Travel Memoir – Published

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Has Anyone Seen My Elephant? and other tales from a traveler’s diary
By Gerald and Patricia Heggen

A travel memoir book filled with amusing stories, adventures, laughs, and more! Available on Amazon – click here to purchase!

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My grandparents traveled the world together for over 40 years. On a very tight budget, they went on one to two trips a year starting in 1971. From Europe, to Asia to South America, they saw everything they could, meet interesting people along the way, and recorded their stories in this book.

Growing up, I have fond memories of gathering in my grandparents living room every other summer to watch the latest slide show of pictures from their recent travels. I sat on the floor and stared in wonder at the photos, listening to my grandparent’s tales and explanations of each photo. My grandparents influenced me more than ever to travel, and I have! Read the book to inspire your travels!

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An excerpt from the book:

Chapter: 1994 – India – Story within the chapter:

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Land of the Monkey

Former maharajah palace accommodations are now history. The Methodist Mission House here in Bombay is home for tonight. Lodging is spartan as the name of the place suggests. But we have a fellow guest who adds a bit of class. Alan Alda is a guest here. He is working on a film. Bombay is truly the film capital of the world-not our Hollywood. Although the city is not lacking in five star hotels, Alan Alda chose the Mission House. Tomorrow we catch the 7:00 AM train to our mission duty at Miraj.

Our reserved seats are in the air conditioned first class car but we find that car has a “Bad Order” label on the side. This meant the car is being removed from the train. We will be riding in the company of India’s common folk-a good introduction into our life style for the next few months.

This train serves every town and village. So we will be 12 hours en route. Every station stop attracts hundreds of people. Platforms are so dense with humanity, one questions how that many can board the train. Among the crowd are food vendors hawking eats, which have tempting aromas. We have been told this food is prepared in homes under poor hygienic conditions and we must resist eating them. Fruit is plentiful so that will be our fare for the day.

We are pulling into a station and are surprised to find the platform deserted – no passengers, no vendors, no railway employees with the exception of one coming through the cars calling out “monkeys-monkeys.” Suddenly hundreds of migrating monkeys are everywhere. Train cars, which are not air-conditioned, have steel bars over the windows. Now we know why. Since the animals have long arms, we are ordered to not sit close to the window and hang on to any items within their reach. Many have offspring clinging to them. This variety does not appear to be an endangered species.

The frenzy ended as quickly as it began. The throng taking refuge in the station is pouring onto the platform. Normal station activity is taking place. The stationmaster waves the green flag. The train moves on!

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To read the entire book, purchase on Amazon by clicking here.

Cake in Innsbruck

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“You can either have good cake and bad coffee, or bad cake and good coffee. It is not possible to have both.”

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When in Austria, one must have pastries and cakes; in fact having a slice of sachertorte is basically a requirement. While in Innsbruck, I asked a local at one of the museums where they would suggest having cake, to which I received this response:

“You can either have good cake and bad coffee, or bad cake and good coffee. It is not possible to have both.”

This was followed by complicated instructions. I am not entirely sure I found the recommended pastry shop, however the cake was indeed delicious and I refrained from ordering coffee. So when in doubt, ask a local where to get your Austrian coffee and pastry.

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For more travel photography of Innsbruck, Austria click here for Monica Goslin Photography – photos available as framed photos, canvas prints, and more.

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For more travel tips and info on Innsbruck see previous travel blog posts.

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Mountains in Innsbruck – Seegrube

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Mountains in Innsbruck

I highly recommend taking an afternoon to climb a mountain while in Innsbruck. It’s not as strenuous as it sounds, I promise. Use the Hungerburgbahn funicular to get from the city center to Seegrube Station at 6,250 feet! Put your Innsbruck Card to good use here as well!

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How to get there:

  • From the city center, follow the Inn River, North and when you see a large public park on the right called Hofgarten, the Congress Station in on your left.
  • The station looks like melted spaceship, designed by Zaha Hadid, you can’t miss it.
  • You’ll go underground and buy tickets at the ticket booth – the maps and brochures explain your options. But you can buy a ticket for just this funicular or you can continue on to the next cable car to reach Seegrube Station. There is even one further cable car past Seegrube Station!
  • Choose your destination and purchase your ticket.
  • The well-mannered station with clearly designated lines, waiting area and boarding zone means you don’t have to know German to figure out where to go
  • The ride is stunning, starting underground and climbing like a rollercoaster, passing over the river on a bridge designed solely for the funicular. Then the car starts to climb the mountain until you arrive at Hungerburg station – another melted spaceship formation.
  • From Hungerburg station, exit and walk around to the right for the next cable car ride if you are going on to Seegrube.
  • This cable car is the traditional car, passing over trails, a few homes (lucky them!) and finally eases into the Seegrube Station at 6,250 feet.

 

Seegrube Station sits right on the edge of the side of the mountain… that doesn’t make sense, but when you see it, it will. There is a café with picnic tables right on that edge, chairs, and then the beginning of hiking trails in the summer and skiing runs in the winter.

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Seegrube Panorama Trail

For an easy walk, take the Seegrube Panorama Trail. In 25 minutes you’ll circle a small hill by the station, getting great views (there are benches along the way as well so you can sit and admire the valley below). Plus you’ll feel quite accomplished while not overly exerting yourself.

There are more vigorous trails, daring rocky paths, and of course hang-gliding and paragliding options. I did see a man prepare his hang-glider and then take a running start, which actually just consisted of about five steps off of the Seegrube edge I mentioned, down a small incline and off he went!

The station and mountain are part of Nordkette, Austria’s largest nature park, Karwendel Nature Park. So enjoy the views, take a leisurely walk, eat at the café, climb a mountain, ride the cable car and more!

For more information on hiking/sking/visiting in Karwendel Nature Park visit www.nordkette.com the photos alone will make you want to go!

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For more travel photography of Innsbruck, Austria click here for Monica Goslin Photography – photos available as framed photos, canvas prints, and more.

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Visiting Oropa Sanctuary in Italy

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A visit to the Oropa Sanctuary in Italy

The out of the way, off-the-beaten path places are often the most fun to visit!

If you have a car while in Italy and fancy a road trip to an out-of-the-way place, visit the Sanctuary of Oropa. The Sanctuary, which sits at an altitude of 1180m, is 13 kilometers from the city of Biella (more on Biella below). Over eight hundred thousand pilgrims visit the Sanctuary each year! The “Black Madonna of Oropa” is located in one of the small churches in the Sanctuary, it is considered one of the oldest shrines of Mary in the west, and one of the most famous in the Piemonte region of Italy.

When visiting the Sanctuary of Oropa you will drive up a curvy mountain road and arrive at a large entrance with a rather grand staircase leading up into a main courtyard. If you climb up the mountain you will visit the Sacro Monte de Oropa with nineteen chapels (built between 1620 and 1720) illustrating the life of Mary; these chapels are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The courtyard within the Sanctuary dates from 1600 to 1800 with buildings ranging from churches, libraries, and chapels. In the center of the courtyard is a large stone fountain with immense spoons hanging from the center, ready for thirsty pilgrims. At the far end of the courtyard you will see the Upper Basilica, built between 1885-1960, which has an 80 meter high dome!

*To see more photographs of Oropa Sanctuary click here for Monica Goslin Photography

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City of Biella, Italy

The city of Biella is an interesting mesh of old and new. There is a small medieval village above the city, which you can reach via a funicular, always a fun way to travel! The funicular was built in 1885, and is supported by 18 pillars of which the tallest is 9 meters, and was originally driven by hydraulic power. The medieval town has cobble stone streets, charming houses, old palaces with courtyards, and arcades passage ways. The medieval plaza dates back to 1160 and is surrounded by pretty buildings. Make sure to see the “house of wooden beams” on the main street as it is one of the last examples of medieval architecture.

Within the city of Biella, below the medieval town, the most important monument to see is the Baptistry. The Baptistry, the most significant monument in the city, was built with Roman remains. Over the door you’ll see a Second Century relief, 13th century frescos inside, and a crypt dating from the 18th century for the Bishops of the city.

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Read more about Biella and the Oropa Sanctuary by clicking here

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Guastavino Architecture and New York City

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Guastavino Architecture and New York City

New York City is brimming with stunning architecture, new and old. But did you know there is a fascinating story behind the famous Oyster Bar at Grand Central, the Ellis Island registry room, and over 200 other buildings? These sites and others are unique in that they feature Guastavino tiles – an intricate tile vault system with a distinctive pattern and remarkable because it is not only beautiful but lightweight, low-maintenance, fireproof and able to support heavy loads.

Rafael Guastavino, a Spanish immigrant, created an ingenious engineering marvel that no one has since been able to replicate!

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A few key places to see the tiles and some Fun Facts:

A major tourist attraction in New York City is the Brooklyn Bridge, but make sure you take the 4/5/6 metro to BrooklynBridge/CityHall and exit via Chambers Street, from which you can walk right over to the bridge. If you get off the metro at Chambers Street you will come up right under the Municipal Building and see the impressive vaults and open-air arcade of Guastavino tiles. The columns you see in this arcade hold the weight of the building in an elegant and beautiful way.

Another popular tourist destination is Ellis Island, and did you know the ceiling in the Registry Room (also known as the Great Hall) is the work of Gaustavino. Originally the ceiling was actually plaster, brick, and limestone until it was destroyed in 1916. Guastavino and his Company built the replacement ceiling. Guastavino’s work was affordable, quick to build, didn’t need additional structures, and has the added bonus of being fireproof (it really is a shame no one has replicated his artistry and engineering!). –Fun Fact – When Ellis Island was being restored and refurbished starting in 1984, only 17 of the 30,000 some tiles needed replacing!

Grand Central and the famous Oyster Bar are truly ideal for viewing Guastavino’s vaults and tiles. – Fun Fact – The Oyster Bar suffered a fire in 1997 but due to the engineering of Guastavino’s vaults, load tests, and fire tests, the vaults remained uncompromised and the restaurant opened less than three months after the fire.

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Visit the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on the West Side of Manhattan to see more Guastavino work. – Fun Facts – The dome of St. John the Divine is one of the largest masonry domes in the world, just behind the Pantheon, the Duomo in Florence, and St. Peter’s in Rome! The St. John Cathedral dome is just a mere 4.5 inches thick at the top, self-supporting with the concentric circles of tiles, and only took 15 weeks to construct; thus another engineering marvel. Make sure to see the identical spiral staircases on each side of the altar.

Location: 1047 Amsterdam Avenue between 112 and 113 streets.

Take the 1 metro to Cathedral Parkway.

Open daily 9-5.

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Take a look at the above photos and take note; you will then see this pattern all over New York City. Unexpected places will reveal this engineering wonder. A few of those unexpected places are: side entrances to Lord & Taylor (just look up before going up the stairs), the Food Emporium under the Queensboro Bridge, Carnegie Hall entrance ceilings, Columbia University’s St. Paul’s Chapel and Earl Hall and Teachers College Library passage to courtyard, the Boathouse in Prospect Park, to name a few.

So make sure to keep your eyes open, and point out the “Guastavino tiles” that date back to the 1885 to your friends, impress them with your architectural knowledge!

The Museum of the City of New York held an exhibition on Guastavino in 2014; you can read about it here: http://www.mcny.org/exhibition/palaces-for-the-people-guastavino

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See more photographs of New York City by clicking here for Monica Goslin Photography where you can also buy prints and canvas prints

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Beyond New York City

Rafael Guastavino actually contributed to many locations throughout the United States. You can see his famous arches and tiles at the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina. The tiles can also be seen in the Boston Public Library, the U.S. Supreme Court Building in DC along with the National Museum of Natural History, the dome of St. Francis Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia, and Union Station in Pittsburgh. Plus see the distinctive tiles that decorate the Nebraska State Capitol.

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Photography Monthly October 2014 Issue

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Photography Monthly October 2014 Issue

I am very excited about the UK magazine Photography Monthly October 2014 issue because there is an article and photos in there by me! I was asked to write up a story about my experience taking photos on the famous Swiss red train! It was great fun to write and now amazing to see in print! The magazine formatted the article beautifully and I couldn’t be happier!

– Check out my travel post about the Bernina Express train ride with insider tips.

** See more photos of the Swiss red train here on Monica Goslin Photography website where you can buy prints too!

And see the magazine and story by clicking here for Photography Monthly UK magazine website. The October issue is on sale now!

Print Shop – Travel Prints and Illustrations

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I just opened my first Etsy store – Print Shop by Monica – and I am very excited about it!

On the Etsy store you will find travel photo prints with text – these are inspired by vintage travel posters and postcards and meant to feature a main travel location with bold text.

Plus I am also starting a small illustration print section – first up are fun watercolors of animals with bright colors and the perfect whimsical feel to add to a room.

So check it out, visit the shop at PrintShopByMonica, leave a message, and hopefully you see something you want to add to your wall!