Travel day…5½ hour road trip beginning at 10:00 am…Photos…Tomorrow, a huge update!!!…

No doubt, it was sad for us to see 32-year-old Lakshmi standing outside the temple, most likely day after day, waiting for treats from visitors who believe greeting her with offerings provides them with a blessing.

Note: To all of our readers visiting our site via a smartphone, please click the “View web version” tab under the word “Home” at the bottom of the page to access the web version enabling you to access all of our archives on the right side of the page. We’ll be updating our site in a few months, making these extra steps unnecessary. Thank you.

Arriving only minutes ago at the hotel in Tanjore with it already after 5:00 pm, I need to rush through the balance of this post I started yesterday to get ready for a relaxing evening after today’s harrowing long drive. 
Lakshmi was so sweet and welcoming. I patted her thick trunk and looked deep into her eye. More here: “This Ganesh Chaturthi, you can visit the extraordinary Manakula Vinayagar Temple situated approximately 400 metres away from the Bay of Bengal in White Town, Pondicherry. Read on to know why devotees, photo fanatics, and experience seekers flock to this amazing temple of Lord Ganesha.”

The narrow two-lane highway was congested with trucks, cars, motorbikes, bicycles, and tuk-tuks with horns honking constantly, vehicles swerving in and out of traffic, and accidents waiting to happen. Another one of those Mr. Toad’s Wild Rides!

From this site about the significance of the elephant: “Symbol of wisdom, the elephant-headed Lord Ganesha is popularly known as ‘God Of New Beginnings’ and ‘Obstacle Remover.’ Such is the joyful sight one comes across during the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. Markets are colorful with clay models of Lord Ganesha, artisans look delighted with their creations, people are shopping for sweets and decoration materials. Celebrations at places like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Goa are worth an experience.”

We’re glad to be settled at another Ideal Resort, but it’s not as lovely as the last Ideal Beach Resort in Mahabalipuram, which we left three days ago. We only stay here two nights, and then we’ll be on the move again.

Lakshmi entered the temple to participate in a ceremony.

As of yesterday afternoon, we have more photos we’ve yet to post than we possibly can add here. Finally, I figured out how to get the photos from the camera, using the new SD card reader into my Google Drive and moving them over to my Google photos. It was quite a learning curve with little supportive information online that was confusing and convoluted.

Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

More and more people are ceasing to use Windows-based computers due to the issues with Windows 10 updates, and many are moving over to Chromebooks. I suspect this will be a real turning point in the computer world.

The fact that my new HP Chromebook has a battery that lasts 12 hours, it’s a whole new world to me. Using Google Drive exclusively to save my files rather than files on my desktop has also been a significant change. I kept no less than 40 files on the desktop. 
“The church beautifully depicts the events from the life of Christ through its stunning glass panels. It also contains spectacular glass pictures of twenty-eight saints, the great devotees Jesus Christ.”

Now, I have none. With Chromebook, one cannot leave a folder on the desktop. Everything, other than apps on a taskbar called the “shelf,” along with the ability to scroll down to see and use more apps, there is nothing on the desktop. 

“The south boulevard at Subbayah Salai houses this famous church in Pondicherry, constructed by French missionaries during the 1700s. It’s a classic example of Gothic splendor, and one must visit this to experience its inner beauty and peace. 

At first, I tried to find a workaround enabling me to load icons on the desktop and finally gave up. Now, weeks later, I’m OK with this new (to me) operating system. Tom has a Samsung Chromebook, and he too has become acclimated to the new system. 

The old lighthouse is no longer in use after a new one was built.

As it turned out, I’ve had to ask him how to do a few things, and he happily complied, thrilled to be the one with tech knowledge for a change. Now I am passionate about learning every possible command that can make the system hum for me.

Giant Hindu God statue near the beach.

As a result of the abundance of good photos from yesterday’s tour in Pondicherry, it was challenging sorting through all of them to decide which of those we wanted to share in today’s post.

A beautiful dome in the church.

Yesterday, I began going through them, deleting duplicates and, and less preferable shots in an attempt to narrow it down. I could spend all day, every day, going through photos. 

The interior at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

With time at a premium based on our current schedule, I have no time to crop or edit any photos we post. They are exactly as we took them, which has generally been the case in most photos we’ve published in the past several years—no photoshopping here.

“The church is also known as Samba Kovil and is located on the mission street in Pondicherry. The church is 300 years old and one of the most senior tourist sites in Pondicherry. It was initially financed and built by Louis XIV, king of France, in 1698. Since then, the church has been rebuilt more than three times as it was demolished by the Dutch and British. “

Raj was ready for us yesterday morning, and after a short drive, we picked up the tour guide for the day and began the three-hour tour of the French, Hindu, and Muslim neighborhoods, referred to as “Quarters,” as in the case of the French Quarter in New Orleans in the US.

Classic French-designed property in the French Quarter in Pondicherry.

He spoke good English, as do most of the guides, but his accent was strong, and Tom had a little trouble understanding everything he said with his lousy hearing. But, he picked up most of the content, and we both enjoyed the history lessons about Pondicherry, aka Puducherry.

Beyond this gate is a statue of Joan of Arc.

From this site: “Puducherry formerly, Pondicherry is a Union Territory of India. It is a former French colony, consisting of four non-contiguous enclaves, or districts, and named for the largest, Pondicherry. In September 2006, the territory changed its official name from Pondicherry to Puducherry, which means “New village” in the Tamil language. The territory is called Pondichéry in French. It is also known as “The French Riviera of the East.” 

The powerful symbolism of the peacock 

Pondicherry consists of four small unconnected districts: Pondicherry, Karaikal, and Yanam on the Bay of Bengal and Mahé on the Arabian Sea. Pondicherry and Karaikal are by far the larger ones and are both enclaves of Tamil Nadu. Yanam and Mahé are enclaves of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, respectively. The territory has 492 km²: Pondicherry (city) 293 km², Karaikal 160 km², Mahé 9 km², and Yanam 30 km². It has approximately 1,200,000 inhabitants.”

More colorful figures atop a temple.

Of course, although sad to see, one of our favorite experiences on yesterday’s tour was seeing the elephant at the Ganesha temple up close. I even had a chance to stroke her truck. Here’s information from this site on this magnificent animal:

Another temple with beautiful colorful carvings.

“At the entrance of this temple, you will see locals as well as foreigners clicking pictures and taking videos of the elephant named Lakshmi. It is no less than a celebrity. When people offer money and food to her, she blesses them with her trunk. The sight is awe-inspiring, and crowds of people gather here to watch Lakshmi showering her blessings.”

There is a “police booth” near the Ashram, which we entered, but no photos were allowed. Locals and tourists visit from worldwide to take part in the quiet and spiritual Ashram, described as follows: “The Sri Aurobindo Ashram is a spiritual community located in Pondicherry, in the Indian territory of Puducherry. The ashram grew out of a small community of disciples who had gathered around Sri Aurobindo after he retired from politics and settled in Pondicherry in 1910.”

As we were leaving the area after touring the temple, Lakshmi was directed into the temple to participate in a ceremony. Since we were only allowed to take photos in a tiny room, we didn’t follow her.

War memorial in Pondicherry.

I know, I could say all kinds of things about domesticating elephants or any wild animals for that matter. But, as a guest here in India, where culture dictates that elephants may be domesticated and often “work,” I should leave those opinions to myself.

This building was filmed in making the 2012 movie Life of Pi as described here: “Pi Patel finds a way to survive in a lifeboat that is adrift in the middle of nowhere. His fight against the odds is heightened by the company of a hyena and a male Bengal tiger.”

With little time for more details on today’s photos, please bear with us, knowing we’re doing everything we can time-wise to keep our worldwide readers updated on what we’re experiencing.

May your day be rich with experiences.

Photo from one year ago today, March 12, 2019:

It was beautiful to the male Nyala three out of four days. For more photos, please click here.

Travel day…Today is our 25 year wedding anniversary…Heading to the beach!…

In an old vehicle located at the Best Exotic Marigold  Hotel, Us is referred to as a Willy/Jeep. For that post, please click here.

Today, as we celebrate 25 years of marriage (together almost 29 years), we’re posting a few photos of us taken during this past 12 months, all since the dreadful surgery in February, as we continued our travels three months later in May 2019. 

Unfortunately, until we started traveling, we took very few photos of us or any of our family members for that matter. We just weren’t the photo-taking family. Not so much the case now.

On February 5th in Bikaner, India (posted February 6th), a camel pulled a cart up the steep hill to the dunes where we all gathered for sundowners. Click here for the post.

Today, with time at a premium, as we were getting ready to leave Chennai, we were struggling to find more photos of us from the past year when so much of it was spent during my recovery when I wasn’t up to it having photos taken.

We’ve made it to our following location, one we’ve been incredibly excited to visit, the village of Mahabalipuram (try to pronounce this!), where we’ll stay at the Ideal Beach Resort located directly on the ocean, the Bay of Bengal.Tonight’s dinner will be a better fit for both of us.

I checked out the hotel’s online menu, and there are several options suitable for our tastes and dietary restrictions. This will only add to the enjoyment of our anniversary dinner.

We’ve only spent two nights in the peculiar hotel, the Ibis in Chennai. Although we had incredible touring experiences yesterday, which we’ll post tomorrow, we’re content to be on our way.

Out to dinner in Minnesota in November 2019, with our dear friends Karen and Rich. Click here for that post.

This has been a tough year for us, but our love and devotion to one another have seen us through the challenges. Although I’m still not 100%, Tom provides the support and care I need when out on long, steep walks and visiting sites with lots of steps and uneven pavement. 

As we’ve often mentioned, the anniversary of our world travels has been the anniversary we celebrate the most. It was on that date, on October 31, 2012, that our dream began, and we’re so grateful we can continue every day.

On our way in December to the Vegas Golden Knights game with son Richard. Thanks, Richard, it was an enjoyable night! Here‘s the post from that night.

We take nothing for granted: not about being together; not about our lives of world travel; not about the places we’re blessed to visit; not about good health and certainly not about the people we love.

And now, at 3:30 pm Saturday, we’ve arrived in Mahabalipuram at our beautiful hotel with ocean views, excellent WiFi and air-con, and a big bathroom, not like the recent Ibis hotel in Chennai with a bathroom smaller than a cruise ship. 

We were hot and sweaty while on a Celebrity cruise from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale after dancing at the silent disco in November 2019. Click here for that link.

For the next three days, we’ll do a little sightseeing and then spend a few days of relaxation at this beautiful beach resort. We couldn’t be more content to spend anniversary #25 this way… in India… on the ocean and in love.
Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 7, 2019:

Check out the mature horns on this Big Daddy kudu! For more photos, please click here.

Last post with Varanasi photos…Visit to a textile company…King of Brocade Weaving Centre…

                           Exquisite handmade silk brocade made on-site at Tiwari International.

We are experiencing awful Wi-Fi issues at the Ramada Hotel in Khajuraho, India. The town is considerably smaller than many we’ve visited over the past three weeks and without a doubt, this is the worse signal we’ve experienced.
The quality of the work is evident in every piece.

For the past several hours, I have been trying, off and on, to complete and upload today’s post about a fantastic silk-weaving facility we visited on our last day in Varanasi.

Neatly arranged shelves with countless fabrics in varying designs and colors.

From time to time, over the past seven-plus years we’ve been traveling, we’ve had an opportunity to describe and subsequently promote a small business we encounter along the way. 

Whether it is a barbershop, gift shop, street vendor, or luxury shop as we describe today, we’ve always enjoyed sharing details with our many worldwide readers.

Shelves are lined with stunning fabrics suitable for the wardrobe for Indian women and men, tourists, and many household goods such as draperies, furniture, bedspreads, pillows, etc.

Should any of you decide to visit Varanasi in the future, the stunning shop is worth a visit. I drooled over the gorgeous Pashmina shawls and scarves and only wished I’d had room in my luggage for one or two.

The staff was busy working with customers.

Unfortunately, after recently paying the airlines for overweight baggage, there was no way I could purchase even the lightest item and have it make sense. Plus, I cannot wear scarves often when I attempt to keep my clothing accessories to a minimum.

But, as we travel throughout India, we find most women, Indians, and tourists wearing scarves and shawls. Once women arrive in India from other countries, they immediately adopt the scarf concept to blend in with the population.

The shop also offered a wide array of ready-made clothing, including scarves and Pashmina shawls.

On the Maharajas Express, we all received no less than eight scarves as gifts at various stations as welcome gifts. I will have no choice but to give them away along the way. No doubt they contributed to my bag being overweight when some of them were pretty heavy.

But, few travelers have the same issue of “traveling light,” and many tourists come to India for shopping which is exceptionally exciting in this land of diversity and color.

The owner escorted us to the fabricating area, where a diligent weaver was hard at work.

Tiwari International appears to be a family-owned business. With the shop so busy when we arrived, we had little time to speak to the owner/manager Keshav Tiwari who was extremely kind and welcoming, even knowing we were “lookers,” not “shoppers.”

He was excited to share that actress Goldie Hawn had recently visited the shop, as he pointed to the framed photo on the wall as shown here in our photo. They were so proud to have a celebrity visit but equally enthused to welcome us.

This photo of actress Goldie Hawn hung on the wall in the shop. The staff was proud she’d come to visit and purchase several products.

We told Keshav about our visit to India and our site and promised him a story with today’s photos as a thank you for showing us around. He couldn’t have been more pleased, as were we.

The quality of their products is breathtaking, and we reveled in every category of cloth he showed us. Of course, we were in awe of the artistry he showed us by one of his workers, diligently at work on a loom. 

The finest of detail went into this lovely brocade, almost completed.

When he explained how time-consuming and deliberate the work is, we were all the more in awe of his massive inventory. Prices are reasonable, and support staff is available to assist in selections.

From their website, the following:

“Banarasi Brocades, as the world knows it, is called by the name kinkab in Varanasi. A high-quality weaving is done using gold and silver threads. Silk Threads are also used as well. The most common motifs include scroll patterns and butidars designs. The other designs are Jewelry designs, birds, animals, flowers, creepers, paisley motifs. Hindu religious and Mughal motifs also influenced brocade designs. When a Gold embellishment is done on a silver background, it is called Ganga-Jamuna in the local language.
This elderly weaver spent long days working at these looms.

The designs are first drawn on paper. The person who draws the layout is called Naqshbandi. The main weaver is assisted by a helper. This design is then woven on a small wooden frame to form a grid of warp and weft. 

The process is slow and painstaking, requiring intense concentration and expertise.

The requisite number of warp threads and the extra weft threads are woven on the loom. The famous tissue sari of Varanasi is unbelievably delicate, combining the use of gold and silver metallic threads.”

It was fascinating to observe the complicated and time-consuming process.
Finally, attention from Keshav was required, and we bid him thanks and good day with a typical Indian hands-together-bow, and we were on our way back out into the crazy traffic of Varanasi.
We had an opportunity to handle this finest of silk made by worms and of great value.

It was delightful, as always, to see how local products are made, adding even more substance and interest to sightseeing outings.

That’s it for today. Now, the challenge of uploading this post. Tomorrow, we’re embarking on an exciting road trip which begins at 8:30 am, taking us to one of our most sought-after adventures in India…eight days of safari in two distinct national parks where we’ll live in camps. Yeah!

Artistic design, coupled with great skill, produces such fine works as this.

Thanks to all of you for the many birthday wishes. Your kindness means the world to me!

A fantastic day with friends…A castle..A memorable meal…

Us and Linda and Ken having a few drinks at the Boat Inn in Chepstow.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About Shirenewton, Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales:

From this site:
“After the Norman conquest of England, Chepstow was a key location. It was at the lowest bridging point of the River Wye, provided a base from which to advance Norman control into south Wales, and controlled river access to Hereford and the Marches. Chepstow Castle was founded by William Fitz Osborn, 1st Earl of Hereford, in 1067, and it’s Great Tower, often cited as the oldest surviving stone fortification in Britain dates from that time or shortly afterward. Its site, with sheer cliffs on one side and a natural valley on the other, afforded an excellent defensive location. A Benedictine priory, now St Mary’s Church, was also established nearby. This was the centre of a small religious community, the remains of which are buried under the adjoining car park. Monks, originally from Cormeilles Abbey in Normandy, were there until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.”

With little time this morning to spend on presenting facts and photos about our outstanding experience at the Chepstow Castle, which we’ll share in a few upcoming posts starting tomorrow, today we’re posting photos from our memorable lunch with Linda and Ken.

We stopped at a cafe for tea located next to Chepstow Castle.  We loved the colorful tea timer!

As it turns out, based on their schedule we’ll only have one more day to spend together and we’re all making the most of it.  Our friendship with Linda and Ken began in 2013 when we met them through Kathy and Don when we spent our first three months in Marloth Park and continued as we stayed in touch over the years. 

We walked along the River Wye to the Boat Inn for lunch.

While living in Marloth Park for 15 months beginning in February 2018 and ending in May 2019, we had many opportunities to socialize with them including a week they spent staying with us at The Orange House where we lived during that extended period.

They, along with Kathy and Don and many other friends became a part of our social circle with everyone being loving and supportive during and after my recent open-heart surgery.  

We stopped to check out the various relics.

With no family around these friendships meant the world to both of us.  Now, healed and ready for action, we met aChepstow Castle at Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain for a rewarding experience in a castle.

Ken ordered the fresh trout which he enjoyed.

Over the years of our world travel, we’d seen many castles but none impressed us more than Chepstow Castle.  We can’t wait to share the photos and stories of this stunning piece of history.

But, today, it takes less time to present our dining experience after our visit to the castle than it will when we begin sharing castle details tomorrow.  However, in no way do we want to minimize the significance of this exceptional dining experience so conveniently located a short walk from the castle.

Both Linda and Tom ordered the Guinness Beef Pie.  They both loved this dish with bread and veggies on the side.

To be able to spend time with friends after such a long period of our own, was refreshing.  The last time we had an opportunity was when we were in Ireland between May and August when friend Lisa and Barry came to Connemara to spend time with us.

Two plates of steamed vegetables were placed on the table.

The walk through the castle was outstanding but when we had an opportunity to sit down for tea in a charming coffee shop and later for lunch at The Boat Inn, the day proved to be rich and fulfilling.

This was the largest and most delicious plate of mussels I’ve ever had.  The sauce was made with butter, lemon and cream without flour.  I’d like to return to the Boat Inn one more time before we depart to order this again.

Here’s information on the historic Boat Inn: 
From this site:
The Boat Inn, The Back, Chepstow
“An inscribed date in this building suggests that it was erected in 1789. The original character has survived in many of the interior features, such as the low ceiling and stone flags on the floor. At one time the inn was known as the Chepstow Boat. From around the Second World War to the 1980s the building was a private home. Inquests were held in the building in the 19th century, often into the deaths of people recovered from the river. See the Footnotes below for the names of previous Boat Inn licensees.

The inn was built alongside a dry dock, where ships’ hulls were repaired until the mid-19th century. This waterfront area is known as The Back, an old word for quay or wharf. Previously it was known as “Hell’s acre” because of the rowdiness and fights were common when sailors hit the bottle in the dozen or so pubs in the area.

In 1880, four men who held “respectable positions” in local society, were tried for hauling a fishmonger called Thomas Scott from the Boat Inn and throwing him into the river on the evening of the Chepstow boat races. The defendants said Scott had reneged on a bet. They were fined 30s each, plus costs, and told they were lucky not to be on trial for manslaughter.

The area was once the hub of Chepstow’s maritime activity. There were two slipways, and officers kept watch from a Custom House to ensure the correct duties were paid on incoming goods. Timber was one of the main commodities which passed through. Tourists boarded pleasure boats here for trips on the river Wye, and in 1840 Chartists who took part in the Newport uprising of 1839 departed from here after being sentenced to transportation to Australia. Light industries thrived in the vicinity, including a blacksmith’s forge, a sawmill and a bobbin factory.

One area of the Boat Inn, in the section to the right of the entrance, is said to be haunted. A notice painted on the wall advises customers: “While sitting here you [may] experience a sudden shiver or catch a fleeting glimpse of a figure from times past.”

After lunch, we chatted by the fireplace in this relaxing area of the restaurant.

It’s almost time for us to get on the road to drive to yet another castle where we’ll meet up with Linda and Ken to tour the Raglan Castle and later, once again, find a restaurant where hopefully we’ll have as good a meal as yesterday and no doubt, another great opportunity to chat with these dear friends.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more.  May your day be fulfilling and meaningful!


Photo from one year ago today, October 16, 2018:
The continuation of photos of the “Ridiculous Nine” we’d seen while on safari in Kruger National Park with friends from the US, Tom and Lois. “Black-backed jackals are closely related, both genetically and physically, to side-striped jackals. They are leanly built and quite hard to spot in the wilderness as they swiftly move through the terrain into areas of thicker vegetation, with their long, bushy tails bouncing behind them. They are a ginger color below the middle of their sides and their shoulders, and a mixture of black and grey above this line on their backs (the origin of their name). They are generally smaller than they appear in photographs and weigh only 6 to13 kg (13 to 29 lb), the same approximate size as most species of dwarf antelope.”  For more details, please click here.

We’ve set sail!…Fabulous first day!…

*Based on a poor WiFi signal while out to sea, we can’t download any photos today.  Please check back tomorrow.
Cruise check-in can be a nightmare, taking hours to walk aboard the ship finally. But, yesterday’s check-in at the Port of Amsterdam was almost as quick as it could have been.
The only time-consuming process was checking in our bags since Tom had to fill in the information on the paper luggage tags. Moments later, our bags were whisked away, leaving us carrying only the laptop backpack and the small blue cloth shopping bag in which I had the camera and a few other items.
From there, getting “sea passes” and completing the check-in process, we were on the ship in no time at all. We had sailed on this same ship, Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas, in 2014 from Harwich, England, to Boston, Massachusetts. 
We stayed in Boston for a few nights to see my cousin Phyllis and our since-passed-away Uncle Bernie and visit my father’s gravesite. See here for the link from that day. 
We’re so glad we had a chance to see Uncle Bernie one last time before he passed at 98 years of age. He was my father’s brother, and we’d stayed in touch over the years.
Once we boarded the ship at 12:30 pm, and since the cabins weren’t available for a few hours, nor would our luggage be delivered to our cabin until several hours later, we decided to have lunch since we hadn’t had breakfast in the flurry of activity.
We sat with a lovely couple from Australia, Vickie, and Pino having a great talk while we all ate our lunch. The table sharing and subsequent endless chatter had begun, one of our big motivators in enjoying cruises as much as we do.
Of course, we love the lazy life aboard a ship and the opportunity to visit more and more countries on our journey. This cruise will result in us visiting six countries we’ve never visited in the past. Few cruise itineraries provide us with such an opportunity.
That is undoubtedly a major benefit of cruising. Although we don’t get the full flavor of the country in one or two-day stops, we’re often able to see some of the highlights and decide if we’d like to return for a more extended stay in the future.
A few hours later, when the announcement was made that our cabins were ready, we said goodbye to the lovely couple, hoping to see them again, which on this somewhat smaller ship carrying 2501 passengers, small compared to some of the jumbo cruise ships offered today such as Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas with a capacity of 5518 passengers and over a 1000 crew members.
Those big ships are not for us. The sheer size creates long queues and waiting times for boarding, leaving the ship for ports of call, availability of dining times, and maneuvering about the ship.  
We’re not interested in water parks and high adventure activities, common selling points of the massive ships.  Also, we prefer a more intimate, primarily adult environment, quieter and more relaxing while still allowing us to interact with many passengers and make new friends.
When we think of all the people we’ve met on cruises, with whom we’re still in touch, we don’t regret a moment of the effort we’d consciously made to meet new people at every mealtime and in each lounge area.
It’s not surprising that most “cruisers” are frequent travelers to many parts of the world, inciting fantastic conversations among all of us. After chatting with Vickie and Pino, we unpacked a little since our bags had arrived and got ready for the evening’s activities.
Our next stop was to the Diamond Lounge for happy hour, where once again, we shared a comfy table with JoAnn and Fran from Pennsylvania and stayed until happy hour ended, engaged in lively conversation.
I’d promised myself I’d only have two small glasses of dry red wine a night.  As an enthusiast of red wine, I knew I had to limit myself due to my health situation, which I’ve managed since my first glass of wine, three months after the surgery.
Since I made that commitment to myself, I’ve learned to sip as slowly as possible while also drinking a big glass of sparkling water on the side.  This works for me and worked well last night, our first night in the Diamond Lounge, where drinks are complimentary for Diamond Club members, such as us.
At dinner, we were seated at a table for 10 with all the chairs occupied. What a great time we had. I sat next to a lovely couple, Vera and Michael, and couldn’t have enjoyed their companionship more. Tom, based on the seating arrangement, had a better chance to chat with the others.
We didn’t get up from the dinner table until 2200 hours, 10:00 pm, and headed out to a seating area overlooking the Centrum area while a decent band played “oldies.” We didn’t get to our cabin until almost midnight, exhausted from a memorable day.
Now, at almost noon, we’re seated in the cafe close to an electric outlet to plug in my laptop. My battery only holds a charge for one hour. We’ll be buying new laptops when we arrive in the US in less than three months.
With little sleep last night, soon we’ll head to the cabin for a short nap and then make our way to the movie theatre to watch “Captain Marvel.” We aren’t necessarily comic book character fans, but we’ll give it a try.
We’ll be back tomorrow with more, including an update on how the walking is going so far.
Carpe diem!
Photo from one year ago today, August 12, 2018:
Once again, we spotted ostriches on Vostruis Road (volstruis means ostrich in Afrikaans) next to this exact vehicle where we’d seen them almost five years ago. Click this link here to see the post from December 7, 2013. Funny, eh? For more photos, please click here.

No worse for the wear…Amsterdam keeps giving and giving…Boarding the cruise today…

Me in front of soldier statues. It was a very windy day! ” Rembrandtplein (Rembrandt Square) is a major square in central Amsterdam, Netherlands. It was cast in one piece, and it is Amsterdam’s oldest surviving statue in a public space.”

With many photos from Amsterdam yet to be posted, we may save them to share at a future time, perhaps on the cruise on a sea day. Today, we board the ship.  

Tom, arm-in-arm with the statues.

Checkout time is noon at the Eden Hotel (charming, canal view) when we’ll arrange a taxi to take us to the passenger cruise terminal, a short distance from here. We’ll be ready to go.

Diplomatic building with many flags.

Now, at 10:30 am, Tom is streaming a Minnesota Vikings pre-season game with one quarter remaining. Since we never unpacked, only opening the bags to get clean clothes and toiletries, it will take 10 minutes to close the bags and be on our way.

There are 1000 bridges over the canals in Amsterdam.

Last night we had a great meal at Rain Americana Grill, walking distance from the hotel, adding to our daily distance up to 3.5 km, 2.2 miles. It was a lot of walking for me. But I’m thrilled I was able to do it, however difficult it may have been, and suffer no ill effects today.

Many of the vast estate homes have been converted to offices, apartments, and condos.

Tom needed some American food, so we selected this spot. He had a burger and chips while I had a gluten-free, starch-free burrito that was delicious with lettuce leaves as wraps. I have been craving Mexican food for some time. What a treat!

Menu of marijuana and other such products are available for sale to any adults who desire to partake. We happened to walk down an alley to run into people smoking pot outside at the cafe. From this site: “Cannabis has been available for recreational use in coffee shops since 1976. Cannabis products are only sold openly in certain local “coffeeshops” and possession of up to 5 grams for personal use is decriminalized. However, the police may still confiscate it, which often happens in car checks near the border.[citation needed] Other types of sales and transportation are not permitted, although the general approach toward cannabis was lenient even before official decriminalization.”

This morning we decided to wait until we board the ship to eat since they have such great options in our fare. Until I meet with the maitre’d to review my printed food list, we’ll wing it in the buffet. There will be plenty of salad bar items that will work for me.  

The small park where this statue of Rembrandt is located is a popular gathering place.

During the day, I’ll drop off the food list and make a particular order for tonight’s dinner until they coordinate my restrictions with the chef. Most likely, it will be grilled salmon, veggies, and Caesar salad (minus the croutons) on this first night. Fine with me.

Today’s photos continue from yesterday’s sightseeing along and in the canals of Amsterdam. Unfortunately, as the boat moved along, I couldn’t recall the names of the structures in many of the photos.  

The Sea Palace Chinese Restaurant is located on one of the canals.

Also, I try to “live in the moment” and pay attention to the scenery before me rather than worry about identifying the buildings the next day when I prepare a post.  

And live in the moment we did. The unique scenery continually enthralled us. Everywhere one turns, there’s something magical to behold. We both agreed we’d like to return to the Netherlands at some point and see more of this unusual country with design elements unique to the country.  

There are approximately 2500 houseboats with permits to dock on the canals.  Utilities are made available for those houseboats. Illegal boats can’t access city services.

We’d yet to see tulips (wrong time of year), windmills (not in the city), and stores selling wooden shoes, all very touristy but fun to see. Yes, sometimes we behave just like tourists delighting in the all too familiar tourist traps and sightseeing expectations.

Various types of mallards paddle in the many canals.

So, off we go, folks. Our next post will be from the ship on a sea day. We’ll share all the photos and excitement we’ll experience along the way.

Have a lovely day filled with wonder.

Photo from one year ago today, August 11, 2018:

What a lovely scene on the Crocodile River, as seen from Marloth Park. For more photos, please click here.

Amsterdam doesn’t disappoint…We accomplished more than expected…Challenging but rewarding…Food photos…

We were impressed by the stunning historic architecture on both sides of the canals in Amsterdam.

There’s no doubt I’m struggling to walk. I hope this pain will dissipate as I continue to wean off the awful medications, but a part of me is terrified it won’t go away. It takes everything I have to walk a block, let alone navigate stairs and ramps.  

We wished we could post the identity of all of these great highlights, but it wasn’t possible as the boat moved along.

My heart doesn’t struggle, or so it seems. It’s just the legs that could be entirely from the statins I stopped a few weeks ago.  Here’s the data on this situation from JAMA, and here’s the link to the report:

“Results  The mean (SD) duration of statin therapy before symptom onset was 6.3 (9.8) months. Resolution of muscle pain occurred a mean (SD) of 2.3 (3.0) months after discontinuation of statin therapy. Six patients (13%) were hospitalized for the management of rhabdomyolysis; 2 had reversible renal dysfunction, and 1 with preexisting renal insufficiency subsequently began lifelong dialysis. Hospitalized patients developed myopathy more quickly after initiating statin therapy (1.3 vs. 7.1 months; P = .048) and were more likely to be taking concomitant medications known to increase the risk of statin-associated myopathy (P = .03). Thirty-seven patients received another statin after an episode of statin-associated myopathy; 21 (57%) reported recurrent muscle pain, whereas 16 (43%) tolerated other statins without recurrent symptoms.
Conclusions  Patients with statin-associated myopathy experienced complete resolution of muscle pain on cessation of statin therapy. Although no deaths occurred, 13% of the patients required hospitalization for rhabdomyolysis. Recurrent muscle pain was common on statin rechallenge.”

The covered canal boat.

The above-highlighted comment about full resolution in 2.3 months makes me very hopeful. As we begin this big journey in our world travels, I do everything to stay engaged in our activities and avoid complaining to Tom.

The tour couldn’t have been more enjoyable.

He’s so helpful, guiding me across the uneven pavement, through crosswalks, up hills, and steps. Today was a real test of both of our resolve and determination as we walked almost 3.2 km, 2 miles, on the streets of Amsterdam, reveling in every moment, which was a good distraction for me.

What did we see and do? Firstly, all of my sandals and shoes to wear on the cruise had recently fallen apart. , My two pairs of long-wearing black and beige Clark sandals crumbled with pieces falling off in the suitcase. I’d been wearing them for almost seven years! Plus, the one pair of high wedge sandals I had were a thing of the past, and I left them behind in Ireland.

There’s a large hook hanging from the roofs that remain in place. Since most of the buildings in Amsterdam are so narrow, which results from a tax base determined by the width of a building, it’s impossible to get furnishings up the narrow staircases. Subsequently, these large hooks on the exterior of buildings are used to hoist the items to the appropriate floor.

Knowing we had to find a shoe store within walking distance was a daunting task, but I learned that trying to walk would be better than taking a taxi, forcing us to be out and about seeing a bit of this beautiful city.

Each building has its unique design.

After a very long walk, we stopped for breakfast along the way, we found a few shoe stores, and I was able to purchase two pairs of comfortable flat shoes, one a dressy flat black sandal and another, a very comfy pair of Sketchers slip-on shoes. I was thrilled.  

Surprisingly, the shoes weren’t more expensive than they’d have been in the US. Everyone talks about how expensive it is here. Yes, the hotel was twice as much as we usually spend, but we had accumulated points to use, which softened the blow.

Many elaborate former homes from the 17th and 18th centuries have been converted to governmental and diplomatic structures. Not this building’s construction year of 1843.

Dining out is comparable to the US from what we’ve seen so far. Last night we dined in the upscale hotel restaurant, Brasserie Flo, which turned out to be rated #720 out of 3736 restaurants in Amsterdam. I loved the food…Tom did not. He’s not the gourmet kind of guy. Here are a few photos of our meals.

Tom’s veal and mashed potato dinner.

This morning we had breakfast in a pub we encountered on our walk. They didn’t make eggs with butter or healthy oils, so I ordered a chicken Caesar salad. Tom had a ham and cheese omelet, which he said was “just OK.”  

My rack of lamb on a bed of assorted mushrooms was delicious.
Please understand, I am traveling the world with a picky eater, but then again, he has to live with all of my peculiar dining options. We figure it out as we go. It’s not perfect, but we’ve learned to live with these limitations, and now…others.
This seafood platter for two looked appealing, but Tom’s not a big fan of most seafood. It didn’t pay us to spend Euro $125, US $141 for this meal alone.

After we had breakfast and walked the distance to the shoe stores, on the way back, as we walked along with one of the 100 canals in Amsterdam, we spotted a canal boat tour starting in 15 minutes. This was ideal for us.  

As we walked down the narrow street, exploring and looking for a shoe store.

We’d hoped to tour the canals today anyway, and this avoided us going back to the hotel for more walking, only to find our way back to another tour boat.  It had been raining off and on all morning. It was sunny when we left the hotel.

The clock tower building.

This particular boat was fully enclosed with big glass windows we could open when the rain stopped. We were grateful that a few minutes into our tour, the sun came out once again, and we were able to take many photos, more than we can ever share here today.  

Ornamental pillars at one of the 1000 bridges in Amsterdam.

More photos will follow in tomorrow’s post, which we hope to finish before heading to the ship at noon. This is all happening so fast! This time tomorrow afternoon, we’ll be situated in our cabin and hopefully unpacked, ready for the cruise fun to begin.

Have a fantastic Saturday night, wherever you may be!

Photo from one year ago today, August 10, 2018:
Tom’s excellent new haircut. She cut his hair this time as opposed to using the electric clippers. Cost with a tip? ZAR 130, US $9.35 (includes tip). Wow! I love the beard! For more photos, please click here.

Part 3…Kylemore Abbey…A romantic gift lives on…A tragic love story…

A wedding gown of the era.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 

“Leprechauns originate in Irish folklore as
a fairy in the form of a tiny old man often with a cocked
hat and leather apron. The word derives from the Old Irish word luchorpanmeaning ‘little body’.”
As we wandered through the rooms of Kylemore Castle, we were reminded of many historical castles, museums, and homes we’ve toured during our travels.  In a considerably lesser manner, Kylemore’s furnishings reminded us of some of the furnishings in Versailles, although definitely not as elaborate. To see those photos, please click here.

After all, a king, Louis XIII, built the magnificent French palace, not a simple businessman like Henry Mitchell a few centuries later.  But, Margaret and Henry, as world travelers, surely have visited Versaille and other great castles while their castle was being built in Ireland.
The interior of Kylemore Abbey’s castle was renovated in recent years honoring the design and style of the era.
Sadly, Margaret’s life was cut short while traveling as explained in the following from this site:

“A Tragic Love Story

As you enter the front door of Kylemore Abbey you cannot help but notice the beautiful carved angel which guards over it. In the hands of that angel is the coat of arms of Margaret Henry’s birth family, the Vaughan’s of County Down. 

Margaret’s Coat of Arms over the front door proudly proclaim this as her castle. Look more closely and you will also see charming carvings of birds which were a favorite motif of the Henry’s. The birds represented the Henry’s hope that Kylemore would become the ‘nesting’ place of their family. Indeed Kylemore did provide an idyllic retreat from the hustle and bustle of life in London where, even for the very wealthy, life was made difficult by the polluted atmosphere caused by the Industrial Age.

This chaise certainly appeared to be comfortable.

At Kylemore Margaret, Mitchell and their large family reveled in the outdoor life of the ‘Connemara Highlands’. Margaret took on the role of the country lady and became much loved by the local tenants. Her passion for travel and eye for beauty were reflected in the sumptuous interiors where Italian and Irish craftsmen worked side by side to create the ‘family nest’. Sadly the idyllic life did not last long for the Henrys.

In 1874 just a few years after the castle was completed, the Henry family departed Kylemore for a luxurious holiday in Egypt. Margaret was struck ill while traveling and despite all efforts, nothing could be done and after two weeks of suffering she died.  She was 45 years old and her youngest daughter, Violet, was just two years old. Mitchell was heartbroken. 

An authentic horse tricycle, hand pedaled,  used by the Mitchell children.

Margaret’s body was beautifully embalmed in Cairo before being returned to Kylemore. According to local lore, Margaret lay in a glass coffin which was placed beneath the grand staircase in the front hall, where family and tenants alike could come to pay their respects. In an age when all funerals were held in the home, this is not as unusual as it may first seem. In time Margaret’s remains were placed in a modest red-brick mausoleum in the woodlands of her beloved Kylemore.

Although Henry remained on at Kylemore life for him there was never the same again. His older children helped him to manage the estate and care for the younger ones, as he attempted to continue his vision for improvements and hold on to his political career. By now he had become a prominent figure in Irish politics and was a founding member of Isaac Butt’s Home Rule movement. 
“The rocking horse as we know it dates back to the 17th Century when wooden rocking horses first appeared in Europe. A very few of these early rocking horses still survive in museums and private collections. These include one of the earliest ridden by King Charles I of England when he was a boy.”

In 1878 work began on the neo-Gothic Church which was built as a beautiful and lasting testament to Henry’s love for his wife. Margaret’s remains were, for some reason, never moved to the vaults beneath the church and to this day she lays along with Mitchell in the little Mausoleum nestled in the woods.”

In that era, medicines were yet to be discovered that could possibly have saved her life.  One can only imagine how sorrowful her death was to Henry and their young children which occurred only a short time after the completion of the castle.
Another wedding dress from the era, the 1700s.  This may be comparable to the gown worn by Margaret Vaughn Mitchell.
As much as we all whine about the incompetencies and stresses as a result of medicine, Big Pharma, politics, traffic and much more, we are lucky to live in these times.  

As hard as the walk was for me at Kylemore Abbey, I am grateful to be alive and still continue to try to make each day memorable.  Today, I started walking upstairs, trying for 10 flights a day, to build my stamina.  
Ornate fireplace.
Stairs are the hardest part for me at this point and although I struggle with each step on the spiral staircase, doing so regularly can only help build my strength.

Again, no cleaner today due to her recent illness.  Tom and I will take care of it ourselves, him doing the floors and me cleaning the kitchen and two baths all of which is a good exercise for me. 
In the era, it was commonplace for “gentlemen” to use a walking stick when out and about, as well as those who may have needed to use one of these ornate canes.
That’s it for our Kylemore Abbey story and photos.  Today, it is exactly three weeks until we head for the airport in Dublin where we’ll spend one night and fly to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, the next day.

Enjoy every moment of your day and evening!

Photo from one year ago today, July 18, 2018:

When capturing this hippo and cattle egret in the bright sun from quite a distance, we didn’t realize there was a croc in the photo until we uploaded the photo.  For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Kylemore Abbey…A romantic gift lives on…A tough walk required to explore…

The view across Lough Pollaacapull is seen from the castle’s veranda.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 

“One of the most curious facts about Ireland takes place in the town of
Killorglin in the 
Reeks District
. Here, a festival known as the Puck Fair sees a goat crowned as King Puck for three days. The Queen of Puck, traditionally a local young schoolgirl, crowns the goat.”

The story continues today with photos and the history of the Benedictine Nuns of Kylemore Abbey. Here is the link to the property’s website with a wealth of information if you’d like to read further.

Unfortunately, due to the walk up a long and steep hill to the actual abbey, we could only enjoy the views from afar, which didn’t produce good photos due to the distance.
As we approached the enchanting Kylemore Abbey Castle. 

Below is a photo that we borrowed from their site of the exterior of the Neo-Gothic Catholic Church.

“For more than a century, Kylemore has been the romantic nineteenth-century Irish castle overlooking a lake in the West of Ireland. Just a five-minute (steep) walk along the shores of Lough Pollacapull lies Kylemore’s enchanting neo-Gothic Church. 

Kylemore Abbey’s Neo-Gothic Church was built in the style of a fourteenth-century. Described as a ‘Cathedral in Miniature,’ this elegant building is a lasting testament to the love of Mitchell Henry for his wife, Margaret. On your visit, you may be lucky enough to enjoy one of the many musical performances that take place here throughout the year.”
Please excuse the blurry photo (not our photo) of the neo-Gothic Catholic Church located on the ground of Kylemore Abbey.

“Benedictine nuns of Kylemore Abbey

The present Benedictine nuns of Kylemore Abbey have a long history, beginning at Brussels in 1598. Following the suppression of religious houses in the British Isles, British Catholics left England and opened religious places abroad. Several monasteries originated from one Benedictine house in Brussels, founded by Lady Mary Percy in 1598.

Houses founded from Lady Mary’s house in Brussels were at Cambray in France (now Stanbrook in England) and Ghent (now Oulton Abbey) in Staffordshire. Ghent, in turn, founded several Benedictine Houses, one of which was at Ypres. Kylemore Abbey is the oldest of the Irish Benedictine Abbeys.

There are numerous religious statues and displays throughout the castle.

The community of nuns, who have resided here since 1920, has a long history stretching back almost three hundred and forty years. Founded in Ypres, Belgium, in 1665, the house was formally made over to the Irish nation in 1682. The purpose of the abbey at Ypres was to provide education and a religious community for Irish women during times of persecution here in Ireland.

Down through the centuries, Ypres Abbey attracted the daughters of the Irish nobility, both as students and postulants, and enjoyed the patronage of many influential Irish families living in exile.

Mitchell Henry, digitized portrait who built the castle for his beloved wife, Magaret Vaughn Mitchell, in 1867.

At the request of King James II, the nuns moved to Dublin in 1688. However, they returned to Ypres following James’s defeat at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. The community finally left Ypres after the Abbey was destroyed in the early days of World War One. 

The community first took refuge in England and later in Co Wexford before eventually settling in Kylemore in December 1920. At Kylemore, the nuns reopened their international boarding school and established a day school for local girls. 

Margaret Vaughn Mitchell’s digitized portrait.

They also ran a farm and guesthouse; the guesthouse was closed after a devastating fire in 1959. In 2010, the Girl’s Boarding School was closed, and the nuns have since been developing new education and retreat activities.”

The property’s peaceful environment, including the Victorian Walled Garden, left us smiling, grateful we’d taken the time and effort to see what we were able to see.

Riding boots.  Horseback riding was prevalent in this period.
I suppose this is how it will be with tours at ports of call during our upcoming Baltic cruise. I can’t imagine I’ll have a lot more improvement in the next three weeks when we head to Amsterdam. But, I’ll continue to do the best I can to increase my stamina. 
Visitors aren’t allowed to view the second floor occupied by the nuns.
Have a fantastic “hump day” for those still working. And a great “all-of-the-days-of-the-week-are-the-same” for us retirees!                            

Photo from one year ago today, July 17, 2018:

That morning’s 17 kudus in the garden. See the video at this link for details.

Part 1…Kylemore Abbey…A romantic gift lives on…A tough walk required to explore…

This is the over-the-top Kylemore Abbey, a former home, castle, and grounds of a wealthy family in the 1800s.

“Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland” 

The MacGillycuddy’s Reeks are Ireland’s highest mountain range, home
Carrauntoohil, which at 1,038m (3,406 ft) is Ireland’s highest mountain.
Visiting Kylemore Abbey was a test for me. With the 1000 acre property, the Victorian Walled Garden (to which we could access the entrance to the gardens by shuttle bus), there was no doubt in our minds that a lot of walking up and downs hills would be necessary to fully enjoy our self-tour.
Sadly, I was sorely disappointed, not in the exquisite property but in my own lack of ability to easily walk through the stunning historical property. We made it to the ticketing entrance, the shuttle bus station for a ride to the gardens but not through the garden on many hilly trails.  
A lake, Lough Pollaacapull, highlights the property upon entering the grounds.

In the massive castle, only the first floor is available for viewing. The Benedictine nuns occupy the second floor and, overall, see to the management of the outstanding property. 

For the average person, there would be no issue touring this property but for me, still, a long way from full recovery, struggled every step of the way. However, I was never disappointed for venturing out to see this special property and did the best I could.  

The grounds and the gardens are meticulously groomed.
We didn’t miss too much other than parts of the garden and the abbey.  Today and over the next few days, we’ll share our photos here. The castle itself reminded me of the day in August 2014 when we visited Highclere Castle (see Part 1 of Highclere Castle may be found here. See photo below):
We held our breath as we approached Highclare Castle, home of the famed BBC Downton Abbey TV series. No interior photos were allowed.  Please click here for interior photos of the house and here for Part 1 of our post in August 2104.
Before we walked to the castle, we took the shuttle bus to the gardens a five-minute ride through lush tall trees and abundant greenery.  If only we could have toured the entire garden by shuttle, that would have been ideal.

Once we arrived in the garden to begin the walk, I knew I wouldn’t make it very far. There were benches for resting but on the busy Sunday, there were all occupied with other weary visitors. Even for the most well-conditioned seniors, the walk may have been challenging.

We walked to this location to catch the shuttle to the walled garden.

In a short while, we walked back to the shuttle bus pickup station and I was relieved to get a seat on the bus. Then, we had to tackle the steep uphill walk on a smooth paved road to access the castle. Once we arrived, I was OK and able to tour the castle with relative ease.

Once inside the castle, the love and care given to this fine property were evident. Here is the beautiful and also sorrowful story at this link about the building of the castle by Mitchell Henry for his beloved wife, Margaret Vaughn Henry:
The exquisite Victorian Walled Garden in the 1000 acre property requires the use of a shuttle which is included in the ticket price, Euro 10.50, US $11.80 per senior.

“Kylemore’s foundation stone was laid on September 4, 1867, for Margaret Vaughan Henry, the wife of Mitchell Henry. The estate had been bought and planned as an elaborate love token for Margaret and as a ‘nesting place’ for the growing Henry family. 

During our world travels, we’ve visited many botanical gardens open to the public, private gardens and gardens adjoining a variety of sightseeing venues. Of course, nothing compares to Versailles in France as shown in the photo below.

Although Mitchell Henry was born in Manchester he proudly proclaimed that every drop of blood that ran in his veins was Irish. It was to Ireland that he brought Margaret on honeymoon in the mid-1840s and where they first saw the hunting lodge in the valley of Kylemore that would eventually become their magnificent home. 

This was my favorite scene and photos from the Gardens of Versailles which we visited in August 2014. See here for photos, details and, Part 1 of our Versailles tour.

Although they visited Connemara in a time of hunger, disease, and desperation, Mitchell could see the potential to bring change and economic growth to the area. The son of a wealthy Manchester cotton merchant of Irish origin, Mitchell was a skilled pathologist and eye surgeon. In fact, before he was thirty years of age, he had a successful Harley Street practice and is known to have been one of the youngest ever speakers at the Royal College of Surgeons in London. 

On his father’s death, Mitchell inherited a hugely successful family business and became one of the wealthiest young men in Britain at the time. Mitchell lost no time in quitting his medical career and turning instead to liberal politics where he felt he could change the world for the better. His newfound wealth also allowed him to buy Kylemore Lodge and construct the magnificent castle.

This is the head gardener’s house and bothy.  A bothy is described as follows: bothy is a basic shelter, usually left unlocked and available for anyone to use free of charge. It was also a term for basic accommodation, usually for gardeners or other workers on an estate. Bothies are to be found in remote mountainous areas of Scotland, Northern England, Northern Ireland, and Wales. 

Designed by Irish architect James Franklin Fuller and the engineer Ussher Roberts Kylemore boasted all the innovations of the Victorian Age. There were 33 bedrooms, four bathrooms, four sitting rooms, a ballroom, billiard room, library, study, school room, smoking room, gun room, and various offices and domestic staff residences, as well as gardens, walks, and woodlands which eventually covered 13,000 acres of land at the cost of little over £18,000 (Euro 19932, US $23,270. 

The building on the upper right is referred to as the “glass house” which, to most of us is a greenhouse.

During construction, the sound of dynamite blasts were heard in Connemara for the first time as the castle was carefully set into the face of the mountain. This achieved the exact positioning required which to this day gives the castle its iconic appearance perfectly reflected in Lough Pollaacapull.”

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with more photos including the interior of the castle and the continuing story of its owners. Please check back.  

Be well. Be healthy. Be happy.
Photo from one year ago today, July 16, 2018:
Once Tom spotted this female lion through his binoculars he grabbed the camera to zoom in as shown. For more photos, please click here.