Florida is all about the water, Sun and beaches and if you visit you should take the time to get up close to some of our wildlife. From Manatees in the clear springs, birdwatching up the Indian River or the island of Captiva and alligators almost anywhere. The options are varied and there are a number of guides ready to introduce you to airboat rides, party boat fishing offshore, inter-coastal cruising, and snorkeling adventures.
Allow us to introduce you to some of the locals:
While the Double-crested Cormorant does often nest in colonies, we’ve never seen such a large group in one place before. The video below was taken on the Indian River in eastern, central Florida and it appeared as if a large shoal of fish had attracted the attention of a number of Cormorants along with some Brown Pelicans. What first caught our attention was a large area of frothing white water near the far bank. By the time we got near the feeding was breaking up but still an interesting sight.
Keep your eyes open – the wild side is everywhere in Florida.
As we travel I am drawn to taking photographs of graffiti. I believe that graffiti can tell you a lot about a place or perhaps about attitudes of residents and the authorities. It shows how people feel about the place where they live, sometimes showing pride but often displaying disrespect and even contempt. A lot of graffiti is nothing more than visual pollution, downgrading a neighborhood’s environment and reflecting a community in decline. By actions or inaction local authorities can create an environment where it can become malignant and out of control.
Another major use of graffiti is supporting a political movement or a cause and oddly the most common form of this seems to be making use of the stencil. Perhaps that is because it requires less talent or is less expensive than political handbills or maybe it’s just more difficult to remove. While communist, socialist and anarchists used to be the most active users, recently we have come to recognize social causes more and more to be represented in this stencil graffiti. I believe this relates to the adoption by the younger generation of social causes or movements that are amplified through todays social media.
Recently we visited a community working to overcome graffiti in Bamberg, Germany. This is a beautiful town popular as a tourist destination. It features winding cobblestone streets, a picturesque riverfront, a famous cathedral and an unusual smokey beer. Initially we were impressed with the lack of graffiti but after a while we started noticing subtle blotches of paint that didn’t perfectly match the surroundings. It became obvious that locals were actively painting over graffiti as quickly as possible in an effort to maintain the character of their town. It was encouraging to see push back against this pollution.
Another measure about a community as a place can be seen in graffiti that is often described as street art and it can at times actually elevate the areas environment. Often I have thought about where a line should be drawn in prohibiting graffiti while allowing street art and admit I can’t find a clear line. As the old saw goes – I may not know what it is but I know it when I see it.
As we travel we have at times noticed collections of padlocks attached to bridges and other public structures. It wasn’t difficult to figure out what was going on by all the couples names engraved on the locks. But in the last five years or so it is becoming difficult to not notice these collections, they’re popping up everywhere.
The practice isn’t new but in the twenty-first century it has exploded worldwide. A love lock is a padlock which lovers lock to a bridge, fence, gate or monument to symbolize their eternal love. Recently the lovers’ names or initials, and the date, are inscribed on the padlock, and its key is thrown away usually into the river under the bridge to symbolize unbreakable love.
This simple and romantic practice seems innocent but more and more being treated by authorities as litter or vandalism, and there is becoming serious cost associated with damage and their removal. We’ve been told that there are places where authorities are embracing them as a tourist attractions.
A little research will show that love padlocks date back at least 100 years to a Serbian tale of World War I, about the bridge Most Ljubavi or the Bridge of Love in the town of Vrnjačka Banja. A local schoolmistress named Nada, who was from Vrnjačka Banja, fell in love with a Serbian officer named Relja.
In Dublin there is a famous pedestrian bridge called the Ha’penny Bridge. It is one of the more famous symbols of Dublin. Nearly 200 years old (1816) it is a protected structure, but in recent years Dublin City Council have had to remove thousands of padlocks from the bridge. They are considered unsightly and are causing damage by chipping paint and adding considerable weight to the historic bridge.
While the key to many a heart now lies at the bottom of the River Liffey where couples in love have thrown them after securing their love locks to Dublin’s historic Ha’penny Bridge, a group is dedicated to breaking that bond. Almost as soon as the lovers have left, an expert lock-picking group arrives to tear these bonds of love apart and stop the locks from making the bridge structurally unsafe.
“It’s a fairly constant churn,” said Seán Nicholls, who set up the group when he was on his way to a professional lock-picking meeting. “I was heading to the meeting one day and I walked over the bridge and noticed all the locks. That’s kind of where the idea came from,” he said.
Dublin City Council made the group official in the aftermath of a love-lock situation in Paris where the locks caused a section of the Pont des Arts bridge to collapse.
In 1622 Havana Cuba was the capital of the Spanish Empire in the New World. Treasures of gems, gold and silver poured into Havana from South America, Mexico and the other islands. From there large fleets sailed back to Spain heavily loaded with this treasure. Late that summer a fleet was assembled to sail out of Havana. One of the largest and most heavily armed was the Nuestra Señora de Atocha (Our lady of Atocha) designated to be a rear guard for the fleet. Intending to sail up south of the Keys and head east into the Gulf Stream, shortly after leaving Cuba the fleet was split up and pushed off course by the leading edge of a major hurricane. It pushed the rear of the fleet north toward the Gulf of Mexico and there the Atocha and its sister the Santa Margarita were broken on a reef somewhere west of Key West Florida.
In mid June of 1985 we were spending a weekend with friends in Key West and on Mallory Square a man named Mel Fisher had set up a card table and was selling shares in Treasure Salvors to support his search for the Atocha. I think he may have changed the selling price based on how much people were interested and that afternoon it was $80 a share. One couple on walking away the woman commented she wasn’t giving money to a middle aged man so he could go scuba diving. My friend and I, both being divers were interested but in the end couldn’t see betting that much money on a gamble. After all Mel had been looking for a number of years without finding the wreck.
Less than a month later Mel and his crew found part of the sunken remains of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha just 35 miles southwest of Key West in only 55 feet of water. Immediately stories began circulating that each share was now worth $10,000 or more (I believe that estimate ended up being way low). Talk about missing the boat…
Recently flipping through photographs and trying to put together a slide show I realized that what I was doing would take several hours just to see. While the photographs are great who, in their right mind wants to set through hours of slides? Welcome back to the sixties and speed seeing…
Take a peek at our world…
I lost count at 75 countries, hundreds of cities and places but I also decided our trips aren’t over yet. Plans for the next year include India, Sri Lanka(?), Israel, Malta, Paris, Dubai, Singapore…
During a short visit to Copenhagen, Denmark a group of our friends went off to see the changing of the guard at Amalienborg Palace. We had plans to find the little mermaid and stroll the canal district.
Sometime a little after eleven we were window shopping along Dronningens Tvaergade when flashing police lights caught our attention.
Walking down to the corner we were surprised to see the Danish Royal Guard marching down the center of the street led by a police car. Traffic was backed up behind them and crowds followed down the sidewalk. They came to our position just as the traffic light turned red and they halted. Once the light turned green their commander gave the order to march and they moved off.
It seems the Danish Royal Guard march from Rosenborg Castle to Amalienborg Palace where the Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place daily. The guard leaves Rosenborg Castle at 11:30 am to arrive at Amalienborg Palace for the ceremony at 12:00. When the Queen is in residence the guard is accompanied by the Royal Guards music band.
Some time ago we were visiting England and had rented a car for a few days driving around the Cotswalds. The countryside and the villages were spectacular and we had a great time. Our two favorite locations were Broadway and Stow-On-The-Wald. Who wouldn’t want to stay in Stow-On-The-Wald just to be able to say the name. While The Lygon Arms in Broadway was recommended to us it was not to our budgets liking but we’ve been told it is extraordinary.
We spent our time in the Cotswalds staying in B&Bs and the people we met and the meals we shared were delightful. But after a number of days of stumbling around in the middle of the night looking for the bathrooms we were looking forward to getting back to London
We had been staying in Kensington and when we returned we went searching for a hotel in the same area. At that point my wife was really looking to have a room with a private bath. I parked in one of those cul-de-sacs that was completely circled by small hotels and headed off in search of a room. The forth hotel said “yes” they did have a room with a bath. We dropped our bags off in the lobby and went off to return the rental car and get something to eat.
When we returned the hotel said the room was ready and we went upstairs. Opening the door we were confronted with a small room with a bed, a dresser and in one corner a clawfoot tub. That night my wife got her room with a bath but I wouldn’t refer to it as “private”.