Category: TRAVELS


Seems like a long time ago. Cannes, the Côte d'Azur, the Mediterranian Sea, next door to Nice, then a bit further up the coast is Italy, just a 'stone's throw away'. In the winter of 2015 I traveled to the South of France, to spend three months in a wonderful (AirBnB) rental studio in Cannes, Rue des Fauvettes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, situated just a step away from the old town down the hill towards the Mediterranean Sea.
As all cities along this stretch of coast are steep downhill because of the mountain range along the entire coast line
[ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massif_de_l%27Esterel ], in the morning to go for groceries I had to walk down a steep incline. Mostly there were steps to get down into the inner market streets where all the nice little stores, open air food markets and Algerian souks were. Including outside cafes - a cup of espresso was €1 only. I had rented for full three months with a very nice French lady, who became my friend. As French speaking traveler, no problem for me. 
My flight from Vancouver Airport to Paris was not less than adventurous. Leaving November 8,2015, arriving France November 9.  Just in time to experience some fallout from the November terrorist attacks on Paris 
[ https://www.bbc.com/news/topics/cvdzvmjevl3t/november-2015-paris-attacks ]. Turmoil at the biggest airport in France, wait times, special security measures. I had to continue my flight to Nice, Côte d'Azur, as Cannes does not have an airport. [Cannes, famous for its https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannes_Film_Festival ]. Arriving at my destination in Cannes late evening November 10 by Bus from Nice Airport, without my suit case, lost at the airport in Paris. But arriving en retard 2 days later.
I made many wonderful excursions from Cannes along this coast line to both sides, Marseille, and especially Italy. across the border, buy a big panettoni for Christmas (which, by the way, I took home to Canada in my suitcase). Several excursions also to Monaco, Monte Carlo.
CHRISTMAS bus trip to Italy. Leaving with a group on December 23 for five days to spend Christmas around the many famous holy places so special during the Christmas season.
Its theme was Francesco de Assisi - Saint Francis of Assisi [ https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-francis-of-assisi ]. The Bus left very early from Cannes, then via Nice Airport and from there towards Umbria, Italy. Umbria, a region in central Italy whose capital is Perugia. 
Driving through this area of Italy which is so well known, past Tuscany and flat or hilly landscapes, in winter is different. No hot sun, but higher elevations so foggy that visibility was mostly limited. We stopped at night at various hotels in medieval towns in Umbria, Arezzo, Perugia, Spoleto, Assisi,visiting many towns and medieval places of worship, cathedrals and churches, including the birthplace of Saint Francis de Assisi. Lots of tourists during the Christmas season.  [ https://www.italia.it/en/assisi-and-the-basilica-of-st-francis ],
[ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_Saint_Francis_of_Assisi ].
Being among strangers and not with my family, who reside in The Netherlands (far away) - for me, this had been just another historically different, but very interesting excursion. The 24th of December, Christmas Eve, we stopped and stayed at a hotel in Arezzo, before continuing on to Perugia on the 25th. There was so much to take in, each day on this short trip from morning till late afternoon visiting churches and cathedrals. Returning Cannes late on the 27th. [Frankly, this must have been the last Bus tour I have taken with a group of unknown people.].
Leaving next day 28th for Eindhoven, Netherlands, to visit my family for New Years. Back to Cannes the 2nd of January 2016, a new year, new adventures. 




 

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LANGUAGES – good for your brain

This has been known for centuries, “languages expand your brain”. [Or, as we say: “expand one’s horizon”.] New studies (University York at Toronto, Canada) have shown and proven that those who are at least bilingual in old age will show their first symptoms of Alzheimer and Dementia (if at all ) later than those with one single language (like English). [autres études l’Université d’Edinbourg et équipe indienne.] ]

There is also a correlation between widely traveling and thereby being exposed to other cultures and languages, and a healthier brain capacity. Besides the scientific implications of knowledge of several languages, not just one or two, there is also a practical side of this. When traveling, one who can communicate with the locals in another country often finds better deals and pays less. And finds new friends.

My own experiences: I traveled widely, several times to North Africa, Tunisia and Morocco. Besides Arabic, the primary language for visitors is French. Because tourists are highly appreciated income sources for the locals, taxi drivers will often drive you around to markets and stores belonging to one of their relatives. However, if you intended to go elsewhere, you never get there. Communicating in French helps tremendously, to somehow get (“out of there”). Mostly I used the public bus system, being the only European on this bus. Again, language knowledge helped ! When I spent one month in Marrakesh, Morocco, I met up with an Australian lady who always wanted me to tag along, to talk the Arab taxi drivers out of giving us the roundabout through the Souks.

Or, on another trip to several Caribbean islands, one was Saint-Martin, Sint Maarten [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Martin_(island) ]. Interesting, one of the few islands shared by two nations – The Netherlands and France. Since I speak also Dutch (and French), no problem. In fact I saved some money. Needed to take a taxi with a nice lady taxi driver, from Philipsburg NL to Saint-Martin, paying much less (then still French francs; today €), when I told her that I don’t have much money on me. While back at Saint-Martin, the American tourists complained about having to spend US$20 for a small taxi trip.

I made many friends in many countries, simply because of my language knowledge. Once, spending three months at the Côte dAzur , Mediterrean, in Cannes, France. First day on a walk met some Russians, who also spoke German (my mother tongue), and amazingly lived in the same city I was born in Germany. World is small indeed !

I do miss traveling a lot, since outbreak of that pandemic. Since 2018 the last time I made a one month trip to Mexico.

Let’s see what a new US President can do to Canada’s controversial oil industry and in particular TransCanada – with their Keystone XL Pipeline: [ https://globalnews.ca/news/7582352/keystone-pipeline-cancelled-biden/ ] [NOTE. TransCanada changing their name multiple times – see also TC Energy Corp : – [ https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/a-timeline-of-the-controversial-keystone-xl-pipeline-project-1.1550203 ].

An Insider story – TransCanada.

Pipelines, oil and natural gas, the story of Canada’s primary resource. When I arrived in Alberta in 1976, after having spent years in the United States, among others completing my Master of Science (IST) at Syracuse University, my very first job had been a temporary computer programming assignment for now one of the largest Telecom companies in Canada. [NOTE. Joe Biden – https://news.syr.edu/blog/2020/11/07/joseph-r-biden-jr-l68-becomes-first-syracuse-university-alumnus-elected-president/ ]. Shortly thereafter I was hired by Alberta’s oil industry. The first of them strongly connected with Canada’s own history – Hudson’s Bay Company; the oil corporation was HBOG – Hudson’s Bay Oil & Gas Co. Does not exist any more. Others along the way were also taken over by large US corporations. Along the way, I worked as System Analyst, Project Leader for large corporate computer systems – hardware and software. I survived – that in itself inside the oil industry – is extremely stressful.

Turn back the clock to the 1980s when TransCanada Pipelines took over Maligne Resources (Dow Chemical), and all employees like myself were now part of the takeover corporation – TransCanada Pipelines/TCPL. The culture within – thinking back – reminds me now of being incarcerated in something like Guantanamo Bay. TransCanada had sent down enforcersfrom their Toronto HQ. to control former employees and work on plans how to reduce the workforce, using asocial tactics and creating illegal firing situations. Resulting in many layoffs, (women first) without even so much as offering pensions for long term employees. The enforcer offered me C$14,000, this after almost ten years in that industry. Yet, I walked out with dozens of high-class Reference letters from employers in the oil industry and others since starting in information systems and computer work in the 1960s, including three from TransCanada Pipelines TCPLmanagement as well the President at that time. Afterwards I survived with computer contracts work until the mid-1990s.

1976 US Bicentennial travel with our Hobomobil*

PART 1 – From Alberta south to USA mid-west

Traveling with my little son in our old what I call Hobomobil* (a vehicle serving as a home, for decent temporary traveling folks; vs. hobomobile=Google app) square back Volkswagen. For the purpose of obtaining a Landed Immigrant visa for Canada. [See also my previous posts on 1975 travel during summer vacation from Syracuse University, taking a Greyhound Bus across USA.]

1976 is an important year for the United States, (their Bicentennial), having a history since 1776 and celebrating the most important events, which led to the US forming and their constitution, and – 4th of July 1776 – the Declaration of Independence. [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Bicentennial ]. I had come from Europe to the United States in fall of 1974 for my graduate program at Syracuse University. At that time I did not know much about US history. It was only coincidental that we (myself and my little son) would be there during this important period in time and history.

Likewise, not knowing at that time that my son after leaving Alberta, Canada, would also return to the USA, Alabama and later Washington, DC, for his own graduate studies. And then in 1990 return to his homeland Holland.

Back to my story – 1976, the year we arrived in Canada in Spring, on my expired US student visa. Having traveled in my VW for weeks to arrive in Edmonton, Alberta, staying with a friend. Someone who saw my vehicle (NY State license plate), turned me in to Immigration. Normally one has to return to ones home country to apply from there for a Canadian Landed Immigrant visa.

Impossible ! Somehow, with the help of another friend there, and some sort of job offer, I could return to the United States, to apply for the Canadian Visa and wait it out there. We took the opportunity, being it was summer, to just travel around. From state to state, during the US Bicentennial. Lots of celebrations, you might think ? Not so much. The nearest Canadian Consulate I chose was Minneapolis, Minnesota.

My old VW Hobomobil, our temporary home, in which we traveled, lived, slept, cooked, and accumulated a lot of stuff as souvenirs. Alone, on campgrounds, or just driving till late into the night, meeting others in similar or same positions. This old car did not even have an air conditioning system – summers sometimes high up into the 30C. All “road” people nice to us, even a group of Hells Angels motor cycle guys, met on the road during a heavy rain storm, waiting it out under a bridge.

[The pictures are from scanned images, previously slides]

 

9/11 World Trace Center Towers New York City Terrorist Attack

where were you ? I remember exactly where I was. This was September 9 in the year 2001. I had a Doctor’s appointment in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Walking the city I passed by a TV and electronics shop. Standing in front of the large store window and watching LIVE news. What do I see ? The plane plowing into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Wow !

Coincidentally, that same year, August 2001 we (my son and I) had visited New York City, to celebrate my birthday. Traveling by Amtrak train from Washington, DC (where my son worked and lived) to New York City. Stayed in a hotel at Central Park. The evening we went out to visit the sites: Little Italy, the Russian Cafe, Times Square, Broadway, at night watching the musical Les Miserables, and hanging out. That was August that same year. From Washington DC I then returned to Alberta August 14th. Then came September 2001 and 9/11.

Next year in January 2002 we went one more time to New York City (from DC), with the elevator up the Chrysler Building, try see the sight – Ground Zero. At that time it was still all sooty and smelly and hazy, and no more World Trade Center Towers to see.

COFFEE – CAFE – KAFFEE

2020 the best year of my life, with a world wide pandemic, virus here, there and everywhere. What’s a person to do to have at least a feeling of a social life, especially if you are alone. Often I go out (in fact daily) for a walk, or take my bicycle, to the park, sit down, have a coffee. Better, yet, sit somewhere in one of the newly created outdoor cafes. Even sitting alone at a table feels better than sitting alone at home. YUK !

Coffee for many years has become an important part of my traveling life. In Europe, and on the continent. Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island: Although I have not tested all cafes, some are good, some not so, some are too expensive for the quality of coffee.

A decent cup for C$2.00 is pretty good. Murchies, 100 year old pattissery and eating place downtown. Not bad. Crust Bakery on Fort C$ around 2.00, also, but must sit outside, lots of street traffic. Other places (being that Starbucks closed down a lot) can go anywhere from C$2.50 to even over C$up to 4.00. Too expensive. My Italian shop in Victoria, on Blanchard, has the best Italian imports, everything (dozens of different panettones during Xmas season), and also a little corner cafe to sit. Regular coffee not so strong, espresso, Americano good. Prices good. [Reminds me of my Panettoni story: During Xmas 2015 went to Italy, from Cannes, bought a big Italian Panettoni, took it home to Canada in my suitcase.]. Yet, nothing beats a good Weihnachtsstollen.

While traveling in France, spending three months in Cannes, Mediterranean, ordering a coffee/cafe would always mean tiny cute little Espresso, good, but one shot. Netherlands, where I worked and lived for eight years is different again: You want to find a Cafe to sit down for a coffee ? Unless you intend to smoke pot or get some cannabis, those places are the ones. Real cafes bakeries for a coffee and dessert are bakeries (bakkerij patisserie). Germany, Berlin: There is a tiny historically old section, the Nikolaiviertel, one can sit down outside, have wonderful coffee, mostly coffee implies a little can, and have a cake. [Founded about 1200, the Nikolaiviertel of Alt-Berlin, together with the neighbouring settlement of Cölln, is the reconstructed historical heart of the German capital Berlin.]

St. Petersburg, Russia, is huge, a wonderful city. Near the Neva strolling along the Nevsky Prospect down to the landing dock for ships going to Finland, found a nice little restaurant, have a coffee. Good.

[Every morning I make my own cappuccino in my old-fashioned Italian Espresso machine.]. Continue enjoy, as long as you look at each other from the distance.

In the Northern Part of Germany nearer my own (former) home town exists a culture that invites medieval fairs, also because of the beautifully medieval (after the War restored) houses and buildings. [Braunschweig had been destroyed completely during WWII.]. The city dates back to the year 900, is a very old former medieval town, and therefore has a history of such fairs and festivals. Incidentally, its founder Henri III ‘THE LION’ was also the founder of München (Munich, Bavaria). Henri The Lion founded the cities München, Lübeck, Lüneburg and Braunschweig (Brunswick).

While in Bavaria, the south of Germany, nearer München, many old castles from medieval times still exist. One of them is Kaltenberg.

[ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schloss_Kaltenberg ]. Where annual jousting tournaments are held. The Kaltenberger Ritterturnier (Jousting) is the largest and longest lasting in the world. Held annually in July at Castle Kaltenberg, Geltendorf, Bavaria.

It is a glorious time to spend among knights, musicians, artists and acrobats, watching archery tournaments and mingling with all sorts of folks in their medieval garments. Admiring the wonderful big horses of the knights. Not to forget the tasty down to earth food and world-famous Kaltenberg beer, brewed right here in the Castle. [ https://www.ritterturnier.de/ ]

I visited in the year 2007, spending several months in Munich and took the train from there to Geltendorf and up to the Castle grounds, to attend that year’s Jousting Tournament. Despite a cool day and rain starting at the beginning of the Knights’ Tournament, this had been a totally enjoyable and exciting experience. For me as a horse person especially, as I have had my own horses shown, raised & trained for so many years in Alberta, Canada. The entire medieval atmosphere surrounding the grounds has been exciting, different and uplifting.

Our travels across the United States 1975. My son was at that time only seven years old.

{See also: Part 1 – starting New York State up to Grand Canyon, AZ.

[ https://renataveritashistory.com/2020/05/29/travels-across-america-part-1/ ]},

followed by Parts 2 and 3: South West to San Francisco.

This is the continuation of our lengthy Bus trip across the United States. Spending many days and nights on Greyhound buses. Part 4 describes a couple of days stay in San Francisco, visiting the Bay Area [ http://www.foundsf.org/index.php?title=Fisherman%27s_Wharf ], and sightseeing around China Town and the Golden Gate Park.

San Francisco – out of many American cities I had visited in those years – is one of the more interesting, not only in terms of its history, but also because of its uniqueness. Its original name being of Spanish origin – Yerba Buena, meaning nothing more then ‘good herb’ – changed later into the name of one of the foremost ancient Italian saints: San Francesco d’Assisi, ergo: San Francisco.

The picture gallery (selecting only a few) shows individual stops and sights.

Much later, in the year 2006, I made a return visit with my son by cruise ship to San Francisco. Including a visit to the (now closed) Alcatraz Penitentiary.

[ https://www.historytoday.com/archive/months-past/alcatraz-prison-closes ]

Incidentally, I spent Christmas in Italia, (Umbria, Perugia trip December 2015), mainly for visiting the Christmas masses and celebrations for this Saint – San Francesco d’Assisi.

[ http://www.shrinesf.org/history.html ].

Part 3 – California: San Diego Zoo and Disneyland Anaheim

Our travels across the United States 1975. My son at that time was only seven years old. This long trip was a couple of weeks with Greyhound.

{See also: Part 1 – starting New York State up to Grand Canyon, AZ.

[ https://renataveritashistory.com/2020/05/29/travels-across-america-part-1/ ]}

(followed by Part 2)

This is the continuation of our lengthy trip across the United States. Part 2 describes visits from the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Arizona, to the Mexican Border.

Part 3 continues on to California, San Diego, the famous San Diego Zoo, one of the premier zoological facilities [ https://www.sandiegozooglobal.org/ ].

A real treat for my little son, who easily made friends with some of the critters. San Diego Zoo is among the best world-wide, with also Washington, DC National Zoo [ https://nationalzoo.si.edu/ ].

Then on to Anaheim, California, some 90 miles north, to visit another world wide known attraction, Disneyland California amusement park, dating back to 1955. [ https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/disneyland-opens ].

My pictures of Disneyland are a bit dark, reason is, that shortly before I had lost an entire film and had to quickly re-buy, so we arrived shortly before dawn.

It was an adventure, spending many long hours on these buses, sometimes during the night.

Being summer it had been quite hot, therefore, the photos (Asahi Pentax Spotmatic F camera) – taken as slides – are mostly a bit light, not the best quality. At a much later date I had scanned all those slides onto my PC.

The picture gallery (selecting only a few) shows individual stops.

Part 2 – Grand Canyon to San Diego

Our travels across the United States 1975. My son at that time only seven years old. This long trip was a couple of weeks with Greyhound.

{See also: Part 1 – starting New York State up to Grand Canyon, AZ.

[ https://renataveritashistory.com/2020/05/29/travels-across-america-part-1/ ]}

This is the continuation of our lengthy trip across the United States. Part 2 describes visits from the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Arizona, to the Mexican Border, then continue on to California, San Diego.

It was an adventure, spending many long hours on these buses, sometimes during the night. Funny stories as well. After many prior stops, when getting closer to the Mexican border, some Mexicans had boarded, wearing their huge hats, not much room for us on our seats anymore. Also, meeting Indians across those South Western States and Reservations, and their wonderful silver jewelry and gift shops. The mighty Grand Canyon surely is one of the world’s wonders.

Being summer it had been quite hot, therefore, the photos (Asahi Pentax Spotmatic F camera) – taken as slides – are mostly a bit light, not the best quality. At a much later date I had scanned all those slides onto my PC.

The picture gallery (selecting only a few) shows individual stops.