The Emerald Isle – Changes In Latitude

Polite and friendly people. Warm and delicious brown bread.  Green for more than the eye can see.  Guinness on tap everywhere and anywhere you go.

Where are we?

Ireland, of course – the Emerald Isle.

As the plane descended from the clouds, the morning was bright and beautiful.  And at the expense of sounding cliché, outside our window the greenest fields and lush rolling hills greeted us.

ireland2This was my first trip oversees in many years and the first in which I was leaving my children behind in the care of my parents.  Trying to suppress my anxiety of leaving them, I vowed to make the most of my time in the beautiful city of Dublin.

And what a city it is!

During our week stay, we visited the “must see” sites Dublin primarily by foot and bus……

…St. Patrick’s Cathedral (which unlike the cathedral in New York City is Anglican).

ireland…Trinity College and the splendor of its breath-taking library.

..the Guinness Factory and the tour up to the Sky Bar for a free pint of Guinness – there is a full meal in every pour!ireland3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But of all the tourist sites we visited, by far my favorite was taking the Literary Pub Crawl.  What is better than being immersed in Irish literary history while enjoying a pint at each stop along the tour.  On the night of our walking tour, a light rain fell and we met Yeats, O’Casey, Joyce and Swift along the way on this tour.

And like all good trips, the night before we left, our tour bus made its way up the winding hills and delivered us at the door step of The Merry Ploughboys Pub where we dined, danced and sang as if we were just another fellow family member.

 

 

Cruising Up the Nile in 1987 – Changes in Latitude

Photo Credit: VikingRiverCruises.com

Photo Credit: VikingRiverCruises.com

Most of Cairo was asleep as my cab pulled away from the hotel.  Soon the streets and sidewalks would bustle with people, cars, buses, bikes, and mopeds.  For now, in the dusty morning light, it was my cab and a donkey cart.  The cart had no driver.  Yet, the donkey trotted with confidence and purpose, crossing the street carefully as two men slept in the back.  I don’t know where the donkey was going but I was on my way home following a whirlwind tour of Egypt.

That I was in Egypt at all mystified me. I had read Death on the Nile and Elizabeth Peters’ excellent mysteries. I knew about the Pyramids, King Tut, Ramses, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra.  That was about it.

When my sister Clara, a travel agent, invited me to cruise up the Nile between Luxor and Aswan, I couldn’t refuse.  We met in Cairo and flew together to Luxor, where the Osiris, our floating hotel, awaited.

Shopping in downtown Luxor, a tour of the Temple, and a spectacular light and sound show at the Temple of Karnak, left us exhausted.  As we slept, Osiris crossed the river to the West Bank of the Nile. To avoid the daytime heat, buses left at 6AM for the necropolis at the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens. We wore sturdy shoes and carried flashlights, bottled water, and sun tan lotion.

Photo Credit: ancientegyptonline.co.uk

Photo Credit: ancientegyptonline.co.uk

The tombs had been cut deep into rocky hills. The walking was strenuous.  Inside the tombs, colorful, well preserved murals and hieroglyphics depicting the life and death of the entombed covered the walls and ceilings of uneven passageways.

With terraces and colonnades, Queen Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple at Deir al-Bahri rests below towering cliffs.  Here, a member of our group revealed she had been Hatshepsut in a previous life.  Sadly, the tomb drawings were destroyed by the Queen’s successor.  He wished to eradicate any trace of this woman who ruled as a man.

Though hot and humid on land, on the river, it was cool and relaxing when afternoon tea was served.  Occasionally, we heard the call to prayer from towering minarets.  We sailed north to Dendera and the tomb of Hathor, goddess of heaven, joy, and love.  From there, we bused to Abydos, the final resting place of the god Osiris.

Heading south, we stopped in Esna, Edfu, and Kom Ombo which is protected by two gods.  Harwar, a hawk headed god and Sobek, a crocodile share a twin temple with one side dedicated to each.  In Aswan, we traded Osiris for a graceful felucca to sail to the botanical gardens on Kitchener’s Island and to the Aga Khan’s mausoleum.

Returning to Cairo, Clara and I visited the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Visitors don’t walk into the pyramids. Rather, they crawl along an ascending or descending passage though galleries and chambers. It is not for those who are claustrophobic. At the bottom of the Pyramids, sits the Sphinx.  Part lion, part man, the Sphinx faces east to watch the rising of the sun, the return of life each day.

 

SummerBlogPhoto

 

Each Wednesday, KMM’s staff members share stories and anecdotes about their 
memorable vacations, recent and past.  These will be personal 
recollections about trips to our beloved Jersey shore, across America, 
and around the world.  Changes in Latitude………..

Mind the Gap – Changes in Latitude

As a mother of two active school-age children living in the New Jersey suburbs, our family vehicle is very much a part of our family.  We drive almost everywhere with children and gear and friends in tow.  Add office life and social commitments – it’s safe to say our lives as professionals and parents and chauffeurs are full.  So you can imagine my absolute delight and glee when my husband and I left the car and our children in the hands of their loving grandparents and flew off to England for a “holiday”/ work combo trip!

Cheers from London!

Cheers from London!

For 10 ten days we navigated the city of London by foot, train, Underground and river boat and were able to capture the true essence of London.  Staying 25-minutes outside of the city for the beginning portion of our trip, each morning with our Oyster Card in hand, we boarded the train and headed into London.  With a quick exchange in the Underground, we made our way to my husband’s office.  Work first and recreation in the afternoon was our motto and it served us well.

The sun shining and the temperatures in the 70’s was quite unusual for London, but we took advantage of all the city had to offer.  A river boat trip down the Thames gave us a glimpse of the hustle and bustle from both sides of the river.  A walk past Parliament, Westminster Abbey and to Buckingham Palace allowed us to take in the sights by foot.  A stop at the local pub allowed us to converse with the locals and rest my poor feet, who had become slaves to my poor shoe choice.

Each day brought us new discoveries – a ripe enormous fig tree nestled in the middle of St. James Park – and visits to sites we enjoyed on our last trip together to London – a walk across Tower Bridge.   By the end of our first week, we had traversed most of London and I didn’t need to think twice about minding the gap and found myself looking left at each corner!

The weekend brought us to England’s countryside as we carpooled with our local friends to the cities of Ilminster, Glastonbury, Wells and quick stop at Stonehenge.  Thatch roofs cottages lined the country roads and just the most quaint villages welcomed us with endearing conversations and delicious foods.  But like all good things, our weekend came to a close and we returned to the city of London.

With my stint of the trip coming to an end, I did my best to consume every last pound on my Oyster Card.  A trip to Kensington and some last-minute gift shopping in Harrods brought my card to just enough to get me to Heathrow Airport.

The morning of my departure was most fitting.  The rain that is very much England-norm fell lightly as I made my way to the Underground to the Station to the Airport.  This leg of the trip was mine to take alone, since my husband still had work to finish and reality was waiting for me on the other side of the pond.

As my flight took off and we reached higher and higher altitudes, I was thankful for this opportunity for a Change in Latitude.

A Transportation Planner Visits Barcelona – Changes in Latitude

“I, therefore, openly repaired to Barcelona, that repository of politeness…that agreeable scene of unshaken friendship, unparalleled both in beauty and situation!” Don Quixote

It was a beautiful and sunny day as my wife, daughters, and I left our cruise ship to enjoy the beauty of Barcelona.  No tour bus for us.  We wanted to experience this Mediterranean jewel on foot.

We weren’t the only ones.

photo credit: IES Abroad

photo credit: IES Abroad

Everywhere, the streets were filled with tourists, students, businessmen and women, even the elderly walking, bicycling or zipping around on Vespa scooters.  Walking through town, we experienced the history and culture of Spain’s most cosmopolitan city.  The excitement and energy pulsed around us in this city so ancient yet so modern. For me, it was a transportation professional’s dream.

I was fascinated by the mixed land use, marriage of old and new.  Likewise, the commitment to a balanced transportation system proved that a “streets that work for all” approach can work in a large city.  The streets were shared by motor vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit services.  Barcelona’s population exceeds 1.5 million.  With considerable distance between tourist areas and monuments, the best way to get around is by using the underground subway.  It is clean, on time, and efficient.

The bus system is enhanced with beautifully designed shelters that attracted passengers of all ages.  I noticed city maps, route maps, stop signs, benches and other amenities at all stops along the main routes.

Overall, it appeared that transportation and transportation planning seem to be high priorities for Barcelona’s city officials, professionals, and decision makers.  It works well, and was well appreciated by this tourist.

-MA

SummerBlogPhoto

Each Wednesday, KMM’s staff members share stories and anecdotes about their
memorable vacations, recent and past.  These will be personal
recollections about trips to our beloved Jersey shore, across America,
and around the world.  Changes in Latitude………..