1965 And The 4 Minute Louvre

Shortly after graduating high school the summer of 1965 found me in Paris visiting a Parisian exchange student, Jean Paul that had spent some time with my family the year before. At the same time a classmate of mine was also in Paris with her parents. For a few days Jean Paul, Beth and I hung out together racing around Paris in Jean Paul’s Citron 3.

Evenings usually found us in the park that cascades down the hill in front of Sacre Coeur. It was a gathering place for young people that included British rockers all decked out in their Union Jack clothing and spiked hair, American hippies, Algerian revolutionaries and Parisian rebels. It was full of guitar music, discussions about the Algerian freedom fight, the Vietnam war, art and our future. Often conversations travelled through three or four languages to include everyone and American and British rock songs were sung with a multitude of accents. The evenings broke up when the Gendarmes swept down the hillside with batons swinging to clear the park.

After that was bar hopping through Montmartre and Pigalle often stopping at street vendors selling french fries and mustard.

We slept late every day but did fit in some sightseeing here and there. Around that time Art Buchwald, an American humorist was in Paris and wrote a column in the American Times of Paris titled Breaking The Four Minute Louvre. It was shortly after American Jim Ryun was the first high school student to break the four minute mile and in the Spring of 1965 running the mile was in the news.

 

Tongue in cheek, Buchwald claimed that the worlds largest art collection actually contained only four pieces really worth seeing. Of course they included Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, but also Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (often called Venus on the Half Shell), the Winged Victory (a masterpiece of Greek sculpture, called the Winged Victory of Samothrace) and the Venus di Milo (an ancient Greek statue and one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture). They were each in different galleries in the Louvre and Buchwald’s column claimed that nobody had yet entered the Louvre, looked at each piece and exited the museum in under four minutes, but the new record was near. It was a funny image offered up to American tourists visiting Paris but it had unintended consequences.

What red-blooded American youth visiting Paris could walk away from that challenge? The three of us accepted and while we were slightly hindered by being chased by museum guards we finished in a little over seven minutes. Getting lost could easily double your time and it was easy to do. I understand that the Louvre had to put up with crazy, running young people for most of that summer.

I actually met Art Buchwald in 1972 at a meeting of college newspapers in D.C. and asked him about that column. He laughed and said the French really have no sense of humor at all and he may still be persona non grata in Paris. Their loss.

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A Bit Of History In Ocala, Florida

Fort King, Ocala, Florida

It’s unusual to come across an early nineteenth century stockade fort in the middle of a Florida town. Not something you expect outside of Disney World. But on a recent drive through central Florida that is what we found in Ocala.

It’s a historically accurate replica of Fort King at its original site. Designated a National Historic Landmark the site is being developed into a park that includes an interesting museum. For the state of Florida this is almost ancient history. Early settlers, Seminole Wars, Andrew Jackson.

There’s history all around us if we just take the time to look and understanding it is important for our future. Here’s a peek into Florida’s history and what happened around Fort King.

Every state in America is noted for its tribes of American Indians that include Comanches, Blackfoot, Algonquin, Shaenee, Shoshone, Sioux and almost a hundred additional tribes. In Florida we recognize the Seminoles as our major Indian tribe, but who are they historically?

It seems Seminole history in Florida starts with bands of Creek Indians from Georgia and Alabama migrating to the state in the 1700s. Wars with other tribes along with conflict with the arriving Europeans caused them to move south seeking new lands. At the time Spain controlled Florida and encouraged these Indian migrations hoping to provide a buffer between them and the British colonies to the north.

A fort exhibit

It was at this time that these Florida Indians became known as the Seminole, a name that meant “wild people” or “runaways.”

Florida has long been considered an inhospitable place filled with swamps, and scrub land, cursed with hot weather, high humidity, mosquitoes and alligators. Even so by the late eighteenth century settlers began to look for land to settle in Florida and in 1819 Spain saw the inevitable and agreed to sell Florida to the United States.

Soon these new settlers were coming in conflict with the Seminoles and the government decided the situation needed a solution. In 1823 the Treaty of Moultrie Creek was signed between the United States and leaders of the Seminole Nation. That treaty had the Seminoles relocate to a large tract of land in what is now Central Florida. The treaty also prohibited white persons from entering or settling on those Seminole lands. The Ocala area was central to the Indian towns and the army built Fort King to assure that both sides kept the treaty.

In a reversal of policy Congress passed The Indian Removal Act in 1830 at the urging of President Andrew Jackson who had fought the Seminoles in Florida and defeated the Creek Indians in 1814. This resulted in the forced negotiation of the controversial Treaty of Payne’s Landing requiring that the Seminoles be removed to new lands in what is now Oklahoma.

Engraving from Seminole Wars

A core group of Seminoles, led by the warrior Osceola fiercely opposed the treaty forcing the government to reoccupy Fort King and the associated U.S. Indian Agency. General Wiley Thompson, the U.S. Agent assigned to Fort King and Osceola engaged in a number of confrontations. This resulted in General Thompson ordering Osceola chained and thrown into the guardhouse at the.

Inside the fort

Released several days later, Osceola declared that war was the only option left. On December 28, 1835, he attacked Fort King when Wiley Thompson and Lieutenant Constantine Smith went for a walk outside the post. Thompson was shot numerous times and scalped. Six others were also killed but Fort King was too strong to take. That same day a larger force of Seminole warriors attacked troops on their way to Fort King in a fight known as Dade’s Battle, leaving over 100 soldiers dead. This would become the start of the Second Seminole War.

Fort King was abandoned in May of 1836 in favor of Fort Drane built nearer the swamps where the Seminoles were hold up. Fort King was reoccupied in April of 1837. It served as a base for raids and in 1840 Captain Gabriel Rains of the 7th U.S. Infantry led 16 soldiers on a recon but were attacked by a Seminole war party. They managed to fight their way back to Fort King, with three men killed.

After defeating the army in early battles of the Second Seminole War, Seminole leader Osceola was captured in 1837, when U.S. agents invited him under a truce to talk peace.

Ft. King Historic Marker

Five years later the Second Seminole War was declared over on August 14, 1842. Fort King was evacuated for good the following year. By 1858, when the United States declared a formal end to the Third Seminole War over 3,000 Seminoles were moved west of the Mississippi River leaving only 200 to 300 Seminoles in Florida swamps.

As a footnote, Florida is proud to call the Seminoles our tribe and the Noles are happy to be a part of Florida. back a few years ago when there was a movement to strip sports teams of their Indian names the Seminoles made it very clear that they were thrilled with their name being attached to Florida State. The Noles have done very well in Florida recently with the Hard Rock Cafe International (USA), Inc. being sold to the Seminole Tribe of Florida in 2007 with headquarters at the reservation in Davie, Florida.

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Remarkable Silver Springs Florida

Florida’s Classic Attractions

Florida has always attracted visitors to its’ ocean beaches but, years ago, it also had an assortment of inland tourist destinations. Those old Florida attractions have been dying out, pushed aside and even replaced by theme parks. Unfortunately, history and gardens cannot compete with movie attractions, roller coasters and fantasies.

No closed Cypress Gardens

While Cypress Gardens once drew huge crowds, it was sold and replaced by Legoland. Silver Springs, on the other hand, has seen a revival under Florida State Parks’ new ownership and management. Of the over fifty natural springs in Florida, the largest by far is Silver Springs pushing out five hundred million gallons of clear 72° water every day.

Since the mid-19th century, the natural beauty of Silver Springs has attracted visitors from all over the world. Glass-bottom boat tours of the springs began in the 1870s. In the 1920s, W. Carl Ray and W.M. “Shorty” Davidson, leased the land from Ed Carmichael and developed the area around the headwaters of the Silver River into an attraction that eventually became known as Silver Springs Nature Theme Park. The attraction featured native animal exhibits, amusement rides, and 30 or 90-minute glass-bottom boat tours of the springs. Upon Carmichael’s death he left the springs to the University of Florida

In 1993, the state acquired Silver Springs from the University of Florida, though the concessions continued to be operated privately. In 2013 the state took complete control, merging the springs with the adjacent parkland to create Silver Springs State Park. With reduced cost of admission and boat tour prices, the park has seen a steady upturn in popularity.

The outflow area has water depths that range from very shallow to over fifty feet and the water is so crystal clear it is difficult to believe you are looking at a bottom that far down. The spring feeds the Silver River that flows for three miles until it joins the Ocklawaha River in the Ocala National Forest which than flows into the St. John River. The area is home to dozens of species of fish, birds, alligators and manatees.

In its’ commercial days, Silver Spring also played host to a number of movie and television productions. It was home base for underwater shooting of Loyd Bridges’ Sea Hunt TV show, James Bond’s Moonraker and Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan movies. It also was the set for The Creature From The Black Lagoon and hosted scenes from Smokey And The Bandit.

 

In addition to a nice concession area and the glass-bottom boat docks, the park is a favorite of kayakers and has great hiking trails. The Florida Park Service is developing a number of new areas like a creative kids playground. It also plays host to concerts and a number of nature programs. Admission is only $2.00 with the boat rides being an additional $11.00.

 

 

Port of Call Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Heart of The Netherlands

Approaching The Netherlands from the North Sea cruise ships navigate the North Sea Canal. The canal runs from the IJmuiden locks to the Coenhaven. East of the Coenhaven, the waterway is called the River IJ (both letters are capitalized) and continues up to the Oranjesluizen locks located in the eastern part of Amsterdam. Than from the Oranjesluizen up to the Passenger Terminal in Amsterdam. Unfortunately ships that are transiting into Amsterdam often come in before dawn so as to be tied up early in the day. Passengers that are sailing out of Amsterdam late in the day get a much better appreciation of the systems that protect Holland from the North Sea.

Amsterdam is the largest city in the Netherlands famous for tulips, cheese, marijuana, red light districts and canals,. Many people call the country Holland but the true name is the Netherlands with Holland being the name of two of its states. The people are Dutch as is the name of their language.

The most important thing to know about Amsterdam is when walking in the city, pay attention and stay out of the bike lanes and watch out for bikes! Everyone rides bikes to get around in this city and in most areas there is a designated bike lane between the sidewalks and the street. The biggest mistake visitors make is seeing the traffic stop and step off the sidewalk without looking for bicycles. Keep you eyes open for bikes – a bicyclist moving at ten miles an hour can do a lot of damage to a pedestrian.

Where Your Ship Docks

Your ship will dock at the Cruise Terminal on the river IJ. The cruise facilities are modern with good access to public facilities. From the terminal it is just a 10-minute walk to the central train station. With the cruise ship at your back walk off to your right along the waterfront to reach the station and central Amsterdam.

Transportation

The cruise terminal is only a 20 minute ride from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and just a ten minute walk to Amsterdam Central Train station. There is also frequent train service from the station to Schiphol Airport. Amsterdam has an excellent and inexpensive bus system

The city is laid out like a fan with major streets radiating out from the Amsterdam Central Train station. The major canals arc across the fan along with a number of city streets. Most major streets are serviced by trams which run every few minutes.

Traveling within Amsterdam by public transportion is easy to understand and very convenient. The network is operated by GVB throughout the central city and connects its neighborhoods with trains, trams, metro, bus and ferry. The least expensive and most convenient way to see the city is with GVB day passes. Available from 1 to 7 days, with prices starting from €8.50 per person, per day and valid on trams, buses and metros operated throughout Amsterdam. You can buy your tickets in advance from the GVB website HERE.

Currency

The Netherlands, like other members of the EU uses the euro as its official currency. You will often discover that to avoid the use of the 1 and 2 cent coins, many cash transactions are rounded to the nearest five cents in the Netherlands. Credit and debit cards a commonly accepted but U.S. Dollars need to be changed into Euros.

Attractions

Anne Frank Museum

This is a beautiful city and great for walking (watch out for the bicycles!). Canals lined with boats are at every turn and like most major cities there are books dedicated to seeing this city. Museums, galleries, gardens and historic places are everywhere but often it’s just the cities neighborhoods that make a visit memorable.

Rijksmuseum – One of Amsterdam’s most popular attractions – and certainly its most important art repository – the Rijksmuseum was founded in 1809 to house the country’s huge collection of rare art and antiquities.

Van Gogh Museum – A must-visit for art fans and historians, the spectacular Van Gogh Museum has been one of Amsterdam’s top attractions since it opened in 1972.

Vondelpark – The largest and most visited park in Amsterdam, Vondelpark occupies 116 acres.

Keukenhof

The Anne Frank House – On the Prinsengracht, the Anne Frank Museum is dedicated to the all-too-short life of one of the world’s best-known Holocaust victims.

If you are visiting in the Spring (between 21 March to 10 May, 2020) a must see is the Keukenhof Gardens, one of the worlds largest flower festivals featuring acres of tulips. Visit our article on the Keukenhof  HERE.

 

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The Rise Of The Electric Scooters

Economical and Convient Transportation

Electric scooters waiting to be rented

They’re everywhere… zipping down busy streets, running on sidewalks and racing past bicycles in the bike lanes. They’re lime green electric scooters and you will find them in most large cities in France and probably most of Europe as well. You’ll see young men racing each other down streets and  couples sharing a scooter. On one day we saw two couples take a spill off their scooter, no injuries but it seems to require some coordination between the riders. You’ll see them leaning against buildings or dumped in alleys or standing in neat rows near major attractions. While long racks of rental bicycles have become common worldwide these scooters are a new phenomena.

They’re everywhere on the streets of Paris

We haven’t seen them much yet in major U.S. cities and oddly that’s where they hail from. Seattle to be precise and the company is called Lime (visit their website HERE). We spoke with one man in Lyon who said his son is making good money collecting them at the end of the day and charging them at his home. All of this seems to us a real accomplishment considering that two years ago we didn’t notice them at all.

When done – just leave them

While I am not sure that this senior couple is brave enough to take advantage of these scooters it does strike us as a really convenient and inexpensive way of getting around considering the cost of taxis and even Uber. We took a look at a scooter in Paris and learned that it costs €1 to start the scooter and €0.15 per minute to operate. That means that a one hour ride will cost €10 or less than $12. We’ve been told it’s really easy to set-up, you scan a code with your cellphone and set up an account. When you no longer need the scooter, you just log out of the rental and just leave the scooter where you are.

While we have read for years about auto clubs that intend to saturate a market with cars that would work like this, to our knowledge they have never materialized. This system seems to be really working and we expect to see these lime green scooters in every city worldwide.