March 31, 2015

Mapping My Month: April 2015


At the risk of sounding like a broken record, where in the world has the time gone?!

March was a busy month for the TGT tribe, even more so than anticipated.  Between the two of us, we visited two state parks for some Sunday hikes; threw together a last-minute camping trip with another couple and their four-legged sidekick where we honed our zombie apocalypse survival skills; added two more Virginia craft breweries to the Untappd list; went hunting for Civil War relics in two different counties; visited the Virginia Holocaust Museum; were transported to the streets of Paris via the Italian lyrics of La Traviata; and took my taste buds on a gastronomical preview of our upcoming Europe trip.  And somehow we managed to both hold down full-time jobs at the same time!  You may call us Superman and Superwoman, if you please.

April already looks booked.  We will celebrate Easter this weekend, which always brings a full schedule.  Other plans include winery excursions, an Appalachian camping trip, and tailgating at the Nascar race at Richmond International Raceway.  And by this time next month, we'll be a week away from our Europe trip!  36 days to go!

A photo posted by Thrifty Gypsy's Travels (@thriftygypsy87) on

2015 Goal Updates:
1. I've been incorporating walks in a nearby park during my lunch breaks, but this is somewhat weather dependent.  Because we live out in the country, I'm finding the combination of the commute and the membership costs to be prohibitive to joining an actual gym.
2. No savings this month, but I did put a hurting on my credit card balance instead.  On top of that, my Capital One credit card became eligible for Venture One rewards in the middle of February.  So now I've started putting all my purchases on the card and paying it off every Friday (plus some) to rack up those miles (1.25 miles per every $1).  At this rate, it will take years to accumulate enough miles for airfare, but you have to start somewhere, right?
3. I think it's safe to say I'm no longer addicted to caffeine, although I do still consume it on occasion.
4. Some days are better than others.
5. While I still haven't compiled a bucket list for Virginia, I have started doing items that would be on the list, such as visiting the Holocaust Museum.


How was your March?  Are you looking forward to anything in April?


March 30, 2015

For The Dead and the Living, We Must Bear Witness


A visit to the Virginia Holocaust Museum has been on my Virginia bucket list for years, and yet it ultimately took twenty-two years of living in Virginia before I finally found myself there.  It's not exactly a visit that induces excitement like a theme park or a festival.  But it was a visit I felt I needed to make and finally made time to do four weeks ago, accompanied by two of my sisters.

The Virginia Holocaust Museum
2000 E Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23223

Monday through Friday: 10:00-5:00
Saturday and Sunday:  11:00-5:00

Free Admission.  Free parking in attached lot between the building and the railroad tracks/canal walk.


The potato-field bunker recreation. There was barely room
for a grown adult to sit upright.
From the moment I parked the car in the chain-fence, barbed-wire parking lot, I could feel the heaviness of the Holocaust weigh on me.  A lone train car sat in front of the museum, reminding visitors and passersby of the inhumane conditions inflicted on millions of people not so long ago.  Railroad ties and tracks flanked either side of the gangway to the museum entrance, and a sign indicated that they originated from tracks leading in to a concentration camp in Europe.  This museum truly brings the Holocaust home.

Throughout the entire museum, there are bits and pieces of original material from concentration camps or personal belongings from survivors - and victims.  What differentiates this museum from, say, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. is that it focuses on the stories of survivors who ultimately settled in Richmond, which brings a very personal touch to an event which can sometimes appear distant in history books.  You can't help but feel the anxiety of the Ipp family as you crawl through the recreated potato field bunker which housed thirteen people as they avoided being thrown into the Kovno Ghetto in Kaunas, Lithuania.  You can feel the panic well up inside you as you enter the gas chambers labeled as an innocuous "Bath House."  It's hard to hold back tears as you survey the Children's Remembrance Wall, which displays the artwork and poetry of children held in Terezin Concentration Camp outside of Prague.  I had seen many of the original drawings when visiting the Jewish Quarter in Prague, but seeing the copies in Richmond further brought this atrocity home.  I looked down at my thirteen year old sister and tried to imagine her enduring the Holocaust.  I couldn't stomach the thought.

Photos of civilians who risked their lives to save Jews and of the soldiers who liberated concentration camps.

It is easy to forget.  Make a point to remember.
As we left the museum after a two hour visit, we ventured into the shadows of the cattle train car we walked by when we first arrived.  Sunlight poked through a few round holes in the wood, remnants of tree knots or perhaps bullet holes from the Nazis who shot into the car for amusement.  Suddenly, a train whistle pierced the air, and the rattling of train cars persisted for the next few minutes.  The sounds transported us and brought claustrophobia and fear.  I closed my eyes and let the thought of that suffering weigh on me.  I prayed that our generation would stand up against the threat of current and future Holocausts.

Shaken, somber, and reflective, we stepped back into the sunlight of the sidewalk, vowing to never forget.



***

When you think upon the Holocaust of the 1930s and 1940s, please be mindful of the genocide of people groups happening today.  Christians are being slaughtered in Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, and countless other countries simply for their religion.  

Remember - evil triumphs when good men do nothing.


Linking up with Chasing the Donkey, Pack Me To, A Southern Gypsy, The Fairytale Traveler, and Ice Cream & Permafrost for the #SundayTraveler!


Linking up with Bonnie RoseAmandaCaityMarcella, and Michelle for #TravelTuesday!

March 27, 2015

Braving the Heights While Traveling


I've got a thing about heights.  Many of us do.  No matter how many times the brain tells the body that the odds of a giant gust of wind throwing me off the top of a lighthouse are slim to none, the body just doesn't believe it.  If it's going to happen, it's going to happen to me is the petrified mantra as vertigo-inducing scenarios run through my mind.

Cue the barf bag.
But I can't avoid heights when I'm traveling.  I mean, how often am I going to be in London to climb St. Paul's Cathedral?  Or when's the next time I can climb to the top of St. Vitus in Prague?  Um, my bank account tells me that it'll probably be a while.  So the only thing I can do is take a shot of whiskey clench my fists and don't look down as I wind my way up higher than man was ever meant to be.  I mean, if God wanted us to be at that altitude, he would've made us 100 feet tall.  Just sayin'.

Yet as soon as I make it to the top, the rewarding views take the edge off my anxiety.  I mean, just look at these scenes:

The Georgskirche in Dinkelsbühl, Germany (2010).  I must've been feeling especially secure or brave to be right up against the railing in the top right picture.  The houses in the bottom right picture are on the street where we stay when in town.


The Danielsturm of the Georgskirche in Nördlingen, Germany (2010).  Notice that in this picture my back is firmly against the wall.  I didn't particularly like how low the railing was at the top of the Daniel Tower!


St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague (2012).  The views were amazing, but the viewing platform was even better for those of us with acrophobia!  Look at those thick bars and pillars.


St. Paul's Cathedral in London (2014).  My whirlwind trip to London was a dream come true, although the climb to the top of St. Paul's was not quite as dreamy!  The open space of the Whispering Gallery nearly conquered me as I almost didn't continue to the top.  However, I'm glad I did.  The evening glow over London's skyline was perfect.


St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican (2014).  This height was almost as difficult for me as St. Paul's.  Beyond the sideways-leaning climb up when walking beside the dome, the wind at the top and the open feel due to the thinness of the metal bars set my fear of heights on its head.  Danny coaxed me to the bars for one brief picture, but the rest of the time was spent inboard with at least one hand on the stone.


Nuremberg Castle in Nuremberg, Germany (2014).  Nuremberg Castle sits atop a hill above the city, making the towers of the castle all the more tall.  This tower bears the distinction of having been the first overseas place to set my heart arrhythmia haywire to the point where I was light-headed and nauseous.  The Vertigo-like stairs didn't help the situation either!  But the views at the top were superb. 

So while I may never be completely at ease at the top of a structure or even close to a cliff's edge, at least I'm able to conquer my fear and enjoy beautiful photo opportunities at the top.  Not to mention being rewarded with a tall cold one once I reach the bottom!

***

Do you have a problem with heights?  How do you deal with it when traveling?

March 25, 2015

When Words Fail You


I love writing.  I love dreaming up outlines, envisioning what pictures would best complement my words, and enjoy proofreading my pieces to ensure they're grammatically sound and aesthetically pleasing.  As long as I can remember, I've always "seen words" in my head when learning a new language or listening to someone speak, and endorphins do cartwheels through my nervous system when I succeed in crafting sentences that don't end with a preposition (#EnglishNerd).

But what happens when your Muse suddenly goes on vacation and words fail you?

Lately, I've been overcome with writing malaise.  There are still so many stories from our Europe trip this past summer that I haven't shared, and the numerous weekend excursions and backyard tourist trips we've taken over the last three months are gathering dust in my drafts folder, fitted with grand-sounding titles but devoid of content.  I feel like I'm running a travel writing blog without any actual writing being done!

This past week I was relieved to discover that I'm not the only travel blogger who's not been feeling the whole writing thing right now.  Stephenie from 20 Years Hence outlined her reasons why she hasn't been hitting the publish button lately either.  I just wish I knew when my Muse plans to return to its upright and locked position.  We're roughly seven weeks away from our next international trip, and I can barely summon the motivation to write about our planning and research process or share any excitement about it.

It's been a couple weeks since I've generated new content, having simply just published pieces I wrote months ago or not publishing anything at all.  I'd always thought I shouldn't write unless I felt like it, since my writing is largely reflective of my current mood, but I think I'll have to take a page from my writer friend Amanda and simply start exercising my writing muscle even when I just don't feel like it.  In her piece "I (Ususally) Don't Enjoy Writing," she describes how she would have "bursts of inspiration" during which she would write her heart out.  And then she would hit a writer's block in which weeks would pass without any writing.  Finally, she realized that she had to make a change from her roller coaster writing habits:
"When I finally got serious about writing, decided I wanted it as a career, and was determined to make it happen, I threw my feelings out the window. I told myself that I must write, whether I wanted to or not. At first, the important thing was just to write something each day, even if it was only a few sentences. Then I raised the bar, and forced myself to make it a minimum of 500 words a day, 5 days a week, regardless of the time of day, regardless of inspiration. If I missed a day, I had to make it up.   
It worked. Somehow, I turned writing into a habit, something that I could do without even thinking about it, without feeling inspired, without loving it. It became a part of my life, every day. A few years later, I am happy to say I am more productive with that slow and steady method than with all the highs and lows of inspiration and lack thereof. And the process has become addicting, exciting, and more rewarding than I ever thought it could."          -Amanda Flynn (emphasis added)
This pragmatic approach to writing may sound unromantic, but it certainly sounds more productive than my current approach of just not writing anything at all.

So as March comes to a close, I'm evaluating what word count or post count goal to set myself for April so that I can cultivate a habit of writing again.

***

What do you think?  Do you force yourself to write or simply wait for inspiration to return?

March 23, 2015

Giveaway Winner!

Heartfelt thanks to all of you who shared, tweeted, and pinned my 1st Blogiversary + Giveaway post over these last few weeks!  And even more thanks for your understanding as I am a few days behind in announcing a winner.

***

First, I listed the participants by order of when they commented, followed by any social media shares.


Next, I used Random.org's sequence generator to randomize the numbers 1 through 26.  I placed those random numbers by the original list and reorganized the list of names based on the random numbers.



Finally, I used Random.org to once again generate a list of random numbers with the number 1 being used to indicate the giveaway winner.

A time-stamped screenshot of the random number list can be viewed here.

Congratulations to Emily Smith on winning an Amazon gift card!  And thanks to everyone who shared their travel inspirations with me.  The travel blogging (and reading!) community has been so welcoming and encouraging to me over this past year of writing, and I am proud and excited to be numbered among you.

***

What inspires you to travel?

March 22, 2015

That Time We Accidentally Found the Red Light District in Nuremberg



Note:  This post contains personal, moral, and political opinions regarding prostitution.  If you disagree with my position, I welcome your comments and defense of your position, but request that you refrain from personal attacks, vulgarity, profanity, or rudeness.  

***

"Hey, let's go down this way and walk along the city walls."

With this suggestion from Danny, we busted a sharp left down the cobblestone streets of Nürnberg's Altstadt or Old Town.  This was new territory for us.  Danny hadn't visited since he was a child spending his summers playing soccer in the shadows of thousand year old city walls, so he had few clear memories of this city.  For me, this visit to Nürnberg, or Nuremberg as most Americans know it, was my first and the culmination of a long wish to see the city where my grandfather had served as a guard during the infamous Nuremberg Trials.

As we walked down the street with the walls to our left, Danny began happily taking pictures of the ramparts, towers, and catwalks looming over us.  Garments, primarily lingerie, hung from the beams of the catwalk.  I frowned as I'd never encountered anything so, well, intimate having ever been displayed so brazenly in Germany.  It just didn't seem very German in my experience.

Just at that moment, I saw two middle-aged women ahead of us, standing beside an open door and scowling in our general direction.  As Danny's camera continued to snap away, one of them began shouting at us.

"Nee, nee!  Keine Fotos!"

And that's what I realized what Danny was still oblivious to.  Apparently, we were in the middle of the red light district.

To my right, a few girls were draped across the sills of the open windows, smoking cigarettes and wearing nothing but lingerie.  A red, heart-shaped sign hung above the door, simply reading "Nr. 49."  I now understood that the two middle-aged women were madams, hell-bent on making sure we were not trying to photograph their wares, and the name of the area, Frauentormauer, finally made sense, too, as it was a combination of the words for women, gate, and walls.

I felt nauseous, tricked, embarrassed and ashamed.  But above all, I felt sad.

Sure, prostitution is legal in Germany.
Sure, the women receive regular check-ups and mandatory testing.
Sure, it's highly regulated, and the daily transactions are taxed just like any other.

But...

From the Rahab Foundation in Costa Rica.
See also: My Words As Weapons.
You see, as much as people argue that prostitution should be a woman's choice, that it empowers the woman, that legalized prostitution protects the women and gives them a better societal standing, and that any opinion to the contrary is a Puritanical, patriarchal "war against women," I cannot be persuaded or convinced of that, particularly when I see women displayed as if they are no more than cheap china for sale in a window.  Prostitution objectifies women.  Legalized prostitution is government-sanctioned objectification of women.

As quickly as we had stumbled into the area, we power-walked our way out.  But unfortunately, this wrong turn shadowed my overall experience in Nürnberg.  The city has a lot of wonderful sites, and although I enjoyed them, it wasn't as wholeheartedly as I might have if we hadn't taken that turn along the walls.  I couldn't get the images of the women out of my mind or shake the feeling of sadness.  Sometimes travel opens our eyes to amazing new places and ideas, but sometimes it reminds us of situations that expose the dark side of human nature.

***

Have you ever made a wrong turn on your travels and seen something you wished you hadn't?


Linking up with Chasing the DonkeyPack Me ToA Southern GypsyThe Fairytale Traveler, and Ice Cream & Permafrost for the #SundayTraveler!
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Linking up with Bonnie RoseAmandaCaityMarcella, and Michelle for #TravelTuesday!

March 19, 2015

Traveling Taste Buds: The Mykonos Cafe


When vacation seems so far away that you just can't bear to wait any longer, how can you possibly alleviate the pressure?

Go eat ethnic food, of course!

Trust me, it was good.
But if you're planning to write a blog post about it, try to remember to take pictures of the food before you eat it.

Yesterday I discovered that Charlottesville is harboring a little Greek-American cafe known as The Mykonos Cafe.  While American dishes dominate their menu, there are a few Greek staples and favorites, all made fresh and overseen by the cafe's owners who hail from Greece.

I ordered a take-out serving of gyro and an appetizer of tzatziki with pita, which took about seven minutes to make while I waited in the dining area.  The walls were decorated with pictures of Mykonos, Athens, and Santorini, which whet my appetite for a Greek adventure!  Both the gyro and the tzatziki tasted just as good as it looked, but sadly, you'll have to take my word on that.  It wasn't until after I finished the last bite of the gyro that I realized I hadn't even snapped a picture.  Oops!

A few other Greek notables on the menu included: stuffed grape leaves, Greek olives with feta cheese, hummus, souvlaki, falafel sandwich, and mousaka.  Everything was reasonably priced, and a few glances at other customer's plates indicated that serving sizes are hearty.

While I can't say it's the best gyro I've ever had or will have, it certainly did not disappoint, and I am very excited to have found a local place to indulge my cravings for baklava.



***

What do you do when you're itching for a trip?



P.S.  Thanks to everyone who participated in our 1 Year Blogiversary + Giveaway!  Originally I'd planned to announce the winner by March 22nd, but a busy schedule at my job plus a last minute camping trip this weekend may delay the announcement by a few days.

March 13, 2015

The Kinderzeche - One of Germany's Oldest Festivals


Pageantry. Traditional dancing. Sword-fights. Partying.  How else should one commemorate a 17th century surrender?! 

Every July, the Bavarian town of Dinkelsbühl, located along the Romantic Road, throws a 10-day festival known as the Kinderzeche, or Children's Festival, to celebrate its salvation from the Swedish army in 1632.  It is one of the oldest festivals in Germany, and over the past 191 years since the Kinderzeche's beginnings, the celebration has grown larger and grander in size.  Over 300,000 people attend the festival each year; but to those of you who have never heard of it before, what exactly is the Kinderzeche?


1.  Reenactment of the Town's Salvation
Once upon a time, the Protestants and Catholics waged a Thirty Years' War against each other, devastating various parts of Europe in the process.  In the middle of this war, the Protestant Swedes invaded the largely Catholic Germany, and the town of Dinkelsbühl was besieged and threatened with destruction.  Lore, the daughter of a gatekeeper, gathered the town children together, and together they sang their way to the Swedish general, from whom they begged mercy.  He spared the town for their sake and charged the people of Dinkelsbühl to never forget the children who saved them.  From this legend, the tradition of the Kinderzeche finds its roots.

Several times throughout the Kinderzeche, the town reenacts this legend, and once the town has been saved (again!), the Swedes, Dinkelsbühlers, town soldiers, and a grand array of reenactors parade through the town.  Proud parents and spectators hand the children a tute, a paper cone full of candies and other treats, and give small bottles of alcohol to the adult participants.  (Sorry, kids, no booze for you!)


A giant Schneckennudel (similar to a
cinnamon roll)
2.  Grand Parade to Celebrate all that is Dinkelsbühl
While a large part of the parade is composed of the 17th century reenactors, it is not limited to celebrating just that part of Dinkelsbühl's history, but everything that makes this town and its region unique.  Farmers lead their prize livestock; the Biedemeyer, or little girls in white dresses, prance through town hand-in-hand before performing traditional folk dances later in the day.  A division of white-and-red uniformed little boys shoulder their faux muskets and lead the whole parade with rousing marches.  Even the more unsavory characters of the town make an appearance, including beggars who harass spectators for beer or money -- all while in "character" of course!

Oftentimes the roles are passed down from father to son or conferred only upon prominent members of the community, such as the portrayal of the town's Bürgermeister (mayor).  The selection of each year's Lore, known specifically as the Kinderlore, is decided by way of an audition among 16-year old girls.  For other roles, children are chosen from various grades in the local schools.  Regardless of how each character is cast or each role filled, the common requirement is residency: only someone from Dinkelsbühl can participate.

The "bloody" gentleman is the local car salesman and happens to have been a classmate of my mother-in-law. (2010)
The Burghermeister and town leaders. One of these gentlemen is a friend of the family. (2014)

3.  Pageantry - Folk Dances, Sword Fights, etc
In addition to the parade, several nights of the Kinderzeche are devoted to showcasing traditional folk dances, including the Schwertertanz, or the Sword Dance.


The carefully coordinated sword play is conducted between two young men balanced on a platform of swords held by their peers.  And, no, the swords are not capped or dulled.  Arguably, the Schwertertanz is the highlight of the traditional dances.

However, the other dances are not to be missed either!




4.  Beer, the Schießwasen, and more beer
Beer is a national pastime for Germans, and during the Kinderzeche, the taps flow freely.  Reenactors are treated to free refills at local restaurants, but spectators can enjoy their fair share, too, especially at the Schießwasen (pronounced "sheezs-vassen").  The Schießwasen is a carnival and features all the traditional carnie trappings: fried foods, peanuts, hot dog (or in this case, wurst) stands, game booths, and rides.  At the epicenter of a Bavarian Schießwasen, however, is the beer tent.  Under the blue and white stripes of the bierzelt, the beer never runs out, and the band never stops playing except to take a sip of said beer!  Everything from polka tunes to contemporary German pop to even a little Kid Rock will be played here while you enjoy a maßkrug of good Bavarian beer.

Many people mistakenly refer to this as a beer stein, but its real name is maßkrug ("mass-kroog") or maß for short. 
One maß can hold a liter of beer. 


5.  Celebrating the Ties That Bind
At the end of the day, however, the Kinderzeche is about community and about family.  Many residents take time off work for the entirety of the festival, and it's common for family and friends living outside Dinkelsbühl to visit specifically during Kinderzeche time.  Remembering what the town has overcome in its past encourages people to look ahead to its future and to celebrate closeness with loved ones.



Click here to learn more about the Kinderzeche to arrange your visit!  We're certainly planning to be there in 2024 for its 200 Year Celebration!

What local festivals have you visited on your travels?

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Linking up with A Brit and a SouthernerA Southern GypsyCarmen's Luxury TravelJustin Plus Lauren, and Outbound Adventurer for the #WeekendWanderlust!







Don't forget to enter our 1st Blogiversary Giveaway!  There are only a few days left to enter!

March 09, 2015

The Kinderzeche Festival of Germany


Sweden has a reputation.  For remaining neutral during conflicts, that is.  But the land of blonde-haired women, meatballs, and Ikea didn't always take the path of neutrality.  During the Thirty Years' War of the 17th century, Sweden invaded many of its Baltic neighbors, including Germany.

The Kinderlore & entourage (2014)
Danny's German hometown of Dinkelsbühl experienced the Swedish invasion firsthand, enduring eight different sieges throughout the war.  The most well-known siege, however, occurred in 1632 when the Swedish General Sperreuth threatened the fully-walled, medieval town with complete destruction.  According to legend, as the Swedish troops rode into Dinkelsbühl, bent on wreaking havoc, a gatekeeper's daughter named Lore, purportedly the most beautiful girl in town, brought a group of singing children to kneel before the Swedish general and beg for mercy.

At the sight of Lore and the children, General Sperreuth softened.  Picking up a blonde-haired boy dressed in black velvet, the general declared him a look-alike of his own son in Sweden and granted mercy upon the whole town for the children's sake.

***

In honor of the city's deliverance, Dinkelsbühl hosts a 10-day long festival known as the Kinderzeche every July with reenactments and city-wide partying.  That's right - this town celebrates its 17th century surrender to a Swedish general by putting on parades, conducting a reenactment of the Swedes entering the city, and drinking copious amounts of beer.  Out of the 300,000 people who visit the festival every year, only a handful of those visitors manage to stay sober! (OK, that may be a slight exaggeration!)

(2014)
Participation in the reenactment is reserved only for residents (much to the chagrin of my husband, who spent summers in Germany as a child and always wanted to participate), and those reenactors attain celebrity status, with the adults being treated to unlimited refills of wine and beer from the town's restaurants and bars for the entirety of the Kinderzeche.

The general atmosphere of this otherwise small and somewhat-quiet town is festive during the Kinderzeche.  Flags fly proudly throughout the town, showing off not only the red and white of the town's flag, but the German national flag, the Swedish flag, and the flags of sister cities in other countries.  The main square is blocked to vehicular traffic, and wooden benches and tables turn the place into an outdoor dance hall.  The 2014 Kinderzeche was especially exuberant as Germany had just won the World Cup only a few days prior.

While my husband has seen countless Kinderzeche festivals in the past thirty years, I've only enjoyed it twice - in 2010 and 2014 - but appreciated it more the second time than the first.  Stay tuned for my next post, which will break down the Kinderzeche in more detail!








Have you ever heard of the Kinderzeche?  Ever been?

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Linking up with Bonnie Rose for #TravelTuesday!

March 06, 2015

March 03, 2015

The Legend of the Richmond Vampire

Source.

Vampires are all the rage these days, thanks to the poorly-played but well-marketed Twilight series (#sorrynotsorry to all you Cullen fans). But did you Richmonders know that we have a vampire in our own backyard?

Church Hill Tunnel. Source.
The Legend of the Richmond Vampire, or the Hollywood Cemetery Vampire as he is alternatively known, originates from a tragic accident in 1925.  In that year, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway (C&O) attempted to revive the 4,000 feet long Church Hill Tunnel in order to have a direct route for transporting cargo between the port of Richmond and a rail yard.  While a work train, several flat-bed cars, and nearly 200 laborers were working, the tunnel collapsed on several of them.  Of those directly beneath the collapse, two reportedly wriggled and pried their way out of the debris.  But additional collapses and unstable situations prevented 2-4 other bodies from ever being recovered.

Shortly after the collapse, witnesses saw a creature emerge from the rubble.  Flesh dangled from its limbs, jagged teeth protruded from its mouth, and it was dressed in blood.  Pursued, the creature ran along the nearby James River and up to the Oregon Hill neighborhood where it disappeared into the tomb of William Wortham Pool at Hollywood Cemetery.

Creepy, huh?

Photo by my friend, C.D.
Sadly, the 1925 tunnel collapse is fact, and it remains the burial place for the men who died there.  The Richmond Vampire, while a titillating story, is actually a distorted report of a man who did crawl out of the collapse and later died.  Benjamin F. Mosby worked as a coal-man on trains, shoveling coal into the engine's furnace for power.  When the tunnel collapse, the boiler erupted, spewing its contents onto Mosby.  He managed to crawl out of the tunnel -- in the dark, smoke, and dust of the rubble - but died shortly after being taken to the hospital.  The description of his injuries largely matches that of the alleged Richmond Vampire.

But despite all facts, many Richmonders still largely believe in the Richmond/Hollywood Cemetery Vampire, and on occasion the Richmond Police still have to chase away Satanic cults attempting to utilize poor W.W. Pool's tomb for their rites.  Oddly enough, the tomb - like the Church Hill Tunnel - is carved into the hillside, and while W.W. Pool's year of death is marked, his year of birth is not, further perpetuating the vampiric legend.

Does your hometown have a local legend?

***

Linking up with Bonnie RoseAmandaCaityMarcella, and Michelle for #TravelTuesday!



1st Blogiversary + Giveaway! (March 2015)


One year ago, I couldn't have imagined just how much of a beautiful, crazy ride this travel blogging experience would turn out to be!

Today The Thrifty Gypsy's Travels celebrates its FIRST anniversary!

Year One:
The Thrifty Gypsy's Travels (TGT) began with no clear goals or ideas for growth.  I simply wanted to record our travel stories and hopefully inspire whomever stumbled across the site to create their own travel memories.  Between juggling a full-time job, a long commute, and the occasional evening night class, I couldn't commit to a steady schedule of posts, but figured the site could garner a handful of views simply through social media postings.

But I soon realized that page views weren't the best part of joining the travel blogging community.  Finding out that I'm not the only "crazy" person who'd rather eat, pray, and travel was!  For every money-saving tip I shared, I've found at least another five more from other travel bloggers.  Comparing notes, exchanging stories, and connecting with other travelers has become a huge part of my life now -- something I did not envision a year ago.

So with one year under our belt, I am proud to say that I have already accomplished both of my initial wishes:  I've recorded our experiences, and I've inspired at least one person to travel more!


Seriously, I danced in the kitchen for almost thirty minutes after Sara Ann's vote of confidence!  All those lattes foregone, those shopping sprees postponed, packing lunches for work so that we could stuff away nickels and dimes for the next big trip had come to fruition by inspiring another person to go see and do more of the world.  Does it get any better than that?

Year Two:
For this next year of TGT, I actually have a few goals in mind:

1.  Purchase a domain and settle upon a layout/template.  
Because if I don't make a decision soon, my eyeballs are going to fall out from all this comparison shopping.  Two days before this post went live, I finally did it!  So I can already cross this goal off my list.

2.  Become a better story-teller.
The internet is saturated with how to plan a trip and what to see when you get there.  My blog can't possibly compete against sites that lay out all the logistics of visiting a place.  What I can do, however, is provide people with why they should visit a place.  Oftentimes another person's story can make or break the decision to visit one particular location over another.  I want to transform my writing from being factual to being memorable.

3.  Meet another travel blogger in person & attend one travel blogging conference within the next year.
Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend the TBEX Europe '15 conference in Costa Brava, and my attendance at WITS in Boston looks doubtful now, too.  However, One Weird Globe has a pretty extensive list of travel blogging conferences around the world, and I'm hopeful at least one can be fit into the schedule!  (Are you going to any of them?)

The Giveaway:
To celebrate the TGT's anniversary and to express my appreciation for your readership, I'm giving away a $36.50 Amazon gift card - that's one dime (or two nickels) for every day since this blog started!

How to enter:  
1.  Leave a comment below stating what (or who) inspired you to travel!  AND
2.  Use the social media buttons below to share this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram.  You can also post my giveaway button (below) somewhere on your blog if you're feeling extra frisky!

Each time you specifically tag me in a giveaway post, it will increase your chances of winning, but you must share the giveaway at least once to be eligible to win.

Giveaway deadline:
The giveaway will close on St. Paddy's Day (March 17th).  I will announce the winner no later than March 22nd.

So what are you waiting for?  Tell me what inspired you to travel and share the giveaway to win!

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Giveaway Button:
The Thrifty Gypsy's Travels









Linking up with Bonnie RoseAmandaCaityMarcella, and Michelle for #TravelTuesday!