Traveling Down Memory Lane – Notre Dame Cathedral, the symbol of Paris



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notre dame cathedral, paris, france

Our tour of the French countryside provided respite from our first few days in the bustling urban environment of Paris, but soon enough, it was back to the City of Light before returning to Canada.  I won’t say that we saved the best for last, but our final sightseeing did include a visit to famous Notre Dame Cathedral, an evening spent at Moulin Rouge, and a romantic boat cruise on the Seine River. Read more

Traveling Down Memory Lane – Charmed by Tintagel on the Coast of Cornwall



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street scene, tintagel, cornwall, england

It was a damp and dreary afternoon when Bob, our son and I arrived in Tintagel, but our despair was fleeting.  Lush plantings along main street soon put smiles on our faces.  Gardens held back by drystone walls were overflowing with flowers and bursting with rich colour.  What a welcome sight!

coast of cornwall, england

Even before arriving in Tintagel, we were captivated by the rugged and romantic coastline of Cornwall.  We three had just finished reading the Bernard Cornwell Trilogy about King Arthur and Excalibur, so the legendary connection of King Arthur’s life to this very area spelled mystery and intrigue in our eyes before we even set foot on the land.

a street scene, tintagel, cornwall, england

Barely 1/2 a mile from the coast, the bare upland is suddenly interrupted by Tintagel’s simple quaint houses that exude a mysterious charm themselves.

a horseback rider, tintagel, cornwall, england

Throw in a rider on a sleek mount clopping its way through town, some intricate drystone walls made of slate slabs, and pretty pastel cottages, and we had a recipe for total enchantment.

a cottage garden, tintagel, england

Throughout the day, we had experienced a mixed bag of weather including mist, sunshine and finally rain when the low, heavy clouds bumped into the elevated terrain of the Bodmin Moors.  Upon arriving at our snug suite at Trevenna Lodge Bed & Breakfast, finally, a bit of clear sky prevailed.  We were tempted to sit for awhile in the garden, but curiosity got the better of us.

drystone walls and fields, tintagel, cornwall, england

At our son’s urging, we set off to explore.  A thin trail across the rolling fields tempted us because it led towards the cliffs that drop away to the Atlantic Ocean.

drystone walls and fields, tintagel, cornwall, england

Drystone fences crisscross the countryside in part to keep livestock contained on their owner’s property, but also to act as windbreaks against fierce storms blowing in off the North Atlantic.

jean hiking through the paddocks, tintagel, cornwall, england

Other trampers had the same idea for a late-afternoon stroll.  Because paths cut across an endless number of paddocks, stiles are conveniently placed bridging the stone walls.  It was quite novel walking among the cows.  Their soft lowing created a sense of calm even though I was excited to look down on the dramatic coastline.

the cornwall coast, england

As we made our way over the rocky hills and stony paths, two Pheasants exploded from a thicket startling us.  That pretty much completed my foregone impression of the bucolic English countryside.

bob and his son, coast of cornwall, england

At last installed at the edge of the cliffs, we each were left to ponder the legend of King Arthur while the never-ending roar of the Atlantic breakers blocked out all other sounds.  An unmistakable ancient aura embraced us as we looked out over the gigantic headlands and down to the rocky shore 300 feet below.

jean and her son, coast of cornwall, england

A moment such as that required time dedicated to rest and relaxation.  We were happy to sit on the wild grasses, nestled among the stones, read our books, catch a wink and have a little refreshment.  While the tide came in and the surf pounded the rocky outcrops, my mind kept wandering as I contemplated our plans for the following day.

headland, tintagel castle, cornwall, england

From our clifftop perch, we had a view of the craggy “island” offshore where King Arthur’s castle once stood proud.

stairs to tintagel castle, cornwall, england

Judging by the steep wooden staircase seen in the distance, a challenging hike was in store for us up to the steep point and that windswept piece of land where the Castle once loomed proud.

young lad looking at tintagel castle, cornwall, england

We wasted no time the following morning in setting off for Tintagel Castle, and we soon discovered that the medieval fortification was built half on the mainland, seen above with Tintagel in the distance, and half on the jagged headland projecting into the Cornish Sea.

steep stairs to tintagel castle, cornwall, england

Bob, our son and I spent a good while exploring the ruins of Tintagel Castle under cool, misty conditions.  More on that in a separate post.  I’ve got to tell you that climbing the 148 wooden steps from the shore to the promontory and then descending them again had all of our legs trembling from exertion.

picnickers at trebarwith strand beach, cornwall, england

After a quick stop at a pastry shop on Main Street, Tintagel, to pick up provisions for a picnic lunch, we gratefully piled into our car and drove to nearby Trebarwith Strand Beach, touted as one of the finest in Cornwall.

jean and her son picnicking at trebarwith strand beach, cornwall, england

The tide was out leaving all the rocky ledges high and dry, perfect spots for people to wile away the afternoon.  Substantial Cornish pasties and sumptuous pastries filled our hungry tummies as we loafed on the unyielding shelves of rock.

swimmers at trebarwith strand beach, cornwall, england

Aside from all the people playing in the surf, many children splashed in the warm tidal pools.  The ocean was very cold so most people wore wet suits, but many carefree youngsters gallivanted about in their birthday suits.

jean and her son wading, trebarwith strand beach, cornwall, england

We were ill-prepared to go swimming, but honestly, the cold water would have forestalled any attempt by me for a complete body dunk.  Still, we had to wade in the Cornish Sea just for the sake of saying we did so.  Brrr!

a sea cave, trebarwith strand beach, cornwall, england

A leisurely stroll along the strand brought us to a sea cave that was safe to explore since the water was low.  Of course, we entertained ideas of pirates and marauders as we stole into the dingy darkness.  It was fun!

tintagel's old post office, cornwall, england

Back in Tintagel, we made the obligatory stop to photograph and learn about Tintagel’s Old Post Office.  Starting life as a 14th Century Cornish longhouse, the Old Post Office is now a treasured National Trust building that exudes the charm of such tiny granite cottages.

a cottage garden, tintagel, cornwall, england

Wandering the streets of Tintagel offered so many beautiful gardenscapes.  I was tempted more than once to amble down a secret path to discover what was just beyond.  I restrained myself with much difficulty.

hikers in the paddocks near tintagel, cornwall, england

Instead, once again, we hit the hills.  The lure of the sheer cliffs was too much to resist.

cliffs and flowers, cornwall, england

As the golden rays of sun washed over us, we reveled at the majesty of the Cornish landscape where land meets sea.  We three were totally enchanted with this part of England, but adventure was calling us elsewhere.  We would be heading off to Bath on the morrow.

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Our Unforgettable Zulu Experience at Shakaland in South Africa



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Bob and I arrived at Shakaland in South Africa around noon after driving from Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.  We were delayed several times with various animal sightings that had us stopping for photographs. Read more

A Bird’s Eye View at Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges



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A Bird’s Eye View at Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges

dawn over mistico arenal hanging bridges park, la fortuna, costa rica

Bob and I wasted no time when in Costa Rica.  For the morning of our second day, we had booked a guided bird tour at Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park.  At 5:30 a.m., a bus picked us up at Hotel Kokoro, and as it navigated the steep, sinuous road to the pavilion, the sun was just beginning to wedge its way between the deep shadows of the mountains and the dark night sky. Read more

The Cinque Terre Grape Harvest by Monorail Amazed Us



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The Cinque Terre Grape Harvest by Monorail Amazed Us

cogwheel railway, cinque terre, italy

As Bob and I motored our way through Cinque Terre, we marveled at the vast mountainsides transformed into arable terraces filled with vineyards.  It was hard to comprehend how grapes harvested at the bottom of the slopes could be transported up to the top until we came upon a grower operating a monorail train for just that purpose. Read more

Among the Wildlife at Hotel Kokoro in Costa Rica



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Among the Wildlife at Hotel Kokoro in Costa Rica

kokoro lodge sign, la fortuna, costa rica

Costa Rica was a destination on our bucket list for a good many years.  We were there to see birds!  Our flight landed in San Jose after sunset, so when we departed for Hotel Kokoro in La Fortuna the following morning, Bob and I were eager to see what species would constitute our first sighting of the trip.

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Our Birding Excursion by Zodiac to the Tip of Long Point



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Our Birding Excursion by Zodiac to the Tip of Long Point

bob and jean at the tip of long point, lake erie, ontario

When Bob and I decided to go birding at Long Point on the shores of Lake Erie in Ontario, it was our first planned trip for that purpose.  We spent a couple of days birding popular areas near Port Rowan and Long Point Provincial Park but also had pre-booked a Zodiac boat ride from Long Point Tours out to the Tip of Long Point. Read more

We were charmed by Cinque Terre in the Italian Riviera



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We were charmed by Cinque Terre in the Italian Riviera

manarola, cinque terre, italy

After Bob and I left the Leaning Tower of Pisa, we continued west towards the coast of the Ligurian Sea.  Our goal was the region known as Cinque Terre, a narrow coastal strip that comprises 5 villages sandwiched between the sea and the mountains.  It is fondly referred to as the Italian Riviera.

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Resplendent Quetzals prepare their nest in Monteverde Cloud Forest



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Resplendent Quetzals prepare their nest in Monteverde Cloud Forest

a male resplendent quetzal, monteverde cloud forest preserve, costa rica

When Bob and I visited Monteverde, we hiked in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve multiple times.  One day, we found ourselves alone on a trail in the jungle.  I was ahead of Bob when I heard him exclaim in a loud whisper “there they are!”  I stopped in my tracks for Bob could only mean the Resplendent Quetzals.  The pair was perched less than 20 feet to the side of the trail. Read more

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