The Book of Kells in the Old Library at Trinity College

When visiting Dublin, Ireland, one of the things that should definitely be on your itinerary is visiting Trinity College. We would definitely recommend getting tickets to see the Book of Kells exhibition at the Old Library, which displays two of the four books at all times. A popular myth is that there is a ceremony to turn the pages of the books daily, but that doesn’t actually occur. The Book of Kells contains the Four Gospels of the New Testament and was believed to have been written around the 8th century. The book gets its name from the Abby of Kells in Kells, Ireland where the book was kept for centuries. The illustrations in the Book of Kells are considered to be the most intricate, complex, and interesting of any version of the Gospels that have ever been created.

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The Long Room in the Old Library at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland
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Aristotle Bust

The ticket to the Book of Kells exhibit also includes access to the Long Room in the Old Library. Seeing the hundreds of historic books on the bookshelves in the library is truly amazing. At the ends of each row of bookshelves are busts of famous literary geniuses. We found the Long Room to be as interesting as the Book of Kells itself. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take photographs of the Book of Kells, but it is certainly worth seeing when visiting Dublin. Standing in the Long Room of the Old Library is almost overwhelming to think of how many historic books are located in a single place.

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So Many Historic Books
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Long Room at Trinity College

 

Can You Travel to a Location Without Changing It?

People often talk about wanting to leave a place exactly the same way that you found it so that it is preserved for future generations. While it sounds like an ideal goal, there are a lot of factors that make that pretty much impossible. We have been fortunate enough to have visited a couple of indigenous villages that try to remain as untouched as possible, but just our arrival to their village will leave an impact. It isn’t limited to remote locations, every place that you visit, your presence and the decisions that you make have impacts that you are likely unaware of.

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Napo Wildlife Center in the Yasuni National Park

For example, when we went to visit an Embera village in Panama, our guide purposely took us to one of the further villages that isn’t visited as often. Our decision to buy or not buy crafts can change the prosperity and status of the village compared to those in the area. The fact that they are selling crafts to tourists is a change to their lifestyles. How they see us dressed, the conversations that we have with them, the information that we share, all had potential consequences long after we left the village. The women of the Embera villages now where tops when they previously didn’t just because of the tourists that were visiting them and conforming to their cultural norms.

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Dancing in an Embera Village in Panama

Even when going to major cities, the decisions that we make to visit a particular site or not visit can determine whether a site remains available in the future. There are places where visitors are starting to be limited because of the concern over the damage being caused such as Machu Picchu and Everest Base Camp. Even the conversations that you have once you return home, the places that you recommend, the off-the-beaten path locations that you describe can have determine whether more people return in your wake.

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Walking Through the Tombs in Egypt

We all know that traveling changes us, makes us world citizens, but we don’t often think of the impact that we make upon the places that we visit. We aren’t suggesting that you stop traveling and there is nothing wrong with trying to limit the changes that your visit will cause, but it isn’t possible to visit a place without leaving a footprint. Have you ever thought about how your travel has changed the world instead of just how it has changed yourself?

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Mahabalipuram near Chennai, India

 

Relaxing on the National Mall in Washington DC

We were back in Washington DC last week, which is a place that we are very familiar with. The National Mall is a park that extends between the Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capital, which is approximately 1.9 miles long. It is obviously a huge draw for tourists that visit Washington DC as the Washington Monument sits at the heart of the park and the White House and Jefferson Memorial are also very close by. There are several walking paths throughout the park and vendors are there selling ice cream, water, and other items. There are also many food trucks in the surrounding area.

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Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool
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Lincoln Memorial
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Lafayette Square, Andrew Jackson Statue, and the White House
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World War II Memorial

It isn’t just a location for tourists, but the National Mall is also a popular place for locals to come and enjoy the scenery and to walk, jog, and bike along the many paths. On nice days, you will find many families and couples out enjoying the weather and relaxing in the park. Since we have been to all of the museums and seen all of the important sites on previous visits to Washington, we decided to enjoy the park as the locals do, simply walking along the Reflecting Pool and having a relaxing day in our Nation’s Capital.

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Another View of the Washington Monument
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Andrew Jackson Statue in Lafayette Square
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Enjoying a Relaxing Day
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Walking Towards the Lincoln Memorial

Many of the most important museums are located in the general vicinity of the National Mall as well, including the Smithsonian Museums. We also walked through Lafayette Square, which is on the other side of the White House and then walked passed the White House on our way to the National Mall. If you’d like to go to one of the historic restaurants in Washington, we’d recommend going to the Lafayette Square area where you can find many restaurants with a colorful history. Even if you are visiting Washington DC for the first time, it is worthwhile taking your time while you are at the National Mall and taking your time to truly enjoy it and relax.

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White House
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Looking Up at the Monument Through the Trees
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Fountains at the WWII Memorial
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View from Lafayette Square
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One of the Many Statues