“Pic of the Week”, February 1, 2019: St. Peter’s Church, Colombo

00 St. Peter’s Church, Fort (3)

Christianity is a minority religion in Sri Lanka with just 7.5% of the population being Christian.  Most residents are Sinhalese Buddhists (70%), with smaller numbers of Tamils (12.5%) and Muslims (10%).  Historically all these people have gotten along quite well, although there have been periods of serious conflict (eg. a bloody 50 year civil war between the Sinhalese and Tamils).  While there are many ancient Buddhist temples throughout Sri Lanka, it’s not common to find older Christian churches.

It’s worth looking for the entrance to St Peter’s in the Fort District of Colombo.  St. Peter’s is located on Church Street beside the Grand Oriental Hotel, adjoining the city’s harbor.  The area is quite secure, with barricades and fencing, because Police headquarters …

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“Pic of the Week”, January 11, 2019: Grand Oriental Hotel, Colombo

00 Oriental Hotel Colombo (4)

The Grand Oriental Hotel (GOH, previously the Taprobane Hotel) is a heritage property located in the Fort district of Colombo.

The building was formerly a barracks for the British Army and was converted to a hotel in 1875,  with 154 rooms.  Ads at the time claimed it was “the only fully European owned and fully equipped hotel in the East”; also, “the hotel is lighted throughout by electricity and all the public rooms and bedrooms are kept cool by means of electric fans”.

It was an elegant place to visit in the 19th century.  It had a tropical garden, was illuminated at night by colored lights, and had its own orchestra which performed daily.  The hotel underwent a thorough a refurbishment in …

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.All Trips / Eastern Canada / Nova Scotia

A Visit to the Citadel, Halifax

00 Citadel, Halifax (9)

Halifax’s roots lie in its proximity to the sea, and its large natural harbor.  When the town was founded in 1749, among the first buildings constructed was a guardhouse atop what would become known as Citadel Hill.  The Citadel, because of its hilltop location, offered a strategic defensive position.  As the harborside town grew and changed, so did the fort which overlooked and protected it. 

The Citadel was completed in 1856, the fourth and last in a series of forts built at this site.  Its official name is Fort George (after King George II).  It has a distinctive star shape, strategic for allowing optimum defense of the structure.  Fortunately these defenses were never put to the test as the city was …

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.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

A Visit to the Old Dutch Fort in Batticaloa

06 Old Dutch Fort Batticaloa (15)

My visit to Sri Lanka this past year provided my first opportunity to explore the east and southeastern coasts of the island.  During prior visits, the area was “off limits” because of the decades-long Civil War disrupting the country (which fortunately has been resolved).  The region around Batticaloa was a Tamil stronghold in their fight with the Sinhalese government.  The region is decidedly more Hindu and Christian than other parts of the island I’ve visited.

Sri Lanka, because of it’s strategic location, has been in the cross-hairs of many colonial nations over the centuries.  In modern recorded history this includes the Portuguese, Dutch and English, all of whom left their mark on the country.  There were several dozen such old forts …

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.All Trips / Asia / Dubai

A visit to the Al Fahidi Fort (the Dubai Museum)

02 Dubai Museum (44)

When you visit Dubai today you’ll see a landscape of shiny skyscrapers piercing the hazy desert air.  There’s a lot of history to the region, although little lingering evidence of man’s habituating it because until a few decades ago, this was the home of nomadic tribesmen.  In the mid-twentieth century the influx of petrodollars changed all that and fueled the construction boom leading to the city we see today.  If like me you like to study the history of a place, then a visit to the Dubai Museum is a must when visiting the U.A.E.

The Al Fahidi Fort, built of coral stone and mortar in 1787, is the oldest building in Dubai.  The Fort is situated on the south side of Dubai Creek in …

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.All Trips / Europe / Ireland

A Visit to Ireland: Part 4) the Ring of Kerry; Exploring the Iveragh Peninsula

Ring-of-Kerry-2013-061 Staigue Fort

The Ring of Kerry is a loop drive that circles the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry.  It’s just 110 miles (176 km) long but is not a fast drive as its narrow and winding. And there’s lots of beautiful scenery and historic stops along the way, so take your time and a full day to enjoy this trip.  The Iveragh peninsula has many ancient ring forts dotting the rocky land and this road offers the opportunity to easily explore several of them.  Awe-inspiring vistas of a rugged coast, the central mountains (including the tallest mountain in Ireland), and on clear days the Beara Peninsula to the south, the Skellig Islands to the west and the Dingle peninsula on the Northern part of the drive (limited views and visibility on …

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