After Dublin, Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands Will and I decided to stop over in the Medieval town of York en route to London. We boarded the train in Glasgow and spent one night at the historic 1898 Principal Hotel at the train station.
York is super cute and full of personality and charm. My favorite area was the famous Shambles Street used as a location in the Harry Potter movies as Driagon Alley.
Roaming the Medieval Town I walk around a corner and see this higglety-pigglety street of leaning buildings and cobblestone streets and I was overwhelmed with adventure. Transported back to a time and place.
York was founded by pre-Roman Britons and originally named “Eborakon” meaning ‘place of yew trees.’ Romans made it their capital in 71AD. Built as a fort between rivers Ouse and Foss. Ouse River is a continuation of River Ure and the longest river in the United Kingdom.
The Roman Walls around the city were erected at that time. Walking along the Roman Walls you get a chance to peer over yards and gardens and see vista views of the famous Minster.
York Minster is a Cathedral and Metro-political Church of Saint Peter and one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe.
After Romans departed York was abandoned and fell to ruins. In 866 Vikings conquered northern England and York became the capital of a new Viking kingdom.
In the Middle Ages during the 16th and 17th centuries York was the most important town in Northern England. Less important in the 18th century. York was a market town of craftsmen, butchers, brewers, bakers, tailors, shoemakers, coppers, comb-makers, jewelers, and pie makers.
Shambles is a Medieval street of timber-framed shops originally occupied by butchers. Some shops still have outdoor shelves and meat hooks. Now they’re all souvenir shops.
There’s a big wonderful world out there and when you step out of your comfort zone and open yourself up to new experiences, new people and new cultures something magical happens deep inside. A profound shifting of energy that revitalizes and readjusts all that was stuck and stagnant and uninspiring.
In many ways my bucket list birthday trip to Ireland and Scotland was all about experiencing the Scottish Highlands.
Our tour guide, David, had an itinerary and I had no clue what we were going to see or what to expect short of a list of castle hot spots. The minute he met me and my 16 year old nephew Will, David tossed out the plan and improvised. Everything unfolded beautifully. Best guide ever!
Once we left Edinburgh, we immediately hit up our first castle.
LINLITHGOW PALACE is where they shot Wentworth Prison in my favorite show “Outlander.” How did David even know I was an “Outlander” fan? Most of the other castles and palaces we visited were also locations for the TV show so of course I was in heaven (check out my other blog on Outlander locations.) Still in tact was the fountain built by James V in 1538. Fed by an underground water supply, water once fell from the crown. When Bonnie Prince Charlie visited in 1745 the fountain was made to flow with wine. Restored in 2007 to its former glory of fanciful bas-relief statues of mythical beasts and human heads.
Scottish castles and palaces were not the luxury dwellings I had thought or imagined from visiting France, England or even India. These were stone fortresses meant to keep invaders out and provided very little space or comfort for royal families inside.
Storming Doune Castle, I immediately recognized the grounds where they staged Castle Leoch in “Outlander.” In ruins, there wasn’t much to see inside. The exterior courtyard is where all the energy remains. As an intuitive I felt the castle was happy to have “Outlander” film there. The castle was able to revive the spirit of its inhabitants through the action of actors in period costumes camped out for months recreating the world that once was.
Lunch at the Potted Shed Cafe Bistro on the grounds of the Roman Camp Hotel in Callander was one of our favorites. Built in 1625 the Roman Camp was the hotel for the Dukes of Perth. It has 3 ghosts. The cute pink hotel was very classy and everything I dreamed a quaint Scottish Manor House would be. Even the slightly creepy front desk manager who told me he “liked my vibe.” Maybe it was my blue hair!
Scottish Speak: Dreich is Scottish for rainy weather Drookit is the word for being soaking wet Crabbit is ‘bad mood’ and our guide David told us no one is allowed to be Crabbit on this trip! Of course, we never were.
Stopping for the classic photo of breath-taking famous 3 Sisters Mountain range in Glen Coe, it was the same view as the opening credits from “Outlander.” The valley was once used by Clan MacDonald to hide their livestock from raiders during the Jacobite uprising.
We also saw the Harry Potter train passing over the Glenfinnan Viaduct. This train runs an 84 mile round trip that passes Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain. The Jacobite Steam Train was featured as the fictional Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films.
When my trusted travel agent booked us at a creepy Victorian hunting lodge on Lochy Loch, I was shocked at first. Then after a few days the place grew on me and in fact Will and I left with a few tall tales of our own about the place and lots to giggle about. It was our favorite strange experience. Nightly over dinner as we looked out at the dramatic scenery and 10pm sunset the theme from “Outlander” played over the speakers. The famous Scottish folk tune called “Skye Boat Song” transported me to the romance of hunky Jamie Fraser and his true love Claire. The song looped every 30 minutes.
Eilean Donan Castle is quite spectacular. Located on a a small tidal, which is land where 3 sea lochs meet: Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alshin in the Western Highlands. The picturesque castle dominates the island. Founded in the 13th c – a stronghold of Clan Mackenzie and allies Clan MacRae. Partially destroyed during the Jacobite uprising in 1719, a footbridge was added in the early 20th c.
I wanted a fairy experience so we crossed the bridge to have lunch on Isle of Skye located in the Atlantic Ocean. We hadn’t planned on any special isle of Skye outings and now I realize that was a mistake. Next trip I want to hike the Isle of Skye and visit the fairy lake, the fairy waterfalls, fairy everything! The fairy world on Isle of Skye is a magical experience and thankfully we got to dip our toe in the fairy pool.
As we were crossing the the bridge to the isle, my phone alerted me to a MAGIC HOUR. Now this is something I have on my phone in my special calendar but I have never had a phone alert. I believe the fairy energy was alerting me to place my back to the hourly direction and send out my prayers. So, in the parking lot of the Red Skye School House, our driver David and my nephew Will and myself stood with our backs to the Magic Hour direction and tapped into the magic of Isle of Skye. It was truly a spiritual experience. David and Will thought I was slightly nuts. I want to go back!
Of course, no trip to the Scottish Highlands is complete without a visit to the Colloden Battle Field. They have an amazing visitor’s center worth a few hours of attention. Then there’s the quaint town of Pitlochry where it must have been senior hour. As we arrived 2 buses filled with senior citizens mostly in motorized wheel chairs on oxygen tanks roamed the souvenir stores. Urauhart Castle was destroyed but he ruins and movie about its history playing in the gift shop was super interesting. Rainy and misty drive around Loch Ness we could not see the famous sea monster, but Will bought a Nessy stuffed doll for his little cousin (another nephew.) Finally wrapped up the 5 day tour at Scone Palace. The grounds are spectacular and worthy of a few hours dodging peacocks.
A real treat and super special was an overnight stay at the poshy posh Fife Arms in Braemar. Until Swiss art dealers Iwan and Manuela Wirth took it over and made it their love project displaying over 14,000 works of art, the Fife Arms was apparently a dump. Owned by the Duke of Fife (1889-1912), the Inn is now an art masterpiece and everything you imagine a Scottish Highlands experience to be – it is.
One of my favorite shopping for nirvana purchases was the Duke of Fife tartan scarf. Re-created from his original tartan design, a tartan is a woolen cloth woven in plaid associated with a Scottish clan.
The Scottish Highlands is superstition mixed with daily life.
Tea is a way of connecting. Drinking tea is one of my favorite rituals.
You might call me a “tea snob” because I have come to love tea and am pretty picky about it too. It wasn’t always this way. Years ago I attended a tea event at my friend’s chic tea import store on La Brea in Los Angeles. Owner Gail Baral was my guide to all-things tea. How to make it, what to eat with it, and which countries did it come from. I got hooked. Drinking tea all day works for me because the buzz from tea is a smooth uplifting constant as opposed to coffee which can be a roller coaster of ups and downs. At least, that was how Gail explained it to me many years ago.
I learned to brew loose leaf tea. I studied different tea regions like Darjeeling in India and Ceylon in Sri Lanka. I enjoy a strong black Aasam tea during the day and calming Chinese green tea in the evening. More importantly I experienced tea rituals through global travels.
In Europe, it is common to add milk. This came about because in the early days of tea arriving from the East India Trading Company it was low quality so milk made it taste better. The highest quality was super expensive and saved only for the rich. Today in India adding milk is the norm. Usually it is a hot steamed milk or even ground spices are added calling it masala tea. BTW did you know that the word chai means tea, so when you ask for a chai tea, you are asking for tea tea?
What really took me over the edge understanding tea was when my friend in London, Pete Hendricks, suggested I read one of his favorite books, “For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History” by Sarah Rose. Based on journal notes and historic events of Scottish botanist Robert Fortune who was sent to steal the crop from deep within China and bring it back to British plantations in India, it reads like adventure fiction. The odyssey of this tall Scottish man who went undercover in 1848 pretending to be from Northern China (because Northern Chinese are taller) is a fascinating read. One of my favorite books.
The art of negotiating always takes on a tea component throughout Asia, especially in Bali. Traveling to the small craft town Tenganan in East Bali with my friend Robert in 2000 I witnessed a master class. Tenganan is famous for beautiful baskets handmade according to ancient techniques with a smokey scent. They are said to be so sturdy they last a hundred years. Robert was there to purchase baskets for a client in Sweden. When we reached the village I stood back to watch him work his magic. Like the ancient art of tea, the ancient art of shopping has important lessons too. Don’t talk business before making friends and sharing a cup of tea. Bicker about the price then have another cup of tea. Finally, meet in the middle so everybody walks away happy. And then of course there’s a final cup of tea to seal the deal.
If you are already a tea drinker, enjoy. If not, maybe you will give it a try. I have found tea to be so much more than a hot drink and it’s always “tea time!” My favorite new find is Steven Smith Tea from Portland. Their flavor combinations is superb whether loose leaf or sachets. Try Mao Feng Shui or Portland Breakfast! Cheers!
Seeing the world through “Feng Shui Eyes” is not about moving your couch (although sometimes it’s helpful) or spending a lot of money. Feng Shui fairy dust cannot be sprinkled to make you instantly successful, popular or rich. What Classical Chinese Feng Shui can do is tap into positive and auspicious Qi or life-force energy in your environment so you live and work in a place that is supportive. Life is better with great Feng Shui.
TOP 10 FENG SHUI TIPS:
It Takes Two To Tango
Spice up your love life with the duality of pairs
Cover Televisions when not in use
Televisions and computers emit unhealthy energy
Bring out the Welcome Mat
Opportunity knocks at the front door
Light my Fire
Balance the fireplace with a mirror over the mantel
Always sit in the Power Position
No one wants their back to the door
Art that Inspires
Lift your spirits with positive artwork
Romance the Bedroom
Bedrooms are private sanctuaries and passionate playgrounds
Treat yourself to Flowers
Fresh flowers bring prosperity
Hang art Feng Shui Style
Break the heaven and earth line
Family Wall of Fame
Qi gets stuck in long hallways, stir it up with a family wall of fame
For more information or to schedule your personal Feng Shui consultation contact Anita at www.AnitaRosenberg.com
Spirit begins with prayer and what better way to speed up that communication then lighting incense. Smoke is the vehicle that dispatches your wishes and dreams to the universe,
Incense is a powerful tool dating back 6000 to 8500 years to ancient Hindu texts or Vedas. The trend took off spreading to Greece and Rome when Babylonians wafted incense sticks during prayers. Did you know that peddlers along the Silk Route turned incense sales into big business when various techniques, multiple flavors, and a variety of styles became accessible?
The famous trade route changed its name to the Incense Route.
It was at the mysterious overgrown temple of Ta Prohm where I received my first Ganesh statue. I met the wizend monk who sweeps the steps to ensure the gods will have safe passage up the steep and narrow stairways. I bought a bamboo cowbell from him and he posed for a photo.
“He protects travelers and will help you find your way,” he told me as my guide translated. A sort of golden light washed over me in that moment,and then the monk was gone and I began to wonder…
I have opened the portal to a more spiritual way of being in the world and there’s no going back only forward.
This past year I chased meridian spots all over Taiwan. A meridian spot is a Feng Shui portal of energy that directly links to the universe. They are quite difficult to find. Only a Feng Shui master can locate such powerful energy. So, my Feng Shui teacher and mentor Joey Yap led a spiritual excursion to Taiwan so we could all experience this powerful energy and shift our Qi. It truly changed me and I had no clue it would happen.
The idea of finding your own quiet space in time in the midst of city noise and people chatter is so important. You can find it in a remote mountain village outside Taipei or you can even create it within your own home. I suggest a focal point of energy in your home with a shrine or altar. It doesn’t have to have religious or cultural, it just has to be your personal space of meaning and empowerment. Start a morning ritual of prayer and focus. I like to light incense, sit with my back to the Qi Men Dun Jia direction of the day (you can get this information from my Google Calendar I created) and do a brief meditation to set your intentions of the day. For an added boost I surround myself with highly charged sentient quartz crystals for protection. Then I seal this energy in with a finger snap and go on with my day.
After my week in Taiwan I continued temple hopping in Laos which was on my bucket list. I had gotten the hang of lighting incense (my hair smelled like sandalwood for months) and saying prayers and Laos offered some of the most magical spots although not meridian spots. One of my favorite temples was actually a large cave along the Mekong River. The sacred Pak Ou Cave (above) is home to a thousand Buddha statues and it is here where fishermen have placed all sizes of statues made from wood, metal, plaster and even plastic over many decades for good fortune. The shrine pictured above is only the small altar, the cave is amazing and a must-see if you are in Laos.
What I have learned from trips to China, Southeast Asia and India is that they have an innate understanding that everything is connected. Life is full of spirit. Sacred objects, ritual and meditation are their daily routine. Everyone has at least one shrine or altar and possibly more. Buddha and Quan Yin greet their guests in China. Lakshmi and Ganesh remove obstacles in India. Incense is wafted everywhere. Dragons are power symbols and Lucky Cats bring good fortune to businesses. To me, it’s about living every day in a spiritual way.
Here I am above at the famous Jain Temple in India. I had been sporting a bindi dot on my forehead since I arrived and it was not easy keeping it on. I tended to forget I had it and smeared it across my face hourly as sweat dripped down my face from the extreme heat of the desert. One of my favorite rituals throughout India was getting a red string tied around my wrist that came along with a priest blessing and a red dot on my forehead that I got from anyone willing to give me one. I also bought a packet of decorative bindi dots. And a lady at lunch one day gave me her packet of glittery bindi dots, seeing as I was so into them. Some folks can pull them off. I am not sure I am one of those. But I loved them anyway.
BaZi Chinese Astrology is not fortune telling or a psychic reading. It is an ancient practice based on a person’s birth chart. Originally it was used to personalize your Feng Shui. We still work with it like that today, only now it is also a stand-alone tool for movers and shakers throughout Asia and now in the West. BaZi Destiny Consultations are one of my specialties. Successful people have coaches, spiritual people have Cosmic Coaches.
When I was in India I just had to have my fortune told. They have different methods based on their traditions and this master above did palm reading as well as looked at my Vedic Astrology. I booked an appointment with him at my hotel in Agra, right after my sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal and before glam dinner at the Oberoi Agra. I love the magnifying glass on the table that he used to view the lines on my hand. He was lovely, but I don’t remember what he told me. I just remember it was an experience!
When you book a consultation with me on your BaZI be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get to work on yourself. Set goals. Focus on plans. Get real with who you are, why you are here, and what you want to accomplish. This is not airy fairy fortune telling! Namaste.
Our goddess tour goes to Tibet and China where we find Tara, whose name means “star” in sanskrit. The other meaning is “she who carries us across the waters.” Tara is our spiritual cruise director. She is the Hindu and Buddhist starlet who helps us travel smoothly and safely to our destination. She is complex with multiple personalities depicted by many different colors. Within Tibetan Buddhism,she has twenty-one forms. When Yellow, Blue or Red she is a temperamental diva. When White or Green, Tara is a loving lady.
How to recognize White Tara?
White Tara is gentle, peaceful, patient and nurturing. She expresses maternal compassion and offers healing to those who are hurt or wounded. She focuses on longevity and approaches problems with prayer. Easiest to recognize because she is – well – white. More difficult to recognize in statuary so you have to look for those freakish seven eyes on top of her head, palms of her hands and soles of her feet. This way she can see anyone who needs help in any direction. White Tara holds an open white lotus as a symbol of purity and is said to be as white and radiant as the moon. She clears away harsh relationships, environments and chemicals. She also protects from loud noise, crowds and violence. She is the goddess for those with an open mind and receptive heart. White Tara spreads joy and happiness.
How to recognize Green Tara?
Green Tara is a no-nonsense gal. She is intense with a loving warrior spirit, a true diva with a reputation for being proactive and making things happen. Green Tara reminds you to delegate and ask for help. She works fast and is excellent in emergencies. She helps you understand situations and relationships. Recognized because she is – green. Green is considered the color that contains all other colors. In statues you must look more closely to see the half open lotus in her hand representing night. Sometimes there are two lotus blossoms. She does not have any extra eyes. Green Tara rescues us by empowering us to save ourselves.