A Travellerspoint blog

December 2019

Harlech Castle and the historical battle for Wales

UNESCO considers Harlech to be one of the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe, and it is classed as a World Heritage site

UNESCO considers Harlech to be one of the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe, and it is classed as a World Heritage site

Yes, I had to actually break out the hoodie for Wales but still no long pants; our guest house in Conwy was across the highway from the sea but it was so windy that I didn't venture close

Yes, I had to actually break out the hoodie for Wales but still no long pants; our guest house in Conwy was across the highway from the sea but it was so windy that I didn't venture close

Harlech Castle was built by Edward I during his invasion of Wales between 1282 and 1289 at the relatively modest cost of £8,190; in the 13th c, the sea came up to the castle, allowing resupply by sea, but today the sea has retreated significantly

Harlech Castle was built by Edward I during his invasion of Wales between 1282 and 1289 at the relatively modest cost of £8,190; in the 13th c, the sea came up to the castle, allowing resupply by sea, but today the sea has retreated significantly

Harlech Castle offers great views of the Irish Sea as well as one of the longest beaches in Wales; the nearby area is known for slate (the industry dominated the economy of NW Wales during the second half of the 19th century)

Harlech Castle offers great views of the Irish Sea as well as one of the longest beaches in Wales; the nearby area is known for slate (the industry dominated the economy of NW Wales during the second half of the 19th century)

The local houses are all made of slate quarried nearby; I wondered why they even needed mines since the hills were made of slate so that you could just pick some up

The local houses are all made of slate quarried nearby; I wondered why they even needed mines since the hills were made of slate so that you could just pick some up

We made a quick stop at this scenic river in Snowdonia National Park; it was the first national park in Wales (1951) and is 823 square miles

We made a quick stop at this scenic river in Snowdonia National Park; it was the first national park in Wales (1951) and is 823 square miles

Harlech Castle is a good example of a concentric castle; it had an outer and inner wall for extra protection, and was also almost symmetrical in shape

Harlech Castle is a good example of a concentric castle; it had an outer and inner wall for extra protection, and was also almost symmetrical in shape

The castle walls are 12 meters high and several meters thick; at one point, almost 1,000 workers were building the huge castle

The castle walls are 12 meters high and several meters thick; at one point, almost 1,000 workers were building the huge castle

Harlech now has the distinction of having the steepest street in the world; we encountered it driving up to the castle and it was VERY steep!

Harlech now has the distinction of having the steepest street in the world; we encountered it driving up to the castle and it was VERY steep!

Harlech Castle is one of several castles in Wales all given UNESCO World Heritage Status since they were built at the same time and for the same purpose

Harlech Castle is one of several castles in Wales all given UNESCO World Heritage Status since they were built at the same time and for the same purpose

During the 15th century Wars of the Roses, Harlech was held by the Lancastrians for seven years, before Yorkist troops forced its surrender in 1468

During the 15th century Wars of the Roses, Harlech was held by the Lancastrians for seven years, before Yorkist troops forced its surrender in 1468

In the late-18th and 19th centuries, the picturesque ruins of Harlech began to attract visits from prominent artists, including John Cotman, Henry Gastineau, Paul Sandby, J. M. W. Turner and John Varley

In the late-18th and 19th centuries, the picturesque ruins of Harlech began to attract visits from prominent artists, including John Cotman, Henry Gastineau, Paul Sandby, J. M. W. Turner and John Varley

The song the Men of Harlech was written about a 15th c siege of the castle; it has become almost a Welsh national anthem and became popular after featuring in the 1964 film Zulu

The song the Men of Harlech was written about a 15th c siege of the castle; it has become almost a Welsh national anthem and became popular after featuring in the 1964 film Zulu

Posted by VagabondCowboy 09:04 Comments (0)

Chester is a blend of Roman history & Victorian architecture

The Eastgate Clock is supposedly the second most famous clock in the UK after Big Ben; it was built for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897

The Eastgate Clock is supposedly the second most famous clock in the UK after Big Ben; it was built for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897

Not much remains from the Chester Castle which was built in 1070; Chester has a population of 80,000 and is just 45 minutes by train from Liverpool

Not much remains from the Chester Castle which was built in 1070; Chester has a population of 80,000 and is just 45 minutes by train from Liverpool

The Chester High Cross at left marks where the 4 Roman roads came together in the center of town; the most famous person born in Chester is Daniel Craig (aka James Bond)

The Chester High Cross at left marks where the 4 Roman roads came together in the center of town; the most famous person born in Chester is Daniel Craig (aka James Bond)

One of my favorite buildings was Chester Town Hall, built in 1869; to the east of the city is Chester Zoo, the UK's largest zoo with more than 11,000 animals in 110 acres of award-winning gardens

One of my favorite buildings was Chester Town Hall, built in 1869; to the east of the city is Chester Zoo, the UK's largest zoo with more than 11,000 animals in 110 acres of award-winning gardens

Like York Minster, the Chester Cathedral was completed in Perpendicular Gothic style with a wooden roof which allowed for a larger interior; important local figures are buried under the cathedral dating from the early 1100s

Like York Minster, the Chester Cathedral was completed in Perpendicular Gothic style with a wooden roof which allowed for a larger interior; important local figures are buried under the cathedral dating from the early 1100s

Beautiful Victoria mosaics adorn one wall of the Chester Cathedral (1883-6); Chester is 96% wite; as of 2013, Chester had the highest home foreclosure rate in the country

Beautiful Victoria mosaics adorn one wall of the Chester Cathedral (1883-6); Chester is 96% white; as of 2013, Chester had the highest home foreclosure rate in the country

Most of the stained glass in Chester Cathedral was destroyed in the English Civil War; now the windows are a mix of styles from 1850 to today

Most of the stained glass in Chester Cathedral was destroyed in the English Civil War; now the windows are a mix of styles from 1850 to today

Most of the Chester Cathedral was built between 1283 and 1537 although small parts were built earlier; this Anglican cathedral was formerly the abbey church of a Benedictine monastery

Most of the Chester Cathedral was built between 1283 and 1537 although small parts were built earlier; this Anglican cathedral was formerly the abbey church of a Benedictine monastery

The Chester Cathedral choir stalls date from around 1380; the stalls include 48 misericords, all but five of which are original comprising one of the finest sets in the country

The Chester Cathedral choir stalls date from around 1380; the stalls include 48 misericords, all but five of which are original comprising one of the finest sets in the country

High up on the left side of the nave of Chester Cathedral is a mysterious carving of a diabolical figure bound in chains; no one knows who built it or when it was created but it's unique

High up on the left side of the nave of Chester Cathedral is a mysterious carving of a diabolical figure bound in chains; no one knows who built it or when it was created but it's unique

The Bear and Billet Pub is Chester's oldest timber-framed building, dating from 1664; it was once a toll gate into the city

The Bear and Billet Pub is Chester's oldest timber-framed building, dating from 1664; it was once a toll gate into the city

This was the largest Roman amphitheater in Britain with a capacity of 7000; some historians say it could be the site of King Arthur's Camelot and that the round table was really this building

This was the largest Roman amphitheater in Britain with a capacity of 7000; some historians say it could be the site of King Arthur's Camelot and that the round table was really this building

During the Middle Ages Chester was the most important port in the NW of Britain but the River Dee silted up over time and Chester fell behind Liverpool in importance

During the Middle Ages Chester was the most important port in the NW of Britain but the River Dee silted up over time and Chester fell behind Liverpool in importance

The Grosvenor Museum has the country's most comprehensive collection of Roman tombstones; construction of the city walls began between 70 and 80 AD

The Grosvenor Museum has the country's most comprehensive collection of Roman tombstones; construction of the city walls began between 70 and 80 AD

The Crypt Building (1858) is built on the site of a medieval house whose crypt is still present; the asymmetrical building has a square stair turret and was originally a department store

The Crypt Building (1858) is built on the site of a medieval house whose crypt is still present; the asymmetrical building has a square stair turret and was originally a department store

Most of the black and white timber-framed buildings date from the mid-19th century; a series of 2 story galleried arcades fan out from the center of town with lots of independent shops - the arcades are called The Rows

Most of the black and white timber-framed buildings date from the mid-19th century; a series of 2 story galleried arcades fan out from the center of town with lots of independent shops - the arcades are called The Rows

Chester is one of the best-preserved walled cities in Britain; you can walk almost the entire 2 mile perimeter which encircled the medieval city

Chester is one of the best-preserved walled cities in Britain; you can walk almost the entire 2 mile perimeter which encircled the medieval city

Posted by VagabondCowboy 20:53 Comments (0)

Dollywood offers plenty of fun for the whole family

This was our first trip to Dollywood; it's not cheap with one day tickets priced at $79 and two day tickets at $99 plus $15 to park (all prices will then have tax added to them)

This was our first trip to Dollywood; it's not cheap with one day tickets priced at $79 and two day tickets at $99 plus $15 to park (all prices will then have tax added to them)

Dollywood is the biggest ticketed tourist attraction in Tennessee with 3 million visitors each year; Dollywood's Splash Country is nearby and open during warm weather

Dollywood is the biggest ticketed tourist attraction in Tennessee with 3 million visitors each year; Dollywood's Splash Country is nearby and open during warm weather

The Dollywood Express is a 20 minute ride along a 2.5 mile track that takes place hourly; the locomotive, built in 1938, burns 2 tons of coal each day and emits lots of pollution

The Dollywood Express is a 20 minute ride along a 2.5 mile track that takes place hourly; the locomotive, built in 1938, burns 2 tons of coal each day and emits lots of pollution

Built in 1982, the grist mill at Dollywood was the first fully operational grist mill built in the state of Tennessee in more than 100 years; it is famous for the world's best cinnamon bread

Built in 1982, the grist mill at Dollywood was the first fully operational grist mill built in the state of Tennessee in more than 100 years; it is famous for the world's best cinnamon bread

The theme song to 1980 film 9 to 5 not only reached number one on the country chart, but also, in February 1981, reached number one on the pop and the adult-contemporary charts, giving Dolly a triple number-one hit

The theme song to 1980 film 9 to 5 not only reached number one on the country chart, but also, in February 1981, reached number one on the pop and the adult-contemporary charts, giving Dolly a triple number-one hit

Dolly's costumes from 1982's The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas; it was based on a story inspired by the real-life Chicken Ranch in La Grange, TX that was exposed by Houston reporter Marvin Zindler

Dolly's costumes from 1982's The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas; it was based on a story inspired by the real-life Chicken Ranch in La Grange, TX that was exposed by Houston reporter Marvin Zindler

The Harrisburg Covered Bridge, near Sevierville, is 88 feet long and was built in 1875; Donald Trump carried 80% o the vote in Sevier County in 2016

The Harrisburg Covered Bridge, near Sevierville, is 88 feet long and was built in 1875; Donald Trump carried 80% of the vote in Sevier County in 2016

The famous coat of many colors; the album of the same name (1971) made Time Magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Albums of All Time; Dolly has cited the title track on numerous occasions as her personal favorite of all the songs she has written

The famous coat of many colors; the album of the same name (1971) made Time Magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Albums of All Time; Dolly has cited the title track on numerous occasions as her personal favorite of all the songs she has written

Cybill Shepherd joins two of my favorite people; in 2016 devastating wildfires hit the Great Smoky Mountains so Dolly hosted a telethon which raised millions for the victims and personally gave $1000/month for 6 months to every family that lost their home

Cybill Shepherd joins two of my favorite people; in 2016 devastating wildfires hit the Great Smoky Mountains so Dolly hosted a telethon which raised millions for the victims and personally gave $1000/month for 6 months to every family that lost their home

Dolly's wardrobe from Steel Magnolias; Dolly said she felt right at home playing a redneck hairdresser in a small, Southern town

Dolly's wardrobe from Steel Magnolias; Dolly said she felt right at home playing a redneck hairdresser in a small, Southern town

Steel Magnolias (1989) is one of my all-time favorite movies; Dolly is 73 and has been married for 53 years; Dolly has no children of her own, but is the godmother of Miley Cyrus

Steel Magnolias (1989) is one of my all-time favorite movies; Dolly is 73 and has been married for 53 years; Dolly has no children of her own, but is the godmother of Miley Cyrus

Dollywood's Flower and Food Festival, the first new event in 14 years, will feature tall topiaries based on Dolly's songs, colorful photo opportunities, a rainbow sky over Showstreet, and delicious eats from May 8 - June 14, 2020

Dollywood's Flower and Food Festival, the first new event in 14 years, will feature tall topiaries based on Dolly's songs, colorful photo opportunities, a rainbow sky over Showstreet, and delicious eats from May 8 - June 14, 2020

This is the kitchen and living area of a replica of Dolly's Tennessee Mountain Home where she grew up; Parton is the subject of the enjoyable NPR podcast Dolly Parton's America

This is the kitchen and living area of a replica of Dolly's Tennessee Mountain Home where she grew up; Parton is the subject of the enjoyable NPR podcast Dolly Parton's America

This is a replica of the room where Dolly, her parents and 11 siblings slept;  you wonder how 14 people could possibly sleep in such a small room!

This is a replica of the room where Dolly, her parents and 11 siblings slept; you wonder how 14 people could possibly sleep in such a small room!

In 1999, Dolly was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame; Dolly is one of the select few to have received at least one nomination from the Academy Awards, Grammy Awards (47 nominations), Tony Awards, and Emmy Awards

In 1999, Dolly was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame; Dolly is one of the select few to have received at least one nomination from the Academy Awards, Grammy Awards (47 nominations), Tony Awards, and Emmy Awards

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until they begin school, no matter their family’s income; the highly successful program has distributed more than 100,000,000 books!

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until they begin school, no matter their family’s income; the highly successful program has distributed more than 100,000,000 books!

My parents and I took a mini-hike to Juney Whank Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee; there are great places for tubing or rafting in the spring and summer

My parents and I took a mini-hike to Juney Whank Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee; there are great places for tubing or rafting in the spring and summer

Wildwood Grove opened in May 2019 with 11 new experiences and is part of a $300 million, 6 year expansion project; in 2017, Dollywood won Golden Ticket awards from Amusement Today for Friendliest Park, Best Christmas Event, Best Food and Best Show

Wildwood Grove opened in May 2019 with 11 new experiences and is part of a $300 million, 6 year expansion project; in 2017, Dollywood won Golden Ticket awards from Amusement Today for Friendliest Park, Best Christmas Event, Best Food and Best Show

We saw a Christmas show with one of Dolly's nieces and her writing partner; Dolly had 11 brothers and sisters who shared a one room cabin growing up

We saw a Christmas show with one of Dolly's nieces and her writing partner; Dolly had 11 brothers and sisters who shared a one room cabin growing up

Replica of Dolly's one room schoolhouse; Dolly managed to go from these humble beginnings to become the wealthiest star in country music with an estimated net worth of more than $500 million

Replica of Dolly's one room schoolhouse; Dolly managed to go from these humble beginnings to become the wealthiest star in country music with an estimated net worth of more than $500 million

These bald eagles are injured and unable to fly but Dollywood is tending to them; there was also a big area with healthy bald eagles

These bald eagles are injured and unable to fly but Dollywood is tending to them; there was also a big area with healthy bald eagles

This is a replica of the Tennessee Mountain Home where Dolly grew up; the house still exists and is on the other side of the mountain from Dollywood

This is a replica of the Tennessee Mountain Home where Dolly grew up; the house still exists and is on the other side of the mountain from Dollywood

Appalachian Christmas was the show at the Back Porch Theater; I admired the musical ability of the performers and wish I had the talent to play an instrument

Appalachian Christmas was the show at the Back Porch Theater; I admired the musical ability of the performers and wish I had the talent to play an instrument

Gatlinburg is only 5 miles away and the gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park; the stretch of highway from Gatlinburg to Sevierville is one long hillybilly heaven

Gatlinburg is only 5 miles away and the gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park; the stretch of highway from Gatlinburg to Sevierville is one long hillybilly heaven

A huge Bush's factory employs 400 people near Sevierville; this is where the company got its start in 1897; a large visitors' center welcomes 160,000 guests every year

A huge Bush's factory employs 400 people near Sevierville; this is where the company got its start in 1897; a large visitors' center welcomes 160,000 guests every year

There are more than 5 million Christmas lights at Dollywood, 7 special holiday performances and a nightly parade; there are plenty of roller coasters and, with the cold, wet weather, no lines

There are more than 5 million Christmas lights at Dollywood, 7 special holiday performances and a nightly parade; there are plenty of roller coasters and, with the cold, wet weather, no lines

The chapel at Dollywood is named for the doctor that delivered Dolly in 1946 and for which he was paid a sack of cornmeal; Dr. Robert F Thomas dedicated his life to advocating for immunizations and taking care of his rural patients

The chapel at Dollywood is named for the doctor that delivered Dolly in 1946 and for which he was paid a sack of cornmeal; Dr. Robert F Thomas dedicated his life to advocating for immunizations and taking care of his rural patients

The Beaux Arts, Sevier County Courthouse was built in 1895; there's a statue of Dolly on the grounds but it bears little resemblance to her

The Beaux Arts, Sevier County Courthouse was built in 1895; there's a statue of Dolly on the grounds but it bears little resemblance to her

Dollywood had areas for local craftsmen so that we could watch men blowing glass or blacksmiths in action; in the 2018 USA Today 10Best Readers' Choice Awards Dollywood was ranked as the sixth Best Amusement Park in the U.S

Dollywood had areas for local craftsmen so that we could watch men blowing glass or blacksmiths in action; in the 2018 USA Today 10Best Readers' Choice Awards Dollywood was ranked as the sixth Best Amusement Park in the U.S

Costumes from Dolly's role in 9 to 5; Parton wrote and recorded the film's title song which received nominations for an Academy Award for Best Song and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song (it also reached #1 on the charts)

Costumes from Dolly's role in 9 to 5; Parton wrote and recorded the film's title song which received nominations for an Academy Award for Best Song and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song (it also reached #1 on the charts)

Dolly has had 25 songs reach No. 1 on the Billboard country music charts, a record for a female artist; she has 9 Grammy Awards, 2 Academy Award nominations and has won the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year Award

Dolly has had 25 songs reach No. 1 on the Billboard country music charts, a record for a female artist; she has 9 Grammy Awards, 2 Academy Award nominations and has won the Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year Award

Dollywood has approximately 4,000 people on its payroll, making it the largest employer in the community; from 1986 to 2010, the park doubled in size to 150 acres and now has 50 rides and attractions

Dollywood has approximately 4,000 people on its payroll, making it the largest employer in the community; from 1986 to 2010, the park doubled in size to 150 acres and now has 50 rides and attractions

Dezzie, a desert eagle owl, came to Dollywood in 2017; the birds at Dollywood are being used for educational purposes and are under the care of the American Eagle Foundation

Dezzie, a desert eagle owl, came to Dollywood in 2017; the birds at Dollywood are being used for educational purposes and are under the care of the American Eagle Foundation

The Carol Burnett Show always had such great skits!; after graduating from Sevier County High School in 1964, Parton moved to Nashville the next day

The Carol Burnett Show always had such great skits!; after graduating from Sevier County High School in 1964, Parton moved to Nashville the next day

Great Smoky National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most visited national park in the US (12 million visitors per year); the Blue Ridge Parkway starts here and goes 469 miles to Shenandoah National Park

Great Smoky National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most visited national park in the US (12 million visitors per year); the Blue Ridge Parkway starts here and goes 469 miles to Shenandoah National Park

Posted by VagabondCowboy 02:18 Comments (0)

Durham and its Cathedral - highlight of northern England

Durham's Market Place retains the same plotting the prince bishop gave it when he moved villagers here in about 1100; volunteers are on hand to provide maps and help tourists

Durham's Market Place retains the same plotting the prince bishop gave it when he moved villagers here in about 1100; volunteers are on hand to provide maps and help tourists

The only way to see Durham Castle is on a guided tour so I paid 5 pounds and took the informative tour; you don't actually go into the highest part of the castle (on right) since it is now a dorm

The only way to see Durham Castle is on a guided tour so I paid 5 pounds and took the informative tour; you don't actually go into the highest part of the castle (on right) since it is now a dorm

Cool wooden toad at Crook Hall; the Hall is one of the oldest inhabited homes (13th c) in Durham and has 5 acres of gardens

Cool wooden toad at Crook Hall; the Hall is one of the oldest inhabited homes (13th c) in Durham and has 5 acres of gardens

The cloisters at Durham Cathedral which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the cathedral recently appeared in the film Avengers: Endgame

The cloisters at Durham Cathedral which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the cathedral recently appeared in the film Avengers: Endgame

The Illumination Window was added to Durham Cathedral earlier this year in memory of a 21-year-old college student who died from a cardiac condition

The Illumination Window was added to Durham Cathedral earlier this year in memory of a 21-year-old college student who died from a cardiac condition

This incredible replica of Durham Cathedral is made up of 300,000 Lego bricks, standing 5 ft 6 in tall and 12 ft 6 in long; it was an ingenuous fund raising project with each pound given adding a brick

This incredible replica of Durham Cathedral is made up of 300,000 Lego bricks, standing 5 ft 6 in tall and 12 ft 6 in long; it was an ingenuous fund raising project with each pound given adding a brick

The 12th century Elvet Bridge led to a town market; it's very long with 17 arches (the river flows under only 4 of them) and was designed to avoid riverside muck and steep inclines; Durham is a hilly city of 48,000 residents

The 12th century Elvet Bridge led to a town market; it's very long with 17 arches (the river flows under only 4 of them) and was designed to avoid riverside muck and steep inclines; Durham is a hilly city of 48,000 residents

Nathaniel Hawthorne - I paused upon the bridge, and admired and wondered at the beauty of this scene...it was grand, venerable, and sweet, all at once; I never saw so lovely and magnificent a scene, nor, being content with this, do I care to see a better

Nathaniel Hawthorne - I paused upon the bridge, and admired and wondered at the beauty of this scene...it was grand, venerable, and sweet, all at once; I never saw so lovely and magnificent a scene, nor, being content with this, do I care to see a better

I paid to see the Monks' Dormitory at Durham Cathedral (photography wasn't allowed so this shot is from google images); with its massive beamed ceiling, the room was astonishing considering it was built between 1398 and 1404

I paid to see the Monks' Dormitory at Durham Cathedral (photography wasn't allowed so this shot is from google images); with its massive beamed ceiling, the room was astonishing considering it was built between 1398 and 1404

I was impressed that in the centuries since the Durham Cathedral was built, the green space along the river has been retained separating the historical town from more modern development

I was impressed that in the centuries since the Durham Cathedral was built, the green space along the river has been retained separating the historical town from more modern development

This is the Millennium Window at Durham Cathedral which was installed in 1995 to celebrate its 1000th anniversary; the window depicts some events in that long history

This is the Millennium Window at Durham Cathedral which was installed in 1995 to celebrate its 1000th anniversary; the window depicts some events in that long history

Thomas Hatfield's tomb, he was bishop of Durham (1345-1381), was the only tomb in Durham Cathedral to escape the Reformation unharmed; Hatfield founded Durham College (now called Trinity College) at Oxford

Thomas Hatfield's tomb, he was bishop of Durham (1345-1381), was the only tomb in Durham Cathedral to escape the Reformation unharmed; Hatfield founded Durham College (now called Trinity College) at Oxford

The Shrine of the Venerable Bede who is considered the father of English history; he died in 735 and his bones were brought to Durham in 1022

The Shrine of the Venerable Bede who is considered the father of English history; he died in 735 and his bones were brought to Durham in 1022

Durham is sister cities with Durham NC, where I was born; former Prime Minister Tony Blair attended middle school here in Durham

Durham is sister cities with Durham NC, where I was born; former Prime Minister Tony Blair attended middle school here in Durham

Originally glazed in the 15th century, the present Rose Window in Durham Cathedral dates from the late 19th century, and depicts Christ surrounded by the apostles, in turn surrounded by the 24 elders from Revelations

Originally glazed in the 15th century, the present Rose Window in Durham Cathedral dates from the late 19th century, and depicts Christ surrounded by the apostles, in turn surrounded by the 24 elders from Revelations

The Palace Green was the site of the original 11th century Saxon town, filling this green between the castle and an earlier church; the cathedral has the highest bell tower in Europe (218 feet)

The Palace Green was the site of the original 11th century Saxon town, filling this green between the castle and an earlier church; the cathedral has the highest bell tower in Europe (218 feet)

The Pieta, 1981, is made of beech wood and depicts the dead Christ alongside his grieving mother Mary; it was in the York Minster in 1984 and escaped the fire but was splattered with molten lead falling from the roof

The Pieta, 1981, is made of beech wood and depicts the dead Christ alongside his grieving mother Mary; it was in the York Minster in 1984 and escaped the fire but was splattered with molten lead falling from the roof

Durham Cathedral holds the relics of Saint Cuthbert which were brought here by monks in the 9th century; as a result, the cathedral has been a popular pilgrimage site

Durham Cathedral holds the relics of Saint Cuthbert which were brought here by monks in the 9th century; as a result, the cathedral has been a popular pilgrimage site

Durham Cathedral, begun in 1093, is regarded as one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in Europe; this cloister featured in the first two Harry Potter films

Durham Cathedral, begun in 1093, is regarded as one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in Europe; this cloister featured in the first two Harry Potter films

Durham Cathedral has arguably Europe's best Romanesque nave which is particularly harmonious since it was built in only 40 years; Durham sustained no damage during WW2

Durham Cathedral has arguably Europe's best Romanesque nave which is particularly harmonious since it was built in only 40 years; Durham sustained no damage during WW2

These townhouses are representative of how most locals live; I stayed above a pub on a busy street where I had to keep the window open to cool my non-air-conditioned room

These townhouses are representative of how most locals live; I stayed above a pub on a busy street where I had to keep the window open to cool my non-air-conditioned room

Some attribute the city's name to the legend of the Dun Cow and the milkmaid who in legend guided the monks of Lindisfarne carrying the body of Saint Cuthbert to the site of the present city in 995 AD

Some attribute the city's name to the legend of the Dun Cow and the milkmaid who in legend guided the monks of Lindisfarne carrying the body of Saint Cuthbert to the site of the present city in 995 AD

Durham Regatta has been held on the River Wear since 1834 and is the second oldest regatta in Britain; the city is home to the University of Durham which is the third oldest in the UK after Oxford and Cambridge

Durham Regatta has been held on the River Wear since 1834 and is the second oldest regatta in Britain; the city is home to the University of Durham which is the third oldest in the UK after Oxford and Cambridge

John Wessington was educated at Oxford and became prior of Durham Cathedral; he originally came from the village of Washington in County Durham and changed his family name to that of his birth village

John Wessington was educated at Oxford and became prior of Durham Cathedral; he originally came from the village of Washington in County Durham and changed his family name to that of his birth village

Durham Cathedral towers over everything else in the town; Bill Bryson has described it as the best cathedral on planet Earth

Durham Cathedral towers over everything else in the town; Bill Bryson has described it as the best cathedral on planet Earth

Crook Hall still had some nice blooms; the Brits favorite word seems to be lovely - it is used similarly to nice or good and seems all-encompassing

Crook Hall still had some nice blooms; the Brits favorite word seems to be lovely - it is used similarly to nice or good and seems all-encompassing

Posted by VagabondCowboy 08:47 Comments (0)

Palau's Blue Holes dive amazingly photogenic

Blue Holes may well be Palau's most scenic dive; it features four vertical shafts that open on the top of the reef and descend to a large cavern that exits on the outer wall at about 25m

Blue Holes may well be Palau's most scenic dive; it features four vertical shafts that open on the top of the reef and descend to a large cavern that exits on the outer wall at about 25m

Many-spotted sweetlips; I don't recall ever having seen this species before coming to Palau

Many-spotted sweetlips; I don't recall ever having seen this species before coming to Palau

The beauty of Palau is not restricted solely to underwater scenes; the boat rides to the dive sites were filled with plenty of oohs and aahs

The beauty of Palau is not restricted solely to underwater scenes; the boat rides to the dive sites were filled with plenty of oohs and aahs

Pink anemonefish; the 1968 movie Hell in the Pacific, starring Lee Marvin, was filmed in Palau

Pink anemonefish; the 1968 movie Hell in the Pacific, starring Lee Marvin, was filmed in Palau

This large school of parrotfish was having lunch; they eat algae off the coral and are very noisy doing so

This large school of parrotfish was having lunch; they eat algae off the coral and are very noisy doing so

Brilliant red brain coral; to illustrate how small and undeveloped Palau is, the country has 38 miles of highway (only 22 miles are paved!)

Brilliant red brain coral; to illustrate how small and undeveloped Palau is, the country has 38 miles of highway (only 22 miles are paved!)

Blue Holes is a favorite dive in Palau for serious photographers who can capture the light and many shades of blue much better than I can

Blue Holes is a favorite dive in Palau for serious photographers who can capture the light and many shades of blue much better than I can

Striped surgeonfish; there were options to take a flight over Palau or even go skydiving but, though enticing, I decided not to do either

Striped surgeonfish; there were options to take a flight over Palau or even go skydiving but, though enticing, I decided not to do either

In 2012, the Rock Islands of Palau were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site; most of these islands are off-limits to visitors

In 2012, the Rock Islands of Palau were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site; most of these islands are off-limits to visitors

Blue Holes is one of the most photogenic dives in Palau with the brilliant light at the opening as divers drift down; you can exit the bottom of Blue Holes and drift down to the Blue Corner

Blue Holes is one of the most photogenic dives in Palau with the brilliant light at the opening as divers drift down; you can exit the bottom of Blue Holes and drift down to the Blue Corner

Many-spotted sweetlips; most Palauans speak a local dialect that isn't closely related to any other Polynesian language and was impossible to understand

Many-spotted sweetlips; most Palauans speak a local dialect that isn't closely related to any other Polynesian language and was impossible to understand

Posted by VagabondCowboy 04:37 Comments (0)

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