London 2017

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Took in a performance at the Globe. The Guardian review (read afterwards) was headlined “Globe’s perverse show vandalises Shakespeare” — but we enjoyed it.

Bridges. Tower bridge was an evening walk from our Narrow Street flat.

We did not ride the Eye, but enjoyed the views from the ground.

Our flat (Air BNB) in the Docklands.

Our walks home to our flat in the Docklands were always pretty.

Natural History Museum.

Visit to Cheam, where Roger, Marjorie and Robin lived in 1961.

Last evening walk in London.

Poznan, Poland 2017

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Cousin Michal Rawluk was a great host in Poznan. Last time I saw him was 33 years ago. He was 11.

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Outside the Old Brewery.

Poznan old town and city square

Stary Browar (Old Brewery) awarded the best mall in Europe — really!

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We have some of these in Vancouver, too. The sculptress is Magdalena Abakanowicz from Poznan. There is a crowd of these figures in Chicago, too.

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At noon the clock strikes 12 and the goats come out of the doors and butt heads. A crowd of school children gathers to watch.

We returned to Berlin by train. Here we are on the platform.

Berlin 2017

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Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

With the Koerners in Berlin. Michael picked us up at the airport, and gave us a walking tour of the Hansaviertel and the Victory Column (Siegessäule). We climbed up to the top of the column, just below the statue of Victoria.

Spree River cruise with Melanie Dorner, Diane’s cousin, in Berlin.

Melanie’s garden cottage at Ploetzensee.

Melanie, Stefan and Till invited us for dinner at their very cool tiny flat.

Museum Island has five amazing museums. We visited only two: the Pergamon, and the Neues Museum.

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Memorial to the victims of the Nazi euthanasia program at the site of the former Tiergarten Strasse 4 (T4) — in front of the beautiful Philharmonic Hall.

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The Holocaust Memorial.

Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz. Where the Nazis planned the final solution.

Berlin has a lot of green space, and Michael and family live next to the Tiergarten.

The Reichstag, the German seat of government. Visitors can walk a spiral staircase in the glass dome, and look down on the parliamentarians (when sitting).

Guided tour of Potsdam, with San Souci, summer palace of Frederick the Great of Prussia.

The Wall, and victims of the cold war (attempted escapees from East Germany) are memorialized in many places throughout Berlin.

After the Wall fell in 1989, there was some empty real estate running through the middle of the city. The Sony Centre filled part of the gap.

The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church with its bombed spire stands as a reminder of the war. At its base every year is a Christmas market. Last year the market was the scene of a terrorist truck attack, so now there is a memorial at the memorial church.

The last night before we departed for London, Roger, Marjorie and I, together with Michael and Friederike Koerner, enjoyed a concert at the Chamber Music Hall to commemorating the 250th anniversary of Telemann’s death.

The main train station is 20 minutes’ walk from the Koerner’s place. We took the train to the airport for our flight to London.

Ireland 2014

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Wearing matching Irish caps on the Tarbert ferry.

We spent a few weeks in Ireland in the summer of 2014.  Here are a few highlights, to give you some ideas of places you might like to visit.   Here is a map.  I have colour-coded the markers as:

  • GREEN — we highly recommended you visit
  • YELLOW — if interested and you have the time
  • RED — we went there but in your limited time, don’t bother

To give a sense of scale, Ireland is about the length of Vancouver Island, but 3x the width.  It takes about 6 hours to drive from the North coast to the South coast (Derry to Cork), and about 2-1/2 hours to drive from East to West (Dublin to Galway).  The motorways are fast, and easy driving, once you get used to driving on the left side, and the roundabouts.

Dublin

Rebel walking tour — background of the Easter Rising of 1916.  Details (including excellent reviews) are here.  The tour guide takes you round to sites of significance in this historic but series of events, eventually resulting in the formation of the Irish Republic in 1921.

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The Post Office was a key building in the Easter Rising of 1916.

National Museum of Ireland: Archaeology.  Link is here.  I wanted to spend more time here, learning about Irish prehistory.

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Kilmainham Gaol.  Website is here.  Diane visited with Jared.

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Kilmainham Gaol

Newgrange — a 5000-year old megalithic monument — older than Stonehenge.  Day trips are available by bus from Dublin — see here.   It is one of the most significant prehistoric sites in Europe, and is designated as a World Heritage site.  There is a museum on the site.  Each year there is a lottery, which thousands enter, to return on Winter solstice and wait in the central chamber in darkness before dawn to see the first rays of the sun.  Actually the sun’s rays pierce the central chamber from a couple of days before to a couple of days after the solstice, so the lottery involves 5 days, and about 20 lucky visitors each day.  Jared won in 2014, but did not attend.

Take train from Dublin to Howth — 30-minute train trip to a lovely coastal area with nice walks and good restaurants.  We enjoyed taking a long coastal walk here and having a good meal.

Belfast

Queen’s University, and Belfast Botanic Gardens.

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Black taxi tour of the murals — called the “Political and Mural Tour”.  Our own personal guided tour, in an old black taxi, with the driver as tourguide.  There were many stops where he got out with us for a short walk to view murals and sites.  Our driver had a degree in history, as well as a bullet wound gained during the troubles — he knew what he was talking about!  In the picture Jared is holding several plastic bullets, one of which hit our guide’s grandpa.

Derry (Londonderry)

See travel site here.  Walls were built in 1600’s — finest example of a walled city in Ireland.  We visited during a period of very wet weather, and did not have much time as we needed to press on — but we did walk part of the wall.  In good weather this would be a fascinating city to spend some time in.

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The north and west coast

Giant’s Causeway.  As geologists, I think you have to go here!  The Led Zeppelin cover was taken here; Jared is referencing it in the picture.

The Rope Bridge at Carrick-a-Rede

This was fun, but I would not call it a “must-see”.  The small island is connected to the mainland by a swinging footbridge, much like the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge in North Vancouver.  Traditionally, the bridge was used by fishermen to access the island to check their salmon nets.  The coastal birdlife on the island is impressive.  It was windy!

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This was the first place we realized that Ireland is a surfing destination.  Jared took a couple of days of surfing lessons.  Not nearly the variety of activities here as at Lahinch.

Lahinch

A great place to visit, even if you don’t want to surf.  The beach is beautiful, the shops and cafes are nice, and there are many pubs where you can enjoy a pint and dinner while listening to live Irish traditional music.  There’s a golf course too.

Ciffs of Moher

We did not access the cliffs via the “official” entrance, but on a recommendation we found a southern access point which involved parking in someone’s yard (for a small fee) and walking to the cliffs.

Aran Islands

 

Dingle peninsula

We stayed in a hostel at the end of the peninsula — Dun Chaoin Hostel near Dunquin — but there are also B&Bs available.  Lots of nice opportunities for beach and cliff walking, and site seeing.

Great Blasket Island

Central Ireland

Birr Castle and Ireland’s Historic Science Centre.

I had read about the giant telescope, built by the 3rd Earl of Rosse in the 1840’s.  He discovered the spiral nature of the galaxies (though not until Hubble in the 1900’s were these “nebulae” understood to be galaxies).  This was the largest telescope in the world until 1917, when the Hooker telescope was installed on Mt. Wilson in California.  The gardens at Birr Castle have some spiral galaxy-shaped plantings to commemorate the discoveries made with this telescope.

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Visiting Gary — County Cavan