Wednesday, August 25, 2010

#38 - visiting Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin, Ireland

The history of Ireland's struggle for independence is to a great degree housed in Europe's largest unused prison. Kilmainham Gaol was closed by the new Irish Free State shortly after independence was reached.  For 128 years it housed prisoners.  It was an unsegregated prison with men, women and even children (the youngest thought to be 7 years old) in 92 square ft. cells with 5 people per cell.

The jail was restored as a museum starting in the 60's and is now run by an Irish Government Agency.  It now houses the history of the fight for independence, and the sad history of famous executions.  It was here that 14 leaders of the Easter uprising in 1916 were executed, and black crosses mark the location of the executions. 

Dublin hotels in the city centre of Dublin are within a few minutes of Kilmainham Gaol.  Items such as the death mask of Robert Emmet, and the history of the Irish rebellion and struggle make this a must visit in Ireland.  This makes my bucket list of 1,000 things to do before I die.

The last prisoner of Kilmainham Gaol, Eamonn De Valera later became the Prime Minister of Ireland and then the President of Ireland.  Your stop at the gaol may encourage you to more honorable goals.

Update #7 - Headed for Burning Man

Today I leave Scott Veatch's house helping to pull a trailer with this contraption on it.  This big shopping cart is called the blue light special.  Scott and his friend Jeff built this thing, and it will be one of the mutant vehicles at the Burning man event, and a part of the Spirit Cafe's outreach to the Burner's.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Visiting Old Dark London - #37

Some years ago, my friend Mike took me on a tour of London, which included among other things some of the famous occultist Aleister Crowley's haunts.  Always up for a little mystery, and coming from the significantly more occultly pregnant city of Salem, Massachusetts, I was excited to be led on a short tour of this sort in downtown London, by my good friend the Neo-Shaman.

The UK is the birthplace of modern Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism as we know it today, and London of course is going to be "the spot" for learning much of this history.

Atlantis Bookshop was one of the strange old man's frequented places, and it still stands, and is still active today.  This is also true for Watkin's Books, which has been around for over a hundred years.

Locations such as 67-69 Chancery Lane where the strange old occultist once lived, and practiced his arts can be seen, and The Plough - a Pub and another hangout on Museum Street should be stopped at.  These dark and peculiar places in London bring you back to the turn of the century over a hundred years ago, and can give you a significantly creepy sense - unless of course, like me, you are comfortable learning about our wild, weird and wonderfully diverse world.

This is on my list of 1,000 things to do before I die.  I haven't died yet, and I've accomplished it - and it didn't kill me.

When you make this a part of you trip to London you will want to find hotels in London City Centre with parking.

For more info a Crowleys Haunts you can check this page describing a Crowley tour.

Las Vegas without the Lost Wages - #36

I am not a gambler.  I am not the kind of person who likes to go into the big cities when I travel - at least not for long, but I have gone for quite a few Holidays to Las Vegas.

Now, I have been there quite a lot because it was my halfway stop from Southern California to Utah each summer.  Yes, it is a gambler's paradise, but it has become more than that.  Shows, concerts, sporting events fill the schedule of the city's event list, but this is not the thing which captures my attention in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas is a great place for wandering around at night simply to look.  It is an architect's paradise with wildly designed hotel casinos in every possible theme.  Fountains dance, roller coasters fly through the air, lights beam through the sky, and ships attack one another and the Brittania sinks on the Strip at Treasure Island Hotel and Casino.  Wandering Las Vegas during the night is certainly worth putting on a list of one thousand things to do before you die - even if like me, you don't gamble.

St Stephen's: Canada's Chocolate Town

Just over the border crossing in Calais, ME you enter the heart of downtown St. Stephen's, New Brunswick.  A right hand turn takes you past the interactive chocolate museum, which tells the story of rise of the Ganong Brother's success in candy making starting in the late 19th century in St. Stephen's.  A block further brings you to the well run, and friendly visitor center.

St. Stephen's is a slightly out of the way stop on the way into Canada's eastern shores.  Route 1 in Canada has been re-developed and runs around the city now, but the old Main Street in Calais, ME still brings you to the old border crossing.

I stopped here on my way back from paddling the Bay of Fundy to visit some friends who work and run St. Stephen's University.  I had to stay longer to visit the chocolate museum, and buy some wonderful Canadian chocolate to bring home to friends.

Don't travel the east coast of Canada without stopping here.  Especially if you have kids.  The interactive chocolate museum is a wonderful hands on experience.  I like Canada's Atlantic Coast.  I'm hooked on the Bay of Fundy, and St. Stephen's will be a regular stop for me on my Holidays to Canada.