A Visit to Lisbon

A couple of years ago, we visited Portugal that included Lisbon and Porto. For one of our trips this year,  I have scheduled another trip back to Lisbon for a stopover option offered via TAP Air Portugal . I highly recommend considering this option to explore two countries and more during your stay.  Today’s blog post is reviewing this past trip, recommending some travel tips, and planning for the next visit.

Lisbon, Portugal

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Fast Facts: Lisbon wasn’t always the capital of Portugal. The city has a total of 53 districts with the Alfama district being the oldest. This district is still remarkably intact, surviving the 1755 Earthquake due to its many narrow streets and compact squares.

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There is quite a bit to see in such a large city that overlooks the River Tagus and the Atlantic Ocean.  So, please plan to wear one comfy shoes as Lisbon is very hilly, with some steep climbs up narrow streets for those wishing to capture stunning views over the city

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River Tagus

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Stairs and Fruit Trees In Lisbon

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Places of Interest– Rossio Square (Praca do Rossio)

The largest square in Lisbon is known as Rossio Square (Praca do Rossio). This nerve center of the city has been active since the Middle Ages and where you will find many of the Lisbon’s most famous restaurants, bars and shops. In this square, you will find various monuments and landmarks including the following:

Column of Pedro IV

In the centre of Rossio Square sits the Column of Pedro IV of Portugal or “the Soldier King”.  Examining the base of column, you will find four female figures. These figures represent the King’s various qualities: Justice, Wisdom, Strength and Moderation.

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Dona Maria II National Theatre

Founded in 1842, the National Theatre D. Maria II replaced the old Estaus Palace, headquarters of the Portuguese Inquisition since mid-fifteenth century. On top of the Theatre’s façade is a statue of Gil Vicente, a Portuguese playwright and father of the country’s theatre.

D. Maria II National Theatre

Dona Maria II National Theatre

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Fountain in front of Dona Maria II National Theatre

Rossio Railway Station

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One of the main wonderful  architectural wonders in Lisbon is the late 19th Century style building is the Rossio Railway station. The entrance way has these horseshoe shaped arches and a clock inside (wish I could find the photo….) and is main transportation hub for trains, buses, and taxis.

Coimbra university

University of Coimbra-  A UNESCO World Heritage Site

The University of Coimbra is one of the oldest universities in the world dating back to 1290 and is the oldest educational institutions in Portugal. It’s medieval structure and style makes for some viewing pleasure. The university’s location about the medieval city of Coimbra and that the city was once the capital of Portugal only adds to more interest to the history in this region. In addition, the University of Coimbra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Courtyard of The Royal Palace at the University

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The Courtyard of the Royal Palace at the University

Getting Around

We often take advantage of Uber or Lyft as a transportation option, if the city is not too large. The alternative is using public transportation. For the Lisbon trip, you will have two main options when arriving to the airport. These are as follows:

1) taxis to your stay option  for a very reasonable price or

2) Uber (Lyft was not readily available during our travel)

The Uber option was convenient and affordable costing around 3-6 Euros depending on traffic and distance.

Stay Option

Dare Lisbon House– is where we stayed during our last visit to Lisbon and we highly recommend this boutique hotel with it’s flare for contemporary and modern style. The hotel is located in the Rua dos Sapateiros, which is right in the heart of the Baixa district with your choice of restaurants, shops, and nightlife.

Other choices can also be found at  Booking.com for your next travel advantage.

Tour Options

Lisbon Guided Walking Tour

DiscoverWalk – Free Walking Tours

Lisbon Small Group Food and Wine Tours 


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Mosques Worth Visiting

As I remember the tragedy at the 3 mosques in New Zealand, this had me been thinking back to my travels and the many beautiful mosques we visited. One country that comes to mind is Egypt. This country has a wealth of beautiful, historical, and famous mosque that offer a chance under why this city is known as the city also known as city with a Thousand Minarets.

Consider supporting the victims and families of this shooting by donating to LaunchGood

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At the Bet She’an National Park; Israel

The Mosques of Egypts

A trip to Egypt would never be complete without a visit to some of its famous mosques including the Al-Azhar Mosque, Muhammad Ali Mosque, Abu Haggag Mosque, or the Sultan Hassan Mosque just to name a few that you can add to your itinerary of Egypt.

The Mosque of Ibn Tulun

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Right in the heart of Cairo, you will find the oldest and largest mosque.  The Mosque of Ibn Tulun still exists in in its original form and is the largest complex in terms of the property it covers. The construction of the mosque began in 879 C.E. with the commission of Ahmad ibn Tulun, Egypt’s governor at the time. Please don’t miss taking pictures from the historical staircase minaret built on Gebel Yashkur during your visit, which allows some wonderful shots of the city.

Mosque of Ibn Tulun

The Al-Azahar Mosque

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As one of the more famous mosques in Egypt, the Al-Azhar Mosque is unique for several reasons. One the main university is attached to the mosque. Also, this mosque belongs to the Sunni Sect, but also has many Shia sect influences.  Located in the city of Cairo, you can find more details about other Shia mosques around Egypt here.

This place is huge and do roam, but be cautious of pickpockets. Explore both the exterior and interior of this grand complex. This is worth your time during your trip to Egypt.

Sultan Hassan Mosque

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The Sultan Hassan mosque is often part of day tours and also located in the capital city of Egypt. If you have time to visit this mosque, do so for it interesting designs from the Mamluk era. This is one of the few Salafi mosques in Egypt.

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Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan

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Mosque of Muhammad Ali

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Inside Muhammad Ali

Inside The Muhammad Ali Mosque

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This mosque is also known as the Alabaster Mosque. This is one of the most beautiful mosques to visit while in Egypt. This is also one of the top tourist destination and please don’t forget to visit this historical place during your visit to this beautiful country. A couple of notes before you visit. This mosque is sits high above Cairo to give you a wonderful view of the city on a clear day. This means a little of walking is required to visit the mosque located at the top of the Saladin Citadel. The massive minarets of the mosque are 270 feet. If you climb up here, you can get an even more pleasant view of the city and the Giza plateau. So, how old is the mosque? The construction of the structure began in 1830 and continued up to around 1857. It was Muhammad Ali Pasha, the ruler of Egypt during this time who founded this mosque…

There you have it, m y brief total of mosques I have visited during my travels. I hope you have enjoyed reading. Please feel free to share your comments.

Touring these Mosques (in general)

Accessibility & Audience:

These sites are very friendly to visitors, tourist, and are family friendly.

Accessibility may be limited during worship service times (please check with your tour agent).

What to wear and what not to wear:  You should be respectful of local culture and cover legs and maybe asked to cover your head (if female). You may be asked to remove your shoes (most likely).

These are frowned upon:  Smoking, eating, taking pictures of someone without their permission, argumentative behavior, and intimate touching including kissing in the mosque. Please be respectful.

Atmosphere:

Please respect times of worship services. Some of the mosques will be more crowded then others and be cautious of your personal items,

There are many opportunities for photos due to these architectural landmarks both indoors and outdoors. I again remind you to respect these historical sites.

Enjoy the visit and take in the local scene. This is why we travel.

A Visit to Saint Francisville, LA

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Greenwood Plantation

During our visit through Louisiana, we drove to the town of Saint Francisville. A town of just under 2,000 people, is located about 30 miles north of the capital Baton Rouge. It is a hidden gem worth a visit.

Greenwood Plantation

Unfortunately, the original Greenwood Plantation from 1830 built by William R. Barrow in Greek Revival Style with its 28 columns burnt down in 1960. All that was left behind was the columns and the front steps. It was re-built based on original blueprint and style. The mansion now stands tall among the multiple alleys of mature, majestic, moss draped oaks. Of course, this home is a favorite of Hollywood serving as the location for such movies as:   “Louisiana,” “North & South,”  “GI Joe II,”  and “Jeepers Creepers III.”

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The Myrtles Plantation (circa 1796)

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Myrtles Plantation

The Myrtles Plantation claim to fame is that it is one of the most haunted mansions in history. You can learn about the history of this antebellum style home by visiting visit Myrtlesplantation.com

One can book a stay here for a night or more as this plantation serves as a bed & breakfast and who knows you may prove during your visit or stay?

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Entry Way

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Stairway Where William Winters Died and Presumedly Still Haunts.

Legends has it that a total of ten murders occurred at Myrtles Plantation. There is only evidence of one murder, that of William Winter, occurring at Myrtles Plantation. William Winter died on the 17th step of the house. According to historical records, Winter was shot on the front porch and presumedly crawled up the stairway to his death on the 17th stair.

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Rosedown Plantation (circa 1835)

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The third stop on our visit to  the small town of Saint Francisville was in West Felicia at the state owned RoseDown Plantation historical site. The original plantation compromised some 3,400 acres with cotton being the main crop production. Rosedown was built in 1835 by cotton planters Daniel and Martha Turnbull, it is one of the most documented and intact plantation complexes in the South and is known for its extensive formal gardens surrounding the house.

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Mural in Foyer of Rosedown- A Must See

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Oaks at Rosedown

 

Learn More about Saint Francisville and West Felicia Parish


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Thank you for reading and please share your thoughts.

Normandy France- Juno Beach

During my most recent visit to France, I wanted to visit Normandy and decided to visit the Canadian memorial to D- Day on June 6, 1944. The Juno Beach Centre is dedicated as a museum to honor the sacrifice of some 45,000 young Canadian men and women who fought alongside Allied forces to liberate France during World War II.

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The Juno Beach Centre is Canada’s Second World War museum and cultural centre located in Normandy, France. The Centre pays homage to the 45,000 Canadians who lost their lives during the War, of which 5,500 were killed during the Battle of Normandy and 359 on D-Day. Opened in 2003 by veterans and volunteers with a vision to create a permanent memorial to all Canadians who served during the Second World War, the Centre’s mandate is to preserve this legacy for future generations through education and remembrance.” – from Juno Centre’s website

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A Plaque in the Centre

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First Aid Supplies

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Bunker from Outside

I wanted to tour this bunker, but tours were not offered during the time of our visit. Another excuse to visit the wonderful museum the next time we are happen to exploring this part of France.  I did happen to grab a a photo or two of the closed bunker, though.

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Inside the Bunker

The visit of the Juno Beach Centre will leave one with feelings of  mixed emotions and perhaps a heavy heart. I left teary eyed and needed to take a much needed walk along the shore. You must explore the beach just over the sand dunes, if weather permits.  I highly recommend this museum, if you are ever in Normandy.

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Houmas House Plantation

Houmas House Plantation & Gardens

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Adding to the list of plantations visited during our visit to the New Orlean’s area, is Houmas House Plantation.  This Greek Revival plantation that sits in lush gardens that are well maintained. The house is really two homes connected by a carriageway with the older home dating back to around 1775 per the docent during our private tour this evening. The private tour was not planned, but just happen that we were the only ones to be present for the hours tour time. Learn more about the history of the Houmas House and its connection to Native Americas, slavery, and why it is also known as the Sugar Palace here

This plantation stands out from the others we’ve seen because of the gardens, three restaurants, and the option for overnight accommodations. In 2015, this home beat out another famous home- Biltmore Estate according to the USA Today.  at #2.

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Pet Cemetery

Tour Options: 

Houmas House with Transportation 

Houmas House with Transportation in French

Houmas House Mansion and Gardens Tour

Stay at Houmas House:

The Inn

and of course, The Restaurants

Enjoy your visit to this historic plantation.  Please consider reading more about the reviewing on TripAdvisor


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Plantations Along Lousiana’s River Road

I recently read the Louisiana Plantation Guide as a means to assist me in planning a trip to New Orleans. We weren’t able to visit all of the plantations in this wonderful guide, but did manage to cover quite a few ground along Louisiana’s River Road, which parallels the east and west banks of the Mississippi River for about 70 miles (actually 100 miles of driving per Laurence and Jessica Norah). During the drive, we passed through Louisiana’s parishes of St. Charles, and St, John. I think we missed St. James….  This historic road was lined with some 350 antebellum plantation homes ranging from basic farm houses to grand mansions.

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Evergreen Plantation Entrance

These historic plantations served one main purpose to grow a profitable crop for the landowner. These crops included rice, indigo (a plant to create a distinct blue dye), tobacco, and the move to the most profitable crop; sugar cane. This wealthy part of our young nation’s history prior to the Civil War was all made possible through the use of forced labor of thousands of slaves. Each of these plantations now offer some historic prespective on the history of slavery. Some do this better than others.

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Below are the plantations we were able to visit during our stay in New Orleans with a mix of my thoughts and recommendations. There is so much to see in the south that a long weekend just isn’t enough time. This just gives us an excuse for another trip!

When to Visit?

This really depends on your preference for weather and crowds. The south is often known for is relatively mild winters and striking hot/humid summers. The best option for tours would be between November and May.  You would want to avoid festivals and events as these will make New Orleans the most crowded, increase the cost of hotels, and transportation. These are events to consider: the Sugar Bowl (early January), Mardi Gras (February/early March), French Quarter Fest (April), Jazz Fest (April/May), and Halloween. I would avoid the months of June, July and August. Do consider hurricane season that runs from June through the end of November.  Of course, if you wish for very  reasonable cost hotels and don’t mind the heat, the summer months would offer the cheapest rates.

Destrehan Plantation (original circa 1790, rebuilt ~1840)

The first stop on our drive out of New Orleans was the closest plantation (about 10 miles) known as Destrehan Plantation. This is one of the oldest and best-documented buildings from the state’s colonial period. It is worth a visit not just for ease of access, but for the nature beauty offer in and around the home. The tour guide offered a detailed history of the home past, including touching enslaved individuals. Actually, this is where you begin the tour. In the re-constructed slave cabin to the side of the home.

One interesting part of the tour is an historical artifact signed by  both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison assigning four men, including Jean Noel Destrehan, to the Orleans Territorial Council.  This is part of your admission ticket and you see this prior to visiting the inside of the home.

Other interesting facts include that this and many other plantations have and are still being used as filming location: This one was used for  Interview with the Vampire (main house interiors) and 12 Years a Slave (1830 mule barn).

Tour options:

Driving own vehicle and touring with the next group with tours beginning at 9:30 am and ending at 4:00 pm. You can purchase tickets at the gift shop located on site or online. We did not find it crowd during our visit, but I suspect during peak season this plantation could be very busy.  Other tour options for hotel pickup and drop-off from New Orleans include:

A Day tour with Swamp Boat

If you are a AAA member or senior, please be sure to point this out during your booking at the site or online 

Another unique option is to stay at one of the two self-catered Creole-style cottages that are often available for rent. Please explore this lodging option here

Destration Plantation

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Live Oaks of Destrehan

Whitney Plantation

We had planned to visit San Francisco Plantation, but alias it was closed during our arrival and so, we moved on to the Whitney Plantation. This plantation should be on your list of historic plantations to visit if not for the fact that it is truly a museum offering a story of slavery with a several memorials throughout the site.

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The Spanish style Creole main plantation home had murals painted. The property also had the only French Creole barn in the United States, and the oldest detached kitchen in Louisiana. If you are fan of Quentin Tarantino’s movies, this plantation was the setting for some scenes for Django Unchained.

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Reconstructed Holding Cell for Slaves

The tours here begin usually with time for you to see and reflect on the many quotes from parts of the Federal Writers Project where former slaves (mostly the children and young adults during the time of slavery) were interviewed and known as the Slave Narratives Collection

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Sugar Cane Bowel

Tour Options:

House Tour: You can drive to site and purchase a ticket at booth on site. This is the option we chose.  Expect this one to be a little on the $$ side and crowded as it rather popular.  Discounts for: AAA, Military, Seniors and Students

Whitney Plantation Tour: This tour options is available for visitors who need transportation to and from Whitney Plantation from New Orleans. It is great option if you do not plan on hiring a car.

The next three plantations on our list were very close to each and should all be visited (if time allows). These include: Laura Plantation,  The Oak Alley Plantation, and St. Joseph Plantation.  We explored each of these in this ordered and all offer a distinct feel for what southern live was during antebellum time and one is still a family-run sugar can plantation that adds that unique spin to your visit.

Laura Plantation

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Laura Plantation

Of the three below, Laura Plantation was one that felt rather rushed by the docent and we were not sure the rationale as it was midday. Perhaps they were just tired and needed a break? Anyway, you get the feel for another home from the antebellum era, but keep in mind you are looking at a restored French Creole plantation. Unfortunately, the main home suffered extensive damage during a major electrical fire in 2004. It has now since been restored except for the pantry area for historical reasons.  Other historical facts about this plantation is that is it known for Laura Plantation is for being one of the locations where folklorist Alcée Fortier (born at Petit Versailles Plantation) recorded the African stories of the trickster Br’er Rabbit from the slaves (known as Compair Lapin in French Creole).

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Fire Damage to Wall in Pantry

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Tour Options:

Self-Paced Tour: You can drive to site and purchase a ticket at a booth on site.  The outside of the plantation and property is self-guided with the purchase of a ticket. You will need a guide to explore the hour. This is the option we chose.

Double Plantation Tour This tour options is available for visitors who need transportation to and from Laura Plantation from New Orleans. It is great option if you don’t plan on hiring a car.

Oak Alley Plantation

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Oak Alley

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The Grand Dame or Oak Alley Plantation is perhaps one of our favorite Greek Revival style homes that we toured in Louisiana.  This plantation is famous for its 26 oaks dating back to nearly 300 years that were saved when the Arm Corps of Engineers put in the levy. Another home we visited Houmas House had a similar grand entrance that did not see the same result. This plantation property has also taken advantage of its popularity and offers a two restaurants, a bar area, stay options, and a nice gift shop. All of these are in addition to the wonderful grounds one can just get lost in exploring the history before taking in a tour of the main house. All well worth a visit here. If you only had time for one plantation, this should be the one.

You will also find that this plantation is definitely been seen in several films including: Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte, Primary Colors, and Interview with the Vampire.

Tour Options:

Self-Paced with House Tour: You can drive to site and purchase a ticket at a booth on site.  The outside of the plantation and property is self-guided with the purchase of a ticket. You will need a guide to explore the hour. This is the option we chose.  Expect this one to be a little on the $$ side and crowded as it rather popular. Discounts for: AAA, Military, Senior 65+, First Responders, Teachers and Students 19+

Guided Tour This tour options is available for visitors who need transportation to and from Oak Alley Plantation from New Orleans. It is great option if you do not plan on hiring a car.

St. Joseph Plantation

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St. Joseph Plantation is still working 1,000 acre sugar cane plantation that is been in the same family since 1877. This property is next two the more popular Oak Alley. It is worth a visit to see a different perspective of southern life and a slower pace, perhaps. If you are lucky, you will be guided by one of the owners during the house tour as we were during our time here.  One thing to keep in mind is that this home is not completely renovated to period and you will notice this in several of the rooms as you tour the house.

St. Joseph

Of course, this plantation has been scenes for such films as 12 Years a Slave, and the 2016  Roots mini-series. In addition, some scenes were done at the family’s other property that is not open to the public known as Felicity Plantation.

Tour Options

Tours of St. Joseph Can can easily be purchased on-site or online 

There is also transportation option to visit St. Joseph Plantation

The plantation is open 7 days a week with tours of the main house offered at the following times: 10: 00 am, 11:00 am, 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, and 3:00 pm (last daily tour)

Cost of Plantation Tours

 We found that the cost varied from $12 to $22 per person (with discounts) and all prices included a guided tour. Tipping of your guide is truly appreciated and often expected if you enjoyed your time with them. Of course, tipping is not obligatory. 

Discount Options

If this is your first time visiting New Orleans or even you are planning to visit this part of Louisiana again, consider the New Orleans Pass  The pass option currently offers discounts and free visits to 25 sites (as of February 2019) including free entry to both the San Francisco Plantation and the Oak Alley Plantation.  In addition, don’t forget the optional discounts mentioned above if you are AAA member, senior, visiting with children, an active military (thank you for service), and a local resident. Many of the plantations offer discounts in various forms. When in doubt, just ask…

Travel Options to Louisana’s River Road Plantations

Public transportation is limited outside the New Orleans area and this includes the River Road plantations area. The best options are a) driving  or b) setting up a group bus tour, c) a private tour, or d) hiring a private car service to take you to each of the plantations of your choice.  Below is map of the several of the plantations we visited.

Map of river road

Map courtesy of https://i.pinimg.com

If you are interested in Tours of the River Road Plantations, please consider exploring Viator as this site offers many different day tours, ability to choose which plantations to visit and decide on a group tour from New Orleans.

I do not recommend using any of the taxi service or Uber/Lyft option for visiting the River Road Plantations. You would most likely be wasting time waiting for your pickup when you could have been visiting another plantation through a more direct route or guided tour option.

Learn more about the River Road Plantations by reading the Louisiana Plantation Guide




A Few More Essentials…

As promised, here is part two on my previous post titled: A Few Travel Essentials . Now, that you have planned and booked your trip. It is time to be sure to include some important items as you pack for the next adventure. Below are a few more essentials to consider as you begin to prepare for your next travel adventure. Please share your own essentials. Enjoy!

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Azaleas’ in Bloom-My Backyard

The Camera

I want to preserve my travel experiences and memories. So, I always bring a camera with me. In addition, I have my iPhone as a backup and often grab it to take a quick photo or two. You must include a camera (small is my preference) as as a travel essential to your next travel adventure.

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Hummingbird-Costa Rica

The Traditional Road Atlas

This next recommended essential item may seem rather odd with the world of google maps and GPS at our fingertips and via most Smartphones. I have been caught with the dreaded ‘searching for signal’ notice on my iPhone (T-maybe in rural areas) and thus, must either drive aimlessly or resort to following directions the traditional way. I would rather knowing how to read an atlas.  If you understand how to read a map, you will will be ahead of the game and understand when the GPS route just doesn’t make sense. Consider adding a Road Atlas as your next travel essential when heading out on your next road trip. Your local AAA office is an excellent source, if you are a member.

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Road Somewhere in North Carolina

Books and Other Reading Material

During the travel period, you will find that there will be free time. Books are an essential item to include when packing for the trip. I often update my Kindle with a few free ebooks from the local library for long trips or grab a book from the library for shorter trips. Books and other forms of reading should be part of your packing travel essentials.

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Extra Clothes in Carry-on

This next travel essential has saved me some frustration in a couple of long flights leading to some extending lay-overs. You will be thankful to have a fresh pair of clothes.  If you have the right carry-on such as what E-Bag offers and recommended by fellow blogger Living the Q Life, you may find some extra room for this essential item.

 

Food is Energy

You should not rely on the food offered by either the airport or plan. I often pack snacks and sometimes a small lunch (if the journey is short). You need food to keep you going, focused, and avoid any exhaustion. Pack snacks that are offer energy such as protein bars.

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Check your Passport and the Visa Requirements

Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months during your travel period. In addition, you should check whether or not where you are traveling will require a tourist visa. A excellent site that I use is VisaCentral. Also, make a photo copy of your passport or add it to your smartphone device as backup just in case you ever loose your passport.

I highly recommend taking care of the visa requirements prior to leaving the U.S., rather than waiting to do these details at your final destination. There are risk of delays or possibility missing required documentation and thus, a disappointing travel experience.

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Photo by Jonathan Miksanek on Pexels.com

Register with the U.S. Embassy

This next essential item involves registering  your international trip with the Safe Traveler Enrollment Program or STEP). There are two main reasons why I do this and also recommend that you do the same: 1) once you do so, you will receive email alerts for the country that you are visiting for such issues as protests, local violence, or other issues  in specific cities or regions. 2) If something should ever happen to you, the U.S. embassy is aware of where you are at the time and can notify your family and loved ones because you have registered your trip with STEP

A Good No-Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Card A Must

I don’t carry much cash during my travels. Instead, I rely on the local ATM  and two VISA credit cards that do not charge a foreign transaction fee. You will hear or read about the need to grab local currency prior to your international travels. I have rarely done this option, but for a select few countries.  The key essential here is to notify the credit card companies of your travel with date of travel, countries (including layovers). Don’t forget the layover! You would hate to have the credit card company to think someone stole your card and block all transitions. This happened once to me when I forgot to include a short UK layover to trip Italy.  Of course, the credit card may still reach out to you to confirm any transition even when you report the travel notice. So, please be sure to make note of your credit card companies contact number.  There should be a number to collect call for them to pay the cost on the back of the card.  Take note of this number somewhere else as well.

I may have mentioned that I do not keep much cash on me, but I do try to keep just enough for taxi and food; and if ever I need to as a secondary option to convert into local currency when not able to find an ATM.

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Of course none of my recommendations will guarantee the perfect trip, but offer you some opportunities to make that next trip a little less stressful. Thank you for reading and I hope you find these recommendations helpful.

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New Orleans’ French Quarter

French Quarter

Greetings, fellow travelers! After a long, exciting, and fun long weekend in New Orleans, I am back home.

If you have plans to visit New Orleans, Louisiana;  a visit of the French Quarter, also known as the Quarter, the Vieux Carré, or Vieux Carré; should be on your list. There is a wonderful history to this district dating back to 1718 that is worth exploring through a walking tour or visiting several of the historic homes.

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Corner of St. Peter and Burgundy

Bourbon Street

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View of Bourbon Street in the Evening

In what is often known as the heart of the Quarter there is Bourbon Street. It is a street full of nightclubs, bars, and trendy restaurants. This is certainty worthy of a quick visit, but don’t just see this part of the French Quarter. You will be missing so much of the history behind the mixture of colonial, French, and Spanish influences of NOLA.

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Things to Explore in the French Quarter

I continued my exploration of the French Quarter through strolling through the quaint streets taking in the sounds, music, and coming across great finds such as the Faulkner House Books. The Faulkner House Books  is located in the apartment where Faulkner lived in 1925. More details about the bookstore can be found by visiting the website.

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If you love taking in  historical mansions, the French Quarter offers several opportunities to step-back in time and enjoy a guided tour through history. You can take advantage of such offerings from  The Women’s Exchange, which continues to maintain and preserve several historical homes including: The Gallier & The Hermann-Grima Houses.  In addition, the Beauregard-Keyes House is not too far form the Gallier House (just around the block) and also, worth a visit.

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The Gallier House

The Gallier House was one of the first homes to have running h/c water and indoor bathroom during slavery. According to the docent, it would have been a challenge and potentially dangerous to heat the water and keep it running to avoid an explosion. The other images depicts one of the bedroom, a sitting room, and a means of allowing heat to escape to the attic via openings in the ceiling (pre-ceiling fans).

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The Hermann-Grima House

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The Cistern for Water Collection

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French Quarter’s Only Working Stable

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Beauregard-Keyes House

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Courtyard of Beauregard-Keyes House

Located at 1113 Chartres St. in the Quarter, The Beauregard-Keyes house is just across the street from the old Ursuline Convent and is now maintained by the Keyes Foundation. The house dates back to 1826 has many different residence, but thanks to the author Frances Parkinson Keyes, this historic home is preserved for others to enjoy. A short video on the house: https://youtu.be/YRwK3LbfL5U

Places to Grab Bit and Drink

The French Quarter has many options to for places to eat, enjoy a drink, and listen to some wonderful local music. If you have just three places to explore, I recommend the following (in no particular order):

Brennan’s * must try the Banana Foster here.

Court of Two Sisters. *steep in history and great for jazz.

Antione’s Restaurant  *hint–they have twenty cent martinis (limit is 3) during lunch hour – ask a local)

Brennan’s

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After a long walk exploring the Quarter, we had to stop into Brennan’s for a bit and of course, a drink (or two). They have happy hour with bar bit specials in the Roost Bar. This top restaurant is beautiful

Antione’s Wine Cellar

If you are looking for a place to eat that full of history and family owned for generations, Antoine’s Restaurant is the one to consider.  It is the oldest French-Creole restaurant in the French Quarter that is still run by the same family for 175 years. As you make your way to the establishment walking along Royal Street, you may find people looking through a small window with bars. This is Antione’s famous wine cellar. The cellar is 165-feet long ending with this little window looking into Royal Street.

Court of Two Sisters

I am torn between the two above just because of my love for history.  This place goes back to around 1726 with the present structure dating back to 1832. There is some history of royalty as well that is intriguing. This two floor restaurant should be explored just for the atmosphere and don’t forget to check out the Grand Marquis dining room on the second named in honor of former French governor.  Oh and the food and drinks are good too!

Places to Stay

Below of just some of the French Quarter stay options:

Lamothe House 

Inn on Ursulines 

Inn on St. Ann

Inn on St. Peter

Each of the above stay options are at varied locations within the French Quarter. You can  find a stay outside the French Quarter and walk into the district. The choice is yours and whether or not you are looking to stay in a traditional style hotel or bed and breakfast or in a more commercial hotel.  I chose the Inn on St. Peter as this stay option was off the from the main area of Bourdon Street, the noisy area, and offered a relatively quiet evening with a safe walk back and forth to my room.

More to come on my visit to New Orleans with the Plantation Adventure posts coming soon…


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A Few Travel Essentials

As I continue to travel each year, I find myself frequently doing the same routine things to pre-plan for these new adventures including: visiting key websites, developing my own itinerary, and following other bloggers advice.  Best of all of these this information is free. Please let me share some of my travel essentials and feel free to share your own with me.

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(Image credit: (Williams, G., 2013)

Essential 1: Knowing when to go

To know when to go is often a challenge if you are just wishing to traveling to a certain part of the world. This concern can easily be answered through exploring TripAdvisor and posting a question to the site. Of course, other concerns to consider include: allotted vacation days, if it is a special family or friend event that you must attend, or you have extra cash that allows for travel.

One true consideration that can quickly eat into your travel expenses is not considering local holidays, especially when traveling to Asia or South America. For us in the U.S., I would plan well ahead for Spring Break and avoid the usually locales for travel destinations such as the southern states.

You may find www.mycalendar.org helpful.  Not all countries are there, but it’s great tools to start with that will assist in identifying holidays.

Also, this site offers some good options to explore ideas when considering the climate and season for exploring a country.  You may find best time to go helpful.

Essential 2: Finding That Cheapest Flight

Turns out there is a best time to book a flights. According to Peter Greenberg, it is Wednesday at 1 am. He explains the reason for this time in his blog from 2014 titled: The Best Time to Book Flights, Airline by Airline

The catch is not time zone specific and is applicable to the airline’s hub. If you take Peter’s advice and I have a few times, you could save some $$ through some extra effort on the phone versus online. Below is an updated list of the best times to book flights and the numbers to all for the U.S. airlines based off the original list from Mr. Greenberg’s blog.

Eastern Standard Time

Central Time Zone

Mountain Time Zone

Pacific Time Zone

Hawaii-Aluetian Time Zone

Should you always call the airlines directly? One can still find very discounted flights or if you are member of any of the airlines awards programs (i.e., American Airlines or Delta) you can still grab some good deals through exploring.  My two main online resources are listed below:

skyscanner.com

momondo.com

Another good one is SeatGuru which allows you to check which are the best seats in the aircrafts of most important airlines.

Another good website to know when to arrive and leave from many of the world’s airports is ToAndFromTheAirport.com It is not just for air travel, but can be used for buses, trains, and other transit.

A Mobile App Must Have

Do you not like uncertainty in not always knowing if you are booking the best price? Now, there is an option you can add to your mobile to potentially predict with very good accuracy (around 95% per the site). It is known as the Hopper app. I have used several times and happy with the results. You log in the typical flight details and receive notification whether to book now or wait for a better price. You can request to be notify when the price drops.

Essential 3: Need a Place to Stay

Once you have your flight booked, you will need a place to stay. One of my favorite sites to explore for the best stays (hotels, bed & breakfasts, apartments, etc.) is Booking.com This is a community of contributors (including yours truly) from across the global who offer honest and often detailed reviews of their stays.  You can also use TripAdvisor  for other objective reviews, travel recommendations, and guides.

I always visit both of these sites in my planning for the next adventure either find a hotel from scratch, or check the reviews of a hotel I am considering staying. Why do I use both as a comparison? It is my way to decide between the mix of reviews present on both sites and to gain a better understanding for the true intention of the person reviewing the stay. Sometimes the ‘bad’ review was not so bad and was an isolated incident of someone expecting a red carpet treatment at a 2 or 3 star stay.  My advice: always read all of the reviews.

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Essential 4: Currency Convertor

One of most frequently used apps on my iPhone is the  Xe Currency app. You can also use their website to explore exchange rates at xe.com I don’t there is a currency on the site that they don’t detail or at least, I haven’t come across it, yet.

Essential 5: Time is Important

This often not a concern if you don’t need to communicate with your home country. However, there are two reasons to consider time zone difference when traveling internationally.

1) knowing when the Spring (the Spring Forward–thing)  time zone hour changes worldwide or don’t for some countries, and

2) Being able to call your bookings for questions that can’t be answered on their websites.

A good app to download is:

for IOS devices: Timeanddate

for Android devices: Timeanddate

The website for the above is timeanddate.com/worldclock

Essential 6: The Weather

I can attest to planning everything and just a couple of days before the trip was to occur, a hurricane is to hit the area. This is where another essential comes later. You may not be to predict everything all the time, but a good tool to explore the current weather and local forecast is weather.com  or weather underground

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Essential 7: Travel or Trip Insurance

 This next essential may read as if I am selling an insurance policy. Of course,  this is not the case. I have found the the need to cancel a few of our travel plans due to various reasons and without travel insurance, the expense would have shocking! I highly recommend travel insurance for any international trip. One of the main trusted sites that I have used is WorldNomads.com You can learn more about travel insurance by visiting Travel Insurance

Trip cancellation insurance is just some of the many perks now being offered by many credit card companies when booking travel, but be sure to read the policy as there are often more restrictions than the above travel insurance policy.

Essential 8: Vaccinations

I am advocate for vaccination and recommend the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s website and highly recommend that you download the Healix Travel Vaccinations app for your iPhone.


There is more to travel than these eight essentials and I plan to add my thoughts and perhaps fellow travelers’ recommendations as well into a quick reference. Some questions to consider:

Is Tuesday or Wednesday still the best travel day? Is Saturday catching up as the best travel day?

Is seasonal travel really the best means to plan your travel?

What other tools do you use when planning your trips?  

Please let me know in the comments.

 

 

Exploring Bruges in the Winter

Bruges, Belgium

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Our journey begins on a sunny, but cold day in Bruges. This quaint city that is often referred to as the ‘Venice of the North’ due to its many canals should not be ignored during your visit to Belgium. This small city offers a relaxing vibe and a more leisurely pace than the larger city and more industrial looking city of Brussels. While in Bruges, one can stroll through cobblestone streets taking in the sites, sounds, and smells.  During my visit, I managed to see some of the major highlights of this jewel of Belgium. So what is there to do here?

Marvel at the Market Square

You can begin your Bruges exploration in Market Square (Grote Markt) with is majestic Belfry tower that looms over the beautiful and impressive Provincial Palace. This square has served as a marketplace since the year 958; you are walking through history here. Please take this in and enjoy some Belgian chocolates.

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Belfry Tower

Does the image seem slightly askew? It may as the  Belfry leans just under a meter to the east. So, yours eyes are not fooling you….

Explore Bruges from the Top of the Belfry

If you want to walk off some of the Belgian waffles, chocolates, or maybe a few too many beers, head up 366 steps to the top of the Belfry for a different view of Bruges. If you have clear day, the climb is well worth the effort. You can see why this medieval city attracts some many visitors. As of this posting, the fee for visiting the Belfry was around 8€. Please be aware that you must climb up a very narrow, winding staircase with people going both ways, so be prepared for tight spaces and a steep incline.

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Tour Bruges in a different way

If you wish to get a different perspective a Bruges, try touring the city by boat via one of the many canals. You can easily find a reasonable boat tour option with a guide who speaks your language. This is great trip through the city that often lasts around 30-minutes or so.

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Canals of Bruges

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Lake of Love

Minnewater Park

The above image is from Lover’s Bridge in the city’s Minnewater’s Park with views of the Lake of Love. If you take the train to Bruges, you can easily find this tranquil park with the Lake of Love in the heart of the park. Legends tells a story of a young and pretty girl named Minna who was in love with Stromberg, a warrior of a neighboring tribe. Her father did not agree with her love and arranged her to marry a man of his choice. Minna escaped and ran into the forest. When Stromberg finally found her, she died in his arms of exhaustion. The lake was named after Minna and the bridge by the lake is considered the bridge of love, in her honor.

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Indulge in Belgian chocolate, waffles and of course, beer

A trip to Belgium wouldn’t be complete without indulging in some of the local delicacies. Famous for its chocolates, waffles and beer, we made sure to sample ample amounts of delicious goodies! Please be sure to stop at The Old Chocolate House for a delectable selection of chocolates at reasonable prices and the best hot chocolate in the world (so they claim)!

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Beer Tape to Local Bars in Bruges.

Tours Options in Bruges

NiceDay Tours  offers free walking tours on specific days of the week and reasonability priced guided tours of the city. I chose a guided tour and this was with Danny who was entertaining and full of fun facts about his city. I highly recommend exploring NiceDay Tours for your next tour options the next time you are in Bruges or Belgium.

As one of Europe’s best preserved cities, Bruges is definitely worth a visit and has a historic center that is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  What are you waiting for? Add this one to your travel plans today!

Have you ever been to Bruges during the winter? How was your experience? Let me know in the comments section.  I would love to hear from you.

 Viator


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Our February Travel Guide is Finally Here! Get up to 25% off tours only at Tours4fun.com!

Aswan: Philae Temple & Nubian Village Dec 2018 — by BeatriceTravels

Original Post By: beatricetravels

This morning we set sail for Aswan which was the southern frontier of ancient Egypt and provided a gateway to Africa.  It is here that granite quarries are found and supplied the rest of Egypt in the building of temples and pyramids.  The Ptolemies ruled here from 323-30 BC and built the remarkable Philae Temple dedicated to the goddess Isis.  Isis was the goddess of fertility and motherhood.  She was the wife of Osiris and mother of Horus.  Her name literally means Queen of the Throne and she was often depicted with a headdress that was an empty throne chair belonging to her husband Osiris.  In ancient Egypt, the pharaoh was often portrayed as her child and sat on the throne she provided.  Philae Temple was built during the reign of Ptolemy II and continued by Ptolemy IV, V, VI, VII, and XI.  The temple was submerged after the first Aswan dam was built in 1906 and was later saved and moved by UNESCO to Agilika Island after the building of the Aswan High Dam in 1971.  Agilika Island was modelled after Philae Island and the temple was moved stone by stone and took 9 years to complete!

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Early this morning, we arrived at the docks to board a speedboat taking us to Philae Temple on Agilika Island

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The first 18-meter pylon of Philae Temple has two towers and an open forecourt leading to the second pylon.  The mamisi or birth house here has scenes depicting the birth of Horus by Isis and Horus as a falcon in the swamps of the Delta.  The second pylon leads to the hypostyle hall where you can find Coptic crosses carved into the walls when the temple became a Christian place of worship during the early Byzantine times.  From here the three vestibules lead into the inner sanctuary where a golden statue of Isis and her barque used to stand.  On the west is a door leading to the Gate of Hadrian with reliefs depicting Hadrian making offerings to Osiris, Isis, etc. as well as Marcus Aurelius making offerings of grapes and flowers to Isis.

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Forecourt of Philae Temple

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Birth House of Philae Temple

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Coptic crosses can be found on the columns when the temple was used as a coptic church

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Pharaoh making offerings to Thoth with the head of an ibis.  He was the inventor of writing and the messenger of the gods.
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Horus in the form of the falcon wearing the double crown

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Isis suckling the young pharaoh who was deified as Horus

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The giving of life to the pharaoh represented by the ankh

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Inside the inner sanctuary with the granite base which would have held the sacred barque bearing the image of Isis.
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A relief depicting Isis supporting the mummy of Osiris with her wings.  Legend has it that Osiris was murdered by his brother Set.  Isis, Osiris’s wife, restores his body to posthumously conceive their son, Horus, who then avenges his father Osiris  The Osiris myth is integral to the ancient Egyptian concepts of kingship, the conflict between good and evil, and the idea of the afterlife.
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Hadrian’s Gate

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The small Temple of Hathor decorated with reliefs of musicians among which was an ape playing the lute and Bes, the god of childbirth.
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Bes, the dwarf god, who was the patron of childbirth and children

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Not far is the unfinished pavilion called Kiosk of Trajan or Pharaoh’s Bed.  It was a favorite subject of the Victorian painters with their boats moored beneath it.

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Temple of Isis on the left and Kiosk of Trajan on the right.

From Philae Temple, we were taken for a ride on a traditional Egyptian sail boat called a felucca.  We went around Lord Kitchener’s Island and Elephantine Island.  We returned to our cruise for a relaxing lunch before we took a speed boat to visit a Nubian Village about 45 mins away.

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Felucca sailing near Aswan
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Cruising on our felucca
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Lord Kitchener’s Island houses the Aswan Botanical Gardens with many exotic and rare plants.
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On the hill stands the Agha Khan Mausoleum built in honor of Sultan Mahommed Shah, Aga Khan III.  He was the 48th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and briefly served as President of the League of Nations in 1937.  The mausoleum was built using pink granite and white carrara marble.  His widow would leave a read rose on his tomb everyday until her death in 2000.  As per her request, a rose would still be laid on his sarcophagus till today.
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Arriving the Nubian Village near Aswan.  Many Nubians had to be relocated with the building of the Aswan high dam.  They have darker colored skin and their own indigenous language.  As warriors, the ancient Nubians were excellent archers and often fought for the pharaohs.

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En route back to Aswan

Shared from: Aswan: Philae Temple & Nubian Village Dec 2018 — beatricetravels

Paris’ Eiffel Tower

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The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

A few facts that you may or may not know about this mammoth structure that stands out among the buildings in its own park are as follows:

  • Built in 1889 as part of the grand entrance to the Paris World Exposition.
  • The Tower is 986-feet tall and was the world’s tallest building until New York’s Chrysler Building opened in 1930.
  • Designed by Gustave Eiffel, The Eiffel Tower involved a 132 workers and 50 engineers.
  • Took under two years to complete and contains around 1,710 steps, but don’t worry you can use the lifts.
  •  An estimated 5.5 million visitors climbing this structure (well not literally) each year.
  • The Eiffel is painted three different shades of color.
  • It was meant to be a temporary structure, with just a 20 year lease that was to expire in 1909. The Tower proved to be a valuable part of communication and now,  is a permanent historical part of Paris as one of the most visited sites.
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Love these Signs Around The Park

 Tour Options

One of my favorite options is to purchase tickets in advance and avoid the long lines that can happen when visiting such high tour destinations as The Eiffel Tower. A good option is Viator tour and often a site that I use quite frequently. You often receive local agents when booking with Viator.  Check out some skip line options for visiting Eiffel Tower.

Skip the Line Option Tours

 

The Chambord Estate at 500

We visited this château during the 2018 Christmas season, but 2019 marks the 500 year anniversary of the Estate of Chambord.  Located in the Loire Valley, the estate contains the largest and most recognized châteaux, the Château de Chambord. It has a very distinctive French Renaissance architecture which blends traditional French medieval forms with classical Renaissance structures. The château, which was never completed, was constructed by King Francis I of France. The château was built to serve as a hunting lodge for Francis I, who maintained his royal residences at the Château de Blois and Amboise.

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Château de Chambord.

The main body of the castle is roughly square in shape, with a large tower at each corner. There are also two symmetrical wings to the castle, each ending with a substantial tower. The castle contains some 400 rooms with just about that many fireplaces and around 84 staircases.  There is one staircase that stands out.

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The central staircase is one of the architectural highlights of a visit: this stone staircase rises the height of Chambord castle, and is of a ‘double helix’ form – this means that two ‘independent’ staircases are wound around each other, such that people going up the stairs will not meet those coming down.

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Central Staircase of the Chateau

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Chambord’s Gardens and Park

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The Gardens

You can explore the formal gardens and take in the natural beauty of the estate and castle from the outside. Chateau Chambord has a very extensive park that is part of the estate worth taking the time to stroll, if weather permits.

Practical Stuff

There are several options for touring the chateau during your visit including:

  • Self-guided option: a self-guide walk through the many rooms and floors opened during your visit. Please be sure to pickup a leaflet that details each room and item of interest.
  • Phone or Tablet Apps: If you like technology, consider asking about the phone or tablet application option for touring during your visit.

Entry Fees and Hours:

  • The entry fee to the chateau and the rest of the estate is around 13 euros.  Parking is not free here and will cost you a few extra euros if you drove here. We took the SNCF and walked to easy walk to the castle.
  • **discount alert** Mention that you arrived by train and you will get a discount off the adult ticket price.
  • Opening Hours: All year except January 1 and December 25, 9:00 – 17:00 in the winter and 9:00 – 18:00 from April to October .

Visit Chambord Castle & Domain to learn more of its history and plan your visit

Visit Transportation Option to explore ways to get to Chambord Castle & Domain.

Other Attractions for Consideration

If you are planning to explore the Loire Valley further, consider taking in the Château de Chenonceau

Just outside Paris, you must see The Palace of Versailles and if times permits for some antique shopping, the Paris’ Flea Markets-A Must See

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Celebrate MLK Day in Atlanta

Atlanta, Georgia

If you are planning to visit this southern city, consider a visit to the Birth Home of  Martin Luther King, Jr. Thanks to funding from Delta Airlines this site is open through February 3rd during the partial government shutdown.

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MLK House

Birth Home of Martin Luther King, Jr

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, is actually a cluster of sites operated by the National Park Service. As we planned our visit to Atlanta, we knew Dr. King was born and raised in Atlanta, but did not realize his full impact on this southern city. We added this site to our list of places to visit along with The Atlanta History Center.

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Ebenezer Baptist Church

As you continue to explore the area, don’t miss the Ebenezer Baptist Church, located just down the block from the Dr. King’s Birth Home. Dr. King was co-pastor with his father and this is where his mother was murdered.  However, most will know this church as the place where Dr. King’s funeral was held.

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Funeral Wagon For Dr. King’s Coffin


European Road Trip Planner


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Tourradar

Château de Chenonceau

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Walking up to the Château– The Marques Tower to the Right

During our visit in Paris, we wanted to visit the Loire Valley and we made a stop via the SNCF train system to explore the Château de Chenonceau

This Ladies’ château or castle, is worthy of your time during your visit in the Loire valley.  There is a nicely chronological details of the history of this second castle over the Cher river  that describes how several women left their mark in its construction and history.

As I mentioned, this château in the picture is not the first one over the Cher river. The first château was destroyed by fire as to punish the original proprietors of this property- The Marques family. The only thing left on the property from the original château is known as the The Marques Tower. It is not often for tours and is a cathedral.

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Château de Chenonceau

Jumping ahead in history a little as we visited the connecting château later in our 4 days in the Loire.  Henri II dies, his widow Catherine de Medici forced his mistress Diane de Poitiers to exchange one château for another (The Château Chaumont for the Chenonceau).  Catherine enclosed the bridge and made into a gallery. During our visit it was setup for dinner (see below).  Of course, more rooms were added and many parties were had here.

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The Gallery Set for Christmas Dinner

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The Gardens

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The Gardens

By train, air, road

The Château is located in Touraine, on the Cher river, 214 km from Paris, and 34 km from Tours.
Journey time from Paris:

  • 2 hours by car via the autoroute A10 “Aquitaine” (Blois or Amboise exits)
  • 1 hour by T.G.V. Paris-Montparnasse / Saint-Pierre-des-Corps (Tours)
  • 1 hour by T.G.V. Paris-Aéroport Roissy-CDG / Saint-Pierre-des-Corps (Tours)
  • 25 minutes by TER Tours-Chenonceaux
  • The SNCF station is located near the ticket office (400m)

Self-Guides Tours are available as well audio-guided tours

Your can also explore other option for tours below

Guides Walking Tour of Château de Chenonceau

 

 

Palace of Versailles

Gates to the Palace

During your visit to Paris, the Palace of Versailles is a must-see as it is just a short and easy train trip at about 12 miles (20 kilometers) outside of Paris. I visited this fascinated and opulent place with its over-the-top decorations during the Christmas season. As you walk through the Palace, you can explore the grounds including: the Royal Apartments, The Royal Stables, the Gardens, the Estate Trianon, and of course, the Hall of Mirrors. In this room, history was made when the Treat of Versailles was signed. The table has now been moved off to a back area.

Hall of Mirrors

Hall of Mirrors

Table Where Treaty of Versailles was Signed

Table Where Treaty of Versailles was Signed

Approaching the Palace is amazing. It is incredibly ornate and it’s very interesting to see the apartments along each side of the Palace. We had booked a small group tour in advanced via Viator and met the agent near the tourist station just outside the main entrance to the Palace. This was a great option to avoid the growing line outside the Palace as it was rainy and chilly day.

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Gates to the Palace

Gates to the Palace

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Inside the Palace, we were guided through a 90 minutes tour and left with time to explore the grounds on own taking in the sites, sounds, and history of the place. As means to learn a little more about the history of Versailles with a little entertainment and drama added, consider the series Versailles . This original hunting lodge of King Louis XIV from 1878 continued to be expanded until his death in 1715. The wealth necessary to build and maintain it is one of many factors for the revolution in 1789.

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Sun King-- Louis XIV

Sun King– Louis XIV

Painted Celling

Painted Celling

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This time of year was considered low season for visitors, the Palace was very busy and often one had to wait a fe moment before continuing to explore each room. Nevertheless, this site is well worth your time while visiting the France and the romantic city of Paris.

Fellow bloggers have also enjoyed visits to the Palace. Please feel free to explore their posts below:

Living the Q Life 

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Christmas in Uneasy Paris

For this year’s Christmas season, we decided to spend time in Paris.  This holiday season the city has been marred by weekly citywide violence that unfortunately became a regular part f the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protests. This did not stop us from continuing to enjoy Paris, but with more caution this time around.  One can see the effects the protests and proceeding violence have had on what is often a very busy shopping season.

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LOUIS VUITTON MAISON VENDÔME

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Entrance to the Musee Du Louvre

The image of the Louvre may be little deceptive as I took early prior to the opening of the museum. Of course, this is to say that early is relative to Paris as sunrise isn’t until after 8:00. Below are some more images during our stay in Paris during Christmas.

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Christmas Markets in Paris

Christmas markets began in Germany and spread across Europe, these markets are open from Mid-November through early January in Paris. You can find them at several locations throughout Paris including  Les Halles, Notre-Dame to Les Tuileries, as well as the impressive Christmas Village at La Défense.  You can soak up the holiday season and atmosphere on the streets of the French capital!

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Christmas Market near Saint Germain des Près

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Christmas Market

Planning Your Next Visit to Paris? Consider exploring Booking.com 

Explore more about Paris by reading my other blog posts Paris’ Flea Markets-A Must See Opéra Garnier or Paris’ Opera House  and  Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Paris 

Blood Mary Brunch

One of my favorite fellow bloggers Living the Q Life recently posted their thoughts on entertainment ideas with their post titled: The Bloody Mary Brunch  My own image of a Bloody Mary from Maryland is below.

Bloody-Mary

Maryland’s Take on the Bloody Mary

by Living the Q Life

Bloody Mary Brunch

If you’re looking for a fun entertaining idea, consider throwing a Bloody Mary brunch party. People can have Bloody Marys with or without vodka, you can provide different flavors of vodka, and let them garnish their own Bloody Mary. The actual origin of the Bloody Mary drink is uncertain with claims that it was invented in the 1920’s in Paris while other people claim that it originated in New York, and others say it was invented in Chicago. Wherever it came from, it is certainly a staple on many drink menus around the world. Brunch items can be simple and you can certainly offer for people to bring their own favorite items. We decided to throw one over the weekend and for our brunch items, we chose to make deviled eggs, mini-frittatas, bacon wrapped sesame bread sticks, and French toast sticks with syrup. We made our own Bloody Mary mix and had shrimp, pepperoncini, celery, pickles, cherry tomatoes, and olives (some stuffed with pimentos and some stuffed with jalapeno peppers) as garnish. Letting guests poor their own Bloody Mary and garnish it themselves allows them to control the amount of alcohol that they want as well as be creative with the way that they garnish their own drink. We have provided our recipe for the Bloody Mary mix, but if you’d like information on any of the brunch items, just let us know.

Mini Frittatas

Garnishes

INGREDIENTS

  • 48 oz Tomato Juice
  • 12 oz Clamato Juice
  • 1/4 cup Beef Broth
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 4 tbsp Prepared Horseradish
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Celery Salt
  • 2 to 3 dashes of Tabasco Sauce

Bloody Mary Mix

Bacon Wrapped Bread Sticks

Bloody Mary

INSTRUCTIONS

Add all of the ingredients in a large picture, stirring to incorporate all of the horseradish. If you can’t find Clamato brand tomato juice, you can add the 10 ounces of tomato juice and 2 ounces of clam juice. If you would like a more or less spicy Bloody Mary mix, simply increase or decrease the amount of horseradish and tabasco sauce that you add.

Deviled Eggs

French Toast Sticks

Bloody Mary 2


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