Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ireland's Ennis

I really enjoy wandering around small cities because they are large enough to provide a variety of experiences and small enough to be walkable.  Ennis, the central city in Ireland's County Clare, is one of those treasures.  The photos in this post were taken on a Saturday in May.  Saturday's are interesting because part of the city becomes an open-air market filled with local farmers and their produce, and many shoppers who flock to discover bargains.  They also have the effect of emptying parts of the city normally full of foot traffic, as people explore the Saturday market.

Ennis was our base for a week while we explored other parts of County Clare. During non-travel times we explored its streets and also its pubs with fantastic food and spontaneous live music sessions. Ennis is definitely on the "have to revisit" list. If you are interested in learning more about Ennis, this website is a good place to start:

Soon I'll be visiting a non-Irish small city (Punta Gorda, Florida) for a week. What we hope to find is a place that is varied,walkable, and warm-three criteria for a place to temporarily escape the Wisconsin winter.  Whether or not Punta Gorda lives up to expectations, the exploration and warmer February times will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for visiting, feel free to stop by the Tavern again. In the meantime, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Florida/Green Christmas Reflections

As we travel, we often are faced with experiencing  in unusual environments events that are common to us, and that isn't necessarily bad.  For example, a holiday celebrated in almost every community in the USA is Christmas. Regardless of whether or not you practice Christianity, this time of year when the days are short is a time of family gatherings and also a time when lights are displayed to drive away the darkness.   Often there are certain associaions that go with it.

I grew up in the northeastern part of the USA in the state of Maine.  Wisconsin, on the western shore of Lake Michigan (located in the Midwest) is where I now call home.  In both of these places this time of year also has coldness and snow as part of the general feel.  Lights + religious and non-religious decorations + coldness and snow = Christmas in my mind.  This is "normal" to me.

When we travel beyond our present horizion, there's a strong possibility that we'll discover, "That we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto" as Dorothy said in the film, "The Wizard of Oz".  Last winter I spent a month in Florida, arriving just a few days after Christmas (celebrated on December 25).  As I looked from the balcony of our rented condo, I was greeted with palm trees next to the canal with Chirstmas lights strung around their trunks.  As I wandered around Apollo Boulevard the next day, I came across plastic inflatable Santas and winter sleighs with runners, all next to palm trees and sitting on green grass.  A few days later, we took a side trip to Ybor City, a traditional Cuban section of Tampa.  Christmas wreaths, lights, nativity scenes with Christmas wishes in Spanish, and people comfortably seated OUTSIDE in cafes!  We definitely weren't in my version of Christmas time anymore.  While I'd miss my traditional snowy Christmas season if I never had it again, it was fun to see the season from a different perspective-isn't that what travel is all about? (I even enjoyed a glass of mojito instead of the traditional Christmas egg nog.)

Thanks for visiting, please feel free to stop by the Tavern another time.  Until then, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Seville/Orange Trees/Warmth

As I sit in my December living room and watch the snow falling, I dream of warmer places.  It's not that I dislike Wisconsin winters particularly.  In fact I've missed having a "real winter" the times that I've lived in other places. On the other hand, "real winters" create a different atmosphere when you go out of doors, one in which lingering is not an option.  This is quite the opposite of these images of Seville (Sevilla) in southern Spain.

One of the things I learned about Spanish culture is that families and friends entertain and meet in public places rather than in the home.  As a result, plazas, cafes, and other places are filled with intergenerational groups on a Sunday afternoon.  With the warm sun, brillant blue sky, and streets lined with orange trees, how could anyone not be attracted to the out of doors?  

I tried to include a variety of settings-plazas, cafes, and street scenes. By focusing on buildings and other sights, I was able to catch glimpses of people in their everyday activities without being an intrusive photographer.  Days like this one are what travel is all about, at least in my mind.  They are times when you get a true feel for the land and its people.

Thank you for visiting, I hope that you enjoyed your stay.  Please feel free to stop by the Tavern another time.  Until then, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable.