If you can travel locally or internationally, you are blessed. Walter and I consider it a blessing to travel and whether it is traveling up the coast by car, or making our way around the world using all modes of transportation: plane, train, air balloon, boat, jeep, elephant, etc. we absorb the beauty of each place with awe and respect.
I view traveling as an adventure that allows you to experience history and culture in an intimate and novel way. You are exposed to new value systems that broaden your view when you meet new people who speak different languages but without saying a single word, you understand smiles and tears are indistinguishable all over the world.
Periodically I will post my travel experiences along with what I valued most about the trip. I will attempt to share places I think are interesting, beautiful, fascinating, spiritual, powerful and/or awesome. I am excited to share my thoughts and experiences with you and hope you will do the same.
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I just returned from celebrating my granddaughter’s 14th birthday in London. We left Phoenix on Saturday June 3 and flew all night arriving in London on June 4 at 8:30 a.m. Upon our arrival I turned on my phone and it exploded with messages. I had a message from my husband to return home immediately. I had messages from family and friends asking if we were okay. I responded as quickly as possible sensing the urgency particularly because there were so many messages with the same concern. I didn’t get it! I told everyone the flight was fine, we landed a bit late due to the weather but we were getting our luggage and waiting for our Blackberry Car to take us to our hotel. Everything was fine so I thought.
As soon as we cleared customs our driver was waiting for us. On our drive to the Corinthia Hotel located in central London, I asked him if something had happened. He shared that the night before there had been a terrorist attack on London Bridge and several people were killed and quite a few injured.
So there it was, the reason my family and friends were so concerned. I peeked at my granddaughter to see if she responded in anyway. Thank goodness for Snapchat; she was busy telling her friends she had arrived in London. I still could not completely grasp what the driver was saying nor could I interpret the gravity of what he was saying because he was so nonchalant. He told me that the police were handling the situation brilliantly. And so they were, as I would find out later. Even so, I began thinking should we go or should we stay in London. My main concern was my granddaughter. I was responsible to her parents; I was to bring her back home safely.
As I pondered my decision I talked with the driver always choosing my words carefully so as not to alarm my granddaughter. Through small talk I learned he was not concerned because in his opinion Scotland Yard would exhaust every effort to keep 8.7 million people residing in London with an additional quarter of a million tourists on any given day safe. Once again I thought if this were just me, I would not hesitate to stay in London but it wasn’t just me. What should I do? My spirit said I know how to take care of my granddaughter, I know how to protect her. For that matter I have traveled extensively and have been to many war torn countries. As recently as last year we were in Israel and had to bypass Bethlehem because of the unrest. I was never afraid.
As we drove closer to our hotel I saw hundreds of people on the streets. Driving was hazardous as cars wove in and out of lanes. A lot of city buses appeared out of nowhere cutting cars off to continue on their routes and most perplexing of all, everywhere I looked there were 4 or 5 tourists’ buses following red lines, green lines and blue lines to give their riders a glimpse of the capital of England. I asked the driver if the chaos was due to the attack and he said, “No this is normal for London; it’s the tourists.” By the time we reached our hotel, we were excited and I was feeling quite strong about what I wanted to do.
We discovered everything we wanted to do was mostly in walking distance. Suddenly my thoughts were crystal clear. I wasn’t afraid. I understand the difference between being afraid and being vigilant. We weren’t going home; my granddaughter would be devastated! Instead, She would continue her innocent awe of London without concern.
We unpacked our clothes and left the hotel to join the other tourists walking around and exploring our new neighborhood. As we did, we saw police with rifles held in place with straps across their shoulders. They were smiling and talking with people answering all of the tourist questions and then preceded to ask if anyone needed directions. By the next day the terrorist attack was the last thing we thought of except sending our well wishes and prayers to the families who lost loved ones.
The following days now seem like a blur as we rushed each morning to see everything on my granddaughter’s list of “musts” including The Dream Ballet and the musical Aladdin. Now I am reminded of the British saying from World War II, “Keep Calm and Carry On”. I think about how the terrorists sought to limit our lives through fear, but the thousands of people in London rose above the emotions of fear, and Carried On. As shall we as we live up to my personal mantra, to always be A Tribute To How The Human Spirit Rises Above Expected Limitations.
Pictures from left to right:
1. Changing of the Royal Guard
2. Statue of Queen Victoria Outer Courtyard of Buckingham Palace
3. Big Ben and West Minister Abbey
4. The Dream Ballet at the London Opera House
Siem Reap, Cambodia
When asked where is the most profound place I have visited, I continue to come up with the same answer, Cambodia. Most people immediately think of the account of the “Killing Fields” but I saw another Cambodia. A Cambodia seeped in ancient beliefs but uncovering its history that was buried for centuries by war and political upheaval. Cambodia is beautiful.
Hanga Roa - Isla de Pascua, Chile (Easter Island)
I wish we had captured a human figure next to these Moai stone sculptures that are massive in height some nearly 69 feet tall weighing nearly 86 tons. This photograph taken by my husband shows Moai sculptures facing the ocean to prohibit any evil from coming to the island. But, there are over 1000 Moai scattered all over the Island some revealing only their head with their bodies still buried. The awesome question is, how did the ancient Polynesian people move these massive monuments?
North District, Israel
How powerful was the Roman Empire? This is a picture of the Roman Amphitheater in Israel built around 27 BCE and the other picture is of me climbing down the structure to show how massive it is. The remains of at least 230 amphitheaters have been found still standing. Powerful when you think about our infrastructures weakening and falling apart after 50 or 100 years. Powerful!!!
South Africa and Zimbabwe
We just returned from South Africa and Zimbabwe. We flew 14 hours from John F. Kennedy Airport to Johannesburg, took a small plane to Cape Town for three days followed by a week’s stay at the Kapama River Lodge for our safari. We boarded another small plane and flew to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe for three days before returning to Johannesburg to fly home.
I was told that Cape Town is one of the most beautiful costal cities in the world but somehow I could not take in its beauty because of the poverty and conditions the blacks and “coloreds” still endure. The original people of South Africa, the Khoikhoi people, were over powered by the Dutch and if not killed, soon became part of the 170 year slave history. Africans, Asians and Indians were sold by waring tribes or kidnapped from villages from West Africa, South East Asia , Madagascar, Bengal, Indonesia, Malaysia and many more places to build the beautiful Cape. Perhapsthis is why when you look at the people all decedents of multiple tribes, they are very handsome.
Regardless of the struggles of the people, Cape Town has remarkable sites. We took the rotating cable cars up to the famous Table Mountain’s flat top, where we took ins weeping views, the busy harbor and boats heading for Robben Island. We had an emotional visit to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years before becoming president of South Africa for six years. We visited the jail cells and read the accounts written by prisoners who were jailed there over the years. The Robben Island Museum is now a wold heritage site.
Our journey ended in Zimbabwe with a magnificent helicopter ride over Victoria Falls. All I can say is magnificent! The Falls are incredible described as “the Smoke That Thunders” on the Zambezi River bordering Zambia and Zimbabwe.