In a word: Dear

Yes, it’s that simple word that we use to call someone affectionately.

Or sometimes, with a little accent on the word; yes, dear and no, dear.

In other words, it’s a person regarded with deep affection.

It can also mean expensive, by saying, that’s a bit dear, isn’t it, when we’re really saying it’s way overpriced.

I can’t remember how many times I’ve said something is ‘too dear’ to the children.

Grannies tend to use the expression, ‘be a dear and…’, to get you do do something for them.

Friends, sometimes tongue in cheek, will say, ‘oh dear, I’ve upset you’, when that was exactly what they meant to do.  Friends you say?  Yes, friends indeed.

And then we always start a letter (always?  Who writes letters any more?) with

Dear John (oops, not one of THOSE letters)

Dear Sir/Madam

Of course, instead of swearing, you could simply say ‘Oh dear, you’ve let us down again!’.

And when you lose your job, which is happening a lot at the moment, it is said it would cost you dear, though sometimes it would be more appropriate to use the adverb, dearly.

It is not to be confused with the word deer which is an animal, the males of which have antlers.

There are a number of different types of deer, such as reindeer and elk.  In Canada, they are called caribou.

In Robin Hood’s day, killing deer brought you very harsh punishment.

And one of my favourite meats is venison, meat from a deer, which are farmed in New Zealand along with sheep.

Searching for locations: Murano, Italy

The first time we visited Venice, there was not enough time left to visit the glass-blowing factories on Murano.  We saved this for the next visit, and now more comfortable with taking the Vaporetto, boarded at San Marco for the short journey.

The view looking towards the cemetery:

The view looking down what I think was the equivalent to the main street, or where several of the glass-blowing factories and display shops were located:

Looking towards a workshop, this one costs us each a Euro to go in and observe a demonstration of glass blowing, and it still surprises me that some people would not pay

The oven where the glass is heated

And the finished product, the retail version of the horse that the glassblower created during the demonstration:

Then we bought some other glassware from the retail storefront, a candle holder

and a turtle.

In a word: Dear

Yes, it’s that simple word that we use to call someone affectionately.

Or sometimes, with a little accent on the word; yes, dear and no, dear.

In other words, it’s a person regarded with deep affection.

It can also mean expensive, by saying, that’s a bit dear, isn’t it, when we’re really saying it’s way overpriced.

I can’t remember how many times I’ve said something is ‘too dear’ to the children.

Grannies tend to use the expression, ‘be a dear and…’, to get you do do something for them.

Friends, sometimes tongue in cheek, will say, ‘oh dear, I’ve upset you’, when that was exactly what they meant to do.  Friends you say?  Yes, friends indeed.

And then we always start a letter (always?  Who writes letters any more?) with

Dear John (oops, not one of THOSE letters)

Dear Sir/Madam

Of course, instead of swearing, you could simply say ‘Oh dear, you’ve let us down again!’.

And when you lose your job, which is happening a lot at the moment, it is said it would cost you dear, though sometimes it would be more appropriate to use the adverb, dearly.

It is not to be confused with the word deer which is an animal, the males of which have antlers.

There are a number of different types of deer, such as reindeer and elk.  In Canada, they are called caribou.

In Robin Hood’s day, killing deer brought you very harsh punishment.

And one of my favourite meats is venison, meat from a deer, which are farmed in New Zealand along with sheep.

Searching for locations: Murano, Italy

The first time we visited Venice, there was not enough time left to visit the glass-blowing factories on Murano.  We saved this for the next visit, and now more comfortable with taking the Vaporetto, boarded at San Marco for the short journey.

The view looking towards the cemetery:

The view looking down what I think was the equivalent to the main street, or where several of the glass-blowing factories and display shops were located:

Looking towards a workshop, this one costs us each a Euro to go in and observe a demonstration of glass blowing, and it still surprises me that some people would not pay

The oven where the glass is heated

And the finished product, the retail version of the horse that the glassblower created during the demonstration:

Then we bought some other glassware from the retail storefront, a candle holder

and a turtle.

Searching for locations: The Golden Mask Dynasty Show, Beijing, China

The Golden Mask Dynasty Show was located at the OCT Theatre in Beijing’s Happy Valley. 

The theatre was quite full and the seats we had were directly behind the VIP area; as our guide told us, we had the best seats in the house. 

The play has 20 different dance scenes that depict war, royal banquets, and romance.  There are eight chapters and over 200 actors, and throughout the performance we were entertained by dancers, acrobats, costumes, lighting, and acoustics.

The story:

It is of romantic legend and historical memories, the Golden Mask Queen leads her army in defeating the invading Blue Mask King’s army, and afterwards the lands return to a leisurely pastoral life until the Queen forges a ‘mysterious tree’.  When the tree has grown, the Queen has a grand celebration, and releases the captured Blue soldiers, much to the admiration of the Blue Mask King.
This is followed by monstrous floods, and to save her people, and on the advice from the ‘mysterious tree’, the Queen sacrifices herself to save her people.  The Queen then turns into a golden sunbird flying in the sky blessing the people and that of the dynasty.

Billed as the best live show in China, described as a large scale dramatic musical, “The Golden Mask Dynasty” it lived up to its reputation and was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

It was not just singing dancing and acrobatics, it had a story and it was told so that language and cultural issues aside, it worked.  There was a narration of the story running beside the stage, but it was hard to divide attention between what was happening, and what was being related.

Then came the peacock dance, with live peacocks

And this was followed by a waterfall, well, I don’t think anyone in that audience could believe what they were seeing.

I know I was both astonished and in awe of the performance.

What a way to finish off our first day in Beijing.

Oh, sorry, that high was dented slightly when we had to go back to our room.

Searching for locations: The Yu Gardens, Shanghai, China

The Yu Gardens or Yuyuan Gardens

The Yu Gardens (or Yuyuan Gardens) are located at No. 137, Anren Street, Huangpu District, very close to the Old City God Temple, in the northeast of the Old City of Shanghai at Huangpu.

Yu Garden was first built in 1559 during the Ming Dynasty by Pan Yunduan and finished approximately 1577, created specifically as a private garden of the Pan family for Pan Yunduan’s parents to enjoy in their old age.

Yu Garden occupies an area of 5 acres, and is divided into six general areas:

  -Sansui Hall which includes the Grand Rockery was originally used to entertain guests,

  -Wanhua Chamber is a delicate building surrounded by derious cloisters,

  -Dianchun Hall, built in 1820, includes Treasury Hall and the Hall of Harmony,

  -Huijing Hall which includes Jade Water Corridor.

  -Yuhua Hall which is furnished with rosewood pieces from the Ming Dynasty, and,

  -The Inner Garden with rockeries, ponds, pavilions, and towers; first laid out in 1709.  As the quietest part of Yu Gardens, it includes the Hall of Serenity and the Acting and Singing Stage.

The Mid-Lake Pavilion Teahouse, within the gardens, is the oldest teahouse in Shanghai.

A centerpiece of the gardens is the Exquisite Jade Rock, a 5-ton boulder that was originally meant for the Huizong Emperor (Northern Song Dynasty from 1100-1126 AD) but was salvaged from the Huangpu River after the boat carrying it had sunk.

These gardens house a lot of buildings that seemed to be a perfect blend of the old and the new, and if it was up to me, I’d keep the old.  Both the building and the gardens they are set in are like an oasis in the middle of an industrial complex, and perhaps impractical for the number of people living in Shanghai.

All of the ponds had a lot of fish in them

It was a pleasant afternoon, for both a stroll through the gardens

In and out of the rockery on narrow pathways

And to look inside the buildings that were sparsely furnished

There was even an area set aside for entertainment.

Searching for locations: The Golden Mask Dynasty Show, Beijing, China

The Golden Mask Dynasty Show was located at the OCT Theatre in Beijing’s Happy Valley. 

The theatre was quite full and the seats we had were directly behind the VIP area; as our guide told us, we had the best seats in the house. 

The play has 20 different dance scenes that depict war, royal banquets, and romance.  There are eight chapters and over 200 actors, and throughout the performance we were entertained by dancers, acrobats, costumes, lighting, and acoustics.

The story:

It is of romantic legend and historical memories, the Golden Mask Queen leads her army in defeating the invading Blue Mask King’s army, and afterwards the lands return to a leisurely pastoral life until the Queen forges a ‘mysterious tree’.  When the tree has grown, the Queen has a grand celebration, and releases the captured Blue soldiers, much to the admiration of the Blue Mask King.
This is followed by monstrous floods, and to save her people, and on the advice from the ‘mysterious tree’, the Queen sacrifices herself to save her people.  The Queen then turns into a golden sunbird flying in the sky blessing the people and that of the dynasty.

Billed as the best live show in China, described as a large scale dramatic musical, “The Golden Mask Dynasty” it lived up to its reputation and was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

It was not just singing dancing and acrobatics, it had a story and it was told so that language and cultural issues aside, it worked.  There was a narration of the story running beside the stage, but it was hard to divide attention between what was happening, and what was being related.

Then came the peacock dance, with live peacocks

And this was followed by a waterfall, well, I don’t think anyone in that audience could believe what they were seeing.

I know I was both astonished and in awe of the performance.

What a way to finish off our first day in Beijing.

Oh, sorry, that high was dented slightly when we had to go back to our room.

Searching for locations: The Yu Gardens, Shanghai, China

The Yu Gardens or Yuyuan Gardens

The Yu Gardens (or Yuyuan Gardens) are located at No. 137, Anren Street, Huangpu District, very close to the Old City God Temple, in the northeast of the Old City of Shanghai at Huangpu.

Yu Garden was first built in 1559 during the Ming Dynasty by Pan Yunduan and finished approximately 1577, created specifically as a private garden of the Pan family for Pan Yunduan’s parents to enjoy in their old age.

Yu Garden occupies an area of 5 acres, and is divided into six general areas:

  -Sansui Hall which includes the Grand Rockery was originally used to entertain guests,

  -Wanhua Chamber is a delicate building surrounded by derious cloisters,

  -Dianchun Hall, built in 1820, includes Treasury Hall and the Hall of Harmony,

  -Huijing Hall which includes Jade Water Corridor.

  -Yuhua Hall which is furnished with rosewood pieces from the Ming Dynasty, and,

  -The Inner Garden with rockeries, ponds, pavilions, and towers; first laid out in 1709.  As the quietest part of Yu Gardens, it includes the Hall of Serenity and the Acting and Singing Stage.

The Mid-Lake Pavilion Teahouse, within the gardens, is the oldest teahouse in Shanghai.

A centerpiece of the gardens is the Exquisite Jade Rock, a 5-ton boulder that was originally meant for the Huizong Emperor (Northern Song Dynasty from 1100-1126 AD) but was salvaged from the Huangpu River after the boat carrying it had sunk.

These gardens house a lot of buildings that seemed to be a perfect blend of the old and the new, and if it was up to me, I’d keep the old.  Both the building and the gardens they are set in are like an oasis in the middle of an industrial complex, and perhaps impractical for the number of people living in Shanghai.

All of the ponds had a lot of fish in them

It was a pleasant afternoon, for both a stroll through the gardens

In and out of the rockery on narrow pathways

And to look inside the buildings that were sparsely furnished

There was even an area set aside for entertainment.

Searching for locations: A bus tour of Philadelphia, USA

The Philadelphia Bus Tour, what we did see

To start with, we first joined this tour at stop number 6.

We had to find it first and that meant some pedestrian navigation, which took us first to the City Hall, a rather imposing structure, which we found later had a profound effect on Philadelphia sports teams.

According to the map, stop number 6 is Reading Terminal Market, Convention Centre, on 12th street on Filbert.  This was where we bought the tickets and boarded the bus that had a rather interesting guide aboard.

His favorite says was “And we’re good to go.”

Soon we would discover that his commentary was more orientated towards a younger audience, not that it bothered us.

Given the time restraints, we had, this was always going to be about looking and learning.

Stop number 7

City hall, Love Park.

This we had seen on our walk from where we left the car at the Free Library, near the Swann Memorial Fountain in Logan Park, the landmark that Rebecca had remembered from her last visit to Philadelphia.  Of course, then, it was not quite so frozen.

Love park, of course, was only notable to us in that it had a sculpture in place with the word Love rather stylized.  Apart from that, you’d hardly know it as a park

The city hall, well, that was something else, and when we looked at it, before going on the tour, it was a rather magnificent stone edifice.

After, well the guide filled us in, tallest building, highest and largest monument on William Penn, you get the gist.  37 feet tall, when eclipsed, the Philly sports teams all suffered slumps of one kind or another, until the problem was rectified.  Interesting story.

Stop number 8

18th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, or Logan Circle

This is the location of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.  A place where the Pope decided to give an audience and sent the city into a spin.

The same church has very high windows for the reason in the early days there was a problem with people wanting to throw Molotov cocktails through the windows.  A bit hard when they’re so high up.

Benjamin Franklin Parkway, of course, is interesting in itself as an avenue, not only for all of the flags of many nations of those who chose to live in Philadelphia.  We found ours, the one for Australia

This was also the stop where we needed to get off once the tour was finished, and time to head to the car, and go home, but that’s another story.

Stop number 10

Is that the stature of the Thinker, made famous, at least for me, from the old Dobie Gillis episodes, of God knows how many years ago?

Or, maybe it’s just the Rodin Museum on Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

There’s a whole story to go with that Statue and the fact it is one of many all over the world.

This one was made in France, cast in 1919 in Bronze, and is approximately 200cm x 130 cm by 140cm.

Stop number 11

Eastern State Penitentiary.  NW corner of 22nd Street and Fairmont Avenue.

This had a rather interesting story attached to it and had something to do with ghosts, but I wasn’t listening properly to the guide’s monologue.

But, later research shows, the fact it was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world.  Many also think it is haunted and is a favorite for visiting paranormal visitors.

Built around 1829, it was the first prison to have separate cells for prisoners.  It held, at various times, the likes of Al Capone and Willie Sutt

Stop number 18

The Philadelphia Museum of art, where we stop for a few minutes and look at the steps which were immortalized in the movie Rocky, yes he ran god knows how far to end up on the top of these steps.

Sorry, but I’m not that fit that I would attempt walking up them.  The view is just fine from inside the bus.  Of course, they might consider cleaning the windows a little so the view was clearer, but because it’s basically Perspex and scratched so that might not be possible.

Stop number 17

Back at Logan Circle, or Square if you prefer, but on the other side, closer to the Franklin Institute.  Benjamin Franklin’s name is used a lot in this city.

After that, it’s a blur, the Academy of Music, the University of the Arts, Pennsylvania Hospital, South Street, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the USS Olympia, Penn’s Landing, and past the National Liberty Museum.  I’m sure somewhere in that blur was the intention of seeing the Liberty Bell, but I think I heard that it was not on show, and only a replica could be seen.

So much for the getting as an opportunity to see the real liberty bell, crack and all..

We get off and stop number 27, or Number 1, I was not quite sure.

What were we after?  The definitive Philly Cheese Steak.

Searching for locations: Off to Philadelphia

We are up early and I mean early because we decided to take on Philadelphia the next day, and instead of taking public transport because all the fares I could find were ridiculous, we hired a car.

Again the words ‘or similar’ foiled us.  All charged up and excited its quarter to eight in the morning we arrive at the Avis center just a five-minute walk from our hotel.

Shock number one.  We finish up with some crappy Nissan the desk lady was using as her personal car.

She lied about the car being full of petrol, it was not.

We asked for a GPS and all it was was a glorified phone.  She switched it on, the first didn’t work but the second displayed a screen and that was enough for her to say it was set up and working.

You guessed it, another barefaced lie.

We put it in the car, switched it on, and it was in French.  She hadn’t checked the language of the last user.

We took it back and she had the audacity to call us ‘stupid’, blaming us for breaking it, and then she couldn’t fix it so she gave us another one which I’m sure she checked for English.

The question, if she could set these things up, why couldn’t she instantly fix it?

Sorry, the woman was arrogant and very nasty, and not a good advertisement for Avis or the U.S.A as a place to visit.  I shall never use Avis in America again if she’s the best they can put at the front desk.

Still seething from that encounter it was a good thing I wasn’t driving.

I remember when I was writing Echoes From The Past I had a sequence of events starting in Lower Manhattan and ending up in Philadelphia.  In that narrative, I was not sure if the main character used the Lincoln tunnel, which, on this occasion, we did.

As it turned out the drive was reasonably accurate in that we also followed the i95 turnpike and a number of tolls along the way.  Unfortunately, our mode of transport was not quite as luxurious as my characters.

Once in Philadelphia, we managed to find the Swann Memorial Fountain at Logan Square…

and parked the car outside the Free Library.

From there we walked to the city center, what some might call City Hall, a rather large and impressive stone structure, and then ended up at stop number six of the big bus tour.

Big bus tour

There are 27 stops of which we got on at 6 and got off at 1, managed by a miracle of fate to get back on at 1 and got off at 8 where our car was parked.  By then we were frozen solid.

But…

There’s always an intervening adventure with our outings and the quest was to find the best place to have a Philly Cheese Steak.

Between stops 1 and 6 when we were not on the bus, we hailed a cab, deciding not to wander around the city looking for a Philly Cheese Steak place ourselves.

We had a side mission to the side mission and got the cab driver to take us back to the car so we could lengthen the parking time.  This done, he took us to what he believed was the best Philly Cheese Steak place.

It was a long and convoluted ride that showed us the real Philadelphia, where the citizens live, not the showpiece tourist attractions.

It was somewhere in little Italy. A place called Geno’s steaks, a new and shiny restaurant where there was only seating outside.  Mid-afternoon, it was cold.

But were they the best Philly Cheese Steaks.  I’m not an expert so I don’t really know.  What I do know is the cheesy steak in a roll was absolutely delicious.  Freshly cooked in front of you, the steak slices were still dripping juices as they were put on the roll with a layer of cheese and onions which you have to ask for.

And at ten dollars each, it turned out to be less than the cab fare to get there.

Of course being dropped in Little Italy in America on the 20th Anniversary of the Sopranos, conjured up too many nightmares to be walking the streets in the fading afternoon lights.

Two boys on bikes who looked like thugs in hoodies scared us into a cab and back to the bus stop to do the last eight stops before going home.

All in all, a very interesting if not at times scary adventure.