Friday, September 7, 2018

Michael Palin of Monty Python Fame Donates His Personal Papers

British actor, writer and adventurer, Michael Palin donated his personal archives to the British Library and On August 7, 2018, they went on display in the Sir John Ritblad: Treasures Gallery. The archives include diaries, photos, and scripts plus more than 50 notebooks of Mony Python material, including unfilmed skits.

Entry is free to the British Library and it is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Lonely Planet Publishes Books on Cruise Ports

In May 2018, Lonely Planet released its first-ever guidebooks about cruise ports. Titles available are "Cruise Ports Caribbean," "Scandinavia & Northern Europe," and "Alaska."

Each book has information on sights in and around the port cities, advice on booking excursions and cultural information. The guides cost $19.99 each.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Cruise Ships Leaving Home Fleets

Two well-known cruise ships will be leaving their fleets in 2019

Built in 1988 and holding 835 passengers, Holland America Line's Prinsendam will join the fleet of German cruise company Phoenix Reisen in July 2019.

Built in 1995 and holding 1,822 passengers, P & O Cruises' Oriana will exit in August 2019. No word yet on future plans for the ship.

Monday, August 27, 2018

New Roman Museum in Nimes, France

With more than 5,000 pieces on display, the Musee de la Romanite opened on June 2, 2018, across the street from the Arenes de Nimes, the ancient Roman coliseum located in that city.

Among the displays is a large mosaic, unearthed during the museum's construction, depicting the Theban king Pentheus being murdered by his mother.

Open daily at 10 a.m. Closing varies from 6 to 8 p.m., depending on the season. Entrance is € 8 (about $9).

Friday, August 24, 2018

Frankfurt "Old Town" Being Rebuilt

Before it was destroyed by Allied bombing in 1944, the Altstadt (Old Town) in the city of Frankfurt-am-Main was home to the largest collection of wood-frame buildings in Germany. A new, reconstructed "Old Town" has been built, with a grand opening scheduled for Sept 28-30, 2018.

The site contains 15 buildings constructed according to the original plans plus another 20 buildings (shops, restaurants, etc) in the appropriate style.

A guided tour in English can be booked at any Frankfurt Tourist Information Office for € 12.90 (about $15). 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Change to Belarus Tourist Visa

Minsk Academy of Sciences
On July 25, 2018, Belarus increased the number of days that some visitors can stay visa-free from five to 30.

To qualify, you must be a citizen from one of 80 counties (the US is among them) and enter the country through Minsk National Airport (MSQ). You also must present evidence that you will be flying out of MSQ within the allotted time. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Limits To Stays on Easter Island

As of August 1, 2018, tourists who visit Easter Island (Rapa Nui) are limited to 30 days.  The previous limit was 90 days.

In order to board a flight to Rapa Nui, the traveler must present a passport, a ticket showing return within the 30-day limit, proof of hotel or other accommodation and the provided Immigration form stamped by the Chilean Police Investigations Division.

Stays of longer than 30 days can be applied for in advance. For info contact the Chilean tourist office. 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Edinburgh, Scotland to Dublin, Ireland

 This turned out to be an incredibly long day. We did pass beautiful countryside and we had a ferry ride to Belfast. But the bus ride was long and then add to that the time at the Titanic Museum. We didn't get to our Dublin hotel until about 8 pm and we were tired and hungry. Not a great beginning to our Ireland tour.
More of the Scottish countryside

Approaching the ferry point to take us to Ireland

The Titanic Museum. Unfortunately, the inside wasn't very conducive to taking photographs.

And now the Irish countryside

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


From the outside ... this was a BIG castle
Today was a full day in Edinburgh. We had a scenic drive around the city and then the afternoon on our own. The bus dropped us off near the Castle entrance and afterward, we walked the street known as the Royal Mile. It sloped gently downhill (thank goodness!) directly away from the castle, as we strolled back to our hotel.

A view of Edinburgh from one of the gunports

Loved the idea of a dog cemetery

Looking down on just one of the many 'floors' of the castle

Giles Cathedral along the Royal Mile

The most popular non-alcoholic drink in Scotland

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Pitlochry to Edinburgh, Via St. Andrews

Well, the picture of our route for this one is a bit fuzzy but including it anyway,

We were moving out of the Highlands and heading to Edinburgh. Our first stop was Glamis Castle which is thought to be the setting for Macbeth and is the childhood home of the late Queen Mother. As usual, we were not allowed to take any pictures inside the castle.

St. Andrews Cathedral
 We then moved on to St. Andrews, where the game of golf started. We drove around the golf course and clubhouse and then had some time to walk the streets. Some of our fellow travelers headed straight for the clubhouse. We wandered the streets.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Our Day in Pitlochry

We had two nights in Pitlochry and this day was a day trip from the hotel. And, of course, it was cloudy and drizzly.

We visited Blair Castle, home of the Dukes and Earls of Atholl. The castle dates from 1269 and has some beautiful gardens. Unfortunately, we couldn't take any pictures inside the castle.

We then went to the Blair Atholl Distillery to learn about making whiskey and we each got a sample. Again, no pictures inside.

We were next dropped off in the town of Pitlochry, which was the foot of the hill our hotel was on. We had time to wander this charming town and then the bus was made available to take us back to the hotel.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Nairn to Pitlockry

This day was a stop and go day. Our first stop was the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre where, in 1746, the British government defeated the armies of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) and essentially ended the clan system in Scotland.

As usual, we had a rainy day.

One of the clan grave markers

Our next stop was a farm where we met a shepherd, his dogs, and his sheep. Everyone really enjoyed this. This shepherd was definitely old school. His father had been a shepherd and he expected his children (a boy and a girl) to be shepherds.

He talked about the training, showed us a sample of what they can do, 

gave us the opportunity to shear a sheep. 

and then brought out a basket of puppies.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Ballachulish to Nairn, Scotland Via The Isle of Skye

Dawned another dark and rainy day. Our first stop was the Glenfinnan Monument. (If you click on the link, the train trestle in the foreground was used in a Harry Potter movie.)

And bused along the length of Loch Ness where the weather began to clear. (No, we didn't see any monsters other than in the gift shops.)

We got lucky and the weather began to clear.

We boarded the car ferry and sailed to the Isle of Skye. The crossing was beautiful.

We visited Armandale Castle. This is the view coming in on the ferry. The next picture is from the front lawn. How would you like to wake up to that view every day? :)


We left the Isle via a bridge and headed to Nairn. More beautiful scenery and castle ruins along the route.

In Nairn, our hotel was a short walk from the North Sea.