A Place Somewhere In Time

Nestled between the upper and lower peninsula of Michigan is a place where time stood still. The Mackinac Island, located in Lake Huron, is a popular tourist attraction due to its certain appeal. This place has undergone extensive historical preservation and restoration and is considered a National Historic Landmark.

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I have heard of this place from a partner of mine when we moved to the Midwest more than a decade ago, but it was only recently that we were able to check this place out.

Mackinac Island is only reachable by a ferry from either Mackinac City or St. Ignace. These are fast hydro-jet ferries and only takes less than 20 minutes to get into the island.

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As winter can be brutal in this part of Michigan, most businesses on the island, hotels included, are only open from May to October. Though there are residents that stayed on the island even through the winter.

Visiting Mackinac Island is like walking back in time, as houses and buildings are mostly built from the glorious era of the past, or at least they are made to look that way.

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The island is not only for history fans but also attract nature lovers. There are lots of beautiful sights to enjoy, either cultivated or natural.

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Tourists who visit Mackinac Island are called “fudgies.” I believe the reason for this is that the island has several fudge stores, and all of them offer free samples. So the tourists definitely take advantage of this, us included. But we also brought some home, as we felt obliged to buy after sampling a lot of them.

One of the most unique feature of the island is that there are no cars here. All motorized vehicles are banned on the entire island since 1898. There are only three motorized vehicles in the island: an ambulance, 1 police car, and a fire truck. So to get around, you either walk, bike, or take a taxi. Of course the taxis are horse-drawn carriages.

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When you’re on the island, time is not an essence. People here take their time leisurely. And even if you are in a rush, you cannot hurry the horses. The horses rarely trot, and most of the time they walk. They don’t gallop. If you’re a fast walker, it may be even faster than riding the carriage. As I said, time here stand still.

Horses rule the island. They have only one physician in the whole island, but they have three veterinarians available here. So you know where their priority lies in this place.

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One of the down-side of having many horses walking the streets, is that the roads are littered with their manure.

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The smell is undeniable and sometimes can be overwhelming. But there are many people employed here as a “pooper-scooper.” They even have a mechanized street sweeper or cleaner. Of course it is also horse-drawn (photo below).

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Beside the horse-drawn carriage tour, another faster way than walking, to tour the island is to go biking. And that’s what my family and I did. The whole island is only 8 miles around, though there are some steep hills that may be challenging to ride up.

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One of the most iconic place in the island is the Grand Hotel which opened its doors way back in 1887. As the name implies, it really is grand. It even has its signature horse-drawn carriages available for their patrons.

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This hotel has hosted many presidents, dignitaries, and famous people in its existence. Even if you don’t stay in this hotel (as it is a little pricey) you can still tour it for a minimal fee. It remains one of the most visited place in the island.

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The hotel is also known in the popular culture as this is where the classic movie “Somewhere in Time,” starring Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour, was filmed. The film is about a time traveler who fell in love with someone in the past. They chose this location for the obvious reason that the hotel have not changed much even in the passing of time.

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Overall, we really enjoyed our trip to Mackinac Island. Even though we are not time travelers, perhaps we can be considered as such, as we felt like we visited the “past.” And we definitely fell in love too from something in the “past.”

From Mackinac Island,

Pinoy Transplant

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(*all photos taken with an iPhone)

Under The Presidents’ Nose

That’s where I was last week.

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We have been to the Blackhills, South Dakota twice before, but this was the first time we hiked the Presidential trail, and thus got a closer view of the Presidents’ faces. We were really right under their noses.

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(*photos taken during our recent trip to Mount Rushmore with our visitors from the Philippines)

Garden of the Gods

This is the Garden of the Gods, a national natural landmark in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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Five years ago when we went to Colorado, we planned on visiting this place, but a wild forest fire that closed the roads leading here, prevented us on going. Then two years ago, while visiting Colorado once more, we planned on going again. But heavy rains and hail stopped us.

This year, no fire or rain or hail can prevent us from finally visiting this place. Not even rush hour traffic.


This place, is one of the top visitor sites in Colorado. It is a geological wonder with incredible rock formations.

This place was purchased by Charles Elliot Perkins, a man who lived in Iowa. (Because I live in Iowa, of course I have to mention this.) But he donated this land to the City of Colorado Spring in 1909, so everybody can enjoy this wonderful site for free.

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Some of the rock formations are massive. Some are not so massive.

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And some are thin and delicate, with some rocks even dangerously wedged waiting to crash down.

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Though the rocks are already wonderful to see, the light from the setting sun added magic to the show. Note the colors of these rocks change from red, to orange, to fiery yellow.

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Of course, the sunset is in itself a spectacle to witness. Certainly this is a place to spend some moments of awe and silence. A befitting name to be called the garden of the gods.

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It might have taken us several attempts to visit this place, but it was sure worth the wait to finally see this impressive landmark.

From the Garden of the Gods,

Pinoytransplant

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(*photos taken with an iPhone)

 

A Walk in Piotrkowska Street

It was cold and damp in Lodz, Poland during our visit. But it did not dampen our spirits to explore this place. It may not be as popular like other European cities such as Paris or Vienna, but we have not been to Poland before, or to Europe for that matter, so we were just as excited to be here.

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Piotrkowska Street is the main thoroughfare of Lodz, Poland, and is one of the major attraction of the city. Stretching at about 5 kilometers long, it is one of the longest commercial avenue in Europe.

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The street is known for its varied architecture, lined with beautiful 19th century palaces and houses as well as dainty shops, stores and restaurants. The street was remarkably damaged during World War II, but it was slowly revitalized and restored especially in the 1990’s.

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one of the ornate buildings in Piotrkowska

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coffee tables on the street, but it was too cold to sit outside

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me checking the posted upcoming events while a pedicab passes by

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view of the street below from a window

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a charming bistro where we dined

This place is a combination of old and new. A contradiction if you will, where it is frozen in time…….

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……and yet the world rushes by.

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The street is furnished with modern lamp-posts, and adorned with a scattering of monuments and sculptures. It is paved with black cobblestone, imitating the old pavement.

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The attractions of the street engages you to look ahead…..

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Look down where you step on…….

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their version of walk of fame

And look up.

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There are also mural paintings that goes up the walls.

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What brought us to Lodz Poland is another story. We traveled to Poland not primarily for tour or for a leisure trip. We went here for an international piano competition where my children were fortunate to join.

Why Poland you may ask? I would say that many great pianists, past and present, were from Poland, like Frederic Chopin, Arthur Rubenstein, Krystian Zimerman, and Milosz Magin to name a few. So they have a great heritage of pianists.

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The first phase of the competition was held here in Piotrkowska street, in an old house (picture above) that was transformed into a small auditorium.

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lobby of the auditorium

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practicing on the old piano, while a poster of Milosz Magin contemplates and listens

The second phase of the competition and where the winners’ concert was performed was in a much grander place, a palace, a couple of streets from Piotrkowska.

So while I was in this place, I immersed myself with the music of young protégés and seasoned pianists alike.

Here am I listening to a maestro. O wait, it is a statue.

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statue of Arthur Rubenstein

From Poland with love,

Pinoytransplant

(* photos taken with an iPhone)