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Medieval Castle Rebuilt with Medieval Technology

7 Sep

Aer Lingus “Study in Ireland Program”

20 Jul

For my first return post, I thought I’d share a nice deal offered especially to Study Abroad Students!

According to their website, AerLingus (an Irish airline) is offering students studying in Ireland a special deal this summer through their “STUDY IN IRELAND Program.”

They’ll be offering “special airfares and a free date change to their return flight.” I like how it says you can change your return flight. Probably because so many students fall in love with Ireland and just want to stay a little bit longer (I know I did!).  Actually, it says you can even move the date of your return flight up (but who would want to?!?).  

The offer is for travel to or from Dublin or Shannon, Ireland on the following dates:

  • August 17-December 20, 2016 (Fall Semester)
  • January 6 – May 30, 2017 (Spring Semester)

Flights include those to/from Boston, Chicago, Hartford (as of Sept. 2016), Los Angeles, New York, Newark (as of Sept. 2016), Orlando, San Francisco, Toronto, and D.C.  Only individual students studying abroad get this special plan. 

However, the website also offers “special fares for Family & Friends Interested in travelling with or visiting the student while in Ireland (fares based on availability).” Awesome! Your best friend could come and visit you too!

For more details about the specifics and limitations, you can use the following resources:

If you try this program out, let us know how it goes! Excellent? Good? Bad? Terrible? Pass it on!

DISCLAIMER: This website is not affiliated with Aer Lingus in any way. My and my website are not responsible for anything AerLingus does or the program they are offering or anything else. I’m just letting you know what the website says.

Getty Museum returns the Head of Hades to Italy

29 Jan

Sometime between 300-400B.C., an unknown artist in Morgantina, Italy carefully sculpted this terra-cotta replica of the famed god of the Underworld, the feared Hades.  The skull or head itself was carefully sculpted on its own, and later the curly hair and beard were individually added, one curl at a time, just before the final firing in the kiln. Afterwards, it was carefully painted, and some parts of the paint remain such as the red in his hair and the blue in his beard.  This beautiful artifact is an amazingly well-preserved momento of painstaking artistry.

The piece goes by both the name “Head of Hades” and “Bluebeard” and was illegally excavated from an Italian archaeological dig during the 1970s. Afterwards it was sold and ended up at the Getty Museum in the USA.  

According to the Getty Website, the work was initially believed to be a depiction of Hades’ brother, Zeus (known occasionally as Bluebeard).  However, examination of the nearby discovered artifacts and the knowledge that Morgantina worshipped Persephone (kidnapped wife of Hades), they now believe it is actually Hades instead.  The kidnapping of Persephone is thought to have occurred at a lake near the city.  

Long story short, because the work was illegally excavated, it technically still belongs to Italy and was stolen property, meaning the Getty had to repatriate the bust to its nation of origin.  Although the legal exchange happened a couple years ago, the official trade occurred recently when Italian officials arrived to take over possession.  

One of the interesting notes to me is the fact that the Getty has owned this work since 1985 (almost 20 years) according to their own website. It is unclear why it took so long for them to return the stolen relic.  

Either way, the work is finally home as Hades returns to his royal lands, protecting the good and punishing the wicked as they pass into his deadly realm.


  1. Getty Website
  2. Yahoo! News

The European Microstates: The Smallest Powers

19 Mar



The Hundred Years War: A Short Presentation and Handout

19 Mar

This is the helpful handout I passed around. Helps keep things clear(ish)HundredYears War Handout 2.

The Avenging Loki: The Great Irony of the Nordic Ragnarok

21 Feb

The End

The end is nigh. At least according to the blowing of the Nordic trumpet in York, now heralded by the Jorvik Viking Centre as the warning for the arrival of Ragnarok, the war of the gods.   If their claims run true, we’ve got until tomorrow to wind up our affairs and party like there’s no tomorrow, viking-style.  Luckily, I’ve got friends in Korea who say it’s already Saturday there and they’re keeping me updated on the status of our future.  

With all the hype over the foretold end and my eternal love of Loki from The Avengers, I’ve recently been looking into the Norse legends, but I was surprised at the great irony wrapped up in the myth (and happy that finally Loki gets some of his own back!).  

Remember how the great Odin was sadly absent an eye in the film and the big question was whether he represented an alternative Fury?   Well, the short answer is no–Odin lost his centuries before the story we saw began.  You know the legends, of how Loki was born to two frost giants but grew into the feared god of mischief in Odin’s court. However, the story is much deeper than this.  

The Story

According to legend, Odin  was a wandering god, traveling high and low across the worlds in search of ever-greater knowledge. At last he came upon Mimir’s Well, also known as the Well of Wisdom.  The well offered those who drank from it sight of the events in the past, the present and the future, attracting Odin’s interest.  In exchange for Odin’s eye, he was permitted to drink the waters and so watched as all the sorrows of the world passed through his mind.  One such sorrow was the coming of Ragnarok and the end of the gods.  

Odin watched as the future children of Loki destroyed the world at their father’s side, killing the gods and burning the planet.  Horrified, began to watch and wait. Why he failed to keep his counsel to himself, we don’t know, but apparently news of Odin’s vision spread for soon the other gods picked up on his fear.  Angered at Loki’s apparent betrayal, they began to turn on him, casting his further aside with derisive comments about his future destructive behavior.  Furious, they refused him entry into the feasting halls, even Thor joined in with the bullying tactics.  Already derided for his questionable ancestry and love of practical jokes, Loki was titled “the Betrayer” before he ever made a move.  

Tomzj1’s “LOKI–The hell’s children”

Then came the dark-fated children–Fenrir, the wolf; Hel, godess of the underworld; Jormungandr, the great serpent; Vali, the shapeshifter; Sleipnir, the horse; and Nari/Narfi, the boy.  And if any creatures were ever to be pitied, it was them.  Sadly, Sleipnir perhaps fared the best, forcibly claimed by Odin as his warhorse, bearing the god on long journeys.  The others were less lucky.  

The first to suffer were Vali and Nari/Narfi.  When the other gods refused to give Loki a seat at a dinner because of the “threat” he posed, Loki grew enraged and started mocking them for their unwillingness to do something about him if he was truly such a great threat.  Angered, Thor and the other gods caught Loki and his two sons, bringing them deep into a cave. There, they deliberately forced Vali to shift into his wolf form and set him upon his vulnerable brother. After ripping his brother apart, Vali was executed and Loki bound to the cavern rocks with Narfi’s guts.  That would have been enough to drive anyone insane!

This seems to have been the beginning of the end. Not long afterwards, Odin had Fenrir, Hel, and Jormungandr brought before him under “peaceful” terms.  Once trapped, he cast Jormungandr ocean.  Hel, Odin sent to the underworld, forcing upon her the task of housing the dead. Out of sight, out of mind I suppose.  Fenrir, who was prophesied to be Odin’s future killer, faced the most painful betrayal of all. At first, Odin’s guards simply kept his as a pet. But as he continued to grow, they tricked Fenrir into trying on a collar meant to control his fearsome power.  Once he was bound, they chained him to the earth, forcing a sword into his tender gums to keep him from biting down.  Continue reading

Saving 10,000: Operation Kindertransport

21 Nov

Most people have forgotten about it, if they ever even knew in the first place.  They called it Operation Kindertransport–the mission that to save endangered children.  At the time it began, Hitler already ruled Germany and Austria; the holocaust was in its beginning stages.  Then Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass) saw Nazi forces implementing a series of programs against Jewish families resulting in the death of 91 and the arrest and assignment to concentration camps for 30,000 others.  Suddenly, those watching knew that things were about to get a lot worse.  


Five days later, several concerned Jewish and Quaker UK citizens went to the British government asking for help in a rescue mission  they were planning to help children most at risk. The original idea was to collect children or teens in danger of arrest, orphans, and children whose parents were imprisoned.  The UK would then house and Continue reading

Yours, Mine, and Ours: The Elgin Marbles and the Power of One Word

26 Mar


The Parthenon

The artistry is exquisite; the detailing impressive.  Built from 447 B.C. to 432 B.C. when such a building was truly a monument to the creativity and abilities of the Greeks, the Parthenon’s beauty has survived generations and centuries to remind the world of the power of human ingenuity.  Carefully built upon a solid foundation of limestone and painstakingly elaborated with carvings of Pentelic Marble, the Parthenon has 46 separate columns surrounding the building. Above those columns, dozens of detailed marble plaques were embedded in the roof (1).  It is these plaques that have been the center of so much debate in recent years (1).  You can actually still see in the photo below the places where these embedded marbles used to be. Continue reading

Kanagawa Prefectural Museum

17 Feb
The Museum

Kanagawa Prefectural Museum

Okay, I admit it. I’m from a VERY small town in a VERY small country, so my local county museum consisted of the old mansion home of a local famous/wealthy horse breeder, an old schoolhouse, and about a dozen ancient oil lamps and doilies.  So in my mind, county museums mean small, not a whole lot to see, and an interesting hour or two.

Well, over the summer I was visiting Yokohama and ended up with a couple hours to spare. Since I was in the area, I decided to visit the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum, which is basically the city’s county museum.  Now, I’m thinking I’ll see an old building, maybe catch a few old photographs, and see some old pottery, while still making it out in time to grab some souvenirs for family. But what I didn’t take into account was the fact that Midwestern US museums’ greatest events are the soldiers leaving for WWI, WWII and the wars thereafter.

Kanagawa, on the other hand, has thousands of years of history spanning dozens of empires and centuries of religious, cultural, and social upheaval and development.  It’s survived hundreds of rulers, the bombings of WWII, the rise of Buddhism and the introduction of Christianity, the 1964 Olympics, and was the landing sight of Commodore Perry, the man who forcibly opened Japan to the west.  So what I found was practically another national Museum.

Now, everything was in Japanese (and I do mean everything, even the brochures were untranslated).  But it was also empty, so all the people were standing around waiting for people to come.  They saw me wandering around and before I knew what was going on I have 4 different employees following me around with a translator machine explaining all the exhibits and what they meant.  I got my own personal tour of this awesome place!  Everyone was incredibly kind, and my visit (which actually took 3+ hours) was an unexpectedly amazing event.

I apologize for the quality of these photos, I ran out of film earlier in the day and was stuck with my Ipod. 😦  Still, they show what an amazing history this place has!

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They also had Buddha statues, more sculptures than I could count, dozens of ancient maps, stunning paintings, and some amazing photography, as well as many other artifacts and cultural resources.  It was a wonderful place to visit!

If you’re in the area and want to stop by, you can find out more information about the Museum here.  I think it cost me about $6-7 total, but I don’t quite remember.  Museums in Japan are more expensive than those in Korea, but I remember that this one wasn’t too bad.  Great place to visit and it’s right down from Kannai street (a famous shopping street in Yokohama).  Look it up!

The Jedburghs: Spies, Espionage, and Sabotage!

29 Jan

Operation Jedburgh:

Spies, Espionage, and Sabotage

WWII was a war unlike any the world had seen before, and not just in the monstrous brutality so viciously enacted in the course of those few years.  There was also the fact that, for the first time in history, this was a war focused upon covert operations and guerrilla warfare.

In other words. . . this was a war of spies.   Continue reading

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