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Our 3rd Blogiversary – in 3 Takes, Take III and a Giveaway

My visit to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Lesotho starting me blogging, but Jamaica was my inspiration to get in to travel. Though I was born in Jamaica, I don’t know it as well as I think I should.

When I got laid off from my job in November 2003, I was excited. For several months prior, two friends and I had been planning our next professional moves. Mine was to start a tour company that would showcase Jamaica the way I see it, not the sand, sun, reggae and rum tour that many people associate it with.

At less than 4,500 square miles, Jamaica is slightly smaller than the Connecticut yet it is as diverse as many countries twice its size. Part of the island’s beauty is its lushness. Jamaica is a garden full of a variety of flowers, including orchids – about 200 species, nearly half of them endemic to the island, several hundred types of ferns and trees which bathes this little piece of rock in a riot of color year round.

It was not surprising then that my first post was about flowers, the kinds of flowers that my mother, grandmother and countless Jamaicans grow, the flowers that make my heart smile. Since then, I’ve blogged about flowers several times.

Our fruits…

Me no drink cawfee tea, mango time. Care how nice it may be, mango time. Mango Time, Jamaican folk song

We’re passionate about fruits but especially mangoes, which is celebrated by its own folk song. Yes, when it’s mango time in Jamaica we eat it at every meal. Almost.

Our food…

3rd Blogiversity in 3 Takes

Little Ochie’s Jerk Lobster

Jamaica has more than 300 species of birds, more than two dozen of which are endemic to the island. The doctor bird, a swallowtail hummingbird is our national bird.

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Doctor Bird, Roaring River, Westmoreland

Domestic animals are also quite common. You’ll notice goats, cows, as well as donkeys, especially in the rural areas. 

3rd Blogiversary

Holy Goat, Trelawny

Sometimes, it's the Characters that Make Travel Memorable

Dunns River Falls Donkey, St. Ann

Horse

Horse

From large great houses, opulent castles such as Trident to small board houses, we have them all. Take a look.

3rd Blogiversity in 3 Takes

Trident Castle, Portland, Jamaica

 Our churches….

Our landscape

Blue Mountain sunrise

Blue Mountain sunrise

 

Our beaches…

Twenty or 30 years from now, I’m going to be on a beach in Jamaica. – Idris Elba

Mobay Beach

Montego Bay Beach

Our people

3rd Blogiversary Giveaway

In celebration of our 3rd Blogiversary, we’re giving away three prizes – two (2) copies of the Lonely Planet travel guide to Jamaica, and a copy of The Real Taste of Jamaica by Enid Donaldson to three lucky winners. Enter by December 22nd by leaving a comment, tweeting about the giveaway #3Years3Prizes or liking us on Facebook. It’s that easy. The giveaway is open only to addresses in the United States and Canada. Good luck!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Linking up this week with Travel Photo Thursday, which Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox organizes. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.

Our 3rd Blogiversary – in 3 Takes, Take II

In the Take I on InsideJourneys’ 3rd blogiversary, we looked back at the trip to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Lesotho, that inspired me to start blogging. The year following that momentous trip, I visited London, Paris and Toronto.

Here are some of the photos I took:

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

London Eye

Usually, I stay clear of tourist traps but on this, my third trip to London, I decided to do some touristy things, like stand on line to see the London Eye. It had been calling out to me all during the week and that first weekend, I stopped ignoring its pull.

The lines were long but moved pretty quickly – about 45 minutes from the time I joined to the time I climbed aboard one of the pods. The ride took less time, about 30 minutes, but unparalleled views like this makes the wait definitely worthwhile.

3rd Blogiversary

Parliament from the London Eye

The other touristy thing I did in London  during this visit was seek out fish and chips. Okay, so it wasn’t wrapped in newspaper but it still counts. My opinion: do it once and you’re done.

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Fish and Chips

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

The Circus

As soon as I booked my ticket to London, I bought a ticket to visit Stonehenge. Besides meeting my new nephew, it was to be the highlight of my trip — and all I could think about for weeks before I left.

Bath Houses, Bath

Houses, Bath

I wanted to have a good view of the English countryside so I was one of the first to get on the bus when it arrived and took the seat behind the driver. Our first stop was the historic town of Bath where I got these photos.

The Circus as well as these apartments in the second photo were designed by John Wood, the Elder (to distinguish him from his son). The Circus is actually three buildings, which all together form a circle.

For anyone interested in architecture, especially Georgian architecture, a trip to Bath is a must.

3rd Blogiversity in 3 Takes

Avon River, Bath

After leaving Bath, we had time to walk around the town. I was taking photos one after the other without really looking to see how well they turned out. I was pleasantly surprised when I downloaded them and saw how beautiful this shot is.

3rd Blogiversity in 3 Takes

King Johns Hunting Lodge

We stopped for steak and kidney at the George Inn in Lacock where this bicycle caught my eye.

I must admit, I was a little disappointed when I saw Stonehenge. Over the years, I’d built up such a huge mythology from my readings and the documentaries I had watched on television that I felt a bit let down when I got there. I mean, it’s just a bunch of stones, right? And at first, they looked smaller than I had imagined. But if you look at the second photo, you’ll see that they’re not.

3rd Blogiversity in 3 Takes

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

There’s certainly nothing small about moving these gigantic rocks and setting them into place. And I’m still awed by them. Now that I’ve been, I’d like to go back for one of the solstice festivals. I’d also like to visit Avebury, which our tour guide recommended, but I didn’t have time because I was heading home the following day.

The lines at the Louvre almost made me turn around. But I’m an art lover and any art lover worth their salt cannot pass up an opportunity to visit the Mecca of art in Paris. I could visit this museum everyday for a year and still not see it all.

3rd Blogiversary

The Pyramid at the entrance to the Louvre

The Louvre escalator

The escalator to the underground lobby

I did the usual touristy things in Paris, including climbing the Eiffel Tower. Now, that’s an amazing piece of architecture and huge! Definitely larger than I expected. I was impressed.

Eiffel Tower from bus

Eiffel Tower

 

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Eiffel Tower

3rd Blogiversary

View from the Eiffel Tower

I don’t visit Toronto nearly as often as I should and maybe because of that, I’m continually surprised by how rich and diverse the city is.

Toronto building

Toronto building

On this particular visit, I remembered what I love – the public art – on buildings, on sidewalks, in unexpected places. It was like visiting a museum, I felt soothed.

3rd Blogiversity in 3 Takes

Public art from Toronto’s streets

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Toronto street art

3rd Blogiversity in 3 Takes

Toronto Street art

That’s it for Take II of my 3rd Blogiversary. Hope you’ll stop by for Take III, which will be all about Jamaica.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Our 3rd Blogiversary – in 3 Takes

The date of my 3rd blogiversary hit me by surprise this year. (Honestly, I’d totally forgotten about it!) I was doing a little site maintenance last week and noticed the date of my first post – November 29th. Right away, I knew what I wanted to do – show some of my favorite photos of the last three years but there was no way to weed through more than 2,500 images in two days and decide which ones to use.

I registered my blog about 3 years before I started blogging. Even though I was traveling, I couldn’t seem to get the writing part going. That is, until two of my friends and I made it to southern Africa. Three weeks in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Lesotho and I returned with so many wonderful and memorable experiences, I could hear myself telling the same stories over and over. I needed a medium that would allow me to share my stories and photos – my usual travel journal wouldn’t do. Then I remembered the blog I registered and never used.

Shortly after I returned home, I looked up my blog, downloaded my photos – almost 1000 images – and began writing. Surprisingly, the words flowed and even more surprisingly, they haven’t stopped.

My blog and I have grown considerably since those first tentative moments three years ago. I’ve met and befriended readers and bloggers and can proudly say there’s no group more supportive. It is because of you that this 3rd blogiversary is possible.

In Take One, I’ll go back to where it started – that trip to southern Africa. We visited Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, and Sani Pass, Lesotho.

If you can only visit two continents in your lifetime, visit Africa. TWICE! – R. Elliott

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Entrance to Victoria Falls

3rd Blogiversary, Vic Falls

Victoria Falls Rainbow

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Victoria Falls

Lunchtime at Makalolo Plains

Lunchtime at Makalolo Plains, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

3rd Blogiversity in 3 Takes

Lone bull elephant at Mbisa, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Mandela House, Soweto

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Iconic Soweto Watertowers

Looking down, Table Mountain

View from Table Mountain, Cape Town

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Table Mountain Tablecloth

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Jackass Penguins at Boulders Beach, Cape Town

Vineyard in Stellenbosch, South Africa

Vineyard, Stellenbosch, Cape Town

3rd Blogiversry in 3 Takes

M’hudi Wines’ Oupa Rangaka

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Durban trees

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Sani Pass Hotel

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes

Durban Rickshaw

Morning on the Golden Mile, Durban

Morning on the Golden Mile, Durban

 Some of the people we met…

It’s been a while since I saw some of these photos so that made it even more difficult to decide what to include. But it was great looking back at the wonderful time we had.

I still keep in touch with several of the people we met in South Africa and Zimbabwe. The first time I visited Africa, a friend told me it would change my life. It took the second visit for it to happen.

Coming up tomorrow, Take 2: London, Paris, Toronto, and New York.

Linking up this week with Travel Photo Thursday, which Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox organizes. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Animals That Caught My Eye

I’d be the first to say that I’m not an animal lover so I was mildly surprised at the number of photos of animals I’ve taken during the last year. Here are a few:

The Cat at Croydon

A friend who was a cat owner used to say that cats were humans in an earlier life. That’s why they act so superior.

Cat

The cat at Croydon

As we sat listening to the Croydon Plantation tour guide talk about coffee growing and processing, this little cat jumped on the bench in front of me. I snapped this photo just before it walked away.

Jamaica Red Poll, YS Falls

It’s common, especially in the rural areas, to see cattle in pastures or even on or near country roads. YS Falls in St. Elizabeth, is not just a stud farm, it also has several heads of Jamaica Red Poll cattle. The Jamaica Red Poll was developed from Red Poll cattle that was imported from Britain in the 19th century to improve the local breed. I love their distinctive rich reddish-brown color.

Jamaica Red Poll Cow, YS Falls

Jamaica Red Poll Cow, YS Falls

I wish I had longer lens, but I couldn’t resist taking a photo with the egrets waiting nearby to catch dinner – small insects that the cow distributes.

Yard Fowls in Portland

There was a time when just about every Jamaican household had chickens, hens and at least one rooster running around. My family was like any in Jamaica – we also kept chickens and about once a month, we’d have one for Sunday dinner.

Cock, Boston Bay

Rooster, Boston Bay

Now it seems everyone buys chicken from the supermarket, or they’re raising day-old chickens that they feed round the clock. They’re ready to eat six weeks later. I prefer the yard fowl.

Black and white hen

Black and white hen

Brown Hen, Boston Bay

Brown Hen, Boston Bay

A Peacock at Appleton

As if on cue, it began drizzling just as we started the Rum Tour at Appleton Estate. I put away my camera and took the umbrella the tour guide gave me. Just then, I noticed a peacock several yards away. I wanted a photo but didn’t want it badly enough to get my camera wet. But when the peacock turned and began walking towards us, my friend held the umbrella. I was ready just as it sauntered by me.

Peacock at Appleton Estate

Peacock at Appleton Estate

Clydesdales in Falmouth

These Clydesdales in Falmouth moved so quickly, I hardly had time to get a second shot.

The Animals that Caught My eye

Clydesdales, Falmouth

 

Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way. – John Muir

Linking up this week with Travel Photo Thursday, which Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox organizes. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.