As a schoolteacher and life-long globetrotter, I have spent many hours in fascination with the so-called "Green Man" of medieval Europe. I thought some of you - like me- might find the article, below, interesting.
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We'll be visiting this impressive estate on our Catholic Ireland Pilgrimage in July! We still have a couple seats remaining, but only a couple, so if you have ever dreamed of visiting Ireland, now is the time!
A wealthy London doctor, Mitchell Henry, had Kylemore Castle built as his private home in Connemara, County Galway. One hundred men labored from 1987 to 1871 to construct40,000 square foot castle. Its granite and limestone facade measures 142 feet wide, and has walls between two and three feet thick. There are more than 70 rooms, including 33 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 4 sitting rooms, a ballroom, billiard room, library, study, school room, smoking room, gun room and various offices and domestic staff residences for the butler, cook, housekeeper and other servants. A Gothic cathedral and family mausoleum containing deceased Mitchel family members and glorious gardens round out the estate.
The Duke and Duchess of Manchester purchased the estate in 1909, but eventually lost it over gambling debts. Irish Benedictine Nuns purchased the Abbey castle in 1920 after fleeing their bombed abbey in Ypres, Belgium in World War I. The nuns operated a Catholic boarding and day school for girls. The school closed in 2010.
When our internal built-in body clock is disrupted, not only are our sleep patterns out of whack, but our moods, blood pressure, hunger and even our genes are also tipped a-kilter. Fatigue, confusion, lack of awareness, clumsiness, and a general malaise manifest.
Our body clock is regulated in large measure by sunlight, which acts like a reset button to keep our body clock on schedule. When we cross one or more time zones, our daily world of light and dark is mixed up, and fatigue and all its friends arrive to plague us. It isn't a lot of fun beginning a tour feeling like you are sleepwalking! What's worse, some travelers experience this state for days.
For more on light and its effect on our body clock, click here
So, can we prevent jet lag? Maybe not entirely, especially if crossing multiple time zones, but we can definitely take steps to minimize its onslaught.
1. Flying west to east (US to Europe, Africa, or Asia)? You need to wake up and go to bed earlier. Begin adjusting your schedule at home at least a week before your trip. During the day, enjoy the morning light, but taper your light exposure as the day goes on. On the plane, wear sunglasses, use a sleep mask, and close the window shade.
2. Flying east to west? (Coming home from Europe/Asia or heading for the South Pacific). You'll need to get up and go to bed later. Tours run early each morning, so no help there: however, you can try staying up a bit later the last day or two of the group's trip.
For a great read on how to accomplish the above, see what Dr. Smith L. Johnston, for instance, chief of the fatigue management team at NASA, says here
3. If you are accustomed to falling asleep to the radio or television playing, train yourself to fall asleep without them. You won't necessarily have them on tour.
More to do:
Tropical cruises truly are the easiest trips for which to pack! Comfort and practicality reign supreme. For a typical seven day cruise, here are some guidelines:
First, examine the itinerary:
* Make a list of the ports of call and the activities you plan to participate in at each.Will you be swimming? snorkeling? riding horses? walking tours? climbing ruins?
* How many days at sea?
* How many formal nights does the ship have scheduled, and will you be participating or eating at the buffet those nights?
* Check the seasonal weather averages. Are you cruising during hurricane season? Monsoon season?
For men: These days, formal nights are less so. Your guy can get by with a suit or sport coat with or without tie on the mainstream lines, or a suit on the premiums. Yes, you will sometimes see tuxes, but you will also see business and "Sunday best" in the main dining room. Specialty "signature" restaurants on premium lines do sometimes have stricter dress codes. For daytime, pack one or two pair casual pants and two pair casual shorts and three shirts.
For women: Ladies, a simple solid color dress is always a good choice for its versatility. Dress it up or down with accessories.Pack two pair of nice slacks with three or four blouses. On formal nights, pair slacks with a dressy top and a fancy scarf or some bling and you are all set. For daytime, two pair of capris or long shorts, two casual tops and a simple sundress work nicely.
Footwear: Shoes should be broken in and comfortable for a lot of walking, and ones which don't mind contact with sand and water - even the decks are frequently wet. You will also want a pair of casual sandals and a pair of dress shoes. Note: "flip flops" are often NOT allowed in the main dining room and never in the signature restaurants.
Sweaters: Even though it's warm and humid in the Caribbean or South Pacific, a nice lightweight sweater or shawl will be welcome in the ship's chilly dining rooms. Also, the breeze on deck can also be quite cool in the mornings and evenings. Proximity to water always brings extremes in temperatures.
Two bathing suits are a must, as are cover-ups. Onboard, you'll see people walking around in their cabin/spa robes over bathing suits all day, but dining in the restaurants will require clothes over your suit. A shirt for the guys and sundress are easy do's for this.
Towels are furnished poolside and for beach trips in port.
Windbreaker or light rain jacket that folds compactly to carry along with you "just in case".
Hat with brim to protect ears (don’t forget to include plenty of sunscreen)
Sunglasses - polarized are best. The sun bouncing off white sand and reflecting off of the water can be brutally blinding.
Waterproof wallet or document holder for your passport, ship ID card, a bit of cash. It should be pinnable securely to the inside of your clothes when swimming.
Toiletries - get a hanging toiletry bag. Shoes/accessory hangers work well, too. Cruise cabins have limited counter space (really, none at all), so hang everything! Shoe organizers have multiple pockets to keep your toiletries, jewelry, sunscreens, hair accessories, etc. Hang on back of bathroom door or on the shower's top edge.
Sunscreen! Use a higher SPF than you might at home. Trust me on this!
Refillable, collapsible water bottle with ring to attach to your belt loop or purse handle.
Dramamine or ginger if you are prone to motion sickness.
I hope you found this article helpful. I am happy to answer your cruising questions. Just drop me a line or give me a call!
Here are some tips and guidelines that will make your international airline travel more enjoyable.
Planning Your Trip:
* Always use a Travel Professional! Your travel pro can sort through any problems such as a delayed or cancelled flight, overbooked hotels, medical emergency or other situations that can happen while traveling and get you back on track.
* Plan on arriving in your destination at least a day before you need to be there. For example, if you are cruising, arriving the day arriving the day of embarkation could be a disaster if flight is delayed or cancelled. Sometimes, your luggage may not arrive when you do. A 24-hour window allows your luggage to catch up with you.
* Reconfirm all details long before you depart on your vacation. If you are traveling over the International Dateline, make sure that the arrival dates are the correct dates that you will be arriving at your destination and pay close attention to overnight flight schedules regarding connections and arrival.
* Booking your trip across several airlines can be confusing, stressful while traveling, and potentially more expensive. Do hire a travel professional to review your itinerary and advise you as to whether it's really doable as far as connection times, baggage handling, and other issues. The agent can also serve as your one-call contact should something go wrong.
Packing For Your Trip:
* I've said it before, but definitely carry your passport, medication, emergency contact information (especially your travel professional’s contact info) and other critical information with you at all times. Never pack your important documents and medication in your suitcase!
* When packing your suitcases, opt for two smaller suitcases over one large suitcase. Many airports abroad are not equipped to easily handle a full cargo of luggage, and may be in a constant state of “catch-up”. Your luggage may not arrive with your flight, but be on a later flight instead. This frequently occurs when you have several connections. When a flight is overweight, the first things to be off loaded are the heaviest bags. Your overweight 70-lb mega bag will be one of them. Instead, your best bet is to use two small bags.
* Pack your itinerary, travel professional’s contact information and your contact information while traveling in each piece of luggage. This will help the airlines catch up with you and coordinate the delivery of your luggage during your trip.
* Pack everything that is absolutely necessary into your carry-on. Include a change of clothes, basic toiletries, and medication should your luggage not make it to your destination. Pack those things that are not readily available in stores at the destination and that you deem mandatory to the success of your trip. Also, don’t forget to pack some snacks like granola bars, candy, nuts, protein drink powder, etc. to tide you over during long layovers/delays and late arrivals when cafes and restaurants may be closed.
If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't have believed it: wrens bury their dead.
As they have for the past several years, a pair of wrens set up house this spring above our back patio. The chicks have hatched, and both mom and dad make regular forays for food for their growing offspring. It's always a delight to watch each spring, and we have been looking forward to the day four or five fledglings will be hopping around the patio prior to their initial takeoff.
This morning, Momma Wren tumbled to the ground with a dead chick whom she had removed from the nest. Normal behavior for wrens in such circumstances. I expected her to leave the chick and return to her normal routine. Instead, she dragged that chick a full 20 feet to the base of a twin-trunked oak tree just off the patio. She labored to stuff her baby into a cleft at the base, and then labored several minutes covering up the chick with leaves, grass, and twigs. She then sat there, quietly, looking toward the burial mound. Then, she flew off, resuming her search for food for her remaining brood. I was left pondering the immense complexity of God's creation. Even the tiny wren showed compassion and care for her baby, and seemingly even sorrow, even after its death. God is good. All the time.
Montecatini Terme is located in the heart of northern Tuscany, between Lucca and Florence.
The town boasts a population of about 20,000 between its Lower and Upper towns. The Lower, main town nestles in the Vallis Nebulae, or Valley of Fog. It is Italy's largest spa town where two million tourists per year as well as the locals flock to drink the healing waters gushing from four natural thermal springs: Leopolidina (taken for constipation), Regina (restores bile flow from liver to bowels; hepatic and bladder disorders) Tettuccio (liver; lower cholesteral levels), and Rinfresco (diuretic; restoration of mineral levels after excercise). Beautiful parks invite strolling, cafes and restaurants are plentiful, and the stores stay open until no more customers arrive. I have seen shops still open at nearly midnight!
The Upper town, Montecatini Alto, is the region's most ancient inhabited town. Crowning the mountain, it was an important strategic stronghold inhabited in succession by the Ligurians, Etruscans, Romans, and Longobards. In the 1300's, the Medicis of Florence gained ownership and peace reigned until Pietro Strozzi, under the banner of Henry II of France, took the town in his defense of Siena against the Medicis. The war between the Florentines and Siennese led to Cosimo de Medici nearly destroying the town in 1554. Buildings which survived the onslaught and are still visible today include the Palace of Justice, Chancellery, loggia, parish church, several convents, 170 houses and a few medieval and renaissance towers. Its Piazza Giusti is lined with restaurants and bars, attracting a lively crowd of locals and visitors for local cuisine.
In 1898, a funicular (cable car) railway was built, connecting the upper and lower towns. The two cable cars depart every half hour. The round trip takes about 14 minutes and costs less than 10 Euros per person. It is worth the trip to visit the upper town, perhaps enjoy an aperitif or lunch, shop for souvenirs, and peek at the historical churches and buildings.
In addition to the easily accessed waters, shopping, live music, beautiful parks, and wonderful restaurants and cafes abound. Famous frequent visitors to Montecatini include the composer Giuseppe Verdi and the poet Giuseppe Giusti.
Foods famous to the area
Typical and popular dishes of the Valdinievole area (some recipe pages are in Italian. Chrome browsers will automatically translate to English. Not sure about Internet Explorer):
As soon as you have your trip planned and have received all of your travel documents and vouchers:
Place in each piece of checked luggage and in one of your companion's luggage pieces (and do the same for them):
Place in your Carryon or Purse or Shoulder Bag:
Leave at home on the kitchen counter or other accessible spot for a trusted person to enter and retrieve for you in an emergency:
It is also a good idea to email all of the above to yourself using a web-based email server you can access from wherever you are (Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, your internet service provider's webmail, Me.com, etc). Note: Do not include credit card account numbers in the email.
One more precaution I do is keep a photo of my passport number on my smart phone. If you don't feel comfortable doing that, you can input the number in Notes or somewhere in an app on the phone.
Now if you lose your wallet, your luggage, your mobile phone, or need to replace medications, eyeglasses, contacts, medical devices, or prove you really are whom you say you are, you will be able to access the information you need!