2022 – Stockport Air Raid Shelters

2022 – Stockport Air Raid Shelter

Just a few minutes from the campus of Nazarene Theological College where we are volunteering is Stockport, still within the confines of the Manchester metro area.  We’ve visited the shopping mall there several times.  Today, we visited a historical site just steps from the mall.  The Stockport Air Raid Shelters are tunnels dug out of limestone to provide protection for the citizens of the area.  Today, this site serves as a reminder of what life was like for the people of this area during World War II. Because Manchester was a major manufacturing hub of England it came under German fire many times, including a major attack over Christmas of 1940.  Hundreds died and thousands were injured during the Manchester Blitz.  During that raid, and others, people in the Stockport area found shelter in these tunnels.  It was sobering to imagine women and children hurrying into these tunnels as air raid sirens sounded the warning.

2022 – Around Edinburgh Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland is a great tourist city. We spent four days there and could have spent another four days continuing our exploring. The main attractions are all fairly close together so it isn’t hard at all to see a variety of things in one day. However, it needs to be noted that there are some serious hills there. This takes its toll on even people who walk on a regular basis.

We enjoyed trying out some different food places while we were there. Check out our photos of “Oink;” this is a chain of fast food restaurants specializing in – well you can guess! We ate at a local Turkish bakery near the train station. We liked it enough that we returned to grab some takeaway there to carry on the train on our return trip. We also had some good fish and chips at a nicer restaurant on Victoria Street near Grassmarket Square – an area with plenty of places to eat and shop. It is also where many public hangings took place in Edinburgh’s history. Of course, we checked out a few coffee shops along the way. Jackie loved the Chocolate Cafe where she got a coffee that was more chocolate than coffee! And, of course, we tried out the most popular soft drink in Scotland. It’s an orange colored soda that tastes to me like a cross between Big Red and Cream Soda. It’s not bad, but I think I’ll stick to my Coke Zero.

It was fun just being on the streets, looking at the shops and seeing the architecture. One secret is to look up! There are many building features like statues and gargoyles that are easily missed from street level.

We already posted a couple of site specific entries, but, as I mentioned earlier, we could have spent another week and seen more without ever repeating an attraction. We missed some biggies like Holyrood Palace, the Royal Yacht Britannia, several museums, and the Botanical Gardens. And that doesn’t even take into account the many other places to visit across Scotland.

Here are some specifics for anyone planning a visit to Edinburgh. (Note: this is based on just one visit, so there are likely many alternative approaches that a person might want to take.} I priced motel rooms in the central city and found them to be uniformly high priced. Instead, we opted to stay out at the Airport Premier Inn. The key to that location is that the tram (light rail) stop is just outside the motel. By buying online I was able to get us multiday tram tickets. Trams run every few minutes and, after a 20 minute ride, we arrived right in the heart of the city. Along the way the tram stops at both major train stations and, it just so happens, right at the Hop-on-Hop-off bus hub. We bought multi day Hop-on-Hop off bus tickets. There are three different bus tours included on that ticket. After riding and listening to the tour information on the entire route of a couple of them we switched to using the busses as our way to get around the city. By the way, we learned that this particular bus service gives you a real 24/48, etc. hour ticket. If you activate the ticket at 11:00 on one day it is good till the same time the next day. That gave us just enough time for the last ride we needed to get back to the tram after we visited the Castle.

As you can see, we had a good time in Edinburgh and highly recommend it to everyone. Just know that you will need to do some walking and some of it up and down hills. And, when you go, be sure to try some Irn Bru and a pork sandwich at Oink!

2022 – Edinburgh Castle

It is no exaggeration to say that Edinburgh Castle dominates the city. It sits on Castle Rock, high above everything. Historically, it has defined Edinburgh since the 1200’s where It has housed royalty and served as a military stronghold through the centuries.

The Castle is located at the top of the Royal Mile. The other anchor is Holyrood Palace. Both should be visited, but we had to pick one or the other for this trip. The walk up to the Castle isn’t long but it is quite steep. Then, once on the Castle grounds, the steep walk continues, on up to where you can see the Crown Jewels of Scotland. The views of the city are beautiful and there are many displays and museums. We saw a lot but didn’t see nearly everything on the site.

Edinburgh Castle is a “must see” for visitors to this city. Wear your walking shoes and come ready to explore!

2022 – St Guiles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland

St Guiles’ dates back to the 1200’s and has played a big role in the history of this historic city of Edinburgh, Scotland. Thousands visit this church daily, not so much to worship as to see the stunning architecture and learn some of its history. This church was ground zero for the Scottish Reformation and John Knox, considered the father of that movement, became pastor of the church in 1559. Thus began the Presbyterian church. Honestly, there’s tons of information on St Guiles’ on the internet so I’ll just leave you with a few photos.

2022 – Exploring the Lake District, UK

We had a terrific day touring the Lake District National Park, just northeast of Manchester. The National Park has beautiful scenery and picturesque villages. There are Herdwick sheep everywhere, lots of restaurants and shops, and narrow, twisting roads to explore.

We took a Busybus tour in a 15 passenger van and enjoyed the commentary of Shelly, our driver and tour guide. The tour took us to some of the famous places in the Lake District but also took us off the beaten path to places the bigger buses can’t go and places that the average tourist might not find.

One interesting stop was at the Castlerigg stone circle. This site is just as old as Stonehenge (around 5000 years old) but has smaller stones. That is more than offset by its location – natural beauty surrounds it.

We had lunch in the village of Grasmere. It was fun trying out a small café and then we topped our lunch off with a visit to Sarah Nelson’s gingerbread store. People line up to buy this unique treat which is a cross between cake and cookie; buttery with ginger. It is quite tasty and we bought enough to bring home for later on. Grasmere was the home of famous poet William Wordsworth. He called it “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found.” We saw where he is buried, in the church cemetery just near a pretty mountain stream.

From there we headed up into the mountains for what was my favorite part of the trip. The roads are one lane, twisting, climbing pathways with ancient rock fences crowding in on either side. When we met oncoming vehicles someone had to back up to a wider spot to let the other vehicle squeeze by. I was glad that someone else was doing the driving so I could focus on the scenery.

At one point we opted to get out and take a bit of a hike around Blea Tarn (“tarn” means “pool”). The scenery was amazing, especially the view out across Little Langdale Valley. It really is a special place.

Our last stop was at Lake Windermere. With the mountains surrounding it, the lake is well worth a visit. There is a cruise boat there that would be fun. Jackie opted for some ice cream and some quiet time just enjoying the view.

We were pretty much worn out from all the exploring and didn’t mind the hour and a half of quiet during the ride back to Manchester.

As you can tell, we had a wonderful time in the Lake District and we recommend it to anyone visiting this part of the UK.

Touring Chester, UK

The city of Chester is located about 35 miles from Manchester and our travel there by train and bus took us just over an hour.  We enjoyed riding National Rail on our previous trip to England and things were as we remembered.  The UK trains are amazing with comfortable seats, big windows, and even electric/USB outlets available in each seat.  The ride is smooth and quiet.  Honestly the train ride adventure was probably as much fun for as was our time in Chester.

Chester was founded by the Romans in AD79.  The biggest draw there is the remains of a Roman Amphitheatre and ancient city walls.  There are also many Tudor buildings.   If history doesn’t interest you, there is shopping galore and plenty of restaurants.   We had lunch at “The Eatery.”  I opted for a traditional British breakfast for lunch: egg, ham, sausage, toast, beans, tomato, and hash browns.  Frankly, with the beans and roasted tomato, it felt more like lunch than breakfast anyway, so it was a good choice.  Jackie went with quiche and chips (French fries for you Yanks).  It was all very good.

While shopping Jackie found a few items for our flat, so not only did we get to do some sightseeing, we also picked up a few needed items.  The weather was just about perfect, making our wanderings a real pleasure.  After we got home it started raining, so we felt pretty good about picking this day as the one for our first major sightseeing trip.

Our return trip was pretty much the reverse of our morning journey except that the train didn’t stop at the station closest to us.  We rode the bus about 45 minutes back to one of our local stops.   Just for fun we went to the top deck, front, so we could enjoy seeing the city.   It really is amazing to experience how the drivers navigate the narrow streets in the big buses!

2019 – Sightseeing Along Lake Erie in N.E. Ohio

Our stay in northeastern Ohio was a longer stay for us and that gave us plenty of time to explore the area.

We never get our fill of waterfalls so even though we hiked Watkins Glen and then visited Niagara Falls over the past few weeks, we took a day trip and visited a couple more waterfalls near Cleveland OH. Chagrin Falls, just south of Cleveland is located in the town of Chagrin. There are cute shops and restaurants around it. It is obviously a destination for people wanting to get out of the big city and although not overwhelming the falls are pretty and a nice place to eat lunch or just hang out. From there we drove through the country and arrived at the Brandywine Falls in beautiful Cayahoga Valley National Park. The falls have hiking and biking trails. We walked down a boardwalk for a great view of the falls. It is beautiful and well worth the effort to get down there and back. There is also an overlook for people who cannot or choose to not take the stairs.

On the Saturday before Labor Day We drove to Geneva-On-The-Lake and found it very busy due to a variety of events happening that day. We especially enjoyed a big Volkswagen car show in the city park which was filled with VWs and camper vans from across the years. Afterward, we enjoyed sitting on a bench and listening to the waves of Lake Erie for a while.

We went to Cleveland to visit the Historic William G. Matthew steam ship but found that it was only open on weekends after Labor Day. The ship is adjacent to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and since we were already there so we thought we would check it out. Honestly, since we aren’t fans of current popular music our expectations weren’t very high but there was more of interest to us than we expected. We spent most of our time in the sections of the museum that focus on the early days of rock and roll music. We heard lots of music and watched clips of singers from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. We saw photos, costumes and other memorabilia from many singers and groups. It was interesting seeing displays of groups like The Beach Boys, the Beatles, and the Temptations. Other singers included Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash and many more. We were able to walk through the tour bus that was built for Johnny and June Cash and their son. Interesting and sobering to us was the way the music changed to darker, angry, themes as time passed.

There is a historically unique restaurant near our campground: Covered Bridge Pizza in North Kingsville. The dining area is inside a covered bridge. The bridge was originally the Foreman Road Bridge built in 1862. In 1972 the county decided to replace it and the old bridge was sold for five dollars! It was carefully dismantled and placed in storage. In 1975 half of the old bridge was used to open the restaurant we visited and in 1977 a second location was opened using the other half of the bridge. There are a variety of items on the menu but we were there for pizza. The crust is made fresh daily and the spicy sauce along with the meat and cheese made an excellent lunch.

On a clear sunny day we took a picnic and visited a few of the many parks along Lake Erie. It was fun seeing the various parks. One was small with few picnic tables and small playground. Another had a large covered area with tables and a concession with boardwalks down to the beach. Yet another had a covered area with tables and several porch type swings with the beach area adjacent to it. We had a pleasant lunch by carrying our lunch and chairs down close to the water. A nice quiet way to spend a few hours.

When we saw advertising about a balloon glow not far from our campground we decided to go. There were eight of the giant hot air balloons that were beautiful when lit up. There were a lot of people there enjoying the display. The business, Debonné, hosts a full scale hot air balloon festival in the spring, it must be amazing to see.

2019 – Sightseeing Niagara Falls and vicinity

Niagara Gorge and Falls
We wanted to spend the week of our 50th Anniversary in a beautiful area with lots to see and do. We picked Niagara Falls and vicinity. Some of the attractions added a romantic flavor to the week while others were just interesting and fun.

Early in the week we focused on the Niagara Gorge – a stunning area below the Falls and out to Lake Ontario. The Robert Moses Niagara Power Project Visitors Center is an impressive place with great views of the Gorge and an interesting overview of the area. As we entered we were handed “swipe badges” that allow visitors to play a wide variety of interactive exhibits. Kids enjoy collecting stickers while learning about hydroelectric power and energy efficiency. I enjoyed the movie telling about the plant, how it works and interacts with surrounding power grids. I particularly enjoyed seeing Mr. Tesla come to life in a picture frame to explain AC vs DC electricity. One hall is dedicated to the Native American people of the era and their civilization. The best part of the visit was standing on the observation deck overlooking the Niagara Gorge, watching the water flow and the tour boats speed through the Niagara Gorge.

Nearby is Whirlpool State Park with a stunning view of the whirlpool in the Niagara River. It is mesmerizing to watch the water flow and spin. Up above people were riding the Gondola that takes people high above the giant whirlpool.

We enjoyed stopping off for an ice cream treat in Lewiston at the Silo Caboose. The soft serve chocolate ice cream was amazing! The only problem was it was a hot day and I had to eat it faster than I wanted.

Although we were here 7 years ago Niagara Falls was the highlight of this week and we saved visiting it for our 50th Wedding Anniversary! We drove in found a good parking spot and bought our tickets to visit the Observation Tower and then ride the Maid of the Mist! I enjoyed every minute of the ride with the spectacular falls above and then around us I was reminded what an Amazing God we serve who made things like this for our pleasure.

Historic Erie Canal locks
We really enjoyed our ride on the Erie Canal. Construction of the canal was started in 1817 and it opened in 1825. It carried commerce from New York Harbor to Lake Erie and transformed the region. Our ride on the Canal took us through Locks 34 and 35, the “Upside Down Bridge” and under a lift bridge used for normal street traffic. We could see traces of the old foot path that was used by the animals towing the barges as well as many historic buildings as we rode along. As we passed through the locks our Captain explained how the locks worked, allowing the water to raise and lower our boat as we moved along the canal. It was a fun ride that let me experience a little of the history I learned so long ago.

Old Fort Niagara
Just a short drive from us is Old Fort Niagara. This Fort has a history of over 300 years. It has been controlled by the French, English and the finally the Americans. It was critical in the French and Indian War, The American Revolution and the War of 1812. The visitor’s center provides historic information and artifacts including the original American flag of the War of 1812 (the twin of the Star Spangled Banner) which is kept in a climate controlled room. I enjoyed going into the buildings and talking with several re-enactors as well as seeing demonstrations of musket fire and military field demonstrations.

2019 – Sightseeing Lancaster-Hershey, PA

This is just a brief continuation of our Lancaster-Hershey, PA sightseeing. Our son, daughter-in-law, and teen-age grandchildren joined us for a week, staying in a campground cabin. We were out nearly every day sightseeing with them. Some of the places they visited are already favorites of ours. We went to the Bird N Hand Market and the Kitchen Kettle Village where we did an Amish themed buggy ride. We rode the steam train in Strasbourg, PA, visited Gettysburg National Park and Cemetery, and went to Hershey World. We ate local deli favorites, had ice cream at “Jiggers” in Mt Gretna, and went to the famous Shady Maple Smorgasbord. There was shopping, cookouts at the campground, and a couple of evenings around the campfire. Whew! No wonder we are tired! I’m extremely thankful for a memorable time together.

2019 – Sightseeing Lancaster, PA and Baltimore, MD

Fort McHenry, Baltimore, MD – and the Star Spangled Banner
Our drive down to Fort McHenry in Baltimore MD was a fun but hot day. We started at the visitor center where we watched a short overview of our National Anthem and how it came to be written by Francis Scott Key. The visitors’ center also has interactive displays and historical artifacts to see.

There are Ranger talks scheduled throughout the day. We joined one and learned about the War of 1812 while we walked along. Our presenter described the cannons and their range and the various types of ammunition. He led us into the Fort and up a small incline to point out to us approximately where the British fleet was positioned in the harbor. Francis Scott Key’s ship was being detained by the British out in the harbor. There he watched through the night to see if the flag was still flying over the fort. It was a fascinating and wonderful learning experience.

Sight and Sound – Lancaster, PA
We attended a production of “Jesus” at the Sight and Sound Theater. This amazing presentation is based on events of the life of our Lord. There are flashbacks of his birth and his experience at the Temple when he was 12 years old as the story takes the audience through the ministry of Jesus. The presentation uses live actors, music, song, moving scenery, and live animals to bring these events to life. The 300 foot stage wraps around the audience. There are humorous scenes and powerful drama that reminds us of how much He loves us even to the point of laying down his life for us. The resurrection and ascension scenes are breathtaking. All of this was done concluding with an opportunity for anyone to invite Jesus to be a part of their life here and now. No photography is allowed, but we took a couple of photos just to help us remember this powerful presentation.

Tabernacle in the Wilderness – Lancaster, PA
At the Mennonite Information Center in Lancaster PA we saw a full scale replica of the Tabernacle in the wilderness. Our tour guide gave us the Biblical background of the Israelites and we saw replicas of the altar of sacrifice and basin used in the outer court and then we moved into a room where we saw a replica of the inner court with actual color curtains, candlestick, and table of bread. There is a full-size wax figure dressed as the high priest so we could see the stones on the breast plate and the miter. The curtain separating the Holy of Holies is there but we were able to look through windows to see the replica Ark of the Covenant. Overall it was a very inspiring time and it helped me clarify my understanding of the tabernacle in the wildernesses.

The Lancaster, PA area is a real tourist mecca. We will see much more in the week to come, but it will be family time for us as well, so our focus will be on family rather than doing a sightseeing blog.