Monday, April 23, 2018

Snapshots: Hadrian's Wall Path

My daily routine is pretty simple these days:
After a full English cooked breakfast, continue walking east across England, following the line of Hadrian's (Roman) Wall. If available, stop at a tearoom for a pot of tea and cake. At the end of the afternoon arrive at a comfortable bed and breakfast or inn for the night.
For a few days, two friends have joined the expedition. Our friendships total almost 100 years.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Road to Minneapolis: Mile 1

I'm walking across the narrowest part of England, following the course of Hadrian's (Roman) Wall. Construction of the wall started in the year 122, and some sections remain to this day.

The walk is 84 miles, which I'm comfortably spreading over 7 days. On the 8th day I fly home to Minneapolis.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Planning a Trip to Spain with Kids

Our nephews (9 and 10) attend a school where literacy skills are taught in English, but several other subjects, including math and science, are taught in Spanish.

It's a joy to see the boys use their skills. In 2016, they slipped unselfconsciously into Spanish when speaking with a server from Spain in our Edinburgh hotel.

In 2019, my partner and I will travel with our nephews and their parents to Spain. The trip will broaden our nephews' horizons, and provide them with practical opportunities to develop their Spanish. It will also be a fun, family vacation.

For me, it takes a mental change of gears to imagine a kid-friendly trip to Spain. During the past few days I've had the rather pleasant task researching seaside towns where we would begin and end the trip.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Madonna Writhed Here

I'm staying in an idiosyncratic 12-room hotel in the town of Ronda in Andalusia, Spain. My suite fills three floors in a tower: first floor, entrance and bathroom; second floor, sitting room; third floor, bedroom. I'm going to get a lot of exercise tonight.

I'm pretty sure my bed is the same bed Madonna used in her Take a Bow music video from her 1994 album, Bedtime Stories. Part of the video was shot in the hotel.

You must know the scene: it's the one where she writhes on a bed in her underwear.

[Warning: NSFW below the fold.]

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Travelling with Cultural Baggage

One of the challenges of travel is having to bring myself with me. If the trip is going to be more than passive entertainment, I have to try to erode my preconceived notions, prejudices, blindspots, and cultural programming.

This week I felt shock when I first saw the scene pictured at the top of this post. I had to remind myself I was in southern Spain, and not South Carolina.

Maybe this is just bad taste fancy dress. Then I saw whole families dressed up.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Snapshots: Hiking the Rota Vicentina, Southwest Portugal

The Rota Vicentina is a 450 km trail system in southwest Portugal. It includes the Fishermen's Trail along the rugged Atlantic coastline, the Historical Way that heads inland through rolling countryside, and loop trails that connect both worlds.

The system is good for point-to-point hiking where we moved to a different place each day, and hub-and-spoke hiking where we stayed in one place for a couple days.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Emptiness of Social Media

In the past couple days there have been over 13,000 views of the above post in my microblog. Thirty-nine strangers have "liked" it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Time I Visited a Moonie Commune

San Francisco, March 1977. I had just finished my first business trip to the USA, and was now spending a few days walking around San Francisco. I loved the place to the point that I had changed a flight so I could stay an extra two days.

At Fisherman's Wharf I chatted with a couple. They were about my age, and extremely pleasant.

I quickly figured out they were Moonies,. Their cult was notorious for brainwashing young people, estranging them from their families, then marrying them off in mass weddings

I had read about Divine Deception a Moonie principle that justifies lying to serve the greater purpose. I had fun saying things that I knew would be counter to their beliefs, and only getting smiles and affirmations in return.

Eventually, one said: "Hey, would you like to come to our commune?"

How could I refuse? I was 26 and invincible.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

An Incoming Snowstorm

Yesterday, with a big snowstorm promised, I rushed to get through some errands. It was starting to snow, the gritty sort that stings your face.

When the temperature hovers around freezing, we get the gritty kind. This is sometimes preceded by freezing rain then sloppy snow as the temperature drops. As the temperature continues to fall, the snow becomes drier and lighter. Towards 0°F we get the fluffy, dry kind that squeaks underfoot.

I'd read that indigenous people in the far north have over fifty words for snow. These days I tend to mistrust everything I read, so I started Googling on my phone. A Washington Post headline shouted "There really are 50 Eskimo words for ‘snow’." This got me suspicious as "Eskimo" is a controversial term, best avoided.