THE PHOTOGRAPHS IN MY MIND – PART III

Here are more of the mental photographs I took on some of our travels.  To be honest, some of the colors and the photographs themselves are beginning to fade so I need to tell you about them before they’re all gone.

West Coast of Africa was a wonderful cruise through countries and people living in past cultures and without a lot of modern conveniences, but all seemed very happy.

The highlight was out land tour of Mali.  Talk about living in their history.  Wow!  The recycle market in Bamako, the capital, providing products of every description, all by hand from discarded plastics and metals, the costumed stilt dancers in one small town and the never-to-be forgotten, fabled Timbuktu on the edge of the Sahara (now occupied by Islamic rebels) were fabulous memories.

Israel (about 1992) was a memorable excursion into a land of ancient rituals, religions and modern, progressive culture and economics.  Seedless watermelons, communal communities for agriculture and light industry (Kibbutz) and an energetic, determined people were all fascinating.

Jerusalem is the main attraction with the fabled Western Wall, the Temple Mount and Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial (the simple, most effective moving display I have ever seen)

There are many other indelible sights outside of Jerusalem that are can’t-miss visits; the Dead Sea and the hike up to Masada (cable car now) that was a symbol of Jewish heroism in the revolt against the Romans, the modern city of Tel Aviv and the reclamation of the West Bank by Jewish settlers after centuries of neglect by the Arab residents.

A great learning experience and a great trip.

Yellowstone, plus our first and one of our great national parks with Old Faithful, the monumental geyser, 10,000 hot springs, Yellowstone Lake, great scenery and some bears and wildlife.

As long as you’re in the neighborhood, you should stop by Jackson Hole and the Grand
Tetons, a truly spectacular green mountain area and then perhaps the biggest surprise of traveling America, Mount Rushmore.  It’s a very impressive monument.

Cambodia – One of the highlights of any trip to Southeast Asia has to be Siem Reap, not the town but the magnificent carved temples of Angkor Wat.  There’s nothing else like it.

Victoria, Canada – A great visit to a whole lot of British influence with double-decker buses, horse-drawn carriages and the historic Empress Hotel overlooking Fisherman’s Wharf and the bay on the Pacific.

The highlight, of course, was Butchart Gardens, 55 acres of flowers and show gardens.  It’s a National Historic Site and truly one of a kind, not to be missed.

One of the best organized museums I’ve ever encountered was the Royal BC Museum in Victoria.

India – I was never anxious to go, but it was the endpoint down the Arabian Peninsula from Dubai; so we said as long as we’re there, let’s look around.  We did and it was well worth it.

We started in Mumbai, a most populous (12.5 million), modern, waterfront city with good aging hotels and affluent suburbs; then on to the capital Delhi, a fascinating city with lots of traffic, bustling people and the largest open-air laundry you’ve ever seen.

On to Agra and the fabled Taj Mahal.  It is a magnificent sight on the edge of a typical country town with lots of colors and somewhat ram shackle buildings with streets full of cows, dogs and assorted multi-leg animals.

Our last stop was Jaipur, a delightful, orderly pink town.  It you don’t like Indian food, every restaurant also had Chinese food.

Glad we went

Arches National Park, Moab, Utah – This was a sleeper; a series of fascinating natural sandstone arches, great for biking or hiking.  Stay in Moab, a family-friendly, old western desert town.

As long as you’re there, check out Canyonlands National Park, right next door.

New York City – the Big Apple is a jungle of concrete canyons.  It has theaters, restaurants, night life and enough tourist attractions to fill two weeks or more.

Although I grew up there, I’ve rediscovered the city in our annual Thanksgiving week trips.  So many highlights and so many mental photographs.

The Grayline Tours of the many interesting areas of Manhattan were outstanding, including the old east side, as well as the backstage tour of the Lion King and a visit with a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall.  There are more great museums in NYC than anywhere in the world; the Metropolitan, Modern, Guggenheim, Whitney and a dozen more.  Even the Public Library on 42nd has an outstanding collection of art.

Probably the most outstanding subway and bus transportation system of any major city in the world.

Spain – Start from either end of this wonderful country.  We started in Moorish Seville, then on to cultural Cordoba, a city of Roman, Moorish, Christian and Jewish influence.  On to Granada and some time at the 14th Century Alhambra.  Next to magnificent Madrid and its great museums.

It was too exciting to stop so we went on to the great city of Barcelona to visit the Olympic venues and the Gandi’s awe-inspiring Sagrada Familia Cathedral.

From there it was on to Bilbao with one of Frank Gehry’s early museum masterpieces and a day trip to San Sebastian, a wonderful town on the Bay of Biscay.

Hearst Castle on the central coast of California, a real castle with all the ornate trimmings and fanciful furnishings built by infamous publisher William Randolph Hearst.  It’s a fascinating site with a gilded indoor pool and ostentatious taste beyond belief.  There are three tours, so you can’t just wander on your own.

Grand Canyon – one of the natural wonders of the world.  Both the north and south rims are well worth visiting.  On either side, staying for 24 hours is well worth the investment.  The daylight shining on the canyon walls is an ever-changing panorama of colors and hues.  It’s a wow!!

On the south rim you also have El Tovar Lodge, a somewhat rustic accommodation from another era.

Rafting through the bottom of the canyon is an exhilarating experience filled with fascinating sights and a few thrills over some rocky stretches of a churning river.

Norway – Great trip by land or sea.  The Fjords are spectacular and Bergen and Oslo are charming, delightful cities.

Washington, D.C. – So much to see—you could easily spend two weeks or break it up into several trips.  There were, of course, the usual sites; Congress, the White House, the National Cathedral, the Lincoln, Washington and Jefferson Memorials, and the Smithsonian Museums and National Art Museum.

They’re all great and then there are some hidden gems; the Library of Congress, the Spy Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, and the delightful suburb of Georgetown.

You see a lot of the history of our great country and come away with a heightened sense of national unity and patriotism.  It’s great to go with or without kids.

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