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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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January 04, 2011

Christmas, Part II - Viginia and Maryland

After our somewhat harrowing trip from Huntington to Virginia - January's windshield washer wasn't working and the road conditions for a good part of the journey were wet and salty - we arrived in good shape and with me giving January firm instructions to call the next day and find a place that could repair her washers!

I got to spend a nice amount of time with January before she and Maggie left for North Carolina to spend New Year's Eve with their friends there and, of course, I always enjoy staying at Chris's apartment and spending time with him too.  We all (January, Maggie, Chris and I) spent Wednesday evening together with a nice Chinese dinner first and then back to the apartment to exchange presents with Chris.

Chris, being the nice son he is, took me out for a very nice New Year's Eve dinner at the Carlyle Restaurant, a really nice restaurant that Chris has been going to for lots of years and when I'm here, I lots of time get treated to their goodies.  Managed to stay up til midnight and then Saturday I asked Chris if the idea of him giving me a behind-the-scenes tour at the National Cathedral (he's a docent) appealed to him and it turned out he had been thinking he wanted to maybe go there to take some pictures with his new wide-angle lens, so we spent a good part of the day there and it was great!!  I took so many pictures it was like being on one of my travels again - well, not "like" ...  I was on a travel!  I tried to really winnow down the pictures and they're not real great cause it's me taking them for one thing and for another thing, I didn't think to take my camera so took them all with my I-phone.  So, first of all, here we are outside - a cloudy day, but a beautiful cathedral.

And this is just a beautiful passageway:

Chris took me into various attics, outside to stand on the gutter(!) and behind all kinds of locked doors. 

And we went up into the bell tower.  Only went to the carillon level because since it was New Year's Day, the top level of bells were being continuously rung by actual bell ringers so we couldn't go up there.  They get to take short breaks but basically they ring for 6 hours!

And I took this one while standing out on the gutter - it's actually a cement walkway so wasn't at all as unsafe as it sounds.  Wonderful to be up that close to all the sculpted bits and pieces though.  And here's another one from up there:

And I liked this shot of the two front towers from one of the upper level windows:

This one I took from a sort of second level gallery that looks all the way down the nave to the altar.  This is really grainy cause I took it in a fairly dark place and then tried to lighten it up enough to show all the arches.  I love arches. :)

While up there, I noticed that every massive pillar on our side had a little carved decoration - each one different.  This was the closest one to me:

And here are two more from up in the gallery:

And since I took pictures of the incredible mosaics in Italy, I thought it was only fair to take a picture of at least one of the mosaics here.  They're not quite as much to my taste - I seem to like the ancient more than the modern, but they're pretty fantastic anyway.  This was from a chapel (I think that's what it was) in the crypt (basement).

And this last picture just really tickles me.  Apparently, when the cathedral was being built, there was, of course, a stonecarvers' "shed" where they could work during bad weather and such.  And every year on New Year's Eve,  any carvers who were there that day would open a bottle of wine, date it and drink it.  These are all those bottles tucked away on shelves over a door in one of the "attics" and there's one for every year from 1959 to probably around 1995 or 1996 (they started building in 1907).


vrmichie said...

I'm so jealous! What a wonderful way to spend New Year's day. I love the pictures that are a bit grainy -- makes them a tad mysterious. Also love the two front towers pic. And Sophia is a darling little princess with excellent decorating skills. Hope your train ride home is pleasurable with good weather for a good view. Now I think I'd better go see if Chris has posted wide-angle photos :). xoxo

Anonymous said...

Love the pix of the 2 front towers! Looks like you had a great day.
Looking forward to your safe return to Htgn. If you need a ride from the train stn; just yell.

jamie said...

I'm always stunned by how good your i-phone photos are. They look really good. Love the photo of Sophia and her "work". She is quite the decorator. Hope you enjoy the rest of your visit. I'm with Cindy - do you need a ride from the train station?


January said...

Your pictures are lookin' gooood, Mama! Nice ones! That sounds like a fun day - Chris took me and my friends on a similar tour for my 30th birthday, and everyone really enjoyed it!

Christopher said...

It was a pleasant day of running around, and so nice to have the cathedral almost to ourselves! (Well, when we were up in the attic and roof area, we were totally by ourselves!) Would have been nice to be 10 degrees warmer, but oh well! Glad we each came back with photos to share!

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