Akaka Falls

See the World for Free

The idea here is to TRAVEL THE WORLD regardless of time or budget. It dawned on me one day that even if I had unlimited time and money (which I definitley do not), I still couldn't see everything in the world that I'd like to see--I'm simply not going to live long enough to do it.

But I had a bit of brain wave and soon after the travel envelope was born. This is an actual physical envelope. I typed the name of every country in the world, plus every state in the US on little slips of paper which I then put into the envelope. In the beginning we (myself, my husband, Dave and daugher Catherine) would draw out a slip at random at the beginning of the month and that's where we would go---at least in our minds. We grab some books about the country from the library and put them in our bathroom to look at. We also check out some videos about the country if any. We check it out on googleearth, listen to the music, try the food, maybe even attempt to learn a dance or celebrate a festival.

After the first two years we discovered that even virtual traveling can be tiring, so we travel now whenever I happen to be in the mood.

It's great fun. I especially love it when people I meet have been to the place I'm "visiting" in real life, or get excited and have some virtual adventures of their own. I hope that anyone who comes across this blog will feel welcome to come with us on the trip!

You have a standing reservation to see it all!

Jul 18, 2015

July 18, Dublin

Gotta love days that begin with castles. This is still in use as a government building.

Next was a good pancake breakfast and a visit to St. Patricks Cathedral. I asked if St. Patrick was everywhere? Catherine said surprisingly, not really.  She did go into St. Patricks, but only saw the outside of Christ's church, as it was expensive to go inside.

She went to a library put together by a famous American collector and then went to the must see Leprechan Museum. Her verdict, was that it was cute, but not really worth 10 euros. However, it's not really possible to go to Ireland and NOT go to the leprechan museum. 

Dublin has a sort of a China town kind of an area. So she treated herself to an accupressure massage. The massuse told her that her left side was so tight that she really needed accupuncture. This is why I trust my girl---accupressure, yes. Accupuncture from a stranger in a random place? No.  

Every town has a bridge. 

Dublin closes down early. Catherine thinks it's because all the tourists are expected to go pub crawling and all the locals go home. Everything is shut down by 7:00 and the mall closes around 8.  She skyped us while at the mall and we had lots of fun talking with her and looking at some of the stuff.  So, she just goes back to her hostel and reads and rests (a very good idea). This hostel is quite nice. Centrally located, and although her bed wasn't ready for her when she arrived at 6 a.m., they let her leave her stuff, and told her to help herself to breakfast and use all the facilities. There are 16 people in the room, with bunks stacked 3 deep. She's on the top this time, but whenever she or anyone else moves, the whole bed shakes. 

She sent us this picture of her first time ever Mars bar. How has she never had a Mars bar? I have failed her. 

Jul 17, 2015

July 17, Ireland

Blarney Castle

Some fun history about the famous Blarney Stone.

Kissing Ireland’s Blarney Stone, a tradition that’s been around for several centuries, is said to give a person the gift of eloquence and persuasiveness. The iconic stone is set in a wall of Blarney Castle, constructed in 1446 by Dermot McCarthy, king of Munster, on the site of a demolished 13th century castle. Various legends surround the Blarney Stone’s origins. One story holds it was acquired during the Crusades and brought to Ireland, while another tale claims it was made from the same material used at Stonehenge. An additional account links it to the Stone of Scone (also called the Stone of Destiny), which was used for hundreds of years in the coronation of Scottish and English monarchs, while yet another legend contends it was a gift from Robert the Bruce, king of Scots, to Cormac McCarthy, king of Munster, for sending men to help Bruce defeat the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. However, in 2014, geologists from the University of Glasgow shed some light on the Blarney Stone’s heritage when they concluded that the famous rock isn’t from Scotland but instead is made of 330-million-year-old limestone local to the south of Ireland.
The word “blarney,” meaning skillful flattery or nonsense, supposedly came into use following an incident involving the head of the McCarthy family and Queen Elizabeth I, who ruled England and Ireland from 1558 to 1603. The queen sent the earl of Leicester to seize Blarney Castle but the talkative McCarthy managed to keep stalling him. The queen grew exasperated by the earl’s reports about the lack of progress in the matter and uttered something to the effect that the reports were all “Blarney.”
Today, people travel from around the globe to give the Blarney Stone a peck (which must be done by leaning backward while holding onto two railings). Winston Churchill is among the notable figures who’ve kissed the stone, doing so in 1912 when he was First Lord of the Admiralty. Who’s to say that smooch didn’t bestow a little eloquence on Churchill, who went on to become British prime minister in 1940 and earn a reputation as a masterful orator?
Best here was Dave's response to this photo: 
"Whose hands are those?!!  I will NOT have you going around kissing Irish rock stars with strange men's hands on your person!

She said the castle was wonderful. Most interesting to me is the Poison Garden. I wish my mother could have seen that! Somebody has to have written a mystery set here. 

Catherine's tour also went to Cobh, the last place the Titanic ever docked. 

There were also random tree cozies. 

Jul 16, 2015

July 16, Dublin

Safely in Dublin.  Inspired this quote from Catherine.

"Never the bed and early to rise, makes for a day that starts too early for anything to be open."

I knew Ireland had sheep, but I had something a little different in mind.

Next she saw the Book of Kells (lovely illuminated manuscript of the four gospels plus commentary text), believed to have been created around 800 A.D. 

And she saw trinity college--with this library to die for. She says if the regular, work-a-day library was this impressive she'd transfer in a heartbeat. Me too. 

This is the famed "Long Room"

She stopped at Sweny Pharmacy of Ulysses fame. At least I recognized the title--although the thought of actually reading it makes me shudder. It's now cute little place where they do James Joyce readings.

Next up the national gallery. 

This gallery has a wonderful program. After you visit and are feeling inspired, they let you check out art kits with paper and pencils and pastels and notebooks so can can draw or write and then take your creation home. 

Last was dinner at the Hard Rock. I hope she finally got her brownie sunday. 

At last to a well earned rest. 

Jul 15, 2015

July 15, London to Ireland

Today was mostly a transit day. She smashed her finger in a deadbolt.

Thinks she might lose the nail, went back to London and finally saw the guards at Buckingham Palace.

Found a flea market and bought a new phone case which cracked almost right away without being dropped or anything.

Found some belgian chocolate cookies. Then spent 17 hours on a bus with screaming toddlers on her way to Ireland. Waited until 2:30 a.m. for the ferry and earned her Serengeti Badge for having walked 500 miles. That mileage is all from this trip.

Jul 14, 2015

July 14, Cardiff

Low key traveling day today. Catherine has seen all there is to see in Cardiff. Sounds like a charming town, just not sight-seeing heavy. She found this "beautiful" suit for Dave.

And found out that Shaun the Sheep is sponsoring the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Cardiff Castle

Then she took some time off to see Jurassic World.  I assume that's where she found this horrible sounding candy, "It's like banana runts got turned into marshmellows and then they added sugar."

Jul 13, 2015

July 13, Wales, Dr. Who

"I've flown the Tardis, survived Daleks and weeping angels and saved the universe. It's been a very productive morning."

The Dr. Who Experience sounds like a real adventure. Tourists are shown a documentary movie made in Gallifrey, when suddenly the screen splits open and, Oh NO! the Doctor is in trouble! it's up to this group of tourists to gather special crystals and save the doctor!! All kinds of monsters had to be defeated--but in the end, it was Catherine who got to place the final crystal in the console and save the Dr. and the universe. That's my girl!

Making oods. 

Three Tardi and a big red button. 

Original Dr. Who Sheet music.

 First Dr. Who consol

A Cyberman

Tom Bakers Tardis

She also had an English breakfast, saw Mermaid quay, took a nap, had a pub dinner, wandered the mall and had nutella hot chocolate.

Jul 12, 2015

July 12, Wales

Lots of messages this morning, but none to do with sightseeing. Catherine has decided that enough is enough and that she's tired and ready to come home. The end date for this trip has always been loose, for just that reason. Travel is wonderful, but no one can go on forever. And she's been going full blast for a long time. She's been changing tickets and plans to come home on July 29. She'll be going to Ireland, Scotland, Disneyland Paris and then home. I think it's a wise choice. She's got to have some time to recover before school starts.

Meanwhile, the only other thing I know about today is that she had a scotch egg. She said it was "decidedly okay." I say, "no wonder she wants to come home."

Other events of the day. She went to church and found her friend, India, who was with her on the study abroad. Then went to the national museum and the food festival.