My lands are where my dead lie buried

Crazy Horse

One of the most memorable sites that I saw on my adventure to South Dakota! Yes Mount Rushmore is here too! As you will more likely know? But just a few miles down the road is the incredible Crazy Horse Memorial. The unfinished monument is and will be a fitting tribute to the Indian Chief, but let’s rewind and find out how it all began…

The year is 1939 at New York’s world fair and self-taught sculpture Korczak Ziolkowski has just won first prize for his “study of an immortal” When Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear learnt of this, he invited Korczak to the Black Hills of Dakota to start a quite astonishing task! To carve a staggering 563 foot high by 641 foot wide monument of Crazy Horse in a mountain side. Korczak started work on the craving in 1949; he was now 40 years old with just 174 dollars to his name. As time went on over the years Korczak battled racial prejudice as well as injuries and age! He also faced financial ruin as he was a big believer in the free enterprise system. He felt that Crazy Horse should be built by the interest of the people and not the taxpayer; he wanted the monument to be educational, nonprofit and cultural. With Korczak twice turning down government money of 10 million dollars a time! He was a man of his word. From the outset Korczak knew he wouldn’t finish the carving in his lifetime. So he and his wife Ruth made three books containing plans and scale models of what the project should look like, to make sure it continued well after his death. Sadly Korczak passed away in October 1982, but the Crazy Horse project is as active as ever. There are special events been held all year round from controlled blasts to Legends in Light Laser Show. The museum is excellent and well-presented and the gift shop is great for getting a few souvenirs.

But my final thought is with the men that made it all happen, Korczak Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear. Their vision of this incredible monument is amazing and their loyalty to what they believe and stand up for is a tribute to these fine men.

Written by Korczak Ziolkowski May, 1949

Crazy Horse was born on Rapid Creek in the Black Hills of South Dakota in about 1842. While at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, under a flag of truce, he was stabbed in the back by an American soldier and died September 6, 1877 age 35 (?)

Crazy Horse defended his people and their ways of life in the only manner he knew.

BUT…

ONLY after he saw the Treaty of 1868 broken. This treaty, signed by the President of the United States, said, in effect: As long as rivers run and grass grows and trees bear leaves, Paha Sapa – the Black Hills of Dakota – will forever be the scared land of the Sioux Indians.

ONLY after he saw his leader, Conquering Bear, exterminated by treachery.

ONLY after he saw the failure of the government agents to bring required treaty guarantees, such as meat, clothing, tents and necessities for existence which they were to receive for having given up their lands and gone to live on the reservations.

ONLY after he saw his people’s lives and their way of life ravaged and destroyed.

Crazy Horse has never been known to have signed a treaty or touched the pen.

Crazy Horse, as far as the scale model is concerned, is to be carved not so much as a lineal likeness but more as a memorial to the spirit of Crazy Horse – to his people. With his left hand thrown out pointing in answer to the derisive.

 

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YES – BELFAST YOU DID IT!

PLEASE VISIT BELFAST. IT’S INCREDIBLE!  

What can I say…? Belfast took me completely by surprise! What a fantastic city trip this turned out to be. I came to Belfast on a 3 day city break as I have always wanted to go and see the Giants Causeway and the Titanic museum. But as I soon found out on arrival I needed at least 5 days to fit everything in, there really is so much to do and see.

Where to stay?

After doing some research on-line, I chose to stay at the Hilton hotel which is slap bang in the city centre and a stone’s throw away for all the action. I got a good deal by going on-line (Hilton.com) and found they had a summer saver deal for 3 nights, I paid £213 for a king room with a city view. But why not treat yourself? Upgrade to an Executive Floor room, it is well worth the little bit extra that you pay. This allows you into the Executive Lounge with evening canapés and pre-dinner drinks including wines, beers and soft drinks. There are also fantastic views of the city. The Hilton is also near the city airport (George Best) and 2 minutes away from the central train station, with easy access to Dublin and neighbouring towns.

What to see?

Well… this is where Belfast gets exciting, as far as city breaks go Belfast is up there with the other European A-list cities like Paris, Rome and Prague you name it and it’s here. Museums, stunning monuments and statues, bars, river cruises, amazing architecture and a stunning city hall oh and I nearly forgot… The Giants Causeway and The Game of Thrones tours! Impressed? I was. Firstly though, with it been a lovely warm summer’s day I headed into the city to take a look at the city hall. What a beautiful building, the Titanic monument garden is here too, as well as a vast array of stunning statues that tower with pride in the picture perfect gardens. After a couple of hours leisurely wandering around the city hall I headed to the dock to catch a river cruise that I booked myself earlier, £10 for a 75 minute boat ride up and down the Lagan River. It’s mint! You get to look at docked tall ships! The Titanic quarter and all audio by a very knowledgeable skipper! The Titanic museum is a must see, but book your tickets on-line you will save yourself time. Also they do an early bird special, go between 9am and 9.40am and your ticket is just a tenner, saving yourself £5.50. But give yourself a good 3 hours to look around the museum, its incredible! Next on the list is the Giant’s Causeway… Oh I’ve waited 10 years to see this natural wonder… Amazing!

Where to eat?

The Belfast has loads to offer for all budgets and tastes! But my tip for a different lunch or evening meal out is a cool little pub called “The Crown” It’s Belfast’s most famous boozer dating back to the 1820’s and is owned by the national trust and is a historical landmark of the city.

 

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McKinney Falls!

McKinney Falls is a state park located in the Texas capitol, Austin. Escape the rushed pace of the city and stroll around the 725-acre park along natures soothing sounds. The trails lead you to a simply stunning waterfall with amazing scenery, Indian rock shelters and pioneer ruins.

 

Useful stuff…

Address: 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway, Austin, Texas 78744

Phone: (512) 243-1643

Web-Site: tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/McKinney-falls

Fees: $6 Adult daily use, Children 12 and under enter for free

Elevation 550 feet

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Hmm Bratislava!

The capital of Slovakia, Bratislava, set on the banks of the picturesque river Danube. It is the only city to have land borders with two other independent countries, (Austria and Hungary) after a spilt with the Czech Republic in 1993; Bratislava became Slovak Republic’s capital city.

Personally I found Bratislava to be a bit of a strange place! Don’t get me wrong I did enjoy my trip there, but no one seems to smile! Everyone is very withdrawn and keeps themselves to themselves! Quite strange really. But please don’t let me put you off visiting this city, it does offer a lot of interesting monuments and memorials as well as nice coffee bars and cheap beer! In fact, the joyful statues make up for the withdrawn people! And really that’s all I have to say about Bratislava…!

 

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DEVIL’S TOWER!

Where do I start with America’s first monument? This astonishing act of nature really does make you go WOW and say “what the heck is that” I’ve been lucky enough to have visited three times to the wonder that is “The Devils Tower” Located in Wyoming, on the edge of the bear lodge mountains which is apart of the black hills national forest. The monument is by far my favourite place, it’s truly majestic. A $10 fee is all it takes to see the Devils Tower, with a windy road leading up to the foot of the monument and the visitor’s centre. Then, imagine glancing up 1,267 feet in amazement… It’s incredible!

The Devils Tower was made America’s first national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in September of 1906. It attracts 400.000 visitors each year, amazingly 1% of them climb it! But if that’s not to your taste! You can always camp here during the summer months. The park is closed though for two days of the year 25th December and the 1st of January. The oldest rock in the park dates way back to the Triassic period a staggering 200 million years ago! Kool fact there folks!

You might now be thinking what actually is the Devils Tower? Many scientists have their own theories on what the tower actually is, from intrusion of igneous materials to the remains of what was once a large volcano. The scientists do agree though, that The Tower is composed of molten rock called phonolite which formed 1.5 million years ago. As time has moved on through millions of years, it’s eroded away the softer layers of sedimentary rock, to leave The Tower as we see it today. My Favorite though, is by the Indian tribes of Kiowa and Lakota. It’s said, that some girls were playing when spotted by several giant bears that began to chase them. In an effort to flee, they climb upon a rock, fell to their knees and prayed to the great spirt. As the great spirt heard there prayers, they lifted the rock to the heavens! So the giant bears could not reach them. As a result of the bears efforts trying to climb the now tower, they left deep claw marks in the sides! As they became deeper, the giant bears couldn’t climb anymore and the girls were saved. These are the erosions in which we can see today.

Some of you might recognize the tower from the 1977 hit movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. After the movie an amazing amount of visitors started to come and see the monument for them self. A plea in which I can express today upon you reading this! It’s a must see! A must on your bucket list!

 

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“City of Seven Hills”

Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city. Set in hilly terrain with breath taking architect, it’s a must for everyone’s bucket list!

Lisbon also known as “the city of seven hills” is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the oldest in western Europe! Dating way back to 219 BC, making the city older than London, Paris and even Rome! The coastal city known for it’s cafe culture and soulful Fado music possesses a whole array of historical landmarks, from the “Praca do Comercio” and “Rua Augusta Arch” to my favorite the stunning “Padrao dos Descobrimentos”

The “Padrao dos Descobrimentos” (monument to the Discoveries) dates back to 1960 and can be found overlooking the Tagus River in the Belem area of Lisbon. Standing at 52 meters tall, the monument has amazing attention to detail in a modern classicism style.

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Ames Monument

This stunning pyramid shaped monument is dedicated to the Ames brothers Oakes and Oliver. The two brothers were credited with the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869. Whilst Oliver was the president of the Union Pacific Railroad from 1866 to 1871, Oakes was a representative of the United States congress. Sadly though Oakes was investigated in 1873 for fraud associated with the railroad and resigned later that year. He sadly died soon after.

The monument, which was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson in 1880, marked the highest point on the transcontinental railroad at 8,247 feet. The Ames monument was added to the national register of historic places in 1972, and Union Pacific donated the monument to the state of Wyoming in 1993.

The Ames monument is open all year round (weather permitting) and is free of charge. Visitors can look around at their leisure and read all about the two famous brothers on the information boards leading up to the 60 foot monument.

Useful stuff…

Off I-80 at exit 329 and follow the signs (Very Easy To Find)

20 miles from Laramie, Wyoming

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PRAGUE

The Old Bridge Tower and the famous Charles Bridge which dates back to 1357. The bridge crosses the Vitava River which flows through the city. The Charles Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in Europe, even the world. It has an amazing 30 statues formed in two rows on each side of the bridge. The intriguing statue of St John of Nepomuk which is situated on the Charles Bridge has a fascinating story behind it. Legend has it, that St John was put to death on the order of the King because he refused to tell the King what the Queen had confessed to him in secret. Interestingly it’s said, that if you touch the statue it will bring you luck and ensures a return to Prague soon…

Prague Castle and the royal guards. Prague Castle was founded around 880 AD and it is the largest medieval castle is Europe. Once, the Kings of Bohemia based themselves here at the castle. Today the president of the Czech Republic rules from here. Also in the grounds of the castle is the spectacular Cathedral, “St Vitus” The Cathedral dates back to 930 and is one of Prague’s top attractions.

The fountain of Prague in the castles second courtyard

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The Jan Hus Memorial Statue

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Statue of King Charles IV

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St Nicholas Church – Built Between 1704-1755

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Modern Meets Old

The Astronomical Clock (Or Prague Orloj) has to be Prague’s most famous and stunning attraction. Don’t ask me how it works as it’s far too complicated for me! *But it’s fascinating to see and watch in action when all the delicate figures* Mounted in the old town, it is the oldest still working intact example of its kind and dates back to 1410. In 1490 the calendar dial was added and the whole structure was decorated in a Gothic style.

 

Conclusion

Prague is Europe’s 15th biggest city, it’s fascinating with plenty to see and do. On my visit I choose to stay at the Hilton Prague, I went online at www.hilton.com and got a King room for £52 a night with breakfast, snacks and drinks throughout my stay with the executive lounge offer. Prague is notorious for Rip-Off tourist menu schemes, so eat with locals OR check your bill closely. When I arrive in a city that I’m visiting for the first time, I ask the hotel receptionists on where to eat? This way you can find some excellent little local restaurants with great food at a fantastic price. My flight to Prague was with KLM for £130 return from Manchester, which isn’t too bad at all. At the moment £1 will get you 38 Czech Koruna, but please check daily rates online at currency-exchange.com or the BBC red button and type in 240 which will take you to the currency exchange page. With this exchange rate, it makes a glass of beer/wine around 85 pence, and an evening meal around £10 per person. Release your adventure and visit beautiful Prague you won’t be disappointed. 

 

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Milano

“Milan, just a two hour flight from Manchester airport (My home town) After landing, I was so eager to start my adventure with excitement and energy”

The metropolis of Milan is the capital of Lombardy in the northern part of Italy, which is also the global capital of fashion and design. But the Lombardy capital has a lot more to offer as I found out on a 4 day city break.

 

Where to stay?

I found a fantastic deal on-line to stay at the Double Tree by Hilton, just a 10 minutes tram ride from the city Centre. I couldn’t fault the very stylish and reasonably priced hotel at all. All staff were exceptionally helpful and just couldn’t do enough for me.

What to do…

As a massive football fan, the first stop for me was of course the San Siro stadium. The home of the Rossonerri and Nerazzurri didn’t disappoint. A must is a stadium tour, for 14 euros you can see all the history of both clubs. The trophy room is stunning as you can imagine with both teams been giants of the game.

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The city center has an array of interesting local shops as well as the top designer ones to leisurely wonder around. Then you arrive upon the magnificent Duomo di Milano, which dates back to 1386. This is when the first stone was put into place. It’s a must see with its architect and breath taking beauty overlooking the big square. It makes an envying selfie!

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Another must see is Sforza Castle which is located in the city and easily found as the tram drops you right outside the gates. I had a lovely stroll through the gardens, which leads to many interesting museums within the castle walls. As my last day fell, I thought I’d take advantage of my location. I made the hour long train journey to the city of Como, the home of beautiful Lake Como. The journey cost just 10 euros for a return ticket which I paid at the station. As with most train journeys you get the chance to see small towns that you would most likely miss out on seeing. Feeling adventurous? Why not jump off at one of the stops for a little look around and get a true feeling of what small town Italy is really all about, you wont be disappointed.

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Food…

As we all know Italy is famous for its beautifully prepared food. Milan has a vast variety of restaurants to suit all budget types. Trust me! You won’t go hungry and you won’t be disappointed. A slice of pizza is just a few euros, or if you prefer to sit down and let the world go by? There are lots of little street cafes to pick from. For the travelers that like a bit more of a fancy meal, the city has many fine restaurants to choose from. But I highly recommend “L’Immagine Ristorante Bistort” it’s simply FANTASTIC! As soon as you arrive you’re made to feel like one of the family. Candy on the table! as you examine your way through the very reasonably priced menu is different, but a why not? It’s original and I like that.

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Our Lady of Peace Shrine

Our Lady of Peace is a stunning shrine of the Virgin Mary, located in Pine Bluff on the Wyoming and Nebraska broader. It is one of the largest concrete statues in the US and makes a welcoming sight as your driving along interstate 80.

 

The statue was the inspiration of Ted and Marjorie Trefern, who after visiting lots of another shrines in the old world, inspired to create a shrine abit closer to home. Sculptor Robert Fida made the statue from local marble, quarred in Wheatland, Wyoming. In 1998 the statue was erected and what a magificent sight it is, standing 30 foot-Tall over looking a peaceful garden of smaller statues such as, “He will rise” and “Stations of the Cross” as well as commemorative bricks with messages from loved ones. Its such a peaceful and reflective place.

The Commemorative bricks are available for purchase as a fundraising project to help with maintaining the shrine and garden. Our Lady of Peace is a non-profit organization.

 

Admission is Free and Very Accessible with a large carpark.

Located in Pine Bluff, Wyoming off I-80, exit 401 and follow the signs to the shrine.

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