Travel

Prague: A City of Contrasts

If you’ve heard of only one place else in Czechoslovakia it is likely to be Prague, a city of amazing contrasts.

Unlike many of the cities visited on our river cruise, Prague was not damaged during World War II meaning that the Old Town is intact.  Away from it, everything is newer, more modern indicating that Prague is a thriving 21st century city.

Though Prague is full of attractions, what I liked best was wandering the  streets paying attention to all that was going on whether it was men  restoring an aging facade,

meticulously relaying a cobbled street

or  working to attract a crowd and hoping to be rewarded with a few coins.

Markets were a great place to people watch,

 sample a few local goodies. 

and observe vendors, some of whom were busy demonstrating their skills, preparing food for jostling customers or passing the time until someone came along.

It was surprising to see a canal in Prague.  My first thought was how that resembled Venice.  The only thing missing was gondolas being managed by striped shirt gondoliers!

IMG_0946Walking miles every day means there had to be time for some refreshment, and I liked stopping in at some random place

IMG_0948and having Czech food and a Pilsner Urquell.  Talk about a pause that refreshes!

Yes, Prague has much to offer.  Architecturally, it is a jewel with its buildings representing many centuries.

IMG_0979Oh, and have I mentioned gingerbread and that Czechoslovakia is famous for it?  It comes in many forms, but when I tell you that foie gras served on thin slices of gingerbread is over the top, believe it!  I’d go back to Prague just to have it again.

So much for this journey of three plus weeks.  It’s time to go home.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

musings

Over and Done!

Christmas is over and done, and I have to confess to that being a relief.  In the days leading up to the holiday, I have to fight off being blue.

FamilyIt makes me sad that our small family,  which now includes sons-in-law and grandchildren, is rarely all together during the holiday season.

9780740784323_p0_v1_s192x300I miss reading The Night Before Christmas to kids

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand leaving cookies and milk for Santa.

I experience sadness remembering the people who are part of Christmases past and wish that I weren’t the only member of my original family still here.

But enough of that.   Today is a new day and with it the blues disappear.

HoustonI will enjoy time in Houston while awaiting the return to Maine

Roque Island, Mainewhere there is boating, exploring islands and spending time with family and friends.

lobsterWithout question I will eat more lobster!

Most of all, I plan to live each day to the fullest, to be grateful for what good health allows me to do, and to give lots of hugs!  That should get me through the months until next Christmas when I’ll probably again feel a little blue.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Texas, Travel

Traveling the Back Roads of Texas

Hill CountryTo track down the wildflowers, heading west from Houston on I-10 is a good place to start.  Now there’s not a whole lot to see between Houston and San Antonio unless you get off the freeway and explore those back roads that give you a glimpse of what most of Texas really is.

small town TexasMuch of small town Texas has fewer than 5,000 folks, and some of those towns, especially what used to be the business area, have seen their better days.  

small Texas townNo matter how shabby a place appears, there always seems to be a sweet church rising to meet the blue Texas sky.

small town TexasIMG_4306IMG_4305
IMG_4299Here and there are some surprisingly cute places like this one serving a delicious lunch

IMG_4307and having a garden shop and nursery chock full of tempting things.

pickups/bar b queBar-B-Que is a favorite food in these small towns and if that’s what you have a hankering for, you’ll be in luck.  Don’t worry if you don’t have a pickup, you’re still welcome

Texas country facesTexas country facesTexas country facesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand can have a bite of lunch with the good ole boys!

bluebonnetsThere was a time when all the wide open spaces were cattle ranches,

Texasbut these days there’s no telling what kind of four legged critter is being raised.

Hill CountryYessir, I like exploring these back roads and sometimes Pa and I find us a porch and just sit and rock and take it all in!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Maine

Island Hopping

We may never get around to exploring all 3500 islands off the coast of Maine, but  every time out on the boat there’s the possibility of seeing a new one.   For sure, there will be some feature that makes it different from any other island.

islandSome islands are little more than rock formations likely created by volcanic activity thousands of years ago.  If there is surface where a tree can root, it’s not surprising to see a few.

islands
Isle au Haute

 There are lovely tree covered islands with paths leading through the woods to who knows where which makes exploring a real adventure.  

Roque Island
Roque Island

Occasionally there is an island with an expanse of white sand beach,

island
Butter Island

but most have rocky shores that can be craggy

Brimstone
Brimstone

or worn smooth and covered with lichen.  Since access to most islands is by dinghy, you can guess which shoreline is preferable!

islandSpeaking of rocks, in summer it is wonderful to find an island with sun warmed stones that are perfect for relaxing or maybe napping.

Calderwood Island
Calderwood Island

Some islands are preserves and if you time the visit just right, you may find them lush with blueberries and raspberries.  Your may also find that you share the island with wild sheep or deer who compete with you for the berries

islandor there may be items on the shore indicating you are sharing the island with other people.

Matinicus Rock
Matinicus Rock

Far out to sea are a few scattered islands that are nesting places for puffins in the spring.  Catching sight of these perky little birds is quite exciting.

St. Helena
St. Helena

Here and there are surprises like the remains of a quarry

Sep Cruise_080907_1541
Squirrel Island

or fairy houses left behind.

islandNo matter the shape or size  or topography of an island, its rugged beauty always has distinguishing features.  Some are so inaccessible it is possible to think no human foot has ever touched there.  No matter how many islands I visit or see from afar, each holds a special mystery waiting to be discovered.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

 

Maine

More Maine Back Roads

LibertyWhen you are traveling the back roads of Maine, you’ll find that it’s full of small towns, some appearing to be barely more than a wide space in the road.  Liberty, about halfway between Camden and Augusta on 173, is one of those places, and you don’t want to go through too fast.

Liberty ToolIf you do you’ll miss Liberty Tool, one of my very favorite places to browse.

LibertySome folks come looking for and find an old tool

Liberty Toolbut there’s plenty else to catch the eye.

Liberty ToolThere’s so much stuff here it’s beyond me how it will ever be gotten rid of or how anyone could know what’s there.  Look hard enough though, and I promise you will find a special treasure!

LibertyIf Liberty Tool is overwhelming, walk right down the street into a smaller shop

Libertyor cross the street to Liberty Graphics.

LibertyHere you will find a huge selection of tee shirts printed right there as well as an excellent selection of Maine related publications and products.

LibertyYes, Maine is a great place for exploring small towns and somehow outdated vehicles are just right for places that seem to be from another time.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Maine, Random

A Perfect Maine Day

A perfect Maine day
A perfect Maine day

Perfect Maine days have been scarce so far this summer, so when one comes along you can bet that most people with a boat or access to one are  on the water.  We are no exception, so off we go to Isle au Haut.

Miss Lizzie leaving with a load of passengers
Miss Lizzie leaving with a load of passengers

Isle au Haut, or High Mountain in French, was named by Samuel Champlain.  It is one of the few remaining islands off the coast of Maine that still has a year round population, small though it is.  The only way to get there is by boat, either your own or the little ferry that runs from Stonington.

Isle au Haut There’s not much in the village other than a general store, a post office,  and a gift shop.

Isle au HautUp the road apiece from the dock is a lovely church dating back to the late 1800’s.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIsle au HautInside, it is a lovely place in which to spend a few quiet moments.

The Maine Lobster Lady
The Maine Lobster Lady

When you get hungry on Isle au Haut, there’s a wonderful little food shack that serves up great lobster rolls and haddock sandwiches as well as delicious homemade pies.

Abandoned on Isle au Haut
Abandoned on Isle au Haut

Walking or recreational vehicles are the primary means of getting from one place to another on the island.   Amusingly, Isle au Haut appears to be a place where old vehicles come to die as they are scattered all over the island.  The last license plate on this abandoned truck is 1990!

Isle au HautThe same is true for equipment.  When it doesn’t go any more, it’s just left on the side of the road.  What do you think eventually happens to all this abandoned metal?

Going to set traps
Going to set traps

Lobstering is a way of life for most of Isle au Haut’s residents, and there is evidence of it everywhere.

Isle au HautIsle au HautIsle au HautOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I love all the trappings of lobstering, and they are easy to spot on this working island.

Isle au HautWalking along there’s always the unexpected like this

Isle au Hautor a deer running across the road

Isle au Hautor a table full of treasures free for the taking.

Isle au HautYou don’t think I passed these by, do you?  

Isle au Haut is a great place for hiking the cliffs, but there wasn’t time for that today, but you can be sure we’ll be going back to hike the cliff trails and marvel at the sound of the waves rolling over the rocks.  I hope you will be along.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Travel

Blink and Miss It

Transformation carries with it the creeping awareness of the infinite possibility of change, the infinite likelihood of change.

Widow of the South by Robert Hicks

Though he wrote these words to describe Franklin, Tennessee, in the years following the Civil War, they could easily describe what is going on in Leipers Fork, barely a wide space in the road outside of Franklin.

Coming into town, maybe more appropriately called a village, these cars sit along side the road, perhaps a reminder to slow down so you don’t miss it.  Leiper’s Fork  was crowded the day we went for lunch.  Commenting on the busyness in such a small place, I was told it was likely because of the article in the August issue of Country Living.  You might want to check it out.

Part of the rebirth of Leiper’s Fork is due a New York fella who wanted a life change and was charmed by the area.  He’s now a smiling face welcoming folks to Joe Natural’s where you can have a bite to eat and/or relax in the front porch rocking chairs.

The cafe is all about country natural from the decor and farm fresh goods for sale

to the paper napkins and plates that serve as the table setting.

Along the main street are a few shops that are just oozing with charm and temptation!

And it is not at all surprising to walk into one and find someone picking and singing.  After all this is country music territory!

Art is not overlooked in Leiper’s Fork, and I love the welcoming coziness of the spaces which makes the work feel so accessible.

At the David Arms Gallery, I couldn’t resist this painting as it has part of one of my favorite verses for meditation:  Be still and know that I am God. It will serve as a reminder when I am having a hard time being still.

What is very cool about the businesses that are opening here is that they are all in old buildings making them feel as though they’ve been in existence for a very long time.  As Leiper’s Fork continues to experience revitalization, it will be interesting to see how newcomers are accommodated.

All around Leiper’s Fork are picturesque barns and horse farms.  As I stopped to snap one,  here came a horse from the stable trotting right up to say hello.  Such is the delight of country living, and it looks like folks in Leiper’s Fork have figured it out.  Next time you are in the Nashville area, you won’t want to miss exploring this village, but don’t blink because you just might miss it!