Normandy France – A Brief Look Back

D-Day Remembered

June 6, 1944 marked the invasion of Allied troops to Normandy and this year marks the 75th year of what is still the largest air, land, and sea invasion in history against the Hitler’s forces. History will be lost without remembering the past.

A drive through this region of France offers the opportunity to reflect back to honor the sacrifices of our U.S. and Allied troops. troops. We stopped at the Juno Beach Centre , which 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

Learn more about our visit to Juno Beach by visiting Normandy France- Juno Beach

Juno Beach

Once you have finished your visit to the Juno Beach Centre . You should consider explore the historic Juno Beach just over the sand dunes, if weather permits.  I highly recommend this museum and a walk on the beach, if you are ever in Normandy.

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The Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery

We further visited the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, which contain some 2,048 WWII Canadian soldiers with around 19 unidentified soldiers. The cemetery is beautiful and peacefully quiet. This cemetery is located about 1 kilometer east of the village of  Reviers, France.

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Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery

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A Plantation Home of George & Martha

Mount Vernon

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Mount Vernon Facing The Potomac

This plantation home of the first U.S. President and his wife Martha was built during 1757. Mount Vernon served as the home of George Washington for over four decades. You are able to tour part of the original estate, the gravesites of George and Martha Washington and other family members. In addition, the property includes the Ford Orientation Center and the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center. Each of these newer additions to the grounds offer the opportunity to learn more about our first President through film, artifacts, galleries, and exploring what life might have been like during this time. Consider having lunch or dinner at The Mount Vernon Inn restaurant, which serves lunch and dinner daily except on Sundays.

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The mansion is going through some renovation as you might notice in the above image, but you are still able to enjoy tours of the home and grounds.

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View of the Potomac from Mount Vernon

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Reconstructed Buildings

Inside the Mansion

The public tour of the mansion can go rather quickly as this is one of the most visited places in Virginia and the world. So, there was not much time to shoot photos. Below are a few that I managed to grab during our walk through this historic site.

The tour we took allow us to explore the basement of the mansion, but honestly this was more of novelty for those who might have seen the movie “National Treasures.”

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Basement of Mount Vernon


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Exploring the Grounds

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The Necessary in the Lower Garden (not just for one)

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Slavery at Mount Vernon

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Slavery did exist on Mount Vernon and often during tours I hear individuals ask the docent such questions as “how were the slaves treated” or “did the owner treat them well.” The answer is often varied, but generally the summary is the same as they are enslaved and any form of bondage is cruel. Please click on the image below to watch and learn more about Slavery at Mount Vernon.

Tomb of George Washington

George Washington died at Mount Vernon on December 14, 1799. As you walk down the hill toward the current tomb, consider taking a slight detour to the original location of the family vault nearer to the river. ‘The Old Vault” is still present here, but no longer contains any graves.

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The Original Grave Site Closer to The River

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The Old Vault

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Tomb of George Washington

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A Self-Guided Tour Of The White House

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U.S. White House (Photo by A. Kittredge)

In planning another visit to Washington, D.C., I wanted to attempt a visit to the historic White House. I was happy to secure tickets through our representative. I recommend planning ahead of time if you plan to visit the inside of the U.S. White House. It is recommended to secure dates about 3 months, but no later than 21 days from your scheduled visit. Explore Whitehouse.gov for more details on how to schedule a self-guided White House tour.

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The General William Tecumseh Sherman Statue (circa 1903)

The self-guided White House tours security checks begin front and just to the right as you are facing the Tecumseh Sherman Statue in Sherman Square. You will find a gate with a small white booth with two uniformed Secret Service guards and someone with a blue vest here to check your tickets and IDs. If you have purse or bag, these will be searched as well. Please read Whitehouse.gov  as to what is allowed and not allowed in the White House. We witnessed a couple that was turned away because they attempted to bring an item that was not permitted.  You will walk behind the statue and go through another ID check and then, airport style security and two more security checks prior to entering the East Wing of the White House. It took us about 25 minutes to go through this process. Please plan your schedule accordingly.

East Wing

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The Library

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China Room

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The Ballroom

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The State Dining Room

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The Red Room

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The Blue Room

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Staircase to Residence

Painted Presidents and First Ladies

As you explore the East Wing of the White House, the painted eyes of presidents and first ladies watch over you. It is a tradition to select an artist and have a portrait made to be placed in the White House. Enjoy the view of as you explore our famous landmark during your self-guided tour.

Painted Presidents

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George Washington

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Abraham Lincoln

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Andrew Jackson

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John F. Kennedy

The Painted Ladies

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Edith Carrow Roosevelt

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Laura Bush

 

 

   

The Apothecary Museum in Old Town Alexandria, Va

A short metrorail trip from the Ronald Regan Washington National Aiport (DCA) allows one to see one of the top smallest cities in the country, Alexandria Virginia.  I recently took the metrorail to the King Street stop to explore Old Town Alexandria.  You can take leisurely walk down King Street to see why this is such an attractive and historical city. Don’t let just explore this one avenue. Go beyond it and you will find more history as I did with the Apothecary Museum

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King Street View Toward Potomac River

**The Metrorail from King Street Station** is under construction and will be closed among other stations from May 25, 2019 through September 8, 2019.  I recommend exploring this link to learn more:

As one walks along historic King street, you can take in the sites and sounds coming from the local shops, restaurants, and antiques. Of course, there are some national chains present, but don’t let this discourage you from seeing some of the most historically preserved part of our history by visiting Old Town Alexandria. It is wonder Alexandria is often rated small-towns live. This is a very easy to walk city and commuter friendly to other major city.

The Apothecary Museum

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During our walk, we decided to explore the Apothecary Museum. The museum is located at 107 S. Fairfax Street just a half block off of King Street. They offer a 45-minute guided tour of the first and second floors of this historical pharmacy. This museum is now owned by the City of Alexandria and has been preserved for future generations.

Most of the contents of Apothecary includes original herbal botanicals, hand-blown glass jars, and medical equipments. Some well-known figures have appeared in documents, including Martha Washington and Robert E. Lee.

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Request from Ms. Martha Washington.

The Museum (circa 1792)

First Floor

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Mix of Medicines Used Here including Opium and Arsenic (old lace)

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Nursing Equipment of the 1800’s

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Forde’s Electric Razor

 

Second Floor

Exploring the second floor offers a look beyond the scenes to manufacturing of goods and products for the apothecary. The docent this day was informative and excited to show the group several unusual items on display.

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If you are interested in learning more and perhaps visiting this gem of a historical pharmacy, please visit the City of Alexandria’s website to learn more about hours and tour times.

Thank you for reading  and please do share your thoughts and comments.

 

 

 

 

 

Arlington National Cemetery

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A recent visit to the grounds that honors those who served our nation offers a sense of beauty and peace for visitors. The rolling hills dotted with trees of various ages truly complement this 624 acre cemetery. This is a tribute to the service and sacrifice of every individual laid to rest within these hallowed grounds. Please consider visiting Arlington National Cemetery.

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The Eternal Flame At the Kennedy’s Gravesite

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Tomb of theUnknown

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

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Civil War Unknowns Monument

The inscription on the monument states: “BENEATH THIS STONE
REPOSE THE BONES OF TWO THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN UNKNOWN SOLDIERS GATHERED AFTER THE WAR FROM THE FIELDS OF BULL RUN, AND THE ROUTE TO THE RAPPAHANOCK, THEIR REMAINS COULD NOT BE IDENTIFIED. BUT THEIR NAMES AND DEATHS ARE RECORDED IN THE ARCHIVES OF THEIR COUNTRY, AND ITS GRATEFUL CITIZENS HONOR THEM AS OF THEIR NOBLE ARMY OF MARTYRS. MAY THEY REST IN PEACE. SEPTEMBER. A. D. 1866.”

Spanish-American Nurses Monument

It was during the Spanish-American War in which American nurses were first assigned as quasi-military unit. The monument in the above image remembers these nurses who gave served and their gave lives during this war.

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As we move into the Memorial day weekend, I would like to end this blog with a thank you to all that have serviced and continue to service in our military. I appreciate your dedication and service to our Country.

 

 

 

Porto, Portugal Should Not Be Missed

Porto, Portugal

As the country’s second largest city, this more of a working class city offers a different vide than the more fashion focused Lisbon.  Portugal continues to grow as an affordable travel destination. Many first time travelers often focus on Lisbon, but don’t ignore adding Porto to your travel itinerary.

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São Bento Station

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São Bento Station, Porto

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During your visit to Porto, consider exploring the São Bento Train Station, which is located in central Porto. This gem of a train station is perhaps one of the most beautiful stations you will come across in Portugal. This is because of its mansard roof and the  Renaissance stone façade. The station was designed by  José Marques da Silva and completed in 1903.

The French inspired architecture of this station depicts the history of transportation in Portugal, the landscape of the country, and specific defining history events including the Battle of Aljubarrota (1385) and the Battle of Arcos de Valdevez (1140). There is over 20,000 tin-glazed blue and white tiles to view and visual the scenes.  One caution during your visit.  Watch for those who will take the opportunity of you being distracted to pickpocket.

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Outside the São Bento Station

Harry Potter Fans- May Enjoy A Visit

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The outside of what seems to be just another small seller bookstore is rather deceptive. J.K. Rowling once taught English in Porto and is said that this little bookstore is what inspired Hogwarts. Consider explore Livraria Lello  I would say that the staircase inside is well worth a quick visit, if nothing else.

Restaurant Choices

You will not be disappointed with the choice of evening and nighttime activities in Porto. These can include a visit Capela Incomum, a chapel from the 19th Century that has been converted into a wine bar.  If you want to take in the view of the city center, consider heading to the rooftop pub known as Guindalense.  This is near Gustave Eiffel’s great creation, the Dom Luis I Bridge.  If a dinner and a conversation is more for your liking, then consider Xico Queijo.

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Dom Luis I Bridge

Cruising the Douro River

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A pleasure cruiser on the Douro River | Apexphotos/Moment/Getty Images

I recommend taking a Douro River Cruise to explore further this UNESCO World Heritage  site- the Duoro Valley. If you have the opportunity to visit during the harvest season (September to early October), you may wish some old-fashion grade stomping (treading or lagar) barefoot in a large stone basin.

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The Montmartre of Paris

Exploring the 18th Arrondissement

A walk through the more hilly streets of Montmartre is like the village for New Yorker or at least, that is what I’ve been told. This part of Paris is where artists used to enjoy a more comfortable part of life and display their works, but the prices have increase. I am sure there are some truth to these thoughts, but this unique part of Pari is definitely well worth a visit just to find what you often won’t see on the usual tourist hot spot. Please let me share some of my photos during my visits to this part of the City of Paris.

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The Basilica of Sacre-Coeur

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Inside the Basilica

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Locks of Love-Montmartre

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Tips For Visiting

I recommend arriving at metro Blanche (Moulin Rouge) or metro Anvers and gradually enter the “village”.  This way you will feel like you are gradually approaching the place and can take in the atmosphere of artists and writers.  If you are handicapped, please don’t be deterred as you have an option for visiting the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur There is a small white train that drives up the hill winding through the narrow alleys giving you a sense of the neighborhood surrounding the Basilica.

Once you get off the metro, you just may wish to make a bullseye directly to the Basilica that sits atop the famous hill of Montmartre. You could also just treat yourself to an over-priced crepe at the Place de Tertre. Instead, consider taking your time to just explore the area walking through the maze of narrow cobblestone streets as you make your way to the Basilica. Don’t worry! You can’t miss it.

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Place de Tertre

Another option to visit via the metro is to take the Abbesses station and step out into the heart of Montmartre.  Because all the great poets have told us the journey is more important than the destination.

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Windmills in Montmartre

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The Radet Windmill in Montmartre (circa 1717)

There are a still a few windmills still standing and found in between homes. The above photo is of the Radet Windmill and it originally stood by the still functioning Bluten-Fin Windmill. The Radey Windmill now houses a restaurant and was moved to its present location at the corner of Rue Girardon and Rue Lepic in 1924.

Cool Finds While Strolling Montmartre

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Le Passe-Muraille (the Passer-Through-Walls)

If you are exploring the narrow cobblestone streets of the Montmartre, you may come across the great find of the Le Passe-Muraille (the Passer-Through Walls) statue. This is located in the place named after the writer of the story Marcel Aymé about Dutilleul who discovers that he can (you guessed it) walk through walks.

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La Maison Rose

Located just behind the iconic Basilica of Sacre-Coeur on the edge some steep cobblestone lanes, you will fine La Maison Rose. Another treasure in the Montmartre. This little restaurant sits on a corner of a Rue de l’Abreuvoir and Rue des Saules. It is said to have been once visited by the likes of Picasso. You can learn more about the history of this little Pink House by visiting SoloSophie

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Le Saint Jean – Cafe in Montmartre

There is more to explore in the 18th arrondissement of one of my favorite cities. These are just some of the more interesting finds during my many visits to this that keeps bringing me back for more to explore. Please do and explore for yourself and see what you can find. Please read my other posts on Paris for other ideas:

Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Paris

Paris’ Flea Markets-A Must See

Opéra Garnier or Paris’ Opera House

Paris’ Eiffel Tower

Christmas in Uneasy Paris

Reminding Us Why Recording of Our History Is Important.

Free Walking Tour Options

Discoverwalks offers free and paid tours of some of the major cities around the world including Paris. I have used them during my visits to Paris and highly recommend them. Please explore Discoverwalks.com  for more details.




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A Visit to The Currier Musuem

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My most recent visit back to Manchester, New Hampshire gave me the opportunity to visit the Currier Museum of Art  Through a  guided docent tour, one can enjoy the mixture of European and American art, photograph, and sculpture displayed in this art museum. These works include such renewed artist at Hopper, Picasso, Monet, O’Keffe, Wyeth, and LeWitt. In addition, a separate tour is offered of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Zimmerman House.  This renowned art museum offers rotating exhibits from around the world including the current exhibition of beadwork by the Ubuhle Women living in rural KwaZula-Natal, South Africa.

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Beadwork by the Ubuhle Women

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This rather new form of art uses beads on what is known as ndwango (cloth) to form decorative and visual scenes that often have specific meaning to the artist. This beadwork is being displayed by the Currier Museum of Art  through June 10, 2019.

Ethan Murrow Hauling Display (Ending Soon)

There is a room that offers a unique display of wall art around the room and done  by Ethan Murrow with help of Mic Billingsley and Ariana Lee. The images below were drawn on the walls using black sharpies and depict the Manchester area history of Native fishing, river dredging, farming, and of course, hauling. This exhibition is soon to be taken down (painted over) and replaced with a new one (yet to be determined per our  docent).

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Edward Hopper’s Last Painting

On loan to the museum Hopper’s last painting, The Comedians. This beautiful piece of work depicts both the artist and his wife, Jo, on stage. This is worth seeing in person while you can as well as other works by Edward Hopper.

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The Comedians

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The Bootleggers by Hopper

Other Works of Art

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Woman Seated in Chair by Picasso

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Max Pechstein (double-sided art)

Explore my other blog posts about Manchester titled  A Stay in The Granite State  Thank you for reading this blog and please share your thoughts.


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Cinco de Mayo – Ways We Celebrate The Day

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Cinco de Mayo or the fifth of May

This is an extremely popular holiday in the U.S. with its roots within Mexico. The holiday is a rather minor holiday in Mexico. In the U.S., Cinco de Mayo is a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, especially between Mexican-American families. This holiday dates back to the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War when the Mexican army claimed victory over France in May 5, 1862- Cinco de Mayo is also known as Battle of the Puebla Day.

What makes the celebration different in the U.S. and Mexico?  Here are some example of the differ ways each country celebrate this holiday each year. 

Cinco de Mayo in the U.S.

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Photo by © JIM Mourgos

The first records of Cinco de Mayo being celebrated in the U.S. was in Southern California in 1863 as way to demonstrate solidarity with Mexico against French rule. It was not until the 1930s that this holiday became more popular in the U.S. as means to share and celebrate Mexican culture and heritage.

Some people will use this day as just another excuse to party.  While others in the U.S. of Mexican-American heritage see Cinco de Mayo as a holiday and there are larger festivals across the U.S. Some cities that are know for their Cinco de Mayo festivities include: New Orleans, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, just to name a few…


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Cinco de Mayo has become more commercialized in the U.S. than in Mexico where it is more localized in its celebration. More on how Mexica celebrates this day next…

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Photo by © Nicole Law

Cinco de Mayo in Mexico

A minor misconception is the Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day.  Mexico’s Independence day is actually September 16th.  Cinco de Mayo is celebrating and remembering the Battle of Puebla  when Mexican forces confronted French forces, which were part of Napoleon III army during Franco-Mexico War.  The one day battle was won by Mexico.  This is not a major holiday in Mexico. The event is not even celebrated nationwide.  Cinco de Mayo is often just celebrated in the state of Puebla.

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Photo by © Ricardo Esquivel

Traditions in Mexico for celebrating Cinco de Mayo include military parades, recreation of the Battle of Puebla, and other festive events. The festivities are often celebrated without any alcohol.  This day has less of a commercial focus as it is not a federal holiday with offices, banks, and stores remaining open.

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Plan Your Next Trip to Experience the Culture Heritage unique to both Mexico and the U.S. Go explore this great planet of ours. Thank you for reading.


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Planning A Trip to The Tajah Mahal? Consider These Tips

The Taj Mahal

A visit to India is often not complete without a tour of the famous Taj Mahal in Agra. This mausoleum sitting on the banks of the Yamuna river was commissioned in 1632 and continues to be one of the most celebrated sites of India’s history. The Taj Mahal was planned by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.  It also houses the tomb of Shan Jahan, the builder. The complex is on approximately 17-acres. Visiting this UNESCO World heritage site takes some planning. Below are some helpful hints. I hope you find these helpful.

Plan Time for The Lines and Getting Into The Taj Mahal

You will need to consider that timing is often everything when visiting this often very busy attraction with crowds beginning to increase throughout the mid-morning. Please keep in mind that the Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays.  The following will add to your time and schedule, a) walking to the ticket booth, b) getting to the main gate, c) going through  the security check points, and d) potentially, checking a bag into a paid luggage storage locker while you visit the site.

Separate Lines for Foreigners and Indians

Don’t be overwhelmed by the swell of crowds as you first arrive to visit the site. One hint and please be advise that this just a way for them to get extra money. You can’t skip the line. You may be approached by a few locals who will offer you the option to ‘skip the line’ or go in front of the crowd. Don’t fall for this little ‘extra service.’ I recommend getting in the line as it often moves very quickly. There is often long lines for Indians and shorter lines for foreign travelers.

Reflecting Pool Taj Mahal to Main Entrance

Consider Leaving That Large Backpack Behind for this Tour

If you bring any kind of bag (purse included), this will add time due to need for an extra security screening to have your bag checked before you can enter the Taj Mahal. You may wish to just take some water with you, your camera, and other essentials that you can carry on your person. This way you can avoid this part of the process as you will have to move over into the longer line to wait and have your bag checked.

What if your bag doesn’t pass the security check? This means you will have to check your bag into one of the luggage lockers (not very expenses (under $1 when I visited), but do you want to really go through this process? It is something to consider. If you do take a backpack or purse, you will want only things in there that you don’t think twice about if stolen. Remember, they will not be as secure as you would like them to be during your visit. A real oddity considering the guards with automatic weapons once you are in the Taj Mahal.

Read the Do’s and Don’ts prior to visiting The Taj Mahal.

Take Water With You and Enjoy the Tour More

I can only recommend bottled water for the Taj Mahal as sometimes you risk security not allowing you to bring in a reusable bottle depending on size. Fresh water is a must and please don’t drink the local water. I also recommend keeping an eye out for your personal bottle water to avoid a quick exchange by someone. This happened to my friend and he ended up with the Delhi belly for the next half our trip. Please read more about the remedy for Travelers diarrhea by visiting Dr. Kohn’s post here

Agra Fort – Another Option for Visiting

A Visit to Agra Fort is an excellent option and I would recommend this other UNESCO World heritage site near the Taj Mahal. We visited the Agra Fort and this site was far less busy than the Taj Mahal. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers some time to quietly reflect or enjoy a walk around the lush grounds. Depending on the day, you can see the Taj Mahal in the distance. Don’t ignore the small marble palace at the top as this is quite beautiful inside and worth the climb up the flight of stairs.

Info About Agra Fort


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Musamman Burj


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Views of the Interior of Musamman Burj


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Taj Mahal from Agra Fort


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