Monday, March 30, 2009

The Serious Side of St. Patrick's Day

In America, St. Patrick's Day is all about parades and green beer, but in Ireland it is still viewed primarily as a religious holiday. March 17, AD 461 is believed to be the date St. Patrick drew his last breath. The site of his death is believed to be Saul Church in Downpatrick, County Down, Northern Ireland, which is where St. Patrick had founded the first Christian church around 432. The patron saint of Ireland is traditionally believed to be buried two miles away, where Down Cathedral (above) has since been erected in his honor. According to legend, a team of oxen pulling a cart carrying his body came to rest here, signifying that God had chosen this very spot for St. Patrick's burial.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Origin of Captain Fantastic

That impish leprechaun on the left is music legend Elton John, who celebrates his 62nd birthday on Wednesday, March 25. The self-styled "Captain Fantastic" was born Reginald Dwight in his grandparents' home at 55 Pinner Hill Road in Pinner, a suburb of London. (Click on the link and you'll discover that something happened on this very spot that laid the groundwork for Elton's wild costumes and stage performances.) Right around the corner is Frome Court, where Elton and lyricist Bernie Taupin wrote early hits like "Your Song." For more spots related to Elton John, click here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Orlando's Oddities

Orlando, Florida is home to two spots of interest for fans of the unusual. Ripley's Believe It or Not Odditorium features an array of wacky displays, such as a petrified man, the world's smallest and tallest men, a shrunken head, and a Rolls Royce made of one million match sticks. Wonder Works (above) is an interactive science museum with more than 100 hands-on exhibits housed in one of the most unusual structures imaginable--a building that appears to be turned upside down. Visitors can experience a 5.3 earthquake, lie on a bed of 3,500 nails, or step inside a life-size replica of an astronaut space suit and a Mercury capsule.

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