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In Dublin Fair City #travel

During our recent cruise we stopped for a day in Dublin. We’ve visited Dublin before, but it was fun reacquainting ourselves with the city. Drummers welcomed us as we disembarked from the cruise ship.

Dublin_WelcomeDrummers

Our first stop was to the Georgian House Museum in Fitzwilliam Street. Mrs Beatty, the widow of a wine merchant, was the first occupant of the house. The house is furnished and appears as it would have during 1790 – 1820 period. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take photos, but it was well worth the visit. Dublin has lots of Georgian buildings, and I enjoy the elegance of this time period.

Dublin_Georgian Doors

Two doors for Georgian townhouses.

Our next destination was The Book of Kells and the Long Room at Trinity College. The queue was long but I passed the time chatting with the man in front of me in the line. He was there with his wife and two adult children in a family reunion of sorts. My advice to anyone intending to visit in the future is to buy your tickets online before you go. It makes the wait much shorter!

The Book of Kells exhibition was crowded, but the illuminated manuscripts are beautiful – so much artistry in the illustrations. It was exacting work and done by more than one scribe. Due to the delicate nature of the manuscripts, no photos were allowed.

My book lover’s heart was looking forward to the Long Room, part of the Trinity College library. It is floor to ceiling with books and so impressive. It thrilled me.

Dublin_TrinityCollege Long Room

Dublin_TrinityCollege Long Room Shelley

This is me in the Long Room. Check out those ladders to get to the top shelves.

Dublin_TrinityCollege Long Room 2

Dublin is full of history. Dublin Castle is mainly 18th century in origin, although a castle has stood on this site for much longer. It is open to the public, apart from during state functions. We merely admired the exterior.

Dublin_Dublin Castle

A view of Dublin Castle

Dublin_TempleBar

Temple Bar is the cultural and entertainment center of Dublin. It’s full of pubs, expensive drinks and tourists. U2 own a bar here.

The weather for our day in Dublin was fantastic. The locals were out in force too, and I’ve never seen so many people with red hair. A lot of pale skin was on display due to the heat. I managed to get a bit burned and I had sunscreen, so I imagine there were lots of sunburnt people that night.

If you’re in the market for knitwear, there are some beautiful jumpers, hats and scarves available to purchase. I dragged hubby around several stores in my search for an Irish green scarf. Mission complete. I’ve worn it a lot this winter and get lots of compliments since it is a bit different to those in New Zealand.

We had a fantastic day, did heaps of walking and got enough culture to make me happy. Dublin is a fun city to visit for a day or longer.

Hot Springs, South Dakota – Graveyard for Mammoths #travel

A Smithsonian article turned up in my inbox this week about mammoths that lived on an island in the Bering sea. They became extinct on this island around 5600 years ago and experts have concluded this happened because rising sea waters contaminated the water table and therefore their water supply.

This reminded me of our visit to Hot Springs in South Dakota a few years ago. The city of Hot Springs is the southern gateway to the Black Hills. In 1974 a construction crew were working on a building site and hit a tusk. They called experts who found a site full of bones, and what turned out to be a huge Columbian mammoth gravesite.

The area was once a sinkhole and over the years, many mammoths and other animals fell in, and unable to climb back out, they perished.

The site has turned into the largest collection of mammoth skeletons found in the United States. They have found 60 mammoth skeletons and at least three woolly mammoth skeletons.

Work on the site is on-going and volunteers are still uncovering new finds.

Mammoth_dig site

Mammoth_skeleton 2

Mammoth_skeleton

You can see the skeletons and tusks in the above photos of mammoths that ventured too close to the sink hole and died.

Mammoth_Beauty

This particular head and tusks is known as Beauty because it is so beautifully preserved and symmetrical.

Mammoth_Columbian

This is a life-size model of a Columbian mammoth, and that’s hubby standing in front of it so you can get an idea of the size. The tusks are huge, and the mammoths must have been a fearsome sight in the flesh.

We loved our visit to the mammoth site. It was fascinating, and we spent some time wandering around and taking photos. If you live anywhere near Hot Springs or are visiting the area, I highly recommend a visit.

Loose With Llamas in Dartmoor National Park #travel

Llamas originate from South America and are closely related to the camel. They are domestic animals, used for packing supplies. Their feet are padded, which allows them to travel easily over rocky terrain without disturbing vegetation, and they’re capable of navigating very narrow paths.

Llamas are gentle animals, and this good temperament combined with their ability to pack supplies has birthed a new type of eco-tourism tour—Llama trekking.

Llama and Hubby Looking at View

I’ve wanted to go llama trekking ever since I saw a special interest piece on our local television a couple of years ago. I was thrilled to discover they did llama trekking in Dartmoor National Park in Devon and immediately showed hubby.

“We should do this,” I said.

After discussing the tour and how to fit it in to our schedule, we duly booked. As our tour approached, I watched the weather and crossed my finger it wouldn’t rain.

There were four of us trekking plus the two owners. Each of us had a llama each plus there was one alpaca. I volunteered to be in charge of the alpaca. I mean, who can resist their adorable faces.

Llama Trek Shelley

The tour was two and a half hours long with an afternoon tea break—a Devon cream tea—at the halfway point.

Llama Start at Trek

This is the start of our tour where we met our llamas and my alpaca. We were given a quick talk then off we went.

Llama on Dartmoor

We walked up hill and down hill…

Llama Trek Dartmoor Ponies

We came across some of the other wildlife – a herd of Dartmoor ponies.

Llama and View

We took in the glorious views then stopped for a delicious afternoon tea of home made scones, jam and clotted cream with a cup of tea.

Llama Trek Shelley and Paul

The walk over (3 miles of walking), we posed with our companions and said goodbye.

Those rumors about spitting llamas…evidently, they only spit at each other and are well-behaved with humans. Our llamas were well-behaved and high with the cuteness factor.

I’m a llama trekking convert, and would happily recommend trekking to any animal lover. I can’t wait to repeat the experience!

Jane Austen Writes Up a Storm in Chawton #travel

Jane Austen, author of novels such as Pride and Prejudice, Emma and Mansfield Park, moved to Chawton on 7 July 1809. Her brother Edward, who was adopted by the Knights, provided the cottage for his mother and two sisters after he inherited the estate left to him by the Knights.

These days, Chawton in Hampshire, England is a delightful village with a tea shop, a pub, a community hall, a church and some pretty thatched cottages. The house where Jane Austen lived with her mother and sister is directly opposite the tea shop and is now a museum dedicated to Jane.

A short drive away is Chawton House, the estate owned by Edward Knight, Jane’s brother. Edward lived elsewhere and let this estate to tenants. The Chawton House Library is also situated here—a special library featuring works of women writers from 1600 – 1830. Unfortunately, this was closed on the day we visited but the setting is beautiful.

This is a picture of the cottage from the main street.

Jane Austen_Front House

This is a picture from within the gardens, which are surprisingly big and full of plants for healing and also for dying fabrics different colors.

Jane Austen_Side House

During our visit to England this time, I was surprised by the fact that many of the historical properties allowed photos (as long as the photographer didn’t use flash) and in many places we were allowed to touch and open cupboards. Most of the places we visited also had clothes available to try out. I couldn’t resist trying a Regency bonnet. What do you think?

England__Chawton

Jane wrote many of her most famous books while at Chawton. Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma. It amused me to see that Jane experienced publisher problems too. With me, it is the Publisher Who Shall Not Be Named, but Jane’s publisher didn’t want to publish a second edition of Mansfield Park. A new publisher called John Murray approached her, and she ended up publishing with him. While she was generally happy with her new publisher, she felt he took too long to get her books to market.

They have Jane’s writing table in the museum. It is made of walnut and has twelve sides. It is quite tiny and wouldn’t do at all for a present-day writer!

Jane Austen_Desk

Jane became ill and in May 1817, she and her sister Cassandra moved to nearby Winchester to be near a doctor. They lived in this house, which is now privately owned.

Jane Austen_Winchester House

Jane is buried in Winchester Cathedral.

Jane Austen_Winchester Cathedral

Are you a Jane Austen fan?

Travel: A Younger Me with Braids

20070821232009_bangui, car

This is another photo of a younger me. It was taken in the Central African Republic after the local ladies came to our campsite and braided our hair. I kept my hair like this for a few weeks, and when I finally took the braids out, I looked like the wicked witch of the west. Lots of frizz and hair sticking out in all directions!

Hubby got his beard braided, but that’s an entirely different post…

Have you ever had your hair braided?

Forbidden City, Beijing #travel

Forbidden City Roof

This is another photo taken in the Forbidden city, Beijing. The carvings and figures on the roof are amazing. The roof design allows people to see the figures easily and they add a decorative touch. The figures all have meanings, and they were only used on important buildings such as palaces, government buildings and temples.

Exploring the Forbidden City #travel

ForbiddenCity

This is me in the Forbidden City in Beijing. This previous imperial palace is now a large museum. We visited twice while we were in Beijing and spent hours wandering around the huge complex. Lots of color and beautiful buildings. Lots of people too, although we were early enough to avoid the worst of the crowds.

White Desert, Egypt #travel

This is the last of the photos in my series of shots of the White Desert in Egypt.

White Desert Shelley Munro

This is me sitting on one of the white rock formations in the White Desert. And yes, I was having a very bad hair day since we’d been camping for several days and it was stinking hot. This photo was taken toward the end of the day, not long before the sun set.

White Desert 5, Egypt #travel

White Desert Formation

A close up of one of the rock formations in the White Desert, Egypt. They are amazing, formed by wind and sand action. The rock is white, hence the name of the desert.

White Desert 3, Egypt #travel

White Desert Night

At night, the White Desert in Egypt becomes a magical place and very beautiful.