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Vilnius Day 2

Lithuania

Our second full day in Vilnius we went to the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights, also commonly referred to as the KGB Museum, and stumbled across a street fair in the main area of Vilnius. We also did some shopping as Vilnius is famous for amber and linen.

The Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights is located in the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius. Tourists are able to see the prison within the complex (which was in the basement) and where executions were carried out as well as learn about the Lithuanian people's fight for independence from occupation. It was interesting to see how the building was designed especially how the KGB wired the building to conduct its activities in Lithuania. The museum also pays tribute to Lithuania Jews who were killed during World War II. It was an overall very impressive museum!

Museum website: http://genocid.lt/muziejus/en/

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Some of the placards describing the prison conditions:
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After the museum, we stumbled across a street fair that ran through the main thoroughfare from Cathedral Square. It was really cool. There were local artisans and food tents and live music, such a great experience. We also did a bit of shopping for amber and linen, which Lithuania is known for.

Vilnius was absolutely fantastic and I would go back in a heartbeat. It is a neat city, with a lot to do, very walkable and economical. Vilnius was not initially on our "must see list" in Europe but we are so very happy we made it to the city. The city is definitely one of my favorite places we've visited so far.

On to the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 23:29 Archived in Lithuania Tagged churches and of museum vilnius freedom fights occupation kgb Comments (2)

Israel Part 3

Armor Corps Museum and Jerusalem Tour

In this post, I'll review my time at Armor Corps Museum and my tour of Jerusalem. The Armored Corps Museum is located in Latrun (which is halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem). It is a memorial site and the main building is a British Mandate-era fortress. The fortress houses a synagogue and library and an observation lookout on the top of the building (this was closed during my visit). There is an impressive outdoor collection of Israeli armored vehicles as well as US, French, German, and Soviet equipment as well as equipment from other countries.

Armored Corps Museum: https://www.itraveljerusalem.com/ent/yad-lashiryon-armored-corps-museum/

Latrun:
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Entering the fortress:
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I booked my Jerusalem tour through my hotel that used Bein Harim Tours. I was picked up at my hotel. My guide Kobi, was fantastic. He was extremely knowledgeable and super friendly. My tour took me through the Old City and the new city of Jerusalem. We drove along the Kidron valley, saw the Garden of Gethsemane, the walls of of the old city and Mount of Olives. In the city of Jerusalem, there are four quarters: Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and the Armenian quarters. We entered Jaffa Gate and briefly walked into the Armenian Quarter before proceeding onto the Christian Quarter, the Muslim Quarter, and ended in the Jewish Quarter.

Bein Harim tours: https://www.beinharimtours.com

Our first stop was the Elvis Station just outside of Jerusalem. Definitely a one of a kind, American diner experience.
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View from Mount Scopus looking at the Mount of Olives, Kidron Valley, and the City of David below the old city of Jerusalem:
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Church of All Nations next to Gethsemane:
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Entering Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate, briefly into the Armenian quarter:
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Church of the Holy Sepulchre:
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Stone of Anointing:
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Via Dolorosa:
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Reported spot where Jesus laid his hand while carrying the cross:
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Arab quarter:
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Western Wall:
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Jewish quarter:
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Views of Jerusalem:
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Knesset
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The final part of the tour was the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in western Jerusalem. This is was a very moving and somber visit. I was told no photography was allowed in the Museum. The Museum did an amazing job of capturing everything. Some of the presentations were difficult to watch, but overall it was a wonderful experience. The Museum is still actively trying to find all of the Jewish people who were killed in the Holocaust. There is a round room with a spiral staircase at the end of the museum where all of this work is being saved. The walls are full of binders of those Jews that the Museum staff have traced to the various camps. It was one of the most moving rooms in the museum, in my opinion.
Holocaust Remembrance Center: https://www.yadvashem.org
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Tree planted by Oliver Schindler.
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The Museum and Jerusalem were both great. There was a lot to digest in both places.

Onto northern Israel...

Posted by LCP 01:10 Archived in Israel Tagged city new museum old israel holocaust jerusalem yad corps armor remembrance latrun vashem Comments (1)

Dublin - Day 3

St. Patrick's Cathedral, St. Stephen's Green, and Museums

Our third day we had purchased tickets to go to St. Patrick's Cathedral and had planned to visit some of the gardens as well as explore more parts of Dublin.

We had tickets to St. Patrick's Cathedral as soon as they opened and I would highly recommend trying to get into the cathedral as soon as they open. After an hour or so of opening, the place was packed and almost too hard to take pictures or to move around to the different areas of the cathedral. St. Patrick's Cathedral was founded in 1191 and is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. The cathedral has BEAUTIFUL stained glass windows throughout, some of the most beautiful I've seen so far. We learned that stained glass was used to teach illiterate folks about the stories of the Bible.

St. Patrick's Cathedral:
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Interior:
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Relics in the cathedral:
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Interesting floor tiles:
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After the Cathedral, we walked through St. Stephen's Green and Merrion Square and went to the National Museum of Ireland - Natural History Museum and the National Gallery of Ireland, both had free admission. We also found Oscar Wilde's childhood home.

St. Stephen's Green
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Merrion Square:
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Natural History Museum:
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We had a fantastic time in Dublin. There is so much to do and see and the people are so friendly. We definitely hope to make it back at some point. On to the next adventure!

Posted by LCP 07:53 Archived in Ireland Tagged st. history gallery of square green ireland dublin museum cathedral national st stephens oscar wilde patrick's merrion Comments (0)

The Trip to London

Thanksgiving 2018

If you have come back to the blog, you are a glutton for punishment...just kidding...hopefully this is getting better, ha ha! I think I'm finally understanding this process and quite honestly, I give kudos to the people who do this for a living. It is much harder than it looks. Enough rambling...on to London!

We travelled to London for Thanksgiving for a few days. We took the train down and it only took a little more than an hour or so. I honestly LOVE riding the trains here and much prefer them to driving. The trains are clean and timely and certain companies will reimburse you if their particular train is more than 15 minutes late! The whole rail network here is pretty crazy in terms of sheer number of rail companies and timetables, so it takes a bit of time to learn and research. And then there is the whole issue of rail maintenance and the rail companies changed all of the timetables last year which caused massive delays, but so far we haven't encountered any issues (knock on wood). There are even train ticket deals that can be used to reduce the cost of entry fees to museums and sites (like a two-for-one deal) which is what we did for a few of the places we visited down in London.

To begin, we stayed at the Byron Hotel, which was located right across the street from Kensington Gardens. It was very convenient the London Underground. We had a very small room, but that is fairly common across Europe as a whole. We strolled through the gardens and saw The Albert Memorial and then made our way to the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was founded in 1852 by, yep, you guessed it...Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The museum is FREE (although a small donation is appreciated as was the case with a lot of the museums and galleries we visited) and massive, one could spend several days inside looking at all of the different exhibits, collections, and art work. It is very impressive and there are so many collections of artifacts. After spending a few hours there, we walked across the street to the British Natural History Museum. This museum is also free and covers a large space. Apparently the site used to be a railway station. It was interesting, but was also really busy. I did learn the difference between African and Asian elephants (their ear size and head shape). After touring the museums we ate at Honest Burger in South Kensington and walked back to the hotel. We also passed by the Royal Albert Hall on the way back.

Inside the British Natural History Museum:
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Whale exhibit in the history museum:
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Royal Albert Hall:
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For Day 2, we started out by going to Westminster Abbey (photography wasn't allowed, but my better half took a few pictures of the places around the Abbey). The Abbey is beautiful. Fun fact, Lord Lytton, whose family owned Knebworth House (see the previous posts), is buried here as are Edward the Confessor and Mary I and Elizabeth I and lots of other famous and important people. Mary I and Elizabeth I are half sisters and former Queens, both daughters of Henry VIII. Mary I, also known as Bloody Mary, was the daughter of Catherine of Aragon (who died at Kimbolton Castle) and Henry VIII. Elizabeth was known as The Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess and was the daughter of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. The Abbey is beyond impressive and it is astounding being in a place rich with so much history. It was also really cool to experience the Abbey after having watched William and Kate's wedding on TV in 2011. After Westminster, we walked by 10 Downing Street and then made our way to the Churchill War Rooms and Museum. This was probably my favorite part of the entire trip (even better than the possible royal sighting!)! The war rooms are interesting and the museum is fantastic (photography was not allowed). It was very crowded, but one could literally spend a day here. I didn't realize what a prolific writer and painter Churchill was or that he basically wore a track suit most of the time. We plan to go and see his Chartwell home one day as well. It is located south of London in Kent. We rounded out the day by going to the National Portrait Gallery, also free! It was nearing closing time, so we went to the Tudor rooms. I have become obsessed with the Tudors since arriving here, if you can't already tell. The overall history of the royal family captivates me. We ended the day by eating dinner in the West End at The Chandos (famous for homemade pies...meat and vegetable filled pies).

Westminster Abbey:
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Courtyard at Westminster Abbey:
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These were from a small chapel on the abbey grounds:
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On Day 3, we decided to go to the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. This was the "off" season, so the "changing" takes place on a reduced schedule. We had to research this and then plan our trip around the specific day and time of the event. I had seen the "changing" before, but was still impressed. On the way over, we walked through Hyde Park, Green Park and St. James Park. Following the show, we made our way over to Regent Street in Soho (known for its shopping) and strolled around. In the afternoon, we headed over to Harrod's in West London. Harrod's was insanely busy! The bottom floor was like a gourmet grocery store and there were several floors above that sold everything from housewares, to art and furniture and electronics, and souvenirs. It was literally a one stop shop for everything imaginable, but with some hefty price tags. After that overwhelming experience, we took a little break and wandered back to the hotel before heading out to Mayfair. Our possible royal sighting occurred as we were leaving our hotel for Mayfair. A motorcade had prevented us from crossing the street. The motorcade consisted of a few police motorcycles and vehicles and one dark Land Rover. Inside the Land Rover was a young lady and three men, including the driver. The young lady looked like, at least to me, Kate Middleton. Naturally, I queried the internet to see if she had any royal engagements that day near us and low and behold both she and Meghan Markle had engagements that day! Kate's engagement was near our hotel, so I was pretty convinced that this was a possible Kate Middleton sighting! Following that excitement, we headed to the Hard Rock Cafe in Mayfair, which is an affluent area of West London, for dinner and t-shirts :). The Hard Rock has some pretty interesting memorabilia, which I think is pretty common for those cafes.

Buckingham Palace:
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Facing opposite the palace:
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Hyde Park:
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Harrod's:
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Our last day happened to be Thanksgiving Day. We went to St. Paul's Cathedral where a special Thanksgiving service is held every year. The US Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Woody Johnson, was the keynote speaker. St. Paul's was really interesting. The church has been around for over 1400 years and been rebuilt five times, including when the cathedral was bombed during World War II. Fun fact, Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana were married here in 1981. After the service, we were able to tour the cathedral, again photography was discouraged. We then walked to the British Museum and on the way, passed by the London Stock Exchange. The British Museum was also impressive and rather large. The Rosetta Stone is on display here and we managed to get a peek at it despite crowds of people surrounding the glass case. It was almost closing time when we arrived, so we didn't get to explore a lot of the works. We had Thanksgiving dinner at the Museum Tavern and called it a day. The next day we said goodbye to London and took the train home.

St. Paul's Cathedral:
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View of the city of London from the second level of the rotunda:
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It was a great trip and there is quite a bit more we need to see in London! I'm sure we'll make it back.

On to the next adventure...

Posted by LCP 09:33 Archived in England Tagged victoria london park st. history museum cathedral abbey james buckingham albert hyde westminster pauls kensington churchill royals Comments (1)

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