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 no 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 is 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 the people have overcome the challenges experienced over the most recent century, was 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 story line 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 occassionaly restrain myself. Each of the photos will be identified by 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

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold

  • Terrance

    January 5, 2019 |

    A VERY COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS. ALL POLITICIANS SHOULD READ THIS.

  • Harold McNeill

    December 23, 2018 |

    Thanks Sis. I will be uploading as Hi-Def so the photos can be viewed full screen. Brother