A Trip Down Memory Lane
By Mary Lyons
I have just returned from a trip “home” to Ireland where I was born, raised and spent my teenage years. It had been 5 years and I must say a lot can happen in that time. I have a sister, brother in law, niece and her husband, 2 nephews and 3 grandnephews living there and they came out to see us. This trip was a gift to me and my husband for my 25th years of law enforcement work in the US, given to us by our family here. We outnumbered the Irish side by one!
Ireland is part of the European Union and at the peak of its economic rise, referred to as the Celtic Tiger, people came from every part of the world to be a part of Ireland’s good fortune. But like everything else in life, nothing stayed the same and that bubble burst a few years ago. Many people remained as they liked Ireland and the Irish people. They speak with foreign accents but with an Irish lilt. I found it funny to hear them speak about things like having “great craic” the Irish term for having “great fun.”
My husband noticed how there were no fat people, as he put it. I had to agree that the number was minimal. I wondered if I had stayed in Ireland would I be 50 pounds thinner than I am now, having gained 2 pounds every year I worked. When I went to the supermarket there, I noticed how the cashiers were sitting on a stool, level with the drawer and they seemed to have more smiles on their faces than here and I presume they had less achy feet at the end of the day. Senior citizens get free bus and train travel, a very nice quality of life feature.
Although Ireland is as up to date and modern as any other European country, the people of Ireland enjoy life with greater emphasis than in the States. They talk about the weather whether “it’s a nice day after all the rain” or “you brought the sunshine with you” as a way of being with you. They still enjoy the being more than the doing as far as I could tell. A ride on the bus can result in a friendship born after as casual an exchange.
I thought about writing to the local supermarket owner here to ask if he would entertain the idea of having the cashiers sit while scanning the merchandise and giving change. I have heard he is a good man who does a lot for the community. I have thought a lot of doing that and I hope that I am not still in the being phase of my Irishness.
Back “home”, I reminisce about the nice gatherings with my family, the medieval castle where we were addressed as Lord and Lady for the night, Easter Sunday at the golf club where my father played and where we considered it a major treat to have dinner there and the dinner we shared overlooking Galway Bay… yes, it is nice to be treated and to treat the family because of the good fortune of having lived and worked and enjoyed these years in the United States of America. I took this trip down memory lane to realize that I am home.
Mary Lyons recently retired from a 25 year career in law enforcement. She became Hunterdon County Jail's second female Sergeant in their history and went on to become a bi-lingual State Parole Officer. She looks forward to the next chapter of her life with her husband of 39 years, their children and grandchildren.
Macau: A Feast for the Spirit
By Adriane Berg, the Ageless Traveler™
If you are looking for an exotic vacation that peaks your curiosity and lifts your spirit look no further than Macau. You'll find it a ferry ride away from Hong Kong, a two-hour plane ride from Tokyo and assessable from Taipei, Beijing or Seoul. Yet, it has its own story, a world away fromits neighbors.
To walk through Macau, yes it is a safe walking destination, is to walk through a flip book of sights and sounds shifting from a European city to Asian splendor. Long distance walkers will be rewarded panoramic views of the islands and the Pearl River. Bring your walking sticks. There seems to be a personal element in every crowded scene.
I rarely write of a location to which I have not yet visited. But, I had the privilege of viewing the work of a group of U.S. artists brought to Macau by the tourist board. They produced an array of touchingly personal images, now on display at the New York Academy of Arts in New York City, through May 6.
I focused on a photograph of a woman in a park holding a red fan, while practicing tai chi. Perhaps because her back was toward the camera or perhaps because I am always searching for images of successful aging, I strongly associated with her inspiring desire to stay young and be young through her quiet everyday personal practice.
TEMPLES AND CHURCHES
Start at Senado Square the pedestrian center of Macau. Visit and the 17t Century St. Dominic's Church, famous for its magnificent altar. Macau is an adventure in comparative religion. Even Delhi, India does not rival it for magnificent temples, churches and religious symbols. A-MaTemple is the most famous and picturesque of Macau’s temples, with four levels of prayer rooms set into a hill rising high above the harbor. It is both Taoist and Buddhist. At the Bishops Palace you find a chapel to our Lady of Fatima, paralleling the Portuguese city of Fatima, where three young women experienced the miracle of the crying Mary.
Those interested in the 19th century history of missionaries can visit St. Joseph's Cemetery a UNESCO site. The cathedral built in 1622, and the Portuguese institution built in 1569 brings us back to the time of Shakespeare and might have been built in any European city of its time. The Chinese Bizaar offers the Kuna Tai Temple surrounded by a European setting.
Macau is best visited during its festivals. While you’ll find a celebration any time of the year, April is the best month of festivals: Ching Ming the Chinese celebration of the ancestors, Easter when the Christian community celebrates as it would in Portugal with a cakes and chocolate eggs, the feast of Lord Buddha celebrated in temples throughout Macau, and the celebration of the Goddess of the Seafarers.
Most intriguing perhaps is the April Feast of the Drunken Dragon Festival, which begins at St. Domingo's market with parades and winds through the inner Harbor celebrating a Dragon slaying hero who took courage from strong drink.
Culture vultures should start at the Macau Cultural Center, a combination of the Guggenheim Museum, the Sydney Opera House and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. For those looking for quaint pilgrimages to small towns, visit Coloane Village and the Taipa House Museum. You won't miss out on typical Asian traditions in Macau despite its Portuguese heritage.
TEA AND GARDENS
If you have been to SUZHOU in China you'll immediately recognize the Lou Lim Leoc garden that houses the Macau tea culture center. It's a Victorian home that entertained Dr. Sun Yat-Sen and is now perfectly restored and a wonderful place to understand the tea culture of the area. Couple this with a visit to the Camoes garden and antique center with its narrow paths around pagoda trees, and men walking with pet birds cages in the grotto of the famous Portuguese poet of 1557.
Don’t miss the Macau giant panda pavilion, which allows you to have a glimpse of panda life as it caters to the comforts of Kai Kai and Xin Xin, a lucky panda couple indeed.
Don't get me wrong, I'm fully aware that most tourists go to Macau to gamble! There are over 30 casinos in this small area, operating 24 hours a day. The tourist board’s official guidebook tells us, ”Players are not obliged to tip the croupier's and any request for tips by casino employees should be ignored.”
I wouldn't mind bringing that attitude to Vegas. And don't miss the tree of prosperity with 2000 branches and 98,000 leaves of 14 karat gold as a symbol of auspiciousness. It can be viewed in the midst of the Wynn casino.
So whether it's a drink at the Macau Jockey club or karaoke near the cultural center or a fast game of craps you'll find it in Macau.
WHAT DO NEXT
As always, we welcome your inquiries and are ready to connect your clubs and affinity groups with travel professionals who can add Macau to an existing itinerary or create a standalone adventure for you.