Searching for locations: Mount Ngauruhoe, New Zealand

Mount Ngauruhoe is apparently still an active volcano, has been for 2,500 years or so, and last erupted on 19th February 1975, and reportedly has erupted around 70 times since 1839.

The mountain is usually climbed from the western side, from the Mangatepopo track.

This photo was taken in summer from the Chateau Tongariro carpark.

In late autumn, on one of our many visits to the area, the mountain was covered with a light sprinkling of snow and ice.

On our most recent visit, this year, in winter, it was fully covered in snow.

It can be a breathtaking sight from the distance.

Searching for locations: Arezzo, Italy

There’s nothing like being a few days early or a few days late for a major festival.

We have the dubious honor of being able to both without thinking. I guess this is why you should try to plan your holiday around events, if possible.

We love Italy.

We’ve been a number of times, but the last visit was the best. Of course, it was not without a lot of hiccups just getting there, but in the end, later than we expected, actually about five minutes before they closed Florence airport, we made it.

So, little did we know there was such a thing as Calcio Fiorentino an early form of football and rugby that originated in 16th-century Italy and thought to have started in the Piazza Santa Croce in Florence. But we were in Florence, at the right time, and even got to see the procession through the streets of Florence.

You can read more about the game and rules at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcio_Fiorentino

We were not so lucky in Siena where we were about a week early for the Palio di Siena which was to take place on 2nd July.

Nor were we in Arezzo at the right time for the Saracen Joust which was held on the penultimate Saturday in June. It is held at the Piazza Grande in the heart of Arezzo and is one of the most beautiful piazzas in Tuscany.

The Piazza Della Liberta and the Town Hall tower

The Piazza Grande, also known as Piazza Vasari, is said to be situated on the site of the ancient Roman Forum.  Here, it is being set up for the coming Joust.

A different view of Arezzo Cathedral | Cattedrale dei Santi Pietro e Donato

Searching for locations: Shanghai, China, by night.

When we arrive at the embarkation site we find at least 100 buses all lined up and parked, and literally thousands of Chinese and other Asians streaming through the turnstiles to get on another boat leaving earlier than ours.

Buses were just literally arriving one after the other stopping near where we were standing with a dozen or so other groups waiting patiently, and with people were everywhere it could only be described as organized chaos.

Someone obviously knew where everyone was supposed to go, and when it was our turn, we joined the queue.  There were a lot of people in front of us, and a lot more behind, so I had to wonder just how big the boat was.

We soon found out.

And it was amusing to watch people running, yes, they were actually running, to get to the third level, or found available seating.  Being around the first to board, we had no trouble finding a seat on the second level.

I was not quite sure what the name of the boat was, but it had 3 decks and VIP rooms and it was huge, with marble staircases, the sort you could make a grand entrance on.  The last such ornate marble staircase we had seen was in a hotel in Hong Kong, and that was some staircase.

But who has marble staircases in a boat?

We’re going out across the water as far as the Bund and then turn around and come back about 30 to 40 minutes.   By the time everyone was on board, there was no room left on the third level, no seats on the second level nor standing room at the end of the second level where the stairs up to the third level were.

No one wanted to pay the extra to go into the VIP lounge.

We were sitting by very large windows where it was warm enough watching the steady procession of the colored lights of other vessels, and outside the buildings.

It was quite spectacular, as were some of the other boats going out on the harbor.

All the buildings of the Bund were lit up

And along that part of the Bund was a number of old English style buildings made from sandstone, and very impressive to say the least.

On the other side of the harbour were the more modern buildings, including the communications tower, a rather impressive structure.

I had to go to the rear of the vessel to get a photo, a very difficult proposition given here was no space on the railing, not even on the stairs going up or down.  It was just luck I managed to get some photos between passengers heads.

And, another view of that communications tower:

There was no doubt this was one of the most colourful night-time boat tours I’ve ever been on.  Certainly, when we saw the same buildings the following day, they were not half as spectacular in daylight.

I never did get up to the third level to see what the view was like.

The cinema of my dreams – I always wanted to go on a treasure hunt – Episode 37

Here’s the thing…

Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.

I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.

But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.

Once again there’s a new installment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.

 

I took a moment longer to study the differences in the maps, trying to see what our edge was.

“So, according to this map, Alex would be looking for a stretch of shore with two rivers going inland, which you say are no longer there.”

“I do because they’re not.  Well, they’re not visible these days from the seaward side, and not really visible from shore either because I think one of the two might have started where the mini marina is.”

The mini marina wasn’t as marina as such, rather an area of seawater surrounded by a promenade with a bridge over the entrance from the ocean, and a lot of expensive Italian tiles.  It was part of the redevelopment of the old marina when the shopping mall had been built.

“Wasn’t that the old marina, which was part of the old navy yard for PT boats?”

Everyone knew the potted history of the town and the navy yard that put it briefly on the map.  There had been an inlet where a marina was built in the early days.  Then with war looming, the navy was looking for a place to build PT boats, carry out repairs to medium-sized warships, and train PT crews.

“One and the same.  There’s very little in the archives about what happened back then, but I did manage to find a document, mentioned in my father’s notebook, about the navy set up a base.  Attached to it was a geological report that stated two facts, the first, they would be building over a watercourse which at the time was believed to be underground, and secondly, deep foundations would be required.  In the event all of it was ignored, they built the port and it was operational up until the end of the war.”

After which as everyone knew they shut the facility down, put up fences and signs with the words hazardous and dangerous, and trespassers would be shot, and it sat there like a festering eyesore until a plan was mooted to turn the site into a mall.

It was a favorite place for us children to go and play, having the fearless mentality that every child was born with.  Yes, there were hazards on the grounds, in for form of rusting metal and hundreds of barrels holding what must have been hazardous material, but best of all, there were two nearly intact boats moored there, and I remembered being captain at least once on a vessel that had taken on everything the enemy had.

“And then they built a mall.”

He nodded.  “My father always said that it was doomed to failure. There’s a section in his notebook about an earlier plan to rebuild the marina with facilities to repair those new larger ocean-going yachts that proliferate in Bermuda and places like that, only he couldn’t find anyone to back the project.  The Benderby’s at the time didn’t like the idea, and since they basically owned the town nothing was going to happen without their approval.”

The mall, however, was something the Benderby’s could get their hooks into, in the building of it, then a slice of every business that moved in.  It would also be good for employment, and people employed mean customers for their other criminal activities.  Deals were made with the Cossatino’s and everyone was happy.  For a few years anyway.

That’s when a newspaper expose on the mall was published.

Exposes were never plucked out of thin air and presented, there had to be a catalyst.  There had been allegations of corruption regarding all aspects of the mall, from planning through the opening day, and especially in the building.  Allegations of payoffs to get approvals, substandard materials used, and the worst allegation, that the builder had not properly cleaned up the site before building commenced.

All of this came to a head when, not long after the tenth anniversary of opening, large cracks started to appear in the floors and walls, so bad that nearly half the mall, that part that had been built over the old navy base, had to be closed, and now was in danger of collapse.

The mini marina, the focal point for the mall, had also been closed because the pool had become polluted from the old navy base waste that had been improperly disposed of in the foundations rather than being properly removed and stored in a special dump.  But there had also been other problems like excess water continuously flooding the lower level carparks, and flowing into the sea pool making it unusable, and at times, very smelly.

Boggs’s father had discovered at the same time as his research for the treasure maps, that the water came from the underground river that had been mentioned in the geological report made before the naval base had been built.  Just because it hadn’t been there at the time, didn’t mean it wasn’t there at all.  It just depended on rainfall back up in the hills, and the year the problems started for the mall coincided with the wettest period for the area in more than 50 years.

His father’s notebook was a goldmine of information, Boggs said.

“It appears there was a lake right where the map says it was, about a hundred years ago.  Since then an earthquake caused a fault line that drained the lake and makes a river instead.  That river ran from the hills to the sea.  Until someone decided to build on the old lake, raised the level and piped the river underground, and drawing from it for the towns and sounding areas water supply.  That in effect reduced the water flow from the lake to the sea to a trickle, or rather a stream.

“But every now and then when it rains heavily and for a long period, the stream becomes a river, and it backs up until with nowhere else to go, it floods the mall carparks.  The lowest level carpark is actually the lowest depth of the river, and it comes out at the sea where the pool now is.  Unfortunately, with the old naval waste rotting in those old rusting barrels, it collects that waste and not only stinks up the mall but also the pool area which is why it’s now closed.

“And the bad news is, it can’t be fixed.  But that’s got nothing to do with our quest.  It’s just an aside to our quest, proving that three of the landmarks on the treasure map actually existed once, and in some form still do.  The thing is, neither the Benderby’s or the Cossatino’s will realize that which means we have a clear run at getting past the first hurdle and with any luck we will be able to identify the river from the hills which is the starting point.”

A simple job, no doubt in Boggs’s mind.  He never had any trouble coming up with hair-brained schemes, only the logistics to carry them out.  This one required proper transport because there was no way we’re going to be able to cycle there and back in a morning, the only time I had free for exploring.

“How do you propose we do this?”

“Rico’s car.  It’s sitting in the marina carpark.  The keys for it are on his boat.”

“Do you know how to drive?”

“I’ve had a few lessons.  How hard could it be?”

Ⓒ Charles Heath 2020

Searching for locations: Driving in ice and snow, Canada

This morning started with a visit to the car rental place in Vancouver.  It reinforced the notion that you can be given the address and still not find the place.  It happened in Washington where it was hiding in the back of the main railway station, and it happened again in Vancouver when it was hidden inside a hotel.

We simply walked straight past it.  Pity there wasn’t a sign to let people know.

However…

We went in expecting a Grand Jeep Cherokee and walked out with a Ford Flex, suitable for three people and four large suitcases.  It actually seats 7, but forget the baggage, you’d be lucky to get two large suitcases in that configuration.

It is more than adequate for our requirements.

Things to note, it was delivered with just over a quarter of a tank of gas, and it had only done about 11,000 km, so it’s relatively new.  It’s reasonably spacious, and when the extra seats are folded down, there is plenty of baggage space.

So far, so good.

We finally leave the hotel at about half-past ten, and it is raining.  It is a simple task to get on Highway 1, the TransCanada Highway, initially, and then onto Highway 5, the Coquihalla Highway for the trip to Kamloops.

It rains all the way to the top of the mountain, progress hampered from time to time by water sprays from both vehicles and trucks.  The rain is relentless.  At the top of the mountain, the rain turns into snow and the road surface to slush.  It’s 0 degrees, but being the afternoon, I was not expecting it to turn to ice very quickly.

On the other side of the mountain, closer to Kamloops, there was sleet, then rain, then nothing, the last 100kms or so, in reasonably dry conditions.

Outside Kamloops, and in the town itself, there was evidence of snow recently cleared, and slushy roads.  Cars in various places were covered in snow, indicating the most recent falls had been the night before.

We’re staying at the Park Hotel, a heritage building, apparently built in the later 1920s.  In the style of the time, it is a little like a rabbit warren with passages turning off in a number of directions, and showing it is spread across a number of different buildings.

It has the original Otis elevator that can take a maximum of four passengers, and a sign on the wall that says “no horseplay inside the elevator” which is a rather interesting expression that only someone of my vintage would understand.  And, for those without a sense of humor, you definitely couldn’t fit a horse in it to play with.

The thing is, how do you find a balance between keeping the old world charm with modern-day expectations.  You can’t.  Some hotels try valiantly to get that balance.  Here, it is simply old world charm, which I guess we should be grateful for because sooner rather than later it’s going to disappear forever.

In my writer’s mind, given the importance of the railways, this was probably a thriving place for travelers, and once upon a time, there were a lot more hotels like this one.

Searching for locations: Driving in ice and snow, Canada

This morning started with a visit to the car rental place in Vancouver.  It reinforced the notion that you can be given the address and still not find the place.  It happened in Washington where it was hiding in the back of the main railway station, and it happened again in Vancouver when it was hidden inside a hotel.

We simply walked straight past it.  Pity there wasn’t a sign to let people know.

However…

We went in expecting a Grand Jeep Cherokee and walked out with a Ford Flex, suitable for three people and four large suitcases.  It actually seats 7, but forget the baggage, you’d be lucky to get two large suitcases in that configuration.

It is more than adequate for our requirements.

Things to note, it was delivered with just over a quarter of a tank of gas, and it had only done about 11,000 km, so it’s relatively new.  It’s reasonably spacious, and when the extra seats are folded down, there is plenty of baggage space.

So far, so good.

We finally leave the hotel at about half-past ten, and it is raining.  It is a simple task to get on Highway 1, the TransCanada Highway, initially, and then onto Highway 5, the Coquihalla Highway for the trip to Kamloops.

It rains all the way to the top of the mountain, progress hampered from time to time by water sprays from both vehicles and trucks.  The rain is relentless.  At the top of the mountain, the rain turns into snow and the road surface to slush.  It’s 0 degrees, but being the afternoon, I was not expecting it to turn to ice very quickly.

On the other side of the mountain, closer to Kamloops, there was sleet, then rain, then nothing, the last 100kms or so, in reasonably dry conditions.

Outside Kamloops, and in the town itself, there was evidence of snow recently cleared, and slushy roads.  Cars in various places were covered in snow, indicating the most recent falls had been the night before.

We’re staying at the Park Hotel, a heritage building, apparently built in the later 1920s.  In the style of the time, it is a little like a rabbit warren with passages turning off in a number of directions, and showing it is spread across a number of different buildings.

It has the original Otis elevator that can take a maximum of four passengers, and a sign on the wall that says “no horseplay inside the elevator” which is a rather interesting expression that only someone of my vintage would understand.  And, for those without a sense of humor, you definitely couldn’t fit a horse in it to play with.

The thing is, how do you find a balance between keeping the old world charm with modern-day expectations.  You can’t.  Some hotels try valiantly to get that balance.  Here, it is simply old world charm, which I guess we should be grateful for because sooner rather than later it’s going to disappear forever.

In my writer’s mind, given the importance of the railways, this was probably a thriving place for travelers, and once upon a time, there were a lot more hotels like this one.

Searching for locations: Windsor Castle, London, England

A fine day, on this trip a rarity, we decided to take the train to Windsor and see the castle.

This is a real castle, and still in one piece, unlike a lot of castles.

Were we hoping to see the Queen, no, it was highly unlikely.

But there were a lot of planes flying overhead into Heathrow.  The wind must have been blowing the wrong day, and I’m sure, with one passing over every few minutes, it must annoy the Queen if she was looking for peace and quiet.

Good thing then, when it was built, it was an ideal spot, and not under the landing path.  I guess it was hard to predict what would happen 500 years in the future!

2013-06-30 12.09.56

I’m not sure if this was the front gate or back gate, but I was wary of any stray arrows coming out of those slits either side of the entrance.

You just never know!

2013-06-30 13.58.11

An excellent lawn for croquet.  This, I think, is the doorway, on the left, where dignitaries arrive by car.  The private apartments are across the back.

2013-06-30 13.58.00

The visitor’s apartments.  Not sure who that is on the horse.

2013-06-30 14.07.25

St George’s Chapel.  It’s a magnificent church for a private castle.  It’s been very busy the last few months with Royal weddings.

2013-06-30 12.12.29

The Round Tower, or the Keep.  It is the castle’s centerpiece.  Below it is the gardens.

2013-06-30 13.59.57

Those stairs are not for the faint-hearted, nor the Queen I suspect.  But I think quite a few royal children and their friends have been up and down them a few times.

2013-06-30 12.13.04

And well worth the effort to reach the bottom.

2013-06-30 14.00.40

Any faces peering out through the windows?

Searching for locations: Windsor Castle, London, England

A fine day, on this trip a rarity, we decided to take the train to Windsor and see the castle.

This is a real castle, and still in one piece, unlike a lot of castles.

Were we hoping to see the Queen, no, it was highly unlikely.

But there were a lot of planes flying overhead into Heathrow.  The wind must have been blowing the wrong day, and I’m sure, with one passing over every few minutes, it must annoy the Queen if she was looking for peace and quiet.

Good thing then, when it was built, it was an ideal spot, and not under the landing path.  I guess it was hard to predict what would happen 500 years in the future!

2013-06-30 12.09.56

I’m not sure if this was the front gate or back gate, but I was wary of any stray arrows coming out of those slits either side of the entrance.

You just never know!

2013-06-30 13.58.11

An excellent lawn for croquet.  This, I think, is the doorway, on the left, where dignitaries arrive by car.  The private apartments are across the back.

2013-06-30 13.58.00

The visitor’s apartments.  Not sure who that is on the horse.

2013-06-30 14.07.25

St George’s Chapel.  It’s a magnificent church for a private castle.  It’s been very busy the last few months with Royal weddings.

2013-06-30 12.12.29

The Round Tower, or the Keep.  It is the castle’s centerpiece.  Below it is the gardens.

2013-06-30 13.59.57

Those stairs are not for the faint-hearted, nor the Queen I suspect.  But I think quite a few royal children and their friends have been up and down them a few times.

2013-06-30 12.13.04

And well worth the effort to reach the bottom.

2013-06-30 14.00.40

Any faces peering out through the windows?

Searching for locations: Windsor Castle, London, England

A fine day, on this trip a rarity, we decided to take the train to Windsor and see the castle.

This is a real castle, and still in one piece, unlike a lot of castles.

Were we hoping to see the Queen, no, it was highly unlikely.

But there were a lot of planes flying overhead into Heathrow.  The wind must have been blowing the wrong day, and I’m sure, with one passing over every few minutes, it must annoy the Queen if she was looking for peace and quiet.

Good thing then, when it was built, it was an ideal spot, and not under the landing path.  I guess it was hard to predict what would happen 500 years in the future!

2013-06-30 12.09.56

I’m not sure if this was the front gate or back gate, but I was wary of any stray arrows coming out of those slits either side of the entrance.

You just never know!

2013-06-30 13.58.11

An excellent lawn for croquet.  This, I think, is the doorway, on the left, where dignitaries arrive by car.  The private apartments are across the back.

2013-06-30 13.58.00

The visitor’s apartments.  Not sure who that is on the horse.

2013-06-30 14.07.25

St George’s Chapel.  It’s a magnificent church for a private castle.  It’s been very busy the last few months with Royal weddings.

2013-06-30 12.12.29

The Round Tower, or the Keep.  It is the castle’s centerpiece.  Below it is the gardens.

2013-06-30 13.59.57

Those stairs are not for the faint-hearted, nor the Queen I suspect.  But I think quite a few royal children and their friends have been up and down them a few times.

2013-06-30 12.13.04

And well worth the effort to reach the bottom.

2013-06-30 14.00.40

Any faces peering out through the windows?

Searching for locations: Windsor Castle, London, England

A fine day, on this trip a rarity, we decided to take the train to Windsor and see the castle.

This is a real castle, and still in one piece, unlike a lot of castles.

Were we hoping to see the Queen, no, it was highly unlikely.

But there were a lot of planes flying overhead into Heathrow.  The wind must have been blowing the wrong day, and I’m sure, with one passing over every few minutes, it must annoy the Queen if she was looking for peace and quiet.

Good thing then, when it was built, it was an ideal spot, and not under the landing path.  I guess it was hard to predict what would happen 500 years in the future!

2013-06-30 12.09.56

I’m not sure if this was the front gate or back gate, but I was wary of any stray arrows coming out of those slits either side of the entrance.

You just never know!

2013-06-30 13.58.11

An excellent lawn for croquet.  This, I think, is the doorway, on the left, where dignitaries arrive by car.  The private apartments are across the back.

2013-06-30 13.58.00

The visitor’s apartments.  Not sure who that is on the horse.

2013-06-30 14.07.25

St George’s Chapel.  It’s a magnificent church for a private castle.  It’s been very busy the last few months with Royal weddings.

2013-06-30 12.12.29

The Round Tower, or the Keep.  It is the castle’s centerpiece.  Below it is the gardens.

2013-06-30 13.59.57

Those stairs are not for the faint-hearted, nor the Queen I suspect.  But I think quite a few royal children and their friends have been up and down them a few times.

2013-06-30 12.13.04

And well worth the effort to reach the bottom.

2013-06-30 14.00.40

Any faces peering out through the windows?