite France Section of Strasbourg

 

After walking through several sections of Petite France we came upon a plaza that contained the “Carrousel Palace” and a monument dedicated to Johannes Gutenberg the German printer who introduced printing to Europe with the printing press. His introduction of mechanical movable type printing to Europe started the Printing Revolution and is regarded as a milestone of the second millennium. His major work, The Gutenberg Bible (also known as the 42-line Bible), has been renowned throughout history for its immense creative and academic characteristics.

 

 

Viking Walking Tour to the Side of the Gutenberg Monument and Carrousel Palace in Strasbourg

 

We left the plaza and took a side street that led directly into the Strasbourg Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg. The Cathedral is largely Gothic construction and the architect Erwin von Steinbach is credited with its design. It is among the world’s tallest churches and was once (1647-1874, 227 years) the tallest in the world. The north tower, completed in 1439 is 142 meters or 466 feet tall. It remains the highest structure built in the Middle Ages. The projected south tower was never consummated and as a result, with its characteristic disproportionate form, the cathedral is now the number one landmark of Alsace. One can see 30 kilometers from the observation level of the north tower and the view extends from the Rhine river all the way to the Black Forest.

 

 

Strasbourg Street Leading Into the Strasbourg Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg

 

As we walked towards the Cathedral we passed this souvenir shop with plenty of stuffed storks for sale. In this part of Europe the Storks has a prominence not reflected anywhere else to my knowledge. You see nests all over on telephone posts, roof tops and on top of steeples. They are treated very reverently by the locals. After almost disappearing in Europe early in the twentieth century, the country made the stork population growth a high priority with postcards, art, tableware, textiles and  two Stork based theme parks in Alsace all dedicated to the White Stork. Breeding in captivity has vastly increased population and storks are featured of the decor in many Alsatian villages and towns with horizontal wagon wheel on the top of poles and chimneys being provided as base for storks nests. They even nest on power-lines.  ….and of course, in Alsace, like elsewhere in the world the storks main job is delivering babies!

 

 

Strasbourg Stuffed White Storks

 

Bredele are biscuits or small cakes traditionally baked in Alsace and Moselle, France around Christmas time. Many varieties can be found, including new ones, so that assortments can be created. Pain d’epices (gingerbread) comes in all sizes and shapes and is baked year round. From the traditional Gingerbread man that children love to bite the head off of, to the funnel shaped cakes pictured below on the top shelf. We were very fond of this particular shape and brought several dozen home to give as presents. Unfortunately for our waistlines we chose to devour many of them.

 

Pain d’epices (gingerbread) Shop

 

Most passengers took optional tours, ate at a traditional Alsatian restaurant or shopped for other goods. Kim and I shopped for sweets, cakes, chocolate and gingerbread. My oh my did we shop. Four bags later (filled with every concoction you can imagine) we left to meet up for our bus return to the ship. We barely could carry all the goods we bought and were flabbergasted at the actual number of items we acquired!

 

Strasbourg Biscuit and Cookie Store Where we bought an Entire Shopping Bag of Cookies

 

We entered this chocolate shop that had two free flowing chocolate fountains. Of course one was a milk chocolate flavor and the other dark chocolate. I knew I was in heaven! After walking about five steps I started picking up chocolate candies, including various bark items. We then walked a few more steps and started choosing our truffle flavors. We could have shopped all day, but stopped after obtaining boxes of chocolates for family and friends (and yes one for us) we got to the register. It was hilarious as the shop was empty when we entered, but filled it up in a few minutes and we almost couldn’t check out because it was so crowded. The cashier was having trouble with her credit card machine and a line formed, frustrating her a great deal. We finally finished our transaction and left before buying the entire store!

 

Strasbourg Chocolate Shop with Fountains of Milk and Dark Chocolates

 

Construction on the Strasbourg Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg began with a Romanesque style in 1176 and was basically completed in 1439. In 1225 a unit from Chartres suggested it reflect a Gothic style of architecture and portions of the nave, already begun, were torn down and replaced with a Gothic construction. The Chartres group influenced the sculptures, statues and especially the front or west side of the Cathedral. This entrance is trimmed in ornate decorated figures. These characters are representative the Gothic era and are considered a masterpiece from that period in history. The tower is one of the first to rely substantially on craftsmanship and whose construction is inconceivable without prior drawings. Strasbourg and Cologne Cathedral together represent some of the earliest uses of architectural drawings.

 

 

Strasbourg Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg Exterior Western Front Door Trim

 

Like the city of Strasbourg, the cathedral connects German and French cultural influences. The eastern structures, still have very Romanesque features, with more emphasis placed on walls than on windows. In 1505, architect Jakob von Landshut and sculptor Hans von Aachen finished rebuilding the Saint-Lawrence portal outside the northern transept in a distinctly post-Gothic, early-Renaissance style. As with the other portals of the cathedral, most of the statues now to be seen in place are copies, the originals having been moved to Strasbourg’s Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame.

 

 

Strasbourg Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg Side View

 

In the late Middle Ages, the city of Strasbourg had managed to liberate itself from the domination of the Catholic bishop and became Protestant in 1539. This reign only lasted a short period until September 1681 when Louis XIV of France annexed the city and a mass was celebrated in October 1681, in the presence of the king and prince-bishop signifying a return to the Catholics. The interior was redesigned according to the Catholic liturgy. In April of 1794 the “Enrages” who oversaw the city government started trying to tear down the spire, until the city’s citizens overruled and saved the tower.

 

 

Strasbourg Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg Interior View

 

During World War II, the cathedral was seen as a symbol for both warring parties. Adolf Hitler who visited it in June 1940 and intended to transform the church into a “sanctuary of the German people”, or a monument to the Unknown Soldier. On March 1, 1941, the French General Leclerc made the “oath of Kufra”, stating he would “rest the weapons only when our beautiful colors fly again on Strasbourg’s cathedral”. During that same war, the stained glass was removed in 74 cases and stored in a salt mine near Heilbronn, Germany. After the war, it was returned to the cathedral by the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives section of the United States military.

 

 

Strasbourg Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg Interior View Stained Glass Windows

 

The cathedral was hit by British and American bombs during air raids on Strasbourg’s center in August 1944, which also heavily damaged the Palais Rohan and the Sainte-Madeleine Church. Repairs to war damage were completed only in the early 1990s. In October 1988, when the city commemorating 2000 years of foundation by Argentoratum (the ancient French name of Strasbourg in 12 BC), pope John Paul II visited and celebrated mass in the cathedral. This event was also an occasion to celebrate the Franco-Germany reconciliation. In 2000, an Al-Queda plot to bomb the adjacent Christmas Market was prevented by French and German police.

 

Strasbourg Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg Interior View

 

On the way back after purchasing massive amounts of sweets, cakes, gingerbread, chocolates and cookies we ran across a flea market. It was interesting to see the various items displayed for resale and what held the interests of the French shoppers. Some pieces were typical and expected, but some were gorgeous and unexpected. We were thrilled to run across this open-air street market.

 

 

Strasbourg Flea Market Near Strasbourg Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg

 

As we boarded the Viking Eir and dropped our bags in the room I discovered a new found love for yet another European city. Strasbourg is a destination, given time, we will return to. I love the Alsatian foods, the sweets and the lovely and outgoing people. It warms my heart to this day to think about our experiences in the wonderful French city of Strasbourg. Now it’s on the Breisbach Germany before and our visit to the Black Forest!

 

 

 

 

 

 

***Portions of our cruise were sponsored by Viking River Cruises. All opinions, as always, are those of my own.

Viking Cruises, Kinderdijk Windmills

 

I am fairly certain most of my followers understand my more than modest passion for history and my sincere love for UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One of the aspects that first drew my attention to Viking River Cruises was their ability to share these sites with their passengers on their river cruises. I am totally enthralled by all the historical locations available for one to visit, when taking a cruise with Viking.

 

The Rhine Getaway on the Viking Longship Eir was no different and on our first day we were able to visit the Kinderdijk Windmills and explore history dating back to 1738. The windmills were originally constructed and used as vehicles for draining the polders, which are a low-lying tract of land enclosed by dikes and in this case intended to keep the water from the junction of the Lek and Noord rivers from overrunning the dikes.  The windmills are located 9 miles/15 Kilometers east of Rotterdam.

 

UNESCO Kinderdijk Windmill

 

After our Cheese making tour to the Holland dairy farm, we rode the bus through Kinderdijk and alongside the dikes. The story of the dikes is fascinating, as the dikes had been originally built nearly 300 years ago to keep water out of the farming land. To do this they had to configure a method to pump water out of the surrounding farmland, as it continued to flood after the advent of dikes. They discovered that an additional way to keep the polders dry was required.

 

Large canals, called “weteringen”, were dug to get rid of the excess water in the polders. However, the drained soil started setting, while the level of the river rose due to the river’s sand deposits. The land was basically peat (an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation or organic matter that is unique to natural areas called peatlands, bogs, mires, moors or muskegs.) Essentially they weren’t able to maintain it as farm land. They were then required to make the decision to switch all farms to dairy operations.

 

Three UNESCO Kinderdijk Windmills Alongside the Canals

 

In addition, it was decided to build a series of windmills, with a limited capacity to bridge water level differences (similar to current day locks on major rivers), but just able to pump water into a reservoir at an intermediate level between the soil in the polder and the river; the reservoir could be pumped out into the river by other windmills whenever the river level was low enough; the river level has both seasonal and tidal variations. Although some of the windmills are still used, the main water works are provided by two diesel pumping stations near one of the entrances of the windmills site.

 

The Diesel Fueled Archimedes Screw Used to Drain the Polders Currently

 

There are over 1000 windmills in Holland. Some are still being used for drainage, such as one or two of the nineteen in Kinderdijk. The Molen de Otter, still in operation in Amsterdam, is also used for drainage. The Molen de Valk in Leiden has been restored and now grinds grain once again. It is also a museum, a witness to the history of windmills in the area. The few mills that still turn are on the verge of losing power: with buildings around them getting higher (an interesting conundrum if I do say so), they can no longer catch the wind as they used to.

 

Diagram of Windmill Internal Gears Reflecting the Mechanical Operation

 

Our guide led us to a Kinderdijk windmill that was inhabited and we were allowed to climb through the windmill. I have to say it’s a very crowded place to live with basically no privacy, not to mention the extreme the angle of the stairs inside. I basically had to turn around and walk backwards down the stairs. The angle sufficiently frightened me so, that I couldn’t walk forward down the stairs, for fear of tumbling face first. I can only guess the inhabitants managed to overcome any fears similar to mine.

 

The different levels were separated by gender with the males sleeping on the second floor and the females on the third floor. Families had large amounts of children to help with the windmill operation. As explained by our guide, it was back breaking work and families never knew when they would be needed to help harness the wind and save the dikes from flooding. The families had to be on the ready 24 hours a day. Missing gusts of winds might allow flooding in the farmlands.

 

Kim in Windmill Women’s Level with Bed and a Closet for Basic Necessities

 

We came across a rail with the infamous wooden shoes of Holland. I thought it wasn’t a serious display until Robert explained they were mandatory in the peat and wet ground surrounding the windmills. If the population attempted to wear their normal cloth or leather footwear, it would be a serious mistake. Water penetrated both types of normal shoe gear and could lead to health problems or at minimum wet, cold feet in the winter. I was really surprised people actually had a need for these shoes. Can you imagine trying to maneuver around the thin blades of the fan with these clodhoppers on? I would surely not be able to master this task I’m guessing.

 

An Interior Rail Filled with Holland’s Infamous Wooden Shoes

 

After exploring the internal workings and living arrangements, Robert our astute and humorous Viking guide, explained how this huge gear wheel outside controlled the windmill blades similar to a ship’s wheel steers a sailboat. I can only gather it was fashioned after the same device. He told us how the young males would scamper up and down the fan blade frames to unfurl the material used to capture the wind and spin the Windmill. It was dangerous work, especially for the younger unskilled boys. One miss step and they could fall to their death. Can you imagine asking your children to scale a fan blade 35 feet in the air, knowing if they slipped it would certainly be extreme injury or even death? I’m not sure I could.

 

 

Robert Explaining the External Gear for Windmill Operation

 

Exploring windmills in Holland is an exciting thing to do. The Dutch have restored many of the historic sites. Once a year Holland holds “National Mill Day”.  Every second Saturday in May 600 windmills and watermills around the country open their doors to visitors. It’s an opportunity to see some of the historic mills that are no longer open day to day.  A great way to see these mills is by bicycle. Talk to anyone at a tourist information office and they’ll be able to give you a route by some of the most beautiful mills.

 

Two UNESCO Kinderdijk Windmills Beside the Canal we Explored

 

Flood control is an important issue for the Netherlands, as about sixty five percent of its area is sensitive to flooding, while the country is among the most densely populated on Earth. Natural sand dunes and constructed dikes, dams, and floodgates provide fortification against storm surges from the sea. River dikes prevent flooding from water flowing into the country by the major rivers Rhine and Meuse, while a intricate system of drainage ditches, canals, and pumping stations (historically: windmills) keep the low-lying parts dry for dwelling and farming.

 

After walking through the windmills and exploring the areas surrounding the canal Robert took us into a classroom that contained several spare parts for windmills and in the past had been used to help new tenants to understand the operation of the windmills so they could maintain them during their stay. It was a great session and Robert helped us understand the windmills’ function and how hard it was to keep them in operation.

 

Robert, Our Viking Guide, Reviewing History of Windmills

 

In modern times, flood disasters coupled with technological developments have led to large construction works to reduce the impact of the sea and prevent future floods. It is also a matter of survival. Twenty-six percent of the country is below sea level. This was overwhelming to me. This is a significant portion of the country to be at risk.

Historical accounts state that windmills in Holland served many purposes. The most important probably was pumping water out of the lowlands and back into the rivers beyond the dikes so that the land could be farmed. A immense North Sea storm in January 1953 flooded 500 square miles and killed more than 1,800 people. Therefore a large amount of study has gone into protecting the marsh lands and low lying farms that are really only good for dairy farming now.

 

Three UNESCO Kinderdijk Windmills

 

The flood-threatened area of the Netherlands is fundamentally an earthly plain, built up from sediment left by thousands of years of flooding by rivers and the sea. About 2,000 years ago most of the Netherlands was covered by extensive peat swamps. The coast consisted of a row of coastal dunes and natural embankments which kept the swamps from draining but also from being washed away by the sea. The only areas suitable for habitation were on the higher grounds in the east and south and on the dunes and natural embankments along the coast and the rivers.

 

It never ceases to amaze me how man’s ingenuity is instrumental in resolving issues that arise throughout history. The Dutch people have sincerely faced adversity and calamity after calamity in regards to the low lands that have been used in various manners throughout the years. Flooding and extreme saturation of land is not a simple problem to mend, yet they have altered methods of existence to survive. There is no doubt the will to survive trumps all dilemmas that may arise.

 

 

 

 

 

***Portions of our cruise were sponsored by Viking River Cruises. All opinions, as always, are those of my own.

Viking Cruises, Photo of the Day #17

As we strolled around Castle Hill in Budapest Hungary on our tour with Viking River Cruises, we walked upon a Medieval Knight outside of a cafe. I couldn’t help but take a photo. The knight was next to several retail embroidery shops and shops filled with authentic Hungarian craft goods.  I found out later that there is a restaurant in Budapest named Sir Lancelot after a famous knight of King Arthur’s round table. When you enter the restaurant, it is as if you are transported to the medieval times. There is wonderful decoration, delicious medieval dishes, but the best part is nightly show with swordsmen, a fakir, a belly dancer, and much more.

 

Budapest Bar Knight

 

With stellar dishes like “Sir Lancelot feast”, “Red Knight feast”, “King Arthur feast”, “Blue Knight feast”, “Lady Melany feast”, “Lancelot’s Challange feast”, and the “Huntsman’s feast”, of course all meals are made to sufficiently stuff one’s belly! In addition there are ” Lord’s dishes” that are intended for multiple individuals and feast parties! I definitely think you won’t leave hungry!

 

 

 

***Portions of our cruise were sponsored by Viking River Cruises. All opinions, as always, are those of my own.

Lewis N. Clark Travel Gear #3

I’m guessing that readers are probably growing weary of me commenting on items sent for trial by Lewis N. Clark. So this time I asked my family to choose items they thought they would use and send me their thoughts after trying out the products. I wanted to see if they arrived at the same conclusions I did with these travel items.

 

The first item tried out was this Secura RFID-Blocking Anti-Theft Convertipak (Burgandy) for my wife Kim. We recently traveled to Japan and all I can say is she wore this Convertipak every day and in various ways. I thought it was magnetized to her, literally! I have shown two different methods of wearing the Convertipak and will share her words in between photos.

 

Secura RFID-Blocking Anti-Theft Convertipak (Burgandy)

 

My wife’s thoughts: “The trendy burgundy color of my convertipack makes it perfect for daily use as well as traveling. For everyday use I am able to fit the entire contents of my purse, wallet, glass case and all into the anti theft bag. With everything secure inside zippered compartments I don’t worry about items falling out of my bag if it gets knocked over. When traveling I don’t carry a wallet and find the 4 card pockets perfect for my needs. My IPad fits great in large pocket. I love how quickly it can change from a backpack to a shoulder bag. I usually carry crossbody bags when traveling but with locking zippers and slash resistant straps/fabric I don’t not worry about using this bag as a backpack.”

 

 

My middle son Sean put his  “Cooling Gel Memory Foam Neck Pillow, Black” on his roommate and hoodwinked into a photograph. Sean has used it on several flights, including going to Vieques, an island off of Puerto Rico and his trip to Vegas this past weekend. He absolutely loves it. His thoughts: “Great product for flights or travel in general.  The first 30 minutes it was around my neck it did exactly what the name suggests, it felt cool to the skin.  After a good bit of time the cooling feature seemed to diminish but the pillow is one of the most comfortable neck pillows I’ve had the pleasure of using.” Thanks Josh Borchardt for posing!

 

Cooling Gel Memory Foam Neck Pillow, Black

 

Our youngest son Chris has a boat and chose waterproof items or something that works well around water. His first item is a Waterseals Waterproof Hard Case, Large in the color Blue. His thoughts after taking the hard case out is between the two photos:

 

Waterseals Waterproof Hard Case, Large, Blue

 

“This product does everything that it is supposed to. I was able to keep my phone and my wallet inside the case without any water getting into it and the closing latch is very easy to work. I used this product on a jet ski where there was quite a bit of water getting everywhere. The case also proved to be durable enough to withstand the beating it took while jumping waves and turning sharply. One of my favorite features of this case is the removable rubber padding that comes with it that allows for the internal valuables to be a bit more protected from the hard plastic.”

 

Waterseals Waterproof Hard Case, Large, Blue

 

WaterSeals Magnetic Waterproof Tablet Pouch- I was a little hesitant to place my belongings under water in this case when I first received it because there is not a “clasp” of any type on the product. As soon as got a chance to have the product in my hands my mind was immediately changed. The magnets work great! I spent more time than I would like to admit trying to figure out how something like this was so functional. The magnets work so well that you basically don’t have to do anything to seal the case. Just drop your valuables in the bag, let go of the magnets and this pouch will immediately seal itself. Another positive attribute of this pouch is that you can actually use your phone/tablet through the case so you do not need to open it with wet/dirty hands. I use this product on a jet ski so it is always risky business to be taking anything out of a bag while in the middle of a body of water. This has become a permanent addition to my trips the the lake!

 

Waterseals Magnetic Waterproof Mini Tablet Pouch, Yellow

 

So as you can tell my family’s opinion fairly well coincides with mine. Lewis N. Clark makes dependable, well thought out travel accessories and I recommend you take a look at their products. They are useful and provide security with their RFID function and secure agendas.

 

 

***All products were sponsored by Lewis N. Clark for testing and review. All opinions are as always, those of my family and my own.

Azalea Trail #2, Goodman-LeGrand House and Museum

After over 6 hours of driving through the back roads of Texas, I finally arrived in Tyler. I was famished and very eager to take a deep look into this historical and gorgeous town located in East Texas just off of Interstate 20. I had a full itinerary and was already behind because of evil road construction. My contact Holli Conley, the Marketing and Communications Manager had gone overboard to be helpful and ensure a fantastic trip was had by yours truly. She suggested a taco at the local food truck, located at the Goodman-LeGrand House and Museum for the Azalea activies weekends. I jumped at the chance.

 

Curbside Taco Truck

Curbside Taco Truck

 

I wasn’t disappointed and had a truly delicious quick bite. They make their tacos from corn tortillas, in the manner I like! Now to run through the Goodman Museum. The house was originally built in 1859 and was a one story four room building located on the highest knoll in Tyler. After several owners and expansions, it became the property of Dr. Samuel Adams Goodman from South Carolina originally. The Doctor’s son, a Confederate Major and general surgeon purchased the home from his father, upon his marriage to Mary Priscilla Gaston. They had three children Sallie, Will and Etta Goodman. The second story was added in 1880. Sallie married James LeGrand in 1893. After her father’s death in 1921 Sallie inherited the house. Mr. LeGrand and Sallie remodeled the home in 1926. Two story columns and rounded porticos were added to the facade in the Greek Revival style, which is how the house looks today. Upon her death in 1939 Sallie bequeathed the nine acres and the house with all the furnishings to the city of Tyler.

 

Entry to Goodman Museum

Entry to Goodman Museum

 

I entered the Museum and was completely blown away. If you don’t know it, I love antique furnishings and handmade acutrements. I immediately was confronted by the sitting room to the left and was impressed with the fashion the house was maintained.

 

Sitting Room

Sitting Room

 

On the left was a wonderful piano, that I would have given my little toe to play on. Hint I can’t really play the piano, but love the way the keys sound. It was such an ornate musical intrument I wouldn’t have really touched it, regardless.

 

Antique Piano

Antique Piano

 

I went across the entry way and saw this fireplace. Had to take a photo, in fact I think I took over 100 photos of the museum. The fireplace attracted my attention as it reminded me of some of the gas heaters I had a child growing up in Texas.

 

Antique Gas Fireplace

Antique Gas Fireplace

 

I turned left and what a dining room table. It was set for what looks like six patrons. There were so many beautiful dining items, between the flatware, the plates, both salad and dinner, not to mention the serving pieces, I couldn’t soak it all in.

 

Goodman Dining Table

Goodman Dining Table

 

As most of my followers know I love to eat and I love to cook. I was in my area of the house! This old gas oven really brought home memories og my grandparents and what they used to go through, just to have a holiday meal. My paternal grandmother had a cellar filed with all her canned goods to last the winter. I would guess back in the day this house had a similar setup some where out of the way and in a cool damp area.

 

Antique Cooking Stove

Antique Cooking Stove

 

What better way to relax than rocking back and forth in a handmade rocking chair. I know because I still have an antique rocking chair my grandfather made in the early twenties. Not too much longer and it wil be 100 years old. It’s heaven! This was obviously a piece of nice carpentry work, someone spent hours and hours on assembling.

 

Antique Rocking Chair

Antique Rocking Chair

 

In another room, most likely an “Office” area, I found this wonderful roll top desk, very similar again to the one I have that my grandfather made. This one though has a pull out desktop for writing, etc. I love that additional feature. Next to it is a radio or Victrola.

 

Goodman Desk

Goodman Desk

 

On top of the firplace was a collection of statues resembling many periods in history. Everything from the Greco-Roman period, to a more recent Wild West young man dressed as if he was attending a roundup. I like the clock in the centerpiece and it was actually in operation, if my memory serves me correctly. That is about the time I would have been in the Museum.

 

Figurines on the Fireplace Mantel

Figurines on the Fireplace Mantel

 

Upstairs in the huge Master Bedroom was a crib with the baby’s nightgown off to the side. All apparent handmade clothing and a nice looking quilt that was more than likely handmade also! Don’t miss the woolen socks.

 

Baby's Nightgown

Baby’s Nightgown

 

The husbamd’s clothing standing below, ready to take and put on, was very ornate and intricately handsewn. I am sure this was a method or maintaining ironed clothing and keeping the wrinkles away. The headless mannequins were a little eerie to me though.

 

Men's Attire

Men’s Attire

 

The wife’s clothing was laid out on the bed, with accompanying hat and purse. The other garments a true gentleman does not discuss in public!

 

Lady of the House's Clothes Laid Out

Lady of the House’s Clothes Laid Out

 

Beside the Master bed were two chairs and they caught my eye, because one was a child’s size, made from bentwood and straw, weaved for the seat and back. It took many hours of love and labor to complete the chair. Beside is an adult’s chair, that wasn’t as complicated to construct, but I am sure served its purpose.

 

Adult and Child's Chairs

Adult and Child’s Chairs

 

Interestingly enough I found this antique wheelchair sitting in the hallway upstairs. Makes me wonder if someone had to use it for several years. The depression in the seating area indicates it was well worn and used frequently. Compare this piece of equipment with the more modern power wheelchairs of today. Although the entry-level power wheelchairs start around $1,000, remarkable progress has been made!

 

Antique Wheelchair

Antique Wheelchair

 

This bedroom belonged obviously to one of the daughter’s, but I am not entirely sure which young lady resided in this bedroom.

 

Female Child's Bedroom

Female Child’s Bedroom

 

When I was a child and came across a bannister like this I would scoot down the rail and keep doing it over and over until I got in trouble. It’s the small joys in life you remember and this would have been one heck of a ride!

 

Magnificent Goodman Staircase

Magnificent Goodman Staircase

 

I left the museum and wondered over to a sitting area filled with benches and plants of all kinds. I would guess that the Goodman’s and the Legrand’s spent many an evening sitting in this garden and watching the sun go down. They maybe even had a toddy or two. Who knows for sure. I do know the museum is one of the highlights of my trip and when you visit Tyler you need to stop by and see the museum, even if you have a limited visit. I assure you that you will come away glad you did!

 

Goodman Garden

Goodman Garden

 

As I was leaving, I stopped by the desk to say thank you for the tour and I was fortunate to run into Mary Foster, who is the Museum curator. I told her she was doing a fantastic job and the museum in my humble opinion was outstanding. She was a very bubbly and outgoing young lady and you could tell, that even though hundreds of people were visiting that day, she was able to maintain her composure and smile at everyone. I was impressed with her multi-tasking performance, as she carried on no less than four different conversations with staff and visitors at the same time, all the time smiling. She is the backbone of the museum I believe and does a great job as curator.

 

 

***Portions of my stay were in association with the City of Tyler. All opinions, as always, are those of my own.

 

The Santiago Way: How to Keep Your Feet Fighting Fit

El Camino de Santiago is one rough, tough pilgrimage across Spain, a long distance hike across concrete, dirt roads and trail which will test your nerve, resolve and, above all, your feet. There are plenty fun stops on the way, with little need for navigation, and you may well find companionship with some fellow trekkers. However, when the going gets tough on this hot and dusty hike, your feet go first, so here are some top tips for saving your soles!

 

Keep Your Feet Fighting Fit

Keep Your Feet Fighting Fit

 

Before you set off

 

Be kind to your feet and get them on side – they’ve got miles and miles to go. Use a foot spa (or a plastic basin – often just as good) and give them a long soak in hot water. Add Epsom salts to soothe the skin and drain any excess fluid retention, and a few drops of peppermint oil to get your circulation flowing. Then, use a pumice stone to buff away any callouses, rough skin and generally polish up your feet. Once feet are dry, give them a good rub with some barrier cream, and cut toenails straight across – there’s nothing worse than an overlong nail rubbing against the side of your hiking boot for 5 miles.

 

 

Pack a recovery kit

 

The sooner you treat developing blisters, the less aggravation they’ll give you. Blisters will arise in spots where friction occurs, you can take preventative measures by taping over any areas of your foot that will rub inside your hiking boot with some high quality medical tape. Air your feet regularly, as heat and sweat will quickly exacerbate matters if skin starts to rub. Pack strong plasters, duct tape (to place over a plaster that won’t stay in place), artificial skin and antiseptic cream. Ibuprofen is also great to have on hand. Finally, no true pilgrim leaves the house without a spare pair of hiking socks – that’s just common sense.

 

 

On the big day

 

On the Big Day

On the Big Day

 

 

The equipment you bring along on your adventure can make or break the condition of your feet. A light backpack is, of course, key. In El Camino de Santiago you won’t need to worry about bringing extra bottles of water, one will suffice, as there’s plenty of access to safe sources of drinking water. Your hiking boots should either be well worn, or at the very least, broken in, and a spare pair of insoles are a good investment. You may also want to consider the possibility of cross or trail trainers – they’re lightweight, breathable, and work better for some hikers than boots.

 

 

Follow this advice, and your feet will be fit to carry you across the fantastic and varied Santiago way. Happy trails!

 

Images by Daniel Sancho and Xacobeo used under the Creative Commons license.

 

Guest Post: Clint Davis is a backpacker and wanderer and is never happier than when he’s out in the fresh air exploring the world’s trails. He also enjoys bird watching.

Looking For A Great Wedding Venue in South Africa

The Importance of a Good Wedding Venue
There is so much to think about when it comes to your wedding day. It takes an enormous amount of planning. It is worth the effort because it should be the happiest day of your life. You can plan of course but then you still have to rely on others to play their part in ensuring the day goes exactly as you would like. That means the transport turns up on time, the guests get their invitations in plenty of time and the flowers meet your expectations. The dress, the church, the photographer and the reception venue, all have to be right. It can seem an overwhelming challenge when you first sit down to think about all the things involved.

 

Wedding Bouquet

Wedding Bouquet

 

 

Professionalism
You do not want to leave anything to chance. That is why you need to go for professionalism. If your photographer does not produce the album that you want there is no second chance. Likewise your reception needs to be in a place that is used to hosting and catering for numbers. The best solution for that is surely a hotel that regularly hosts conferences, providing both accommodation and a suitable room that can hold the number of guests you intend to invite.

 

 

Enjoyment
If you are looking for hotels with wedding venues in mind in Johannesburg you may decide that a quiet suburb is the best option, somewhere like 54 On Bath that has excellent transport links without being too busy and central. The only noise you will want is your friends enjoying themselves at your reception after the ceremony.

 

 

Research and Response
You may want to do some research because the reception venue is important. Good hotels will have plenty of information on their websites about what they have to offer. They should also be responsive to any questions and inquiries almost immediately. Every good accommodation website has an interactive facility so hotels will see your approach immediately if you decide to make it online rather than telephone.

 

 

You may have ideas about the menu you want to have and the catering manager will be the person to talk to for that. You might possibly still be open to suggestions and experienced professionals are likely to know from their experience the popular dishes that are always received well.
A good facility should be able to adapt to a seating plan if you want a particular layout. Equally it may have a suggestion to fit the bill. You will certainly want the venue dressed for the occasion and florists will need to work closely with the conference manager to make sure you get what you want. As the day approaches you will certainly become more nervous. One thing that you should not be nervous about is your reception venue if you make the right choice.

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Rosen Georgiev/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

150 Years BOMB Series, Article #4, Saturday And The Battle Continues

I got to Fort Morgan about 20 minutes before 10:00 AM on Saturday, as the Naval battle reenactment was originally to begin at 10:00 AM. I surveyed the layout and thought it most appropriate to watch from the upper walkway of Fort Morgan. I began heading in the direction of the main portion and structure of the Fort. I was considerably lucky and actually walked by both “Armies” preparing to do battle in the hours ahead. Below the Union forces are giving their men final instructions.

 

Union Forces Preparig For Battle

Union Forces Preparing For Battle

 

Then out of nowhere this magnificently dressed officer strode out to the preparation area. I was enthralled with his hat, as most people are aware I am a fan of all sorts of caps and hats. This chapeau was very striking and gave one the appearance of authority and royalty. This, combined with the accouterments hanging from his waist, made his presentation striking and dignified. I marveled at his overall presentation and pondered the personal financial involvement. It had to be substantial. This officer thoroughly looked the part!

 

Union General

Union General

 

Them I came upon the Confederate forces and their ragtag outfits exemplified the reality of the Civil War I thought. One side was an organized army outfitted with all the instruments of war at that period in time and the other side was a quickly gathered assembly of local men who used whatever weapons and ammunition they could get their hands on, much less their apparel. It illustrated that even though the Confederates had a passion in their hearts for victory there was absolutely no way they would eventually win and that was the case in reality.

 

Confederat Forces Preparing for Battle

Confederate Forces Preparing for Battle

 

I strode through the massive tunnel, into the underbelly of Fort Morgan and discovered more Confederate forces prepping. The officers appeared regal as the Union officers. The enlisted men on the other hand, were attired in what I would guess were a combination of clothes used around their homes and farms and to a minimal extent, items, weapons and ammunition supplied by the Confederate forces, backed by what appeared to be slim funding.

 

Confederate Forces Inside Fort Morgan

Confederate Forces Inside Fort Morgan

 

It was obvious that the Confederates had music supplied by this Alabama Infantry Band. I can only assume that in reality the band was there for moral support and to attempt to motivate the men prior to battle. If truly representative, it had to have helped ass this band was very talented and serve to distract the forces from impending doom.

 

Alabama Infantry 5th Regiment Band

Alabama Infantry 5th Regiment Band

 

One gentleman really caught my eye in the Confederate group and I would guess he was portraying a scout, spy or possibly a lower ranking officer. Regardless his attire was very colorful and he had a credible appearance and dress that screamed “Don’t Mess With Me”!

 

Confederate Spy

Confederate Spy or Scout

 

Inside Fort Morgan I discovered a plethora of period furniture and implements used during the war, It was uncanny to see what was used. As an example the photo below displays what they assembled for beds and it was interesting to say the least. Most of the “beds” were assembled from what appeared to be 1×4 or 2×4 boards, for a frame and stuffed with straw for more comfort. The quilts were all obviously handmade and more than likely were brought from their respective homes.

 

Beds Inside of Firt Morgan

Beds Inside of Fort Morgan

 

I am guessing this was an officer’s area/desk and reflected various items used for writing materials, food and cooking preparation along with a table and desk to complete the day’s written tasks.

 

 

Office Space Inside of Fort Morgan

Office Space Inside of Fort Morgan

 

Back outside there had been a substantial delay in the Naval Battle and I overheard several participants frustration at a serious glitch that occurred. I never discovered what exactly transpired, but later on the cannons started firing again and I assume this meant the battle was finally on! I learned how hard it was to take a photo exactly as the cannon is fired. The flames shoot out the front and rear of the cannon when the powder is ignited. I tried and tried and if you look closely at this photo below you will see a minor amount of flame emitting from the cannon, along with the smoke! Feat accomplished!

 

Cannons Firing on the Berm of Fort Morgan

Cannons Firing on the Berm of Fort Morgan

 

While strolling among the various shops and souvenir tents I came upon this gentleman and in addition to admiring his wonderful beard I found his naval uniform very catching. I was awed by his hat, scarf and wouldn’t have desired to step into his pants for all the money in the world. It looked like a very complicated, but secure button system.

 

Confederate Sailor

Confederate Sailor

 

Finally I was drawn in by this Confederate Battle Flag as it clearly had prior battles emblazoned on the Rebel Flag, to ensure those battles were not forgotten.  Battles mentioned were Cedar Run, Manassas (2nd), Harper’s Ferry, Sharpsburg, Chancellorville, Fredericksburg, Winchester and Gettysburg.

 

Confederate Flag

Confederate Artillery Battle Flag

 

I left the battle for a late lunch/dinner and planned on returning that evening to see the night’s activities and fireworks. Having visualized the explosions in the daytime , I could only imagine what the night would bring and was excited to watch the pyrotechnics.

 

 

 

 

 

***This trip was partially sponsored by Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism

150 Years BOMB Series, Article #2, The Personal Side of The Story

Right after I checked into my condo, The Dunes, Sunset Properties, I dropped off my luggage and headed downstairs to get to the 150th Anniversary of The Battle of Mobile Bay. As I exited the elevator I ran into these two wonderful people and learned their story. Their names were Maurice and Jo Richards and gladly told me they were from the Texas Hill Country Northwest of San Antonio. I thought it was fantastic that they came all the way to see this historic event and I asked Maurice the background of the trip.

 

His quote was “My daughter gave me the trip and David A Weeks was my Great Grandfather.  He enlisted (Private)  in the 1st Bat. Alabama Artillery in June 1863 and served at Ft. Morgan for about a year, then about May 1864 the army transferred him to the 21st Alabama Vol. Inf.  About July 1964 the 21st that sent him on detached duty to the 1st Louisiana Heavy artillery.  He was with the 1st Louisiana during the battle and when Morgan fell almost all of the 21st Inf. was taken prisoner. Since there wasn’t a 21st left, the Department of the Gulf permanently transferred him to the Louisiana outfit.  As near as I’ve been able to learn he stayed with them through the end of the war.”

 

Maurice "Rich" and Jo  Richards From The Texas Hill Country

Maurice “Rich” and Jo Richards From The Texas Hill Country

 

I was blown away that he had relatives that actually fought in the battle and his daughter thought enough of him that she gave him this very rewarding trip. They later dressed in period attire and I didn’t see them at the event somehow. I learned though, that many people came from different areas just to see where a relative fought or just to participate in the reenactment process. I learned that there is a dedicated segment of our population striving to keep the memories of the battles, the wars and basically our history alive.

 

Maurice "Rich" and Jo  Richards From The Texas Hill Country, in Period Attire

Maurice “Rich” and Jo Richards From The Texas Hill Country, in Period Attire 

 

Before the Naval Battle was to ensue I climbed many a flight of stairs and wondered all around the various parts of Fort Morgan. I had no idea that the State Historic Site was so large! One could almost get lost looking into all the rooms and peering out over the ocean. I was rambling along the wall overlooking the Bay, when I came across these two great people. William was taking a photo of Jessica and they were both dressed in period clothing.

 

As I was about to ask them if they wanted me to take their photo together, they spun and asked me if I would take their photo. I had to laugh as we were thinking the same thing. I struggled with their I-Phone and William helped me, as I took several photos. They told me they were from Biloxi Mississippi and sometimes participated in re-enactments. They had a great attitude and were both very hospitable. I just had to include them in my post!

 

William and Jessica, From Biloxi Mississippi

William and Jessica, From Biloxi Mississippi

 

The last day as I waited for the last round of cannon fire and watched as the infantrymen fired their black powder rifles I ran into Stephen Hinnart and Marissa Batchar from Pensacola Florida. Stephen stated that he participated in re-enacments at times, but had not signed up for this one. They told me they were Civil War buffs and couldn’t think of a better way to spend the weekend. Not your typical young adults. They were  enthusiastic, very respectful and patient with me, as I recorded their names and took notes. I told him I loved his beard and it must be nice to have color still in it. They were both great young people and gave this old man all the time I needed.

 

 

Stephen Hinnart and Marissa Batchar From Pensacola Florida

Stephen Hinnart and Marissa Batchar From Pensacola Florida

 

 

On Saturday night I while watching the nighttime cannon fire, I watched as this event staff person over and over had to ask people not to walk out into the field with explosives. Seems common sense to me. I decided to sit down and talk with Chistopher Kimball, as he told me how deep his love for the re-enactment proceedings was. We talked extensively between the rope violators (people who strayed onto the field of battle) and the explosives. He let me know that he was a 1830’s specialist and was really involved with the Seminole & Creek War Chronology and had a written a book on it. I was so enthralled to hear his story. He recently obtained a job, which has a library full of information below his office. It is on the next floor down and he is able to research additional facts, for a second book if I recall correctly, on a regular basis.

 

I asked him which side he “fought on” when they did the Seminole re-enactments on the Seminole reservation and he told me both sides. I was taken back, as that meant he had to purchase two sets of apparel and participate as needed each time. I asked him which was his favorite side and he told me the Seminole side as they always win. After all he said we are on their reservation when we do the re-enactments. I am guilty of getting so involved again with his story that I never got his photo. I can give you his web site for the book on the Seminole War with this link. Additionally if you use the code 3BSJY439 you will get a 15% discount.

 

In the end I thoroughly enjoyed meeting these people and many more that talked with me about their love for re-enactment and how they travel around the country appearing at various events and reliving history. I now have a great deal more appreciation for these people and their endeavors. The period costumes alone are rather expensive, much less all the travel, lodging and food they eat. In the end though, it is a passion and they are to be commended for participating in such historical re-enactments!

 

 

 

***This trip was partially sponsored by Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism

150 Years BOMB Series, Article #1, Cannons in the Evening

As most of you know I am somewhat of a history buff and appreciate our nations events and past. So when I was contacted by Global Marketing Solutions, who manages Gulf Shores and Orange Beach (Alabama) Tourism’s blogger outreach program, in regard to covering the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Mobile Bay celebration, I couldn’t respond quick enough!

 

 

This illustrious Naval Battle was an effort by the Union forces to capture the last major port not occupied by the Union Forces. Fort Morgan was on one side of the Bay entrance and Fort Gaines on the other side or entrance to the Bay. The actual battle transpired on August 5th 1864 and involved 5500 Union soldiers and 1500 Confederate forces. The Union Naval forces were led by Rear Admiral David Farragut famous for his quote “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”, as the battle commenced. The Confederates had planted torpedoes below the surface in an effort to destroy ships from the Union Naval forces.  The Confederate Naval forces were led by Admiral Franklin Buchanan.

 

Confederate Artillery Specialits

Confederate Artillery Specialists

 

The first night Friday August 1, 2014 was dedicated to the artillery displays, with several cannons re-enacting firing on the Union Naval Fleets. The cannon were fired with the primer, a shot, copper tube filled with powder, which was inserted into the gun’s touchhole with priming wire. Spiking a gun to prevent its use by the enemy was frequently accomplished by driving priming wire, into the gun’s touchhole and bending it with the rammer. Once the touchhole was blocked the gun could not be fired. At Fort Morgan, the touchholes were probably blocked with long, thin metal spikes which would have had to been drilled out, after the eventual surrender of the Confederate forces.

 

 

I was able to capture several rounds from the cannons on video and at times the blast literally shook you enough to make one stumble. I was glad to see that the event had safety in mind and kept informing all viewers to remain behind the stripes in the parking lot across from the area where the cannons were fired. Amazingly, many individuals still tried to walk right up in the middle of the action for a close up photo. One young lady journalist kept sneaking around to the side and trying to capture the flames as they exited the cannons. Every time she was apprehended and instructed to move back. Personally I would have gotten very upset, as she could have been substantially harmed and had no regard for her own safety.

 

Large Artillery Specialists

Large Artillery Specialists

 

It was my first exposure to the period costumes and the fact that many of the re-enactors follow a circuit and make many events each year. They definitely are enamored with this period of history and I was flabbergasted at the financial aspects involved in attending these functions and outfitting themselves. Sometimes they are asked to ensure they have uniforms or costumes for both sides, so double the cost in effect.

 

Volunteers

Volunteers

 

I was thoroughly impressed by the event staff and the quality and quantity of the participants. Authenticity was the word of the day. Most of the re-enactors would not have been caught dead with a outfit that didn’t fit the period or the time frame of The Battle of Mobile Bay. After the cannon firing Bobby Horton, a Birmingham, Alabama native performed Civil War-era music. He is known for his authentic Civil War recordings performed with instruments from that era.

 

 

 

***This trip was partially sponsored by Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism

 

 

Photo of The Day #74, Indigenous Men Dressed in Indigenous Attire, Are Very Rare in Cuenca

One sees the Indigenous women all over Cuenca Ecuador and never thinks twice about the attire or manner of dress. Each various tribe dresses in a distinguished manner and has it’s own colors of shawls, skirts, hats, etc that signifies their heritage and what part of the Andes they are from. The apparel ranges from loud bright colors to a more demure earthy tone in some cases and in my humble opinion, they are all beautiful in their own manner.

 

Indigenous Man in Cuenca Walking To Me

Indigenous Man in Cuenca Walking To Me

 

It is more uncommon to locate or visualize Indigenous men associated with the various tribes. The majority of the men seen accompanying the brightly adorned and hatted women have converted to a more western style of dress, including blue jeans, khaki shirts and ball caps. The men you do see dressed in Indigenous apparel, are as a whole dressed in sold black, as these gentlemen in my post are outfitted. I am also guessing the Indigenous men originate from the same tribe and are the last hold outs wearing their native garments.

 

Indigenous Man in Cuenca Walking Away

Indigenous Man in Cuenca Walking Away

 

They all wear the black bowler hat, have a long ponytail tied back, wear heavy black work boots and the pants are shortened and come to just below the knee. I am not sure of the reasoning for this or the purpose, but I am guessing it as to do with not obstructing their work. You will not find any Indigenous people in what we classify as shorts. It is just not accepted or practiced. A few of the men smoke, but I have never seen any of the Indigenous women light up. Who knows you might just be lucky and see an Indigenous man on your next trip to South America and the Andes range. I truly hope you are fortunate enough to experience this, as I have a feeling the men dressing in Indigenous clothing will soon become a thing of the past!

 

My Amazing Life-Chapter 14, The Oasis Spa a Heavenly Retreat Away From Everything in Bangkok

After three legs and around 30 hours of airport and flight time, I was worn out the first night we arrived in Bangkok. I knew the first day was full of things to do on our agenda and knew I would be tired at the end of the initial day. Then I found out that we had a massage scheduled for each of us, at The Oasis Spa Bangkok. I also believe acutely, this is the answer to jet lag and a way to ease into new time zones. As we walked into this luxurious establishment I was in awe. Most of the places I receive massages in the US are rather small enterprises and not really a 5-star operation as this appeared to be. The lady on the left below in the light colored top turned out to be my masseuse.

 

Sammy, General Manager and the Owner, Lady on the Left was My Masseuse

Sammy Our Tour Guide, General Manager & the Owner, My Masseuse is on the Left

 

We were introduced to the lady who owned the spa, the General manager shown below delivering instructions and were given the rundown on the rules of the Spa. We were told we would all receive a traditional Thai Deep Tissue Massage and would be very relaxed afterwards. We were told if it hurt too much to tell our masseuse. I had no idea!

 

General Manager of the Oasis Giving Us Instructions

General Manager of the Oasis Giving Us Instructions

 

The entire reception room was decorated with very upscale furniture and soft music played in the background, as in most massage operations. We each were served a warm tea and a warn washcloth to help cleanse our faces of the grit and dirt picked up from walking the streets of Bangkok. A very nice additional touch.

 

Zen Bowl, Tea and Warm Cloth for All

Zen Bowl, Tea and Warm Cloth for All

 

We all anticipated our massages and were fairly exhausted. I managed to get a group photo of the ladies below, as they waited for their individual massages. I will tell you none of us were disappointed. I think some of us needed the massage more than others, me included!

 

Group Photo of The Ladies

Group Photo of The Ladies Waiting on Their Massages

 

They had a retail shop in the corner with tons of creams and lotions, both scented and non-scented. I really didn’t look into any items but made sure I jumped up when my name was called. I was led back through a very nice complex and the massage room was nicely done and even had a shower located outside that I used afterwards (had a wall that hid the people showering so don’t go there).

 

Various Lotions and Creams in Retail Section

Various Lotions and Creams in Retail Section

 

My masseuse led me in to the room with the table and asked me to disrobe when she left the room. She placed a large box on the bed and I asked her what it was for. There might be a small problem! She didn’t speak any English. She opened the box and to my surprise she pulled out a pair of disposable mesh underwear. I could choose either a Speedo type or a thong. Oh My God really? I was taken back by this action and motioned no way on the thong. She left and I had an issue. My fat butt wouldn’t fit into the large size pair of the Speedo underwear, which apparently was made for a 125 pound man. I put on my robe and communicated that they were too small. She retrieved a much larger and adequate size which I put on. We were finally set.

 

Outside View of Grounds

Outside View of Grounds

 

She began to give me my first ever Thai Deep Tissue Massage and I must say it was truly intense, especially after doing the normal prone portion. She then had me sit up erect. She worked her elbows into my back and worked me over, very much like a punching bag. My word it hurt! I have never had a massage that placed me in so much agony. On the other side of the equation, about an hour later I felt fantastic and actually felt that the jet lag had left my body. Even though the massage involves discomfort, I highly recommend you visit the Oasis Spa and endure one. You will not be sorry and your body will thank you immensely!

 

 

 

 

 

 

*** My trip to Thailand and Malaysia was sponsored by Thai Airways, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Tourism Malaysia USA. All opinions are solely mine and as always, generated without any influence.

My Amazing Life-Chapter 13, Wat Arun Temple of Dawn

As we boarded the Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok shuttle on the Chao Phraya river, my curiosity intensified. We were on our way to see the Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun. It was our first day and we had a full schedule. Tour Wat Arun. Tour a portion of the backwater khlongs. Have lunch. Tour Bangkok Chinatown. Get a massage. Inspect a hotel and eat at one of the top 50 retsaurants in the world. This was on the back of a 27 hour three-legged flight for me and about three or four hours sleep. At first it appeared huge, but a drab grey in appearance and I wasn’t sure if it was going to really enjoy the tour.

 

Photo Approaching the Temple of Dawn

Photo Approaching the Temple of Dawn

 

As we disembarked and walked toward the Temple of Dawn, named from the morning light reflecting off the Temple, I began to change my impression. It’s a magnificent architectural structure in my humble opinion and one cannot visit Bangkok without devoting an hour or so to strolling through it’s grounds. It has so many various segments, stone statues and ornate trimmings that I couldn’t stop taking photos. I was simply shocked by the close up appeal, after viewing what I thought would be a drab Temple from far away. I was not prepared for what it contained.

 

Central Prang of Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn

Central Prang of Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn

 

As you enter the Ordination Hall is off to the side and is a remarkable structure in design and appearance. You can’t help but go that direction first and investigate what lies inside the gorgeous building.

 

Ordination Hall

Ordination Hall

 

Walking toward the Ordination Hall you pass this portrait of the King of Thailand and several more. I am curious though since the government overthrow has transpired, if any of these portaits remain, were defaced or if they were removed to avoid damage. If you have been since the coup please leave a comment below and let us know. Sawadee!

 

Before the Coup

Before the Coup

 

Rounding the corner and heading towards the Ordination Hall you are met with this rather imposing set of guardian figures, ornately decorated with vivid colors, unique accessories and elaborate adornments of a warrior genre. I was hypnotized by these majestic figures. They towered over the visitors attending and I took way too many photos trying to capture the demeanor of the imperial sentinels, as they watched over all that entered. I truly hope in some small way, I was successful.

 

Yaksha Guardian Figures at the Entrance of Ordination Hall

Yaksha Guardian Figures at the Entrance of Ordination Hall

 

As I grew closer and scanned the apex of the entry I again was mesmerized by the architecture and how detailed the design was. I will have to become more of a historian and be able to interpret the symbolism behind all the various trim and palatial work. Thailand has over 31,200 Temples and I was just beginning to realize the talent behind their construction.

 

Ornate Top of Entrance to the Ordination Hall

Ornate Top of Entrance to the Ordination Hall

 

Throughout the grounds I came across various and sundry stone statues, figurines and artistic structures that were stunning to view and diverse in design, purpose and placement. Again I took photos of what seemed hundreds of stone characters and had to limit my inclusion in this post to the more distinctive, at least in my opinion. I sincerely hope you enjoy the photos, but highly recommend a visit if given the chance. I would not want to tangle with this individual in real life.

 

Stone Chinese Statue at Wat Arun

Stone Chinese Statue at Wat Arun

 

Nor would I have any inkling to become combative around this individual in real life. Although he is immobile in his present form I am positive he would do severe damage to my body if we engaged in some type of duel or combat.

 

Stone Chinese Statue at Wat Arun

Stone Chinese Statue at Wat Arun

 

“A covered passageway, phra rabiengkote, lines the walls around the ubosot. The passage is lined with 120 Buddha statues in the sitting position. These statues were cast in the reign of King Rama II. The remains of deceased are kept in cubicles below the statues.”  This is a quote taken directly from a post on Tour Bangkok Legacies and explains the shrines below.

 

Buddhas Inside the Temple

Buddhas Inside the Temple

 

Additional stone figures are scattered throughout the grounds and some are regal in nature as compared with the warrior/guard figures at the entrance. They are both intricate and detailed in design. I was fascinated by the sheer numbers of figures and their various themes.

 

Stone Chinese Statue at Wat Arun

Stone Chinese Statue at Wat Arun

 

These ferocious stone carved guardians resembled dogs to me and were present right at the entrance to the Temple area. It would make sense that these sentries were positioned to announce wayward or stray people animals or evil trespassers.

 

Stone Sculptures in Wat Arun Complex

Stone Sculptures in Wat Arun Complex

 

As I approached the entry to the Temple I glanced down the side and caught this structure’s opening with two stone almost obeliscal formations. I thought it was cool the way the front structure framed the stone towers in the back of the area.

 

A Unique View On the Side of the Hall

A Unique View On the Side of the Hall

 

I removed my shoes and walked into the Temple and was completely caught off guard by the array of wall paintings, chandeliers and artwork present inside and displayed for all to view. It really was beautiful and I am afraid I didn’t capture the true essence of the shrine. I hope that you can at least partially comprehend its magnificent beauty!

 

Inside the Ordination Hall

Inside the Ordination Hall  

 

As one walks into the actual main Prang area this gentleman awaits you and the sign portrays what is acceptable dress and what is not acceptable for the ladies. It also had a directional sign for the restrooms. My bladder was about to burst, so Sammy our guide and I went and paid our $.10 to go. Ha!

 

Guardian Stone Chinese Statue at Wat Arun

Guardian Stone Chinese Statue at Wat Arun

 

This cherubic Buddha waited outside the entrance to the large Prang greeting everyone and bringing great luck and prosperity. He gladly accepted donations to ensure your tour was favorable. The lady on the right thought it was funny that I was taking this photo and grinned at me. I would bet anything she or her boyfriend/husband took one also!

 

Laughing Buddha at Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn

Laughing Buddha at Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn

 

When you first see the porcelain tile applications it puzzles you, as you do not expect this decoration to be so beautiful or well defined. I was impressed at the mount of detail put into the overall structure and cannot begin to capture what it looked like in person. I am definitely not that good of a photographer. I do hope that a sampling is conveyed and you can realize the extreme work that went into the construction of this facility. The following photos are of various sections and appliques on the Prang and hopefully convey the quality of work involved.

 

Amazing Porcelain Tiles On Wat Arun

Amazing Porcelain Tiles On Wat Arun

 

 

Detail of the Porcelain Filled Wall of Wat Arun

Detail of the Porcelain Filled Wall of Wat Arun

 

 

Detail of the Porcelain Filled Wall of Wat Arun

Detail of the Porcelain Filled Wall of Wat Arun

 

 

Detail of the Porcelain Filled Wall of Wat Arun

Detail of the Porcelain Filled Wall of Wat Arun

 

As I turned around to leave I took this photo. I did not climb the steps past the first level and I have no idea how many steps there are, as every web site I viewed on Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn did not have this information. I Googled it and still could not find my answer. If you take a close look you can tell how steep the steps are by the way the people are holding on for dear life as the descend. I knew in that instant I was not going up to the top!

 

The Long Walk and Steps to the Top of Wat Arun

Part of The Long Walk and Steps to the Top of Wat Arun

 

At the bottom there is a traditional market filled with stalls selling every imaginable souvenir one could associate with the shrine, Thailand or its history. It was very interesting and slightly cooler than being out in the Bangkok heat and humidity!

 

Souvenir Stalls

Souvenir Stalls

 

A sample of local snacks that one could purchase. Not sure if they were healthy or not, but they were unfamiliar to me and I held back on testing anything new, as we had a wonderful dinner planned later that night At one of the to 50 restaurants in the world.

 

Snacks for Sale

Snacks for Sale

 

This stall had many wood carvings of elephants, Buddhas and other items we found at every shopping place we visited. I am not entirely sure, but I hope the “tusk carving” wasn’t real ivory. Elephants represent good luck throughout Thailand.

 

Various Souvenirs for Sale

Various Souvenirs for Sale

 

The mango stand was unique and I really wanted to buy a bag of mango to snack on, but against any concept of appetite I passed. I really, really wanted to sample it, as I love Mango. Fortunately I ate my fair share later.

 

Sliced Mangoes for Sale

Sliced Mangoes for Sale

 

This stand was selling coconut water and a few of the members our group tried it and stated that it was the best they had ever consumed.

 

Coconut Drinks for Sale; Some of Our Group Said It Was the Best Coconut Water They ever Had!

Coconut Drinks for Sale; Some of Our Group Said It Was the Best Coconut Water They ever Had!

 

 

My initial impression of Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, from a distance was so ill conceived I was embarrassed. I thought I would be bored to tears and not really interested in seeing this vast complex. It just goes to show you the best laid plans of men and mice go astray! I cannot stress enough how important it is, if you visit Bangkok you absolutely have to visit Wat Arun. The Temple of Dawn. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

 

 

 

*** My trip to Thailand and Malaysia was sponsored by Thai Airways, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Tourism Malaysia USA. All opinions are solely mine and as always, generated without any influence.

Photo of The Day #70, #TilleyEndurables #RuggedClothing for the Adventure Minded

In June of 2013 I attended my first #TBEX (Travel Blogger Exchange) conference in Toronto Canada. It was my first conference and my first time in Canada. Ahead of time we were able to make appointments with travel companies, countries and points of interest around the world. Additionally, clothing manufacturers like Tilley Endurables were available and I was fortunate enough to secure an appointment with Tilley.

 

Hat Only is Tilley

Hat Only is Tilley

 

At the meeting I secured my Tilley Endurables as my first sponsor and as I am fairly well known for my Panama Hat, they decided to send me two different hats of my choice to test. I have worn these all over the world in the last year and I will tell you they are very, very durable. I love smashing them flat and packing them in my suitcase and when I arrive I just pop them out to wear. They will last forever I assume.

 

Hat Only is Tilley

Hat Only is Tilley

 

I am happy to announce that our partnership will continue and I am preparing to order additional items of clothing to test. Tilley Endurables is a great company and they stand behind their products 100%! My type of vendor.

 

Can’t wait to reach out and order, after I finish my diet and lose my extra weight. If you need a tough long lasting line of clothing take a look at their line. My earlier post today reminded me of my original post on Tilley and the hats and brought back memories of Ecuador and my Ingapirca tour.

 

Hat Only is Tilley

Hat Only is Tilley

My Amazing Life-Chapter 12, Thalang Road Phuket Old Town

As I sit here this morning writing this post, I feel pensive and have a deep concern for my friends in Thailand. It appears that the Thai Army, unknown to the Thai Government, has declared Martial Law and is imposing curfews and roadblocks around the perimeter of Bangkok. I love Thailand, its culture, its fabulous food and most of all its gentle people, who appear to smile 100% of the time.

 

I am worried this will escalate into a coup. Hopefully the assorted media campaigns are just being sensational as usual and have blown this completely out of proportion. The civil protests were just beginning when I was there in November and I can’t help but be apprehensive for my friends that reside in Thailand.

 

We flew from Bangkok to Phuket, a short flight and as we were approaching, I could see islands faintly out the plane’s window from Phang Nga Bay and made plans of a Snorkeling tour of Phuket. I had no idea how wonderful our stay in Phuket would be.  We left the airport on a bus operated by the Sweetland Travel & Tours Company in Phuket Thailand and Old Town. At one  time Old Town Phuket was the center of gambling, prostitution and opium trades. This was centered around the flourishing tin-mining industry, maintained by labor from the Siamese, Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians and various sea gypsies.

 

 

The tsunami of 2004 stopped the aggressive upgrade to this gorgeous city on the Andaman Sea,started in the eighties. There remain, many wonderful beaches and the shops are in varying stages of refurbishing. This video is all about the historical Thalang Road with it’s century old “Shophouse” architecture. We parked the bus a street away and had “10 minutes” to shop and see the area. Of course that was impossible and we wound up staying there for 30 minutes.

 

Side Street off Thalang Road

Side Street off Thalang Road

 

As we sauntered down the side street we came upon this barber plying his trade and giving a local his haircut. Notice the sparse accommodations in this shop and the fact that only a fan spins above the client’s head.

 

A Local Barber Cuts Haif

A Local Barber Cuts Hair

 

Another shop we walked by, had this chart in four languages; Thai, English, French and German. It illustrates the various pressure points of Reflexology on the foot,  an alternative medicine or pseudoscience involving the physical act of applying pressure to the feet.

 

Pressure Points on a Reflexology Sign for the Foot

Pressure Points on a Reflexology Sign for the Foot

 

We found this refurbished wonderful house on the side street, the balcony  loaded with plants. Notice the TV satellite dish matches the base color pink.

 

Old Architecture

Old Architecture on a Side Street

 

As we turned onto Thalang Road, we found the architecture outstanding and a majority of the antique homes had been remodeled. This was along with the shops which sold a plethora of goods.

 

Bolts of Silk Material in a Shop on Thalang Road

Bolts of Silk Material in a Shop on Thalang Road

 

Shop after shop offered their silk wares and although we had mostly secured our silk needs in Bangkok, we did stop, chat and discuss things with the shopkeepers. They were all friendly and were all asking if we needed anything. Thankfully it wasn’t a heavy sell approach.

 

Old Architecture on Thalang Road

Old Architecture on Thalang Road

 

We continued along Thalang Road, the main thoroughfare and home of all the historic buildings and original center of commerce. I must have taken 50 to 75 photos of the houses and balcony areas

 

 

Old Architecture on Thalang Road with Character

Old Architecture on Thalang Road with Character

 

The “Shophouses”, named this a result of the fact that the front portion is an actual retail establishment of one kind or another and the remainder is their home. Some have intricate gardens and patios that are not visible from the main street. An interesting detail, is that all the “Shophouses” have a “five-footway” front, that provides shade and protection from the in-climate weather.

 

Colorful Old Architecture on Thalang Road

Colorful Old Architecture on Thalang Road

 

This shop was an illustration of the various clothing and Burkas worn by Muslim women. A  Niqaab or face cover, is not required of most in Thailand and this portion of Asia. Additionally you can see rugs, packaged scarves and other clothing.

 

Clothing Shop on Thalang Road

Clothing Shop on Thalang Road

 

Before we knew it they were calling us back to the bus, to continue on to our resort and get checked in. As stated in the video, the shops were closed on the following day and I felt lucky to have this experience even though it was brief in nature.

 

I highly recommend you stay at the Keemala resort, located in the rainforest of Kamala Phuket and close to Patong Beach for those seeking a fun time. It is a great resort for a romantic get away and has a spectacular spa. The resort has numerous holistic activities and one can feast on an assortment of foods that will satisfy your wholesome needs. Whether you desire a villa, pool cottage, or pool house Keemala will placate your thirst for personal treatment.

 

 

*** My trip to Thailand and Malaysia was sponsored by Thai Airways, the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Tourism Malaysia USA. All opinions are solely mine and as always, generated without any influence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of The Day #33

Woolen Hats

Woolen Hats

 

I have been debating purchasing one of these hats with the tassels, while I am staying in Cuenca. They are quite popular across all age groups here in Ecuador. They appear to really be a heavy wool and have great flaps to keep your ears warm.

 

I am just afraid that if I wore these back in Texas I would get a plethora of adjectives hurled at me. You know I love #Hats, but this might just be a little too much. Guess I will hold off until my next trip! Saludos!

Street-Walking in Cuenca

One of the true pleasures of Cuenca, is walking the streets of Old Town. I never get tired of performing this activity and it is a great form of exercise for individuals. Each time I go out I have no plans and just start walking in one direction or another with no agenda. Its amazing that over time I still keep finding architectural treasures that I have never seen. In addition, I run into people of all walks of life and tourists. The tourists are not hard to spot as shown in these photos.

 

Male Gringo Tourists

Male Gringo Tourists

 

 

Female Gringa Tourists

Female Gringa Tourists

 

There must be several Catholic Nun orders, as I have seen a plethora of various dress. As Catholicism is such a large portion of the population, I find that I see Nuns all over, shopping and taking care of their needs. It is quite different than where I live in Texas.

 

Catholic Nun

Catholic Nun

 

Although a great deal of the population uses cars it is never odd to see bicycles being used to transport items needed for everyday use. A large portion of the condos and apartments are fueled by propane tanks and this gentleman is pedaling his wares! Sorry I couldn’t help myself!

 

Bicycle Mode of Transporation

Bicycle Mode of Transportation

 

A favorite sweet item is this kind of marshmallow substance that the vendors place in ice cream cones and since it is very economical the vast majority of the population eats these cones. You will always see them eaten in any type of weather cold or hot. The Ecuadorians love this treat!

 

Soft Serve Cones

Soft Serve Cones

 

Another common sight is the scooter parking areas where as many as ten or more can be seen together. Scooters are a great way of navigating through the increasing traffic and getting to places cars cannot. This time the amount of scooters has tripled since the last time I was here. I think maybe the gas prospective cost increase may have something to do with it also.

 

Scooter Parking

Scooter Parking

 

This Mom and daughter are sharing a great moment talking with a vendor. School just recently started back up and as you can see each school has its own uniform. I see all kinds of school dress as I walk and the various color schemes are very snazzy.

 

Mother Loving Her Daughter

Mother Loving Her Daughter

 

The lady in the black outfit gave me a fairly intense stare down, as I prepared to take this photo. She finally went in the building. Perhaps it was her store. Anyway I thought the sign was comical as it states the hair used is 100% human hair from the head of a human. Where else would it be from?

 

Authentic Hair Extensions

Authentic Hair Extensions

 

My last photo is also comical to me. I find the uses of words and how they translate hilarious at times. This states one would think The Palace of Joys. In actuality the translation is The Palace of Jewels. Had to think about the name, especially given the pictures.

 

st

Palace of Joys

 

I love Cuenca. One of these days I hope to come back again. Until then, if you visit, please do a little Street-walking and see the sight! Saludos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of The Day #29

Mariscal Lamar y Benigno Malo Jewelry Marcado

Mariscal Lamar y Benigno Malo Jewelry Marcado

 

 

There is a handmade craft mercado at the corner of Mariscal Lamar y Benigno Malo, that has various jewelry and one can wonder and view the items for a long time. I happened to go there on Monday night (Labor Day in the US) and looked until it became the same.

 

 

It is fascinating to see what they carry, what is popular and how cheap some of the items are. If you are looking for high quality this is not the place. Its more like a flea market in the US. Happy shopping and Saludos!

Photo of The Day #27

Indigenous Man

Indigenous Man

 

 

Although the majority of the Indigenous people who still dress traditionally are women, you run across the occasional male who still dresses according to his culture and geographical area. As I was walking Cuenca this past weekend I spied this gentleman and had to capture his photo. You will notice that he wears short pants, heavy boots, a black coat and a black round hat.

 

 

I find the Indigenous type of clothing is still worn mostly among this clan of men. There are a few examples and I will try to capture additional photos, but primarily it is the women that maintain the traditional dress.

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Amateur Traveler Episode 471 - Travel to Austin, Texas