Budapest, an Historical City in Modern Times 1/7

Written by Harold McNeill on April 11th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


Budapest Danube and Parliament

Photo (hdm):  Taken from a walkway just below the Buda Castle and overlooking the Danube toward the Parliament Buildings.

Introduction

Those new to reading posts on this blog will note many stories contain substantial social comment. This is less true in the Travelogue Section. While the sights and sounds of a new town, city or country are extremely interesting, what really piques my interest in the fabric of the society and the history of the people.  Meeting young people is also important, as it is young people who will largely define how well a country will meet the challenges of the future.

The experience of sailing up the Danube on the River Beatrice from Budapest, Hungary to Passau, Germany with stops in Slovakia and Austria, then overland to Prague in the Czech Republic, provided plenty of material upon which to comment. My impressions of how people have overcome the challenges experienced over the most recent century were overwhelmingly positive. It has never ceased to amaze me how the people of Europe, as mortal enemies in one decade or series of decades, have overcome their differences and become open, friendly trading partners in the next.

While part of the story of our travels will be presented in narrative form, photographs taken by Esther Dunn and myself (using identical Panasonic camera’s that we managed to mix up more than once) will be used to tell ‘the rest of the story.’ In a few instances, photos have been plucked from the Web in order to flesh out a storyline for those areas in which signs indicated “photography not allowed”. While I can normally overcome such instructions (these signs are usually posted for commercial reasons) I did manage to occasionally restrain myself. Each of the photos will be identified by the source.

Now to the stories of our travels along the Danube.

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Travel Planning (4/4)

Written by Harold McNeill on March 13th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


Above: Holland America Cruise Ship Navigates the Canale Giudecca,
the main entrance to Venice

With its hundreds of canals, waterways and narrow channels that divide the city like an intricate web, you never feel stressed, pressed or on edge, as is often the case in the core of large cities filled with cars, trucks, busses, trollies and other forms of wheeled transport. It is amazing how a city can be transformed when you take away that traditional traffic. Even when Venice is filled to capacity with people, as it was during part of our visit, you can still find elbow room, space to relax, fresh air and a quiet spot on a sidewalk cafe overlooking the water.

No wonder it is a major port of call for the dozens of cruise ships that criss-cross the Adriatic, Mediterranean and Agean Seas.  Even though Lynn and I arrived by train from France after meandering across Germany, Switzerland and Northern Italy, it is just as easy to head directly to Venice if your interests lay in the more southerly ports of call.

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Venice: Biennial Contemporary Art Exhibition (3/4)

Written by Harold McNeill on March 11th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


Note: The following four part Travelogue is from a tour Lynn and I made in 2009. It was first posted live to Facebook and is being reposted here along with more photographs taken during the trip.

A City of Art

It was not possible to spend nearly a week in Venice without being influenced by the art. It was our good fortune to land in the city right in the middle of the Biennale Contemporary Art Exhibition, an exhibition that has been staged almost continuously for over the past 100 years. The several hundred displays sprinkled throughout the city seemed to focus mostly on social issues around the world and one could barely travel a block without being drawn into an temporary or permanent exhibit.

While I am no critic and there is much I do not understand about contemporary art, during the viewing of hundreds of paintings, sketches, photos, sculptures, carvings, as well as music, dance, film and other avante guard art forms around the city, it was not possible to be anything but deeply moved by the many inequities and social injustices that have occurred, and continue to occur, in virtually every country of the world. The Canadian presentations – one that focused on skid-row of the downtown East Side of Vancouver and another involving the native community – brought into close focus inequities that exist in our own country.

I suppose tapping into deep emotions is the objective of contemporary art as the artists attempt to shock the viewer into gaining another perspective on our world. The feelings evoked in me were strong, even when filtered through the lens of the affluence to which many of us have become so accustomed in Canada, the United States and many of the countries through which we have traveled.

In order to insert some of our own experience of the contrasts, included are a few photos of the extreme affluence we noted in some European cities, one in particular being a three block section of Zurich referred to as the Bahnhofstrasse 84, where the ostentatious display of wealth was beyond my understanding.  The story of Zurich will be posted later.

Following then, are just a few samples of the art on display in Venice and while the photos do not capture the real emotion of the scenes, they do capture a bit of the emotion we felt when living in the scene.

Links to other Venice articles:

Venice: City on Water (1/4)

Venice: Festa del Redentore (2/4)

Venice: Travel Planning (4/4)

Harold

Photos Below:  

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Venice: Festa del Redentore (2/4)

Written by Harold McNeill on March 10th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


Photo: Bridge to the front steps of Chiesa del Santissimo Redent provides pedestrian access across the Canale della Giudecca. The photo was taken from San Marco Square.

Note: The following four part Travelogue is from a tour Lynn and I made in 2009. It was first posted live to Facebook and is being reposted here along with more photographs taken during the trip.

An Instant Bridge

Lynn and I woke at 5:30 and headed out to watch construction of the bridge but, surprise, the final few sections were just being added when we walked out of our hostel. Those Venetians had certainly honed their bridge building skills over the past 1000 years. The story of the Festa del Redentore is contained in the first chapter of these posts on Venice (link here).  The following photos essay captures the celebration (posted below)

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Venice: The City of Water (1/4)

Written by Harold McNeill on March 8th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


The above canal scene was taken while on the deck of one of the hundreds of ACTV Ferries that ply the city waterways.

Note: The following four-part Travelogue is from a tour Lynn and I made in 2009. It was first posted live to Facebook and is being reposted here along with more photographs taken during the trip.

Meeting New Friends

As luck would have it, our seven-hour train ride from Interlaken, Switzerland, to Venice (Venezia), the historic capital of the Venetian Republic, seemed much shorter after having met two delightful young ladies from Australia. These chitty, chatty young women reminded us so much of Vicki, our homestay student from the early 1990’s. As with Vicki, these two girls were experienced travelers who, having visited Venice before, provided the ‘old folks’ with several tips.

As for the best place to stay, they suggested searching out a hostel on Giudecca Island, a short ferry ride from Piazza San Marco Square, the main public square in Venice. Also, to make our touring easier, they suggested the purchase of a one, three or five-day ferry pass. The unlimited ‘on and off’ privileges would provide access to every nook and cranny of this city, unique in that access to every street and alley is provided by the canal in the same manner paved streets provide that access in every other city in the world. A second honeymoon Lynn, here we come.

Venice, “the most beautiful and romantic city built by man.” 

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Southeast Asia: A Magical Journey

Written by Harold McNeill on February 28th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


Halong Bay legend

Photo (Web Stock): Ha Long Bay is 120 km long, 1553 Km2 and
contains 1969 Islands formed from limestone karsts,
many of which are filled with expansive caves. 

EXCLUSIVE ESCORTED TOUR TO VIETNAM, CAMBODIA
AND THE RICHES OF THE MEKONG RIVER

Expedia CruiseShipCenters, Sidney, British Columbia, invites you to join an exclusive Escorted Cruise to Vietnam, Cambodia and the riches of the Mekong River.

Note: Photos in this blog post taken from the Web.

From September 18 – October 3, 2012, you will be hosted, first on a seven day land tour beginning in Hanoi and then on a seven day river cruise, beginning in Siem Reap, then meanders along the Mekong River to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). On both arms of the tour you will be hosted on several side tours during which you will be exposed to the best the two countries have to offer. A three day pre-tour extension of Hong Kong is also available from September 15-18. (Tour details provided at the end of this article.) 

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New Orleans, the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean

Written by Harold McNeill on February 25th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


Canadians Invade New Orleans: Seize Navigator of the Sea’s

 

Photo: SIC Beauty members with the Cruise Director: An important thing to do on any cruise is to become friends with the Cruise Director.

This post begins with the second part of our holiday when our twenty-two member travel crew joined forces aboard the Navigator of the Seas.  Rather than provide a traditional look at life aboard the ship, I have worked to provide a flavour of the special times and friendships that emerge when people actively seek out others to share their festivities.

There is little doubt that upon our departing from the Navigator, there will be a good percentage of the passengers and crew on board who will remember the fun-loving Canadians.  While I have drawn attention to some our antics, it was all good clean fun on this special family holiday.  

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Relish Tea Room in Mana, New Zealand

Written by Harold McNeill on February 22nd, 2012. Posted in Travelogue


“Living your Dreams” is a theme that often appears on many Facebook posts, so Lynn and I are always looking for shining new examples. On our way down the West side of the North Island we stopped for tea at a picturesque little English style ‘tea room’ called the Relish Café. Located in Mana (just north of Wellington) we were met by Allan and Anne McNair, Allan being a brother of our friend, Gill Russell, (see previous Rotorua post). There we shared a few life stories over afternoon tea.

Once again, we found ourselves chatting with a couple who made a complete life change. Only a few years back, the McNairs were running a successful saddlery store which provided a comfortable income and a high degree of security for over 25 years. In addition, Allan was an experienced ferrier. Their two daughters were just finishing school and would soon be off establishing lives of their own.

A few years back, Allan began feeling the need for change – not that he was dissatisfied with his life, it was, after all, a very good life. He just wanted a new challenge and one of his dreams was to run his own restaurant. When he shared his dream with his family his oldest daughter laughed and pointed out: “Dad, you can’t even boil an egg”. Allan reluctantly conceded that point, but was quick to state: “Well then my dear daughter, I will learn.” And, over the next five years learn he did. He and Anne continued to run their saddlery and ferrier businesses, but one day each week Allan worked a full eight hour shift in a local restaurant.

Over the five years of working part time he learned what he thought he needed to know and between them the couple were ready to strike off on their own. They found a lovely little establishment in Mana (just north of Wellington) that was exactly the kind of place they had dreamed about. About one block of the highway, just accross the main South Island Railway was a small restaurant with seating for about thirty-five. A former cottage, the tables were divided into three medium sized rooms. The period furnishings gave each room a cosy warmth and the entire “cottage” was surrounded by a delightful “English Country Garden” just coming into bloom when Lynn and I arrived.

When the deal was finalized, the saddlery business was sold and the family was off on a new life adventure.

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    February 16, 2020 |

    […] Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation. Part II, Comparing police cultures and implementing change Part III, The past as a guide to the future Part IV The integration of police services […]

  • Harold McNeill

    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

    I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    January 5, 2020 |

    […] 28. The past as a guide to the future (Part III): Over the past 60 years, many activities the police once performed as a natural part of their daily duty, eventually became incompatible with achieving their basic goals. What happened? (August 2019) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories Why I stand with science? - McNeill Life Stories

    November 11, 2019 |

    […] During the Ice Age, the Earth’s average temperature was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit colder than it is today. That was enough to keep snow from melting during the summers in northern regions. As snow fell on the snow, glaciers formed. (NASA Earth Observatory) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories How to Game an Election - McNeill Life Stories

    September 18, 2019 |

    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]