Travel Back in Time in Scotland

[Edinburgh from the castle, Scotland] (LOC)

Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

The United Kingdom is made up of relatively small countries, but has a ton of history & historical places to visit. There is no way I would be able to list them all, but I thought we could look at some of the high points that a trip to each country would include. Many first time visitors who have the time like to take a tour of England, Scotland and Wales, then on subsequent visits go more in depth in each country. For this blog entry let’s talk about Scotland.

First up are the castles. Spend a week or two in Scotland and take a tour of some amazing fortresses. Probably the most popular one is Edinburg Castle which is full of history. Because of its strategic location the rulers of England and Scotland were often fighting over control of it. One well known occupant was Mary Queen of Scots, who gave birth to her son there. He later became King James I of England. If you happen to visit in August you will be treated to one of its most popular attractions. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo performs a 90 minute show with fireworks and hundreds of musicians, drummers, singers and dancers. This is considered one of Scotland’s biggest attractions of the year.

Aside from castles, what comes to mind when you think Scotland? Perhaps the Loch Ness Monster? You wouldn’t want to travel to Scotland without stopping by the infamous lake and taking a look for yourself at the place of such controversy.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Image via Wikipedia

Scotland is a country where you can be transported back in time and take a walk throughout history.

Next stop: Wales.

Does anyone have any recommendations of historical fiction books set in Scotland? I will admit that I read to almost the last page Mary Queen of Scots by Margret George and just couldn’t take it anymore. She writes about so many subjects that I am interested in and for some reason she just doesn’t click with me. I have also tried Dorothy Dunnett and found that she is not to my taste either. I would love any other suggestions.

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The Tulips Are Coming

 
Floriade in 2005
Image via Wikipedia

That’s right; before we know it spring will be here. And what happens over in the Netherlands in the spring? Tulips of course. Have you heard of the Keukenhof Gardens? It is a spectacular garden that has more than 7 million flowers on approximately 79 acres. This is then broken down into smaller themed gardens, such as the historical garden which transports you back in time to a castle garden where you will enjoy rare historic varieties of flowers.

The Floriade World Horticultural Expo will be held this year, an event that is held once every 10 years and has about 2 million visitors. This year’s theme is ‘Be part of the theatre in nature, get closer to the quality of life’. What can you expect to see and do at Floriade? Aside from what you would expect, the flowers and nature exhibits, there will be international entertainment, like music and theater. Learn about different cultures and sample foods from various countries at the Restaurant World Show. There are numerous activities that go on throughout the day making it a wonderful day trip. Check out www.floriade.com for complete information.

If this all sounds like a dream vacation think about taking a river cruise. You will get to visit these attractions and others while sailing in the comfort of a river cruise ship that accommodates around 150 guests. Small ships with great service, all with riverview rooms, most with balconies. This can be a wonderful relaxing vacation full of beauty and culture.

Off To the Races

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In continuation of my last blog about the Great American Steamboat Company’s river cruises, I thought I would mention a couple of their themed cruises. First up is the Kentucky Derby 4-night river cruise. If you’ve ever dreamed of going to the Derby this is a great opportunity to do it. Included in the all-inclusive price of the cruise fare is general admission to the Derby itself. Or if you’d rather, you can join the Derby party at the Seelbach Hilton Hotel. Premium box seating is available for extra and is limited.

If you are a Civil War history buff you have a couple of different cruises to choose from. You’ll visit battlefields and if you are on the Epic Civil War cruise there will be impersonators, guest lectures and reenactments all included giving you an immersive historical vacation.

There are quite a few different cruises to choose from that will let you experience southern hospitality onboard a luxurious Victorian steamboat. Nightly entertainment in the Grand Saloon, which is a replica of Ford’s Theatre, and cuisine from an award winning chef, will make this a cruise to remember.

Southern Style River Cruises

Photograph of Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie...

Image via Wikipedia

One of my all time favorite books and movies is Gone With the Wind. Although romance books themselves are not my thing, historical fiction is. And who doesn’t love this book.

So recently I’ve come across a new cruise line that will be debuting this spring and it always makes me think of GWTW. It’s a river cruise line right here in the US, which is a rare find. For the most part, if you want to river cruise you need to go to Europe, Russia or China. But now we have the Great American Steamboat Company.  You can’t look at this ship, the American Queen, and not envision Scarlett and Rhett on their honeymoon to New Orleans. In fact, its maiden voyage is a 6 night roundtrip cruise from New Orleans. With a visit to Oak Alley Plantation, basically think Tara, your GWTW trip is complete.

The Great American Steamboat Company offers many different themed cruises and different itineraries. If you are interested in history and southern hospitality it might be the perfect cruise for you. I’ll give more details about this new river cruise line next time.

Friday the 13th (Yes I know it’s Thursday)

Knights Templar and Philip IV

Image via Wikipedia

What is the origin of Friday the 13th being unlucky? And why am I bringing it up on Thursday the 13th? I love stumbling upon meanings of things like this and today I got lucky. I was checking for interesting things that happened on this day in history and came across one of the theories about it.

On Oct. 13, 1307 King Philip of France issued arrest warrants for Knights of the Templar Order. He sent out secret orders ahead of time that were supposed to be carried out on the morning of Oct. 13th. This way the Knights were taken completely by surprise and not able to escape. The charges against them were very serious offenses such as heresy.

Apparently King Philip was deeply in debt to the Knights Templar. So to get out of having to repay the loan, he found a way to get rid of it. He also thought that he would be able to confiscate their enormous wealth, but that didn’t work out too well for him.

Although Friday the 13th doesn’t seem to have been considered unlucky before the 19th century I enjoyed finding out about this possible connection. Theorists think it unlikely that Friday the 13th is considered unlucky because of this event, but I think it’s a great coincidence.

Let’s Explore

There are a lot of reasons people travel. Some just want to sit on the beach and do nothing, they need to unwind. Some want adventure and look for new mountains to climb. And some are looking to experience the past and find out how others lived before. I bet you can guess which one this blog is about.

When you go on vacation how do you spend your time? Are you interested in history, books and culture? Have you always wanted to stand in the shadows of the pyramids or explore castles that are hundreds of years old? If you are like me then you answered yes to these questions.

There are so many historical places worth visiting and different ways of getting to them. Together we can explore them. So let’s talk about travel and books, historical fiction is what I like to read. Let’s take a look at cities that are all about today and the future, but have so much of the past to offer. I hope you will join me as I write about these things and probably a few other topics as they come up.