Category Archives: Hotels

Postcard From The USA – Zion National Park

Zion

Zion National Park contains some of the most scenic canyon country in the United States and is characterised by high plateaus, a maze of narrow deep sandstone canyons and striking rock towers and mesas.  People have lived here for thousands of years but in modern times people only became aware of it when Mormon pioneers began to farm the canyon in the late nineteenth century.

In 1880 a geologist called Clarence Dutton visited the Canyon and he described it like this: ‘there is eloquence to their forms which stirs the imagination with a singular power and kindles in the mind. Nothing can exceed the wonderous beauty of Zion, in the nobility and beauty of the sculptures there is no comparison’.

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Many people refused to believe that it was possible for such a place to exist because until a hundred years ago Zion Canyon was practically inaccessible to outside visitors; and only a few had laid eyes on the majestic towering cliffs.  Zion Canyon was declared a National Park in 1909.  It was well thoughtfully named because Zion is an ancient Hebrew word meaning a place of refuge or sanctuary and it was in a temple on Mount Zion near Jerusalem where Jesus and the disciples had the last supper together.

Once through the one mile long entrance tunnel the road started to descend into the valley down a switchback road through six precarious hairpin bends, still following Pine Creek to Mount Carmel junction and arrival at the visitor centre.

There was a peaceful calm at the bottom of the valley and the air tasted of mountain air that cleared your head and filled your lungs with freshness.  A truly marvellous spectacle of colourful sandstone cliffs soaring into the sky above a flat-bottomed, thickly forested valley floor in brilliant red and gold autumn foliage that accentuated the colours of the cliffs. Being at the bottom of the canyon this provided a complete contrast to the  top down view that had been the feature of the Grand Canyon and the views looking up were spectacular and awe inspiring.

After a break we took the short drive into the heart of the canyon that terminated at the Temple of Sinawava (Sinawava was the Coyote God of the Paiute Indians) and here we left to follow the footpaths and trails around the North Fork Virgin River.  There was a lot of choice and certainly not enough time to see as much as we would have liked so we choose the riverside walk towards the Mountain of Mystery and a famous, much photographed, narrow gorge called the Zion Narrows.  Zion is a unique place with diverse wildlife for whom this place is a safe and bountiful refuge.  A little way along the trail we heard a rustling in the bushes and on examination came face to face with a wild deer.  Given its close proximity we were a bit startled by this and on account of its size left quickly so I am afraid that I am unable to identify exactly what species it was.  Thank goodness it wasn’t a bear!

The trail was quite steep because the headwaters of the Virgin River above are at about two thousand, seven hundred metres and it empties into Lake Mead two hundred miles southwest after flowing almost a mile downward.  This gives the Virgin River one of the steepest stream gradients in North America.  Naturally therefore we didn’t get as far as we had optimistically planned and soon it was time to return and leave the park, which was a real shame, I had really enjoyed my day in Paradise.

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On This Day – Kinsale in Ireland

While the current travel restrictions are in place I have no new stories to post so what I thought that I would do is to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 16th June 2016 I was in Southern Ireland in the town of Kinsale…

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Kinsale Street

At around about lunch time we arrived in Kinsale and checked in to the Old Bank Town House with rooms overlooking the harbour and the brightly painted shops in the High Street opposite and after a glass of Guinness and a bowl of Chowder we spent the afternoon exploring the narrow sinuous streets, the tourist tat shops and the exclusive harbour area.

There is no getting away from the fact that Kinsale is very much a tourist town and it felt as though the whole place had been recently spruced up for the summer season and everywhere there were overflowing flower planters and fresh paint, bus tour blue, tourist turquoise and visitor violet which gave the town an uplifting vibrancy which was fake but at the same time friendly.  It is said that Queen Elizabeth of England thinks the world smells of fresh paint and I sort of got that impression here.

Kinsale Giants Cottage

Later we looked for somewhere to eat but this proved difficult on account of how busy the town was and it took some time to find a restaurant that could accommodate us.  Someone always finds a table however and eventually we were accommodated and enjoyed a final meal and had a reflective conversation about the week away.  It was our third successive year in Ireland, we have visited the West coast and the North and now the south and for the third year running we had not seen a single drop of rain.

Kim really believes that the sun always shines in Ireland!  On account of this I am beginning to think about starting a travel business specialising in escorted tours to Ireland because it would seem that we would be able to give a no rain guarantee.

Kinsale Flowers

As we left the restaurant we could hear genuine Irish music playing nearby so like children drawn to the Pied Piper we followed the sound to a nearby pub where a trio of musicians called ‘Goats Don’t Shave’ were playing traditional music and we stayed and watched, tapped our feet, clapped our hands and joined in when we recognised the lyrics.

We had had a good day, Clonakilty and Kinsale, an excellent way to finish the trip and before we went to bed we discovered more Irish music in the hotel bar where a man famous for playing with the Riverdance show was playing for free with his band of excellent musicians.  It was quite a show and we stayed longer than we planned and long after we had left we could hear the music of his accordion wafting across the street and through the open window of our room.

Kinsale Accordian

 

On This Day – Burgos in Castilla y Leon

While the current travel restrictions are in place I have no new stories to post so what I thought that I would do is to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 23rd May 2013 in was in the Spanish City of Burgos in Castilla y Leon…

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This is the City of the Spanish hero El Cid, and here is warrior statue looking fearsome with his grizzled beard, wild cloak flowing madly, his sword La Tizona, too big for an ordinary mortal extended menacingly ahead of him, his eyes fixed ferociously on an enemy army as he led a charge against the Moors sat on his magnificent famous white horse Babieca.

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Thursday Doors – Pubs in Ireland

I don’t want to give the wrong impression but I confess to visiting a lot of pubs in Ireland.

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Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

 

Postcard From The USA – Arches National Park

Arches NP Postcard

The sculptured rock scenery was truly awesome and there couldn’t have been a better day to enjoy it.  The sandstone rocks blazed sulphur red under the strong morning sunlight and looked spectacular framed against the azure blue sky and the dusty ochre desert landscape.

Arches and Canyonlands

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Postcard From The USA – Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Park

Grand Tetons Postcard

The weather was cold and there was snow in the air and Vance, the coach driver was keeping an eye on the forecast and was obviously eager to leave ahead of schedule because heavy falls were predicted and when this happens it can close all of the roads all the way through until the following spring.

This usually occurs about the beginning of November and as we were only a week away and wanted to be home for Christmas, it was probably very sensible to move on.  (The following day he confirmed to us that the snow had fallen and some of the roads were indeed closed).

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Old Faithful

On This Day, A Napoleonic Battle in Porto

While the current travel restrictions are in place I have no new stories to post so what I thought that I would do is to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 9th May 2009 I was in the Portuguese city of Porto and stumbled across a military enactment – it was the two hundredth anniversary of the relief of Porto by Arthur Wellesley who entered the city in a surprise attack across the river from Vila Nova De Guia and routed the French troops who were forced to retreat east back towards Spain.

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Postcard From The USA – Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Grizzly

Yellowstone was designated as a National Park in 1872 when President Ulysses S Grant signed a new law ordering ‘the tract of land lying near the headwaters of the Yellowstone River to be set apart as a public park’ and in so doing it became the first National Park in the USA and indeed the world.

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Postcard From The USA – Wyoming

Wyoming Postcard 02

Today we were going to travel through some of the old wild-west towns that previously I had only seen in movies or on the TV, towns with famous names like Mule Creek, Buffalo, Custer and Sundance.

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Thursday Doors – The Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech

Majorelle 01

The blue is called Majorelle and is made from pigment found only in the Moroccan soil and he must have been especially fond of it because as well as the house the garden was full of large pots all painted predominantly in this colour and contrasting nicely with others in orange, yellow, red and green.

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Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).