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Category Archives: Travel

Street View Cars in #India #Travel

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If you get to travel far enough away from home that you notice how different the cars are, well, then you’ve really gotten away. Used to be I hardly noticed vehicles, but whenever we moved my brother always asks about the makes and models of automobiles. So this is for you, big brother.

Certainly the most eye-catching vehicles are what locals call “electric rickshaws.” These are usually two-passengers wide narrowing to one driver in the front. Colorful and plentiful, you can catch one most anywhere. Thankfully, our hosts provided a driver for their car. The rickshaws are open to all the noise and dust of the road.

I only spotted one BMW, one Volvo, and one Audi (was that one with diplomatic plates?), but remember my son and I were visiting Bengaluru (aka Bangalore) rather than Dehli or Mumbai.

What else did we see?

  • Suzuki models such as Baleno, Swift (lots), Astor, Zen, Alto and Omni.
  • Hyundais such as the Santo
  • Toyota’s including Etios and Innova
  • Mahindra Bolero and tractor of what I assumed was a local brand
  • Micraq?
  • Renault Lodgy
  • Hondas such as Verna and Brio
  • Skodas
  • Eicher trucks as well as trucks by Tata
  • Tata cars like the Indica
  • Quails?

I’m sure you’re more familiar with all these car models than I am, or maybe you’d enjoy Googling them? Many were small. Some were surprising large. Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 11.27.01 AM

Moving slowly through traffic to go only part way downtown took one and half hours each way, so you’d think my car list would be longer. Okay, I’ll admit I didn’t save the first list properly on my phone, and I lost it. Sorry about that. This gives you a good idea, though, about vehicles popular in one of the fastest growing markets in the world.

More about our India trip to come…

–Kristin

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Posted by on March 25, 2017 in Travel

 

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Castles, Cakes and Cows #Wales #Roadtrip

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Pembroke Castle (Image from Coastal Cottages Blog)

If castles are your thing, then Wales is the place you want to go. I’m not talking about “modern” palaces with fine decor like Neuschwanstein and Versailles, but honest to goodness medieval fortresses, the kind of places to take refuge from the Zombie hordes. Choose carefully though as the castles are in various states of repair with diverse access to fresh water and other necessities.

These hotly contested lands were divided into at least four factions in the 1200’s–all of whom tried to secure their holdings withe stone upon stone. As posted previously, our family road-trip covered four countries, counting Holland, England, Wales and Ireland. I had no idea Wales would become one of my favorite places in all Europe. screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-4-36-47-pm

The Welsh people, much more so than the Irish and the Scottish, have held onto their native tongue (e.g. all signs in Welsh & English, so you know you’ve arrived), heritage, and culture. We heard Welsh everywhere from the pub chatter, the waitresses to the gas station attendants and customers. It’s every day, every where including most schools.

We stayed out of big tourist places making one concession by visiting Pembroke Castle. Having recently seen a bit of the fortress in the movie “Me Before You” (yes, you will cry), I was unprepared for the massive structure. Surrounded by a water-filled moat (swans a-swimming), looming towers, Pembroke captured the best of both history with dioramas, models of various building stages, to scale model reconstructions. Characters stood ready to tell you about the scullery, the knighthood, the falconry and more of medieval life. With our four boys, we broke away from the Free Tour to explore at our own pace.

Pembroke also afforded us our only “gift shop” of the sort to carry my collector spoons, my son’s pins, and Christmas ornament and such. We’d already decided to buy a Welsh flag as well and couldn’t find one till here, where several sizes tantalized.

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-4-24-36-pmAs interesting as Pembroke Castle was, my family enjoyed Wiston just as much, maybe more for the kids. We found Wiston by taking an adventure drive with no destination our first afternoon. Brown signs pointing to castles, ruins, hill forts and such abound. Stumbling upon Wiston, we discovered a ruin built around the same time as Pembroke by Wizo (love that name). Wiston is a prime example of moat and bailey construction.

Hiking through the field past earthworks and up the hill, sharing the place with cows who quite frankly found us fascinating was a real kick. One of my sons took the opportunity to stand on the castle’s hillside and give a speech thanking the cows for their support as his bovine audience lined up to watch him with serious intent. We may have worn our boys out on castles though, as the youngest sidled up to hold my hand and said, “Boy, you guys sure like history.”

img_0065We stayed on the outskirts of Haverfordwest, where a short walk took us to Spittal’s only and authentic community pub, The Pump on the Green where we ate our fill included family style bowls of peas and carrots for all.

Our best food discovery, though, were the Welsh cakes. Even the gas station had them in packages of six–perfect for our troop. I bought a package of Welsh cakes almost every time we stopped. Ryan glanced over and sighed when I returned to the car. But how could I pass up the ginger and dark chocolate Welsh cakes when the traditional fare was made with raisins? BTW- The Welsh Bakery is not to be missed. Their toffee-tiffin cut up like fudge bites is mouthwatering yum-yum.

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The Welsh cakes we had were almost 3 inches across.

I’m not sure how I lived in the EU so long without visiting Wales, but I would return in a heart beat. “Keep Calm and Cwtch” said the tea cozy, and who of us doesn’t need a nice hug or cuddle?

 

–Kristin

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2016 in Food, Travel

 

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4 Boats, 4 Boys, 4 Countries -Family #Roadtrip #Holland #Wales #Ireland

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My husband can’t pass up the opportunity for a LOTR reference, “Yes,” he says, “We’re driving to Ireland, There and Back Again.” You might be thinking of cheap flights this time of year and all the time saved. I was. I tried to run the numbers for flying and renting a minivan. When you’ve got four kids, though, the numbers don’t add well.

Then Ryan had to say, “And I’ve always wanted to go to Wales.” He knows how to hook me by throwing in some exotic destination I’ve never seen. Oh, he had me good.

You might think we’re a wee bit crazy. Several of our friends did as well. For a family like ours, though, the road trip is a classic. Simply must be done every so often. This one had a lot of flair.

Four boats. That’s right, the ferry lines actually make these deals for what they call the “Land Bridge” across Europe. Their opening salvo “From 118 euro” catches you before you add in the mandatory cabins for our night crossing (had to get 3 x 2 berths), the 2 euro beverages you swear you won’t buy but end up with (at least  few) anyway, and the fact that that was a one-way price not including the car and 5 of the passengers. The price was significant less than flying and renting, plus we saw so much more.

We slept on the Hoek Van Holland to Harwich boat, the sea a motion of lullaby all night long. For the next week you might have thought our family motto was “Drive on the Left” as often as we said it. We even set the GPS to remind us every time we put in a new destination. The Irish Sea crossing from Fishguard to Rosslare was not so amiable as 3 out of 6 ended up with sea sicknesses. I mostly slept and read, though. That’s the beauty of having four boys–Dad takes them to the bathroom.

Before our return, however, I’d researched seasickness prevention, and we implemented a number of solutions. I have to give a shout-out to the gcaptain for the best list on the web of ways to prevent seasickness .

On the return trip we ate a low fat starchy breakfast, took meds an hour before, chewed peppermint gum both for different cadence and aromatherapy, chanted in the car “I will not get sea sick,” and claimed the limited seats at the end of the boat where we could gaze at the unmoving horizon in the distance. The two of us with sinus issues also took meds for that. Did I mention we prayed? We prayed quite a bit. The Irish Sea and English Channel on return were both fun days of catching the free movie (Rosslare to Fishguard), reading, and playing soccer with new friends (Harwich to Hoek Van Holland).

The Landbridge Roadtrip was a huge success. We had the comfort of our own vehicle, masses of snacks and food packed that saved us quite a bit, and we got off the beaten path where we never might have gone otherwise. Four countries, I said, but those will have to wait for upcoming blog posts.

–Kristin

 

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2016 in Living in Holland, Travel

 

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Books for Your Family Trip #Ireland #Wales #Roadtrip

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-10-07-04-amThe school librarians saw me coming and knew I’d be leaving for holiday with a bag of books. Our recent school vacation (blogs forth coming) opened the doors for a King family road trip from Holland to Ireland by car with a few days in Wales. Below are the books I weighed our vehicle down with and the links to my reviews on Goodreads. Several of the chapter books were not read, because I’m in the midst of reading Harry Potter aloud to our younger sons. Also because they were all carrying assigned books from school.

screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-46-25-amOur younger sons loved hearing the short Irish legend as rendered by Tomie De Paola, Fin M’Coul, The Giant of Knockmanyhill. They laughed out loud as Fin’s wife helped him outwit his arch enemy, the bully giant Cucullin.

For your family Halloween read, check out the Irish ghost story, Kate Culhane, and for bringing the Irish-Manx-Scottish water horse legends to new life, read The Scorpio Races. (5 Star Middle Grade)screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-33-07-am

Join me on Goodreads here.

–Kristin

Best for Ireland: Kate Culhane: A Ghost Story by Michael Hague (5 Star), and Leprechaun Luck: A Wee Book of Irish Wisdom (5 Star) by Erin Gobragh and Catherine O’Neillscreen-shot-2016-10-24-at-10-14-30-am

Nonfiction Reviewed: Castle (4 Star) by David Macaulay, The Horrible History of Britain and Ireland (4 Star) -includes Wales and Scotland, or course, A to Z Ireland (3 Star) by Justine and Ron Fontes, and Wales (3 Star) by Tamara L. Britton.screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-11-15-34-am

Fiction Highly Recommended by Librarians: Nory Ryan’s Song (A Girl in Potato Famine) by Patricia Reilly Giff (#1 Librarian Pick for Upper Elementary and Middle Grade), Twist of Gold by Michael Morpurgo (Brother and Sister from Cork to California). fiction-set-in-ireland

Also recommended and set in Ireland or set in Wales (thereabouts): Atemis Fowl: The Lost Colony, Leprechaun in Late Winter (Magic Tree House #43) by Mary Pope Osborne, Nathaniel Fludd Beastologist by R.L. LaFevers.

Selected Travel Guides: Back Roads Ireland (DK Eyewitness Travel) (4 Stars), and  The AA Guide to Wales (3 Stars).screen-shot-2016-10-24-at-10-43-09-am

 

 

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Dutch Caribbean Menu #Foodie

Romanian Soup Ciorba de Perisoare

Romanian Soup Ciorba de Perisoare

You may remember the posts I did about another part of Holland, the Caribbean islands which are part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands. (Yes, I know Holland is actually a region not the country.) My poor husband had to visit the Dutch Antilles for work, and special menu was planned one night of the visit. Was it full of coconuts and exotic islander fare?

Not exactly. Regardless, I thought I’d share the courses and parings for all you foodies out there.

Appetizer – Shrimp Salad paired with “Solo Quinta” 2013 (Rare White Blend)/Recas

Soup – Ciorba de Perisoare (Romanian sour soup with vegetables and meatball – photo)

Click for Romanian Sarmale Recipe

Click for Romanian Sarmale Recipe

Main Course – Romanian Sarmale (Cabbage Rolls made with sour cabbage stuffed with pork, beef, and rice) AND Traditional “Cordon Bleu” (Rose veal meat wrapped around Schweitzer cheese and mushrooms) with spinach and potatoes. Paired with “La Putere”/Feteasca neagra 2013/Recas

Dessert – Cake with vanilla cream, caramel and nuts or fruit salad – Paired with Cabernet Sauvignon 1998/Odobesti

Not what you expected?

Me either. You know how it is when you travel though, it’s hard to say what you might be eating. It’s all part of the adventure.

Related Posts:

This Is The Netherlands?!? (Guest Post and Images by Ryan King)

The Netherlands an Island? (Images of Curacao)

Summer Longing for the Sea (Curacao)

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Kristin King is an author and American expat living in The Netherlands. Currently her dog sits to her left and the bedroom balcony door is open on a cool, sunny Dutch day.

 

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2016 in Food, Living in Holland, Travel

 

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A Bite of History on Spain Vacation

(Guest Blog by Ryan King)

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Cartegena Spain’s Roman Theater

Long before Hispania became a Roman province, it was an overseas possession of Carthage. It was rich in silver and Iberian Celt mercenaries. This was where Hannibal prepared for his war on Rome and where the second climatic conflict, The Second Punic War began.

I’ve been interested in history for as long as I can remember. I still recall when I was twelve years old and I somehow ended up with a book called ‘War Through the Ages’ by the historian Lynn Montross. In those pages for the first time, I heard about the titanic wars between Rome and Carthage that lasted over a century. I learned of the brilliant genius, Hannibal, his crossing of the Alps with elephants, and his incredible battlefield victories. I also learned of a civilization that was the mightiest in the Mediterranean for several hundred years but was subsequently wiped from the face of the earth.

This time and this story have fascinated me since then. This was one reason, when I obtained my master’s degree in history, I focused on the Punic Wars period. It is also why I’ve taken every opportunity while living in Europe to visit those relevant historical locations and see them for myself. This was also, at least partially, why my family and I traveled to Spain on vacation.

Elevator to the palace/fortress, Cartegena, Spain

Elevator to the palace/fortress, Cartegena, Spain

The capital of Carthaginian Spain was Cartegena or ‘New Carthage.’ The location of this ancient city was how my wife narrowed down her hunt for a flat to accommodate the six of us. Even after Kristin broke her foot and had to be left behind, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to take my fours sons to this place with so much history.

I’ve learned to moderate my expectations when visiting historical sites. It has been over two thousand years after all, yet Cartegena surprised me. First of all, the harbor itself was magnificent and is recognized as the finest natural harbor in the Mediterranean. The Carthaginians were, before everything else, seafaring Phoenicians originally from Tyre who understood trade.

The city boasts a Punic Museum with an original section of the Punic wall that encircled the city as well as a crypt with dozens of sealed remains inside. The large Roman theater is still spectacular, and you don’t want to miss the Roman baths or reconstructed Roman villa. IMG_9943

The highlight for me, however, was the magnificent palace/fortress on the giant hill overlooking the harbor and the city. This magnificent structure has stood through the centuries seeing the occupation of Romans, Celts, Vandals, Byzantines, Moors, and Spaniards, yet it was originally constructed by Hasdrubal the Fair who was Hannibal’s brother-in-law. Hasdrubal was credited with making Cartegena a great city after he assumed command of Spain at the death of his father-in-law, Hannibal’s father, Hamiclar.

The fortress is well situated on a giant sheer rock, and we had to take an elevator ride to the top. As my sons and I walked along the walls it was a surreal moment knowing that Hannibal and Hasdrubal had lived in this place and walked along the same paths several millennium before. The visit was reminiscent to one over a decade ago when my wife and I visited Carthage, Tunisia. I was mesmerized.

IMG_0042How could I not contemplate my writing? How I wanted to revisit the scenes I’ve already written of my historic fictional trilogy about the Punic Wars, the rise and fall of Carthage, and the conflicts  that forced Rome to greatness.

Yet, my sons were tired and hungry and wanted to go back to the pool at our condo. So we said farewell to Cartegena, that ancient city of numerous hills with a superb harbor continuously filled with ships. We went back to the Spanish resort for Spaniards, La Manga, and said farewell to history…at least for now.

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Ryan King is the author of numerous post-apocalyptic books. He writes nonfiction under Charles R. King and enjoys teaching history to his four sons as the family treks about the world. Ryan’s first novel, Glimmer of Hope, is free for a limited time on Amazon.

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Doctor Aghast in the Dutch E.R.

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Hypodermics loaded ready to go.

Coming home from Spain with a cast and spiral fracture of the fifth metatarsal was less of a hassle than expected. Acquiring an airport wheelchair, no problem. Assignment of extra legroom seat with items stacked to keep my foot up, no problem.

Cast causing pain on heel…problem. Terrible bed-sore type skin injuries can occur when a cast rubs. Known as pressure sores or ulcers, you don’t take a chance of reaching stage 2, much less stage 4. The images online were too horrid to add one to the blog.

I didn’t think of a cast doing this. I only knew my heel was hurting more than my broken bone. On the advice of our medical insurance hotline, we dragged into Holland at bedtime, left the lil’ guys in the care of their older brothers, and headed to the Dutch E.R.

In contrast to the Spanish E.R., everyone spoke English to me. The doctor’s orders were to take paracetamol (similar to Tylenol) as opposed to ibuprofen. Although the replacement cast was plaster, it didn’t do a full wrap around my foot which left space for the ups and downs of daily swelling. Rather than being plain white with a tiny red line in the wrap, the top wrap was now blue. “To match your scarf,” the attendant said. “It is heavy now but lighter as it dries. Drying takes 48 hours.”

The doctor was aghast and told every staff member who happened by as shifts were changing, that my leg was put in a full cast and then, oh my get ready for it, I was allowed to fly. Considering my age, medical history, lower extremity injury, and such, the doctor was adamant that in The Netherlands I would not have been permitted to fly.

The doctors thoughts seemed to be, Were they trying to give me a blood clot in Spain? Unbelievable.

Well, not so unbelievable when you consider the Spanish doctor was unable to give me any after care directions in English. I told the Dutch doc as much, but she shook her head and pointed toward Schipol, “Our airlines would not let you board with this.”

Wow. Honestly, it made me glad we’d flown out of Spain.  Don’t break a leg in The Netherlands, folks. You might be stuck for awhile.

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Blood pooling away from break not uncommon. (Break is between pinky toe and ankle.)

Now was the time for yet another first in my life. In the Spanish E.R. I got my first cast. In the Holland E.R. I got my first self-administered shot in the stomach. In The Netherlands it is standard operating procedure to take daily meds preventing blood clots while your limb is immobilized. “An ounce of prevention…” could be a Dutch Calvinist saying.

Several times the staff told me the shots would do nothing for a clot if my body had already formed one while I was traveling. Then they would mutter disapprovingly to each other again about my day’s travel.

A linebacker like tall, wide, intimidating nurse demonstrated what to do and then stood over me, bearing down with narrowed eyes, till I plunged the needle into my soft belly skin. Growing up with a diabetic friend, I watched her to do this countless times. That didn’t make it any less foreign an experience to have to do it to myself.

I did have to. My husband was leaving town the next day, or he’d have given me the shots. One of the children later offered to do it. I declined. The thing is, they were really tiny needles. Still, my chest tightened each time. Once I didn’t jab hard enough, the needle was only half in. I started over only to learn later I could have kept on. Once the needle went in at an angle instead of nicely perpendicular to my flesh. That’s when I learned why my mother had so much bruising with self-administered injections. In The Netherlands I was given my own bio-hazard box to dispose of used needles. In Spain, a friend told me, you just throw them in the trash. I remembered my diabetic friend bending each used needle to prevent unauthorized reuse.

I learned all sorts of things and could continue to blog about them. Did you know the pinky bone of your foot gets so little blood flow that healing times range from 8 to 19 weeks on average rather than the typical 6-8 weeks? Rebreaks are so common the doctor recommends you continue to wear the support boot till all pain is gone. At least two of my friends had rebreaks that took surgery and 3+ months to heal. In Sweden the boot would have been fitted to my foot rather than my shoe, so I wouldn’t be hobbling around with one leg a couple inches longer.img_1871

In the U.S. surgery for my break might have been the first recommended course of action from day one because the gap between bones was wide (in mm). Your foot builds up enough dead skin under a cast that even after a second bath the skin might look as if leprosy is settling in. I recommend several applications of an exfoliating scrub. Did you know it’s not uncommon to wake up to your healthy leg being a different color than than the one nurturing healing? It might be lighter or darker pink depending. And diagnosing blog clots in the leg? Don’t get me started.

But enough about pain and weird or scary medical conditions. Wouldn’t you rather hear more about fabulous, historical Spain? I would.

Up Next —A Bite of History in Cartegena, Spain, Guest Blog by Ryan King

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Kristin King continues to limp around and have a surprising (to her anyway) amount of pain seven weeks after breaking her foot. She misses riding her bike in the recent, unseasonably sunny Dutch days.

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2016 in Living in Holland, Travel

 

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