Tag Archives: France

Visiting Virginia – Delta – British Columbia – Canada

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You have heard Tin Man speak of his love many times…….

Virginia of Bel’ Occhio’s Blog

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When Tin Man started his blog one of his first followers was Virginia…a friendship blossomed….

In the Spring of 2014 Tin Man rode a train across the entire country of Canada and ended the journey by spending the day with Virginia and the Good Husband…

You can read about that trip HERE  

This time The Tin Man was able to spend three delicious days with Virginia and The Good Husband..

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Virginia’s home is Paris….

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We had a delightful time on the front patio, surrounded by beautiful flowers…….

sipping bubbly, noshing and waving to the neighbors as they drove by…..

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Then one day ………off to the beach we went…..

but first …..the red lipstick from Theadora of Paris: People, Places and Bling…to match the cute red handbag also from Theadora….

Our Theadora, as she has become to known, lives in Paris and is another blogger who has become part of the family…

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Off to a friend’s home for an evening party….

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Magic and Delight abound when one is in the presence of Virginia….

Of course……..culinary delights abound…..Aromatic, Marvelous Chicken Curry…..Ice Cream with Salted Caramel Sauce…..Cheese Puffs…..oh swoon….

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Of course these delights are picked fresh from the garden………

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The Back Porch is the perfect place to take an afternoon nap or enjoy a good book….

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A pleasant evening of companionship and conversation….

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The Good Husband builds model Ships….intricate and amazing work….

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Forever the beautiful ambiance and culinary delights….

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Three Days of Pure Delight….Tin Man rested in the lap of Buddha receiving blessings for the journey home…

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CLAFOUTI : Toronto – Canada

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It began by a chance meeting in the virtual world of Blogging….and so the journey continues…

We booked passage on Uncommon Journeys Canadian Panorama cross country Train Excursion……..two weeks…yikers I thought….

Our Second Day was to be spent in Toronto….not caring for Large Cities….I saw her looming before us…construction cranes everywhere..

You see, in Canada,  there are two seasons:  Winter and Construction

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Virginia of BEL OCCHIO’S BLOG had already told us of Queen’s Street and Clafouti…home of the BEST croissants outside of Paris…….off we went

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Pure Victorian Delight……….peace, tranquility and not one construction crane in sight…..only the rumble of quaint street cars going by….

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Then we turned the corner and there it was…………Clafouti….mecca of the Croissant and the Crookie………….more about that later…….

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We came to the well worn steps leading to her front door….

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Inside………the aroma of fresh baked goods and coffee….

Clafouti reaches out and throws a Parisian Wrap around us….

Just look at the Delectable Delights……….

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We grab the table next to the window……….Virginia’s favorite, so we could look out at the beautiful Trinity Bellwoods Park across the street….

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Our Croissants so flaky and delicious………the coffee, rich and fragrant…..

We did not try the Crookie……a Croissant with an Oreo Cookie baked inside…..Clafouti created this masterpiece…

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The Bell on the Door was always a-tinkle with customers coming and going…..

The Bohemian Interior of Clafouti so enchanting….

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Alas, time to go explore the Park and seek out those mysterious albino squirrels, Good Husband of Virginia has spoken of…..

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We look back at our Clafouti……..and think of all the times our friend Virginia sat here gathering strength…..

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The Park is full of Flowers………but not one albino squirrel to be seen…..

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Time to hop the streetcar and head back for dinner…….What a treat is was to escape to Paris for a couple of hours……..

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Until next time…………

Geneva – Switzerland

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The train leaves our beautiful Berne (click HERE to see that trip)  behind and we begin the last leg of our journey across Switzerland…

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Our final stop in this beautiful country will be Geneva ………

Geneva was a border town, fortified against the Celtic tribe Helvetii, when the Romans took it in 121 BC. It became Christian under the Late Roman Empire, and acquired its first bishop in the 5th century, having been connected to the bishopric of Vienne in the 4th.

In the Middle Ages, Geneva was ruled by a count under the Holy Roman Empire until the late 14th century, when it was granted a charter giving it a high degree of self-governance. Around this time the House of Savoy came to dominate the city. In the 15th century, an oligarchic republican government emerged with the creation of the Grand Council.  In the first half of the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation reached the city, causing religious strife during which Savoy rule was thrown off and Geneva allied itself with the Swiss Confederacy.

In 1541, with Protestantism in the ascendancy, John Calvin, the founder of Calvinism, became the spiritual leader of the city. By the 18th century, however, Geneva had come under the influence of Catholic France, which cultivated the city as its own, who tended to be at odds with the ordinary townsfolk – to the point that an abortive revolution took place in 1782.

In 1798, revolutionary France under the Directory annexed Geneva. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, in 1815, Geneva was admitted to the Swiss Confederation.

In 1907, the separation of Church and State was adopted. Geneva flourished in the 19th and 20th centuries, becoming the seat of many international organizations.

Situated where the Rhône exits Lake Geneva, it is the capital of the Republic and Canton of Geneva.

We know we have arrived as we see the beautiful Lake Geneva over the mountain tops…

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Geneva is a global city, a financial center, and worldwide center for diplomacy due to the presence of numerous international organizations, including the headquarters of many of the agencies of the United Nations and the Red Cross.   Geneva is the city that hosts the highest number of international organisations in the world.    It is also the place where the Geneva Conventions were signed, which chiefly concern the treatment of wartime non-combatants and prisoners of war.  As such,  one immediately misses the charm and quaintness of the beautiful city of Berne.

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The is beautiful art throughout the city……..

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The markets are bursting forth with marvelous goodies….

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Swiss Charm still surrounds you…….

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The hustle and bustle is so different from the feeling of the rest of this beautiful country……

The Grand Cathedral seems as if she has been caught in a spider’s web…

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As we leave the downtown area………a charming tune catches our attention…….

…..there he is a Hurdy Gurdy Man….

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….just when we thought all was lost…..

We enjoy our final days in this beautiful country……a nice Swiss Breakfast….

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……and then off to the train……looking out at our last views of the beautiful Alps as we cross into France…

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I hope you have enjoyed our journey ……….

Marseille – France

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Marseille

– the second largest city in France, after Paris,

–  located on the southeast coast of France, Marseille is France’s largest city on the Mediterranean coast and largest commercial port.

– the capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region,

– the capital of the Bouches-du-Rhône department….

We spent little time visiting this wonderful lady and found her street cars to be pure whimsy…

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King Francis I of France visited Marseille, drawn by his curiosity to see a rhinoceros that King Manuel I of Portugal was sending to Pope Leo X, but which had been shipwrecked on the Île d’If.

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His visit becomes important because in the 16th century,  he builds a fort on the hill in Marseille to resist the 1536 siege of Marseilles by the Emperor Charles V.

This for becomes the foundations of the current Basilica known as Notre-Dame de la Garde  – literally Our Lady of the Guard

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 This Neo-Byzantine church was built by the architect Henri-Jacques Espérandieu on the foundations of that ancient fort located at the highest natural point in Marseille

It is a major local landmark and the site of a popular annual pilgrimage every year on Assumption Day, August 15.

 The basilica was consecrated on June 5, 1864 and replaced a church of the same name built in 1214 and restored in the 15th century.

We found the a Café across from the Gare de Marseille-Saint-Charles, a most magnificent train station

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The Brasserie de la Gare provided us a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the Mediterranean view….

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We dined al fresco and had some delightful dishes….

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The seafood so fresh and marvelous and the Salad Niçoise absolute perfection….

Hope you enjoyed our brief and wonderful visit to Marseille

Avignon – France

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Avignon  is located in southeastern France bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is a place I have dreamed of visiting since I was around ten years old.

When we checked into the hotel and opened the window, we were greeting with an amazing view of the Palais des Papes

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Often referred to as the “City of Popes” because of the presence of popes and antipopes from 1309 to 1423 during the Catholic schism.

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Avignon is one of the few French cities to have preserved its ramparts.

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In addition, its historic center, the palace of the popes,

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 and the bridge of Avignon………..

……… Pont d’Avignon  Only four of the eighteen piles are left; on one of them stands the small Romanesque chapel of Saint-Bénézet.are well-preserved.

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But the bridge is best known for the famous French song Sur le pont d’Avignon.

In 1309 the city, still part of the Kingdom of Arles, was chosen by Pope Clement V as his residence, and from 9 March 1309 until 13 January 1377 was the seat of the Papacy instead of Rome.

The Palais des Papes is an amazing building….

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By choosing to “move” the Vatican to Avignon Clement caused a schism in the Catholic Church.

At the time, the city and the surrounding Comtat Venaissin were ruled by the kings of Sicily of the house of Anjou.

The French King Philip the Fair, who had inherited from his father all the rights of Alphonse de Poitiers (the last Count of Toulouse), made them over to Charles II, King of Naples and Count of Provence (1290).

Nonetheless, Philip was a shrewd ruler. Inasmuch as the eastern banks of the Rhone marked the edge of his kingdom,

when the river flooded up into the city of Avignon, Philip taxed the city since during periods of flood, the city technically lay within his domain…..interesting tax laws!

Here the flood levels were recorded ….

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The Popes who resided in the Palais des Papes were

Clement V: 1305–1314

John XXII: 1316–1334

Benedict XII: 1334–1342

Clement VI: 1342–1352

Innocent VI: 1352–1362

Urban V: 1362–1370

Gregory XI: 1370–1378

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This period from 1309–1377 – the Avignon Papacy – was also called the Babylonian Captivity of exile, in reference to the Israelites‘ enslavement in biblical times.

The inside of the Palais is eerie and haunting…

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….and of course there is the garden of the Rocher des Doms…

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Now time for some lunch at 46 Bistro……….escargot …….of course…

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…then a walk about town……to the place to be…………the Place de l’Horloge..

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….looks like these two have been sitting around here for a while…

…amazing Carrousel…La Belle Epoque…

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We visited the most wonderful Musee Lapidaire, CLICK HERE to read about that visit…..

……………..we encountered wonderful architecture, as we strolled about….

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….of course the cafes attract our attention….

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….and we decide to have dinner at lou Mistrau….beautiful outdoor dining with wind shields….good because it is quite nippy….

we begin with………….you guessed it escargot…..the best we have ever eaten…

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….followed by my very favorite dish on the planet…..Cassoulet……

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….then perhaps some beef and potatoes….

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……ahhh but let us not forget dessert and cappuccino ….

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walking about we encounter these wonderful ladies dressed in vintage clothing….

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It has been a most wonderful visit, filled with discovery, wonderment, lavender, culinary delights…..

…..but we must move on….

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Musee Lapidaire – Avignon, France

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While visiting Avignon, we would walk down the Rue de la République at least twice a day.  On our third day we noticed the sign for the Musee Lapidaire and decided to peek inside and see what was behind those doors.

OH MY……….the collection was breathtaking!  The gentleman at the desk seemed quite surprised to have visitors…..the place was empty!

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You see the museum was originally a  Baroque Jesuit Church,  whose plans had been prepared in 1616 by Stephen Martelange.

  The exterior is classic Jesuit Baroque, and if you are familiar with Rome, the corbels and carving should remind you of the famed Church of the Gesu.

Since 21 June 1928, it is classified as a historical monument.

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Inside, amid he surprisingly simplistic interior, the is an astounding display of everything from amphora to grave markers, or stele from local archeological sites.

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        The permanent collections cover several eras: prehistory , ancient Greek , ancient Etruscan , Roman antiquity , art Gauls , ancient paleo-Christian.

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Among the major pieces of the collection of prehistoric times, the museum presents the “Stele of LaurisPuyvert

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  The objects of ancient Greek, Roman, and Etruscan, and the Gallic art are varied, vases, statues in low relief, or lamps.

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Some Etruscan tombs are also available.

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We spent several hours in the museum and so enjoyed this amazing collection.  The entire time we were inside, not one other person entered, yet in the street, hundreds walk past the doorway!

We were quite content to have our private museum accompanied by our three singing muses………

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Should you ever be in Avignon, do not walk past these doors and miss this incredible place

for more information CLICK HERE

Beyond the Clock Face ………….Musee d’Orsay, Paris

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Beyond the clock face is Paris, beyond
the ticking away of the ordinary
moments is a lamp-lit cafe with rain
streaking its windows, poetry
spattering its walls. Outside, the
angels gathering on the banks of the
Seine grin back at the ancient
gargoyles. Meanwhile, here at home, the
bed is unmade, the floor unswept. The
party dresses are quiet in the dark
closet……. But there, just beyond the clock
face is Paris. Her angels are listening,
extending their cold fingers to our
outstretched mittened hands……

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Diane Hanna

Havre de Grace

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Whilst driving from Baltimore to Philadelphia, it was time for a break from the road and there before us was a sign for

HAVRE de GRACE, MARYLAND

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Well the rusty old jaw of the Tin Man still has difficulty pronouncing this one correctly

(after all the Emerald City is located in Texas!!)

But off we did go………..

Havre de Grace is a city in Harford County, Maryland  It is situated at the mouth of the Susquehanna River and the head of Chesapeake Bay.

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On May 3, 1813, during the War of 1812, Havre de Grace was attacked by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.   The American Lieutenant John O’Neill single-handedly manned a cannon to help defend the town. He was wounded, captured by the British, and soon released.   In gratitude, Havre de Grace made O’Neill and his descendants the hereditary keepers of the Concord Point lighthouse marking the mouth of the Susquehanna River.

The Town is named after the port city of Le Havre, France, which in full was once ”Le Havre de Grâce”, “Haven of Grace”. 

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In 1789,  Havre de Grace was in serious consideration to be the permanent capital of the United States.

Havre de Grace was a candidate for the honor of being named capital of the United States, when the U.S. House of Representatives voted on the new permanent U.S. capital,

the vote was tied between Washington, D.C. and Havre de Grace—with the tie-breaking vote cast by the House Speaker, in favor of Washington, D.C.

WOW………..and all we really wanted to do was stretch our legs and find a public restroom!!!

We found a marvelous place to rest and decided to have a bite to eat, since the view was so magnificent.

The Tidewater Grille

We got a great table that looked out over the water and a wonderful railroad bridge.

Two railroad main lines pass through Havre de Grace. More than 8 daily passenger trains on Amtrak’s busy Northeast Corridor speed through Havre de Grace at 90 mph on an elevated line. 

The double track bridge was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad between 1904 & 1906

for its New York City & Washington, D.C. line. 

Well, I don’t know about you, but every time I am in Maryland I MUST have all the crab I can possibly consume!

So I began with a marvelous Cream of Crab Soup

Followed by the server’s recommendation of Susquehanna Hash…………and since we were sitting at the mouth of the Susquehanna River, it seemed appropriate.

It was a marvelous Hash made with Maryland Crab ( lots of it!) and Tasso Ham,  topped with an Egg..one of the best dishes I have ever eaten!

We enjoyed our meals and watched the trains as they sped along the tracks over the Susquehanna River and imagined the Capital Building sitting here, but for one vote!

Then it was off to explore more of the town and have a coffee at Java by the Bay

For joy!  The fragrances of the coffee beans was so wonderful in the Shoppe…….

……and the coffee so pleasing, as it was quite windy and cold outside.

Well, hope you enjoyed our little visit to Havre de Grace, now it’s time to get back in the car and continue our journey……

 

 

Vacation Advice

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Well the Tin Man has been sitting still much too long and it is time to start planning the next trip.

I have decided that it is time to enlist the advice and thoughts of all you wonderful, wonderful, people I have met in the blogging world.

I am going to list our itinerary as it currently stands and ask if you would, please, give me any and all input you have of the cities listed and any wonderful sights that are a MUST SEE

Please include restaurants, as you know that I love to blog about food!

I so appreciate your input!

Lisbon, Portugal

Barcelona, Spain

Marseille, France

Nice – Monaco

Pisa, Italy

Grosetto, Italy

Naples, Italy

Villa San Giovanne, Italy

Marsala, Sicily

Valletta, Malta

Messina, Sicily

Brindisi, Italy

Patras, Greece

Athens, Greece

Frankfurt, Germany

If I have missed any places that you would suggest, please let me know.
The route was planned using the EuroRail routes and therefore is very flexible

The only absolutes are:  Portugal, Sicily, Malta………and of course Frankfurt…there is no way I could be in Europe and not set foot in the Father Land!
I so appreciate your input!!!!

Forests of the World : The Strange and Unique

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Lost in the forest, I broke off a dark twig

and lifted its whisper to my thirsty lips:

maybe it was the voice of the rain crying,

a cracked bell, or a torn heart.

Something from far off it seemed

deep and secret to me, hidden by the earth,

a shout muffled by huge autumns,

by the moist half-open darkness of the leaves.

Wakening from the dreaming forest there, the hazel-sprig

sang under my tongue, its drifting fragrance

climbed up through my conscious mind

as if suddenly the roots I had left behind

cried out to me, the land I had lost with my childhood —

and I stopped, wounded by the wandering scent.

Pablo Neruda July 12, 1904 – September 23, 1973  :  Parral, Chile

Forests cover approximately 9.4% of the Earth’s surface.  However, they once covered over 50%. 

Over 80% of Europe’s forests are owned by Russia.

In the forest you never know what is waiting around the corner. 

I remember once when I was on a trip with some  friends and we found this really creepy forest…..

 …………but enough of that…….here are some of the most unusual forests on our planet……..

North Sentinel Island Forest

Located in the Bay of Bengal, it lies to the west of the southern part of South Adaman Island.  It is unique because it is surrounded by coral reefs and lacks natural harbors; therefore, it was never settled by Europeans and deforested.  The island is almost completely covered in old growth trees and is home to the last pre-Neolithic tribe known as the Sentinelese.

The Sentinelese maintain a hunter-gatherer society, obtaining their subsistence from the forest through hunting, fishing and collecting wild plants.


Crooked Forest

The Crooked Forest is a grove of oddly shaped pine trees outside the village of Nowe Czarnowo, in western Poland.

The forest contains about 400 pine trees that grow with a 90 degree bend at the base of their trunks

All the trees are bent northward and are surrounded by a larger forest of straight growing trees. 

The trees were planted around 1930 when the area was inside the German province of Pomerania.

It appears the trees were formed with a human tool and allowed to grow 7 to 10 years before being held down and warped by a device.

The exact reason why the Germans wanted to make crooked trees is still unknown.

 

Red Forest

The Red Forest or the Worm Wood Forest is located within the 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) area surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, near the city of Pripyat, Ukraine.

After the Chernobyl nuclear accident on April 26, 1986, the forest turned a ginger-brown color and died. 

The trees were bulldozed and buried, covered with sand and planted over with new pine saplings. 

Today the Red Forest remains one of the most contaminated areas in the world. 

More than 90% of the radioactivity is concentrated in the soil.

Since 1986, the population of wild boar in the Red Forest has exploded. 

The area has become home to a large collection of wild species, including storks, wolves, beavers, lynx, elk and eagles. 

Birds have been observed nesting in the old nuclear reactors and many endangered species have been spotted.

The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone now encompasses more than 1,600 square miles of northern Ukraine and southern Belarus, a ragged swatch of forests, marshes, lakes and rivers.

Chestnut Hills

The largest remaining forest of American Chestnut trees is named Chestnut Hills and is near West Salem, Wisconsin.

The chestnut blight struck the American chestnut tree and caused mass extinction between 1900 and 1940.

These marvelous trees once grew as tall as 200 feet and had a trunk diameter of 14 feet.

The blight was caused by the C. parasitica and was accidentally introduced to North America either through imported chestnut lumber or through imported chestnut trees.

About 4 billion American chestnut trees were lost in the blight.

Today there are approximately 2,500 chestnut trees on 60 acres of land.

The chestnuts are the descendants from only a dozen trees planted by Martin Hicks in the late 1800s.

In 1987, scientists discovered C. parasitica in the trees and the blight has been slowly killing the forest.

Another small stand of trees was found in Franklin Delano Roosevelt State Park

near Warm Springs, Georgia on April 22, 2006.

Sea of Trees

The Sea of Trees or Aokigahara is a forest located at the northwest base of Mount Fuji in Japan.

The forest contains many hidden caverns and giant trees.  It is very dark and has thick growth.

Aokigahara has an absence of wildlife and is known for being an eerily quiet place.

The forest is known for being the place for suicide.

In 2004, 108 bodies were found in the forest.

It is reported that in 2010, 247 people attempted suicide in the forest.

The Sea of Trees is the world’s second most popular suicide location after San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

Trillemarka – Rollagsfjell Forest

Trillemarka – Rollagsfjell Forest is located in Buskerud, Norway.

It was created on December 13, 2002, and is located in the mountain areas between Nore in Numedal and Solevann in Sigdal.

The forest is the last ancient wilderness forests of Norway.  The land has all the qualities of the original Norwegian forests, including untouched valleys, rivers, lakes and very old trees.

Trillemarka – Rollagsfjell is home to 93 red listed and endangered species.

These species include: Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Tree-toed Woodpecker, Siberian Jay, Stock Dove and Golden Eagle.

Dark Entry Forest

Dark Entry Forest s located in a Connecticut State Forest, but sits on private land near the Mohawk State Forest and Mohawk Trail.

Dudley Town is a ghost town in Cornwall, Connecticut; it was founded in the mid-1740s and was a thriving community at one time.

The the strange sightings, unexplained murders and mass suicides started. 

By the middle of the 20th century everyone in the town had either died or moved away.

It sits in the shadow of three separate mountains:  Bald Mountain, Woodbury Mountain and the Coltsfoot Triplets.

The area is also know for a large collection of orbs, unexplained lights and bizarre sounds.

Yikes!!!

Ardennes

The Ardennes is a region of extensive forests, rolling hills and ridges in Belgium, Luxembourg and France.

The Ardennes holds a strategic position in Europe, for this reason a large number of famous battles have been fought on the land.

Battle of the Ardennes – 1914

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Battle of the Bulge – 1944

Today the Ardennes is popular for hunting, cycling, walking, canoeing and its historic landmarks.

Hoia-Baciu Forest

The Hoia-Baciu Forest is located near Cluj-Napoca, Romania and is referred to as the Bermuda Triangle of Romania.

The forest is named after a shepherd that disappeared in the area with two hundred sheep.

Many of the locals who have gone into the forest complain of physical harm:  rashes, nausea, vomiting, migraines, burns, scratches, anxiety and other unusual bodily sensations.

The Hoia-Baciu has a reputation for paranormal activity, including: orb-like lights, female voices, giggling, apparitions and cases of people being scratched.

Some people who enter the forest suddenly remember all of their past experiences in the trees, but then forget the memories after leaving the forest.

Scientists from Germany, France, Hungary and The United States have managed to capture bizarre material structures on film, including faces and apparitions.

Ancient Wuda Forest

In February, 2012, scientists in northern China announced that they had finished reconstructing an ancient forest that was found buried under a thick layer of volcanic ash near the Mongolian district of Wuda.

The 20 square kilometer forest was completely preserved after a large volcano erupted 298 million years ago. 

Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania, Shenyang Normal University and Yunnan University have been able to reconstruct 10,000 square feet of the subtropical forest.

In all, six different species of trees have been identified in the preserved forest, including the tall Sigillaria, Cordaites, and smaller spore-bearing Noeggerathiales,which is believed to be related to the Fern Family.

Yellowwood State Forest

The Yellowwood State Forest is located in Brown County, Indiana.

The name is derived from the yellowwood, a tree seldom found this far north in the United States.

The Yellowwood State Forest was established in the 1930s. 

A major mystery surrounds the forest. 

A collection of large sandstone boulders, estimated to weigh about 400 pounds have been found in the tops of three trees. 

The mystery began in the 1990s, when a turkey hunter discovered a large boulder in a chestnut oak tree.

The boulder was dubbed Gobbler’s Rock.

Ode to Trees

The sweet scent of nature overshadows

the rough bark and smooth leaves of the trees,

the wind dancing with them as they glide gracefully among the dirt,

whispering lost stories to each other that were passed on to them from the great ancient one.

The trees, some tall some little, all gathering together as one family

These long, brown, and old beings resting

and providing homes and protecting the many animals living in them.

The trees give us all something — a box, a chair, even a house

but never ask anything back

Meera   (a 5th Grader)  November 1, 2008