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Portugal Spain Train Travel

NIGHT TRAINS

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May 19, 2020
A triptych of short stories about trains during the golden age of Eurail Passes, cheap travel, and no digital cameras.
It was Eastertime, the start of the European travel season, and the packed train from Paris to the French-Spanish border was hours behind schedule.
 
 
We missed our onward connection to Lisbon and ended up running to catch a local, the only train going in our direction until the following day. There was no time to buy provisions but we assumed that there would be a dining car.
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goats Norway sardines Stavanger

STAVANGER: Chocolate-dipped Goats and Sardines

on
March 12, 2020

One of the major reasons to visit Norway is to see the magnificent fjords, sea arms that stretch far into the landscape. One of the most spectacular is Lysefjorden, not far from Stravanger, a city between Bergen and Oslo, the capital. The 26-mile long fjord with waters 1600 feet deep is hemmed in by cliffs rising to 3000 feet. It’s no wonder that Victor Hugo used it as a setting in his 1886 novel, Toilers of the Sea, where he wrote that “Lyse-Fjord is the most terrible of all the gut rocks of the ocean.”  
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Bergen Fantoft Stave Church Grieg Norway

BERGEN the Beautiful

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January 19, 2020

Bergen, Norway, has a reputation for rain. Lots of rain: 83 inches over 230 days each year. But the weather gods smiled when were there. Located on the southerly portion of Norway’s fiord-fringed coast, the city originally gained prominence as part of the Hanseatic League, a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns from the late 1100s until the mid-1600s. Now it’s a busy and beautiful university city.

The old traders’ warehouses divided by narrow alleys line the waterfront.
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Faroe Islands North Sea Saksun Torshavn Travel

DRAGON SKIN – The Faroe Islands

on
November 4, 2019

DRAGON SKIN
The wrinkled sea shining in the damp silvery dawn made me think of dragons’ skin and old Norse gods as the ship glided slowly into the harbor at Torshavn. The sun pierced dark clouds to illuminate buildings and harbor.
I imagined the characters from Norse myths: Grendel, Beowulf, Thor, Odin, and all the rest were hiding somewhere in the hills overlooking the harbor.
Torshavn is the capital of the Faroe Islands, a self-governing country within the Kingdom of Denmark (which also includes Greenland).
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England Salisbury Wells

SALISBURY AND WELLS: The Thin Space

on
September 7, 2019

Sometimes a respite from all the jangles of our livesthe clicking, beeping, dinging, and talking headsis necessary to preserve our sanity. Sometimes when we don’t know who to believe or even why, it’s a balm to mentally return to a time when certainty ruled people’s lives. A time when few expected a change in their status; when having a “brand” was not an objective. A medieval world most of us would find hard and confining but tempered by a close relationship with the divine and a secure place in the social order.
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Acre Caesarea Israel

Israel: Acre and Caesarea

on
May 21, 2019
I met a traveler from an antique land.

To be honest, I didn’t actually meet anyone in person but through the 1912 edition of Baedeker’s Palestine and Syria travel guide, a wonderful Christmas gift. I love old guides that reveal so much about conditions as seen through the eyes of whomever contributed to the text and what they thought would be important to the inexperienced traveler who had a case of wanderlust.

The red-covered Baedekers were known to be reliable and the traveler wouldn’t want to be without one – remember Lucy Honeychurch who was lost in Santa Croce without her Baedeker in “Room with a View”?
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Dates San Andreas Fault Southern California

DESERT SONG PART III – San Andreas Fault and Dates

on
April 25, 2019
California is shaky: nearly 7000 quakes in the last 365 days according to an earthquake site. Years ago, when I lived in Anaheim there were constant mini-quakes. I scooted out of my apartment building even though a neighbor said “No worry, it’s earthquake season.” I worried anyway. And like most people living in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve been through several. But the worst was in Rome where an interior wall in our apartment split from floor to ceiling (and far more importantly caused severe damage to the basilica of St.
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Joshua Trees Pappy and Harriet Pioneer Town Southern California

DESERT SONG – Part II, Pioneer Town and Joshua Trees

on
February 26, 2019

DESERT SONG – Part II, Pioneer Town and Joshua Trees
We’d enjoyed some of the cultural opportunities of the area and we’re ready to explore the desert (i.e. the area that hasn’t been turned into towns and golf courses.)At the top of our list was the Joshua Tree National Park which covers areas of the Mojave Desert on the western side and the Colorado Desert on the east. 
We headed out toward the town of Joshua Tree, one of the park’s entrances but instead of turning into the park, we made a detour for more “culture”not far from the town of Yucca Valley—an exploration of Pioneertown, purportedly founded by Roy Rogers and Gene Autry in the 1940s as a movie set for their shoot-em ups.
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Annenberg Mid-century modern Palm Springs Rancho Mirage Sunnylands

DESERT SONG Part I – Palm Springs & Rancho Mirage

on
January 6, 2019
In desperate need of sun, we flew to southern California for some warmth and a change of scenery – no fir trees, no salt water, no gloom – for a week. There are nine communities clumped together in the Coachella Valley but we stuck to two: Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage for a dose of culture when we weren’t catching rays near the pool at our rented condo where hummingbirds investigated my red shoes.

The area was settled by the Cahuilla peoples thousands of years ago, calling what we know as Palm Springs: Se-Khi” or boiling waters.

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Pacific Northwest Port Gamble Port Townsend

A WINTER WEEKEND GETAWAY

on
December 13, 2018

What to do when you’re in the mood for a change of scene but don’t want to fly or spend hours in the car? We decided a ferry ride and 40-mile drive north up the Kitsap Peninsula was far enough. Our first stop was the tiny company town of Port Gamble located on the very tip of the peninsula. The town was founded in 1853 by Pope and Talbot, the lumber company that owned vast swaths of timber in the area.
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Coins in the Fountain
Available on Amazon. Kirkus Reviews says “You don’tneed Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck to enjoy this delightful Roman Holiday…Armchair-travel books are rarely as good as this one”