Remnant of York Castle from the Time of the Vikings

York Castle was built on the orders of William I to dominate the Viking city of York in Northern England in the year 1068.

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Clifford’s Tower, the keep (strongest and most secure part) of the castle, survives to this day and is one of the most distinguishable landmarks of the city.

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It has gone through a tumultuous history involving massacres, fires, explosions and wars.

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It has been used as an office, an armory, a prison, and even a cattle shed over the centuries.

The tower has a commanding view of the city, perhaps only matched by the more famous York Minster in the distance.

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Going down the spiral staircase, one is reminded of how lonely it must have been for the guardsmen as they kept watch over Clifford’s Tower.

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“Human says time goes by –
Time says human goes by.”
― Anonymous

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Heritage
Not quite Evanescent
Survive

We Should Stop and Look at Stained Glass Windows

The world today sometimes makes us feel “broken” in our everyday life, our aches and pains and joys disjointed, we ask “what is the meaning of it all?”

“The easiest thing to do is throw a rock. It’s a lot harder to create a stained glass window.”
– Jon Foreman

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Stained glass windows are made of fragments, like pieces of a puzzle. Only when viewed from afar that they transform into a beautiful whole.

If we stop and step back, maybe we can see how far we have come. In our relationships, the joys we have brought to others, our contribution to the world no matter how small, perhaps we can see a pattern emerging – a beautiful stained glass window in the making.

“People are like stained – glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
– Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

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Stained glass windows offer a glimpse into something sublime. They tell us that there is something beyond the mundane, that perhaps we can transform ourselves and our world beyond the ordinary.

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Stained glass windows at St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, Czech Republic

Transformation
Shine

The Narrow Tracks That Unite Europe

If there’s one thing that has united Europe — more than kings, emperors, religion, political ideology, or a common currency — it’s probably its train system.

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Antwerp Central Station

The narrow tracks that seamlessly connect cities and countries and people.

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You can be in Amsterdam from Brussels in two hours, or to Paris for that matter; Salzburg from Vienna or to Munich under three.

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It takes a lot of infrastructure and investment, but it’s more efficient in the long run and has created tremendous economic value.

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It also requires a vision and determination, and a mindset that connects instead of isolates.

Railways, narrow as they are, link and expand the world.

Castles, lovely as they are, went obsolete 500 years ago.

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Ghent Castle of the Counts (Gravensteen)

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Narrow

Trivia:
There’s a belief that the standard distance between railroad tracks of 4 feet 8-1/2 inches dates back to the days of Roman chariots. Not so, according to this article.

Don’t Miss the Golden Lane at the Prague Castle

When visiting Prague Castle, don’t miss the Golden Lane. It’s the little side street between the castle and the wall, built in the 16th century for the marksmen guarding the castle and their families.

The little houses contrast with the royal dwellings and state rooms, but have their own charm.

It got its name reputedly from alchemists who lived in the street. Franz Kapka was not known to be an alchemist but the writer apparently lived in house no. 22 for a couple of years.

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Today, the houses are little souvenir shops, basking in the sun in their colorful facades and tiny pot gardens.

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It is also a museum that shows how the interiors may have looked like 500 years ago.

After all that walking, a treat of trdelniks is in order; it’s a traditional Czech dessert that looks like a doughnut wrapped around a stick and roasted.

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Looking out towards Charles Bridge and the city of Prague from the Castle grounds while munching on the trdelniks would be a perfect way to cap this Golden experience.

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Cherry On Top

Talking About a Lifetime Plan

“Would it turn out right?
How to tell you, girl
I wanna build my world around you
Tell you that it’s true
I wanna make you understand
I’m talking about a lifetime plan”
– Little River Band, “Reminiscing”

Nothing beats the thought of committing to a marriage when it comes to thinking about the future. Even the act of proposing is fraught with suspense. This pair of adopted benches in Central Park, New York, seems to tell an on-going story. bench_8247bench_8252

The wedding itself is a joint commitment to the future.

Whether in Ghent with a horse-drawn carriage…
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In Saigon…
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Singapore…
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Or a beach wedding in the Philippines at sunset…
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It’s all about The Future, nothing else matters, it seems.

But it’s actually also about the present, because only when the present is full of hope and anticipation can we imagine a beautiful future.

“We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway…
And tomorrow we might not be together
I’m no prophet and I don’t know nature’s ways
So I’ll try and see into your eyes right now
And stay right here ’cause these are the good old days”
– Carly Simon, “Anticipation”

And oftentimes the future we imagine is one where we can enjoy reminiscing about today, because today is what we hope will become the good old days of tomorrow.

 

The Hills Are Alive Around Salzburg, Austria

“The hills are alive with the sound of music
With songs they have sung for a thousand years
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music
My heart wants to sing every song it hears.
– The Sound Of Music

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One of the most popular movies of all time is The Sound of Music. Though it was made more than 50 years ago, its message of hope in a time of war, expressed through music, has stood the test of time.

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(Lake Leopoldskron and Leopoldskron Palace)

The film was shot around Salzburg, Austria, and whether one likes to sing along to the soundtrack or not, everyone can agree that the beauty of the place is something that adds to its charm.

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(St. Gilgen)

The city of Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, is itself beautiful, but seeing the Lake District and the Alps around it was an even more heartwarming experience.

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(Lake Mondsee)

Like the film, it made me see a world where music can fill the soul, where one can be reminded of the beauty in this world.

But we don’t have to go as far as Austria. As the song goes:
“When the dog bites, when the bee stings
  When I’m feeling sad
  I simply remember my favorite things
  And then I don’t feel so bad.”
– My Favorite Things

We can always find a quiet corner in our everyday world, where we can hum a cheerful melody in our head.

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