Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

While visiting the Isle of Arran, I was determined to visit Brodick Castle, owned by the Hamilton family for 450 years. It turned out to be a forty-five-minute walk from the town of Brodick to Brodick Castle, but it was worth it.

I walked through a peaceful park

and over a bridge with a swan in the river!

I carefully trampled through a golf course with appropriate warnings,

along a busy road and through gorgeous gardens with fabulous views of the sea.

Convinced I was lost, I walked around a corner and saw…this!

Brodick Castle

I opened the front door and discovered an intriguing world from the past.

The family crest with their motto “through”
My favourite room, the library
The drawing room
The amazing ceiling with a Waterford crystal chandelier!
The kitchen
With bread in the oven
The amazing gardens with the sea in the background
Gardens with a Bavarian summer house built as a place to rest.
And a crow posing for me
The back of the castle towards the end of the day
photo by Terry Tyler

Someone took a picture of someone taking a picture of me!

The original castle was built in the late 1200s and was initially a fortification due to its strategic location overlooking a wide sheltered bay. Over the centuries it has been a defensive stronghold, a hunting lodge and a family home. It has gone through many transformations, but for five generations, the Hamilton family, used the castle as a place of relaxation and pleasure until it was donated to the National Trust in 1957.

I was very glad I made the trek to visit this amazing castle, filled with stories and treasures from around the world. It is also purported to be haunted!

So many times I visit a place, fall in love, and vow to return one day (which seldom happens). Imagine how happy I was when an invitation to return to the amazing Isle of Arran in Scotland was extended to me. I have just returned from this magical place where I spent six days with four inspiring writers. Here are just a few pictures of the gorgeous scenery and special sites I visited.

On the way to Fairy Glen
Heather everywhere
It was a bit of a hike up to Giants’ Graves, but I made it!
Giants’ Graves, the remains of two Neolithic chambered tombs 
View from the top
Farmhouse near Fairy Glen
One of many scenic bays
Viking burial site
Lighthouse in the distance
So many peaceful places to sit and be inspired
A friendly Highland “coo”

I also visited a castle and a museum but will save those pictures for another post. The Isle of Arran has become my happy place and I am so fortunate to have been able to return. I wrote about my visit last year here.

In case you are wondering, we did get a lot of writing done, with many lively discussions about writing and publishing. I also collected great ideas for my work in progress.

More to come.

Caravaca de la Cruz

I love horses and enjoy equestrian events. I was delighted to spend a day in the town of Caravaca de la Cruz during the annual Caballos del Vino Fiesta. The horses were proudly paraded around town in all their splendour, the streets teamed with local families wearing black, white and red outfits, Knights Templar, Moors and Christians mingled and various bands played. The air was filled with excitement.

Moors
Christians
Knights Templar
All ages take part in the festivities. This little caballero is so cute.
One of the many bands

At one point I became stuck in the middle of a parade on a narrow side street. I had no choice but to join in and dance along with everyone else as we followed the band. So much fun.

The main event is held later in the day when the wine horses race up the side of the mountain accompanied by four horsemen on foot. The horse with horsemen that arrives at the top in the fastest time, is declared the winner. Should one of the horsemen let go before reaching the top, the horse is disqualified.

Why do they do this? Like most things in Spain, it is based on a legend. Legend has it that during the time the Castle of Caravaca was besieged by Muslim troops, the Knights Templar went in search of water for the starving citizens. They only found wine. Dodging the enemy, they raced up the mountain beside their horses loaded with filled wineskins. They were considered heroes and their horses were decorated in appreciation. This tradition is now carried on as a competition once a year at the beginning of May.

The horses and their elaborate silk mantles, embroidered with fine gold thread, are the central focus of the festival. Each mantle can take a whole year to make and cost thousands of euros. There are prizes for the best-decorated horses as well. It was hard to pick which one was my favourite.

Decorated from head to tail
Pretty in pink
Interesting mantle with pictures of famous people.
The castle that had been under siege
The path the horses have to run up. There are many more spectators at the time of the race.

We did not stay to watch the race as it can be dangerous for spectators, but I did watch part of it on a big screen TV at the restaurant where we enjoyed a paella lunch.

What an amazing event. One I was glad to have attended and will not forget.

There are some great YouTube videos of the event. Here’s one:

A few years ago I visited Valencia and loved it. I realized I hadn’t written a blog post about this marvellous city located halfway between Alicante and Barcelona. It is often overlooked in favour of places like Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Toledo and Granada. All great cities, but I would also highly recommend a visit to this, the third-largest city in Spain. It’s a wonderful example of the old and the new blended together perfectly. Valencia is rich in history, amazing architecture, an oasis of art, culture and leisure, and the home of paella! It’s also one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world.

After a few devasting floods, the city planners diverted the river Turia three kilometres south of downtown and turned the former river bed into a pleasant ten-kilometre green space enjoyed by all. Parks, gardens, sports facilities, children’s play areas and walking paths fill this fifteen-hectare space.

Turia Gardens in the old riverbed
Turia Gardens
Sporting events held in the former riverbed

I took a hop-on hop-off bus tour which enabled me to see most of the city. The architecture is amazing. Here are a few samples. Some of my pictures were taken from the bus so are not as good as could be, but you’ll get the idea.

At each end of the bridge called, Puente del Real, stand religious statues.
The Tower of Santa Catalina
The Bank of Valencia building
The Micalet belltower, part of the Valencia Cathedral built on the site of a former mosque, and before that a Roman temple.
The Serranos Towers once guarded an important entrance to the city.

I remember enjoying the 1961 film, El Cid, starring Charlton Heston and Sophie Loren. (Yes, I loved historic movies way back then already) I was excited to find a statue of the popular 11th-century warrior who fought to free Spain from invaders. He is a popular Spanish folk hero and has been called The Prince of Valencia.

The famous Spanish warrior, El Cid
Plaza de la Virgin with a fountain representing the river Turia
Front of the Church of Los Santos Juanes

There are so many wonderful museums to visit, but I didn’t have much time so chose the Ceramics Museum housed in the Palace of Marquis de Don Aguas. The splendid facade of the building is worth the visit alone. Inside are fabulous pieces of ceramics dating from pre-historic times to the present day as well as tapestries, jewellery and furniture. This visit requires a post of its own.

Palace of the Marquis de Don Aguas, home of the Ceramics Museum

In my previous post, I mentioned the troupe of traditional dancers I came across. I love when this happens! They were so delighted with my interest in them, that they gave me a front-row seat to watch their performance. The children were adorable.

The men’s traditional Valencian costume
The dancing was terrific. It made my day!

Valencia also has Art Nouveau buildings as well as modern structures including a world-class music hall, an art centre, a group of buildings that make up the futuristic City of Arts and Science and a Science Museum. Something to check out on another visit.

I had such a wonderful time and certainly plan to return to this incredible city.

It is the stuff of legends. There are many tales written abut the Holy Grail, the cup believed to have been used by Jesus at the Last Supper, and a number of places claim to have it in their possession. When I visited the Spanish city of Valencia, I happened to stop in at the Cathedral of Valencia. And there it was, in its own side chapel, the Holy Grail! At least that is what was claimed. I took a picture at the time but didn´t think much about it. It was hard to believe that this goblet or chalice could indeed be the original Holy Grail. Scholars are not even sure one existed.

The Holy Chalice in the Cathedral of Valencia

The chalice in Valencia is a finely polished agate cup that archaeologists consider to be of Eastern origin from the years 100 to 50 BC. The finely engraved gold handles and foot, as well as the jewels that decorate the base, were added in medieval times. More about this Holy Chalice can be found here

The story is that Saint Peter entrusted it to Saint Lawrence who eventually sent it to his parents in Huesca, in the north of Spain for safekeeping before he was martyred during religious persecution. The Holy Grail was subsequently hidden in different places around Spain for the next 450 years before its final arrival at Valencia Cathedral in the 15th century as a gift to the king. And it has been there ever since.

Recently I saw this short video that provides some facts indicating it could be the original chalice. I would like to think it is and that I was lucky enough to see it. Who knows after two thousand years? What do you think?

https://www.bbc.com/reel/playlist/ancient-mysteries?vpid=p0bt6xl9

Valencia is an amazing city and worth a visit should you be in Spain. I will write more about it and the troupe of dancers I was lucky to meet outside the cathedral, in another post.

Dancers in traditional Valencian dress.

An emotional bond is more binding than any chain could ever be.

by Pamela from https://butterflysand.com/

York, England January 22

45 years ago in York, England, a girl from the Canadian prairies married her handsome Yorkshireman. And there has never been a dull moment since! We´ve taken risks, travelled much of the world and had lots of laughs. We´ve lived through happy and turbulent times, collected amazing friends and have some wonderful memories. Not willing to be conventional, we even had a Dougal the Dog wedding cake. A few snaps of our wild and crazy life.

Paris. France 2018
Liverpool, England 2017
Spain with Dot, 2017
Spain, 2017
Mediterranean Cruise 2015
Orihuela Costa, Spain 2014
Budapest, Hungary 2012
Germany, 2012
Cozumel, Mexico 2010
Covent Garden, England 1998

May the adventure continue!

Everyone loves a beautiful bride! I know I do. I´m always excited when I stumble upon a bride while travelling. Here are a few of them.

Barcelona, Spain

Outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, also known as Barcelona Cathedral, the Gothic cathedral and seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona, I came upon a bride getting ready for a photo shoot.

Getting the gown just right
Don´t they just look adorable?

Aix-en-Provence, France

In Aix-en-Provence, we came upon a bride in the courtyard outside the town hall, waiting for a civil ceremony. One of the flower girls was having a rest.

Almost time.

Genoa, Italy

As we left a cathedral in Genoa, the bride had just arrived.

Notice how enthralled the little girls are.

I know I have more, but these are a few I was able to find in my thousands of pictures.

Have you encountered brides or weddings on your journeys?

I missed my two fur babies while I was away, but they were safe at home with hubby. Fortunately, everywhere I went, pets were available to cuddle, play with and walk. My granddaughter has a menagerie of animals at her place. Here’s a few pictures of the pets I spent time with.

Lexi and Roni at my granddaughters place
Lexi, her first doggy
Lexi loves her pillow
Kisses for Roni
Roni and her favourite toy
Thumbelina with her aunty
Motorhead looking very handsome
Timothy, an elegant old man helping out in the office

She even has goats to play with.

Wiener
Bean
Goat love. Granddaughter with her goats.
Me with Pickle and Wiener
Lola the pug, my son’s cute family dog

I got to walk my friend’s granddogs too.

Panda
Walking the labyrinth with Panda
Beau
Charlie

But I was very happy to come home to my two girls.

Dot and Lia waiting for Mom to come home

You can imagine how excited I was when my friend suggested we take a drive to Banff, about an hour and a half from Calgary. The excitement grew as we drove through the picturesque foothills and came closer and closer to the majestic Rocky Mountains of Canada.

Foothills outside Calgary with Rocky Mountains in the distance
Getting closer
Wow! I had forgotten how incredibly amazing these mountains are.

We parked the car and went in search of a good place to have lunch when we encountered a gathering of Stony-Nakoda First Nations people preparing for a traditional dance performance. I am always amazed at my luck when ever I happen upon these cultural events. We were treated to an incredible performance by many members of the Chief’s family. This made my day!

Adorable in a jingle dance dress
Performing the jingle dance

I was delighted to see a jingle dance performance as I mention this dance in Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone

A gorgeous traditional dress with intricate bead work
An impressive performance by the Chief’s grandson
This splendid dance took my breath away
Another beautiful traditional dress
Some family members keeping the dance tradition alive for us to enjoy today.

The importance of family was highlighted when we were privileged to witness a baby naming ceremony for a great nephew, recently born.

A traditional baby naming ceremony
I was honoured to have a picture taken with the chief and his granddaughter in her jingle dance dress

Banff is Canada’s first national park, established in 1885. It is the most visited park with over three million visitors a year. The town of Banff has many wonderful museums, craft shops, and restaurants. We had a great lunch at Nourish Cafe. Although some say it has become too touristy, I feel Banff still retains its mountain village charm.

The town of Banff nestled in the mountains
We had coffee at the impressive Banff Springs Hotel
And visited the original Cave and Basin hot springs where hot water filled with minerals seeps from the rocks
Every where we went, we found incredible views.

And on the drive home, the mountains seen from another view.

Thanks so much Sheila for this wonderful day. A day to remember!

BFFs by the Bow Falls

After two long years, I finally made it back to Alberta, Canada. As I landed in Calgary and saw the prairies unfold below me, I burst into tears. It was so good to see my family and friends again. I was given comfy beds to sleep in, yummy meals, pets to snuggle and great conversations. Four generations of women spent valuable time together at my granddaughter´s place. We celebrated mom’s life at a local park by talking about her life and how much she meant to each of us, and by sharing food, conversation and laughter. She would have liked that. Here´s just a few photos of the trip.

Mom’s sister and brother along with my brother and I celebrating mom´s life
Three generations of amazing women, all mine!
Grandkids and grand dog. Love them to bits.
With number one daughter
With number one son
My excellent chauffeur in Medicine Hat, the youngest grandson with his first car.

And I woke up to goats outside my window!!

Goats on the prairie. Wiener, Pickle and Bean
With my grand goats

I did a book signing event at a wonderful bookstore in Medicine Hat, called Unlimited Characters.

A book signing at Unlimited Characters in Medicine Hat, Alberta. A great turn out.
It was so great to see the prairies

A good friend took me to Banff for a day trip. What a treat. I had forgotten how amazing those Rocky Mountains are. I will do another post just about Banff soon.

The road to Banff
With a good friend at Bow Falls, she treated me to a fabulous day in Banff.
Those Rocky Mountains make a great backdrop.

And I got to see cousins I hadn´t seen for a long time.

Cousins are the best!
A dear cousin in her lovely back yard. She gave me a place to sleep and drove me around Calgary.
And I found the most amazing outhouse! I need to put this in a story somewhere.

It was time well spent and I have all these wonderful memories to keep me going.

More to come…


Click to purchase

Click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

Click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

Pig on Trial

click to purchase

Join me on Twitter

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 9,387 other followers

Archives

Categories

Goodreads

click to read review

COPYRIGHT

© Darlene Foster and darlenefoster.wordpress.com, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Darlene Foster and darlenefoster.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.