Exploring Sites Through a New Lens

It is not often that one can say, “Wow what a great trip!”  But that is exactly how this vacation started.  We went to Kingsland, GA (a major naval submarine base) to visit family.  It was wonderful family gathering.

We actually stayed in the seaside town nearby called St. Mary’s, GA.  It was here in this small coastal city that the television show, Royal Pains, http://www.usanetwork.com/royalpains was filmed.  They created the park area along the waterfront into a New Hampton community.  Also, in St. Mary’s  ” The Kindness Rock Project” flourishes.  If you have not heard of it please visit its website http://www.thekindnessrocksproject.com20170422_203401

St. Mary’s sits along the Cumberland River.  We stayed at this old fashion Bed and Breakfast, the Goodbread House (www.goodbreadhouse.com).  It is decorated with antiques and have charming names for their rooms.  We stayed in the Scarlett and Brett room. It is quite charming and Mardga, the proprietor, is a character herself.  There is a full breakfast in the morning and wine and sweets at night. We have stayed there before and have loved it.  It is like being home.  An additional plus for us is that they accept pets.

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On this trip, we decided to visit Cumberland Island http://cumberlandisland.com which is noted for its feral horses and John F. Kennedy Jr. wedding chapel.  We weren’t sure how my husband would do with a lot of walking after having a couple of ablations for his  irregular heart rate so we took the land and legacy tour.  After a 45 minute ferry ride, you are greeted by your guide that assigns you to a nine passenger vehicle. Up front, you are informed about the bumpy roads and the dense foliage until you reach the various destinations.  The guide promises that you we see lots of feral horses.

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Most of the island is owned and operated by the National Park Service but some of the island is still privately owned.  All together, the trip is about 8 hours.  We thoroughly enjoyed our guide.  He was extremely knowledgeable about the history of the sites and of the island.  But if I was in charge of the tour,  I would give guest time to take the 20 min walk to the beach at the beginning or at the end near the “Dungeness” house (Lucy Carnegee’s fire destroyed home) where the van can pull up close to the beach line for those that want to walk out.  This is were most of the horses are and were you will see them in a unique setting.  At this time, there are several controversy about how the island should remain– a) should the private homes be bought out by the park services (even though some building Park owns are not maintained); b) should the present land owners be allowed to sub divide their properties and build more; or c) cut down on tourist and further development and remove the feral horses.

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We were very saddened by the horses.  Many people that I have met over my 3 trips to St. Mary went to Cumberland for the horses.  However, the island’s code is that all the animals are under the philosophy of self preservation.  No one cares for any of them.  However, we were informed that there are two hunting season to keep the deer and especially the wild boar population down.  Also, when the turtles are nesting, shields are placed around them to protect the eggs from the wild animals.  So why not drop some hay for the horses!!!!  Most of them were in poor shape but we did see a new born.

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As I stated earlier, the days were good, the people were friendly, our accommodations were great and our family gatherings were enjoyable.

So how could this vacation get any better.  but it did.  More later.  It is time to take my newly adopted dog, (Creole Poodle) Peanut for his afternoon walk.20170408_120215

Making Connections

Fitting in to another country culture and understanding  their nuances requires one to be more open and accepting of differences.  I find it is helpful to learn some basic greetings and to use them even though it may be said incorrectly. I think that the effort is appreciated — Bonjour, Bonsoir, C’est bon!

An interesting aspect of southern European countries, that I have found is their desire to be part of life and a sense of place. They enjoy conversation and being a part of gatherings. Life moves at a much slower pace. In other words, “Stop and smell the roses.” I was amazed when I looked this quote up that it is attributed to golfer extraordimageinaire, Walter Hager. Huh! never would have guessed that.

We did just that!  We stopped at a market and there were 100 of bouquets.  May 29 is mother’s day in France and flowers were in bundles throughout the markets and flower shop.

Besides learning how to form a relationship to a new country, I find when traveling with tour companies the same aspects applies to your fellow travelers.  Each person personality and knowledge adds another layer to the historical fact we are learning about thus, creating an additional dimension to what we are experiencing.  It is the human aspect both past and present that creates our stories.

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At this medieval church we visited was a French archaeologist who was in front of the church starting a dig  not only to find the foundation to the missing portico but to see if there are any human remains( Angers, France). Our conversation with her was impromtu but most fascinating

Getting Ready

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!  Where do we want to go? Do we do want to plan it ourselves or do we go on a Tour?  How much can we spend?  These things can be seen as a hassle or as Rick Steves says, ” it can be part of the experience.”

To me the hardest part is making the decision, once that choice is made, the planning kinda flows.  It comes down to your window of time, passport expiration date, and the airline choices. Then, it is selecting your itinerary–the places to see, the tours to take and selection of hotels or the researching of tour companies that best match the things and places you want to experience.  Don’t forget to use all available resources in your research (google, friends, bookstores (Barnes and Noble), travel agencies (AAA)).

Do your homework: check on travel insurance, passport expiration date, country’s weather, contact credit card company, check on your regular payments due date so you do not incur late charges, make copies of passport and other important documents, leave an itinerary and a contact number with family member, and contact your phone company for international travel service.   This is just a snippet of things that should be done prior to leaving.  A more detailed list can be found in travel books.

Whew, just writing this list takes my breath away.  And yes, my husband and I do want to travel.  As with anything worth doing, time and preparation are important.