THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 119

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 119

…“My clubs were too short, the balls are like lead, and the wind seemed to gust every time I hit a shot, enough to piss off the Pope.”…

On their first full day out and about, Roger Rodriques drives them out into the back country and a hilly little golf course, there by fulfilling one of the to-dos on their getaway platter. The score card of the Upton Golf Course & Plantation has a tagline on its cover, ‘700 feet up and always cool’, but the persistent 90 degree days betray that claim.

So while their guide waits for them in the clubhouse, the only cool spot for miles, Francine and Roy practice their best “no’s” in turning down a pesky boy who cannot believe these Americans prefer to carry their rented clubs. Compared to the private clubs they are used to playing, this version of golf lives up to one of the sports’ nicknames: “pasture pool”. The fairway mowers are black & white, have four legs, and moo.

The round concludes with Roy losing the only tee shot that was farther than Francine all afternoon, in a pile of grass the “moo”-ers hadn’t got to; in the middle of the 18th fairway.

“The greens are like our tees, the tees like our fairways, the fairways like our rough, and the rough is like our out-of-bounds.”

“Perhaps you should have used that caddy. I beat you 89 to 93.”

“My clubs were too short, the balls are like lead, and the wind seemed to gust every time I hit a shot,” enough to piss off the Pope.

“Don’t be mad Roy; I’ll give you a rematch.”

He will take her up on that challenge, but it will have to wait for another day, there is too much else to do. —

— Like the Shaw Park Botanical Gardens, ‘which is on the site of a 19th Century hotel, long since razed, situated high on a hilltop overlooking the Bay of Ocho Rios, surveying the azure waters of the Caribbean, the Gardens embrace 25 acres of tropic splendor. A sparkling waterfall cascades down a rocky course with luxuriant plant specimens on all sides. Lush tropical trees form bowers with flamboyant blossoms every month of the year.’

This is definitely Chamber of Commerce material.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 119


page 147

 

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 106

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 106

…“Roy???” Braden wonders if his friend has suffered brain damage…

Image result for mind blown gif

“All in all, I think this bash has been a chart topping smash!” Braden King has bid adieu to all but two of the birthday partygoers, Francine and Roy, who seem to be chart-toppers-001reluctant to part company.

“A great day for those boys,” Francine has been welcomed like family. “And there are some interesting people working for NASA, well except for Roy’s secretary.”

“It is nice of you to stay on Francine. Your support and friendship is a valuable public relations coup for the space program.” Personal feelings aside, Roy cannot help but speak the truth as he sees it.

She has utterly blown off any other plans, or anyone linked to them.

“Copy that,” Braden echoes his appreciation! “Bring that bottle over here bartender,” He points to the bottle of peach schnapps and pours three shot glasses. “Let’s raise a glass to the fine people connected with Space Colony 1. Here’s to Space Colony II!”

“To Space Colony II and Sampson & Celeste McKinney,” Roy increases the tote; three small glasses of nectar clank together, by three peachy people.

The trio sits around the circular island table, dazed yet unable to wrap a bow around this evening.”

“I don’t know what is, but right now I feel like getting away for a while, you know like get my butt out of this island of titanium and technology and get it down to one of the last unspoiled islands in the Caribbean.”

“What???? Roy Crippen, married to space is considering a vacation to Puerto Rico, no way?” King knows Roy’s hesitance about the 51st State. Conversely he is serious about the man’s devotion to the Space Colony project, ever since it was on the kma-kiss-my-001drawing board.

“Yeah, what the hell, New Mayflower has no need of my doting and the “cold” weather this winter is getting to me AND to top it all off, the United States Congress is on recess; they can kiss my ass.”

“What on Earth will we do, without Mother Hen looking over our shoulders, beating a path back and forth from Galveston and Oskaloosa? Please do us a favor.” Braden cannot help himself.

Francine can identify with Roy, treating vacation and sick days like stepchildren, all the while keeping her puss in front of the camera lest a single Sweeps Period goes by without her help, including February’s. “Were you planning to leave before the end of the week?”

“I was thinking Sunday; need to tie up some loose ends, why do you knock-me-down-with-a-featherask?” He is curious.

“Well I get a discount through the station for United Airlines and Hilton Worldwide and if you don’t mind a tag-a-long…” Knock him over with a feather. “I hope I’m not overstepping, but I happen to adore Jamaica and I am overdue for a getaway.”

“I don’t fly commercial and don’t like big Hotels either.” Is he blowing her off? Is he blowing a chance at love a chance of a lifetime?brain-damage

“Roy???” Braden wonders if his friend has suffered brain damage.

‘I gave it a shot,’ Francine thinks privately, having stuck her neck is out to its vulnerable limit.

“What do you think about us taking my helicopter instead? It’s quicker and I have open reservations at a little spot called the Silver Seas in Ocho Rios.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Image result for silver seas hotel jamaica

Silver Seas Hotel

Episode 106


 page 131 (end ch. 5)

 

episode-catalog-trtrip-001

Contents TRT

European Vacation Gems – WIF Travel

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Europe_flags

Hidden Vacation

Gems in Europe

Tourism is predictable and objective. You go to that place, take that picture, see that sight. Traveling is an interpretation and highly subjective. Tourism in Europe has always been about the “sure things,” the places you already know before you even go. Places like Paris, London, Rome, and Barcelona. However, Europe has been sculpted by a millennia of wonderful endeavors and horrible mistakes. The result is that there is so much more beyond the places to where your local travel agency would have you book a flight.

10. Ulm, Germany

ulm

To make sense of Ulm you need to understand the Danube first. The Donau, Duna, Dunav, Dunaj. The most important river in Europe and the longest outside Russia. It goes on for nearly three thousand kilometers and it belongs to no country, but waters ten. It begins in the Black Forest, in Germany, flows through Wien, Budapest, Belgrade, and then into the Black Sea. Ulm, the first symbolical stop, the start of the river actually, is a German town with the German factor taken out of it.

It was founded in 850, and it’s Teutonically imposing without being kitsch. Dark, without being gray. Aside from its medieval origins and the heraldic symbol of the city, the Sparrow (Der Spatz – they have a holiday and a soccer team dedicated to it), Ulm is famous for having the tallest church tower in the world. They started building it in 1377 and didn’t finish until 1890, with unusual Germanic inefficiency. It was the tallest building in the world before the Eiffel Tower was built. That alone, frankly, is worth the ticket.

9. Budapest, Hungary

budapest

When the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed in 1918 after World War I, it was as if the two parties, Austria and Hungary, had signed an unfair divorce settlement agreement. Austria can keep the children, the house, and the car while Hungary gets to use their holiday home. Occasionally.

Budapest is probably the most underrated capital city in Europe, and arguably one of the most beautiful. The Danube runs right across it, dividing it into residential and quiet Buda and spicy and vibrant Pest. Pest is famous for the ruin pubs, St. Stephen’s Basilica, and the Parliament building. The Hungarians started building it in 1885, and while it should have resembled the London parliament, it ended up looking bigger and grander than that. The bombast and the hubris of the empire is gone, and what remains is a more mature, more modest, and welcoming version of the city. Budapest is thrilling. It’s very musical, an orchestra of buskers, pubs, chatters, and as often as not raindrops. Hats off.

8. Koper & Portoroz, Slovenia

portoroz

Koper and Portoroz (Capo d’Istria and Portorose in Italian) are technically not the same city. They are two different versions of the same location in the municipality of Piran, Istria, in Southwestern Slovenia. Istria is one of the most complex and discussed regions in Southern Europe. It has forever suffered from a slight identity crisis. Geographically located in (and for a long time annexed to) Italy but undisputedly Slavic, Istria has everything you want and nothing you don’t. Koper is quieter and humbler.

The promenade and the beach, the fish restaurants, and the incredibly nice town center are simple and beautiful. Portoroz, with its naked saunas, the nightlife, the mojitos, the casinos, and the supercars is more luxurious; more pretentious, even. Your best bet? Settle down in Koper for the day, enjoy the night in Portoroz.

7. Bergamo, Italy

bergamo

From a traveler’s point of view, Bèrghem, as the locals call it, is Ryanair’s busiest and most important base in Italy and its third biggest overall (after London Stansted and Dublin). This means that getting there is easy. Bergamo has often played second fiddle as Lombardy’s Queen to its bigger and more famous cousin Milan. That is, if nothing else, slightly inaccurate. Bergamo is, and always has been even during the recession, one of Italy’s wealthiest cities.

Organized and tidy, Bergamo is split into two: hard working, structured, and business oriented Bergamo Bassa (Lower) and touristy, high flying, and gorgeousBergamo Alta (Upper). Bergamo is also interesting because it feels unusually serious and quiet in Europe’s loudest and craziest country – with just one big exception. The whole town goes crazy for Atalanta B.C. (nicknamed the Goddess), the local soccer team. Have a go, enjoy the game, and have an aperitivo. Where the food is always free with your prosecco.

6. Marseille, France

marseille

 Europeans have often named it the “French version of Naples,” and no one really ever understands whether that’s a compliment or a criticism. Tourists flock to France every year to see Paris and once they’ve seen Paris, the Côte d’Azur and Champagne country are very popular. Both of which are beautiful, but neither can offer that pure, gritty, raw charm of Marseille. Marseille is France’s second largest city and Europe’s fourth largest port and it is emphatically gorgeous. Few other places in France give you that feeling of authenticity. Perhaps this is because, unlike the French Riviera, Marseille has never been taken over by Russian oligarchs and Arab sheiks. It managed to retain its soul.The South of France, from Côte d’Azur to Aix-en Provence, is a parable of what money is capable of when it serves no other purpose other than its own self-accumulation. Because while Nice and Cannes are gorgeous, no doubt, they’re mostly frequented by people who, as they say, “have nothing but money.” Marseille is the other way around. It may have been struck by the financial crisis but on a sunny day (which is most days in Marseille) you just can smell the fish, the seaside, the salt, the port and, most importantly, an incredibly large amount of stubborn, relentless dignity.

5. Tallinn, Estonia

tallinn

After the political dismemberment of the U.S.S.R, Estonia (along with Lithuania and Latvia, the Baltic States) was left in a sort of glorified and isolated limbo. Not red and grumpy enough for Russia, not blue and liberal enough for Europe. Now, Estonia has been long part of the EU and is here to stay.

Old generations speak Russian but young people are studying English (along with native language Estonian, of course) and they often forget the little Russian they learned from their grandparents. Tallinn is small and pretty. Wander around in the little old town center, walk on the cobblestone, and have yourself a shot of Vana Tallinn (vana is Estonian for old, ancient). It’s amazing.

4. Liverpool, England

liverpool

There are three religions in Liverpool: the Beatles, Liverpool Football Club, and Everton Football Club. Walking around the port area or in the pubs you know it, you breathe it, you feel it. The only thing the city loves more than the Beatles and snooker (they adore it around here) is soccer. Everything and everyone in Liverpool is a helter-skelter of either blue (Everton) or red (Liverpool). You can’t have (or support) both. There’s no other city in England (only Manchester comes close with United and City) where sport clubs are the definition of the people.

Liverpudlians live their life just like they support their team, and just like their teams play. Firm, but fair. Tough, but honest. Liverpool is located in the metropolitan county of Merseyside, North-West England. It’s been destroyed during WWII and then completely rebuilt. The new port is an absolute gem. Absolute class. Brilliant. Sterling, mate. As they say. Just trying to get you warmed up with the local vernacular.

3. Estoril, Portugal

estoril

Those who happen to be fans of Moto GP, the premier class of motorcycle racing, know that Estoril has held an annual Grand Prix for 13 years, from 2000 to 2012. Poker and James Bond fans probably know that Casino Estoril was the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s 007 novel Casino Royale. Other than that, Estoril is hardly popular with international tourists, but loved by the locals.

A short, 11-mile train ride from Portugal’s capital Lisbon, Estoril is hot, sunny, and garnished with palm trees, beach bars, and marine beauty. Away from the chaos and flocks of vacationers, you can enjoy swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, which is fantastically cold even in July, and a $3 mojito, which is fantastically fresh and good. Have at it, hoss.

2. Warsaw, Poland

warsaw

Warszawa Centralna, Warsaw central station, is striking and steely. It was hastily put together and completed in 1975, which means it’s newer than almost any other major train station in the capital cities of Europe. Warsaw is Berlin’s colder and tougher step-cousin, with modern frameworks made of glass standing tall in the forest of old commie cement they’re in. It’s been destroyed and rebuilt many times, and maybe that’s why the Poles seem so friendly, yet insecure. Ask them about sightseeing and they’ll tell you there’s nothing much to see. Tell them you think there’s nothing much and they’ll start telling you about all the great sights you can’t miss.

The Poles make do with what they have. Poland is a big and slightly barren country that still needs to recover from vexations of the past. They’re quite honest about it, and make the most of it. Warsaw is big, broad, and pleasant, but it isn’t delusional. Then again, there’s a saying in their fantastic language with far too many consonants, Kozia doic prózno. Roughly translated, “you can’t milk a bull.”

1. Galway, Ireland

galway

If you’ve just landed in London, or if you’re thinking of going, may we suggest you hop on a plane and go to Dublin, the capital of Ireland? Once in Eire, though, leave Dublin, and go to Galway. Ireland is rural and vivid, the colors are intense, the people are so friendly it’s uncanny. Galway, is everything you’ve come to expect from Ireland. The little old port is full of local and old taverns, which will make time wind back and stop still.

Forty-five minutes away from Galway, in Liscannor, there are the Cliffs of Moher. If you haven’t seen them yet, drop whatever you’re doing and go now, because that is arguably one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Jaw dropping. Jutting out of the coastline with a clear view of the Galway bay and Aran Island, the Cliffs of Moher are incredible. On your way back to the hotel, stop off for a pint at historicGus O’Connor’s Pub. Cheers! Or as they say in Irish Gaelic, Sláinte!


European Vacation Gems

Travel the world for 10 cents on the dollar

Travel the world for 10 cents on the dollar

– WIF Travel

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #255

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #255

Chapter Fourteen

LESSONS NOT LEARNED

…Maggie Lou Campbell is proud of how she has raised her girls; much like a breeder of horses feels about a champion thoroughbred, though horses do not sleep as much…

Zillah, Laura, A.O. & Alpha Campbell

Zillah, Laura, A.O. & Alpha Campbell

“But Mother, my tennis lessons don’t start until twelve o’clock. What time is it now?” asks a groggy Zillah Campbell.

“It is almost eleven and your breakfast is cold. You said you were coming down an hour ago.” Maggie Country Clubgoes through this struggle on a daily basis, not that the problem isn’t any of her doing. Zillah is the youngest of her three daughters and the most spoiled, without question.

“All right already. I just don’t know why I have to learn a sport I am no good at.”

“If you want to fit in at the country club, playing tennis is a must.  Look what it did for Alpha? She married a doctor.” Mom is proud of how she has raised her girls; much like a breeder of horses feels about a champion thoroughbred, though horses do not sleep as much.

“Tennis didn’t get her, Vaughn Mizzell spreadin’ her legs did.”

“You best take that back, young lady. How can you be so cruel?”

“I’m only sayin’ what Laura told me. She says she plans on doin’ the same with real estate guy, McLoud.”

Just what Maggie wants to hear? “We’ll see about that! I will not have my daughters gettin’ a reputation for sleepin’ their way into a marriage.” The scariest part of the courting of Laura Campbell is that Franklin McLoud is as close to white as a black can be. That is not so bad, if it isn’t for whom his associates are.

1937 CC P.I.-001

They could be the very villains that Carolyn Hanes writes about in her singeing novel about murder and other shenanigans in fictitious Atlanta. It was most cleverly done, with Constance Caraway and Fanny Renwick first investigating the death and disappearance of an old woman, then discovering the smelly undercurrent of blatant racism and corruption. As the people of Leon County began to read, as is customary when the author is a local, the hum on the streets becomes deafening.

The book came out earlier in 1937. Currently, near the end of the same year, certain anonymous folks have launched a campaign to ban the book in Florida, for what they claim is its homosexual undertone. Curiously, they are not about to bring it to litigation, likely fearing that the authorities would read the book and relate her story to the dark days of 1931 Frenchtown.


Alpha Omega M.D.

CC P.I. Deadly-001

Episode #255


page 239

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Contents 5-2016

Bucket List Vacations – WIF Travel

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“Chicago” by Michael Gricus

Places You Need to See

Before You

Kick the Bucket

Wanting to travel and see the world in all its beauty and diversity is a frequent dream for a lot of people. Different cultures, traditions, and ways of thinking found in every corner of the world can broaden the mind of any traveler. Each continent is different, not just in geographical terms, but in almost everything else. Natural wonders made by Mother Nature herself are what gave the residents their inspiration for what they later built. Without any further ado, here are 10 places around the world which, while a bit off the beaten track, may be exactly the destinations you’re looking for.

10. The Small Island of Procida in Italy

procida

Not surprisingly, Italy makes it on this list. Being among the most beautiful countries in the world, Italy has some truly amazing places that are full of history, culture, and tradition. Unfortunately, this brings with it the drawback of being completely packed with tourists. Having to fight your way through the crowds is fun for no one, so you’re basically left with three choices. You either visit Italy in winter, go to a place that isn’t so interesting in the first place, or you can go the island of Procida.

Besides having to take a ferry over there, which is fun in its own right, you get to see true Italy without having to deal with the insane numbers of tourists. The Bay of Naples’ smallest island is also its best kept secret. This is the best place to explore on foot. With the exception of August, when people flock to its beaches by the thousands, Procida offers some truly picturesque sites and hidden Italian treasures, both culturally and architecturally. You’ll also have an amazing view of Naples with Mount Vesuvius in the background. Not known by many is that, besides Mount Vesuvius – which completely wiped Pompeii off the map back in 79 AD – another larger and far more dangerous super-volcano, the Campi Flegrei Caldera, lies just beneath the Bay of Naples.

9. Quinta da Regaleira in Portugal

quinta

Not far away from Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon, within the historical town of Sintra, lies a particularly interesting estate, filled to the brim with secrets and mysteries. Though it’s had many owners throughout its existence, it never lost its appeal. Built in 1900 by António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, the palace combines Gothic, Egyptian, Moorish, and Renaissance features, and is sometimes known as “The Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire,” after its former owner’s nickname. But while the palace itself is stunning in its own right, filled with all sorts of architectural detailslike gargoyles perched high up on the rooftops, the really fascinating features are located underground.

Two deep wells, dug deep beneath the earth, with beautifully designed, spiral staircases going all the way to the bottom. These wells, however, were never intended for water collection, but rather for some sort of mysterious initiation rites. Sintra, and indeed the whole of Portugal, are strongly linked with the Masonic order, the Knights Templar, and the Rosicrucians. The entire estate grounds are comprised of beautiful gardens, lakes, grottos, fountains, and an enigmatic tunnel system that joins the two wells, more commonly known as “Inverted Towers.”

8. Sapanta Merry Cemetery in Romania

merry cemetery

Somewhere close to the border with Ukraine, on the slopes of the Carpathian Mountains, in the Transylvanian region of Romania, a small village of no more than 3,200 people exists. Still following a rudimentary way of life, not particularly changed by the technological age we’re living in now, these people have developed a somewhat “merry” way at looking at life, death, and the afterlife. Being a Christian Orthodox people, the villagers from Sapanta bury their dead in a totally unique fashion, contrary to their stern religious teaching. Each deceased person within their cemetery has a brightly colored cross, made out of oak, depicting some of their most memorable traits, as well as their flaws, in the funniest manner.

Some 800 or more such carved monuments exist, offering the visitor a true “festival of color,” depicting the dead, either in life, or at the moment of their death, and accompanied by a plain, yet amusing poem, most of the time apologizing for their simple way of life. Similar to their owners, the images are simple and rudimentary, depicting either women spinning yarn, farmers on their most prized tractor, or a musician playing the local three-stringed cello. One poem among the many goes,“One more thing I loved very much, To sit at a table in a bar, Next to someone else’s wife.” The rest, you have to find out for yourself.

7. The Chand Baori Stepwell in India

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Built sometime in the 9th century AD by King Chanda, the Chand Baori stepwell is located in the Abhaneri village of Rajasthan. Unique to India, there are an estimated 3,000 such wells throughout the northern part of the country. This one, however, is the largest and most beautifully ornate one. Going 13 stories deep, the well is descends some 65 feet into the ground and is adorned on three of its four sides by over 3,500 narrow steps, arranged in perfect symmetry.

Back in its day, Chand Baori offered the locals a reliable source of fresh water, since the entire region is “plagued” with a scorching dry climate almost all year. Even if the monsoons wash over every six months, the water disappears almost as fast as it falls from the sky. Its large opening was used to catch as much rain as possible, as well as to let it fill with ground water. The townsfolk used to sit around the stepwell and cool off during the summer days, as temperatures at the base were at least several degrees lower than at the surface.

The steps themselves form a mesmerizing geometrical pattern, while the pavilions have niches adorned with beautiful and intricate Indian sculptures. There is even a royal residence with rooms for the King and the Queen, as well as a stage for the performing arts. Today the water at the bottom is green and unsuited for drinking, but for a long period of time, it was the lifeline for all the inhabitants of the region, many animals included.

6. Popeye’s Village in Malta

popeye

The Mediterranean island nation of Malta is home to a small community known asSweethaven Village. This place also goes by another name: Popeye’s Village. Not an historical settlement per se, Sweethaven was built as a film set for the 1980 Robin Williams movie, Popeye. It has since become a tribute to the popular cartoon character, as well as an open air tourist attraction and museum. Besides its picturesque setting, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that Popeye the Sailorhimself, Olive Oyl, Bluto, Swee’Pea, and Wimpy, all walk the streets of this tiny village. A perfect vacation spot for kids, as you can go on joy rides, visit play houses, puppet shows, and cinema sessions featuring the film.

There’s also a mini golf course and a free wine tasting for adults, as well as face painting sessions, balloon modeling, storytelling, open-air barbeques, and all sorts of other crafts for everyone. Depending on the season, there are water trampolines, play pools, and boat rides during the summer, and a Christmas Parade along with Santa’s toy town in December. A huge breakwater was built in Anchor Bay, in order to protect Sweethaven Village from high seas. Over eight tons of nails hold it together, and more than 2,000 gallons of paint were used to make it look so “cartoony.”

5. Putra Mosque in Malaysia

putra

Overlooking the man-made, but scenic, Putrjaya Lake in Putrajaya, Malaysia’s administrative capital, Putra Mosque is arguably among the most beautiful and definitely the most modern mosques in the world. Built in 1999, it sits next to the Malaysian Prime Minister’s office. What sets it apart from its counterparts is its truly interesting and unique architectural style, which harmoniously blends Islamic motifs together with many traditional designs. The pinkish dome is made out of rose-tinted granite, and it can easily accommodate 15,000 worshipers at any given time. Its base is similar to the King Hassan Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. Its minaret is influenced by the design of the Sheikh Omar Mosque in Baghdad, and at 380 feet high, it’s without a doubt the tallest such structure in the entire region.

The Prayer Hall, the Sahn, is decorated with some truly elegant water features and motifs, making it a quiet and relaxing prayer space. Within it, there are 12 columns propping up the 118 foot (in diameter) dome. The mimbar (pulpit) and mehrab (niche that denotes the direction of Mecca) are adorned with khat or Islamic calligraphy. Putra Mosque is capable of incorporating Malaysian, Persian and Arab-Islamic architectural designs in a harmonious and elegant house of worship, pleasing both locals and tourists alike.

4. Djenne-Djenno in Mali

djenne

Inhabited as early as 250 BC, the Niger River Delta is home to a “typical African city.” Made entirely out of clay, the town of Djenne-Djenno quickly became an important trade hub in the trans-Saharan gold market. Built on small hills within the Delta itself, the Bozo people were able to escape the marshes and floods provided yearly by the rainy season. In fact, these people were proven to be cultivating wild rice in the region, way before Djenne-Djenno was even built. Further archaeological evidence points to a continuous human presence on the site up until the 14th century, when the majority of people relocated to the nearby town of Djenne, built in the 11thcentury. But up until then, the city, and palace itself, acted as real centers of power in their region.

With King Koumboro’s conversion to Islam in the 13th century, the grand palace at the center of the 120 acre complex was converted into a mosque. At the beginning of every April, the people living in Djenne come together in a truly amazing local ritual. Since the clay that makes up all of Djenne-Djenno is easily washed away during the rainy season, the locals engage in adding a fresh layer of mud across the entire surface of the Grand Mosque.

3. Ulan-Ude in Russia

ulan ude

As a split in Russia’s Christian Orthodox Church took place back in the 1650s, a group of people known as “Old Believers” had to flee their homes into Siberia in order to practice their religion. Officially founded in 1666 by a group of Cossacks as a fortress, Udinskoye (now Ulan-Ude) soon enough became an important trading town, due to its location along the tea-caravan route from China via Troitskosavsk (now Kyakhta). Up until 1991, with the fall of the Soviet Union, the town was closed to foreigners due to the military activities taking place there.

Today, however, things have changed for the better, and Ulan-Ude is home to some 400,000 inhabitants, happily welcoming whoever wants to pay them a visit. Being so far away from the capital city of Moscow and, in fact, the western part of the country, Ulan-Ude harbors a truly unique architecture. With over 20% of the population being of Mongolian descent, this can clearly be seen in the style of the buildings. Besides the many fun and refreshingly exotic sites that can be found throughout the town, just 60 miles north there is the mighty Lake Baikal, which in itself offers an amazing experience.

2. Ouro Preto in Brazil

ouro preto

Ouro Preto (Black Gold), in Brazil’s Minas Gerais province, is a small town reminiscent of the country’s golden age in the 17th and 18th centuries. However, the many churches, buildings, bridges, and fountains are a permanent link to its glorious past. Being rich in gold and other resources, the region of Minas Gerais was littered with mines, and Ouro Preto was its capital from 1720 until 1897. Perched on the steep slopes and hills of the Vila Rica (Rich Valley), the town has a picturesquely irregular layout, following the bends and turns of the valley itself.

The town was also the symbolic center of the Inconfidência Mineira in 1789, a Brazilian independence movement, and home to the many Brazilian Baroque artists of the time. Due to the isolation of the region in the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as the economic stagnation of the same period, Ouro Preto kept many of its original colonial constructions and general architecture intact. As a result, the entire town is now a World Heritage Site and is under mandate for the preservation of its colonial façade. If you’re interested in seeing Brazil as it once was, hundreds of years ago, Ouro Preto is a good travel destination.

1. Toronto’s Sewers in Canada

toronto

We admit, this is an odd entry in this list, especially since it takes the number one spot. But admittedly, this list is written in no particular order, and Toronto’s sewage system is definitely something worth taking a look at. Though it’s not technically allowed, one can get access with a special permit and if accompanied by a public works employee. Or, you can find your own way in through the many manholes, maintenance shafts, spillways, and water treatment offshoots, if you really want to feel that adrenaline rush you’ve been missing in your everyday life.

Given the city’s well maintained waste management system, the passage network below its streets looks more like subway tunnels than anything else. This has resulted in a subculture of urban exploration around subterranean Toronto. The Garrison Creek Sewer, for example, flows underneath the west end of the city and was once, as the name suggests, a natural above ground water flow. But as Toronto got larger, the city council wisely decided to bury it underground, as it slowly became a “highway” for human waste and other…stuff. Given that it’s more than 100 years old, it’s surprising it’s in as good a shape as it is. Now, if you don’t have the means to go all the way to Paris and visit its underground catacombs, Toronto’s sewers might give you an idea of what it’s all about.


Bucket List Vacations

Travel the world for 10 cents on the dollar

– WIF Travel

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #221

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #221

…But his brother told him to try Melrose Ave. and he will, even though this stretch of street looks a little seedy; unlike any resort the doctor had ever seen…

Atlantic City Boardwalk by Ira Shander

But three days at university is enough and since he was in the general neighborhood, A.O. had suggested, sort of invited himself, to visit his older brother, Hosea in Atlantic City. “My place ain’t much to look at, Alfrey, saw the picture of your digs, not bad.”

“That doesn’t matter, Hosey, I told mama that I’d see you. It would make her feel better. She blames herself for you runnin’ off to Jersey.” Amanda Campbell will die without having seen her 38 year old son again.

“Okay, Alfrey, I live on Melrose Avenue, ask anyone fo me, they knows where I’m at.”

hookers sign

That conversation took place the month before, when A.O. first found out that he would be going to Boston. It is a leap of faith for the doctor, who had the nagging feeling that his generally irresponsible sibling might forget the day of his arrival. But perhaps he will be pleasantly surprised.

Upon arriving at the resort town, he takes a cab to Melrose Avenue. For Atlantic City, a wildly popular summer destination for New Yorkers and Philadelphians, the streets are mostly deserted. If he would venture out to the ocean, he would have the Boardwalk to himself. But Hosea told him to try Melrose and he will, even though this stretch of street looks a little seedy; unlike any resort he had ever seen.

And of course A.O. is impeccably attired, rarely seen without a freshly pressed 3-piece suit, so he sticks out like a sore thumb. Most of the people he passes stare at him, not used to seeing a Negro so natty, with the possible exception of the ostentatious Hosea.

Of those people, some of the female varieties are scantily clad, never mind the chill, with a fetching look on their face, not a stare. He chooses the most proper “lady”, which would be like being the world’s tallest midget, asking, “Could you tell me where I could find Hosey Campbell?”

“Who’s asking, Cutie?” she answers while unfastening yet another button on her glittery blouse.

          “My name is Alpha Omega Campbell, Hosea’s brother.” He tries not to stare at the woman’s ample breasts, fearing God would put one or more of his eyes out.

          “I work for Hosey, Alpha honey… and you can have one on the house.”

“What house?” Ignorant and innocent, A.O. should know better. When he goes into Frenchtown down home, less elegant ladies of the evening do exist. It is the oldest profession after all.

What else does he think they are doing on street corners?

“My house, my bedroom, are over there in that hotel.” She points to a three story structure with a crooked neon light, half lit, reading, Melrose Arms.


Alpha Omega M.D.

.Hosea-001

Episode #221


page 208

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #198

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #198

…Please tell me what it was like to be knighted by the Queen.” John tries his best to get his cousin to be the least immodest, bringing up a subject of great pride to a loyal subject…

Knighted

Knighted by Eva Hollyer

John Ferrell interrupts the polarized opinion exchange about golf, “I have heard of the sport, in fact we have a club in Tallahassee, on the university grounds.”

“Splendid! I will show you how to play when we take you up on your kind invitation to visit. It sounds like you have the perfect climate.” He grips his mashie niblick.

“Don’t be aswingin’ those things in the house James, remember the chandelier?”

“One of my best passes, it was.”

“Me thinks you should be in France, shurein the Germans would flee to home at the sight of you and that stick.”

Please tell me what it was like to be knighted by the Queen.” John tries his best to get his cousin to be the least immodest, bringing up a subject of great pride to a loyal subject, when a carriage comes barreling up the winding trail leading to the Barrie country home. “That will be Harv Pearson and his bride, the publishers of that magazine I brought you.”

“Good work… with stories that match the finest photographs I have ever seen,” high praise from an accomplished judge of word and people.

     That is Sir James Barrie,” Judith nudges her husband, who may not know, “saw his first production in London, now he is one of the most prolific playwrights – ever.”

“Welcome to bonnie ol’ Scotland set a spell and let’s talk about the generosity of America!”

Judith, who almost never drinks alcohol, accepts a spot from the host. She is smart enough to sip, yet unable to prevent the inevitable shiver, as it burns a path down her esophagus.

  “Thank you, Mister Barrie. My wife has been following your career from the beginning, as she will surely tell you later.” Harv speaks, Judith is recovering. “And it is good to see you, John. We were surprised at your cable, quite an undertaking in these troubling times.” He does not recall extreme bravery as one of this man’s character.

          “Matthew, that’s what his friends call him, told us of the terrible suffering in the Isles and I was moved to gather the excess bounty that God has blessed us with and share them.”

          Neither does Harv remember him an excessive Godly man.

          “I am so inspired by John’s kindness that I myself feel twinges of guilt. I see the suffering, yet continue on with my flights of fancy.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Peter Pan by Thomas Kincade

Episode #198


page 186

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