Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Tale of Bath

Sometimes a place can be wonderful to visit in spite of circumstances that you face. On Thursday, March 18 we left Chicago on our trip to Britain. We arrived at Heathrow airport in London on Friday at 6:45 A.M. (1:45 A.M. our biological time), and got on a bus shortly afterwards to head south. After a brief visit to Avebury, we were on our way to Bath. When we reached Bath, there was a drizzle in the air, hunger, and a night without sleep. We got off the tour bus and went our separate ways in search of some sort of lunch before a walking tour of the city in the rain. Ironically, many of the 39 members of the tour group ended up in the same restaurant, something that I was trying to avoid on my first tour group experience.

After lunch I joined a small group lead by a dynamic tour guide and saw aspects of Bath that I would not been aware of. My tiredness was forgotten as I saw the interesting street scenes, the Victorian "seasonal houses" and the ancient Roman baths. I enjoyed every minute of the visit and plan to take a day trip there from London in just a few days. This time I will be more alert and rested, and more in sync with the city and its people. I also won't be traveling in a group.

While I have many more photos to share and tales to tell, I thought I'd at least take time to recount the start of my new adventure.

Thank you for visiting. May your own travels be interesting and enjoyable.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Set in Stone

As we travel, our eyes and cameras are constantly seeking images that will help us understand a place and capture some of its essence in the process. Some of what we see is immediate and will soon be gone and perhaps forgotten. Other images are more permanent and reflect aspects of a more distant past. Often those more permanent images are “set in stone”. In this collection there are both single standing stones (menhirs) and multi stone clusters (dolmens) that were erected in NW France early in the history of civilization. Their purpose in being is unknown. A website that might be of interest to you is related to the dolmens of Carnac Stone artifacts can come in so many different forms, ranging from three simple stones placed together on the side of a hill in Brittany to sculpted marble in the former Roman settlement of Volubilis in present day Morocco. Each of these stones has stories to tell, if only they had voices that we could hear. As someone who is curious about history and culture, I find these artifacts fascinating.

We leave, cameras in hand, this coming Thursday for three weeks in Wales, Scotland and England. I am looking forward to a chance to explore places that are new to me as well as some that I have visited before. When we return, I'll gladly share some of my experiences and images with you.

As always, thank you for visiting. May your travels be interesting and enjoyable.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Morocco's "Game of Gunpowder"

Around 500 years ago (1591 C.E), the armies of of Morocco swept into the West African kingdom of Songhai on horseback with muskets waving. The result was the end of a mighty African empire. Today, musket-bearing men on horseback celebrate their heritage at special events throughout Morocco and refer to them as "games of gunpowder". (They are also known by their Westernized name, "fantasias".)

I was fortunate to be able to see one of these "games of gunpowder" while visiting the ancient city of Fez. The synchronized horsemanshp, thundering hooves, and the musket fire was amazing. It is easy to understand how a group of people who had never experienced a calvary charge could have been easily overwhelmed. Certainly the modern day crowds were as the horsemen came charging towards them! In spite of its military nature, I think that the experience was culturally unique and one that I wouldn't have wanted to miss.

Thank you for visiting. May your travels be interesting and enjoyable.