Friday, October 17, 2014

Just In Case I Don't Get Back... Travel Makes a Wise Man Better

Hey all,

If you're reading this, I'm still not set up completely in Lima, Peru.  Jonathon and I are off on a week long road trip from Lima, down to the Nazca Lines, to Pampas Galeras (a national preserve where we can see wild vicuna), to Colca Canyon (home of the condors), to Lake Titicaca, and finally to Arequipa's UNESCO Santa Catalina Monastery.  

I'm sure it will be a really fascinating experience, and I can't wait to share it all with you next Friday. 

Until then, I'm recycling another older blog that got a lot of great response.  And just as a heads up, my usual FREE READ should be up and ready on schedule.  YAY!!!!

Until then, please enjoy this blast from the past!!!  A look at traveling that holds true here in South America just as it did in Europe.


~~~Meine Mama hat immer gesagt, das Leben ist wie eine Schachtel Pralinen, man weiƟ nie, was man kriegt~~~

Hey all,

The above quote is in German, and for those of you who don't speak the language, don't go translate it quite yet.  See if you can figure it out by the clues in this blog.  *smile*

As you all know, we moved from Zurich, Switzerland to Dusseldorf, Germany.  We rented a car for less than it cost to fly--even with the one way fee--because Jonathon had gotten to know the manager there at Europcar in Zurich, and he was able to make us a really great deal.  I'd much rather drive than fly--you see so much more of the country AND you don't have to deal with all the mess at the airports and customs.  

Plus, there is that all important aspect that you can find all kinds of amazing things on your way.  We call them distractions...things you see along the way that you 1) stop and explore immediately or 2) add to your already expansive Bucket List, to do later.   Depends on your time and inclination.  

On the way to Dusseldorf, we ran across this amazing church in the town of Limburg, Germany.  It sits above the town like a king on a throne and is the quintessential German-looking church.  Called the Cathedral of Saint George, it's distinctive yellow and brown gingerbread architecture can be seen for miles.  Absolutely gorgeous.  We couldn't stop, so it's added to our list to visit when our daughter comes for a visit.  She loves churches, too.

Finding something like this is like getting a box of chocolates for Christmas.  You open it up and you see all the yummy goodies inside, but you don't know what each one will taste like until you give it a try.

And that, my friends, in a nutshell, is what traveling is all about.

We never know what we're getting into.  It's exciting and scary and irritating, all at once.  For me, who loves to know her plans months in advance (except for writing where I NEVER know what I'm going to write until I dream it) this is quite a stretch.  I've learned not to expect much, so I'm usually happy with what we get.  Especially in a hotel room.

Will we have a big enough bed? (in China a double bed was considered HUGE)  Will we have a view or the city or a parking lot? (or the building next door--lovely *sigh*) Will there be enough room to move around or will the room be the size of a closet? (only Paris was small and it was still big enough to maneuver--carefully) Will we (please God, let it be so...) have a refrigerator and an ironing board?  

Simple things, yet important to daily living.

Then there is getting around in the city.  Will the public transportation systems be easy to navigate?  Will we be close by the city center or out in the boonies?  Near the circus tent or on the other side of town?  Will we have a grocery store nearby or will I be hoofing it or taking a tram?  Will Google map work properly or is it blocked?  (Here in Germany I can only use it for part of the public system--VERY irritating!!!)

Think of it this way.  You've moved your family to a new city.  That means you have to start from scratch, setting up your household.  You have to find schools, the best shops, how to get to work and where all the activities are.  Now multiply that times forty-three (the number of cities this show has been in since it's inception) and you'll have an idea of the challenge we go through each time we move.

Don't get me wrong.  The benefits are OUTSTANDING.  Where else can you travel on someone else's dime, see landmarks and famous sites all over the world and have a chance to do all those things on your bucket list?

And you never know exactly what the next day may have in store for you.  A scary thought for me at first, but it's just a way of life.

Who knew running away to join the circus would be so much fun?

Be back next Friday with more fun!

PS...Have you figured out the quote? *VBG*

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Pictorial Look At Our Time In Chile

Hey all,

We're on the road as I write this, so I don't have a lot of time.  But I wanted to give you some of the highlights of the fun we had during our time in Santiago, Chile as well as the road trips we took out of the city.

I hope you enjoy this look back as much as I did putting it together!!!  In no specific order, here are some of my favorite pics!!!

The best part of living in Santiago are the views of the Andes Mountains.  If it was a clear day, (and that was usually a 50-50 chance) the mountains stood tall and proud all around us.  One of the best views out of our hotel room window since we've been on tour.

For those of you who, like me, love seeing the beautiful tombs and sculptures at cemeteries.  I can now honestly say I've seen cemeteries in five continents and each one is so very different.  Santiago's General Cemetery is filled with history, beauty and sadness.

No matter where I went in Santiago, there were beautiful buildings, with artwork, sculptures and amazing colors and shapes.  The following pics are just a few of what I saw.

The Artequin Museum.  Once a showcased building in the 1889 Paris Exhibition, it was dismantled and brought back to Chile.  Now it is an interactive museum for both kids and adults to learn about world famous paintings from all over the world.

The Belles Art Museum is just a gorgeous building, both inside and out.

The Contemporary Art Museum.  Another lovely building.

And of course, there are the churches.  This first one is called Basilica de Loudres

This is the inside of the Convento San Francisco.  A lovely little church and fascinating museum.

There is so much more I could show you about Santiago, Chile, but I'm out of space.  So let's take a look at our out of town trips.  First off, a picture of Pucon, Chile.  Volcanic mountains and clear blue lakes.  So very beautiful.

This is the lake in Park Nacional Huerquehue.  Home of the Monkey Puzzle Tree!!!

Our next outing was our dive trip to Pichidangui.  Cool little town with some lovely coastline and "friendly critters".

Our last weekend out was to Valparaiso and Pomaire.  Two great towns with very different flavors.

This first set of pics were taken in Valparaiso.  The famous skyline is so colorful.
The elevators and funiculars are both fun and scary.  We rode several of these special "ascensors" as we wandered the town.

Valparaiso is famous for it's street art.  I could do a blog on it all by itself.  But these were two of my favorites.  Amazing work.

And on the way home from Valparaiso, we stopped in the tiny town of Pomaire.  Known for it's special pottery, it is a fun little place with lots of small stores, restaurants and vendors.  We had a blast.

The pottery...

Pomaire is also known for it's GIANT empanadas.  Delicious, but be careful!!!  They don't take the bones out of the chicken before they bake it.

There is so much more about Chile I wish I could share, but I just don't have the time.  I'm already a day late getting this out.  I just hope you enjoy sharing my adventures.  Chile is now one of my favorite countries, and I'd love to come back.

Now as you read this, we're on another road trip.  This time we're in Peru, heading south from Lima.  We're off to see the famous Nazca lines, take a taste of Pisco, chase down some Vicunas, dip our toes in Lake Titicaca and wander the historical town of Arequipa.  

I adore traveling!!!!
Until next week...

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Friday, October 3, 2014

Author! Author! Another Amazing Author!

Hey all,

It's the last week I have here in Santiago, and I'll be busy, busy, busy, but I wanted to share another new author I've discovered.  I don't have much time to read, so when I do find an author I like, I totally grab everything they have.

This time it's Cynthia Eden.

Like the last author, I already had several of her books, and I started with the Bound by Blood series.  As you can imagine, this is a paranormal series complete with vampires, shapeshifters, and other supernatural beings.  While only short stories, they still had decent world building, and were filled with hot romance, and great characters.

Since then I've read several of the series she has, and I have to say my favorite so far is the Deadly series.  It's an law procedural series about a special FBI unit that takes down serial killers.   Awesome!  Especially the first one, Deadly Fear.

Another great series--another law procedural--is the For Me series.  I really enjoyed this one too.  Each are more like stand-alones, though they have ties to each other, and deal with some pretty nasty killers.  But the way Ms. Eden gets from point A to point B is really cool.

And the biggest plus for me is that her books aren't just about romance and sex.  They also have just the right amount of emotion in them, enough to make you truly care about the characters.

I can highly recommend this author if you enjoy sexy romance, emotion packed stories and excellent world building.  There is a reason she is a best selling author!  Check her out for yourself and see.

Until next week.

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Friday, September 26, 2014

It's All About the Red, White and Blue in Chile, too!!!!

Hey all,

Sorry about missing last week.  As I mentioned, our internet was down and it was just fixed on Wednesday.  Apparently there was something disconnected down in the bowels of the hotel and it took forever for them to find it.

But they did, and now we're up and going again.  I can get online AND upload pics for the blog, which is what prevented me before.

Anyway, today's blog is about the really interesting time we had during the Chilean Independence Day holidays that take place on September 18th and 19th.  Actually, this country is sooooo into their independence activities, they sometimes start on Monday and go through the whole of the week!

This year's holiday fell on a Thursday and Friday, so that made it even better for the locals.  Many of them wound up with a four day weekend.  Cirque didn't even bother trying to put on shows on the 18th and 19th.  Everyone is so busy out celebrating, they knew no one would come to the performance!!!!!

Awesome for us because we had the two days off and we had a wonderful time seeing everything.  It was very different in some ways than what we do in the USA, but in other ways, it was a lot the same.  The celebrations may have been dissimilar, but the family get togethers--picnics and BBQs in the park--they were very much the same.  People hanging together and enjoying the day.

Thursday the 18th is the actual Fiestas Patrias (Independence Day) celebration.  This day celebrates the beginning of the war that freed Chile from Spanish rule.  You can read the particulars HERE.  Like we do in the states, there are festivities, parades and celebrations all over town.  Here is Santiago, you could find a party in almost every park in the city.  We went to two of them.  One on each day.

Thursday's park was where they was this HUGE exhibition, rodeo, arts and crafts fair, carnival and enough wonderful food and drink, you never wanted to leave.  We went because I was curious about what a Chilean rodeo was like (see HERE for info on that), but we stayed because that was just a part of the fun!  But it's easier to show you than tell you, so here are some pics of our day.

 The main reason I wanted to go to this park celebration was the rodeo.  Since I used to do some myself, I was curious as to what the Chilean's did.  And I discovered it's very different than ours.  Read the above Wikipedia info on it.  Here two riders guide the steer.  The horses are just amazing.  And the skill...I was very impressed.

This shows you some of the different chamantos (ponchos) the Huasos (cowboys) wear.  Each pair of riders wore the same colors. 

A lot of the crowd wore the traditional outfits and dancing broke out in different places.  It was a lot of fun to watch.

They also had a stage where they did a bunch of folk dancing.  The crowd was insane, but we enjoyed watching what we could.

Did I mention the amazing food?  Check these pics out...

A side of beef over an open fire.  Totally YUM!!!

 Of course once it's cooked, they make these brochettes.  Meat, peppers, bread and sausage.  They are huge and delicious.

And for desert, you can have your pic of sweets.  A huge assortment of candy...

Or, freshly made churros. With powdered sugar or stuffed with dulce leche.  Both so very good!!!

One of the performances.  The dance of the condor. 

Jonathon just liked the girls.  LOL

And finally, at the carnival, remember the old standard ring toss?  Well they do it right here in Chile.  Here they toss for alcohol!  Awesome!!!!

Then on Friday, we went to a different park.  O'Higgens, where they also had a festival, but because September 19th is what we would call Armed Forces day, they had several hours of military parades and displays.  And I have to say it was pretty impressive.  They had fly-overs by just about every kind of plane you can imagine.  Paratroopers that landed in the field before the actual parade started and then line upon line of every kind of soldier you can imagine.  And not just Chilean, either.  There were soldiers from other countries and even the UN.  There were military machines, calvery troops and even canines and their handlers.  It was pretty cool.

This park was were everyone flew their kites, which is another thing EVERYONE does on this holiday.  Seriously, I've never seen so many kites in the air.  And in the trees.  Remember the kite eating trees of Charlie Brown's cartoons?  Well, they are alive and well in Santiago, Chile.

But, again, so much easier to show you than write about it.  Here are some of the fun things we saw on this part of the holiday.

The entrance to the exhibition area.  Bright and colorful.

Music went on all day long.  This band, called Tikitiklip, showed native legends on the video while they sang the accompanying songs.  Very cool performance.

Food and wine Chilean style.

One of the traditional drinks here in Chile and a new favorite.  The Terremoto (earthquake).  Sweet white wine (or some vendors offered red), poured over pineapple ice cream/sherbet, then topped with grenadine.  Add a floater of vodka or tequila if you want.  Delicious!!!!!!

Part of the airshow.  Really beautiful to see all the planes in the air.

As I mentioned.  Lots of kids and kites.  These pics don't do it justice.  The sky was FILLED with kites.

Since I'm a dog lover, I enjoyed watching this part of the parade.  I was surprised when I didn't see dobermans and rottweilers.  Mostly German shepherds, Retrievers and Labradors.

There were at least a dozen horse brigades on parade.  The animals were so very beautiful and the riders so proud.

One of the many, many units on parade here.  There were over 150 different commands for the public to see and appreciate.

And of course, what's a parade without a band?  There were several here all playing traditional music for the holiday.

Even the UN showed off their stuff.  These vehicles were something right out of the movies.

A look at the huge crowd that filled the park.  And this was only on the grass.  Trying to get through the food vendors to the exit was crazy!

So you can see, it was a busy and totally fun two day holiday.  I love seeing how other cultures celebrate and this was one of the best we've done.  We had a blast, so much fun in fact, we came home and told everyone else about it so they could go out and do it themselves!  LOL

I may miss the USA, but at least here in Chile, I was able to have a taste of what I remember doing on our own 4th of July holiday.  They may celebrate it a bit differently down here, but I promise you, the fun, pride and respect for their past is very much the same.

Until next week...

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams