Tag Archive


activity art artist Canada children city community contest country craft display downtown drive i-95 Drivei-95 drivei95 entertainment event family festival Florida food free fun game historic History house Island live local Museum music national North Carolina performance prize Restaurant roadtrip shop show tour travel travelblogger USA world

US: Newburyport, MA – Xmas Tree Bonfire Party with Music, S’mores & Flashlight Treasure Hunt

This is no ordinary Bonfire, it’s a 3-story community bonfire where Greater Newburyport’s residents burn their well-loved Christmas trees, and boy can those babies burn and it gets hot, real hot! newburyport-bonfire

In honor of the original purchase of Newbury, MA in 1701, It’s the 6th Annual Christmas Tree Burn Fundraiser/ Old Newbury Bonfire  to benefit the Newbury Volunteer Fire Department. Why not support this community and enjoy the local entertainment with music, games, food and fun at an event that is becoming a Greater Newburyport Winter tradition.

In addition to the bonfire, there will be tours of the 17th century stone and brick manor house at Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm,  and you can participate in a  flashlight treasure hunt and other children’s activities. Enjoy great food and drinks from local businesses, roast marshmallows or make S’mores.  At 5 PM there’s an  auction to be one of the two official bonfire lighters. Other prizes include a ride to school on a fire truck, cords of wood, local art and other surprise. Admission FREE, food and drinks available for purchase. Parking: $5 at Spencer Peirce Little Farm.

Location: Spencer Pierce Little Farm – 5 Little’s Lane, Newbury, MA 01951
Date: Sat, Jan 14, 2017
Time: 3 pm  – 9 pm w/ Bonfire Auction at 5 pm, lighting to follow – See more at:
newburyport.com/old-newbury-bonfire/
Tel: 978-462-2282,  978-462-2634
For Regional Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions: newburyportchamber.org
newburyport.com

Canada: Ottawa, Ontario – Queen’s Lantern

In the magnificent Queen’s Lantern, the glass open space at the top of the Museum of Nature, what looks like a giant jellyfish is hanging. You can see it from afar outside the museum, and inside as you navigate between floors. The windows with stone dividers provides a beautiful view both of the outdoors and inside the museum.

Queen's Lantern

Cosmos Tour: Prague Vienna Budapest – Prague Jewish Ghetto

Old New Synagogue

Old New Synagogue

The former Jewish Ghetto (now called Josefov) in Prague goes back to the 12th century. In fact, the oldest synagogue in Europe, the Old-New Synagogue, is still there and it is still used for its purpose, as there are regular services. An old legend says it was built of stones from the Second Temple in Jerusalem. This quarter was demolished in 1897. Today, there are 6 synagogues, the Jewish City Hall and the Old Jewish Cemetery from the 15th century. Notice the Rabbi’s house has gold decorations and the clock with hebrew letters which dates to 1674.

In 1389 the biggest anti-Jewish pogrom in the Middle Ages took place here, when about 3,000 citizens of the Jewish Quarter were killed, turning the walls of the Old–New Synagogue dark with blood. Their homes were plundered and burned.

However, in the 16th century, this quarter was thriving. Some of the synagogues we can still see were built then. The Maisel Synagogue houses an exhibition of the Jewish Museum in Prague. In the 1950’s, the Pinkas Synagogue became a Memorial to victims of the Holocaust. The walls of the nave, gallery and vestibule were covered with names of about 80,000 Bohemian and Moravian Jews. You can also see drawings of Jewish children made in the Terezin concentration camp between 1942 and 1944. There were more than 10,000 children under the age of 15 there. In 1577, the High Synagogue was built as a part of the Jewish City Hall, and the original vault with some Gothic features and stucco decoration still can be seen.

The Rabbi's House

The Rabbi’s House

Nowadays, Paris St. in this area is one of the most popular places to live in Prague. If you get hungry, you can eat at the King Solomon kosher restaurant. Michelle Obama ate there when she was in town.

www.cosmos.com/Product.aspx?trip=46050

 

Germany: Munich Hotel Bayerischer Hof

The Hotel Bayerischer Hof was opened in 1841 because King Ludwig I wished to have a comfortable place for his guests to stay. (What – no extra rooms in his gi-normous palace?). Today it is still a gorgeous 5-star hotel, but we think the best places are on the roof and in the basement.

Palais Keller, situated in the old salt cellar from the Middle Ages, is an inexpensive but delicious place to dine on traditional Bavarian food. Go down the stone steps to this bustling restaurant with waitresses sporting frilly aprons, carrying big mugs of Lowenbrau beer and wearing big smiles. The folkloric atmosphere only adds to the taste of the veal in cream sauce with spaetzle, potato salad, sauerkraut, bread dumplings, weiswursts and cheese wursts, along with pretzels with mustard.

After you’ve dined head for the roof, to the Blue Spa Bar & Lounge. Have a drink in the sky and take in the birds-eye view of all of Munich before you.

RooftopResto RooftopResto2

In 1897 Herrmann Volkhardt bought the hotel, and today Innegrit Volkhardt, the fourth generation, is the General Manager.  It was bombed in WWII; Falk Volkhardt, the son of Hermann  made an amazing discovery under the ruins of the destroyed hotel – the Spiegelsaal (Mirror Hall) had survived almost intact.  In October 1945, this was where he opened the first restaurant in the centre of Munich after the war.

http://www.muenchen.de/int/en/tourism.html

South Africa: Visiting Robben Island, UNESCO World Heritage Site

By Adele Shapiro – March 2012.

As a child I used to visit Robben Island with my grandmother. Her son, my uncle, was a warder in the prison services there. The name “Robben”, despite sounding very English – is in fact the Dutch for “Seal” – and the name derives from the extensive seal colony that was found on the Island by the first Dutch settlers.

We would go to the Cape Town docks and from there, take a boat ride to the island, where we would spend the day with family. I was vaguely aware that there were bad people on the island, and that it was a prison…. but little did I know then of the role it was to play in South Africa’s later history. Years passed and now as an adrobben1ult, I found myself revisiting the place where “the bad people” were kept, only now I realized that some were not so bad after all.

I bought a ticket for the tour some days before the trip, (advisable, as they fill up quickly) and took time out to examine the display at the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

There were many photographs of the political dissidents, the calls for boycotts, the anti-apartheid marches and there was also a prison cell that had been reconstructed for the purposes of the exhibit. I strongly recommend a visit to this exhibit before going to the island as it helps to contextualize the experience.

The trip began, as in times of old, with a boat ride from Cape Town docks, but this time instead of my uncle meeting us, we had a pleasant tour guide who told us jokes on our bus trip, whilst pointing out various sights on the island. Our bus was parked under a sign that said: “Welcome. We serve with pride.” I wondered if that sign had been there when Robben Island had been a prison as it was so sharply incongruous to the environment. I hoped not.

robben2Robben Island has had a long history. First as a lighthouse to warn ships of the VOC, the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie), of the rocks that surround the island. But since the end of the 17th century, Robben Island has been used for the isolation of (mainly) political prisoners. The island was also used at various times as an animal quarantine station, a home for slaves, a leper colony, a hospital for the mentally ill and as a prison for French Vichy prisoners of war.

First we saw the Leper Graveyard and then house where Robert Sobukwe (Founder of the Pan Africanist Congress) had been kept separate from the other political dissidents.

It seems that Robert Sobukwe had special status in the prison. He was kept in solitary confinement at all times, but allowed certain privileges including access to books, being permitted to study, being permitted to wear civilian clothes, and being permitted bread. His children were allowed to visit him and they had their own bedroom in his “house”. Robert Sobukwe was convicted of incitement for demonstrating against and defying the Pass Laws, and in particular, for his connection to the PAC demonstration (although he was not present) which became known as the Sharpeville Massacre.

The notorious Pass Laws required black people to carry a pass book at all times when outside their compounds or designated areas, and were designed to limit severely the movements of the non-white population. This legislation was one of the dominant features of the country’s apartheid system.

Sobukwe was sentenced to three years in prison. After serving his sentence, he was moved to Robben Island for internment, as a new law called the General Law Amendment Act had been passed, which permitted his imprisonment to be renewed annually at the discretion of the Minister of Justice. This procedure became known as the “Sobukwe clause” and Robert Sobukwe was the only person whose imprisonment was extended under this clause. Imagine how special one has to be in order for parliament to pass a law just for you!

We also learned from our tour guide that the American politician and Pastor, Andrew Young, had fostered Sobukwe’s children in the USA, while Sobukwe had been in prison.

Our tour continued to the lime quarry where the political prisoners had worked. At the entrance to the quarry we saw a small cairn, and learned its history. In February 1995, (the landmark change of government was in 1994), about one thousand former political prisoners gathered again on Robben Island, but this time as free men, and to mark the occasion, each one placed a small stone from the quarry in a pile, making a small memorial to their years of hardship and struggle.

As we continued on our bus ride, we were shown a church, a hospital, a school and a mosque, and realized that far beyond our expectations, the island had supported a whole community. We duly arrived at the prison and tumbled out of the bus for our tour of “the real thing”. We were excited and filled with high spirits and I wondered for a moment where my heart would have been had I not been a tourist.

robben3robben4

robben6

Inside we found grey walls. It was cool at midday; it was clear that at midnight it would be very cold. The communal cells were large and each had a bathroom attached.

Here we met our prison tour guide, Derrick Basson, a former political prisoner who served time on Robben Island for sabotage.

Derrick was very patient, humble and remarkably, not bitter. He answered all the insensitive questions calmly and without anger. In addition he explained the grading of the prisoners by race and also the diets that varied due to the racial classification of each prisoner. One of the curious facts he told us was that black prisoners were not given bread. As they were Africans their “natural” food was considered to be maize meal. The mixed race prisoners were allowed bread as they were considered to be more western or European and less African. The black Africans were also not allowed jam or syrup. I suppose you do not need jam if you have no bread.

robben7

Then I remembered that Robert Sobukwe, in spite of being black, was allowed to have bread, and it struck me that this must have been because he had been a university professor, and since this is a very “European” and non-tribal job, maybe he was considered eligible to receive bread.

Derrick further explained how prisoners slept on mats on the floor and how 5 blankets had not been enough to keep them warm at night. I suddenly remembered an interview with a former Alcatraz inmate who spoke of the extreme cold and of how prisoners had learned to sleep with only their elbows and knees touching the floor, hands locked behind the head. I became very grateful for my duvet.

robben8

We were told that in the beginning the political prisoners had been kept with the ordinary criminals, but later on, they were, thankfully, given their own “wing” and kept together. They came to call this place “The University” as they learned many things from each other and many of them also obtained degrees while in prison.

Derrick then took us to a yard where the prisoners had chopped rocks and turned them into stones, day after day in the sun. They were told that these rocks were used for roads built on the island, but no one seemed to know if this was true or not.

robben9

We were then taken to Nelson Mandela’s cell. Mandela was a militant anti-apartheid activist, as well as the co-founder and leader of the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC), Umkhonto we Sizwe or “Spear of the Nation”. He was arrested in 1962 and convicted of sabotage, (amongst other charges), after he admitted to manufacturing explosives and acts of public violence, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Mandela served 27 years in prison, 18 of these on Robben Island. After his release, he served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.

My very first impression was of how small the cell was. No, not small, tiny. And then I thought that at least he could stand up and lie down in it, but not much more than that. At least it was larger than the dreadful box that I had heard was used in China. But there was no toilet. Just a metal bucket with a lid. At least a lid. And no tap, so no water. And if you are thirsty during the night, what should you do? And of course there was no electrical socket and no radio nor TV. And all I could think of was 27 years. TWENTY SEVEN YEARS! There was no door handle on the inside. The door was only operational from the outside, not unlike a cage. I remembered that Nelson Mandela had once remarked that the hardest and most traumatic experience he endured whilst on Robben Island for all those years was that he never ever saw, or even heard, a child. Can you imagine that? Now he insists on being photographed with children, whenever possible.

robben10And then it was all over. We walked out to the yard, Derrick took us to the exit, and we said our goodbyes.I felt an odd mixture of elation and depression. Very happy that I had been to a UNESCO World Heritage Site of such importance, happier still that it was no longer a prison, and most happy that I was leaving. Yet also depressed and ashamed because of the suffering this place represented.

Duly subdued, we gratefully returned to our boat to ponder our feelings of inspiration and shock, enjoy the beautiful sunset cruise back to Cape Town, and watch a school of dolphins at play in the sea.

robben11

Remember when planning a visit to Robben Island, that the tours don’t always run on time. There was no snack bar on the boat. Our boat was 1 hour late in leaving Cape Town harbour and then we were rushed through our tour, which was a pity as there was too little time for questions.

A suggestion would be to make no appointments after the visit as the timing can vary, and also, take a snack pack. A sun hat and sun block are also good ideas.

robben12

robben13

Ferries depart (supposedly) at 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3pm, weather permitting, from Nelson Mandela Gateway, at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Tickets costs are R230 for adults and R120 for children (U/18). Telephone: +27 (0)21 413 4200
Fax: +27 (0)21 419 1057

Switzerland: Herdsman Wrestling, Stone Throwing and Alphorn Blowing Festival

Federal Wrestling and Alpine Festival

Schwingen – the Swiss form of wrestling – is very popular in Switzerland. In fact, it developed from herdsman’s pastime to elite sport. Schwingen is fought as a duel between two physically powerful competitors and has its own rules, grips and throws.

The champion wrestler is chosen at the Federal Wrestling and Alpine Festival held every 3 years. Over 250,000 visitors are expected this year in the Emmental arena. The spectacle will be accompanied by other Swiss traditions like yodeling and alphorn blowing.

Around 50,000 individuals will follow the events of the traditional Swiss sports of Schwingen (Swiss wrestling), Hornussen (a traditional team sport, which involves throwing and catching a type of puck called Hornuss) and Steinstossen (stone throw).

Location: Bern
Dates: Aug 30 -Sept 1
www.bern.com/en/region/emmental/events/schwingfest-2013