ENGLAND

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We continued our journey driving around the UK (United Kingdom) and entered England. IMG_4427

First we visited Liverpool and spent the day on the waterfront.  First stop:   the Beatles Museum.  I learned a lot about the Beatles while I was here.  In the museum we learned about each of the Beatles lives, their manager, the story behind the songs, and where they went on tour.  Each of the singers had rooms dedicated to them and it explained about their lives while in the band and after leaving the band.  They all went their separate ways and became successful singers/songwriters of their own.   The Beatles had so many hit songs, my parents know all of them.Image result for beatles museum liverpool Image result for statue of the beatles in liverpool we ate lunch right on a bench next to these statues of the Beatles.

Fun Facts: “Ringo” was the first voice of the original “Thomas the Train.” His voice can be heard on all the old DVD’s.

* The Beatles names are Paul, Ringo, John, and George.  Ringo’s real name is “Richard.”

In April, 1964 the Beatles had the top 5 songs in America. First time an English Band ever did that.  They went on to have 17 number one hits!!

 

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In Liverpool we also visited the Liverpool museum, which was free and located right on the waterfront.  In fact, the waterfront is very nice. Liverpool used to be a working class/factory town but in the last 10 years it has transformed itself to a nice city for tourists and residents to enjoy.   The Liverpool museum had movies about the history and people of Liverpool.  In fact, we saw photo’s and video’s of the Liverpool vs. Everton soccer games.  We learned about how people were killed when the fans rushed the field during the games. Image result for liverpool city Image result for liverpool vs. everton It was interesting to learn why Everton Football team left Liverpool and moved its team a few towns away, although still having the fan base of Liverpool residence.   It is still a HUGE rivalry between the 2 clubs as half of Liverpool residence wear RED to support Liverpool and the other BLUE to support Everton. A lot of soccer/football history here.  It is similar to Manchester United vs. Manchester City or closer to home… It is like the Mets vs. Yankees rivalry in NY.  I wish we were here for a game.

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STONEHENGE:Image result for stonehenge

We continued our journey to Stonehenge.  It was awesome, its history really fascinates me. I wonder how these statues got here… there are different theories.  It is not complete as we see it now, it has been destroyed.  No one knows why Stonehenge was built, could have been a calendar, or built by aliens or used as a funeral place for people.  These are some of the theories.   The Stones are about 25 feet high.  Why it is here is one of the BIGGEST MYSTERIES in history.  The night before we visited we watched a ton of documentaries and read up on Stonehenge and the surrounding areas. I wrote a paper on what I learned.   Youtube has the best history channels.  Stonehenge has a triangular shaped  stone which stands a little bit away from the main stones, and on the summer and winter solstice the light casts a shadow directly on the the center stones in the circle. This is not a coinsicence.  That’s why some people think it was used as a calendar.  We were not able to touch the rocks at Stonehenge but we could see everything from where we were. iceland-UK+June-July 2016 862 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 860 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 870iceland-UK+June-July 2016 832iceland-UK+June-July 2016 897 At another ancient site called AVEBURY a half hour drive from Stonehenge. Here there are stones forming giant circles that you can touch and walk around.  Sawyer and I ran all over here.  Hardly no one was here, as most people only go to Stonehenge and not the outer areas. We watched a documentary on the whole area of this part of England.

Fun Fact: The Avebury Ring is one of the greatest stone circles in Britain. The whole of the surrounding area is full of pre-historic monuments – Stonehenge, the Ridgeway and the Long Barrows.
Interesting thing:  When we arrived at the actual site of Stonehenge….you can either take a bus (which costs 16 pounds each, that is $22) or you could walk the ancient paths through the fields for 45 minutes until you reach Stonehenge for free.  Guess what we did…….we walked it.  SO COOOOL, went over ancient mounds of Earth and followed the trail through wandering sheep foraging through the field.  Met interesting people…the most interesting people are the ones NOT doing the organized tours.

iceland-UK+June-July 2016 848 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 841 This is us walking the beautiful path to Stonehenge. Image result for stonehenge area

We talked with a young man who was walking all around England and camping. He was from up north in England and just wanted to take 3 months to himself and walk to historical sites.  He witnessed Stonehenge at the exact same time my family did. It was his first time here too.  He thought it was cool that we were doing this as kids. The Museum in the visitors center has models of Stonehenge in its entirety, some video’s, displays, etc. Here we tried pulling one of the stones, you can see the logs under the board. This is perhaps how the people moved such heavy stones to the site.iceland-UK+June-July 2016 881

Fun Facts: * Built in several stages, Stonehenge began about 5,000 years ago as a simple earthwork enclosure where prehistoric people buried their cremated dead. The stone circle was erected in the centre of the monument in the late Neolithic period, around 2500 BC.

  • In the 1880s, after carrying out some of the first scientifically recorded excavations at the site, Charles Darwin concluded that earthworms were largely to blame for the Stonehenge stones sinking through the soil.

We spent an entire day exploring Stonehenge and Avebury. We ate a picnic lunch at Avebury and thought about what may have happened here thousands of years ago.

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LONDON:  We returned our rental car that we drove through Scotland and England at the airport in London.  Took the train (called the “tube”) from the rental station to our hotel. Settled into our hotel located next to Hyde Park in the central part of London where we stayed for the last week of our WORLD ADVENTURE.  We figure we would end in style at a nice hotel.

Image result for the tube london long escalators The “tube” has these crazy long underground escalators to get down to some terminals.

Image result for hyde park london images Hyde Park, we passed through here every day while exploring London.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE and the changing of the guards.  We walked here early to get a great spot.  This is huge tourist attraction and we waited for the guards to do their thing.  The changing of the guards takes place daily and the guards march down the street to change shifts with the guards on duty.  They wear colorful red jackets and tall , fluffy hats that are at least 12 inches high.  They play instruments and some ride on horse back and some walk in unison together.  The ceremony goes on for about an hour, the guards had perfect timing when they marched and were always together.  The hats look very fuzzy and it must be hot to wear in the summer time.  We had a great spring day. We kept looking in the windows of the palace wondering if Queen Elizabeth or the Prince and Princess (Will and Kate) or their kids were peeking out. Image result for buckingham palace guards iceland-UK+June-July 2016 970 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 918

While we were walking from Buckingham Palace to the city center we passed the theatre district…We decided right then and there to see what was playing that afternoon.  We saw  “Michael Jacksons Thriller” show which was awesome.  I learned about his life and the singers sang so many of his songs and the dancers were great. There were 5 different singers that did his songs.  There was even a boy who did the songs from his days with the “Jackson 5  We enjoyed this show. I now have a new love for his music. Sawyer and I were singing the entire way home. We ate dinner at a Chinese take out place across the street from the theatre and ate with the actor/singer from the show (Hello Alex from England). He said he’s been doing this show for 7 years now.    We recognized him right away and told him how awesome he was.  He told us about his performances and how he wants to visit the theatre district in NY. We enjoyed our experience in the Theatre District so much that we purchased more tickets to different show another night…more on that later.

iceland-UK+June-July 2016 991 Here we are waiting at the corner. Image result for london theatre district iceland-UK+June-July 2016 982 a huge monopoly game outside the Natural History Museum in London. Image result for london michael jackson show.

We walked around Picadilly Circus, which is just an area that people hang about and “people watch.”  We walked back to our hotel enjoying the city at night.  iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1014 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 993 Back at the hotel we downloaded some Michael Jackson songs to our Kindles.  Some of the other things we did in London included, playing soccer in Hyde Park, which is like Central Park.  The grass was nice and the days were warm for spring. We took the “tube” everywhere or walked.  Our days in London were all full, we planned the evening before, often watching a documentary on London history or the museums or researching the Royal Family. We wanted to take in all the major sights and some minor ones too.

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BIG BEN:  FUN FACT: The real name of Big Ben is the Elizabeth Tower.

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iceland-UK+June-July 2016 998 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1017This was exactly what I thought it would be from the photos I saw.  I did not expect it to be in the middle of traffic and buildings.  It is connected to the Parliament buildings, which are nice, and located on the River Thames.  We walked along the River for a long time taking in the sights of the city. iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1008 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1003 The London Eye (the big ferris wheel) was right here. It was a tourist trap, long lines and 30 pounds to get in. Waste of money especially on a cloudy day. We did not do it.  Image result for big ben and parliament We crossed over bridges on the River Thames.

We also visited Westminster Abby.  The church is adjacent to Big Ben and in a square that is a popular destination to wander about.  There are statues of important English people in History lining the park and Westminster Abby is across the street. This is a statue of Winston Churchill.  Churchill was the British Prime Minister in the 1940’s then elected again in the 1950’s. He also wrote many books.  iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1025

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Once you walk into this church you can feel its importance in History.  Over 3000 people are buried here , including Isaac Newton, one of the most famous scientists of all times, he discovered what we know as  “gravity.” On the outside Westminster Abby does not look that spectacular but on the inside it is spectacular, in fact, I think it is one of the most beautiful churches I ever saw….AND I’ve been to the Vatican (Rome) and the Sagrada Familia (Barcelona) and Notre Dame (Paris) and Westminster is just as beautiful.

We purposely went when we were able to attend a Sunday Mass. We arrived an hour early and got our seat. The mass was easily understood as it was in English and there were visiting choir boys from Australia singing.  The mass was 2 hours and there were singing and a gigantic organ that was loud.  This is the church where Prince William and Princess Kate got married. I walked down the same Isle as they did on their wedding day.  Here is a picture of the Royal Wedding ( which I remember I saw on TV when I was in 1st grade).

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iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1030 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1038the façade has very intricate detailed carvings.

Westminster Abby is very unique and has a lot of history. We learned a great deal about it.

THE BRITISH MUSEUM:  We walked one day to the British Museum. It took an hour to walk from our hotel to this museum but it was a nice day., its free to enter. We really went here to see the one thing I have been studying…THE ROSETTA STONE. It was completely amazing that I got to see a stone that played an important part of history, without this we would have no idea how the Egyptians used to live.  We looked at it very closely from all angles it was cool to see the carvings in it.  There is a great story about the Rosetta Stone and it’s significance and how it was found accidentally.  Only part of it remains today but it is especially historical.

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Fun Facts: The Rosetta Stone was found in 1799.  It is a stone of black granite. It has been on public display at the British Museum almost continuously since 1802. It is the most-visited object in the British Museum.

In 1799, during Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egyptian conquests, a French soldier discovers a black basalt slab inscribed with ancient writing near the town of Rosetta, about 35 miles north of Alexandria. The stone contained fragments of passages written in three different scripts: Greek, Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian demotic. The ancient Greek on the Rosetta Stone told archaeologists that it was inscribed by priests honoring the king of Egypt, Ptolemy V, in the second century B.C. More startlingly, the Greek passage announced that the three scripts were all of identical meaning. The artifact thus held the key to solving the riddle of hieroglyphics, a written language that had been “dead” for nearly 2,000 years.

I wish we learned about this in History at school.  I cant wait for higher level history classes so I can share with the class all about this discovery and what it meant to historians. By the way, the history channel on line has excellent shows on the Rosetta Stone.  You can watch them and learn a lot.

This reminds me of when I saw the “Book of Kells” in Ireland (see that post) there is so much history in Literature all over the world. I love that!!!   The night before we visited the Museum we looked up info on the Rosetta Stone and learned a lot.   iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1041 Image result for british museumThe interior of the British Museum. The above photo  is us having lunch outside the British Museum. In fact, my Grandma Janet happen to call us just then and Mom actually had the phone on because the museum had free wifi..

There were a lot of other displays in this museum that we quickly visited not spending much time, there was an Egyptian display that was cool as well as artifacts and such.   We really only wanted to see the Rosetta Stone.   By this point we have been to so many museums that we had one purpose here and we spent a great deal of time examining the Stone.

THEATRE DISTRICT AGAIN: MAMA MIA

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We are huge fans of ABBA so we purchase tickets to MAMA MIA right after we saw the Michael Jackson Thriller show.  This time it was a late evening performance and the songs and dances and story was really cool.  It was like a musical play.  The songs were awesome, at the end we were all on our feet dancing to “Waterloo” and other popular ABBA songs.  Sawyer and I are big fans now.Image result for mamma mia show

The city of London is  not  special looking (like Amsterdam or Chaing Mai) but it is almost like NY.  Less crowded, more double decker busses and we enjoyed listing and talking to the local people with their cool accents. We walked a lot.

THE TOWER OF LONDON:

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This was a huge castle that’s been around forever. This was basically like a small town inside the walls.  I got to stand in the moat and go into the chapel. They used this castle during World War II to keep prisoners.  There was also wild animals held here 100’s of years ago ( I wonder how they got the tigers, monkeys, polar bears into the dungons).

iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1058 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1064iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1047iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1043iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1065 Here is Sawyer observing where the wild animals were once kept. .

Fun Facts: The Tower of London has played a prominent role in English history. It was besieged several times, and controlling it has been important to controlling the country. The Tower has served variously as an armory, a treasury , the home of the Royal Mint ,  a public records office  and the home of the Crown Jewels of England  From the early 14th century until the reign of  Charles II, a procession would be led from the Tower to Westminster Abby on the coronation of a monarch.

My favorite part about the Tower of London (the palace) was visiting the rooms with the Crown Jewels.  It is a British Law that the Crown Jewels must be on display to the public when they are not being used by Royalty.  I have to say it was unbelieveable.    It is heavily guarded and you move along on a conveyer belt and go round and round to see the items displayed. You can not linger over an object ,you see it as you slowly move by.  The crowns, tiara’s, plates, septors, necklaces, earrings, rings, swords, etc.   THE DIAMONDS.  The gems , emeralds, rubies,  There is this one room that has the most diamonds on display found anywhere else on Earth.   Different Kings and Queens had their crowns made for them. I got to see how they became more elaborate over the hundreds of years.  The first being just a gold crown with no gems to what we see today. It really is fascinating. Look at the size of that ruby….

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Image result for the crown jewels tower of london  Image result for the crown jewels tower of london Image result for the crown jewels tower of londonlook at the size of that diamond. It is as big as my fist. This is the building located inside the Tower of London where the Crown Jewels are kept.  We had no line getting in.  The guards outside were changing their shifts so we got to see another “changing of the guards” here too.

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I noticed all the jewels are symmetrically organized. Each crown is unique.  We even saw the carrying cases for each and every piece especially made. We saw a video of Queen Elizabeth.  Her crown is the most prettiest and she wore it while being coronated and every year since.  I wonder how heavy it is????   When we were here Queen Elizabeth was going to turn 90 the following week. I think its cool I got to see the crown jewels, I feel (since Queen Elizabeth is 90 years old) I probably get to see 2 more Royal Coronations.  Now I know what they use at these events and I saw them in person. Here she is when she was coronated (at age  24) and here she is recently wearing HER crown and jewelry.

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The Tower of London also has a chapel and a residence for the Queen that is still in use today.  It has lots of other buildings and mini museums to look around.  Once inside the grounds we joined up with a guide dressed in costume and he explained about the way life was here 100’s of years ago and all the uses for the Tower (which is a Castle).

TOWER BRIDGE:  People think this bridge is called London Bridge, it is not. I liked looking at this bridge, we ate lunch by the bridge, it started to rain so we went under the part of the bridge that meets up with the road  to wait out the rain with other people.  The bridge goes over the Thames River and cars can drive over it. It is a draw bridge that can open to let ships go by. It has been restored over the years. The Tower Bridge was the last and final thing on our list of things to do while in London. We took a long walk along the river after that and went back to the hotel.

It was raining when this photo was taken. iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1085 Image result for tower bridge iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1080 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 1092 this is where we waited while the rain storm passed, right under the Tower Bridge. We heard all the cars passing above and watched the ships in the Thames River go by.

We spent all of our days in London enjoying ourselves. It was interesting about the weather, one minute it was sunny and nice, then the next a thunderstorm.  We had our umbrella’s in the backpack at all times and used them everyday. I guess late April  is odd weather for London.

The next morning we prepared for our journey back to NY.  Normally packing up our things gets us excited about the “next destination” we are going.  But the day we left was different…We packed up one final time, this time with many memories of our amazing world trip.  We will all miss this time together.   My parents say it was the best time of their lives (because they got to be with us kids…) probably.   We are thinking about another journey in the future to South America.   I will write a summary of my thoughts on this trip at a later time. I have so much to say that it really needs it’s own page.  Throughout this world trip I have kept a written journal, it is 2 inches thick and I am on my second book.  I write about everything so I will always remember.   I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventures, the little that I shared with you along this blog.  It is my first blog ever. I enjoyed sharing these stories with you.

If you are just finding my blog or reading it for the first time, my stories go in reverse chronological order, from last to first so keep scrolling down to read more. OR, better yet, if you are reading on a desktop or laptop (better than on a phone) you can chose a country from the list on the left side and click to read away.  Periodically I will be updating and adding more photo’s too. 

Riley

rileymeckley@yahoo.com

 

 

Scotland

Scotland is part of the United Kingdom (UK) The land actually borders England, which is located to the south of Scotland.

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We flew from Reykevik, Iceland  to the capital city of Edinburgh, Scotland on a short 3 hour flight.

 The Edinburgh Castle. This is a very famous castle. when I first saw it  reminded me of the Pantheon we saw in Rome, Italy (see my blog post).  The Edinburgh Castle has  a circular shape at the entrance..  But the Pantheon is much smaller then this. The castle is located in the old part of the city.  A tour came free woth our ticket and the tour guide talked WAY too fast and it was hard to understand all the facts he rattled off.  For me the Scottish acent is really hard to understand. Even though they are speaking English.

Back in its hey day this Castle used to be a village inside the walls. I got to see the kichen, the armory, the canons and more.  There was  a lot of little museums here. I got to see the oldest soccer (called football)  medal in the world which was cool because I love soccer. IMG_4362 One of the museum exibits had  Knight Armor displayed on a manican.  Its really weird to think that’s what the Army people had to wear in battle.   It looks really heavy.  I don’t see how they could fight in those things!  There were lots of cannons in the castle and cannon balls too. I got to hold one that was only 6 inches but was so heavy!  I can definitely see how that could kill a person.

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FUN FACT- Cannon balls were very expensive so after a battle, all the men would have to go back into the fields and retrieve the cannon balls and bring them back to the castle for next time.

FUN FACT: At one o’clock each day a cannon is fired from the castle. This is an old tradition that has been going on for a long time.  It started because the sailors (on the river below) needed to know what time it was.  The reason they chose 1 o’ clock is because it was 12 pounds cheaper to pay the tax than if they chose noon.

We enjoyed walking around the castle area and spent many hours here.  Lots of cobblestones and very old structures. Wonder how many kids played here thousands of years ago?

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We visited a ” World of Illusions ” museum located right near the Edinburgh castle. Sawyer and I had so much fun here. They had a mirror maze and we bumped into the mirrors a lot trying to find our way out. They had spinning tunnels, lazers, illusion art and other stuff.  I learned how the illusions are a trick on our sight.  We went through each thing a few times and we learned about the camera’s on the roof of the building that can focus on anywhere in the city. We zoomed in on some people walking around the streets below.IMG_4320 IMG_4310

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We visited the Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh also.  This is where the Queen of England and the Royal Family stay when the visit Scotland.  There were many paintings and structures with old fashioned décor. We saw old apartments where Mary, Queen of Scotts lived for  while.  I learned a lot about her life.  The gardens, the courtyard the drawing rooms and the room where they greet people, talk and relax.  The Royal family still uses this room today.  Just think, I was walking in the same rooms and courtyards as past Royal Kings and Queens and the present Royal family of Queen Elizabeth and her grandson, Prince William and his wife Kate.  Also their 2 little children. I could just picture them running around here.  We saw their pictures on the walls.   The Scottish crown jewels are here on display. We watched a documentary on Queen Elizabeth and her life. It was very interesting and I learned a lot about her.  As of this month…April 2016, the Queen will be 90 years old.IMG_7181

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Fun Fact:  Standing at the end of Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile, this fine palace is the home of Scottish royal history. At the Palace of Holyrood visitors can explore 14 magnificent historic and State Apartments, the romantic ruins of the 12th-century Holyrood Abbey and remarkable royal gardens, all with a complimentary audio tour. Best known as the home of Mary, Queen of Scots, the Palace was the setting for many dramatic episodes in her short reign.

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We rented a car and drove all around the countryside of Scotland, especially the highlands. Image result for scottish highlands images

FUN FACT:  We are of Scottish heritage. We found out that the “Meckley Clan” is from the highlands of Scotland.  Too bad we don’t know where any of our clan is located or we would pop in for a quick visit.

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Loch Ness: Look!  Sawyer and I are searching for clues of the Loch Ness Monster.IMG_7255

 

IMG_4368                     Of course we had to visit LOCH NESS.  Most people have heard of the LOCH NESS MONSTER but don’t know it is from here in the highlands on a lake.  “Loch” means lake!  The lake or loch itself is very long and narrow and dark.  Water from the ocean used to flow in the lake before it was dammed up. Before I go on let me just say that we learned a lot from the Loch Ness Museum…which is a fun place to go for a few hours  and learn about the history of this area and why it is so famous.  Scientists have not proven or disproven many of the theories of the Monster of Loch Ness.  We learned why so many have “seen” the monster and also why certain photo’s were proven to be found as fraud!  Sometimes an Elk was mistaken for the monster, sometimes logs, floating garbage, ripples from the various tides and shallow waters, reindeer, horses, etc.  Fog contributes to the “visions” of Loch Ness Monster. Millions of Dollars have been spent going deep into its waters to search for old fish creatures.  There are still parts of the lake that they can not get to the bottom of for whatever reason (wonder what is lurking down there???) We saw the mini submarines that were used.  It is a fun museum and I highly recommend it. Here are some old photos of the Loch Ness Monster later proven fake.   The lake is pretty and the Urquhart Castle sits right on the hill overlooking the lake. 

 

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Urquart Castle:

The castle looks small from a distance but very large once you walk around it. I saw a gigantic catapult that shot cannon balls over the walls of the castle and destroyed the structures inside it.  I learned the history of the castle and how many different families lived here, who invaded it, why they invaded, which family took revenge and finally the most interesting thing of all…..why it was destroyed and who destroyed it.  Built in 1200 it has seen a lot of battle.

Fun Fact: Seems the last owners were fighting a battle lasting many years and did not want the castle to be taken over, so they stored tons of gun powder in several of the buildings and blew it up themselves so NO ONE could live there anymore.  The family and servants moved on to another location and the villagers pillaged what ever they could after the explosion.  Even most stones were removed too.  What is left is what we see now.

We walked everywhere here, first in sunny weather then it started to rain. We saw a great video documentary in the visitors center about the Urquhart Castle.

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Look!!!! We are searching for the Loch Ness Monster.

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We continued our drive to other parts of Scotland.
The Stirling Castle was a nice visit.  I know, you are probably thinking “there are so many castles in Scotland” yes, you are correct.  We purchased a special pass that got us into all the castles and museums for a great family price.

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Fun Fact: There have been well over two thousand castles in Scotland, although many are known only through historical records. They are found in all parts of the country 

Stirling Castle is located on top of a hill.  The castle is one of my favorite castles we have seen so far.  It is more like a community within its walls because so much goes on there. There was a magnificent view from the top all around the walls. The rain kept going on and off all day and we got to see a beautiful rainbow.  IMG_7224 My favorite part about the tour through the castle area was learning about what went on in each building.  We saw a tapestry demonstration and learned the history of why tapestries are so famous in Scotland and the history of the “unicorn” that is on the Scottish crest and most flags.  We saw the Unicorn tapestries that each took 2 years to complete. A tapestry is a carpet that hangs from the walls. They were used in the castle to keep room warm because  the moist air from the stone walls would make it very damp and dark.  After learning about the work involved in the tapestry making and seeing it, I have a new appreciation for them.  

We viewed the kitchen areas where men and boys prepared the food for hundreds of people (the kitchens were NO place for a woman back then). The butchering and hot open fires and  skinning animals.

We also saw the very large armory where the ammunition was stored for the city and the prison area and the old church.

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We started our driving journey in Edinburgh, then headed North to the Highlands, Loch Ness, and Inverness.  Then we headed south again to Stirling Castle and Glasgow, another popular city. We visited the Glasgow Science Center and spent the day learning about Science.  It was an awesome Science learning day!!!  IMG_4420IMG_4421The Planetarium was amazing. We viewed the night sky constellations, learned about the North Star and planets, and how there are about 400 stars in our galaxy. We saw a close up of Mars and Saturn. It reminded me of the time we spent with an Astronomer in the Outback in Australia, how he showed us the planets and we used the powerful telescopes to see the galaxies and stars and moon.

Fun Fact: Saturn’s rings are not “solid” they are made up of chunks of ice, large and small that only appear to be one solid mass.

We also saw a show about the water cycle with cool demonstrations. We did some DNA building, learned about geo-thermal energy  (which I just learned about from being in Iceland). They even had pictures and showed how Iceland is a country that uses Geo-thermal energy to the fullest. We took part in a solar panel demonstration and learned about the Human Body.   We spent a lot of time in this museum and had lunch here too. I love learning about Science so much. I want to be an Earth Scientist or Space Scientist some day.

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All in all Scotland is great. My famliy and I enjoyed our time here and I learned a lot!  My brother and I also played a lot of soccer here too.  I can be reached at rileymeckley@yahoo.com   If you have any questions of comments feel free to email me and I promise I will get back to you.

look for my next post on England!

 

 

 

 

 

Iceland

ICELAND:  After Ireland our next stop was ICELAND!

Below are 2 maps of Iceland.  See where it is in relation to mainland Europe? It is the island on the left.  Iceland it is considered part of Europe and it uses its own money currency.

Before I start writing about what we did, let me get this striat that ICELAND IS NOT ALL ICE. Its true. Greenland is the icy one. Why Iceland is named Iceland, I have no idea? You can see the ice caps (large and small) in the map photo.

Icelanders speak both Icelandic (you should hear that language) and English very well.  All street signs are in Icelandic.

FUN FACT: The Icelandic language has the LONGEST words in the world!

try saying these names of the towns out load. I dare you!…IMG_7011 IMG_7024

Iceland Quick & Fun Facts
Iceland has the most active volcano area in the world, the largest waterfall and glacier in Europe, the cleanest capital in the world, a population with the longest life expectancy and had the first democratically elected female president in the world, Mrs. Vigdis Finnbogadottir.

There are ONLY about 300,000 people that live in the entire country. Most live in the Capital area, Reykjavik or the northern city of Akureyri.  The rest spread about the country in small villages. I think we drove past most of them and stayed in several villages for the night. Here we are at the Hofn Hostel in Southern, Iceland.

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Two surprising things we learned were about the Heat and Water. About 85% of all houses in Iceland are heated with geothermal energy.  Hot water and heat are extremely cheap. The heat is always on and in the freezing cold outside the windows are open for air because it is hot inside.  Even in the places we stayed we had to open the windows.  The other surprising thing is the Water.  TRUST ME, you never, ever, go into a store and ask for bottled water.  They thought we were crazy….”you must mean flavored water or seltzer, right?” They asked. “Why would you want to purchase regular water, the Iceland water is the best in the world!”

They don’t sell water because it is amazing straight from the tap. And bottled water is TAP water here! ICELANDIC water is incredible, filtered through lava rocks and it does have a different taste. No Icelander buys “water.”  By the end of the week we were hooked on Icelandic water, so much so that as I am writing this (I am in Scotland now) I miss the Icelandic water a lot.  Mom wants to get it shipped to us….(lets see if that really happens). It is extremely good and is healthy. The water is one of the reasons why the locals are so healthy and live long.

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The main tourist thing to do in Iceland is the BLUE LAGOON. It is very close to the Airport when you arrive.

 

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My famliy and I LOVED the blue lagoon. It was so warm and very relaxing. The blue lagoon in Iceland is a geo-thermal heated lagoon. The water comes from under ground. The blue lagoon is not man made. Tt is naturally heated.  Iceland has made it tourist friendly by adding locker rooms, a restaurant and a bar on the water. They are currently constructing a hotel here too. May I also add that the blue lagoon is REALLY BIG! We stayed in here for 3 hours and didn’t even go in every place.

FUN FACT:The blue lagoon produces SULFURIC MUD. It is at the bottom of the lagoon and feels very squishy. The mud is very good for the  skin and keeps you looking young. The mud is one of the reasons why the blue lagoon is so famous.

I put the silica mud on my face 3 times! Mom, Dad and Sawyer did it only twice. You leave it on for ten minutes and then rub it off. When you first put it on, it feels very watery and slippery. But after ten minutes it feels extremely dry and crackily. Dad had the mud all over his face, neck, back and arms. He looked like a snowman!

Fun Facts:

The Blue Lagoon was formed in 1976 during operation at the nearby geothermal power plant. In the years that followed, people began to bathe in the unique water and apply the silica mud to their skin. Those with psoriasis noticed an incredible improvement in their condition. Over the years, Blue Lagoon has been innovative in harnessing this gift of nature to develop different spa services and products.

I think the silica mud was the best part about the Blue Lagoon. I also liked the water. It was very salty and extremely warm. Some spots of the blue lagoon were more warm then other spots. And there were some cool areas too. I personaly liked the cold area better. Some of the hot spots were way TOO HOT for me. I had to get out and walk on the bridges that go over the blue lagoon.

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We rented a car and drove around the “ring road” in Iceland for 8 days.  This is the main road that circles the Island…Once you get out of Reykjavik you cant get lost.  There are not many main roads.  In certain areas of the country the lava fields are the only thing around. For miles and miles and miles, they built roads over the fields. IMG_6444 IMG_6429

Very few natural trees grow here in Iceland. The entire country is very short on trees.  In fact, we could drive for 3 hours at a time and not see one tree.  BUT, they do have some, planted specifically in certain areas (the size of a city block perhaps) and they have done quite well. They have recently planted mini forests.

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While driving we stopped on the side of the road to see these Icelandic horses

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I liked petting and feeding these horses. We gave them bread and apples that we had in the car.  Icelandic horses are a little different then regular horses you would find in the USA.  They are shorter and have a longer mane. Their backs are curved eliminating the need for a “saddle.”  You just get on and ride, they don’t bump around like horses in the USA>  These Islandic horses are found all over Iceland. We past hundreds of them.IMG_6686 IMG_6693 IMG_6681

Fun Fact: Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported in the country.

Since 982 AD, Iceland has banned the importation of horses. and any horse that has been exported cannot return again. This means that the Icelandic horse living in Iceland today has never been around another breed of horse than its own. This has also led to the native Icelandic horses to have very few diseases

Icelandic horses originally came to Iceland on Viking ships.  The Icelandic Horses were brought by Viking ships to serve the purpose of being the sole source of transportation over Iceland’s rough terrain. They remained the only mode of transportation for centuries, until the first automobile arrived in 1913.

We also passed some wild reindeer that are located in the North East part of the country. IMG_6967 We saw a ton of antlers in a pile that were shed or fallen off the reindeer. My parents wished they could bring one set of antlers home. But how?  I could just see the hauling a big set of reindeer antlers through the airport security. Now that would be a funny sight! They were mostly down by the shore near the water.  Cool.  IMG_6925

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Above is pictures of volcanoes. The cool part is that we saw many VOLACONS. They all have  sunk down in the middle. If you click on the picture to make it bigger, you will see that one of the volcano’s appear flat at the top like a plateau. Its top blew off when it erupted.

FUN FACT: Iceland has many active and inactive volcanoes (about 130 all together!) due to it being situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Basically, the country is in the middle of or on top of two tectonic plates and has 30 active volcanic systems running through the island.

Glaciers and volcanoes side by side
Contrasting forces of ice and fire exist side by side in Iceland. Some 11% of the country’s surface is covered with glaciers and about 30% is lava fields. On average, a volcano erupts every five years, but fortunately only rarely where anyone lives. Vatnajökull glacier, measuring 8,400 km=, is the largest ice cap in Europe in fact it is larger than all the other glaciers in Europe combined.

One time my famliy and I were driving and we saw 4 volcanoes all while standing in one spot. It was so cool that they were all close together.

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Some scenic photos from our drive around Iceland. During our drive we stopped in several villages, with populations of between 75 people and 500 people. (my school has more people then that)! We stayed in guest houses/apartments for rent or hostels. Sometimes we visited the town swimming pools (geo thermally heated) also. Each town has an outdoor pool or “hot pots” or a lagoon thermally heated,  opened all year. It is the place where people go to meet up after school or work. Anyone can go.

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Dad took this photo of the reflection of the mountain in the lake.

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All of these photos were taken from the side of the road. You can stop anywhere because you don’t pass many cars on the road…ever.  Unless your in one of the 2 cities I mentioned. Iceland has very different landscapes depending on what part of the country you are in.  One day we were very high up in the mountains and the weather went from sunny to a TOTAL WHITE OUT in 5 minutes. Mom had to get out of the car to read the sign because we couldn’t see anything. What you cant tell here is that the wind was blowing so fast she could barely walk.

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IMG_6744We would often stop and play soccer someplace. IMG_6736

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I purchased a book about Iceland to learn more about it. The opening paragraph says it all. I will repeat it here for you….

ICELAND: Few places on Earth can match the raw and intense beauty of Iceland.  Both fiery and cold, forbidding and inviting, it is a place of dramatic contrast.  Home to immense ice fields, bubbling pools, colossal waterfalls and hot springs.  Although Iceland has a long, rich history it is the land, sculpted by the forces of nature into a unique place, that tells the country’s true story. The presence of so much natural energy sitting just below the ground makes it possible to see, hear and smell the power of nature. 

Which brings me to my next point….. WATERFALLS.

There are so many waterfalls. Some huge, some small, some with paths leading to them, others right off side of the road. All the water from the glaciers and rain. They are generating electricity from the forces of the water. Most falls we passed along the road were not “picture worthy” enough but these were…

IMG_6723IMG_6760 See the rainbow.

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IMG_7047IMG_6749We walked up 438 steps (I counted) to get to the top of this one here. We got a great view from the top!IMG_4082 Look how small everything looks!!! You can bearly see the parking lot with the cars in it! There are so many fantastic waterfalls in Iceland. Huge, small, powerful, wide, thin, tall, long, you name it and there is a waterfall to fit any description. The locals know where they all are, of course the bigger ones are all written in the guidebooks and are right off the road.

IMG_6665 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 024 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 010This is one of the pipelines that are above the lava fields carrying thermally  heated hot water to everywhere in Iceland.  iceland-UK+June-July 2016 116iceland-UK+June-July 2016 638 iceland-UK+June-July 2016 020

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ICE BERG LAGOON: Known officially as Jokulsarlon.

This is off the road and where slabs of ice from the Breioamerkurjokull Glacier (try saying that) fell off and float around the lagoon.  When I was holding the ice my hands were freezing.  The clear ice means that all the air has compressed out of the ice, the other ice that you can not see through floats.  Sawyer and I liked pitching and throwing rocks at all the floating ice bergs that passed.  See the rocks we threw on this slab of ice… We saw seals floating on the ice in the distance. I wonder what else lurks in these cold waters?  The time of year we visited here there was not as much ice floating around as other times of the year.  See last photo from internet…

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Geo-Thermal Areas of Iceland.  I will not lie, the steam coming from the Earth smells like a rotten egg farting.  We also saw Geyser’s erupting, steam coming out of the Earth, Lakes bubbling up and volcanoes that still have lava under the ground that is smoking. Sawyer and I liked walking around these areas. We were able to get really close to the smoking vents in one area. We saw the Geyser erupt about 5 times. It was so cool and went 200 feet into the air.IMG_7075IMG_6614IMG_6609

IMG_6642IMG_7073iceland-UK+June-July 2016 624IMG_7081IMG_7103this was a great stop on our road trip.

 You may be wondering “how do geysers erupt?” …

Every geyser has a hole that goes into the ground. Water from deep into the Earth and from rivers fills the hole. When the hole is full and the water has reached the surface, the heat from under ground makes it start to bubble. Then a couple of seconds later the geyser EXPLODES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Then the hole starts to fill back up again and the whole system repeats itself!

All geysers have different time schedules. The one we saw erupted every couple of minutes. But some can erupt only once a day, or less!

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Tectonic Plates.  You may not realize this but everywhere you stand you are always standing on a tectonic plate.  BUT, in Iceland, you are actually standing on either the North American Tectonic Plate or the European Tectonic Plate.

 Look at Iceland right in the middle of the Plates….ICELAND is right underneath the second “t” in Tectonic, it is the small island.

During this trip I have stood on many tectonic plates (by looking at this map). In Iceland, we saw and walked through where to Earth divided because of the plates shifting over time.  Look at Sawyer standing on a small crack in the Earth, there were baby cracks all over this field. The big split (on the left) was clearly noticeable along the pathway . It would be very cool to be an Earth Scientist and study this stuff.  I love learning about this. It is very interesting that all the continents on Earth were once together (called Pangea) and shifted due to the plates moving. Wonder what the Earth will look like in another million years?

 

IMG_6534IMG_6525IMG_6529 The crack that Sawyer is standing on is only a baby one about 20 feet long. There were a lot of baby cracks in the area of the main BIG one.

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Glaciers. They are very cool and very large and from the road at times you can see 3 or 4 coming down from the mountains.  That was neat.  They are much larger and look more solid and compact and bluer than the ones we saw in Alaska. By the way, here in Iceland the land is very deceiving, it appears that the glacier is a short trek away, but actually it is a long drive. We picked up 2 hitch hikers who didn’t realize how long the walk actually was. They were from France and were glad “someone” was driving up the road to see them. We walked or drove  to 3 different glaciers.

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MY FAMLIY AND I ALL LOVED ICELAND!!!!!!!!!!!!! THERE WERE LOTS OF THINGS TO SEE AND LEARN HERE.  It is a very interesting place and like the book said, there is no place on Earth quite like Iceland!

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Here is an extra bonus that we didn’t plan to see…..the AUROA BOREALIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Many of you reading this are probably thinking “aurora what”? But the more common term is  the Northern lights.  Here is a photo from the internet.

Just so you know we did NOT SEE IT LIKE THIS. This is a “high scale” aurora with lots of raging colors. My family and I only saw a level 2 or 3 aurora with a couple of green lines moving around the sky.  We couldn’t take a picture of it though because it woudn’t come out. Even though it was only green  lines it still moves a LOT! Mabey one day I will see it like the photo.

I thought this was really interesting- here is a picture of the Aurora taken from space over the northern Ice Cap. I can see Greenland and Iceland here too.

Awesom right! Here is what I learned from my research.

 How the Aurora happens- The earth is protected by a ‘force field” ( the atmosphere) Sun particles  fly off the sun hitting the Atmosphere but we cant see it because of the atmosphere.  At the north pole, the “force field” is the weakest and the sun particles can slip through and get in. When you see the Aurora Borealis, it is actually particles  from the sun. It appears in lights because the atmosphere tries to fight off the particles.

If you have any questions or comments about Iceland or any part of my travels you can email me at   rileymeckley@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IRELAND

IRELAND is a great country. My family rented a car and drove around seeing lots of things. Ireland is only about the size of New York so it is very small and we practicly drove the whole thing! Before I start let me announce that since this is Ireland I will write my “FUN FACTS” in GREEN instead of my usual RED.

IMG_3947 Our itinerary of driving the around Ireland. We researched and mapped out the places we wanted to visit. Then followed this map.

(Not sure why the photos upload fuzzy. Believe me they are not like that, we cant seem to figure out why it does this but if you click on them they come much clearer.)

 We visited both the Republic of Ireland (southern Ireland) and also Northern Ireland.

Our first stop in Ireland was the capital, Dublin. It is a cool city and there was a lot of Irish decorations hanging around because they were getting ready for St.  Patrick’s Day. This is a big deal all over Ireland!

IMG_6129 IMG_6141 St. Patrick’s Church.

Dublin: My favorite part was walking through Trinity College. It is the best college in Ireland.  We went to the old library and saw the Book of Kells.IMG_6115 This library was awesome. IMG_3747

Fun Fact:  The Book of Kells is a very precious book. It was written in 800 AD. It is a book of the Gospels of the Bible written in Latin by hand and beautifully illustrated with color pictures.  (no photos allowed of the book of Kells so these are from the internet)

 

 

I learned a lot about the Book of Kells.  Here is a brief history.

The Book of Kells was made in 800AD. It was written in a monestary by some religious monks. Sicentists do not know who exactly wrote it, but they can tell that 4 people worked on it. The Book of Kells was made to be a copy of the Bible. Sometime in history, the Vikings invaded the monestary, they did not care about the book but they stole it for the cover which was made of Jews and Gems.  To this modern day, no one has found the cover. The book was found and is now considered a UNESCO site for its  historical significance.

Isn’t that amazing! This book has been through so much in its long years. It was a big discovery for whoever found it because before this book, they did not think that people knew how to write back then. The Irish Monks were excellent scribers. The best in their day.

Fun Fact: The reason that the Book of Kells hasn’t been decintegrated is because it was not written on paper. The monks wrote it on Vellum, which is animal skin. For  the ink they gathered jewels, like emerald and ruby and other natural material of all different colors and grinded them until it was liquid (back then no one knew that they were valuable, plus the monks don’t care about money). They used tree bark and shaved it to a point for a pen.

I saw the different materials used and the grinded up stones. It was interesting.

I think the most amazing part is that the monks actually HAND WROTE the whole thing. Just so you can get an idea of how thick this book is, it is well bigger and fatter than the Harry Potter books (and that saying a lot because they are huge)! Scientists say that the Book of Kells took about 30 years to write! I could never have that much patience. There are pages in the back that are still blank.  It is unfinished.  I think its cool that all the letters look exactly the same. The Irish monks  defintily weren’t sloppy. 

As well as the writing, the Book of Kells is also a work of Art. It has richly illustrated pictures. Some are only 1 inch and others take up half a page. The pictures show scenes from the Bible.  I really liked seeing the Book of Kells and learning about it.  I suggest you research it because it has a fascinating history.

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BLARNEY CASTLE

On our drive through Ireland, we saw a lot of castles. We even got to see the Blarney castle.IMG_6213 IMG_6182

the Blarney castle has a very nice park area around it with trails and  flowers and nice lakes and rivers. The Blarney Castle is smaller then you think.  The inside is destroyed. There are 126 steps to the roof, yes we counted.  The spiral staircase was very thin and did not look sturdy. At the top of the staircase is the roof where you get to kiss the famous BLARNEY STONE.

FUN FACT- The Blarney stone is located on the top of the Blarney castle. Legend has it that if you kiss the blarney stone you will recive the “gift of gab.”  It meant that you  will have the power to talk and persuade people and not be shy.   Back in the old days, the Kings and Queens would kiss the Blarney stone so they could have better power and persuade their Royal subjects.

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Before we went to the Blarney Castle, my famliy and I didn’t think we would kiss it. We said “who would want to kiss that ugly stone… you have to get upside down and kiss something that other lips have touched. Disgusting!” Once we got up there we all realized that we had too because when will we all ever be back here together???? My parents didn’t think I needed the gift of gab because according to them I already talk WAY too much and WAY TOO loud.

Kissing it was cool. You can see from the picture that there is a gap between the wall and the roof.  People added bars in the gap so you can’t fall through.  Just to be safe, someone holds your feet as you lean over the edge and kiss it.  Since Sawyer and I are kids, my parents didn’t think that we would be able to reach the stone, But we did!  I wonder who stared this legend?

By the way, on a crowed day the line to kiss the Blarney stone wraps all the way around the roof and onto the stairs too! We had no line at all. Not anyone at all! Like I continue to say, visiting Europe in winter is the way to go!

Some other Castles we visited along our journey…Some  huge and some in ruins.

IMG_6162 The grounds here were empty and the guard let us play soccer right in front of the castle.  We played soccer every day here in Ireland.IMG_6353   We loved all the stone walls that are everywhere in Ireland.

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THE RING OF KERRY ROAD

One day my famliy drove the “Ring of Kerry”. It is a scenic drive along the coast with lots of stops and incredible views. We drove it on a very foggy day.IMG_6246 IMG_6254

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This is a stone wall that is about 20 feet high and 6 feet thick. This wall is different from other stone walls because it is in a circle. The wall is only stones stacked on each other, no cement in between the stones. There used to be houses inside a long time ago to protect the people from invaders.

My famliy and I went inside.  I wonder what life used to be like for the people that lived inside  these stone walls? When we visited there was no one there but a few sheep.

Another stop on the Ring of Kerry Road was to see the cliffs. I do not know the name of them but we walked to the top of a cliff and saw amazing views. We were very high up and there were rocks below. In the distance we saw what is called “puffin island” there is said to be a lot of puffin birds flying around in the summer time.

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FUN FACT- I learned from our summer trip to Alaska that a Pufinn has to poop before it can fly because it is too heavy after eating. Feel free to look at my Alaska post to find out more on that trip.

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Another day we drove to  ” The Cliffs of Moher“. These were a longer set of cliffs with a hiking trail along the edge.

When I say along the edge I MEAN along the edge! Some parts of this trial had NO FENCE on the edge. We kept our distance and mom was very nervous and went really slow.

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There were people  sitting over the edge of the cliffs. From my personal experience I learned that everywhere you go there are always the idiots!! Its true. You wouldn’t belive how many people sat with there legs hanging over the edge taking selfies. I don’t understand the point in that.  If you fell over you would be dead!

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               NORTHERN IRELAND

I bet most people do not know that NORTHERN IRELAND IS A DIFFERENT COUNTRY THEN IRELAND!

Northern Ireland is an extremely small country.  It is smaller then long island and has way less people. See my map at the beginning of this post to see the border line. We drove right into it.   Northern Ireland country side looks like southern Ireland and they have the same accent. You would never know that they are 2 separate countries except that Irelands currency is the Euro while Northern Irelands currency is the Brittish Pound.

Giants Causeway:  Up north this is the main site to see.  It has hexagonal collums wich were formed by lava millions of years ago. I read all about it.

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This place was very interesting. We got an audio guide and there was so many facts to take in.  These columns are really old. They are actually Millons of years old! They were here before the ice age! A volcano used to be here and when it eruped all the lava poured out. I don’t know exactly how it harded but somehow it did. After the lava harded into rock the sea water and ice from the ice age made it into the hexagon shape.

It must be cool to be a scientist and study this stuff.  I would like that.  I liked climbing on all the lava columns. It was really cool because one area would have columns only 2 feet off the ground when another area had coullums 39 feet off the ground! You can see in the pictures above.

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The formation consists of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, most of which are hexagonal. The columns form huge stepping stones, some as high as 39 feet, which slope down to the sea.

  • The Giant’s Causeway was actually formed by intense volcanic activity about 50 million years ago. As the lava rapidly cooled , it contracted into the distinctive shapes.
the rocks are SO COOL! very fun to see, climb, and learn about them.
On the way from Giants Causeway to Belfast we stopped at a rope bridge.
IMG_6422that is me, Sawyer and Dad.
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BELFAST- Capital of Northern IRELAND
According to Dad, he would NOT recommend driving in Belfast, we got lost on the way to the Hotel.
TITANIC MUESUM
Almost everyone in the world knows about how the Titanic was a big ship that sunk.  In northern Ireland my family and I went to the Titanic museum (just a reminder- if you don’t already know anything about the Titanic I suggest you look it up right now or you wont understand what I’m about to write). Actual photo from 1912.
There was so much history to the Titanic. It was built right here in Belfast. It was a huge task to build the biggest ship in the world at that time. There were jobs for anyone who wanted to work, tons of men from all over the world came here with their families to help construct the ship.  The city of Belfast grew twice as big from the families that moved here.  The big jobs that they always needed new people for was to screw and hammer in the bolts. Through demonstrations we learned that the Titanic was made of millons of 4 inch sized bolts.  Some peoples jobs were to heat up the screws, others then had to put them in the proper place and others had to then hammer in the bolts to make sure they were all safely intact and not loose. Many living in Belfast at that time described the building of the Titanic with always hearing bolts being hammered in day and night. In fact, some people went deaf from doing this work!
 The Titanic was built to be a luxury boat. The company built a fancy boat because at the time none of the boats were like that so the Titanic was the first ever! (now there are tons of cruise ships. We went on a cruise on this trip so you can see that post).
There were 3 different groups on the Titanic that you were associated with. First class, Second class, and (last and the least) third class called “steerage”. We got to see a model of all the cabins. The first class one was very fancy. 2 queen beds with very fancy bed spread, a closet, bathroom with hot and cold running water, carpet floor, wallpaper, comfy chairs and a table. It was very spacious. (Some rooms that we have been staying in on this trip were smaller). Third class was really tiny. All it had was a set of bunkbeds, a fold up chair and a sink and shelf. There was a bathroom in each hallway that everyone shared.
FUN FACT; I thought it was interesting to learn that while the Titanic was sinking, the captain ordered some people to play the violin on the top deck to attract people and keep everyone calm while boarding the life boats. The people that were playing the violins went down in history as heroes. We read their stories and the stories of others who helped women and children board the lifeboats.
 
ICE BERG STRAIGHT AHEAD! that’s what comes to mind when your thinking of the Titanic and if you saw the movie.  My parents let me see certain parts of the movie, like from when it hit the ice berg!  The museum showed what happened from the accounts of many survivors.
In 1912 the Titanic was expected to arrive at the port in NY on wendestday. But the reporters on board convinced the captain to go really fast and arrive on Tuesday night. At first he said no, but when he thought about all the press that would say “Titanic arrives a day early” that would be a big deal! So he went faster then normal and when the person at the watch spotted the iceburg the boat was going to fast to turn around. I wonder what would have happened if the Titanic went at normal speed? But don’t think the captain was selfish. When the boat was sinking he helped as many peole as he could and refused to get on the lifeboats. He went down with the ship and survivors call him a hero too.
At first, only the first class people were notified that the boat was sinking. They were brought to the top deck and onto the lifeboats. A lot of lifeboats left when half the boat was filled. The people that couldn’t get on the life boat jumped off. They might of survived if the lifeboats went back. But most of the life boats didn’t turn back. They thought that everyone would bombard them and too many peple would get on the life boat and it would cause them to sink. Many accounts from women survivors on the boats talk of this.
The Titanic sits at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and was finally located in 1984.  We learned about the expeditions to find Titanic.  Amazing, isn’t it?
 
I learned lots more about the Titanic while at the museum. I can’t include it all on my blog or that would be too long. Watch some of the older movies about it.
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I really enjoyed Ireland. Everything was great. I hope to came back here someday. I noticed that Ireland is a little less expensive then other places in Europe.
If you have any questions I can be reached at rileymeckley@yahoo.com
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Budapest, Hungary

Since many people can’t locate Hungary on a map (I couldn’t) I circled it for you.  I learned a lot of history about this country.

Fun Fact: Budapest is the capitol of Hungary. It was once divided into 2 separate cities….Buda and Pest.  The river Danube split them. Over time (and a lot of fighting between the cities ) a bridge was built and connected the 2 citys to form one. Budapest.

The main thing to do in Budapest is walk around and explore and  go on a hop on- hop off bus tour. That’s exactly what we did. I learned a lot of history about the city and saw some really interesting stuff.

here are some FUN FACTS…….

*The Hungarians love to read, they have over 400 book publishing companies in the country, the largest amount in any city in Europe.  The country is very small, in fact, Hungary is smaller then New York state! 

The people have an annual book fair every year and it is very crowded.  I would fit in good here because I love to read.IMG_3621 Here is a  sign written in Hungarian. How would you even pronounce those words?!

*Not many people know this but Hungary is very old. Over 1,000 years! It was once taken over by the Roman Empire.

*Budapest has the second oldest subway line in all of Europe (London has the first)

Hungary was once a communist country. People didn’t have a lot of freedoms. Speaking of freedoms, below are photo’s of  Hero Square. The place where a lot of demonstrations were held.

IMG_3694 IMG_3690 (1)Hero Square is is in the center of the Pest side of the city. Locals walk by it everyday and don’t have a second thought.  It is a big tourist attraction and is super crowed in the summer, but it wasn’t crowed for us. There is a lot of history in this square and my parents remember watching demonstrations in the news in 1989 about the people wanting democracy and overthrowing the Communist Party ruler.  In fact, up until 1989 they couldn’t leave Hungary and there was a barbed wire fence at the border with Austria. The country was then called The Hungarian Peoples Republic.

IMG_3679 (1) there are a lot of statues in Budapest.  All of them are of important people from Hungary.

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Walking along the Danube river was cool.  We even walked across the first bridge connecting Buda with Pest.  We also saw the Parliament buildings and many other government buildings. We saw Castles that were built on the Buda side and also on the Pest side. They were very different.  IMG_3647  IMG_3675   IMG_3645  !IMG_3700 (1) At night all the bridges, castles, and some buildings are all lit up.

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SHOES ON THE DANUBE RIVER. Dedicated in 2005

There is a very different monument dedicated to the Holocaust and what happened here in 1944 and 1945.

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Fun Fact  Sculptors Gyula Pauer and Can Togay have created a moving memorial to these Holocaust atrocities that sits in front of the magnificent Parliament building on the edge of the river. What visitors will see are 60 pairs of rusted period shoes cast out of iron. Different sizes and styles reflect how nobody was spared from the brutality  

It was incredible. Mom said it was the most moving monument she ever saw.                          .

BRIEF HISTORY…

The German Nazis were collecting all the Jewish people that lived in Budapest. They brought them to this very river bank that we are standing on and told them to take off there shoes. Then the Nazis would shoot them and their body would fall in the river. The reason they had the Jews take off their shoes was so the bodies could float better and be carried out to sea. So, during World War II there was a big line of shoes on the river bank from the people that were forced to take them off. A lot of architects were trying to think of a way to make this a  memorial site.  People suggested plaques of all the names of the people who died, another thought building a statue would be good.  The memorial site winners were “Pauer and Togay” they thought it would be good to make a bunch of metal and brass shoes to honor all those that were shot and carried out to sea. 

There were men’s shoes , women’s shoes, boots and even a pair of baby shoes. It is sad think what happened here. I was in the place that lots of people were shot. I wonder if there were any survivors? I think the artists that had the idea to make metal shoes as a memorial had a genius idea.

Fun Fact: Budapest is home to the second largest Jewish Synagogue in the world.

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IMG_3658 My famliy and I walked this bridge. it was the first one to connect Buda and Pest. By the way, our hotel was on the Pest side. We went to the Buda side ot see this castle.

IMG_3650 There was good views from here overlooking all of the Pest side and the Danube River.

The Pest side was all flat land and the Buda side is very hilly and has a lot of mountains. We didn’t go in the castle but it was cool to see from the outside.

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I saved the best part for last. The THERMAL BATHS! The Szechenyi Baths

IMG_3623 Hungary has lots of thermal baths.  They are like giant hot tubs except the water is not heated from man made electricity.  These baths (not pools) are heated from natural springs under the ground and the water is so hot that the baths have to be “cooled down” just so we can go in.  The heat is natural and from under ground. People come here after work or anytime they can. It is open from 6am to 9pm.

IMG_3636  IMG_3629 (1)IMG_3631We didn’t think that we would like the thermal baths this much but we did! My family and I thought we would go there and check it out, but we ended up staying here for 4 hours! Mom and Dad swam laps in the big pool.  There are 3 outdoor baths and they are very big.  There are about 10 inside but they are much smaller and not as nice.

IMG_3629 (1) This one was my favorite. I liked it so much because it had an awesome whirl pool with a current that would whip you around and around. Seriously, it got so fast that it was hard to get out of the current.  Sawyer and I liked it. Some times it got TOO crowed. we would keep bumping in to people. It happened to everyone, it was OK.   Sawyer and I went around really fast because we are lighter then all the adults. It was so much fun!  I really enjoyed my time here and we spent most of it in this whirl pool. I must of went around 400 times. No joke!

By the way, the building in the thermal baths lookd like a fancy mansion.  It was really big and had lots of statues.  It was very hard to see under water with googles. The water is from underground natural springs  so its foggy.

Hungary’s currency is the Hungarian Forint…NOT the Euro! So we had different money to learn here. Food is cheaper in Hungary than the previous places in Europe we visited. Local Hungarian food is discusting.  They have meat and fish in all these bowls of sauces and spices.   It looks like a plate of “goop”  we didn’t eat it!

Hungary is a great old city, a lot of people spoke decent English and were able to understand us.  This is the opposite of Italy because hardly any Italians speak English.

I can be reached at rileymeckley@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

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Cruise through the Mediterranean

Very last minute, while in Rome, we saw and advertisement for a cruise leaving from the port (50 min away by train) for 80% off of the regular price.  It was last minute and we decided some good food with some late sleeping and relaxing was in order. Plus mom said  “A week without planning ” would be nice.   We have been exploring and walking a lot in the past month….we discussed it together and decided to do it.  Took the public train ($5) to the port and caught the public bus ($1) to the dock. Got right on board as this cruise lets people board and disembark at any of the ports (its like a giant hop on-hop off cruise ship).IMG_3440 IMG_5863IMG_5921

COSTA DIADIMA: This ship is so big. It can fit  3,000  people on it.  Before I got here I was excited to join the “tween club” but they didn’t have it because mostly it was younger kids or older kids and we were in the middle and couldn’t join in on the activities, PLUS, it was all in Italian anyway. Crew Members were shocked there were Americans on board as this caters to European’s on holiday and does not advertise in America. 

The ship was not crowded and they even upgraded our room to a better one (we booked the cheapest ones). We had 2 rooms next to each other because they could only fit 2 people in each one.  IMG_3442.IMG_3482Sawyer and I would watch the water from this window.

This entire ship was full of Italians, French and other Europeans, no Americans. IN fact, they collected our Passports because at every port they had to let the authorities know there were “Americans on board.”   All other people had the EU cards (European Union).  Hardly anyone spoke any English and all the signs and menu’s and announcements were in Italian so we never knew what was going on.   The announcement would come over the loudspeaker in Italian and for all we knew it could have said  “The ship is sinking, abandon the boat !!” BUT…..there is always a positive side to everything. We did get to relax in a very comfortable bed, sleep late, eat a lot of food, and the BEST part of all was seeing the good shows they put on in the theatre every night.  We saw a Circus Act, a Musical, The Voice finals, An Opera, A rock and roll show, and others.  We played BINGO 3 nights and one night Sawyer WON 125 Euro’s.  That is $139!!  He was so happy, Sawyer and I decided before hand if either of us won we would split the money. So we each got 50 Euro’s and spent the rest at the Video game room.  We also saw Dancers perform like “Dancing with the stars” it was cool.IMG_3604 IMG_3547IMG_3481  IMG_3583We played cards in the card room too.

Sawyer and I played basketball on the court outside. The weather was sometimes rainy but sometimes sunny.  The pool on the ship was so small (backyard pools in America are bigger) and we never went in. Plus it wasn’t that sunny anyway.

We only got off the ship at 2 ports, we weren’t concerned with touring the other places because we’ve been doing that for 5 months already.  We got off at La Spezia, Italy and we did the Cinque Terre village walk. That is where you walk /hike in the hills from village to village overlooking the coast. The houses were small and built over looking the ocean and no cars allowed. Very remote.

We walked the entire day and it was a great hike. Passed lemon trees, vinyards and farms.  It started to rain the last hour and got slippery.IMG_3460 Vernazza

Fun Fact:  Cinque Terre is the name of a district that encompasses five glorious towns, where small houses are surrounded by lush nature. Visitors to this district will be fascinated by the beauty of these five small villages. It is a World Heritage Site.

We had the hike to ourselves.  In the summer they have to “limit” the number of visitors because it gets too crowded!

The next time we got off was on the island of Mallorca, off the coast of Spain. We did the bus tour of the Island and it was nice.

IMG_3586 Every night we would have a “gelato!”  Yum.

The cruise wasn’t “fun”  it was more relaxing and we liked the shows.  We were fully rested after this week and ready for more European exploring adventures.  When we disembarked at the port in Rome, we took the train to the airport and later that afternoon we boarded a flight to Budapest, Hungary.  I’ll post about that in a few days….stay tuned and keep checking my blog!  Write me at rileymeckley@yahoo.com.

 

Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

There are so many historic sights and I loved learning about it all.  My family and I visited basically everything. It was great.  We rented an apartment for 6 nights and it was in the heart of Rome. This was our street and apartment…IMG_5436 IMG_3417 IMG_3139

We were like locals and walked to everything.  I’ll start with the Piazza NavonaIMG_5232It is a square with 3 different fountains in it. The one big one in the middle was my favorite. There are 4 statues on each corner of the fountain and represent a river.  You can see in the photo that the statue representing the Nile River has a palm tree next to him. IMG_3164There is a giant Oblesk in the center of the fountain, from Egypt.  I’ve been doing a lot of research on Egypt and I recognized the hieroglyphic of “life”  and a couple of other symbols too such as the “eye of horus”  This is the symbol for “life” I was proud to show my parents that “I recognized the symbol.”

Fun Fact: The Fountain of Four Rivers and was sculpted in 1651 by Bernini.
The statues were all very big, it must have taken a long time to sculpt.

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TREVI FOUNTAIN

Sculpture is not really the right word for the Trevi fountain.  It is more of a piece of Art and a structure. The fountain part is as big as a pool and the statues are over 15 feet tall. This was the one attraction we visited that was crowded (even at this time of year) We must have arrived when all the tour busses got there.

FUN FACT: Legend has it that if you throw a coin over your right shoulder into the fountain you are destined to “return to Rome.”  This is true, because my Mom was here 26 years ago and she threw a coin in and now she is back!!!  When will I be back???? The Trevi Fountain is also sculpted by Bernini.   IMG_5296

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The Pantheon: The oldest building in Rome that was not destroyed or had to be reconstructed.  Built in the first century. I was amazed at how well preserved the building looked, it had a dome shaped roof and people say even NOW it would be hard for archetects to design a building like this.  I can’t understand how they did this so long ago.  I liked the shape of the building. Here we are hugging one of the oldest ancient structures in Rome. Cool. IMG_5270

FUN FACT: The Roman Pantheon is the most preserved and influential building of ancient Rome. It is a Roman temple dedicated to all the gods of pagan Rome. As the brick stamps on the side of the building reveal it was built and dedicated between A.D 118 and 125.IMG_3180 This is us eating Pizza in the back of the Pantheon.  It is amazing to think of what this building has been through. IMG_5249It is also free to enter.

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PROFESSIONAL SOCCER (FOOTBALL) for the non-Americans.

We went to an A.S.  Roma vs. Pallermo game at the Olympic Stadium. It was a very good game, 5-0 Rome! The fans were very active, they sing and they chant. There were a lot of security guards in the Pallermo section, I guess to keep them in check. LOL.  As you  know my family loves soccer and we couldn’t pass up this game. It was last minute, KIDS FREE and adults only $25.  What a deal! We purchased the ticket the day before in a store on the street.  This was the only thing in Rome we did not walk to, we took a very crowded public bus with other fans.

 

FUN FACT:  The 1960 Summer Olympics were in Rome, Italy and many events were at this stadium.

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The Vatican and the Vatican Museums.

There is so much to write about the Vatican. Did you know that Vatican City is it’s own COUNTRY.  I walked right into another country. It is very small and only 500 residents.

FUN FACT: Unlike other countries, even if you are born in Vatican City you are not automatically a citizen.  The Pope has to appoint you a citizen and can take away that citizenship at any time.

I learned a lot about Vatican City and the Pope.  We read and watched some great video’s on Vatican City and it’s history.IMG_3221

FUN FACT: The Pope is also the King of Vatican City.  He can act as “either” the Pope or  the King to make decisions.IMG_5597Michelangelo’s Pieta. One of his earlier works .  IMG_5632IMG_5623  This is the bronze and gold alter that only the Pope can give mass from. There are other alters in St. Peters. IMG_5589Upon entering the basilica  of St. Peters you are overwhelmed at the size and detail.

The most amazing thing was we got to attend a mass that the Pope gave outside of St. Peters Basilica. We got there one hour early, got a great view. I stood next to some Nuns, from Italy, who saw me writing notes in my little pocket notebook and they told me about the statues in the courtyard and how they are all “saints.” There are 167 statues and 288 columns outside of St. Peters.  The Nun’s also wrote in my notebook.  Pope Francis blessed the crowd and there were Nun’s handing out rosary beads that were blessed by the Pope.  I was so happy we all got a few.IMG_3234Doesn’t the light coming down in this picture look like it is coming from heaven, while I am with the Nuns at the Vatican.

St. Peters Basilica is HUGE. Entering this church can not be explained. The ceilings, the paintings, the carvings, the statues, the alter, the floor, the granite, it’s so amazing.  The artwork is “Louvre worthy” for sure.   The Vatican holds so much art. We spend over an hour in there and visited separate areas for praying and 3 Pope’s are entombed here, that means there bodies are rested here.  Very old Pope’s.  Most Pope’s are buried below St. Peters.  We visited the “treasury” area , where all the gifts that were presented to the Pope’s over the Centuries by Presidents, Kings, Royal Families and Nations.  Also the Pope’s themselves, donate something special.

The Vatican museums are gigantic, it is easy to get lost. So many exhibits, the Hall of Maps was cool. the statues, the paintings, the sculptures and of course The Sistine Chapel.IMG_3372 (1) This is a painting in the Vatican Museum. It seems so real and it is also huge, covering the entire wallIMG_3356 (1)famous bronze and marble statues in the museum. IMG_5657Early Maps drawn right on the walls. IMG_5422It is said the Louvre (in Paris) and these Vatican Museums are the two best museums in the world.  I agree.  This room had floor to ceiling masterpieces of artwork.

Fun Fact: The Sistine Chapel is without doubt one of the greatest art treasures of all time, one of the most celebrated masterpieces in the world. It’s the last stop on the Vatican Museum tour and is the most ardently awaited moment for the millions of tourists from around the world that come here every year to admire it.

Step into the Sistine Chapel and the magic completely envelops you because literally everything in this place is priceless and rich in history, from the pavement to the amazing frescoed ceiling by Michelangelo.

The Sistine Chapel was so awesome, Not one inch was left blank, the ceiling and the walls were of the scenes from the bible were so realistic it was like they were coming down from heaven. The clouds, the people, etc.  While I was in there they gave a small prayer or mass in Italian.  You are NOT allowed to take any photos in there so here is some from the internet so you can see for yourself….

 There  is a story behind every person in all of these paintings.  Who they are, what they represent and the historical significance behind it.  So interesting. 

I watched a great documentary and read a lot about the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo, the artist. He really struggled to do this because he considered himself a “sculpture” and not an “artist.” In fact, his sculptures are in St. Peters as well.

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St. Angelo’s Castle: On the way to Vatican City .

IMG_5400IMG_5386IMG_5316The River Tiber is nice, it has a strong current. We walked over it a lot to get to the Vatican city.  We passed this castle. We visited inside, I like the shape of it the best, it looks better from outside than inside, it was just blank walls and stone, I like the view from the top.

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Roman Colesseum.

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The Roman Colesseum is so cool. it is very big. It can get very crowed at times. luckily we came first thing early in the morning and had NO line at all.  some days in the summer, the line raps all the way around the building! Poor saps.

My favorite part about the Roman Colesseum was probably learning about it.  The history is so interesting and my brother and I did a report on it.

FUN FACT- The  colessuim was built in 72 AD. they had slaves that were forced to work until it was complete. It took 8 years to finish. 

Here is a typical day of Entertainment for the Romans at this time.    Gladiators fought in the  Colesseum. The games went on all day. In the morning they had Gladiators vs animals( the animals were shipped here from all over the world… there were tigers, cheetas, lions even elephants!) next came the execution of prisoners. They would chop off there heads. and for the grand finally….the gladiator fights. It would be gladiator vs gladiator down to the death. The crowd would cheer people on just like we cheer on sports teams. The only reason they had gladiator matches was because no one else wanted the job, and only the prisoners faught against each other. Whoever won usually got rewarded and was free from prison. The looser was well, dead.IMG_5703

– Just like any other modern stadium today, the Roman Coleseum made people by tickets to the games before entering. There are a lot of doors and exits in the Colesseum and each one had a Roman  number above it so people could find the areas of where they are sitting.  I saw this in person. plus, there used to be a lot of water fountains for the fans and 2 bathrooms. cool right. the rich people sat on the bottom row along with the Royalty. Poor people and other criminals sat at the very top. the women also sat on the top because they were not allowed to sit anywhere else.

IMG_5720 I liked exploring the Coleseum. I cant get over the fact of how old it is.  This building has been through a LOT! you can see in the picture toward the bottom area  the dungeons.  There used to be a floor over the dungeons and that is where the battles were fought. The dungeons were where the prisoners waited to go fight and where they kept the wild animals. All the Gladiators must of been really nervous before battle knowing that it may be the end for them.

Now a days part of the Roman Colesseum is destroyed due to earthquakes and stone robbers. It was left abandoned for a long time because when they stopped having Gladiator fights, the building was useless.  And the seats that people used to sit in are destroyed. There were a lot of openings in the Roman Colesseum and each one used to have a statue in it. But they all got robbed a long time ago. This is what it looked like in it’s heyday.

  I cant believe that there used to be a statue in every window! I wonder what they looked like? probably naked. That’s how most of the statues are here, I guess it was the style. LOL!

I liked seeing and learning about the Colesseum.  So did Sawyer.  I can only imagine all the blood shed here that went on. I cant believe people actually found that as entertainment. Crazy right?!  Almost unhuman. I have friends that cant bear to watch someone bleed yet these people were cheering away when someone’s head was chopped off.  They were like barbareans.IMG_3392

here are a couple more FUN FACTS-

Did you know that there were sometimes naval ship battles in the Colesseum? it used to be considered untrue but scientists have found evidence.  There are underground tunnels leading to the  Colessuem to make it flood with water. There are drawings of ships on water fighting inside the Colesseum.  Very cool finding.

There was one person in charge, like the head director. They organized events and trained the Gladiators.

The Romen Colesseum has a great history and I suggest that you research it. There are some great  video’s on you tube.  I am glad I got to see the Roman Colessuim.

IMG_5731 I liked trying to imagine what it looked like back in its hay day.

Roman Forum:

Next to the Colesseum is the Roman Forum, which is “ancient ruins” of a town in Rome.  Julius Ceasar ordered many off the work.  I can’t believe I walked the same streets as Julius Ceasar.  The columns must have been very strong because so many columns are still remaining. We ate lunch on broken ruins, sitting on a broken column. I liked looking at everything and imagining what it used to be like.  There a lot of half standing structures.

It’s weird how the ancient ruins and the Colesseum are right in the middle of a modern city like Rome, next to a big road with traffic and busses. It’s like two different worlds. Sawyer and I liked jumping from stone to stone.IMG_5809IMG_5802IMG_5786   IMG_5501IMG_5561

ROME WAS AWESOME! I did not exspect it to be so great! I am glad we got to see everything. I had a lot of pizza and gelato’s too….because as they say….”When in Rome…” Hope the Trevi Fountain legend is true and I come back someday.

I can be reached at rileymeckley@yahoo.com

 

 

 

Venice, Italy

We flew from Barcelona, Spain to Venice, Italy. Actually we stayed one night in a small guest house right by the airport because we arrived late.  It was dark out but Dad, Sawyer and I went for  a walk to the local pizza place, when we returned the manager must have locked the front gate. We were stranded. Mom was in the room. We couldn't get in for an hour. We yelled and walked all around the property to find another entrance.  We had to squeeze through the small opening in the fence and Dad had to throw the jackets and bag over the top.  Sawyer and I had to hold the gate open so Dad could squeeze through.  Mom was worried about us. It was so dark and there were no lights. Anyway, this is how I entered the country of Italy.  
The next day, totally different.  Unbelievable! Awesome!  

Venice, Italy. It almost looks like a story book.  Venice is a city built on water. BUT, I did some research and watched a documentary on “how Venice was built in 400AD.”  Under the concrete and stone is literally a forest of trees/logs built into the mud under the water.  You may wonder why the logs haven’t rotted away after 2000 years, but the logs are not exposed to oxygen so they don’t rot.

FUN FACT: Venice, Italy, is known by several names, one of which is the ‘Floating City’. This is due to the fact that the city of Venice consists of 118 small islands connected by numerous canals and bridges. Yet, the buildings in Venice were not built directly on the islands. Instead, they were built upon wooden platforms that were supported by wooden stakes driven into the ground. –

I really liked Venice, We stayed for 3 nights. Most people come for a day and just walk along the main street by the Grand Canal and say they “saw Venice,” but really there is so much more to these amazing islands. The best way is to stay a few days and just explore on foot or by local boats (like busses on the water).

IMG_4882IMG_4989 This is the “grand canal” the widest of them all. There are 417 Bridges in Venice.  72 of them are privately owned, meaning they lead up to someone’s house.  Most are just small stone bridges that connect different parts of islands together. Over the 3 nights we spent here I think I hit most of the bridges. We walked a lot.   IMG_4980IMG_4906IMG_4897

IMG_4883 Taking a “gondola” is very expensive. 80 Euro’s for 30 minutes.  For the Americans reading this that is $87.  We did not do this, instead we took the public water bus when we wanted to visit a farther island or just for a night time ride to see the city lit up. IMG_4977IMG_4963These areas are residential areas where apartments are. Notice the stone Water urn in the center of these pictures.  Back in the day they provided clean filtered water to the local residents.  There are still some working and we saw people filling their water bottles .  Free Water. There is never “new” houses/apartments built in Venice.  It is very hard to find one “for sale” in Venice, most people move out because of the expense of living here or they get sick of the flooding (more on that later).  Fifty years ago there were 120,000 residents and today there are 60,000.  Population is declining so much that if it weren’t for the “tourists” no one would stay. Nothing at all is manufactured on the main islands.  Only some of the outer islands still manufacture glass (very famous) or lace.

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The Rialto bridge is one of the famous bridges that crosses over the Grand Canal. It is made of stone and very old.  We had to carry our suitcases over the Rialto bridge.  OH, everyone staying here MUST carry their luggage over the stone and cobblestone streets and bridges to get to their hotels. There is no cars or taxi’s. IMG_4888This is us.  We saw people with suitcases as big as me (they obviously don’t know how to pack) and having trouble going up and down the bridges.  Chumps! Now the Rialto bridge has construction work going on.

DOGES PALACE:

FUN FACT: A “doge” was the senior most elected official in Venice, Italy.  He held the highest office (kind of like the President, or Prime Minister for the Europeans reading this).

IMG_3011Located in St. Marks Square  ( a huge area with a lot of locals and tourists and pigeons) The Doges Palace was very impressive.  The Palace is huge! It was used for many purposes over the years.  GOvernment buildings where meetings were held, living quarters for Doge’s and also a prison.

Fun Fact:  If you imagine landing in Venice from the sea, as did those who came inland by ship, the first thing you see rising out of the water is the unmistakable shape of the Doge’s Palace – the city’s most famous building. IMG_5040IMG_5065This is one room in the Palace, it was the biggest room in all of Europe (for a long time) that was built without COLUMNS in the middle. It has ceiling paintings and walls, it reminds me of the Louve (it was definitely Louve worthy).  There were a lot of important government people whose pictures are on the walls too. There is one picture that has a black curtain over it that reads (in Latin) “Here lies Marin Falier, who was beheaded on April 18, 1355.”  The Prison was the most interesting part of the palace. It was not like the Prison’s of today. We had to first cross over the famous “Bridge of Sighs.”  Many people don’t know that if you were crossing over the Bridge of Sighs that means you were being taken to PRISON.  Funny how magazines and tourists take photos of such a lovely looking bridge not knowing the true history of it. See the photo of Sawyer and I by the bridge…  On the left is Doge’s Palace and on the right is the Prison, the Bridge of Sighs connects them.  AHHHHHHHHH!!! Most didn’t make it out alive. Most died because of coldness and flooding in the dungeons and crowded conditions. ”

IMG_5080“Oh NO, I’m trapped!”IMG_4940

IMG_5063the weapons room. And the Knights armor in all different sizes were on display, even kids sizes. And there long spears or javelins that they used. It must have been hard to battle in those heavy suits of armor.

Flooding: Often the tide gets so high that the streets in Venice flood, about a foot of water or more covers everything!  That’s why all the streets have these tables for people to walk on when it floods. IMG_4967 This street had the tables set up in case of a flood. It’s like a portable boardwalk.  It didn’t flood while we were here though, but when it does people are prepared. Most businesses, restaurants, hotels, and houses have  a steep first step to get in, to prevent the floodwaters from reaching. Here is picture from the interned of Venice when it floods. 

Venetian Glass

IMG_5140IMG_3076The Venetian Glass is made in Murano (an island about 15 minutes away by boat). We watched a demonstration on how the glass is made, heated and shaped into a figure.  It was very cool. I saw a horse being made and a vase.  glass is melted in the fire turning to a form you can shape with certain tools.  Since we were the only ones there we got to try it. I am blowing a glass bowl .  It was so cool.  I saw this horse being made…They make everything you can imagine from small jewelry to huge chandeliers.  They were beautiful.  The glass masters pass their trade down to their children.  Murano was cool.

IMG_2972We also visited Burano, another island much farther from Venice, 45 min by water bus. It has lovely parks and a beach area and colorful houses painted in bright colors like blue and pink.  More spacious but still has canals and bridges, less touristy with no gondola’s.  We ate dinner and had a gelato here!  In fact, we had a gelato every day!  Burano actually has some grass, unlike Venice which doesn’t have any. And a couple of trees.  IMG_5169IMG_5161

Overall Venice is great and I enjoyed my time here.

I forgot to write that I TURNED 12 YEARS OLD while in Venice, Italy.  I celebrated with a pizza and a gelato.  It was a memorable birthday!  Walking around here was cool and I liked seeing the glass being formed.  I learned a lot about the history of this place. I hope I can come here again someday. Mom and Dad liked it too, but with all the walking on hard stones, their feet hurt every day.  They are very old.  IMG_3008 if you have any questions you can email me at rileymeckley@yahoo.com

 

Barcelona, Spain

Spain.  We visited only  one city in Spain…Barcelona. Located along the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is close to southern France.

Fun Facts:  The 1992 Olympic Games were held in Barcelona, Spain.

WE WENT TO A FC BARCELONA FOOTBALL (Soccer) GAME

Lets just say Spain loves it’s soccer and the best of the best play here and fans come from all over the world to see a game at this stadium.  There is a team song that the stadium sings before and after the game.  I wish I knew the words! We got there very early to see the stadium and get “the feel” of the environment. The fans are very enthusiastic.

IMG_2858Fun Fact: The Camp Nou Stadium is the largest Football (soccer) stadium in the world. It can seat 99,700 people!  The FC Barcelona Team is the only Team that plays here and the stadium is only used for Soccer games (once in a while during the off season a concert will be held here, but not often).  The stadium has a museum with all the Barcelona trophies, history and info on the team. Going to a game is an event!  Season ticket holders hold 90 Percent of the tickets.  We were lucky to get the tickets we did. Mom surprised us with the tickets that she got a month before online.    The game was the best game I ever saw , on TV, or in person.   I really liked watching the best players working together to create opportunities to score goals. Sawyer and I liked watching Neymar doing his fabulous foot skills …he did a “rainbow”.  We watched Barcelona VS Celta de Vigo.  The score was 6-1 which is a high scoring game so we got to celebrate SO many goals with the crowd.  They sing, they chant, they cheer, they play music. You can watch the game on You Tube especially the highlights, which included Messi’s famous Penalty Kick (he faked out the goalie by passing backwards to Suarez).  The TV channels and the Soccer channels had it on for days after the game. I will never forget going to Camp Nou to see this game.IMG_4683e IMG_4850Here is Messi (10) Neymar (11) and Suarez (9).  My dad took lots of photos and we had great seats.  IMG_4859

 

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Sagrada Familia:  This is the most visited sight in Barcelona. It has a lot of history behind it, basically, it started work in 1882 and is still being worked on today.  Sagrada Familia is the Spanish word for “holy Family.”  It has tons of carvings of Bible scenes on the outside and beautiful stained glass windows on the inside. The inside also has a different kind of archetecture than you would expect to see in a church.   It is built in the middle of a residential community and it is very large. See the ariel view below of what it looks like so far.

The Sagrada Família has been under construction for over 100 yearsWe watched a lot of documentary video’s about this structure and about Gaudi, the designer of the church and what the carvings and buildings are meant say. Without the “history” behind these things I would just think it was a bunch of jumble.  The Bible scenes are very nice and I liked looking for each statue I learned about.  IMG_4638  IMG_4567This is the Three Kings bringing gifts to baby Jesus and also Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in another carving..IMG_4564

This is the inside of the church. I love all the colors of the stained glass windows.  This is just one area of glass. There were other areas with different colors.  See how the sun shines through them?IMG_4610

Fun Facts: The Sagrada Familia is only funded by private donations and entry fees from tourists, Not from Spanish government at all.

Sagrada Família is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí.  Gaudi was the influence behind the unique design concept of the church. 

It has recently been announced that La Sagrada Família will finally be finished by 2026, on the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death. The great Spanish Catalan architect lived to see only one tower erected, but construction carried on using the designs and models he left.

IMG_2812Here is Sawyer and I taking lots of notes on our observations of the  Sagrada Familia after we visited. There was a lot to write about.  After visiting we spent the rest of the day walking the city and took the Metro back to the hotel.

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PICASSO MUSEUM

Picasso work is kind of weird .  I learned about his art through photos of his paintings online, then we visited the Museum. It was a small Museum and not as interesting as the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam I visited.

Picasso , believe it or not, did some amazing “normal” paintings of people, scenery and still art earlier in his career (we saw these at the museum too) but later in his career he moved to the “abstract” art that we all know him from. Like pictures of people with triangle heads, weird eyes and lots of shapes. They had many paintings like these….and many of his earlier works which were far better in my opinion. You decide…

 The earlier paintings   VS the later paintings… ITs hard for me to believe it was the same artist…
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Barcelona was a nice city. We visited the beach but did not swim. We got to play soccer at a local park each day because the weather was so nice.  This was the first time I got to touch the MEDITERANIAN SEA.  IMG_2830
I can be reached at rileymeckley@yahoo.com if you have any questions for me.

 

France.

WELCOME TO EUROPEParis, France.  France is the largest country in Western Europe.  We rented an apartment in Paris for 9 days.  We originally were staying 6 but added more days because we LOVED IT HERE. 

Fun Facts: Paris facts: the most visited city

In 2013, 47 million tourists visited Paris and the Paris region, including Disneyland Paris and Versailles. Paris remains year after year the most visited city in the world ahead of London and New York City.

During WWII, when Hitler visited Paris, the French cut the lift cables on the Eiffel Tower so that Hitler would have to climb the steps if he wanted to reach the top.
Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923), a French engineer who designed the famous tower in Paris, which is named after him. He also designed the Statue of Liberty which stands in New York’s harbor.
 

Winter is a great time to come here because NO CROWDS anywhere. There is so many things to see. I will start with the thing everyone knows about (at least in pictures). THE EIFFEL TOWER:

FUN FACTS:  One of the worlds most recognizable icons. It was completed on March 31, 1889 and was the tallest man made monument at the time.  It was built for the Worlds fair.  There are 1,665 stairs leading to the top.  There are replica’s of the Eiffel Tower all over the world (we saw the one in Las Vegas).

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The tower sways 2-3″ in the wind. Mr. Gustaf Eiffel, designed the tower, had an apartment on the third floor.  There are 20,000 light bulbs lighting it up at night.  There was a race to see who can climb the stairs the fastest.  The tower is repainted every 7 years.

We visited on a rainy day but still went up top. It was foggy when we went and were only able to go mid way up.  I did not expect it to be as big as it was.  I thought this would be an “over rated” tourist trap, but it was actually pretty cool to see up close.IMG_3972.IMG_2377IMG_3340IMG_3734

On our walks around the city we crossed over  the Pont Neuf (New Bridge) which is actually the oldest bridge in the city (odd name for a bridge) but it was nice. It was built in 1854.  It has an “N” on it marking Napoleon’s Ruling. You see that a lot on certain buildings in Paris.  IMG_3179It crosses the Siene River and goes to an island in the river (Isle de la Citi) which has parks and the Notre Dame Cathedral on it.  The outside of the Cathedral looks very old and has tons of carvings on the entire building.  My favorite were the “gargoyles” that surround the upper level of Notre Dame.  They were built to scare away spirits and some look pretty creepy. I think they look like a combination of a bat and a dog.    IMG_3193IMG_3209IMG_3199IMG_3201Notre Dame is a  major tourist attraction but it is still used as a regular church, they  hold mass here regularly. We went on a short river cruise on the Siene River which past many of the sights in Paris and also some neighborhoods.  It was an hour long.

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The LOUVRE MUSEUM:   The Louvre is hard to put into a short explanation. It is a gigantic museum that houses so many works of art it would take 2 months to see EVERYTHING.  We got a 2 day pass and I will just post some highlights.  My dad took hundreds of photos so if you want to see them ask him!  We had an “audio guide” to help us learn about the art.  It is a device where you punch in the number of the artwork and it tells you some facts about the artist, its history, and meaning and historical significance.  We all liked learning about the art this way.  If my Art teacher is reading this she would love to see the Louvre. First off, the outside of the museum is a piece of Artwork in itself. The archeteture is amazing. It is the biggest museum in the world.  One hallway in the Louvre is half a mile long. We got a 2 day pass. You have to plan you day right. We put all of our coats in the free lockers and brought lunch with us to eat. We were lucky that it wasn’t crowded. We hear in the summer lines are 2 hours long just to get in. We practically had all the exhibits with little amount of people in them. That was great.  There is tons of history about the building itself. I watched a great documentary about it.  It started off as a Palace, even Napoleon lived here. Later on another Palace was built close by, and the then current King built a wall connecting the 2 Palaces. You can actually see the  “N” for Napoleon and the “L” for King Louis XIV on different parts of the outside of the buildings. Very cool. This is the museum from aerial view.

Le Louvre - aerial view

IMG_3575IMG_3656IMG_3609IMG_3670We liked walking on the outside just as much as the inside. IMG_3660IMG_3653

Fun Fact: The Louvre’s galleries are displayed across 652,300 square feet – which is nearly 15 acres! The galleries contain approximately 7,500 paintings, and 66% of them were created by French artists.

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THE SCULPTURES:

inside louvreThis was just one of the many galleries of sculptures.   The amazing statues of Greek and Roman gods placed in beautiful rooms.  Here are just a few photos of the hundreds of amazing sculptures.  We all loved these works of art.. IMG_3452IMG_3398Nike, the winged goddess.  this is my favorite statue of the Louvre. This was originally on a ship as the bow statue. they cant find the head:) mabey it sank in the water or was stolen. Greek and Roman gods! I saw Zues, Posidion, Hades, Aphrodite, Herculise, Artimis and lots more.  I found it weird that a lot of the statues were naked. I guess in the time that they were made, wearing your birthday suit was the style,

IMG_3539IMG_4028Sawyer and I are big fans of the “Percy Jackson” series (we’ve read all of them) and all the Gods they talk about are sculpted here. IMG_3373IMG_3360IMG_3362I would take notes to remember the important details for my journal.

IMG_3346This is the Venus De Milo.  Very famous because of the year it was made and how early this technique was used and how it inspired many other sculpters.  It was also found buried in a field. (still looking for the arms….) How cool that there were no crowds here.IMG_2326 (1)There were marble and bronze statues.  This statue of slaves represented a French Battle victory. Each slave is from 4 different countries. It originally had a fountain in the middle and was outside. It is huge and very detailed.

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Now the Paintings: Just a fraction of them.IMG_3414AIMG_3433This painting is called “The wedding at Cana”

Fun Fact:  The Wedding at Cana is a massive oil painting by the late-Renaissance or Mannerist Italian painter Paolo Veronese. It is on display in the Musée du Louvre in Paris, where it is the largest painting in that museum’s collection.

It is so big we couldn’t even fit it all in the picture.  It is actually in the same room as the “Mona Lisa” which I will wright about. The wedding  picture is HUGE! In fact it is so big, it is impossible to move it. They would have to break a lot of walls and it would be to heavy to carry. The painting was brought here in 3 pieces. I liked the art work of “The wedding at Cana”.   Here it is in  more detail.IMG_3985

The painting above is of Napoleon crowning Josephine, his wife.  In the photo there is the French Royal family and all of Napoleon’s sisters. It is called the “Coronation of Emperor Napoleon I.”  See original image

Fun Fact:  Napoleon  ordered the painter, Jacques-Louis David, to include his mother (seated on a chair) even though she wasn’t there. She didn’t approve of Josephine.

Below is the painting of a sinking ship. The ship was called The Medusa and the men in the boat have gone days without eating and in the picture they were calling out for help.

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IMG_4043IMG_4006There were so many wonderful works of art here. These were talented artists of the day. We enjoyed listening to the audio about the paintings.  I learned a lot. IMG_2295 (1) IMG_3420This is the one and only Mona Lisa.  Painted By Leonardo Da Vinchi.  It is so tiny! The Mona Lisa is good but I don’t see why its so great .  I think a lot of other pictures look better and have better art work and detail. I mean, I cant even tell what the background is supposed to be! It is not that interesting to me compared to the other paintings.  It is famous because it is the first picture with the person smiling and having posture toward the looker. You couldn’t really see the Mona Lisa that well because you had to stand away from it, and it was in a glass case, but here is a picture taken from the internet of a closer look. I think the mona lisa is over-rated. See adjacent text.

IMG_4004Just walking the halls were cool. That is me sitting in the round chair. Just look at the art work !!!!

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IMG_3517The Palace Apartments : Where Emperors and Kings like Napoleon and his wife once lived. Also King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette lived here too.

Fun Fact: Napoléon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the Revolutionary Wars.

King Louis XVI: was the last King of France. He was forced to marry Marie Antoinette at age 15 and became King at age 20. There is a lot of interesting History about this couple.

IMG_3513The apartments were very fancy. Even  though they were old fashion, I still liked them. All the rooms had high ceilings and the walls were all painted. The picture shows sawyer and  I standing in what once was the meeting room of the palace.  This is where they had ball room dances and met other leaders from other nations. They had important meetings in this room also. IMG_3524IMG_3522This is the dining room where all of the Royal family ate, especially while hosting dinners for important people. Did you know that the Royal French meals consisted of 4 different courses not counting desert. The Royal family had tons of servants that cooked ENORMAS amounts of food for them.  They ate it within 1 hour and 15 minutes at the most! You would think that a meal so big would take hours, but everyone ate fast because the servants would come and clear your dish even if you weren’t done. The table was big and could fit over 40 people! (this is one of the reasons that the French empire declined, they were using the money for stuff like this).

In the apartments, I also saw furniture that they sat on and tools they used like plates,cups,ect…  I liked seeing the apartments and it is so cool to think that I was in the same spot as all the other Kings and leaders.

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IMG_3483IMG_4061The Louvre has some foreign art sections and this is us in the Egypt part. I liked seeing the hieroglyphics carved into rock.

Below, is a picture of us with an Easter Island Maoi head. Mom and Dad have been to Easter Island and they say that it is 3 times as big, because they have a body and a head piece on top of the head.   One day I will go here and see the real ones that are still there. IMG_4009aIMG_3392 This is just one of the many rooms in the louvre with a painted celing. I liked the gold on the walls.

There is a lot of big fancy doorways here…IMG_3389I really loved seeing all the different art works in the Louvre.  A lot of the paintings had half-naked people in them and most of them were either of religious origin or of famines and people dying.  All the art was great and the artists were very talented.  The people in the paintings and sculptures looked so real and life like.  It was amazing that people can paint and sculpt  that way.

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MONT-SAINT-MICHEL

Mont Saint Michel was very interesting. We took a car to get here and it was about a 3 hour car drive from Paris.  Mont-Saint-Michel was built on an island in the 7th century.  So it is very old.

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FUN FACT- it is called Mont Saint Michel because a guy named Michel had a vision to build a monestary (a place where you learn how to become a priest or nun) on an island. So he built a church and a little town on the island.

From a distance, Mont-Saint-Michel looks like a castle. It sort of looks like the castle from the movie “tangled” or “frozen.” Mont Saint Michel is a World Heritage Site and that means people are not allow to change the way it looks.  The same buildings are there  now that there were in the 7th century.  Pretty cool! IMG_3770 It really reminds me of an ancient kingdom because there was a draw bridge with an iron gate that could come down.  All the houses were very small and tiny. Even though you cant change the buildings, you are allowed to change what to sell. 200 years ago Mont-Saint_Michel would have had a black smith, a hat maker, a general store ect… but now it has souviner shops for tourist, restarunts, and a couple of hotels. the streets are very skinny and narrow and there are some passage ways leading to houses. It is a small village and easy to find your way around.

The church is in the center of Mount-Saint-Michel. From the top there is amazing views of the ocean and land. There were lots of different rooms in the monestary for different purposes.  At one point in time they used some of the rooms for a prison.  I liked the prison. A prision cell of the old days would be dark, empty and cold. Now a days the prisons have tvs, books, a weight room and you get your own cell, 3 meals a day and you can hang out with other prisoners. Back then no one really cared how the prisioners felt so they just threw them into a dark room with lots of other people and barly gave them any food. Skeleton bones were piled next to the walls up the ceiling! We saw where the bones were.

The prison room also had a huge wheel in it. I learned that the prisoners had to walk in  the wheel to make it spin (like a hamster) in order to get food. The wheel was used for pushing up water or supplies to higher levels.  picture…You can see it in the picture below..

I also saw lots of rooms to pray and an area where the priest and nuns studied. IMG_3767 IMG_3820 IMG_3870 IMG_3878 IMG_3905this room had a lot of tables and chairs that they learned at. There was also a church section. Not as good as Notre-Dame but still nice. We practically had this entire place to ourselves. The parking lot had only 8 cars in it. In the summer time there are 3,000 cars and several hundred busses carrying tourists.  HINT: Come to Europe in the Winter!

La Baie du Mt St-Michel - © OT du Mont Saint-Michel

                           FUN FACTS……

The very tip of Mount-Saint-Michel is 157 meters above ground.

During the 1800s in French Revolution when England was occupying France, they tried to invade Mount-Saint-Michel but couldn’t because it had good forces. (the bridge wasn’t there at that time. it was added on for the tourists). During this time Mount-Saint-Michel was used as a fortress and England couldn’t get into it because of the wall, plus they fired cannons at the English ships that tried to invade.

Mount-saint-Michel was built in the 7th century

I really enjoyed going to Mount-Saint-Michel. it was such a small little town and I cant belve people still live here today! I wonder what is was like to live here 500 years ago?

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NORMANDY

Most people know Normandy as the place that D-DAY happened. My famliy and I took a tour here and it was only a 2 hour drive away from Paris. We studied up on it before coming here. We read and watched documentaries about the sites we were visiting.

The picture above shows the where the Allied forces went to help France.

If you don’t know anything about D-DAY here is a quick summery.

Fun Fact:  During World War II Hitler was taking over a lot of countrys in Europe and France was one of them. All the other countrys new that they had to stop Hitler  and the German Army before he could come over to invade the other countrys. Lots of countrys tried to defeat the German Nazis but they were too powerfull.   The allied troops, USA, CANADA, ENGLAND AND THE ANZAC TROOPS OF AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALND got together to form a war strategy to defeat the Germans. They all decided to combined all of their forces together and do one major battle.

All of the allied troops put together there Navy and Airfore to attack the Nazis. this is what it looked liked…

See all the ships and planes flying in to attack the Nazis? There was so many of them! The planes flying above droped bombs on all the Nazis bunkers and sent parracuters down.  The Navy boats fired cannons and other boats let men out onto the beach.

 The men had to swim in there gear to shore, and once they got to the beach, the Nazis fired bullets at them and they had to dodge all the traps laying on the beach. We saw replica’s of what it looked like.
There is a lot of history to D- day and World War II. I think you should research it  on your own to get a better understanding.  We won the battle because all the Allied troops combined forces and worked together to defeat the Germans.  Sadly, America lost over 9,000 soldiers during this time.  They are buried here on the cliff in Land that was given to the USA by France. We visited the cemetery and museum. Very informative. IMG_2456
Our tour took us to the Utah beach and Omaha beach. It is actually a very nice beach and people vacation here in the summer. Its hard to imagine it with traps all over the sand.
I learned a lot about NormIMG_2402andy and D-day and World War II. I even got to go in the bunkers that the Nazis lived in.IMG_2393

 

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POMPIDOU MUSEUM

The pompudu was museum was the worst museum ever!!!!  We all agreed on that.  That might be a bad way to start writing about it but I’m serious! This was some of the artwork that was displayed…IMG_2158 (1)IMG_3726

They had a canvas that was painted all blue!  Some that only had 3 lines going down.  One “Piece” just had black and white lines, another had 3 triangles.  My 3 year old cousins (Jake and Kate) can do better than that. I don’t see how people consider this art. Mom and Dad were mad we wasted 24 Euro’s to enter this place.  Don’t waste your time.  Art is what we saw in the Louvre, and seeing this “so called contemporary art was a let down”

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ARCH OF TRIUMPH

IMG_2365 this is the Arch de Triomph. It was built after the French Revolution to celebrate their victory.  The French  had a big parade through it and France still had parades under it today. Under the Arch of Triumph there is an enternal fire that stays going all through out the year.  It is to represent all those who died for France.

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My thoughts on Paris

I loved Paris. In fact it is one of my favorite cities and France mights be one of my favorite countries. I saw so many cool things here. I learned a lot about history too.

IMG_2374 This is us at a café in Paris with the Arch of Triumph in the back round. There are backery’s ALL over paris and tons of outdoor cafes. I liked the hot chocklot and muffins. My dad liked the croissants and my Mom enjoyed the macoroons. Sawyer ate anything that had suger in it. LOL

Riley’s thought- I read in a lot of books that the French people are very rude. That is just propaganda because they are not. In fact they are very helpful and will always show you directions and enjoy meeting foreigners.

One thing I noticed about the French is that they where a lot of big puffy scarfs in the winter, and they never take their coat off inside. I don’t know why.?

The buildings in Paris are very old, unlike NY city,  there aren’t any sky scrapers and the buildings are always less then 6 storys high. That is one of the reasons I like Paris. IMG_3693

If you would like to email me my email is rileymeckley@yahoo.com     I will get back to you as soon as I can.