Showing posts with label cruise. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cruise. Show all posts

24 May 2018

Guernsey and its Little Chapel

Island with a population of 63,000 people. In 1215 King John promised a special charter, the locals would not have to pay taxes to London or obey Westminster laws as long as they recognized the Queen as their sovereign in her capacity as "Duke" (not Duchess) of Normandy.  Apparently Queen Victoria loved it and came to visit no less than five times.

Today it is not part of the EU though it applies all standards to such things as food. Mints its own coins which are on par with the UK pound, but they are not accepted outside the island. If you get sick, good luck because neither NHS nor European Health Insurance Card are accepted here.

Funny to think about it now but French official language until 1920s. The switch began in the 1880s with English newspapers becoming more  and more popular. Lawyers must study French even today because of old laws in French. French language killed off in WWII when kids went to England.

It was occupied by Germany but Churchill did not attempt to retake it until the end of the war.

The property market has two separate tiers: a) a local market only for residents average 400k and b) an open market property for all but only 170 houses, very expensive 1.5mill at least. 

An honor system for selling milk cheese and veggies produced by private people, no license just pick up and leave money in a jar.

In the past privateers, pirates allowed with the letter of the mark by king if they pay 60pc of their loot to him, and pirates from here caught Spanish Dutch and French ships. Today, our guide says, the main industry is banking , a sort of modern piracy ! Then tourism ...

Interesting little music box in some shop we visited on the island.

Visit to Little Chapel, the smallest inthe world, they say. Here is the description of Little Chapel from the Visitguernsey website:

The Little Chapel was a work of art and labor of love built by Brother Déodat, who started work in March 1914. His plan was to create a miniature version of the famous grotto and basilica at Lourdes in France. The version you see today is actually the third version.

The first, measuring a tiny 9 feet long by 4.5 feet wide, was criticized, so Brother Deodat spent the following night demolishing the building. He soon set to work again and, in July 1914, the grotto was completed and officially blessed. This survived until September 1923; Brother Deodat demolished it in that month because the Bishop of Portsmouth had not been able to fit through the doorway.

He soon set about the construction of a third chapel - which we see today. The building operation proved laborious, collecting pebbles and broken china to decorate the shrine. Then suddenly the Little Chapel became famous, thanks to an illustrated article in the Daily Mirror. Presents poured in from around the world and Islanders brought colored china to Les Vauxbelets with the Lieutenant-Governor offering remarkable mother-of-pearl.

In 1939 Brother Deodat returned to France because of ill health. After his departure, the care of the Little Chapel was entrusted to Brother Cephas, who continued to decorate the building until his retirement in 1965. In 1977, a committee was established to restore the chapel and today it falls under the care of The Little Chapel Foundation.

There is no charge to enter the Chapel as it relies totally on public donations.

Tribute to the crew in kitchens and restaurants at the end of the cruise!

21 May 2018

Belfast and Giants’ Causeway

As we disembark we see piles of coal at the harbor, they tell us it is still extensively used for home heating! We have a guide who is obviously a Catholic nationalist, here is a few points from his explanations during the day.

Now Northern Ireland is trying to revive the shipbuilding industry concentrating on repairs, 800 workers, used to have more than 25000. The Titanic, of course, was built here. Biggest exports from Northern Ireland are farm products, lamb cheese, and machinery.

Belfast now has 500,000+ inhabitants, 10th largest city in the in the UK. In 1888 queen Victoria gave Belfast city status.

Giant causeway, since 1996 UNESCO World Heritage Site, the only one in NI. It was formed 50 million years ago by volcanic eruptions and is made up of about 40,000 stones.

According to mythology a giant from Scotland and one from Ireland were fighting. The Scottish giant bigger Irish ran back and wife.

The Vikings ruled here from the 9th to 11th century, then Anglo Saxons in 12th , build castles. Later English and Scottish domination take best land, Irish discriminated against.

1588 shipwrecks of Armada, uncharted waters on West coast of Ireland

1845 to 1852 famine 1 million died, another million migration to America
Catholics persecuted, Gaelic language prohibited during protestant reformation

Why the UK keep North Ireland after Irish independence in 1922:

- strategic reason: feel vulnerable to attack from Atlantic
- economic: 6 counties in ni richest, textile shipbuilding. At partition Northern Ireland had 80% of the island's gdp, today 9%.
- just over 50% in Ulster wanted to remain in the UK.

Unionists wanted NI to be a "protestant priority" land. In the late 1960s lots of catholic uprising, they were inspired by the American Civil rights movement, discrimination against Catholics similar to that against blacks in the USA
even segregation, created enclaves, separated by so-called peace walls still visible.

The army was sent in. In 1971 cases of internment of Catholics without trial
powers to army directed against Catholics, up to 5 years in jail without charge.

Demonstrations in Derry but the UK deployed parachute regiments
barricaded and 28 civilian shot 14 dead on bloody Sunday 1972

Belfast very divided city, conflict until 1994 the start negotiating. Good Friday agreement in 1998. But still divided, built more "peace walls" after the Good Friday agreement.

In many ways a backward country, everyone got the right to vote in local elections 1973, before that one had to be a  landowner!

Giant's Causeway at Cobh, Northern Ireland

Stop at the Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland's only Unesco WHS. Rainy day but fun to see this unusual site and waves crashing on the shore!

20 May 2018

Killybegs, Ireland

Biggest hand-operated loom in the world made with Canadian pine wood. The lady said she can do 1000 knots per hour!

These carpets are in Irish embassies around the world and other major public places.

At a local pub, some musicians and crew singers from our ship fraternize.

The town sports a small "cathedral" and lots of fishing boats. A quiet walk under the warm drizzle.

14 May 2018

Cork, Ireland

Took some time to get ashore as they had to check Lifang's passport. As a UK resident and married to an EU national she does not need, and does not have, a Schengen visa, which the cruise staff should know... So we had to wait for a chubby Irish official to board the ship and check the documents of all non-EU passengers and she, of course, smiled and said all is OK and we can go ashore...

Cork is the 2nd largest natural harbor in the world after Sydney, it has a huge 5m tide which requires skill to operate in. The river is navigable 12 miles up to the city of Cork. It was a poor town for a long time, lots of emigrants going from here to the USA.

Now it is doing very well. Ford established its first factory outside the USA here, but now it is Apple Computers which is the largest employer.

20,000 students at university and 25 million euro golf course bought by Chinese investors!

Only 15pc of population speak Irish as main language but all must study in school

Cork means marsh in Gaelic

Main road called Patrick, was a canal, now lamp posts like ship masts

Lots of billboards in every street for and against the upcoming abortion referendum

Interesting fish at a local market!

12 May 2018

Start of a new cruise on Queen Victoria

Again on a Cunard ship. As the saying goes, there are mostly newly weds or nearly deads. More of the latter this time, though we definitely belong to the former category.

It is drizzling and quite cold for May at about 10 degrees, hopefully it will change but this is a cruise of the British Isles after all, not the Caribbean isles.

Chat with our Polish maître D, Rafael talk we discuss how Poland has changed and my upcoming book on cold War Poland when I spent several months there.

We are lucky, we get to sit by ourselves at a large and comfortable table. On a cruise it is the safest option, better than being stuck with incompatible diners, but one misses the chance to meet now interesting people. As we did last time, when we made the acquaintance of Peter and Elisabeth. We are still in touch and plan to cruise together again soon.