Day 850 of Traveling the World, Retrospective: Istanbul, Turkey. May 31, 2020.

Constantinople. Byzantium. Or, as we know it today…Istanbul. As we play pub trivia, cruise ship trivia, and even Jeopardy!, a frequent question is: “What is the only city in the world that is located on two continents?” Istanbul! When we used to play team pub trivia weekly, the quizmaster once asked: “What capital city of Turkey straddles two continents?” Loaded question! We went up to him and said, well, do you want the capital city or the city that straddles two continents? He looked at us like we were crazy. We said, Ankara is the capital, but Istanbul is on two continents. He told us we were wrong. We said, well, we are correct, but which answer will get us the points? He said…the capital is Istanbul; that’s what I am looking for. We shook our heads, walked away, and he hurried to look it up on the internet. Red-faced, he announced to the crowd that there were two cities that he would accept…a different one for each half of the question!

The Bosporus Strait separates Europe from Asia, with the historical and business side of Istanbul lying in Europe and about a third of its population living on the Asian side. Truly, a cosmopolitan city! We were on a cruise, and were in the city for one day. Everything you see in the photos below is within walking distance of each other! We went from the Hagia Sophia to the Blue Mosque to the Basilica Cistern to Topkapi Palace to the Grand Bazaar! We visited Istanbul on November 23, 2009.

So the first two photos are of the exterior of the Hagia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom”), built in 537 AD. Doesn’t she look marvelous for her age? The building is now a museum, but it started its life as the Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral, and later was an Ottoman imperial mosque. It was an engineering marvel of its day and is known for its fabulous dome. The Hagia Sophia is said to have changed the history of architecture. We did not get to see the interior, as it was closed the day we were there, but we found out that had we booked a ship excursion to tour the city, we would have gotten in. We usually always think it is far superior to explore on our own. At any rate, seeing the rich mosaics and dome inside is one reason we want to return to Istanbul. One day in this huge and interesting city just wasn’t enough.

The photos following the Hagia Sophia are of the Blue Mosque, named due to the extensive blue tiles used inside and the blue lights illuminating it by night. Please note that the farther back we go in our travels, the poorer the quality of our photos. Cameras have gotten better year by year, and in addition, we were just taking tourist photos, not photos for a blog, documenting a place. Some of our older photos have been cropped so that you see the attraction rather than us! But we are trying to give you an idea of what these places looked like when we were there.

The next set of photos, the Basilica Cistern, illustrate our camera’s lack of quality very well, as it was not only a so-so camera, but the cistern is underground! And dark! And swathed in red lights! It was a really neat place to visit, though. Many people who have visited Istanbul have said they never heard of the Cistern, even though it is in the heart of the tourist attractions, and consequently, did not visit. It was built as an underground Roman water source, held up by 336 marble columns and covering an area of 9,800 square meters. We were pleased to see it in the Tom Hanks movie, Inferno. We found it fascinating and eerie, particularly the Medusa head on its side holding up one of the columns.

Our next stop, with accompanying photos, was Topkapi Palace, starting with the gold gate. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Palace served as the main residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman sultans. There are rooms crusted in gold, harem rooms, and even a circumcision room! Everywhere you looked, there were mosaics and gold fabulosities. When we got home, we watched the 1964 movie, Topkapi, but it was a crime/comedy film, and wasn’t so much about the palace.

After that are two photos of our last stop, the Grand Bazaar. It is one of the oldest and largest covered bazaars in the world, with 60 streets and 4,000 shops, and we are certain that we did not visit all 4,000! You can find jewelry, carpets, clothing, antiques, spices, tea, ceramics, Nazar evil eye ornaments (look it up!), and Turkish delight. Anything you want or desire can be found here. It seems very claustrophobic in places, and bargaining is definitely encouraged!

At the end are a few photos of the city, the “in-between” as we walked from site to site. It resembles many places in Greece and the Greek Islands, which of course, are not so far away. The last two are of a photo shoot, but we liked the glimpse of the city.

Day 848 of Traveling the World, Retrospective: Portmeirion, Wales, UK. May 29, 2020.

Whimsical and fun and colorful and crazy and quaint and goofy and delightful and joyous and quirky. It’s Portmeirion! In Wales!

Portmeirion was built as a tourist village between 1925 and 1975. It isn’t that old or that historic, although fragments of demolished buildings were used, so it is somewhat a hodgepodge of styles. The developer, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, wanted to build a village that felt Mediterranean, but on the northwest coast of Wales. For our older readers: did you ever watch the 1960s television show The Prisoner starring Patrick McGoohan? It is about a secret agent who resigns, but wakes up to find himself held prisoner in what looks like an idyllic village, but is really a bizarre prison. He repeatedly tries to escape. Well, this is the idyllic village, Portmeirion. It still hosts Prisoner conventions for fans, and the building that served as the main character’s home is now the The Prisoner gift shop.

Many other shows and music videos were filmed here. It was visited by Frank Lloyd Wright, George Bernard Shaw, HG Wells, and Noel Coward, who wrote Blithe Spirit here. George Harrison spent his 50th birthday in the village in 1993. Its main function is as a hotel, with beautiful grounds, shops, and restaurants. Every room is different, and they are mostly located above the shops, and each is unique. Ours was huge, with a canopied bed in a moon and stars motif. If you stay there, as we did for a few days, it is “free” to enter the village, of course. If you only wish to visit for the day, it is about $15 per person. We had Portmeirion on our bucket list for many years, and we saw a lot of Wales during this trip. It is all gorgeous, with some of the nicest people on earth.

We found it so charming to walk around, going different ways each day. It isn’t that big, but there are surprises around each corner. There are arches, fountains, statues, bridges, colonnades, towers, walkways, gardens, pools, steeples, balconies (some with statues), forests, and even a life-size chessboard! There are plenty of benches and chairs on which to sit and look around or people-watch. Everything is painted in different colors, yet it is all harmonious. As you can see in the first photo, the building has several colors across the facade, yet doesn’t look garish or out of place…at least, it doesn’t in this setting!

So just let your eyes feast as you scroll through the photos. We visited three years ago, in May 2017. The village is very rich and varied. There are two photos near the end that were taken at night, which was a pretty eerie feeling. Since it isn’t actually a city, and the people who pay to see it during the day leave before dark, there weren’t many people around, and it felt deserted and a little creepy. Safety in numbers, and all that. There were some other hotel guests out and about, but with no traffic or noise or hustle and bustle, it was strangely quiet. Much better by day!

In the last photo is a strange sight: an ice cream truck parked out in the middle of nowhere, with no swarming children in sight. We shared a photo last week of Mr. Softee, Jan’s childhood ice cream truck, and you will notice that this one in Wales is Super Whippy. It almost looks like it is waiting for all those sheep to run down off the hillside and purchase some soft-serve.

Day 846 of Traveling the World, Retrospective: Inis Mor (Inishmore), Aran Islands, Ireland. May 27, 2020.

Okay, we need you to look at the first photo…do you see the top of that thar yonder hill, with a little “cut” or break in the very middle? Starting at the path at the very bottom of the photo, we hiked to that very spot! Honest! As we started walking, we (Jan) thought, “This is going to take hours! We can’t walk that far!” We walked a bunch, walked a bunch, walked a bunch, and…we were no closer – at all! It just didn’t seem doable. We were hiking uphill! That is too difficult! Then, we started taking photos, resting here and there, talking about how hard it was, saying we would never get there….and lo and behold, we were at the top! Even with all the stops for resting, it took less than 30 minutes. We were very surprised. The views at the top were amazing, with cliff faces reaching heights of 330 feet.

We were at Dun Aonghasa, a prehistoric stone fort on the island of Inis Mor, one of the Aran Islands that guard the mouth of Galway Bay. Dun Aonghasa has been called the most magnificent barbaric monument in Europe, although very little is left of it.

The ferry from the mainland was about 25 miles west of Galway on Ireland’s west coast. Once on the ferry, it was another 45 minutes to reach Inis Mor. We first took a minibus tour around the island, and the other two passengers were taxi drivers from London, who of course have heard accents from every corner of the world, but they confessed to us that they couldn’t understand the bus driver’s guided tour descriptions any more than we could. The whole island is proud of having kept the Irish language alive, and their English was thick with the Gaelic Irish brogue.

The Aran Islands are mainly pastoral, with grazing and some farming. In addition, of course, fishing has been its primary livelihood. Before we left on this trip, we watched a 1934 fictional documentary titled Man of Aran about life on the islands. The film is known for its stunning scenery, but in it is shown the villagers hunting basking sharks to get liver oil for lamps. Although hunting basking sharks was a tradition in the area, it hadn’t been practiced in over 50 years at the time the movie was filmed. So the locals had to be instructed how to do it prior to demonstrating their “tradition.” Inis Mor, the largest of the three Aran Islands, is sprinkled with B&Bs, tour companies, and restaurants, and tourism is very important to its income. Thatched cottages are everywhere, and overall the homes we saw are very sturdy to withstand the cold winds and rain. We were there on May 3, 2017, and the weather was wintry, even though spring had sprung six weeks prior.

The third through seventh photos depict the treasures at the top of the mountain, showing some of the old fort’s walls, but mostly showing good views from the island. We liked the sign, with the small warnings depicting people slipping and falling from the top…so many ways to hurt yourself that we never even thought of! And the last symbol on the sign, with no line strike-out, ostensibly indicates that one should expect sheep and cows! Such an informative sign.

The last photos are of houses and life around the island. It was very calm and quiet. The pace, like that of many islands, was slow and unhurried. The last two photos were taken from the ferry, as we neared Inis Mor. Picture-perfect!

Day 844 of Traveling the World, Retrospective: Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia. May 25, 2020.

It was raining…that steady, constant rain, but not too heavily. We drove in the rain from Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, for 82 miles to Plitvice Lakes, although it took 2.5 hours on the small, winding, country roads. The park is rural, close to the Bosnia-Herzegovina border, not near the fabulous Croatian coast. The date was October 10, 2015. Everyone knows the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, but Plitvice? Nah, never heard of it! It should be on everyone’s short list as a Place to See Before You Die. When people ask us about our favorite places on the planet, Plitvice is invariably mentioned.

We had a fabulous time in Zagreb’s Old Town, including an all-day food tour that we will never forget. We rented a car for seven days, planning to visit Plitvice Lakes, then on to a drive down the coast, including Split, some of the islands, and ending in Dubrovnik. The rental cost? Just $71 for seven days. As we waited in the Hertz office, there were two couples ahead of us trying to rent an SUV for two days. The agent tried to talk them into a car, due to the outrageous cost, but they insisted that they had too much luggage for a car. So they were going to pay $450 for a two-day rental. After they paid, and were waiting for their SUV, the agent asked for our name and reservation number. We told her, and when she found our reservation, her eyebrows went up, and she said, “How in the world did you get seven days for $71??” Needless to say, the two couples stared at us, chagrined, pained… dismayed. We said, no special connections… we just made the reservation eight months ago! There is (financial) power in planning ahead!

So, we arrive at the park and the rain is still constant. We debated whether or not we wanted to walk in the rain, as we had no umbrellas, just raincoats. We decided, well, we’re here, so let’s see what’s up. We found out that the lakes in the bottom area are connected by wooden boardwalks, but then you begin a gentle climb up the mountain to the upper lakes, with the entire trek taking about two hours, on average. At the top is a restaurant and souvenir shop, and buses are there to return you to the parking lot. We had no intention of walking in the rain for two hours, so we decided we would walk on the boardwalk a little ways and then return to the warm, dry car. Guess what?? More than two hours later, we found ourselves at the top of the mountain, heading toward the restaurant for coffee and lunch! Once we saw some of the natural features, we couldn’t resist this fabulous place, and the rain just didn’t matter in the whole scheme of things. You can see why.

From the air, 16 lakes can be seen in the park, all interconnected. It took 20 minutes of walking before seeing our first lake, by which time our hands were frozen and our shoes and socks were soaked. After the first 30 minutes, we didn’t even think about how cold we were. All of the benches along the way were wet, so we never sat down or rested. We just kept going, in the rain, and this magical park, with its waterfalls, autumn leaves, and lakes, gave us the energy to keep on going. We didn’t want to miss a thing!

The boardwalk wraps around the first lake, and you see what we called “waterfalls” by the dozens feeding the lake (also called cascades). You can’t imagine how breathtaking it is to come around the first bend and see the waterfalls emptying into the lake, as shown in the first photo. You sort of think, this is it! – but you keep walking, follow the boardwalk, and a minute later, at the next turn, you see essentially the same thing, but it is a different lake with different falls. Then there is a third, fourth, fifth…..amazing. Most of the boardwalk was at ground level, so it was completely flooded, with no choice but to walk through the puddles, getting our feet completely wet. After a while, we didn’t even think about how wet our feet were…we wanted to see the next, and the next, and the next. Some photos of the cascades are taken from above, as you can see, as we started to climb the mountain. You can find photos from sunny days online, which is what inspired us to come here, but these are our rainy day photos, and they are still beautiful.

The last two photos are of our lunch, a wonderful Croatian salad and some pasta…accompanied by hot coffee, of course. Wrapping our hands around the mugs was as comforting as the coffee itself! When we returned to our car, we changed out of our wet clothing into dry threads, right in the parking lot. Then we cranked up the heat and took off for the Riviera….the Croatian Riviera!

Day 839 of Traveling the World, Doral, Florida. May 20, 2020.

Miami-Dade County, where we are riding out the pandemic, has about half of all of Florida’s Covid-19 deaths, so nonessential businesses have been closed until today. That means that Dolphin Mall, across the street from our hotel, opened today with limited hours. We have been waiting for its opening, not to shop, but so that we can take our daily walk in air conditioning. The temperatures have been slowly rising, and while early morning is “cooler” than late morning or early afternoon (feels like 85 degrees F rather than 93), it is still very hard to feel refreshed rather than depleted.

So, the mall it was! We don’t know what your experience has been with retail openings, but we will describe ours. As you can see in the first three photos, there are instructions and reminders as you walk through the mall to stay six feet away from others, wear a mask, and always walk “one way” to the right so that you aren’t meeting people head-on. The mall wasn’t very crowded, but all of these “recommendations” were ignored at various points. People weren’t all masked (but employees were), they walked on the wrong side, and they walked close to us, even as we swerved to avoid close contact. We entered two different shoe stores to browse, and every aisle was marked with one-way arrows in different directions. If you touched shoes, you were to place them on the floor to be sanitized. To try on shoes, you had to take them to the front, try them, and leave them there to be disinfected. Ditto for dressing rooms in stores: you must hand the clothing over to be sanitized before the items are returned to the racks.

In the fourth photo is one of many workers constantly cleaning and sanitizing anything that can be touched. Benches are covered in plastic so that no one can sit and rest…too many hands would touch the bench. About one-quarter of the stores were open, and of the kiosks filling the middle of almost every branch of the mall, about half were open, as you can see in the photos. A news crew was doing a report in one area. The food court was almost all open, but there were very few takers, and you can see how the tables were spread out to be six feet apart. Can you see the sayings along the ceiling in the food court? Most were in Spanish, but the first one says, “Merriment is a full stomach.”

Interestingly, all of the perfume stores in the mall were open, and there were a lot of them, given the size of the mall. Surprisingly, some were trying to hand out individual sample packets, but nobody was taking them during a pandemic. You just don’t accept something from one hand to another. Only the automatic entrance doors were open and working, not the ones you push. There is an attempt to avoid contact in all dealings, with even cash being frowned on. So, do you want a sample? No takers!

The next-to-last last photo was simply sentimental for Jan…a store called Alma, Guardian Angel. Her favorite aunt, who lived next door and was truly was her second mom, was named Alma. She called her Alm, and if anyone acts as a guardian angel, it is Alm. She has been gone for over 15 years, but lives on in so many fun stories and memories.

And the top of the last photo shows the parking lot on March 20 of this year, with the bottom being the same general area today. Many more vehicles! We walked around the outside of this mall for six weeks, and then they told us it was no longer permitted, but wouldn’t tell us why. We suspect someone tried to break in, and thus it was ruined for us. They directed us to the outer ring road to walk, which would have been fine early on, but by the time we were banished from their sidewalk around the mall, there were food giveaways, and the road was quite busy with traffic. We spent one walk just dodging traffic, so that was our last visit to the mall until today.

Day 838 of Traveling the World, Retrospective: Xi’an, People’s Republic of China. May 19, 2020.

Presenting….ta da!....the famous Terracotta Army of Xi’an, China. We were thrilled to be able to visit China in March 2016 and see the entire Terracotta Army in one place. We had known about it for years, of course, and had attended museum exhibitions with several of the actual warriors in Southern California, but they tended to have no more than a dozen statues and some artifacts. So this was the opportunity of a lifetime.

The City of Xi’an has been inhabited for over 3,000 years, and the Terracotta Army was fabricated as funerary art upon the death of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, in 210 BC. The army was intended to protect him in the afterlife. The find was discovered in March 1974 by farmers digging a well for water. People in the area had found pieces of terracotta and roofing tiles from the emperor’s grave for centuries, but nobody knew that these fabulous statues were waiting to be discovered under 16 feet of soil, two millennia later. The majority of the figures consist of soldiers of different heights depending on their ranks; horses; and chariots. Since the entire area is not yet fully excavated, it is estimated that the three largest pits contain approximately 8,000 warriors, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses. There are also statues of officials, strongmen, acrobats, and musicians.

The museum structure, as seen in several photos, was constructed around the pits. It was found that the pits had been plundered several times over 2,000 years. The first archaeologist on the scene became the army’s protector, and he took home fragments to begin to reassemble some of the soldiers. Some pieces were as small as a fingernail.

Keep in mind as you look at the photos that out of the hundreds of soldiers and horses that you see, only one was found intact. Yes, that’s right, all of those you see in the pits were reassembled out of tiny pieces over the last 46 years. If you look at the eighth photo you will see more clearly what they had to work with: smashed pieces of statues, only partially intact. After that photo, however, are some specimens in plexiglass cases so visitors can view them a little closer. The detail is simply amazing, and originally they were painted in gorgeous, vibrant colors, but that had all chipped off, of course, when exposed to Xi’an’s dry air. It took only four minutes to do so!

The archaeologists discovered that the heads of the warriors were made from 10 different molds, with clay used to customize their features so that each appears unique. The figures are life-sized and held actual weapons, increasing their realism. However, their weapons were either stolen soon after burial, or have rotted away over the centuries. Despite this, over 40,000 bronze items of weaponry were found, including swords, scimitars, spears, lances, shields, and crossbows. Most of the recovered items are arrowheads, found in bundles of 100, and the alkaline soil protected them from any form of decay over 2,200 years.

You can see in the photos that the soldiers were buried in battle formation in the pits, which were originally constructed to resemble palace hallways. Looking at the closeups in the cases, it is hard to tell that they were reconstructed from hundreds of fragments, isn’t it? If you look closely at the warriors’ hands, you will notice that each is meant to be holding a weapon, as they are poised to wrap their hands around an object. And can you guess which of them was the only one of 8,000 to be found intact? It is the figure in the next-to-last photo. The last photo is the entrance to the museum, a fountain with galloping horses to greet visitors. Virtually any tour of China includes a visit to Xi’an, and we highly recommend seeing these treasures in their original setting. Breathtaking.

Day 836 of Traveling the World, Retrospective: Yangon, Myanmar (Rangoon, Burma) and Bago, Myanmar. May 17, 2020.

Myanmar is a unique travel destination because it is still not very well set up for tourists. It is bordered by India, Bangladesh, China, Laos, and Thailand, and sits on the Bay of Bengal. It is involved in one of the world’s longest-running civil wars. Once a British colony, the country was granted independence in 1948, only to be taken over by a military dictatorship in a 1962 coup. Going back to an earlier name, the military changed the name from Burma to Myanmar in 1989. Since the military government’s legitimacy is not recognized, many continue to call the country Burma, and both terms are used.

In the largest city and former capital, Yangon (Rangoon), the largest building is the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, a Buddhist temple complex on a hill in the heart of the city, covered in solid gold. The first set of photos show this pagoda, where the main stupa (reliquary) houses relics of four recent Buddhas. As you can see in the third photo, that small shrine holds a replica of Buddha’s tooth! We had to remove our shoes each time we entered any of the Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia. It was a little upsetting, and we would have brought wipes if we had known, as these were outdoor venues, covered in dirt, stains, and dust, and dogs roamed freely. It felt very unsanitary.

A big, huge “thing” in Myanmar is big, huge statues of the Reclining Buddha. The one shown below is 217 feet long, with inscriptions on his feet, as you can see. We emailed photos to friends while we were there, and they wanted to know, “who is that giant lady?” We laughed heartily, but the Buddha does have lipstick-red lips, painted nails, and looks very feminine, so we understand why the question was asked! And since this was a Buddhist temple, yes, we had to remove our shoes. We want to note that we received a very warm welcome wherever we went…lots of waves and big smiles. The people were thrilled to see western tourists.

Following the Buddha are some street scenes from around Yangon, always one of our favorite subjects, as they give you a glimpse into ordinary life for the locals. The food stands you see are the best you can get once you are out of the immediate city center. It is food cut or processed without regulations, and sitting out on small tables where there is no running water and crude restrooms. People asked us, did you have some? No way. We have been warned many times about only eating in recommended restaurants, and only drinking bottled water. So taking photos is as close as we got.

We visited here on February 21-22, 2016. The photos after the toilet are of the city of Bago, about 60 miles north of Yangon. The pagoda shown is the Shwemawdaw Paya,which also had various booths, kiosks, and businesses around the sides, including that in the photo of Horary Astrology and Palmistry (“I can say to your fortune, Biorhythm system and combination scientific system”). As far as we know, neither astrology nor palmistry are scientific, but this is a very different culture from ours. After that, we walked around a local market. Since it is a poorer city than Yangon, the dried fish and other goods were just laid out on papers or bags, directly on the dirt walkways.

Third from the end is a garden with stone grave markers in the Allied War Memorial Cemetery. It was a beautiful spot on the road from Yangon to Bago. The last two photos were taken while visiting the Kyaly Khat Wai Monastery (yes, sigh, we had to remove our shoes). The monks were studying, then praying, and paid no attention to us at all. There is a place to leave gifts or offerings, which is likely why tourism is encouraged/tolerated here. As you can see in the final photo, they start them young! Monks can be as young as 8 years old!

Day 834 of Traveling the World, Retrospective: Liverpool, UK. May 15, 2020.

Yet another three-year anniversary…today in 2017 we were in Liverpool, England, and it was terrific – highly recommended. Liverpool is named either after the many eels in the Mersey River (Elverpool), or from the old English words for lifer, meaning thick or muddy water, and pol, meaning a pool or creek. So much of the city’s life and livelihood come from its ports and the river. You have heard the term “Liverpudlian” for a resident of the city, but even more popular for a resident is “scouse,” named after the city’s very popular stew, which appears on most menus.

Visiting the city means a walk along the Mersey, with the Maritime Museum and all the shops and other museums along the way. The first photo shows Pier Head, and it, along with the entire system of docks, is part of the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City UNESCO World Heritage Site. The second photo is the Mersey, and it was rather nostalgic walking along it…see the ferry in the background?  A favorite song from the 60s was the wistful Ferry Cross the Mersey by Gerry and the Pacemakers. It brought back memories of the musical British Invasion of the 1960s. We walked over to Albert Dock, seen in the third photo. A hundred years ago, it was a major port, grimy, and hard work for stevedores loading and unloading ships. Today it has been re-purposed as a tourist center, with museums, shops, cafes, and restaurants….and even a carousel. We were told the renovations were mostly funded by the European Union (EU). As we traveled around Britain that year, Brexit was the hot topic of conversation. We found the people of Liverpool felt they had been helped out greatly by the EU, more than by the British Government, which they felt only cared about London and Westminster. Needless to say, they were very much against Brexit.

Another nostalgic moment was seeing a Mr. Softee ice cream truck, which was very popular with everyone in Jan’s Pennsylvania hometown during the summer in the 1950s and 60s. The jingle would play (which she can still sing!) and all the kids would surround the truck with their dimes. The logo is the same one from way back then!

The next three photos are the inside of the town hall; the beautiful entrance to Philharmonic Pub, where we enjoyed an excellent lunch with a couple we had met on a cruise several years earlier (who called themselves pie-eaters, from the village of Wigan); and the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King. What a gorgeous facade! It was dedicated in 1967.

The story of Liverpool is about trade, the Mersey River, culture, many things. Yet the one thing you cannot escape its musical history. It is the birthplace of the Beatles, of course, and over the years Liverpool musicians have produced 56 No. 1 hit singles, more than any other city in the world. In the museum, named The Beatles Story, which was very good, there was a yellow submarine, a Sgt. Pepper’s display, and photos and info going all the way back to their beginnings at the Casbah Club and the Cavern Club. It was all very well done, lots of photos and letters and some of their original instruments. The story is told very well. And, of course, music was played. We sang Yellow Submarine all the way back to the hotel! Look at the final photo of the Fab Four, after the Eleanor Rigby photo….it is made of????……Jelly Beans! Unbelievable! They aren’t cut in any way, either. The next day, in the following photo, we visited 10 Mathew Street, the location of the original Cavern Club, which hosted the Beatles before the entire world knew their name and songs. As you can see, it was a rainy day, as was true for much of our time in the city. It limited what we could do, but gave us a reason to return.

The final photo is of some of the dishes from a Moroccan restaurant we enjoyed on more than one occasion, the Kasbah Cafe Bazaar. Moroccan food is based around tagines, couscous, rice, great bread and soups, and liberal use of dates, figs, raisins, and almonds in the meat and vegetable dishes. We look for Moroccan cuisine whenever we are in a new city. Put Liverpool on your list if you ever visit London. It is just 200 miles from the capital, an easy driving or train trip.