A Travellerspoint blog

January 2020

Kensington Palace's rich history as royal residence

Princess Louise created this statue of Queen Victoria which greets visitors coming to Kensington Palace; the palace was severely damaged during The Blitz of 1940

Princess Louise created this statue of Queen Victoria which greets visitors coming to Kensington Palace; the palace was severely damaged during The Blitz of 1940

Kensington Palace has been a residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th century, and is currently the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Kensington Palace has been a residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th century, and is currently the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

The King's Gallery showcased paintings from the Royal Collection; Kensington Palace was the royal residence from 1689-1837 but was replaced by Buckingham Palace

The King's Gallery showcased paintings from the Royal Collection; Kensington Palace was the royal residence from 1689-1837 but was replaced by Buckingham Palace

This was the only photo of the current residents of Kensington Palace; the palace was opened to visitors in 2012 after a $14 million renovation

This was the only photo of the current residents of Kensington Palace; the palace was opened to visitors in 2012 after a $14 million renovation

Princess Diana lived at Kensington Palace both during and after her marriage to Prince Charles (1981-1997); Princes William and Harry were raised in Kensington Palace and went to local nursery and pre-preparatory schools in Notting Hill

Princess Diana lived at Kensington Palace both during and after her marriage to Prince Charles (1981-1997); Princes William and Harry were raised in Kensington Palace and went to local nursery and pre-preparatory schools in Notting Hill

This was the only gown worn by Princess Diana displayed in the palace; most of the tour focused on Queen Victoria but visitors had come looking for more information on the current residents

This was the only gown worn by Princess Diana displayed in the palace; most of the tour focused on Queen Victoria but visitors had come looking for more information on the current residents

Queen Anne's story is one of the saddest for Kensington Palace; she had 18 pregnancies but none of her children survived to adulthood; after her husband died, she had a most scandalous friendship with an intimate friend Sarah, the Duchess of Marlborough

Queen Anne's story is one of the saddest for Kensington Palace; she had 18 pregnancies but none of her children survived to adulthood; after her husband died, she had a most scandalous friendship with an intimate friend Sarah, the Duchess of Marlborough

This is Victoria's earliest surviving dress, worn when she was about 14; the silk and lace dress was made in France and may have been a gift from her uncle, King Leopold of Belgium and his French wife

This is Victoria's earliest surviving dress, worn when she was about 14; the silk and lace dress was made in France and may have been a gift from her uncle, King Leopold of Belgium and his French wife

Queen Victoria's emerald tiara, necklace and earrings; Victoria was queen for 63 years, from the time she was 18 until her death at 82

Queen Victoria's emerald tiara, necklace and earrings; Victoria was queen for 63 years, from the time she was 18 until her death at 82

The Queen's Dining Room can be booked for private events; the room has beautiful paneling from the 17th century but the King's Rooms were more ornate and impressive

The Queen's Dining Room can be booked for private events; the room has beautiful paneling from the 17th century but the King's Rooms were more ornate and impressive

Kensington Palace was originally a two-story Jacobean mansion built in 1605 in the village of Kensington; William and Kate occupy a 20 room apartment within Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace was originally a two-story Jacobean mansion built in 1605 in the village of Kensington; William and Kate occupy a 20 room apartment within Kensington Palace

Upon Diana's death on August 31, 1997, the gates at Kensington Palace became the focus of public mourning with over one million bouquets, reaching 5 feet deep in places, placed as tribute stretching out into Kensington Gardens

Upon Diana's death on August 31, 1997, the gates at Kensington Palace became the focus of public mourning with over one million bouquets, reaching 5 feet deep in places, placed as tribute stretching out into Kensington Gardens

This was the last portrait made of Queen Victoria; 400,000 people came to London on June 28, 1838 to watch her coronation

This was the last portrait made of Queen Victoria; 400,000 people came to London on June 28, 1838 to watch her coronation

Presence Chamber; George II received ambassadors, men of ideas and ordinary people in this room and had the power to change people's lives

Presence Chamber; George II received ambassadors, men of ideas and ordinary people in this room and had the power to change people's lives

In this room, on May 24, 1819, Victoria was born; at the time she was fifth in line for the throne; currently half of Kensington Palace has been divided into apartments for members of the Royal Family

In this room, on May 24, 1819, Victoria was born; at the time she was fifth in line for the throne; currently half of Kensington Palace has been divided into apartments for members of the Royal Family

Posted by VagabondCowboy 10:27 Comments (0)

Snorkeling in Cozumel wasn't as good as scuba diving

The name Cozumel was derived from the Mayan name for the island, Ah Cuzamil Peten; translated to English, this means island of the swallows

The name Cozumel was derived from the Mayan name for the island, Ah Cuzamil Peten; translated to English, this means island of the swallows

We missed having Mike and Charles with us but understood that family comes first; the wait staff was largely Indian with most of the ship employees coming from SE Asia

We missed having Mike and Charles with us but understood that family comes first; the wait staff was largely Indian with most of the ship employees coming from SE Asia

Queen Angelfish; we could see Playa del Carmen on the mainland with some cruise excursions taking the ferry across

Queen Angelfish; we could see Playa del Carmen on the mainland with some cruise excursions taking the ferry across

American whitespotted filefish; these fish can rapidly change appearance to a high contrast color pattern with a much darker background and many light colored spots

American whitespotted filefish; these fish can rapidly change appearance to a high contrast color pattern with a much darker background and many light colored spots

Parrotfish; I heard from the ladies we dove with in Costa Maya that the diving in Cozumel was the best of the three destinations on the cruise

Parrotfish; I heard from the ladies we dove with in Costa Maya that the diving in Cozumel was the best of the three destinations on the cruise

From the Money Bar Beach Club, where I snorkeled, I could see our ship; there were 12 cruise ships in Cozumel today (it's the world's busiest cruise port)

From the Money Bar Beach Club, where I snorkeled, I could see our ship; there were 12 cruise ships in Cozumel today (it's the world's busiest cruise port)

Bluehead wrasse; individuals are small (less than 110 mm standard length) and rarely live longer than two years; they form large schools over the reef and are important cleaner fish

Bluehead wrasse; individuals are small (less than 110 mm standard length) and rarely live longer than two years; they form large schools over the reef and are important cleaner fish

Needlefish; this seemingly innocuous fish often jumps out of the water and their sharp beaks can inflict serious puncture wounds (two people have been killed by them in recent years!)

Needlefish; this seemingly innocuous fish often jumps out of the water and their sharp beaks can inflict serious puncture wounds (two people have been killed by them in recent years!)

The porcupine fish is mentioned in Charles Darwin's famous account of his trip around the world, The Voyage of the Beagle; he noted how the fish can swim quite well when inflated, though the altered buoyancy requires them to do so upside down

The porcupine fish is mentioned in Charles Darwin's famous account of his trip around the world, The Voyage of the Beagle; he noted how the fish can swim quite well when inflated, though the altered buoyancy requires them to do so upside down

Juvenile French angelfish; this territorial species is common in shallow reefs and occur usually in monogamous pairs often near sea fans

Juvenile French angelfish; this territorial species is common in shallow reefs and occur usually in monogamous pairs often near sea fans

Indigo Hamlet; this colorful fish is native to the western Caribbean and sometimes found in the saltwater aquarium trade

Indigo Hamlet; this colorful fish is native to the western Caribbean and sometimes found in the saltwater aquarium trade

This was one of my favorite costumed groups for Halloween; they placed in the top 5 in the contest but weren't the champions

This was one of my favorite costumed groups for Halloween; they placed in the top 5 in the contest but weren't the champions

The smooth trunkfish is supposedly the most difficult fish to catch in the Atlantic Ocean; when the fish is stressed a toxin is released in the water and some aquarium tanks have been poisoned by this with the loss of all the other animal inhabitants

The smooth trunkfish is supposedly the most difficult fish to catch in the Atlantic Ocean; when the fish is stressed a toxin is released in the water and some aquarium tanks have been poisoned by this with the loss of all the other animal inhabitants

The rock beauty is a type of angelfish that feeds primarily on sponges; the adults stay in pairs year-round and can be found at depths greater than 10 feet

The rock beauty is a type of angelfish that feeds primarily on sponges; the adults stay in pairs year-round and can be found at depths greater than 10 feet

Spotfin butterflyfish; this common Caribbean fish is difficult to keep in an aquarium (so best to admire them in their natural habitat)

Spotfin butterflyfish; this common Caribbean fish is difficult to keep in an aquarium (so best to admire them in their natural habitat)

Yellowtail snappers were schooling around the foundations of an old pier; it is a commercially important species and has been farmed

Yellowtail snappers were schooling around the foundations of an old pier; it is a commercially important species and has been farmed

Puddingwife wrasse; this species gets points for its colorful name but I could not find how the name was given in the first place

Puddingwife wrasse; this species gets points for its colorful name but I could not find how the name was given in the first place

There wasn't much coral where I snorkeled but Gary and Phyllis took a yellow submarine tour and said there was plenty of coral where they went

There wasn't much coral where I snorkeled but Gary and Phyllis took a yellow submarine tour and said there was plenty of coral where they went

A couple of lobsters were interested in my water shoes; I was trying to coax them out but they stayed mostly hidden

A couple of lobsters were interested in my water shoes; I was trying to coax them out but they stayed mostly hidden

More than a dozen fish houses had been placed near the Money Bar where I went snorkeling; they were all occupied too

More than a dozen fish houses had been placed near the Money Bar where I went snorkeling; they were all occupied too

Foureye butterflyfish; they are one of a few fish species that mate for life so are typically seen in pairs

Foureye butterflyfish; they are one of a few fish species that mate for life so are typically seen in pairs

Posted by VagabondCowboy 18:59 Comments (0)

Epic Mount Fuji among highlights of Japan!

Sunrise was at 4:47am and I was up well before that to enjoy this mesmerizing view; supposedly, Mt. Fuji is shrouded by clouds most of the time so we were lucky

Sunrise was at 4:47am and I was up well before that to enjoy this mesmerizing view; supposedly, Mt. Fuji is shrouded by clouds most of the time so we were lucky

Mount Fuji is the highest volcano in Japan at 3,776 m (12,389 ft), 2nd-highest peak on an island (volcanic) in Asia, and 7th-highest peak on an island in the world

Mount Fuji is the highest volcano in Japan at 3,776 m (12,389 ft), 2nd-highest peak on an island (volcanic) in Asia, and 7th-highest peak on an island in the world

The cherry trees were still in bloom around Mount Fuji thanks to the higher elevation; the all-time record high temperature on the summit is only 64 degrees (the all-time low is -36 degrees)

The cherry trees were still in bloom around Mount Fuji thanks to the higher elevation; the all-time record high temperature on the summit is only 64 degrees (the all-time low is -36 degrees)

Hundreds of thousands climb Mount Fuji every summer and GAdventures has tours that incorporate the climb but we were too early in the season; it takes 5-7 hours for the ascent and 3-4 hours for the descent

Hundreds of thousands climb Mount Fuji every summer and GAdventures has tours that incorporate the climb but we were too early in the season; it takes 5-7 hours for the ascent and 3-4 hours for the descent

There is a Thomas the Tank Engine theme park near Mt. Fuji so our train was all decked out to promote the park; the odd thing was the people going to Mt. Fuji I saw were all adults with no kids

There is a Thomas the Tank Engine theme park near Mt. Fuji so our train was all decked out to promote the park; the odd thing was the people going to Mt. Fuji I saw were all adults with no kids

Mt Fuji is one of three spiritual mountains in Japan; the next day I could see Mt. Fuji from the observation decks of two of Tokyo's tallest buildings

Mt Fuji is one of three spiritual mountains in Japan; the next day I could see Mt. Fuji from the observation decks of two of Tokyo's tallest buildings

Some people really enjoyed Japanese food but I couldn't find much that appealed to me; I ended up getting microwave spaghetti from 7-11 most nights

Some people really enjoyed Japanese food but I couldn't find much that appealed to me; I ended up getting microwave spaghetti from 7-11 most nights

The Japanese are serious photographers with sights like this pretty common; locals would dress in traditional attire and go to a photogenic temple and conduct what I would consider a photo shoot

The Japanese are serious photographers with sights like this pretty common; locals would dress in traditional attire and go to a photogenic temple and conduct what I would consider a photo shoot

The Japanese put their trash bags under these fishing nets to keep items from blowing away or birds from getting into the bags; the garbagemen (the system is not automated) then lay the net back precisely where it was

The Japanese put their trash bags under these fishing nets to keep items from blowing away or birds from getting into the bags; the garbagemen (the system is not automated) then lay the net back precisely where it was

We walked around the lake waiting for clouds to clear from Mount Fuji; a dormant stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–1708, Mount Fuji is snow-capped for about 5 months a year

We walked around the lake waiting for clouds to clear from Mount Fuji; a dormant stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–1708, Mount Fuji is snow-capped for about 5 months a year

Posted by VagabondCowboy 04:45 Comments (0)

Masterpieces from London's National Gallery

The Water-Lily Pond, Monet, 1899; add more details

The Water-Lily Pond, Monet, 1899; add more details

Sunflowers, Van Gogh, 1888

Sunflowers, Van Gogh, 1888

A Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, Vermeer, 1672

A Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, Vermeer, 1672

A Still-Life of Flowers in a Wan-Li Vase, Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, 1610

A Still-Life of Flowers in a Wan-Li Vase, Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, 1610

Venice: The Basin of Saint Marco on Ascension Day, Canaletto, 1740

Venice: The Basin of Saint Marco on Ascension Day, Canaletto, 1740

The Sea at L'Estaque, Cezanne, 1876

The Sea at L'Estaque, Cezanne, 1876

The Hay Wain, Constable, 1821

The Hay Wain, Constable, 1821

Calais Pier: An English Packet Arriving, Turner, 1803

Calais Pier: An English Packet Arriving, Turner, 1803

The Skiff, Renoir, 1875

The Skiff, Renoir, 1875

Misia Sert, Renoir, 1904

Misia Sert, Renoir, 1904

Snow Scene at Argenteuil, Monet, 1875

Snow Scene at Argenteuil, Monet, 1875

The Little Country Maid, Pissarro, 1882

The Little Country Maid, Pissarro, 1882

The Channel of Gravelines, Fort Philippe, Seurat, 1890

The Channel of Gravelines, Fort Philippe, Seurat, 1890

Ballet Dancers, Degas, 1888

Ballet Dancers, Degas, 1888

Music in the Tuileries Gardens, Manet, 1862

Music in the Tuileries Gardens, Manet, 1862

The Avenue, Sydenham, Pissarro, 1871

The Avenue, Sydenham, Pissarro, 1871

Studies, Seurat, 1889

Studies, Seurat, 1889

Posted by VagabondCowboy 00:24 Comments (0)

Touring the Crystal River, FL area with my parents

I just love Crystal River!; I swam in search of manatees late one day and found only 3 (the manatees stay out feeding in the Gulf until the water temperature gets colder than 72)

I just love Crystal River!; I swam in search of manatees late one day and found only 3 (the manatees stay out feeding in the Gulf until the water temperature gets colder than 72)

I found a mom and calf that let me hang around them; the weather was better when my parents and I visited Crystal River in February 2016

I found a mom and calf that let me hang around them; the weather was better when my parents and I visited Crystal River in February 2016

I had never been to Manatee Springs State Park (it's an hour north of Crystal River); we followed the boardwalk from Manatee Springs to where it entered the Suwanee River

I had never been to Manatee Springs State Park (it's an hour north of Crystal River); we followed the boardwalk from Manatee Springs to where it entered the Suwanee River

The city of Cedar Key has a population of only 702; the Cedar Keys are named for the eastern red cedar, once abundant in the area

The city of Cedar Key has a population of only 702; the Cedar Keys are named for the eastern red cedar, once abundant in the area

I didn't expect to find an Atlantic stingray in Three Sisters Springs!; the only permanent freshwater population of Atlantic stingrays is in the St. John's River in NE Florida

I didn't expect to find an Atlantic stingray in Three Sisters Springs!; the only permanent freshwater population of Atlantic stingrays is in the St. John's River in NE Florida

The water was gushing at Three Sisters Springs but there wasn't a single manatee there; it now costs $20 just to visit the boardwalk surrounding the springs

The water was gushing at Three Sisters Springs but there wasn't a single manatee there; it now costs $20 just to visit the boardwalk surrounding the springs

There were plenty of fish in Three Sisters Springs; the current from the springs makes for a good swim workout as you enter Three Sisters from the canal

There were plenty of fish in Three Sisters Springs; the current from the springs makes for a good swim workout as you enter Three Sisters from the canal

In addition to kicking up silt, you really don't want to stand up in the canals of Crystal River; the water temperature didn't feel bad at all, even without a wetsuit

In addition to kicking up silt, you really don't want to stand up in the canals of Crystal River; the water temperature didn't feel bad at all, even without a wetsuit

Anhingas stalk fish underwater, mainly where there is some flora present; once they locate their prey, they partly open their bill and stab the fish swiftly

Anhingas stalk fish underwater, mainly where there is some flora present; once they locate their prey, they partly open their bill and stab the fish swiftly

Manatee Springs releases an astounding 100 million gallons of water daily!; it is surrounded by a majestic cypress forest

Manatee Springs releases an astounding 100 million gallons of water daily!; it is surrounded by a majestic cypress forest

The limpkin's (also called the crying bird) common vocalization is a loud wild wail or scream with some rattling quality; this species inhabits freshwater marshes and swamps from Florida to northern Argentina

The limpkin's (also called the crying bird) common vocalization is a loud wild wail or scream with some rattling quality; this species inhabits freshwater marshes and swamps from Florida to northern Argentina

Manatee Springs State Park only costs $6 per car admission; you could swim only in Manatee Springs and could kayak from the Springs out into the Suwanee River

Manatee Springs State Park only costs $6 per car admission; you could swim only in Manatee Springs and could kayak from the Springs out into the Suwanee River

Early in his career as a naturalist, John Muir walked 1,000 miles from Louisville, Kentucky to Cedar Key in just two months in 1867; Muir contracted malaria while working in a sawmill in Cedar Key, and recovered in the house of the mill's superintendent.

Early in his career as a naturalist, John Muir walked 1,000 miles from Louisville, Kentucky to Cedar Key in just two months in 1867; Muir contracted malaria while working in a sawmill in Cedar Key, and recovered in the house of the mill's superintendent.

Posted by VagabondCowboy 22:58 Comments (0)

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