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Historical Triangle: Tips and Tricks

Just returned from a great vacation in Virginia's "Historical Triangle". Using this space to record details while they're still fresh, for whenever we decide to return, or for anyone else contemplating a similar trip.

The 7-day combination tickets (Historical Triangle Ticket, Spring Bounce Ticket) don't save you any money unless you spend multiple days at more than one attraction. Groupon periodically posts discount tickets to Busch Gardens. None of the other attractions offer discounts or promo codes.

Most things in Colonial Williamsburg can be enjoyed without a ticket. Don't buy tickets, especially if you have children over 12, too old to take advantage of the discounted price and too old to enjoy some of the cool activities aimed at kids, and spend your money on one of the evening ghost tours instead. Colonial Ghosts was well done, but next time we might try one of the costumed tours. Do buy the art museum admission for any art lovers in your group - it's huge, full of unlikely treasures, and open till 7. The rest of the group could fill their evening with shopping. The shops on Merchant Square don't offer anything particularly unique and the prices are outrageous, so check out the souvenir shops on Richmond Rd instead, and be sure to print out some coupons before you go.

Historic Jamestowne and the Jamestown settlement are two separate attractions operated by different organizations, connected by a nice bike path. Pick a sunny day and bring a picnic lunch, but don't forget to visit the indoor attractions as well: the Pocahontas movie in the Settlement, and the archaeology museum in Historic Jamestowne.

The Yorktown Victory Center has some interesting outdoor demonstrations, but overall it's not worth the price, at least not until 2016 when more indoor galleries will be added. It's a short free trolley ride or a nice half mile walk along the beach from the center of town. The Yorktown Battlefield has a little visitor center which is included in your Historic Jamestowne admission price, but the main attraction is a free self-guided driving/biking tour. It has a number of sites related to the 1781 Siege of Yorktown as well as a Civil War cemetery.

The Yorktown Bed and Breakfast that welcomed us, the Marl Inn, is changing ownership at the end of July 2015, but the new owners have promised to honor all reservations made before that date. The family suite includes two bedrooms (large and small), a living room with a couch and dining table, two bathrooms, and a fully equipped kitchen, all for $139 a night. It's a block's easy walk from the beach and half a block from the historic Main St. You can't go inside most of the houses, but there are a lot of plaques to read. Awesome.

In summary, I'd like to come back in the fall, with a larger group and bicycles. Save time and money by cooking most of our food and packing lunches. A 4-5 day itinerary could be designed to accommodate serious bikers as well as juvenile or recreational bikers, amusement park aficionados and history buffs, beach bums and art lovers.

P.S. Dan has this to say about Busch Gardens:

You can drop off and pick up your friends without paying for parking at a bus stop at the corner of Route 60 and Busch Gardens Blvd.

Bring your own food! While the food at the park is decent, it is WAY BEYOND expensive. Pack something that will not get ruined if it sits around a hot locker until lunch time. Or, if you drive in and have access to your car, put it all in a cooler with ice. And then just bite the bullet and purchase drinks for lunch or dinner. I didn't see any water fountains in Busch Gardens at all.

The park is not the easiest to get around, so plan your rides and how you'll navigate, and make plans to meet at a specific time and place for lunch/dinner rather than just relying on cell phones.

Take a break in the middle of the day to see one of the shows. It's indoors, air conditioned, included in the price of your ticket, and gives a nice break from walking around, which means you'll be able to stay longer and get your money's worth.
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Two-timers, part 4

Start here.

Jack and Kate make love.

At dinner the same night, John suddenly asks Jack how he came back to his own universe after shooting Kate's attacker. Jack explains that coming back was the easy part: there is a force of attraction, like an elastic band tying him to his proper time and place. A dose of a drug that puts him into a deep sleep, and he slides back. However, says Jack, looking pointedly at Kate, given enough distance, the string will break. In a few more days, there will be nothing tying him to the universe he came from.

The following day (a Saturday,) John is on the phone reassuring clients. Jack is trying to talk to Kate. Kate turns on the TV. Collapse )
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Two-timers, part 3.

Start here.

Jack opens his eyes and finds the apartment still full of equipment, black-rimmed picture of Kate used at the funeral still in its place on the shelf, her wedding ring in front of it. He calls Susan and confirms it: Kate is still dead.

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Two-timers, part 2.

Start here.

Relieved that there is no longer any need to be civil, Kate goes back inside the house. John looks around apprehensively, then turns to follow. As he puts his hand on the door handle, the man from the buses rushes him, pushing them both inside. Through Kate's eyes, we watch John stare at his double: thin and haggard, but unmistakably the same man. After some confused shouting from all three, Kate demands to know what is going on. JACK sits down and starts talking.

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My hobby: imagining what obscure science fiction stories from the 1960's would look like if they got the Hollywood treatment.

Scene: A mansion in Potomac, 2014. JOHN and KATE, mid-thirties, beautiful, are entertaining another couple. The guests are exchanging embarrassed glances because the hosts are barely civil to each other, with John issuing thinly veiled barbs, and Kate feigning indifference, but visibly hurt. The phone rings. John picks up ("John Breton speaking.") A voice on the other end of the line, distorted by static:

"We're calling ourselves John now, are we? It used to be Jack."

"Who is this?"

"So you really don't know? That's inter-esting."

"Look, either state your business or hang up."

"Don't get angry, John -- I'll be happy to do both of these things. I called simply to make sure you and Kate were home before I came over. And now I'll hang up."

"Hold on just a moment. You haven't said what you think you're going to get."

"My wife of course. You've been living with my wife for almost exactly nine years -- and I'm coming to take her back."

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The Third Brother

A great night at the movies yesterday, watching the Met in HD broadcast of Zandonai's Francesca da Rimini. The set evokes the horrors of the Middle Ages, and Eva-Maria Westbroek inspires much sympathy as Francesca, plucked from her happy ancestral home and stuck with the three brothers: Giovanni the brutish husband (Mark Delavan), Malatestino the kid who just graduated from tearing wings off flies to torturing prisoners (Robert Brubaker), and Paolo the pretty boy date rapist (Marcello Giordani.)

Or is the handsome Paolo just a figment of everyone's imagination? Francesca has her servant Smaragdi ply her with hallucinogenic "potions" so she can dream of the gentle Paolo who will overcome her defenses and hold her in his passionate embrace. Meanwhile to Giovanni and Malatestino, Paolo the Fair personifies their feelings of inadequacy and rage. Of course, there is no hint of this in the original texts (Dante and D'Annunzio), and it is unlikely that the composer intended anything of the sort. But Piero Faggioni's brilliant production seemed to contain a few subtle suggestions too intriguing to ignore.

Francesca first meets and instantly falls in love with Paolo next to a flower bed where Smaragdi had just scattered some fragrant herbs. The next time they meet, Francesca is drunk on Smaragdi's wine and reeling from the horrors of a battle. (Could it be Francesca's arrows and not the imaginary Paolo's that saved her husband's life?) A few weeks later, Francesca can barely stand living with the Malatestas (she also appears to be recovering from a recent birth or miscarriage, a yearly occurrence in a medieval woman's life) when Smaragdi offers to brew a mind-altering potion. Suddenly the oppressive atmosphere is transformed with flowers and cheerful song, culminating in the arrival of Paolo.

Finally, just before Paolo instantly appears in her bedroom at night, Francesca is heard calling for Smaragdi. A few minutes later, when Giovanni and Malatestino burst in, Francesca is disoriented, frantically trying to conceal something, and as they push past her into the room, she is tragically impaled on Giovanni's unsheathed blade.
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Opera Sequels

Accused of stealing jewels by a former lover, Manon is exiled to the French territories. Des Grieux follows her. In the desolate Louisiana wilderness, he gives Manon his last sip of water and succumbs. Wracked by guilt over the death of Des Grieux, who she had long suspected of being gay, Manon finds refuge in the nearby town of New Orleans, at the house of her sister Stella and her brutish husband Stanley. From that first night at the Paris Gate, Manon had always depended on the kindness of strangers. But will she be able to find a new protector in New Orleans before her strained relationship with Stanley ends in tragedy?
* * *
In 1275, the beautiful Francesca da Rimini is wed to the lame hunchback Giovanni Malatesta. In 1285, Giovanni catches Francesca in fragrante with his brother Paolo and murders them both. In 1301, Giovanni, by then the podesta of Pesaro, fakes his own death to escape an assassination attempt and, after collecting the 16-year-old Gilda, Francesca's daughter by Paolo, travels to Mantua. In 1303, Guido Bonacolsi becomes the captain-general of Mantua, with unlimited powers over all of the city's institutions and the lives of its citizens. For a time, Giovanni is content with his position in Guido's court, but when, in an eerie repeat of the 1285 incident, Guido seduces Gilda, Giovanni, by now too frail to take the dagger into his own hands, plots revenge.
* * *
Banished by the gypsies, Aleko joins the court of a local count as a guard. Meanwhile, Zemfira recovers from her wounds and eventually reunites with her mother Mariula. Upon spotting Zemfira and her mother in town, Aleko's passion for revenge is inflamed again, and he accuses the old woman of casting an evil spell on the count's older son. Mariula is captured and burned at the stake. In revenge, Zemfira kidnaps the count's younger son. The older son grows up and becomes count, and Aleko, now a captain of the guard, continues to spread vicious rumors about the gypsy who stole the count's brother, while neglecting to mention their personal history. When Leonora, a long time love interest of the count, falls for the young Manrico, Aleko is happy to see them punished, just like Zemfira and her lover. Too late, he realizes that Manrico, raised by Zemfira, is his own son -- or is he the count's brother?
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ОСНОВЫ ПОЛЬСКОГО ЯЗЫКА – бесплатный онлайн курс

After stumbling through my last amateur research project with the aid of Google Translate, I've decided to learn to read Polish for real. Re-post was a condition of joining this free online course. Anyone want to join me?

Originally posted by gipsylilya at ОСНОВЫ ПОЛЬСКОГО ЯЗЫКА – бесплатный онлайн курс
Оригинал взят у aboutpolska в ОСНОВЫ ПОЛЬСКОГО ЯЗЫКА – бесплатный онлайн курс
В последнее время многие из вас задавали вопросы о том, с чего начать изучение польского языка. Мы решили помочь и организовать онлайн курс. Начнем с азов, научимся правильно читать, познакомимся с грамматикой.
Новые уроки будут появляться 1 раз в неделю в ЖЖ для закрытой группы читателей.
Для того, чтобы стать слушателем онлайн курса, следует:

1. Сделать перепост этой записи у себя в ЖЖ, на странице в Фейсбуке или вКонтакте.
2. Разместить ссылку на перепост в комментариях к этой записи.

ВАЖНО – чтобы иметь доступ к записям, Вы должны добавить журнал в друзья, создавать для этого аккаунт в ЖЖ не обязательно, можно использовать данные Вашего профиля вКонтакте или в Фейсбуке.

Начнем 1 августа 2012 года. Zapraszamy! :)

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Puerto Rico

Day 1: The Big Party

Day 5: The Jungle

The next morning, we left town around 10 am and drove east, stopping to have lunch at the kiosks in Luquillo, which appear to have suffered considerably from being "discovered" by the tourist guides.

We swam at the nearby public beach and took advantage of the bathrooms ($1 a person) to wash off the salt water and change into our hiking clothes before driving south to the border of the El Yunque rainforest. There, we met Jaime and seven other tourists. We followed Jaime's truck up an unpaved road to the top of the hill, where he outfitted each of us with a harness, helmet and gloves. After a brief uphill hike, Jaime hooked each of us, one by one, onto a long steel cable and sent us zipping above the jungle canopy at breakneck speeds. It took me over a minute to calm the shaking in my legs after the first ride, but subsequent zips and the final rapel were much easier. 

As we had discovered in Ponce the day before, finding something to do when the sun goes down is one of the big challenges of a beach vacation. But the tiny fishing village of Las Croabas, located on the very tip of the island just north of Fajardo, is the one place in Puerto Rico that parties late into every night. From this small port, dozens of kayak and motorboat excursions depart at 5, 7 and 9pm. They are heading for the "biobay", a natural body of water filled with tiny organisms that light it up with an eerie green glow. On the shore, you will find Popeye's, with its delicious smoothies and a collection of exotic animals, a few other bars and restaurants, and a number of little tents selling everything from shark tacos to pechugas on a stick.

The Tainos contributed many words to Spanish and, through it, to other European languages. The canoas, piraguas and cayucas that carried the hunters downriver, the jamacas in which they rested for the night, the barbacoas on which they cooked their food, and the angry god Jurakan who devastated their villages, have all found their way into French, English, and even Slavic languages. Maybe the Russian word pichuga, meaning "small bird", is not really onomatopoeic, as Dal's dictionary insists, but a reference to the old Indian custom of skewering the breast of said small bird on a wooden stick and roasting it over hot coals.

Owing to my habit of packing light, by the last night of our journey we had completely ran out of dry clothes to change into, so we opted to share an electric boat with half a dozen strangers over a perilous kayaking adventure. There are some locations in the world so overrun by Russian tourists that by now all the locals know how to haggle over souvenirs and insult your mother in the language of Dostoyevski. That was not at all my impression of Puerto Rico. However, on this particular excursion it turned out that every single other passenger in the boat was either from Russia proper or "from Vladimir by way of Boston".

As we made our way to the bay through the narrow channel, our captain pointed out iguanas in the mangrove trees and explained about tides and navigating by the stars, but for the most part he left us to play in the magically glowing water in silence. We were saved from boredom by a vivacious biologist from Moscow, who explained the chemical reaction behind bioluminescence and told us a few interesting facts about the sharp-toothed morenas living in the mangrove roots on the edges of the bay. She also grilled us on the details of our ziplining adventure, blithely disregarding her worried young husband's objections that "in her condition" ziplining was "completely out of the question."

After the excursion, Liz fell asleep in the car and I drove around for a couple of hours before returning the keys to the Hertz counter at the airport.

Laugh or cry? 50-foot-tall Christmas light installation in front of a monument dedicated to "Indio Puertorriqueno" off RT3 near the small town of Canovanas.

Luis Munoz Marin International Airport is a decidedly uncomfortable place to spend the night, but with only three hours to go before our flight it wasn't a big deal.

This concludes the Puerto Rico travelogue. We cannot wait to go back, and after sorting through or vacation memories and doing a bit more research, I feel almost qualified to plan a longer trip. Would you like to join us?