Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Blog and Loo of the Year

Since one blog I forget to update isn't enough, I now have another! This one's all about books. Check it out here: http://bigboxesofbooks.blogspot.com/

Since I'm posting, maybe I should make time for a quick travel story. Okay, I'm too lazy to bother with a real story. Instead, a comment on the awesomeness that is Scotland. Did you know that they have a Loo of the Year award? Yes, an actual award honoring really nice bathrooms. I was lucky to find myself in two of the winners and, let me tell you, they deserved it. One was in a restaurant called The Green Welly. I don't think I have any pictures of the bathroom but I did take one of the sign:

The other winning bathroom was even nicer but sadly I don't have a picture of that one either. That was in a hotel on Loch Ness. I believe that hotel was also the home of the "official" Nessie gift shop. With that in mind, Loch Ness:

Friday, February 5, 2010

I Could Totally Live There (part 1)

While thinking about possible posts, I decided it would be fun to do a top ten list of sorts. In this case, ten houses (or castles or palaces, really) in which I wouldn't mind living. As it turns out, there are way too many to limit this to ten. So I'll just start with a few and go from there, every so often. Plus, it’s a huge pain to upload all the pictures.

Anyway, the keyword here is ostentatious. I'm really only talking about ridiculously grand, fabulous, waaay over-the-top places. And, since we're civilized here at Travel Rambling, there are a few rules:

1. These are all places I've been. And generally been inside. I may bend that part a little.

2. They must be habitable. As in, there must be a ceiling and enough walls to keep out rain/animals/ax-wielding psychopaths etc.

3. They have to at least be somewhat open to the public. No (currently) private houses.

4. All these places are or were meant to be lived in.

Okay, on with the list!

Number 1: Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal

Since this amazing palace actually inspired this post, I figured it would be a good place to start. Located on a mountain in Sintra Portugal, this is one of the most bizarre looking buildings I've ever seen. It was built in the mid-19th century but I think there was a monastery on the site before the palace was built and that was somehow incorporated. The result is strange but really amazing. I honestly think the building looks like it belongs in a fairy tale or something. First, the exterior colors are varied and bright. Some of it's red, some yellow, and some blue and white tile. There are numerous towers built in various styles. Also, the thing is absolutely enormous. I don't think I could ever see the whole thing, let alone fit it all in a picture. Unfortunately, photography is prohibited inside but there are some pictures (worth seeing) on the Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pena_Palace). I can't seem to find any pictures of the part I liked best which consisted of rooms opening out into a courtyard.

Even better than the palace itself (maybe…) is the incredible view. I do have pictures of that:

Note the Moorish castle on the top of another hill. I’m not sure if the palace is as precarious as I remember it. I’m a little (or a lot) afraid of heights and walking around the walled perimeter was just a little bit scary. In fact, I think one woman in the group had to turn back. So, maybe avoid that part in bad weather.

Number 2: Versailles Palace, Versailles, France

(Yeah, that's just a corner...)

Sure, everyone knows Versailles, Louis XIV's palace in France. How could I not include it? It's not only huge and fancy but a symbol of the French monarchy. Located just outside Paris, Versailles would be an ideal home for someone who likes the suburbs. A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll city. Close enough to count.

What is there to say about Versailles that hasn’t been said? Well, the grounds are pretty fabulous:
Not to mention the interior:
And the front gates are pretty imposing. Good for scaring off the peasants who don’t travel in large packs (if that’s a concern).

For another, slightly less fancy royal chateau in France, try number 3:

Number 3: Fontainebleu Chateau, Fontainebleu, France

What’s there to say about Fontainebleu? Well, it’s big. It’s grand. It’s got a great front yard.
Fontainebleu’s setting is much more rural than Versailles’s is. If you’re royal and in need of a palace but would prefer a country setting, Fontainebleu would be a great choice.

Number 4: Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee

Graceland (where Elvis lived, remember?) is definitely worthy of a high rating on the Tack-O-Meter and therefore worth a mention here. Yes, the kitchen is carpeted. Since Graceland was already covered here (http://mytravelrambling.blogspot.com/2010/01/bsc-in-usa-part-1_14.html), I won’t go into detail.

I just have to say, it’s really tough to upload a lot of photos. If anyone knows of an easier/better way than the standard Blogger way, please let me know!