Posts from the “Adventures & Musings” Category

Waterfalls and Revolution: Mexico’s Roberto Barrios

Posted on September 12, 2015

The big attraction for me to visit Roberto Barrios in Mexico’s Chiapas state wasn’t the waterfalls, it was to see the Zapatistas. The autonomous community near the Mayan ruins of Palenque is one of the strongholds of Mexico’s Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), which burst onto the internal scene in 1994 on the same day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect.   The movement, which continues to advocate for the indigenous in this poor region that borders Guatemala, has a knack for garnering international attention and was a favourite cause of Rage Against the Machine.   Although the turmoil and violence of the 1990s struggle has diminished, the state remains off the beaten track for most tourists who come to…

Newgrange: A Passageway to Ancient Ireland

Posted on September 9, 2015

Cosy is not the word that would normally spring to mind when discussing a prehistoric mound — especially one that contained ancient human remains . . . and some (regrettably) newer ones. But the Neolithic burial site known as Newgrange in the midst of the bucolic Irish countryside feels safe . . . comforting even.   Set on a grassy hilltop near a bend in the River Boyne, the oval-shaped structure softly rises above the rolling farmland dotted with sheep, cows and yellow fields of canola. Access to the site is controlled by the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre and the cost of a vistor’s pass starts at €2.   As the Irish will proudly tell you, this structure is older than the Great Pyramids and Stonehenge.…

Florence: Hercules and Cacus

Posted on August 9, 2012

The light in Florence is unlike any I’ve seen anywhere else. It is so warm this city always seems to have a golden glow.   I was too late to get into the Uffizi Gallery on my first day so I bought a ticket for the next day. Back outside, I whiled away my time gazing up at the statues dotting the Piazza della Signoria outside the museum. It was a perfect, cloudless day and the sun cast some interesting shadows.   This is one of my favourite shots from my time backpacking in Europe. I love how when I “dutched” the photo, it created a sense that the statue of Hercules and Cacus clad in shadows seems to loom over the innocent beauty…

A Roman in Vienna

Posted on August 7, 2012

Vienna . . . personally, I didn’t like the Austrian capital when I visited in the spring of 2010 and I usually fall in love with everywhere I travel. It was too perfect with its oversized baroque buildings and wide boulevards celebrating a vanished empire that never really accomplished much.   One has to wonder really about the size issue in Vienna — even the statues of Archduke Charles, the Duke of Teschen, in Heldenplatz and Empress Marie-Theresa in her namesake square near the city’s Museum Quarter are gigantic. Bigger than most statues of important persons in other, more impressive European cities. Now granted, the archduke was considered a great general and a thorn in Napoleon’s side and the empress is one of the…

Bohemian Rhapsody: Český Krumlov

Posted on July 12, 2012

The journey to the medieval town of Český Krumlov did not start off well. Our guide failed to show in Prague after a night spent chasing the green fairy leading to a revolt among the new additions to our tiny tour who were threatening to go rogue and take off to Vienna on their own. In the midst of all the drama and hand wringing, all I knew was that I was going to make it to this magical little spot in the heart of the Czech Republic’s South Bohemia region. I had to see its delicate fairy tale castle that looked like it had leaped to life from the pages of  a Brothers Grimm children’s book. Luckily, an Aussie travelling with us decided…

Belfast: Murals Remembering ‘The Troubles’

Posted on June 27, 2012

It was smiles all around today as Queen Elizabeth II, the 86-year-old monarch of the United Kingdom, held out her gloved hand to shake hands with Martin McGuinness, former IRA commander and current deputy first minister in Northern Ireland.   The historic handshake, unthinkable even a year ago when jaws dropped as the Queen visited the Republic of Ireland, symbolized a final reaching out across the great divide that ripped Northern Ireland apart in a three-decades-long conflict known as ‘The Troubles.’ More than 3,500 people died as republicans (Catholics) and unionists (Protestants) struggled for political control in a bloody campaign of bombings and tit-for-tat shootings that shattered families and stunted the country’s economy. Both of the Queen’s visits underscore the tremendous changes that have occurred…

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