Vivas Las Vegas!!

I am not a gambler but every few years I need to get my Vegas fix.  Last June I was talked into accompanying a friend who was going to participate in the World Series of Poker tournament.  That was an interesting experience!  He lost his booty as well as his $1500 entry fee within two hours.  Oops! That gave us plenty of time to people watch.  Here’s a peek at Vegas from the eyes of this non-gambling photographer/blogger.

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Oh, The Wonderful People I Meet In My Travels!

Meet Hazel Schlesinger, a beautiful painter I encountered in Cannon Beach, Oregon.  I do not possess her painting talent but I tried my best to capture the spectacular beauty of the area & Hazel in these photographs.  For those interested, I have an album full of photos taken in Cannon Beach on my Facebook profile (https://www.facebook.com/basque.traveler/media_set?set=a.191247224368586.1073741840.100004499283172&type=3).  To learn more about Hazel, you may find her at http://www.hazelschlesinger.com

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Obsessed With Interesting Architecture! (Okay, The Ice Cream Wasn’t Shabby Either)

What is it with Americans and their fascination with buildings that resemble food or other things?  Think of Randy’s Donuts, the former Brown Derby and this tasty looking ice cream shop in Niagara Falls, NY.  I love fascinating architecture in general and spend hours taking photos of unique stairwells, doorways , cornices and such.  However, practical architecture, an building that is fascinating and sells good food?  I am definitely sold!

Below are two very cool spots to try on either side of the United States.  Twist O’the Mist of Niagara Falls, NY sells Perry’s 52 flavors of ice cream – no kidding!  I had a big scoop of strawberry ice cream with huge chunks of strawberries.  Simply sinful!

Bob’s Java Jive, located in Tacoma, WA was built in 1927.  I am sad to say I didn’t visit it while living in the Pacific Northwest because I had yet to discover it.  It’s now a self-proclaimed restaurant/dive bar/performance venue aka a “Club”.  I will definitely have to check it out next time I am in the area.

Photo credits:  Basque Traveler (left pic) & Flickr user, Homini

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I’ll Let You In On A Secret…

Pssst, my traveling is a thinly disguised cover to being able to sample food all over the world.  I literally ate my way across Europe last fall but thankfully I walked a good portion of the time to counter the negative results of all that good food.  Frites in Amsterdam were delicious, Dutch pancakes were another scrumptious find, Aperol spritz was my downfall in Italy, schnitzel was tasty in Austria not to mention the beer sampling.  The food in Spain alone was worth the price of the airline ticket!

Now that I am back in the U.S. I have continued the tradition of learning about different areas by sampling regional foods.  I am here in Pennsylvania now so I am gobbling up cheesesteaks, perogies, Iron City beer, chipped ham, tastycakes, Utz chips and more…

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More of Zentralfriedhof in Wien…

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Enchanted Tombs at Zentralfriedhof

Zentralfriedhof is German for “central cemetery”.  Located on the outskirts of Vienna (Wien) Austria in a district known as Simmering, it is one of the largest cemeteries in the world and the largest in Europe by the number of interred.  I visited Zentralfriedhof in the fall of 2012 with a Sikh woman whom had never been to a church or cemetery.  We were both is awe of the size of this cemetery as well as the elaborate tombs of Vienna’s dearly departed.   See for yourself…

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Categories: Austria, Vienna (Wien) | Tags: | 4 Comments

October Wouldn’t Be Complete Without A Trip To The Cemetery!

Cemeteries are where our dearly departed rest peacefully.  Additionally, cemeteries are a teaching tool, an educational resource, if you will.  Many subjects may be explored there such as:  social studies, history, writing skills, art, science, religion and family studies.  Cemeteries are a reflection of a philosophy of death and burial as well as being useful in connecting a community to its past.

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What Not To Do On a Trip!

Massachusetts 052Travel lessons can sometimes be subtle or in this case, they can be literally swift and painful.  It all began when I stopped to visit the Minuteman National Park in Concord, Massachusetts while traveling in New England to view the fall foliage.  Battle Road Trail winds through the national park for five and a half miles covering part of the route taken by the British regulars on their march from Boston to Concord to seize stockpiled weapons from the colonists.  Although I was in a hurry to see all of the important and historic places in Concord and Lexington, I slowed down to take some time out to walk a portion of the trail.  Admittedly, I was frustrated that it was taking so long to get from one point to another.  Afterall, precious time was ticking and I still had to take in the famous North Bridge, Sleepy Hallow Cemetery among other treasured stops.

As I walked along the picturesque trail on that beautiful sunny Sunday, I began to relax a little and worry less about my “To See List” and more about the significance of the trail I was on.  I think I might have went into a meditation state of sorts because all  I remember is trying to feel what it would have been like to be a British soldier carrying my weapon and ammunition while wearing my thick uniform marching for miles to get to Concord.  As I passed where Paul Revere was captured, I got drawn more and more into this trance so much so that I forgot all about my plans to see other sights.  I passed a few other travelers on bicycles or on foot, nodding hello or exchanging smiles.  Finally it dawned on me that I was completely lost in the experience (arguably not a bad place to be) and had not captured any photographs.  I then set out to photograph the lovely countryside, somewhat unchanged from the colonial days.  I was taken in by the beginning signs of autumn and walked onto a boardwalk to take some photos of the mixed yellow, green and orange colored leaves when it happened.  Tending to my viewfinder with intense focus, I sought out to capture a better photo and in doing so took a step backward right off of the boardwalk!

My descent to the ground wasn’t terrifying, I think I was in too much shock for that.  My right leg (knee) absorbed the fall and all of my body weight, including those extra 10 lbs that I had resolved to lose but didn’t.  I fell about four feet into tall grass without so much as a bump on my head, thanks to my knee attempting to be the hero.  I laid in the grass for awhile, allowing my mind to catch up with the physical trauma.  The practical side of me took a quick inventory of my camera whereabouts and my sunglasses.  I marveled at how they were both safe and then began to focus on the pain I felt in my right knee and ankle.  I quickly went into denial and attempted to pull myself up to a standing position by holding on to the edge of the boardwalk but nearly fainted from the intense pain.  Alas, reality had finally won over and I knew I must find help.

I carefully managed to get back down into a horizontal position, propping my head up enough to look for fellow travelers on the path.  At last a gentleman in a yellow shirt appeared on his bicycle and I mustered up enough energy to wave him down.  He attempted to move me from peril but couldn’t as I was in too much pain.  That’s when he and others that had stopped called for emergency backup.  I hadn’t cried through any of this, not because it wasn’t painful but truthfully, because I was too deeply invested in feeling every ounce of the experience.  I might have been delirious from the pain but I heard myself ramble on to the onlookers that I was a travel blogger and that I must capture the moment.  I proceeded to begin to take a snapshot of my rescuers who then asked for my camera to take photos of me in my  plight.  As weird as it all seems now, it seemed to make perfect sense at the time.

Fortunately, the emergency crew got there quickly and took me away on a board to a nearby hospital where I laid on a gurney in the hallway of the ER for hours.  I was wheeled away twice, once for an x-ray and second, to use a bed pan in an ER room (another humbling experience).  They attempted to discharge me without being seen by a doctor until I moaned.  The ER doctor gave me a brief three minute visit and then finally discharged me with crutches and my personal belongings.  The real adventure began at that point since I was in Massachusetts and was supposed to be in New Hampshire that evening but was now out of commission and unable to drive.  That, however, is a whole other story…

So, what was my lesson here?  Well, I believe there were many and the lessons continue as I continue to heal while waiting for the results of my MRI.  One of the lessons that comes to mind, is that I had attempted to pack too much sightseeing into too short of a time.  My guilt for not proceeding faster coupled with my guilt for not relishing everything around me made for a heightened sense of internal turmoil.  Truthfully speaking, I hadn’t been feeling all that well in the preceding weeks and had even thought of canceling this trip but didn’t.  One could argue that I subconsciously didn’t really want to be there.  Or I could have simply been “lost” in the moment and took a misstep.  The important thing in all of this is that I am reminded of how important my health and welfare is as well as how being present in the moment is a good thing except that you must always be aware of your surroundings.  The silver lining is that I now have some downtime to catch up with my website posts and to take a couple online classes. Wishing you happy and safe travels!  Massachusetts 059

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Lighthouses!

Last spring break, my son and I spent sometime in New Jersey.  It was our first trip to the Garden state and I was excited about getting out to see some sights.  I subscribe to the belief that no trip to any coast is complete without a lighthouse visit.  My favorite lighthouse is the one we nearly missed, East Point Lighthouse.  It was established in 1849 and sits on the Maurice River and the Delaware Bay.  If you visit it, try to come around sunset as it’s particularly striking then.  Just be careful of where you step.  The water table is high and land can quickly give way to water at a moment’s notice.  I fell a foot or more in just after taking the first picture!  For a list of New Jersey Lighthouses, go to:  www.state.nj.us/mobile/things/lighthouses.html

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Love Victorian Villages?

If you are touring Pennsylvania and have had your fill of Independence Hall, the Dutch country, Gettysburg and those crazy folks in Pittsburgh who speak their own dialect of English and eat “jumbo sammitches”, then head on over to Carbon County where you can stroll through a Victorian village, river raft, hike up natural cascading falls, ride a scenic train, sip wine on the veranda of a mansion and go to a service in a ~ $20,000,000 local church (St. Mark’s Episcopal Church).

Jim Thorpe, PA (formally Mauch Chunk, meaning “Sleeping Bear mountain”) was a delightful surprise in my tour of Pennsylvania.  There’s something for everyone to do there.  That also includes sitting around doing nothing but relaxing too!   I only spent one night there but was still able to sample a lot.  Assuming I get to return, I would love to go on a bike ride, see a show at the opera house and go on a ghost tour.  For those who have extra time, there is a coal mining tour nearby in Lansford.  You are, afterall, in the heart of  what used to be coal country!

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