As regular readers of this blog know, I have a soft spot for off-the-beaten-track destinations.
Yes, I love Paris and Venice and London, but I also like to explore the lesser-known out-of-the-wsy places that many travelers never reach.
Once years ago, I set off by train from Paris to visit Mont-Saint-Michel, a medieval abbey off the coast of Normandy that I had read about in college in the Henry Adams’ book, Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres.
The trip took two full days because the train connections were awful, but I made it, and didn’t regret it. It’s a dramatically situated Gothic masterpiece, rising atop a rocky island with a maze of narrow streets surrounding it.
Traditionally, Mont-Saint-Michel has only been reachable by land when the tides are out, via squishy mud flats. When the tides come in,… Continue reading
Watching the new Star Wars movie — The Force Awakens — the other night, I was startled, and pleased, to see one of my favorite places in the world as the setting for the dramatic last scene.
(I won’t spoil the ending for those who haven’t see the film, but I can recommend the movie to any baby boomers who liked the initial trilogy, called Episodes IV to VI. Several of the old stars have returned, and the plot, characters, and general feel are much like a combination of the first three in the series.)
The place setting for the last scene is the spectacularly beautiful rocky island Skellig Michael (also known as Great Skellig), which lies about seven miles off the coast of southwest Ireland.
I visited there about 12 years ago on a… Continue reading
I admit I was a little surprised several years ago when I toured the entire island of Ireland and discovered that St. Patrick — the patron saint of Ireland and largely credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland — actually did much of his missionary work and is reputedly buried in County Down, which is now part of Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
It was just 17 years ago (April 1998) that “The Troubles,” as they were called — an often violent class-related and sectarian three-decade conflict in Northern Ireland between those who wanted to remain in the UK (mostly Protestants) and those who wanted to break away and join the Republic of Ireland (mostly Catholics) — ended in the Good Friday Agreement to settle the issue peacefully.
Because my… Continue reading