Category Archives: tours

The Federal Reserve: Money Museum (Denver, Colorado)

Denver Federal Reserve/Money Museum (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=31823)

Denver Money Museum
~ 1020 16th St, Denver, CO 80202
https://www.denver.org/listing/federal-reserve-bank-of-kansas-city-denver-branchs-money-museum/7216/ .

The Money Museum is part of the Denver Federal Reserve and is located along the 16th street mall. It is open Monday through Friday and offers free tours during the day. This little one room display enables the visitor to learn about the Federal Reserve and how money works. While there is no admission, you need to be at least 18 years of age and go through a screening. After the tour, they gift you a bag of shredded money. I actually didn’t really enjoy the visit. Glad it was free. They need a better display and presentation. Rating: 2 star out of 5 (Visited 8/5/17)

Denver Federal Reserve/Money Museum (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=31823), 16th street Mall, Denver, Colorado. Street Scenes. New Life in Colorado: Chronicle 26 – Chronicles of Sir Thomas Leaf and Prince Cian. Adventures in Colorado. Photos taken Saturday, 5 August 2017. To read the adventures, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/?p=21965. To read reviews, visit: www.technogypsie.com/reviews. All photos and articles (c) 2017 Technogypsie.com – by Leaf McGowan and Thomas Baurley. All rights reserved. www.technogypsie.com/photography

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The Maid of the Mist Tour (Niagara Falls)

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Maid of the Mist Tour
* Niagara Falls State Park, Niagara, New York *

If you want to get a good look at the Bridal Veil Falls or the Horseshoe Falls from the American side. It begins as a ferry boat that issues you a rain poncho and takes you out from the calm side of the Niagara River near the Rainbow Bridge. The Tour takes you by the American and Bridal Veil Falls, and then into the spray heavy curve of Horseshoe/Canadian Falls. The tour can be accessed either from the American or the Canadian side. The tour is operated by the Maid of the Mist Steamship Company. The first boat was launched in 1846 to ferry people from Canada to America and vice versa. It lost business when the Suspension Bridge was built and became a tour system. Numerous boats and versions were constructed and used through the years. The very first Maid of the Mist I ran from 1846 until 1854 as a double-stacked steamboat ferry. Business failed in the late 1800’s and was not restored until 1895. The boats have saved a few people who plunged over Horseshoe Falls through the years. The Canadian operations will close in October of 2013. Most likely will be operated by another company on the Canadian side in the near future. Rating: 5 stars out of 5

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Cave of the Winds (Niagara Falls, NY)

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Cave of the Winds
* Goat Island * Niagara Falls State Park, New York *

Not to be confused with Cave of the Winds in Colorado, the Cave of the Winds Niagara was a natural cave that ran behind Bridal Veil Falls in the Niagara Falls State Park on the U.S.A. side of the Niagara River. It ran roughly 130 feet deep and was discovered in 1834. It was originally called “Aolus’ Cave” named as such in tribute to the Greek God of the Winds. Tours began in 1841 taking people down within for a view of the falls from beneath. Unfortunately in 1920 a rock fall made the actual cave no longer safe to go within. Tours began again in 1924 bringing visitors to the foot of the falls, but does not go behind it. There are points along the decks and walk ways where tropical storm-like conditions can be felt with winds upwards of 70 mph raging under the falls. The cave eventually eroded away by rockfalls finally in 1954 and the name of the attraction as a “cave” is more a “underlook” and “overlook” depending on your viewing platform. The platforms are removed every winter to avoid damage by ice fall, and are not bolted into the rocks, but rather wedged into the crevices.

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The Jeanie Johnson Museum Tour (Dublin, Ireland)

Jeannie Johnson Tall Sailing Ship & Museum

Jeannie Johnson Tall Sailing Ship & Museum
Dublin, Ireland

Sitting in the Harbour of the River Liffey, just outside the CHQ Building is the replica of the infamous “Jeanie Johnston” ~ the three masted barque built in 1847 by John Munn that brought settlers over to the New World during the great Irish Famine. This replica was completed in 2002 and now sits primarily as a onboard history museum with night activities and events. The replica was designed by former Chief Naval Architect Fred Walker with the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich England. She is originally established as a ocean-going sail training vessel at sea and then in port coverts to a living history museum over the 19th century emigration between Ireland and the Americas. For 8 Euro or less, a guided tour takes you to her upper and lower decks giving a full narrated history of her chronology, feats, and sorrows. The main cabin demonstrates a picturesque view of what life was like onboard with numerous wax figures of her historic passengers. Overall the tour was masterfully done and a wonderful piece of Dublin’s maritime history. A must visit to any Irish tourist. Rating: 5 stars out of 5 by Leaf McGowan

Jeannie Johnson Tall Sailing Ship & Museum

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Australian National Museum

National Museum of Australia
* Lawson Crescent * Acton Peninsula, Canberra ACT 2601 * (02) 6208 5000 *

One of Australia’s most brilliant and diverse museums is the National Museum of Australia in Canberra within the heart of the Australian Capital Territory. It was established in 1980 by the National Museum of Australia Act to preserve and interpret Australian history, cultures, people, and events that made Australia what it is today. It was homeless until March 11, 2001 when it opened its doors in the national capital. Diverse collections and exhibits ranging from 50,000 Before Present upwards to the current day with focus on the Aborigine, the original inhabitants, their beliefs, culture, and myths. It covers European settlement of these shores from 1788 to modern day and focuses on the material culture that Australia creates both past and present. They possess the largest collection of Aboriginal bark paintings and stone tools found in Australia. Exhibits rotate around like all major museums and during my visit had a feature called “Not Just Ned” covering the Irish immigration to Australia. In addition to a massive artifact collection, they have a wide range of books, catalogues, and journals in their archives. Highly innovative and on track with technology, the Museum is notable for its advancement and design. They have an incredible outreach program with regional communities as well as a inclusion with the Aborigines. The Museum was designed by architect and design director Howard Raggatt themed with knotted ropes symbolizing the weaving together of Australian stories and tales. The entire building and grounds tells the story of creation, the Dreaming, and immigration of these shores. The building is at the center of the knot with trailing ropes or strips extending from the building, forming large loops that are walkways extending past the neighbouring AIATSIS building ending in a large curl aligning as the “Uluru Axis” representing the Australian natural landmark. This design incorporates Bed Maddock’s “Philosophy Tape”, Jackson Pollock’s “Blue Poles”, the Boolean String, A knot, Ariadne’s thread, and the Aboriginal Dreamtime story of he Rainbow Serpent creating the land. Within the Museum complex is an exact copy of the lightning flash zigzag that Libeskind created for the Berlin Museum by breaking a five pointed star of David. This initially brought allegations of plagiarism. Its exterior is covered with anodised aluminum panels that include worlds written in braille. These words include “mate”, “She’ll be right”, “sorry”, and “forgive us our genocide”. In 2006 the Museum was damaged by a hail storm that caused the ceiling to collapse, expose power cables, and flood the floor.

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HMB Endeavour

HMB Endeavour
* 1994 – Present * Australian Maritime Museum, Sydney, Australia * http://www.anmm.gov.au/ *

In honor of one of the world’s greatest explorers, Captain James Cook, and his ship the HMS Endeavor, a replica was started in 1988 to commemorate the Australian Bicentenary of European Settlement in Australia by the Bond Corporation. Constructed in Fremantle, Western Australia, she was completed in 1993 and commissioned in 1994 as one of the world’s most accurate maritime reproductions ever built. She took funding from various organizations, corporations, government, and private sources as well as labor and support from volunteers in the Fremantle community. She was operated by the HM Bark Endeavor Foundation until 2005. She was taken over by the Australian government through the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) in 2005 to the present day. Her maiden voyage took place in October of 1994 sailing to Sydney Harbour and following Cook’s path from Botany Bay to Cooktown. From 1996-2002 she retraced Cook’s ports of call around the world arriving in Whitby in 2002. She has since circum-navigated the world twice with over 170,000 nautical miles on her clock, visiting over 29 countries, most of the Pacific Islands, a ship museum in 116 ports, and this year of 2011, has embarked upon its first ever circumnavigation of Australia replicating Captain Cook’s original circling of Australia that is expected to take 13 months of sailing with a core professional crew and 40 adventurous voyage crew members learning the ropes of sailing a historic ship and what life was like in the 18th century onboard. The HMB will be docking at various ports every 5-12 days as it makes its way around Australia for visitors to embrace her glory and tour her presence in port of these particular cities as a floating museum. She will be docking in Brisbane (28 April – 8 May 2011), Gladstone (21 – 26 May), Townsville (10 – 14 June), Cairns (24 June – 5 July), Darwin (3 – 14 August), Geraldton (30 September – 4 October), Fremantle (14 October – 1 November), Bunbury (9 – 13 November), Fremantle (20 November – 30 December), Albany (14 – 18 January 2012), Port Lincoln (4 – 8 February), Adelaide (16 – 23 February), Portland (7 – 11 March), Hobart (24 March – 3 April), Melbourne (18 – 29 April), Eden (9 – 13 May) with brief visits to Thursday Island, North Qld (16 – 19 July 2011), Broome, WA (29 August – 1 September 2011) and Exmouth, WA (14 – 17 September 2011) to take on provisions and exchange voyage crew. Voyage crew members will sleep in hammocks and work hard climbing masts and hoisting sails. Four “supernumeraries” will have their own individual cabins and participate in the less arduous tasks on the ship. She has been completely refit for this 2011 voyage. The ship is beautifully crafted in replica-fashion giving the visitor a glimpse of a sailor’s life during the epic 1768-1771 voyage that brought Captain Cook to the shores of Australia. The replica has over 30 kilometers of rope and over 50 wooden blocks and pulleys, masts and spars holding 28 sails that manifest over 10,000 square feet of canvas. Life will be demonstrated during the tours on deck, in the galley where one can view the great firehearth that was state of the art in 1768. One can look over Captain Cook’s Great Cabin where he worked, dined, and shared quarters with the world famous botanist Joseph Banks. The replica is under the command of its regular master aptain Ross Mattson. While every advantage to power her by wind will be used in every respect as Cook’s original vessel could, she also carries engines, generators, an electric galley, showers, and safety equipment hidden in the cargo hold where the historic provisions were originally kept. Her 2011 voyage can be viewed in a daily log/ blog beginning here: http://anmm.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/day-1-%e2%80%93-sydney-to-brisbane-fond-farewells/.

The masts, bowsprit, deck, and topsides are all laminated Douglas fir on the HMB Endeavor. The Original ship, the HMS Endeavor, had spruce or fir as the main wood. The keel, lower hull, and frame of the ship is made from Western Australian hardwood jarrah while the HMS was of oak or elm. The HMB Endeavor’s sails are made from a synthetic canvas called Duradon while the original was of flax canvas. Over 18 miles of rope is used in the rigging. The six anchors with four carried on the bow weighing just under a ton in weight were replicated from those found after being lost from the original Endeavor on the Great Barrier Reef in 1770. The anchors are raised by the catheads and winched up by the windlass, all of which are replicated from the specifics of the original ship. The seats of ease are also replicated that are located by the catheads. The HMB Endeavor strikes the ship’s bell to tell the time of day – struck each half hour. A four hour watch is comprised of 1-8 bells with one hour indicated by two bells struck closely together. The firehearth down below has been replicated as a huge iron stove sitting on a stone hearth set on tin and sand to protect the deck in the best way possible to mimic the HMS Endeavor as a working model. It gained such attention in that it works and cooks 18th century type meals so well, it was featured in the BBC documentary “The Ship” filmed on board in 2001. Various 18th century replicas of kitchen and feasting items are on display. On the hatch are displayed various casks, containers, and sailmaker’s tools. A piece of pig iron ballast from the original ship recovered from the Endeavor Reef in Queensland is lashed to the central pillar representing the only original item on board. Hammocks and swinging cots were replicated and used by the operational crew. Mattresses onboard are handmade following 1760 specifications stuffed with wool and cotton waste. The latticed pantries were used for food storage and the preparation areas where Captain Cook would make plans is now where the navigation equipment is stored. The cabin of Charles Green, the Royal Society appointed astronomer, contains a copy of his original hand-made paper journal he made observations in by quill. The replicated curtains and bedspread are an attempt to match that which his wife originally made for him. The cabin shared by the artists, Sydney Parkinson and Alexander Buchan contain copies of Parkinson’s paintings, clothes, books, and personal effects. A marine was posted in the lobby of the ship day and night to protect the captain. Captain James Cook’s cabin is the largest on board with replicas of his desk, books, charts, and uniform on display. All sheets (linen) and curtains (wool) are hand loomed and hand finished. James Cook and Joseph Banks shared the cabin, replicas of his cloak he traded in New Zealand, shaving gear, and collection of shells from the voyage are in this room.

The heating stove is replicated from the one recovered in the 1984 discovery of the HMS Pandora wreck sunk on the Great Barrier Reef while returning Bounty mutineers in 1791. Corner cupboards and serving table show replicated bottles and pewter. The wooden trunnel in the sternpost surrounded by a brass ring was carrid aboard the US Shutle Endeavour’s maiden flight in 1992. Many gifts from the indigenous community are scattered throughout the Great Cabin including an Australian Aboriginal dalungda (nautilus shell) pendant, maori taiaha war staff, maori manaia of carved whale bone, australian aboriginal dithol, bunch of feathers, sooke indian paddle, french boomerang, South American seed, Australian Aboriginal boomerang and message stick.

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Hellfire Club Dublin

Hellfire Club Tour – Dublin, Ireland
* http://www.hiddendublinwalks.com/ghost-tour-dublin.php

I really wanted to experience this ghost tour – but unfortunately Hidden Dublin Walks cancelled the tour sometime between me waiting at the Brazenhead and the 20 minutes it took for a representative to show up to tell me it was cancelled. So its on my list of things to do for my next visit to Dublin in 2011. For €22 the Hidden Dublin Walks will bus you out to the infamous ruins of the Hellfire Club and tell you haunted tales. They do the tour every thursday at 7 pm meeting outside the Brazenhead tavern at 20 Lower Bridge Street in Dublin. However, best to book online or make reservations for if they don’t have enough attending, they won’t do the tour. The also offer private larger group excursions upon reservation request. On the dark road to the Hellfire Club they will tell more legends and lore, ghostly tales, and stories about St Patrick’s Cathedral, Rathfarnham Castle and Kilakee House as well as the dark Dublin Mountains range that you will be entering. A walking tour through the haunted hunting lodge that dates to 1725 C.E. that is a rumored location for Satanic rites, supernatural tales, and Occult practices. The storyteller tells the tale of its history, the destruction of ancient megalithic monuments on the site, the exhumation of the demonic statue and dwarf statue as well as the presumed evil rituals, events, and black masses, rumored human and animal sacrifices, and the infamous card game called “cloven-hoofed visitor”. Travel time and tour takes about 2 and a half hours.

The Legendary Hellfire Club a.k.a. Club Thine Ifrinn is a ruin located on Montpelier Hill that stands about 383 metres high in County Dublin, Ireland. The building is an Palladian architecture designed old hunting lodge built in 1725 by William Conolly, a Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. Conolly purchased Mountpelier Hill from Philip the Duke of Wharton, the founder of the first Hellfire Club in 1719. The upper floor consists of a hall and two reception rooms, on the east side was a third timber-floored level with sleeping quarters. The Ground floor hosts a kitchen, servant’s quarters, and the stairs to the upper floors. The house had a semi-circular courtyard enclosed by a low stone wall and entered by a gate. Originally on this summit was a cairn with a prehistoric passage grave that was desecrated and used to construct the hunting lodge formerly called “Mount Pelier Lodge”. A standing stone that was on the hill was used for the lintel over the fireplace. Shortly after its completion, a storm blew off the roof, which locals blamed was the work of the Devil as punishmen for destroying the cairn/passage tomb. Conolly rebuilt the roof which remains today. Connoly died in 1729. The Connolly Family let the lodge to the Hellfire Club. Members of the Irish Hell Fire Club, an elite social group of occultists, have been said to actively used the lodge as their meeting place from 1735-1741. Rumors and local imaginations ran amiss claiming wild parties, debauchery, occult practices, human/animal sacrifices, Satanic rites, and demon manifestations took place at the location. No accounts of how much the Hellfire club actually used the estate as it was pretty remote. Many publications such as Robert Chamber’s Book of Days (1864) and the Gentleman’s Magazines (1731-1922) states there was heavy use of the estate by the Club. The lodge was damaged by fire so the members of the Hellfire Club relocated down the hill to the nearby Steward’s House which is also rumored to be haunted by a massive black cat. Today Montpelier Hill and much of the surrounding lands are owned by the State forestry company Coillte and are open to the public.

The Hellfire Clubs internationally were the name for several exclusive clubs of high society rakes that were established in Britain and Ireland in the 18th century. These were related to the “Order of the Friars of St. Francis of Wycombe”. Supposedly these clubs were the meeting places of “persons of quality” who wished to take part of immoral acts. Most of the members were politicians. The very first Hellfire club was founded in London in 1719 by Philip Duke of Wharton. The Club motto went with the philosophy of “Fais ce que tu voudras” (Do what thou wilt) – a philosophy of life associated with Franηois Rabelais’ fictional abbey at Thιlθme and later used by Aleister Crowley. Practices were believed to be rigorously Pagan with Bacchus and Venus as the Deities of honor who were legendarily sacrificed to while nymphs and hogsheads were laid in against he festivals of the new church. The Irish Hellfire Club was founded in 1735 by Richard Parsons, the 1st Earl of Rosse and Colonel St. Leger. The president of the club was Richard Chappell Whaley, a descendant of Oliver Cromwell and was known as “Burn Chapel” Whaley since he had the thirst for setting fires to Catholic churches. Most of their meetings took place either at the Eagle Tavern on Cork Hill near Dublin Castle or at Daly’s Club on College Green. Legend has it that the members drank “saltheen” – a mixture of whiskey and hot butter and that they left a chair vacant at each meeting for the Devil. Their mascot was supposedly a big black cat. One of the legends is of a stranger who arrived at the Club on a stormy night. He was invited in and joined the members in a card game. One player dropped his card on the floor and when he bent down under the table to retrieve the card he noticed the stranger had a cloven foot. Shortly after the visitor disappeared in a ball of flame. Another tale tells of a priest who came to the house one night and found the members engaged in the sacrifice of a black cat. Supposedly the priest grabbed the cat and uttered an exorcism upon which a demon was released from the cat’s corpse. Another tale tells of Simon Luttrell, the Lord Irnham later Earl of Carhampton and once Sheriff of Dublin has supposedly made a pact with the Devil to give up his soul within seven years in return for settling his debts, but when the Devil came to the Hellfire Club to claim his due, Luttrell distracted the Devil and fled. Luttrell is also the man referred to as “The Diaboliad” in a 1777 C.E. poem dedicated to the “Worst Man in England”. Another legend states there was a sacrifice of a dwarf on this site. The Hellfire Club was revived in 1771 and active for another 30 years and called “The Holy Fathers”. They too supposedly met at Mount Pelier Lodge. One legend has it the members kidnapped, murdered, and ate a nearby farmer’s daughter. At this time its most notorious member was Thomas Buck Whaley the son of Richard Chappell Whaley. When he passed away in 1800, the Irish Hellfire Club supposedly died with him. Supposedly in 1970 a dwarf human skeleton was found below the floor of Killakee House, another location for Hellfire Club meetings.

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Old Bushmills Distillery


Bushmills Distillery

Bushmills Distillery
* The Distillery * 2 Distillery Rd, Bushmills BT57 8XH, United Kingdom/Northern Ireland * 028 2073 1521 * www.bushmills.com *

Bushmills is the home of the identically named Irish Malt Whiskey that is distilled in the Old Bushmills Distillery. This Distillery is the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world. Bushmills has been manufacturing since 1608 for over 400 years. They are also notorious for their Single Malt Whiskies called “Bushmills” and “Black Bush”. “Irish Whiskey” is also called the “Uisce Beatha” which means “Water of Life” in Irish Gaelic. Bushmills is known for their warm, distinctive tastes and the arts/craft used by the Distillery to distill them, which has been passed down for generations. The Distillery hosts daily 2 hour tours educating visitors in the process and craft as well as providing tasting opportunities. Bushmills utilizes the magical waters from the Springs of St. Columb’s Rill, processes it, runs it through triple distillation in its copper stills, then matures the spirits in oak casks. Irish Malt Whiskeys are closely related to the Scotch Malt Whisky with the differences of Irish Whiskey is spelt with an “e”, and in Scotland the malted barley acquires a peaty smoky character as it is dried whereas Bushmills is never smoked thereby granting it a honeyed malt flavor. Bushmills is very proud of its ingredients and processes. Bushmills is gluten free (distillation removes glutens from the cereals), is Kosher (status awarded by Chief Rabbinate of Ireland) and are suitable for vegans and vegetarians as they are made from barley, corn, or wheat, and other cereal grains, water, and yeast. They are distilled in oak casks which previously only contained spirit or fortified wine – no animal products used in production. Bushmills is healthy, and a 25 ml serving of the whiskey is only 56 calories and an ABV alcoholic strength of 40% (alcohol by volume). The Distillery reserves typically range from 50 to 60% abv.

It began in 1608 when the distillery became licensed by King James I. By 1784 the Distillery became an officially registered company and word spread of the elixir especially from 1740-1910 with the Irish emigrants to the USA. The 1920’s Prohibition in the United States banning sale and consumption of alcohol harshly hurt Bushmills but they managed to ride through it even though at many levels they were dependent on sales from the USA. The Director at the time, Wilson Boyd, took the advantageous step in predicting the end of Prohibition and had ready to export large stores of whiskey. Isaac Wolfson bought Bushmills after WWII, and the Irish Distillers group took it over in 1972 controlling all Irish whiskey at the time suffering serious neglect as their whiskey stocks decreased in order to increase market shares of Jameson Whiskey which is Irish Distiller’s main brand. The French group Pernod Ricard took over Bushmills in 1988 and then in 2005 it was purchased by Diageo for 200 million pounds.

    Bushmills produces:

  • White Bush – Bushmills White Label, Bushmills Original – Blend of single malt Irish whiskey and Irish grain whiskey that is matured in American oak casks.
  • Black Bush – Premiere blend with more proportion of malt to grain whiskey than the Whie. Selected Spanish Oloroso sherry-seasoned oak casks are used to mature the malt before it is blended with delicate sweet single grain whiskey. Created in 1934.
  • Bushmills 10 year single malt – Matured in American bourbon barrels for 10 years.
  • Bushmills 12 year Single Malt – A special edition sold only at the Bushmills distillery that is matured mostly in sherry casks.
  • Bushmills 16 Year Single Malt – matured for 16 years or more in a combination of American bourbon barrels, Spanish Oloroso sherry butts, and Port pipes.
  • Bushmills 21 Year Single Malt – A limited number of 21 year bottles are made annually and matured in 3 different types of casks – first in American bourbon barrels and then in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks for 19 years, then in Madeira drums for 2 more years before bottling.
  • Bushmills 1608 – Special 400th Anniversary whiskey containing 95% malt and 5% grain whiskey made with 30% crystal malt for smoothness. Now only available at the Distillery and in Duty Free.

Rating of the tour: As a big fan of Bushmills, I was pretty excited to see the distillery. I was a bit discouraged after the tour as I didn’t see anything in operation and thought it was very dry and boring. The tour guide however knew her stuff and did an excellent job with the presentation. Of course the samples of Bushmills were delicious and spirited, but after taking the Jameson distillery tour (even though they weren’t producing) which was 100 times better, I look back at the Bushmills tour and felt ripped off with the admission they charged. Rating: 2 stars out of 5 for the Tour; 5 stars out of 5 for the liquor.

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Newgrange


Newgrange:

Bru na Boinne, County Meath, Ireland
One of Ireland’s most infamous monuments and archaeological sites, Newgrange is amongst the Bru na Boinne World Heritage sites next to Knowth and Dowth. It is popular like Stonehenge with its Solstice astronomical line-ups and viewing of the sun as it appears through its portal. The monument is a large mound complex shaped like a giant kidney covering an area of about an acre of land and is surrounded by 97 kerbstones most of which are decorated by megalithic rock art. Newgrange is one of the best examples in Ireland and Western Europe of a passage grave or tomb. Constructed around 3200 BCE, this site is older than the Egyptian pyramids and a 1,000 years older than Stonehenge.

Located along a elongated ridge on the Boyne River, five miles west of Drogheda, and close to the location where the Battle of the Boyne took place in 1690. Built entirely with stone tools, the Faerie Sidhe (folklore) or Passage Grave (Archaeology) is an impressive monument: The purpose of the monument is disputed greatly as there is no evidence that Newgrange was used as a repository for bodies, bones, burial artifacts or ash. Mythology tells us that the Tuatha De Danann, legendary first rulers of Ireland, built Newgrange as a burial place for their chief – the Dagda Mor with his three sons. The site is also believed to be where the hero Cuchulainn was conceived by his mother Dechtine. Also listed in mythology as a Faerie Mound, it was believed to have been the home of Oenghus, the God of Love. Other theories are that it was a place of worship for a “cult of he dead”; or for astronomically-based faiths. It is also believed to have been a burial site for Celtic Kings and a meeting place for Druids and Faeries. Legends state that t some otherworldly conditions, the Queen of the Faeries can be seen here with her subjects.

Visitors can only access Newgrange via bus shuttle from the visitor center at Bru na Boinne and those wishing to see the Winter Solstice sunrise light-up has to be awarded via lottery for the experience with a select few other lottery winners. A 19 meter long inner passage leads to a cruciform chamber with a corbelled roof. At the end of the passage are three small chambers off the larger central chamber. Each of the smaller chambers has a large flat “basin stone”; which is where it is believed the bones of the dead were originally deposited. During the Winter Solstice, lights of the rising sun enters the roofbox – lighting up the passage, and shining onto the floor of the inner chamber – illuminating the room for 17 minutes. Megalithic Rock Art surrounds the monument with some world notable pieces such as the triskel carved on the entrance stone, Kerbstone 1 and 52. Other rock art carvings fit into one of ten categories, five of which are curvilinear (circles, spirals, arcs, serpentine forms, and dot-in-circles), and the other five are rectilinear (chevrons, lozenges, radials, parallel lines and offsets). Intriguing archaeological finds were found throughout the site, including Roman coins, an iron wedge, and a stone phallus. It is believed to have taken 20 years to build with a work force dedicated all of those years full time of 300 individuals. Under the burial tomb theory, it is believed to have been sealed and closed for several millenia after which the local folklore and mythology of the faeries were believed to be assigned to the mound. The site was used for ritual purposes well into the Iron Age.

The Passage tomb was re-discovered in 1699 when material for road building was being harvested from the mound. A large excavation of the mound took place in 1962 as well as the rebuilding of the original facade of sparkling white quartz stones found at the site. Newgrange has been compared to the Gavrinis passage tomb in Brittany for which it is very similar to. The Gavrinis cairn is 5,500 years old; 60 meters in diameter, and covers a passage and chamber that is lined with elaborately engraved stone. Newgrange is built of alternating layers of earth and stone with grass growing atop, and the front reconstructed facade is of flattish white quartz stone studded at intervals with large rounded cobbles covering the circumference. Newgrange was found written about as a tumulus in a letter by Edward Lhwyd in December 15, 1699. The Annals of the Four Masters state that the Danes plundered Newgrange in 861. It has been said that during the first excavation, a large amount of treasures including ornaments and fictilia (earthenware objects) including a gold chain, two rings, a gold trocks, a bronze pin, and a small iron weapon were recovered.


 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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Dublinia Museum

Dublina Viking & Medieval History Museum
* http://www.dublinia.ie/ * St Michaels Hill * Christchurch, Dublin 8, Co. Dublin, Ireland * 01 679 4611 *
Located within and connected to the infamous Christ Church Cathedral of Dublin (a.k.a. “The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity”) is now one of Dublin’s most spectacular and interactive museums/tourist attractions. Christ Church is the elder of Dublin’s two medieval cathedrals, next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Christ Church is officially claimed as a set of both the Church of Ireland and the Roman Catholic archbishops in Dublin. The Museum and Cathedral sits in the former heart of medieval Dublin next to WOod Quay at the end of Lord Edward Street. Christ Church is the only one of the three cathedrals that can be seen from the River Liffey. It is the home of the purported tomb of “Strongbow” – the medieval Norman-Welch warlord who came to Ireland and marking the start of English involvement in Ireland. The Dublinia Museum tells the story about how Dublin was settled by the Vikings and that is was an important medieval mecca at one time. It was established by the Medieval Trust in the rooms of the disused Synod Hall. The concentration of the museum is between the 11th century and the Reformation. The museum is a living history museum, with hands-on displays, and typical museum artifact displays. Reconstructed dioramas give glimpses of Dublin in the Middle Ages. The Museum gets quite crowded and is sometimes difficult to navigate around. The museum also houses the archaeological finds and a presentation of the current excavations of Wood Quay. The museum is linked by a bridge to Christ Church. Parts of the building are visible and climbing the tower will give you spectacular views of Dublin’s skyline. There are three prime exhibitions in Dublinia: (1) Viking Dublin Exhibition, (2) Medieval Dublin Exhibition, and (3) History Hunter’s Exhibition. Visitors can explore the Viking times of Dublin, its settlement, what life is like on a Viking warship, the clothing, what it is like to be a slave, and how cramped Viking homes were. Visitors can learn the runic alphabet and learn the mythos of the time. Visitors can see medieval Dublin – following history from Strongbow to the Reformation, what warfare and crime/punishment was like in the times, and about the Black Death. Visitors can get a glimpse of the historic Dubin Faire. Tourists can also gain insight into modern archaeological practices and current digs in the area, the technology they use, and the tools they utilize. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.


Sidewalk outside Dublina

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7.28.09: Cronicles of STL: Chapter 18: ‘The Oregon Trail & Hearth Quest: Day 1’


[ Back to Chapter 17: Flower Fairies ]   [ Chapter 18: Oregon Trail ]   [ Chapter 19: Death to the Vardo ]


The turkeys in my neighbourhood with their baby hatchlings

From the journal of Sir Thomas “Rymour Oisin” Leaf: Tuesday, The 28th of Quintilis (Julius Caesar’s “July”) in the good year 2009 of the Common Era


“The lab was busy today as I wound up working late. I originally was trying to get off work by 2:30 pm, but last minute requests delayed departure. I was out the door by 4:00 pm. We had a larger management entity come to evaluate our program, lots of house cleaning, struggling with total station downloads, and the installation of software on the field laptops as well as end of the month activities. As I was driving down my road home to get some last minute items I forgot, I noticed my computer speaker cable was dragging outside of my vardo (2003 Toyota Matrix). Damn … so had to replace the speakers – no longer would work. Nice to see the local turkeys had some hatchlings. Symbollic of new life and new beginnings for this journey. Something big is in store for me. Running around doing errands afterwards caused more delays as I hit the bank for $200 cash, went shopping at the Bargain Mart in Manitou Springs for cheap travel goodies, and then finally got out of Colorado Springs by 5:30 pm … just in time for rush hour. I had wanted to get an oil change. No time. Checked the fluids, all look good. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself cruising through Denver by 6:30 pm as the traffic seemed to dissipate early for my journey. Onto the Oregon Trail I was as I drove on through the plains and into Laramie by 9:30 pm. A quick gas up and then onwards to Rock Springs, Wyoming … at 400.7 miles into the journey at 1:00 am, it was time to sleep. I crashed at a rest area outside of Rock Springs, Wyoming – sleeping from 1-7 am.


The Oregon Trail and the Wild West

Continue reading 7.28.09: Cronicles of STL: Chapter 18: ‘The Oregon Trail & Hearth Quest: Day 1’

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Lady of the Rhine, Sect 2: Chapter 15, Part B (4/9) – The New Amsterdam Free Tour, pt. 2 – Begijnhof, Amsterdam Miracle, Dutch Courtyards & Paintings, Multatuli, The Bird

Part B


Entering the Begijnhof

Thursday, 9 April 2009
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Sir Thomas Leaf was inspired by the healing energies of the plaza that was mythologically known for its healing and the bread that doesn’t burn. From the crazy wild partying city of Amsterdam – a walk through a door to another dimension – into a Dutch square where it was sacred, quiet, and tranquil. Intriguing thoughts about the key swarmed Leaf’s mind. He realized he is closer yet to discovering the ‘key of life’. After the tranquility, Kevin led the band to oogle over the Dutch masterpiece painting and learning about the seals and marks of Amsterdam. The tour ended at Anne Frank’s house where the story of “tolerant” Amsterdam stood up against the Nazis and the tragedies befell that struggle. Hungry for Thai food, Sir Thomas Leaf and Princess Brea headed over to the Asian District to try out the highly recommended “Bird Thai” restaurant which they quite enjoyed. Wandering back to the hostel for a nap and down time before exploring the nightlife with the New Amsterdam Tour’s Pub Crawl.

Read my telling and review about the Amsterdam Miracle and the Begijnhof / Chapel here …

Continue reading Lady of the Rhine, Sect 2: Chapter 15, Part B (4/9) – The New Amsterdam Free Tour, pt. 2 – Begijnhof, Amsterdam Miracle, Dutch Courtyards & Paintings, Multatuli, The Bird

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The world’s thinnest or smallest house


[see red thin building scrunched in the middle]

The world’s thinnest or smallest house

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Claimed to be the narrowest house in the world, it is most certain the thinnest in all of Amsterdam is located at Singel 7. It is just a meter wide (3 1/2 feet), barely wider than the front door. Its a false illusion though, only the front facade is so narrow as behind that it broadens out to more normal proportions. The real narrowest house is at Oude Hoogstraat 22 between the Dam and Nieuwmarkt. It possesses the typical Amsterdam bell gable and is 2 meters (6 1/2 ft) wide and 6 meters (20 feet) deep. Its closest rival is 2.4 meters wide (7 3/4 feet) wide which is nearby at Kloveniersburgwal 26; this is the cornice-gabled Klein Trippenhuis, also known as Mr. Trip’s Coachman’s House which faces the elegant Trippenhuis at no. 29, which, at 22m (72 ft.), is the widest Old Amsterdam house. This was done in all of these cases to escape high taxes which the Dutch imposed based on the width of the house facade. A common evasion tactic still made life difficult. More information can be found at: Frommer’s: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/amsterdam/0043021197.html.

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Multatuli Statue (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)



Multatuli Statue

Amsterdam, Holland

The Multatuli statue was an inspirational work of contemporary Dutch artist Hans Bayens (b. 1924) as a tribute to Eduard Douwens Dekker. Eduard Douwes Dekker (1820-1887) who was a strong critic of Dutch imperialism and a popular Dutch satirist of the 19th century. He revelled and was famous for his skewering of the middle classes in their classism and racism. Dekker was actually born in Amsterdam as his father was a ship’s captain. His father intended for Dekker to follow in his footsteps but trade disgusted Dekker and in 1838 he became a civil servant in Java and eventually became the assistant-resident at Ambon. In 1857 he was transferred to the Bantam residency of Java in Lebak gaining all the secrets of the Dutch administration in his career progressions. He really hated the abuses of the colonial system and was threatened with dismissal from his office for his verbal protests. Upon his resignation and return to the Netherlands, he became much more vocal about his indignation and desire to expose all of the scandals he witnessed. He did so by the sword of the pen in newspaper articles and pamphlets, and finally in 1860 with his novel “Max Havelaar” under the pseudonym of “Multatuli”. This name was derived from Latin and means “I have suffered (or witnessed) much”. He exposed the abuse of free labour in the Dutch Indies and caused quite a controversy. He went on to publish Love Letters in 1861 which were mordant unsparing satires. After Dekker left the Netherlands to live in Wiesbaden, he became interested in theater. He wrote the School for Princes (1875 in the fourth volume of Ideas) which expressed his non-conformist views on politics, society and religion. He eventually moved his residence to Nieder Ingelheim, on the Rhine, where he died in 1887. By 2002 the Society for Dutch Literature proclaimed Multatuli the most important Dutch writer of all time.

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The Leaning Buildings of Amsterdam

Leaning Buildings

Many of the buildings along the canals are “leaning”

Because the buildings have “winches” atop them and for years, this is how residents move their furniture in and out of the upper floors, the buildings have been pulled forward to support the weight, and actually are “leaning”. This was done so hoisted items don’t hit the walls. Some say the City is taking steps to remove “winching”. Some say they are built that way to let the rain run off of them. Because you were “taxed” based on the width of your house, many houses were built “thin” and therefore had small doorways and stairwells going to the upper floors. Winches installed to move up larger furniture. Some of the buildings lean of “old age” and settling on sandy soil, lacking proper pillars, or rotting columns/supports.

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Oude Kerk (Old Church) (Amsterdam, Holland)

The Old Church (Oude Kerk) in the Red Light District
* http://www.oudekerk.nl/ * Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The Oude Kerk is the oldest parish church in Amsterdam. It was consecrated in 1306 by the bishop of Utrecht and is located in the De Wallen, Amsterdam’s main red-light district. The church spans over 3,000 square meters. Its foundation was set upon an artificial mound. Its roof is the largest medieval wooden vault in Europe. The floor is primarily gravestones as the church was built atop a cemetery. The planks are Estonian and date to 1390. The church has gone through numerous renovations through its history. The first set of alterations occured in the 1350’s where the aisles were lengthened and wrapped around the choir in a half circle to support the structure. During the 15th century, the north and south transepts were added creating a cross formation. This work was completed in 1460. Before the Alteratie or “Reformation” in 1578 the Church was primarily “Catholic”. The Church then became Protestant. The 16th century saw many battles leading to the Church becoming looted and defaced. It became a public space where the locals gossiped, peddlers selling their wares, beggars sought shelter, but in 1681 the Calvinists fed up with the homeless kicked them out. The Church was closed off with a brass screen. Then the Church became a center for the registry of marriages, followed by the city archives. Local citizens continued to be buried underneath the church up until 1865 with a total count of 2500 graves containing over 10,000 Amsterdam citizens. Pipe organs were built in 1658 with the cabinet organ constructed in 1767. The third was built by the German Christian Vater in 1724 establishing the finest baroque organs in Europe. Today, many concerts are performed here including the BBC Singers and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. This is now a center for both religious and cultural activities and can be rented for presentations, receptions, and dinner parties. Continue reading Oude Kerk (Old Church) (Amsterdam, Holland)

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New Amsterdam Free Tour (Amsterdam, Holland)


New Amsterdam free tour meeting place at the monument in De Dam square

New Amsterdam Free Walking Tour
Rain or shine this tour meets every day at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm in front of Centraal Station, and Starts at 11:15 am and 1:15 pm at Dam Square in front of the National Monument. It is Free.
Again, I’m not a big fan of tours, but this tour is spectacular and quite informative – best yet it’s free. This is one of best orientations you could take of the city. Our tour guide was Kevin, a humorously fun and knowledgable man who guided us on a three-hour free walking tour through the history of Amsterdam, from its beginnings as a muddy village on the Amstel River to the prosperous industry it is now. He told the tales, the legends, the lore, and many tales that most won’t tell you about prostitution, drug decriminalization, Anne Frank and the Nazi occupation, the Old Church (including the sour occupants), the Red Light District, The Jewish Quarter, the Royal Palace, the Jordaan District, the Anne Frank House, the Dutch East India Company, The Begijnhof Convent, Masterpieces of Dutch Art, the Widest bridge and the narrowest house to name just a few of the sites we saw. We were blessed with a fantastic guide, Kevin, who was the perfect match for our crowd. According to the New AMsterdam site: “Kevin is originally from Boston, MA in the States. There, he went to the University of Massachusetts and began studying psychology. While studying abroad at the University of Amsterdam, he fell in love with the city and began working as a tour guide. Now, he still works as a tour guide, still goes to school in Amsterdam, and is eventually hoping to marry in to the European Union.” Excellent Job Kevin! Rating: 5 stars out of 5. Continue reading New Amsterdam Free Tour (Amsterdam, Holland)

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Lady of the Rhine, Sect 2: Chapter 15, Part A (4/9) – The New Amsterdam Free Tour

Part A


The Dam Monument

Thursday, 9 April 2009
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Sir Thomas Leaf awoke shortly after Princess Brea disappeared down to the dining hall. Slowly rustling out of bed, Sir Thomas Leaf headed downstairs to join her and their new friend from Ireland, James for a pretty delicious continental breakfast and good conversation. Princess Brea had been worried a little bit with Sir Thomas Leaf disappearing off with the two girls they had just met – but was glad he was safe and sound. Sir Thomas Leaf was a bit hungover from clubbing with Kristien and Karolien. As 10:00 rolled around, Princess Brea and Sir Thomas Leaf met in the lobby the New Amsterdam (free) tour guide who took the crew of them on the bus and down to Centraal Station. There they were led to the De Dam square to meet at the monument. A New Amsterdam tour guide named Kevin who took them on a few hour foot trek around Amsterdam showing the sights and explaining the history of everything under the sun. The duet definitely felt it was a fabulous tour. Meeting a handful of Canadians, new friends were also made as the explorers all tromped around the streets, canals, and alleys of Amsterdam. Continue reading Lady of the Rhine, Sect 2: Chapter 15, Part A (4/9) – The New Amsterdam Free Tour

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New Amsterdam Red Light District Tour

New Amsterdam Red Light District Tour
“The Red Light District Exposed”
The tour meets daily at 6:45 pm next to the Tourist Information Center directly in front of Centraal Staation. Look for the guides wearing red New Europe T-shirts. €10 Adults/€8 Students
Now I’m not usually a real big fan of “tours” and the whole “tourist” “sightseeing” parts of travelling. I usually like to explore on my own. But this tour was very affordable and had an incredible tour guide who knew her history of the district and was extremely helpful with orientation to Amsterdam. I couldn’t recommend any other tour “more” other than the accompanying “free” tour of Amsterdam each morning by the same company. They market the tour as “The Red Light District Exposed” and they certainly do an incredible job talking about every sensual or creepy corner of the district. They advertise with “Intrigued by the Red Light District at night but don’t feel safe exploring it on your own?” and they perfectly show the area for its beauty, intrique, history, and that its quite safe – with a two hour walking tour wandering from coffee shops and jazz clubs to sex theaters and smart shops, prostitute windows, and condom shops, ending with free shots and cocktail specials at the infamous Belushi’s bar. The guides take you to the Proefokaal and other Historic Bars, the World’s first Stock Exchange, a stroll through China Town, window gazing at the Condomerie, to the Old Church, Jazz legend Chet Baker’s place of death, the Warmoestraat: hardcore leather neighorhood, S&M Specialist, Smart Shops and a talk about Mushrooms, visits to the Sex Shops, Video Cabins, the Elite Streets, The Bulldog: Amsterdam’s first “Coffeeshops”, The Prostitution Information Center, the Word’s first Sex Theater, the Newmarket, and many more intriguing locations. On the eve of April 8, 2009 – we were luckily blessed with a fabulous guide named “Stacey”. Stacey was born in Russia, has lived in Canada, the US, Italy, and Malaysia, and now Amsterdam. She’s studying Art History and completing her degree in Asian Studies. Friendly, courteous, and extremely intelligent, she’s one of the best guides on the planet. The tour is worth the 10 Euro just to pick her brain about great places to eat, see, and experience nightlife. Top rating 5 stars out of 5. Thanks Stacey!!! Continue reading New Amsterdam Red Light District Tour

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