First let me say once again the best thing about this challenge is the opportunity it gives you to seek out new blogs and make new friends, I have found some wonderful, talented people whom I look forward to interacting with beyond the challenge and you never know if I win the lottery may even met in person one day.
This year was the first that I decided to go with a theme and I have to say it helped keep me focused on the task at hand, I will use the theme structure again next year though what the topic will be I have no idea. I think it has proved to me I can blog daily and keep up with my writing as long as I have a focus for the post so I will be working on that and continuing to schedule posts in advance to take the pressure off myself. I will also write up extra posts to keep in reserve for when life gets in the way.
You can find a full list of all my A – Z posts in the tab in the headers bar up at the top of the page as well as see how I had done previously, I would say to anyone who has never had a go at this to sign up next year, it is a great way to push yourself while engaging in exploring new blogs and meeting new people.
Today is the final day of the A – Z challenge, I will post a reflection/round up post on Saturday but I just want to say what a blast I have had this year and how much I love the fact through this challenge I make a couple of new friends every year and I look forward to continuing my visits to their blogs.
Zanzibar was a place I found by looking up Z cities rather than it just jumping into my mind but once I took a look at the images I was not only hooked but I knew this was the perfect ending to our virtual global journey. We have climbed mountains, visited the past, swum with various creatures in different seas and taken in more history than an A level course. It seems right that we should finally end on a more relaxing note.
I do not know much about Zanzibar, actually scrap that I know nothing about it, from the little I just quickly read like all African countries it has had its share of issues and the division of poverty/wealth is probably as uneven as in most countries but as I do not know I cannot comment though of course before thinking about a real life visit these things would be considered Tourism is a growing industry but as yet has not taken over completely from what I have seen but to be honest it will not be long judging from the gorgeous beaches. I love this little house out in the sea though I am not sure I would want to live there all year round as I should imagine there are times the waves must crash against it.
It has the perfect conditions for snorkelling and diving I mean really could that water be any clearer? And there seems to be an abundance of sea life to observe, further out to sea whales and dolphins can be found, while nearer to the coast turtles and fish swim amongst the coral.
But this is not an all action holiday more, reflective, relaxing and for the writer a perfect creative paradise.
And at the end of the day it would be perfect if each and every one of you could pull up a hanging chair with me down on the beach, during the day we could read, or write in notebooks or just watch the world go by. Then in the evening sit and chat as we wait for the sun to go down.
It would be my honour to watch the sunset with each and everyone of you.
The final two letters resulted in me having to do a city search but actually both this and the Z choice are places I do want to visit they just weren’t ones that spring straight to mind.
Yangon is more commonly known to most of us as Rangoon, one of the more well now cities in the country formerly known as Burma. Now Burma or Myanmar as it is now known is not somewhere which automatically springs to mind as a place to visit but like many people there is a family connection though a very tenuous one.
This picture was taken during WWII and is my grandma’s cousin Ron, it was taken in Burma while he was serving in that area, or at least that is what she was told though we have no actual proof. So when Yangon came up in the list of Y cities it jumped off the page at me and I have to say I was stunned by just how beautiful the city is.
As you know from our A-Z journey around the world I have a pit of a thing for temples and architecture in general. Now I should imagine that there is of course a disparity between the magnificent golden spires and the conditions normal people in, I confess I do not know too much about life in this country so my dream of seeing here is based solely on the spectacular images I found and the possibility of learning more about experiences of previous generations of my family.
I would guess that Ron was possibly fairly well off from looking at the photo, my grandma did not really know much about that part of the family, I imagine that this picture of the park in the city might reflect more the landscape as he would have seen it with the older buildings and temples. I do fancy the idea of taking a cruise on one of the golden ships.
I do not know where they actually take you but even if it were just a quick trip round a lake but to travel on a floating golden pagoda, well how can I resist that.
Just looking at the views I really think this is somewhere to visit that should be on everyone’s list of places in the world to see. As I say it is not somewhere I know too much about but I look forward to learning about.
Tomorrow is Z and the final day of A-Z I cannot believe firstly how quick it has gone and secondly that I will have actually succeeded and done every single letter this year!
This is the last letter where I automatically had a place that came straight to mind. Once again this is a problematic choice in terms of actually visiting however today I am not going to go into all that again, I know you all will understand the human and animal rights issues and hope as I do that one day these will all be resolved.
There are many places within China that are worthy of visiting and if I had the time available I would actually love to walk the full length of the Great Wall but for this challenge I am going to be a little more focused on one place.
The city here has recently been restored allowing visitors to see it in its full splendour, and also though I do not feature pictures here there have been several additional attractions created in order to attract more tourists and I would imagine try to get them to use the city as a base for travels in the country.
China is a country which embraces its traditions and is probably one of the most beautiful places you could ever visit in terms of human creation. It is so sad to think that the beauty that is created there is not a benefit to many of the people who live there. Like our own history that of China is blood-soaked, in fact lets face in most older civilisations have their share of history they would prefer to forget but in one aspect China displays theirs in the most incredible way.
I am not as up on my history as I wish I were and though I could google and spout lots of facts the truth is I just find the idea of this fascinating and prefer it without the facts. First you have an Emperor who believes he needs a terracotta army, then you have all the craftsmen that actually made them and set them up. Then you have the guys who painted them and went into intricate detail on their costumes. The fact they all seem to look a little different means you can almost imagine a real army trooping in one by one for their model making. I remember seeing pictures showing the detail that went into them like the hair and even patterns on the bottom of the shoes. The horses for me are even more amazing, imagine having the skill to create those magnificent creatures.
This is the China I would love to see, the creative and beautiful and magnificent.
Now don’t get me wrong I have been to Wales, or at least the very northern parts of it, I was little, I remember it was wet and my Granddad bought me a doll wearing Welsh National costume that came in a plastic tube but really that is all I do remember. This trip would see me not only remembering but venturing further into the country.
I want to start my little Welsh excursion in Cardiff, I have actually got as far as planning this trip several times but the other things intervened and scuppered my plans. For my perfect Welsh road trip I actually think the perfect transport would be a camper-van, the reason for this is that it is the actual travelling around bit which turned out to be a pain in previous attempts at planning, for such a small country they seem to make travelling from point A to point B hard work. However the Welsh trip will start with a trip to see a Time Lord or two before heading into the past.
Of course I could not go to Wales without heading to the Doctor Who experience in Cardiff. Infact the monster and I would need several days to wander round and pick out all the locations we can spot from the new series and those from Torchwood though the monster has not watched that yet, I think I will allow him a couple more years before starting him on that but he does know Captain Jack and a couple of the characters from their appearances in Doctor Who.
So of course the significance of Ianto’s shrine will go over his head but it is pretty amazing to think that a fictional character has inspired such a moving tribute and shows just how much the show has come to mean to the city.
But Cardiff is a city where you can move from the Time lord technology of the future to the ancient past and this is one of the main attractions to Wales for me.
It almost seems like you could not throw a stone and not hit a castle in Wales but I would start here at Cardiff Castle and also take the chance to meet up with one of my FB friends Dave who lives near Caerphilly a place I knew as a cheese long before I knew it was a real place. He has spent years as part of a re-enactment group and is a walking history encyclopaedia, he also has a couple of gorgeous hounds.
From Cardiff I would head round the coast visiting all the different castles hopefully ending up near here.
Flint castle is possibly a little less impressive than some of the others on the route but once again the area holds a bonus attraction, our very own Lord David Prosser from over at Barsetshire Diaries. He might blush a little but he is such a wonderful human being, you will have noticed his lovely comments on my posts and if you have not visited his blog you have no idea what you are missing. He has a wonderful, warm and witty way of regaling us with his week and his Sunday post is one of the ones I most look forward to. I believe he is actually on his jollies this week so may not see this but if I know him he will spend a week on his return catching up on all his inbox.
Apologies for the late posting, I meant to write the post last night then got distracted by Britain’s Got Talent, then I meant to do it this morning but was busy watching the London marathon and once more saying I am going to do it eventually. Then this afternoon well I am not actually sure where that went.
But I am here now and today we are heading back to Italy once more to Venice. It does seem some parts of the world feature more prominently in this list than others but I assure you it is only because of the nature of the challenge I could as easily have picked Vienna which came a close second but there is an extra attraction to Venice or maybe two.
The first is my Grandma went there years ago. Ironically after her visit she tried to put me off going, she claimed the buildings were beautiful but the canals were foul and I should go to Rome instead if I wanted to visit Italy.
The time my Grandma went was before before they began the big clean up of the canals when sewage still flowed into every waterway and she swore anyone that ever fell in would have to have a dozen shots and be quarantined but that was the nurse in her talking. She went shortly after my Granddad died with my aunt and uncle and I did wonder if that had jaded her view of the place, how do you go to one of the most romantic cities in the world when you have just lost the love of your life. Saying that had he been alive she would not have gone, after his experiences in the war he never left British soil again.
The thing is the real Venice I long to see I would need a time machine to visit. Though of course they still hold Masquerade Balls and the Carnival I cannot imagine it coming close to the opulence and extravagance of the ones held in the Eighteenth Century, of course I would not turn down an invitation to the modern version but would certainly need to spend time and money on an appropriate costume before I could go.
We are nearing the end of the challenge only a few more letters to go and I cannot believe how quickly it has flown by.
This one is a little different because I am planning already to make this dream a reality though sadly it will probably be 2017 before I can make it come true.
It is also not quite the USA road trip most people would take as you will come to understand. The places I see on this trip are an additional bonus this is a trip of the heart. I will most likely land in Chicago and maybe spend a day or to taking in the sights there and recovering from jetlag, then the real fun begins.
Next stop Valparaiso, Indiana. I played on a FB game for years and made some great friends, they and their families have become part of my life even though technically we have never met. My friend Wendell lives here with his wife and kids though by the time I get there one of his daughters may very well be living over here, he says it makes him feel better knowing if she does he knows I will be there for her if anything happens. His whole family are amazing, and as he has also had the same surgery on his back as me we can have fun setting metal detectors off in unison lol. So after a few days there we move on to the next stop…
Peoria, Illinois, I am hoping it will be possible to maybe met a couple of people here. Firstly I am heading to visit someone that though again we have never met face to face has become of of my best friends, Susan. We have sat up till unearthly hours on opposite sides of the globe talking and supporting each other in some of our darkest hours. We send parcels across the ocean and share our families successes and pain and I love her like a sister. Not only that but I am proud to call myself CyberGodParent to her first grandchild and if anyone thinks what nonsense that is I don’t care and neither does fate as little Logan held on and decided to be born on my birthday. He will be a toddler rather than a baby when I get to physically say hello but I am hoping to get it organised to Skype with him long before that so he isn’t overwhelmed by the hugs he is going to get. I am hoping though it may be possible to meet up for a coffee with the amazing Heidi Sieverding who is not only one of the first blogs I ever followed on WP but also now a good friend and only lives about thirty miles from Peoria from what I understand so fingers crossed. After a week here I know I shall be devastated to leave but there is at least one more person I would love to visit and another city to fit in.
Next we move on to the Big Apple, yup no visit would be complete without New York now in an ideal world I really want to fit visiting another friend Rhonda in on this trip trip between these two points but I have not figured that out yet plus she has a habit of moving so I need to work it out closer to the time when I know where she will definitely be, I was gutted when she came to the UK and our plans to meet up were ruined by me having to be in hospital having more surgery but I know it is only a matter of time before we sit down face to face.
Now obviously lots of things to do and see in New York but I also need to visit New Jersey because another special friend made through WP resides there the ever beautiful Emily Guido. We have so much in common it is scary, the only thing I hold against her is she promised me lots more vlogs and I am still waiting because she is such a wonderfully creative and talented lady as well as a beautiful soul and she needs to share her smile with us all more often.
From New York I will return home a sad to leave such amazing people but so eternally grateful that they have all allowed me to be part of their lives. So you could say this USA road trip will not be down Route 66 but straight across my heart.
Given the rant I had about political issues in the last post this might seem a little strange but this is also a place that at this time I would not visit do to political issues but I don’t really understand them.
I know there are problems of rulership and lots of violence when I googled for images for Tibet I kept getting stunning landscapes interspersed with people who had set themselves on fire in protest. So I think we can quite safely say I would never visit until the situation is resolved because things have to be pretty bad for setting yourself on fire to look like a good idea.
You might ask why include Tibet as in many ways it is very similar to other places included in the list already but this has an extra special significance given the passing of a certain author. Last year I read The Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett, it is no secret that the time monasteries in the book are based on the Tibetan Monasteries and that the landscape is used within the book.
So for a lover of Discworld like myself is seems logical to include Tibet for that reason alone even before we add the actual place itself into the equation. On the whole as religions go I think Buddhism is one of the better ones and I actually share lots of their beliefs, such as reincarnation. While I would never hurt anyone (lets pretend no one read the last lines of the Rome post) I could never take it to the extent of all living creatures and sweep the ground before me to make sure I never even crushed an ant, in my version of reincarnation you had to have been bad to come back as something that crawls on the ground and is generally killed horribly.
The scenery is of course stunning as most mountain areas are but I also find the actually fact they manage to not only build but build such elaborate buildings at such high altitude. It is not only the builders who made dreams a reality but the fact that someone dreamed of temples above the clouds that fascinates me, and of course if you do not fancy hiking up there is always the local transport.
Seriously though I think Yaks are cute, plus there is always the off chance you might see a Yeti but only if you are really, really lucky or maybe drunk.
This is a place I have longed to go for years but know that the political climate makes it somewhere I could never justify going to myself.
St Petersburgh may very well be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. When I googled for the images I really was spoilt for choice. This is a city that has stunning architecture where ever you look, though I would suspect that the places real people live are no where near as picturesque.
In so many places the gap between the rich and poor is drastic but for some reason it is more painful to think of it here. I love our royal family, the stories of the Romanov’s and the Russian revolution horrified me as a child and I always hope that Anastasia would turn up though of course every claim has been false and now time has run out. But you cannot help thinking when those people overturned their monarchy they believed in a brighter future which sadly they do not seem to have.
I believe that 98 percent of Russian people are lovely, genuine caring people but the problem is the other two percent and they are the ones who mar their countries beauty which their actions and beliefs. I know this is a little political for me but how could I walk along these beautiful canals knowing that others are not free to do the same because of colour or sexuality. The people in charge point fingers to keep the people fighting amongst themselves to deflect away from the fact they live under the watch of others who are playing by different rules.
I can only hope that eventually the good people of Russia will say enough is enough and maybe it might take another revolution but one day they will have the freedom to live their lives without fear. This week a British diver who is openly gay was in Russia and his twitter feed was full of people imploring him to be careful and reminding him he was in danger despite his high profile status.
I want to visit here so badly and Moscow and other cities but until things change my heart and head cannot allow me to.
Sorry for the little rant, I try to avoid politics but this is something that gets to me, no one has to support a lifestyle they do not agree with but they do not have the right to persecute and physically harm others because they do not share their feelings.
For todays choice we head back to Italy and to a place which I would probably visit at the same time as Pompeii.
Rome was once the capital of the civilised world, whether they had wanted to be civilised was of course a very different matter, yet had the Romans stayed at home or contained themselves to mainland Europe, my country along with many others would have a very different history.
And it is of course history which draws me to Rome and though as a family we do have links to the Catholic faith my only reason to visit the Vatican would be the architecture but it is the even older buildings that I am really attracted to.
The very fact the Coliseum still stands is a testament to those who built it, both the builders who drew up the plans and over saw the work but also the slaves whose blood and tears soaked into the stone as they toiled to create something they could never have dreamed of outlasting the Empire. I love the fact so much is intact to see, the places the different strata of society would have sat, the places where slaves, gladiators and wild beasts awaited their turn in the arena. The games themselves are so horrific to contemplate and yet they could not have ever existed if it were not for something within us as humans.
The same hands and eyes which created such beauty and majesty also revealed in human suffering and we can say now how horrible it was but we may have evolved but we are not cured of the madness. How many of us watch crime shows with fascination? Slow down driving past an accident to take a look? I even put my hands up and confess there are certain crimes that I believe should carry a death penalty and I would happily throw those who commit them to the lions and I might even consider that death to quick for them, does that make me a bad person? No it makes me human and as flawed as those who sat and turned their thumbs to the ground.