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The NEW Robins 'Hood

Looking for something new?

Just a reminder that you'll find new posts at the NEW Robins 'Hood Blog. We moved there in July 2014 to make our site more accessible to all our friends from their smart phones. (Of course, you can also enjoy it from your tablet, laptop, or desktop.) It's got all our latest adventures, videos and commentary, and you can pay us a visit by clicking the link above or the image below right now. Enjoy!

So? Did you get your new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus yet?

See you at the NEW Robins 'Hood!


For everything NEW, visit us at the NEW Robins 'Hood Blog!

Battlefields '14 - An Introduction

The Canadian Battlefields of Europe

An Introduction

Been There, Done That…

It’s a cool and rainy Saturday afternoon in August and I’m sitting in front of my Mac staring at a blank Pages document. The Canadian Battlefields of Europe Tour finished nearly a month ago now, and I’m trying to write something here that will summarize my experiences and introduce the next section to this blog.

So? How was your trip, Eric? Hmm?

Fascinating? Engrossing? Educational? Thought-provoking? Remarkable? First-Rate? Enjoyable? Yes. All of those things and more. It was also sometimes heartbreaking and glum, and so from time to time very emotional. For me no doubt, the Canadian Battlefields of Europe Tour was the trip of a life time. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing and experiencing many of the places that I’ve read so much about for all these years. I’m also sure that I’ve returned home again with a new understanding of what it means to be a Canadian.

Canadian troops battle scene at the Canada War Museum, Belgium

We are very lucky in this country, and most of us, myself included, take it all very much for granted. We generally forget that it was the struggles of our fathers, and their fathers, and their fathers before that bought and paid for our freedom. The cliche is that “freedom is not free”. My experiences on this tour reminded me of that time and time again. Did you know that there are over 1000 Commonwealth cemeteries in Europe? Undoubtedly there are a similar number of French and German sites. Many of the cemeteries contain thousands of graves and too many of those are for Canadian servicemen. (More on Canada’s contribution in both World Wars is available at the Canada at War site.)

Did you notice the name on this Canadian Sherman tank?

The NEW Robins 'Hood blog will document the trip that Sonya and I took during July 2014 to the Canadian Battlefields of Europe. I hope that you enjoy what follows there and that it sparks your interest in Canadian history, and particularly our participation in the wars that forever changed the world.

Europe '14 Preview

Europe ’14 Preview

Our plans are set and we’re good to go! Yes, Sonya and I will be travelling back to Europe. This time around we’ll be spending time in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and England.

This year is the centenary of the start of the First World War and so our trip will take in some of the observances planned. We’ll be visiting such sites as the Flanders Field Museum, Ypres, Vimy Ridge, and the Somme battlefield. Since 2014 also marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, we’ll also be dropping by Juno Beach, where Canadians landed on June 6, 1944, and we’ll see the Juno Beach Centre. Nearby is the Dieppe battlefield that we’ll be visiting too. Yes, Canada’s rich* military history will be front and center during this visit to Europe.

Stay tuned for more on the Europe 2014 trip!

But don’t worry, there will be time for shopping and other sightseeing too. We’ll be visiting the Royal Palace and floating Flower Market in Amsterdam. We’ll also be spending some time in Paris and London on our own. While in England we plan to visit Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath.

It should all be interesting, and great fun too, and we’re looking forward to it. Stay tuned for much more!

*Canadians sometime forget the significant contributions made by Canada during the Two World Wars. The April 19, 2014 edition of the Toronto Star reports these facts about the First World War: Enlisted: 619,636,  Served Overseas: 424,000, Wounded 172,000, Killed in Action: 61,000. More statistics about Canada's contribution in both wars is available here. Needless to say, casualties in the Second World War were just as catastrophic for Canada was they were in the First. Lest We Forget. 

Europe '13 - Seven Countries in Seven Minutes Video

Seven countries.

Sixteen Days.

4,400 kilometers.

2,800 miles.

It took Lois and I sixteen days, but you can do it in seven minutes. Check out the new video featurette, Great European Road Trip '13 Glimpses - Seven Countries in Seven Minutes. It's HD, and you can see it by clicking the title below. (Geez... imagine doing the marquee for that title.)

Seven Countries in Seven Minutes

Hawaii '11 Adventure: An Introduction

Hawaii '11 Adventure

In the early morning of April 30, 2011, Lois and I boarded a United Airlines flight in Toronto, Ontario, bound for San Francisco, California. There we changed planes for the second leg of our journey and by 8:30 p.m. EDT that night, (2:30 p.m. local time) we were settling into our hotel room at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, just off Waikiki Beach, in Honolulu, Hawaii. We were 4,650 miles from Toronto - nearly 12 hours flying time - and a world away from home. It was the first of 16 days in the islands, and the start of what would be a terrific experience and a memorable holiday. Not only were we about to see Honolulu, historic Pearl Harbor, and the island of Oahu, we would also soon be taking a 7-day, 4-island cruise of the Hawaiian Islands. It would be our first experience on a cruise ship, and it would be spectacular.

Hawaii '11 - Our Spectacular Trip To The Islands

All of that, of course, was long before any thought was given to setting up a blog of our travel experiences. I would be remiss now, however, were I to neglect to include a brief recounting of our Hawaiian experences here. I hope that you will agree and enjoy what follows.

Please note: Since our Hawaii trip and cruise was something that we did nearly 3 years ago, I will backdate the posts that I make about Hawaii to 2011. Doing so will put things in the proper chronology, and I trust, not make them too difficult for you to find. Clicking here, or on the Hawaii 11 Labels link near the top left of this page should get you to any journal entries about the trip I make. Related photos and video will be added to the Photo Gallery for your viewing pleasure. To see them follow the links in the related posts, or click on the Photos link to the top right of this page.

Happy reading and enjoy the islands!

Mexico '09 Adventure: An Introduction

Mexico '09 Adventure

Return to the Mayan Riviera

When Lois and I were first married, in 1973, our honeymoon was also our first road trip together. After stopping in Niagara Falls, we travelled into the States to see Gettysburg and Washington and to play in the surf at Virginia Beach, among other highlights.  It wasn’t until November 1974 that we flew anywhere, and that trip was to Mexico. We have fond memories of that tour. It included Mexico City, a bus trip down through the mountains to Taxco, aka the Silver City, and then a week in Acapulco.

As it turned out, we didn’t fly anywhere again for thirty-two years. Instead we had many great road trip holidays with our girls, and saw most of North America. There is only one province, and four states that we did not visit and while we really enjoyed those trips, Lois and I also determined to return to Mexico some day too. That happened during the March Break in 2006. We flew to the Mayan Riviera on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and it was a terrific week. We enjoyed it so much in fact that we returned to the Caribbean during March Break 2007 for a week in Jamaica. By 2009, we were ready to return to the Mayan Riviera, and this time we had a new video camera with which to record the trip.

Today, I've added a new section to this blog to recant our Mexico '09 adventure. As I did with our Hawaii '11 entries, I will backdate posts to maintain the proper chronology. Watch for new entries in the Mexico '09 section of this blog. To find them use the Mexico 09 Labels link near the top left of this page or click here Related photos and video will be added to the Photo Gallery for your viewing pleasure. To see them follow the links in the related posts, or click on the Photos link to the top right of this page.

Return to the Mayan Riviera '09

Europe '13 - Hotel Lessons

The Great European Road Trip of 2013

Things We Learned At Our Hotels

Who knew that checking into a hotel in Europe could be both a confusing and amusing adventure? Here's a few things we learned about European hotels along the way.

  • You know you're in trouble when you spend 10 minutes trying to figure out how to use the elevator, another 10 minutes trying to get through your hotel room door, and then another 10 minutes trying to figure out how to turn on the electricity. It's either very, very funny, or very, very sad.

Our Hotels

  • The use of metal keys for opening hotel rooms is, of course, a thing of the past. Today, almost all hotels offer high-tech hotel key cards, which allow guests easy access to their rooms. In Europe, things have now gone a step or two beyond that. The key card systems are also used to switch off the electricity automatically when guest rooms are vacated, thus avoiding the useless consumption of electricity. You need to insert your key card into a key card holder mounted on the wall in order to turn the electricity back on. The downside of this is that you can't charge your devices or run your air conditioner when you are not in the room. In some hotels the key card is also used to activate the elevators, and to turn the room wifi system on or off.
  • There's not much funnier than a group of tourists in an elevator whose doors keep opening and closing on the same floor without the elevator actually going up or down.
  • Not all hotels are equal. While Lois and I are hardly experts, in our experience the best hotels were in Italy, and the worst hotels were in England and Germany. Draw whatever conclusions you want from that. 
  • Lois and I don't understand why it is that most of the hotels in Europe that we visited have such a hard time placing face cloths in their guest rooms. Washing your face with a large towel can be challenging.
  • If you have electronics that are rated for 100V-240V, then they are dual voltage and all you need to use them in Europe is a plug adapter. You will not need to buy a transformer/converter. This was true for our Apple devices, and battery chargers and it is good news because voltage converters/transformers are heavy, and expensive.
  • Morning query in one hotel room: Where the heck's my shaving cream. I didn't leave it in Belgium or something, did I? 
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