An incredible view at Farewell…

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A beautiful view at Farewell waiting for the ferry to the cultural communities at Change Islands and Fogo Island.

The fishing industry dominates the coastline of our many rural communities, highlighting the importance, the reason we have existed on this Rock for more than 500 years.

The crab pots, their design and the people who work them are all part of our rural experience in Newfoundland & Labrador, whether Fogo Island, Carbonear or the Great Northern Peninsula – your authentic rural experiences await!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

Croque – “Administrative Headquarters” of the French migratory cod fishery on GNP

Today, Croque is a tiny settlement on the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula that still maintains strong connections and has a storied past as the former administrative headquarters of the French Shore.

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In the 1600’s all French fishing ships were to register at Croque upon arrival at le Petit Nord. This created a hub of activity during the presence of the French migratory cod fishing fleet in this area. This community continued to play an important role for the French navy, as they used Croque as their headquarters on the French Shore.

Croque has the only official French cemetery on the French Shore and is the final resting place for both French and English seamen, which is depicted below. The French Navy kept up the cemetery long after the French Shore Treaty ended in 1904. During their visits, they would provide medical services to the local residents with the ships doctor.

It is hard to imagine that our communities were so disconnected and isolated just a few decades ago, but the road connecting this community to the outside was not complete until 1975. Dog teams and ships were the avenues in which those would travel to gain access to a doctor, which may be as far away as St. Anthony or a nurse at Conche. During the era of re-settlement, of the late 1960s and early 1970s several families from the Grey Islands and Northeast Crouse resettled to Croque. Residents today, still talk about their home or ancestors of the Grey Islands.

Although the last official visit of the French Navy was in 1971, there is still lots of evidence of both the French and settler history by viewing the historic waterfront buildings, the French cemetery and just outside of town the names of ships are carved on the rocks by French fishermen.

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We have to reflect upon our past, there is a cultural connection to be made between Newfoundland and Labrador and France to pursue other opportunities to share artifacts, stories and our heritage past and present. Our early settler to the community was Patrick Kearney, which the Kearney namesake is still present today, who was responsible for being a caretaker of the French fishing rooms in the early 1800’s.

Let’s do more to tell our stories of the past, because Croque, Petit Nord and the Great Northern Peninsula have played a very important role and it is a place you must experience!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

Canada Bay Quilters launched on Great Northern Peninsula

Quilting has been something my grandmother has done for decades. She has passed on this tradition to her eldest daughter but certainly more people could learn this skill. Every night, I enjoy turning in under the handmade quilt that my aunt or grandma made for me. There is something special about things that are handmade, the care and the extra bit of love put into seeing them complete.

On the Great Northern Peninsula there are a number of quilting guilds. Canada Bay Quilters is a new opportuny for those of all ages and all levels of experience to learn the art of foundation paper piecing from beginner to advance.

Joan Penney-Flynn has 40 years of experience and is available to teach others for a fee of $50. After a class, you should have a completed project. Information is listed below, if interest in such workshops.

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The Great Northern Peninsula has a long history of making things by hand. Our ancestors who came from England and other parts of Europe brought these handmade traditions and skills with them. Some of these skills were commercialized under the leadership of Sir Dr. Wilfred Grenfell as he created an industrial division that focused on handicrafts and textile products. One of the products made was the hooked rug, which are still practiced and available for sale at Grenfell Heritage Shoppe in St. Anthony as women in the region still make new and traditional rugs.

In Englee, there is a rug hooking exhibition that is open 9-5 on Monday to Friday at the Town Hall. They are also home to Glacier Glass, glass art studio and gift shop as well a space where quilting can take place.

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The Great Northern Peninsula is embracing all things handmade and your destination to experience these types of learning vacations, workshops or purchase handmade products.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

Active Roddickton-Bide Arm

The Town of Roddickton-Bide Arm has placed a real focus on recreation and engaging the community in a variety of activities and utilizes assets such as an outdoor swimming pool, arena, playground, network of trails and other social commons. It is important to have a committed group of volunteers in that place focus on recreation. This Town has adapted to share knowledge with the greater community by having a FB Group called “Roddickton-Bide Arm Recreation” which has 177 members. More people are encouraged to join and participate, as recreation and healthy living is for those of all ages.

Recently they have hired a “Get Moving” Coordinator that hosts a series of activities from games day, healthy cooking classes, snowshoeing runs and winter boil-ups. A great mix of exercise, healthy living, education, culture and fun! These initiatives are very progressive and attractive for current and future residents.

In September of 2014, I participated in their first ever Fun Run/Walk of 3 or 5 KM in distance. In high school, I ran on the senior cross-country run team. I found out that day, its been more than a decade since high school and no one should just start with a 5 KM run, without training for it first. I had much fun and placed 6th overall, but certainly had some muscle strains and knee aches for many days after. As a politician, I do a lot of door-to-door visits with constituents and residents across Newfoundland & Labrador, which is great activity, but those who run daily will undoubtedly get better results, as they do not contend with the many cups of tea and sweets offered at the household visit.

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Cloud River Academy has an incredibly dedicated and committed physical education teacher that is present at virtually every town or school event that has a recreation focus, from the volleyball tournaments to the figure skating events, hockey tournaments and snowmobile races. The presence certainly means a lot for greater community engagement and promoting active lifestyles for our youth but all residents of the greater community.

Despite chilling temperatures, more than 100 spectators and over 2 dozen participants, competed in the annual Roddickton-Bide Arm snowmobile races to find out who will be “King of the Clouds”?

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A small group of volunteers continue to make big things happen in small communities. Those on the recreation committee deserve much praise, they are making it happen! Roddickton-Bide Arm is a picturesque Town, which is the perfect venue if you love the great outdoors. Your experience and adventure awaits!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

@MitchelmoreMHA

Because it’s Budapest

I spent 6 days in Budapest in August 2014 and was compelled to return to this cultural capital just a couple of weeks ago for another couple of days. It is always a good indication when you enjoy an experience, that you choose to return on a future vacation. I often hear from operators on the Great Northern Peninsula that before the season begins they have bookings from past guests that are coming back to experience more of this special place, we get to call “home”.

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My first evening in Budapest, I walked by the breathtaking Parliament building and viewed the Palace and Fisherman’s Bastion on the Buda side of the river since I opted to stay on the Pest side of the city. Since I did not have a reservation, I was given the option of a 45 minutes time slot to enjoy a meal at a highly ranked traditional restaurant near where I was staying. Although, it was highly ranked by TripAdvisor, I opted to go to another restaurant. I feel sometimes these review sites can be a real curse at times, as they tend to create over capacity as tourists flock to those highly ranked spaces. There is certainly value in being reviewed and ranked by such sites.

I walked to a place called “Dracula” which was decorated with bats and themed to reflect cuisine from Transylvania. I ordered up the famed goulash soup, a traditional dish and an espresso, skipping dessert. The service was exceptional and the food extremely well prepared. The soup reminded me just how my grandmother use to make it.

One piece of decor captured my attention. It was the red sign that instantly made me smile – Praha or Prague. More than 7 years ago, living, studying and experiencing this city forever changed my life. It is where I met my European friends in which we have our annual reunions, it open my eyes to so many different cultures and where I fell in love only to return many many times and hope to have many more returns. Prague will always have a special place in my heart.

My morning included a nice breakfast of meats, cheese and pastry before I would walked many kilometers to do some shopping near the chain bridge, stopping to view the bronze shoes on the Danube (a memorial to the Jews killed in Budapest in World War II). In the afternoon I would finally tour the Parliament building (after-all this was my third trek and well lets say I have an interest in politics). The structure was as impressive inside as it was outside. The interpretative tour was of exceptional quality and well worth the entry fee (Note: EU citizens pay 1/4 of those outside the economic region pay).

That evening I would attend a jazz concert and listen to the up and coming stars. There were many concerts at this cultural facility, built only a decade ago. I really feel the nightly entertainment offering in Europe, whether large or small venues creates high-value for the tourist visiting. After the concert, I would return to my favourite restaurant in Budapest – “The Spoon”. It is a riverboat that has exquisite views to the Royal Palace and food to match. It is always nice to end a vacation on a high note – Budapest certainly would not disappoint.

From the starry nights to the early morning walks, I was in good company. Until the next visit, I’m sure the Spoon will be there waiting too!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore (MHA, The Straits-White Bay North)

That evening I would attend a jazz concert and listen to the up and coming stars.

Happy 150th Birthday Sir Dr. Wilfred Grenfell – A True Hero of the North

I would like recognize the larger than life man who made big things happen in small communities – Sir Dr. Wilfred Thomason Grenfell, born February 28th, 1865. It’s been 150 years since the birth of such a visionary!

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Since 1892, Dr. Grenfell has impacted the lives of those on the Great Northern Peninsula and Labrador through the Grenfell Mission, which provided the first permanent medical services throughout the region. It established the first hospital in Battle Harbour (the unofficial capital of Labrador).

In addition to advancing the medical administration, headquartered in St. Anthony, the mission worked to make social changes and reduce poverty through advancing education, agriculture, textiles and industrial projects. A number of schools were built, a lumber mill was established in 1908 in Canada Bay to create year-round employment, farms developed and co-operatives created to reduce the reliance of merchants and their crippling credit-system for fishers.

To stimulate industrial development, mission workers also organized the local handicraft industry enabling residents to sell hooked mats, knitted goods and other items at North American retail outlets. People would save their silk stockings and send them to Labrador or the Great Northern Peninsula for the women to make and sell Grenfell hooked rugs. There is great pride taken in displaying the Grenfell rug which the handicraft group has been proudly producing for a century! There is also the Grenfell cloth, making the traditional “Grenfell” coats people proudly wear in the 21st century.

There are many legacy pieces that remain with the International Grenfell Association with more than 100 years of activity and giving back to local causes in the form of education and community development. The Grenfell Memorial Co-op is 101 years and counting and the Interpretation Centre displays a collection of books, medical supplies and other records that attracts thousands. The hospital and outer buildings signal the impact the administration had on the local economy and society.

Dr. Grenfell received many honours in medicine, in academia and medallions. Today Memorial University -Grenfell Campus, Corner Brook is named after the legendary figurehead. As well, the Route 432 on the Great Northern Peninsula is named Grenfell Drive.

I get inspired when I think and learn about more about the undertakings of Dr. Grenfell. He is one of my role models, as he had a vision to diversify an economy, empower individuals and meet the needs of people serving so many communities. The Great Northern Peninsula is a better place because of him, he has created quite the legacy.

Dr. Grenfell is a household name on the Great Northern Peninsula and Newfoundland and Labrador. More must be down to recognize the significance of his work, the role he played and how the influence of one man forever changed the fabric of the Great Northern Peninsula. His vision had radically changed and developed the economy and the way we think – we know that more is possible because he gave us hope! Let’s keep building on Doctor Grenfell’s vision!

Happy 150th Birthday, you truly deserve the recognition!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

Reconnecting in Geneva, Switzerland

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I love the country of Switzerland – there is something of their fine quality chocolates, wines, cheeses, watches and well just about everything, not to mention having a best friend live there. My first trek to Switzerland was in 2007, which I spent a lot of time on trains to places like Bern, Zurich, Lucerne, Lausanne, Geneva, Interlaken and other countryside views. I would return in 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2015.

I flew from Nice to Geneva in the early morning and arrived at my hotel at 9 AM. The hospitality was incredible and I was able to check in right away. This is not a common occurrence for most accommodators. I was pleasantly surprised to have a nice bath. It actually brought back memories of how from Northern Ireland I flew into Geneva to connect back to Prague and the plane had mechanical problems, so the airline put us up in 4 Star Swiss Hotels despite the flight only cost $40 CAD. The room then had a big bath, after spending most of the year in Europe at apartments and hostels with only showers, the R&R was really welcomed.

Geneva has the famous jet d’eau and is home to so many world agencies like the Red Cross, UN Palace is home to 200 agencies and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). On previous visits, I have toured these facilities and opted to tour a new section of the city, visit the museums, park and just escape the chill of the air.

At the train station, Rivella (a trademark soft drink that is made from milk whey) was launching a new product and giving away their green light flavoured beverage. It was quite refreshing!

One thing about exploring a city, is you never really know what you will find or where the experience will lead you if you say yes and just dig in. I got a little lost along the way and glad I did because I ended up finding large checker and chess boards placed near the park. What really caught my attention was the little bit of ice placed outside where mostly children and a few adults were skating. I thought about the missed opportunity in Monaco, and could not pass up another so I purchased by skate rental for 2 Swiss Francs and off I went.

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I had so much fun skating, I wish I did it more. There is something energizing about having the blades to the ice, picking up speed and not falling flat. It was a wonderful way to spend time in the afternoon.

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Geneva, although a short part of my vacation, it was one of the highlights. That evening will be forever be remembered from the traditional Swiss restaurant, lovely risotto, perfect port and the ability to get lost in conversation. The starry sky and the chilly air kept for a close connection. Geneva brings beautiful memories and the morning would take me back to Budapest!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

Another French Shore and Moments in Monaco

The Great Northern Peninsula is home to the French Shore in Newfoundland & Labrador. It has a strong connection to the French from the past and some names are very present today. The Town of Flower’s Cove was formerly named “French Island Harbour”, where names like Croque, Grandois, Conche, St. Lunaire-Griquet, Quirpon, L’anse aux Meadows, Port au Choix and others scatter the coastline. There are still French ovens along the shores and many yet to be discovered stories remain untold. There is so much more we could do, to make “Petit Nord” or the Great Northern Peninsula gain a tourism boost from our French histories from Quebec, NB, St. Pierre-Miquelon and France to name a few. I encourage you to visit www.frenchshore.com.

On a recent vacation, I’ve visited a part of France in which I’ve always wanted, which included Nice, Cannes, Antibes and also the micro country of Monaco. I still have to get to Marseilles, given I’ve likely watched the movie, The Count of Monte Cristo more than any other.

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A long-weekend spent in Southern France with my European friends certainly recanted many good memories since we first met in the Czech Republic in 2007. It is amazing how quickly time has passed since our university days. One thing that hasn’t changed is our desire to continue our reunions, we’ve travelled again to Czech Republic, Canada (Edmonton, BC, Ontario, Newfoundland & Labrador), Switzerland, Cuba, Ireland, Denmark, Mediterranean sailing (Sardinia & Corsica) and France.

So from Milano to Nice we had driven by car, taking in all the sights of the countryside from waterfronts, to mountains to the many road tunnels. Our flat was very centrally located but like many older buildings in France it was without an elevator. It was a task taking all the luggage up 5 flights of stairs. I could only imagine what bringing groceries or getting furniture to that floor must be like.

There was a great vibe in Nice, given their “Carnivale” was taking place just in the main square. I truly enjoyed visiting the markets, eating the handcrafted chocolate cake, visiting the pubs, hearing the music and of course enjoying the amazing French cuisine.

I loved the morning brunches. The food was much better than the weather, as the rain foiled many of our daily plans and ended up cancelling the carnival parade. Our spirits were not dampened and we enjoyed all the outdoor views we could gain and may our way to Monaco. There was incredible vernacular architecture around the city that caught my photo lenses attention – from churches, hillside row houses, the Rothschild villa, marinas, casinos and more. There were old classic cars and many high-end Maserati, Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini that would drop your lower jaw as they whizzed by as we drank a Monaco beer at the cafe outside Monte Carlo casino.

I tried to convince my friends to go skating on the outdoor ice surface. Since that was an epic fail, we opted to visit the casino in our suits and ties, have a martini like Bond in his movie “Casino Royale” and try our luck at “roulette”. After watching the game for a bit, it was evident we were out of our league as those around the table were placing hundreds of dollars on the table at a time. After things quieted down we placed a couple of small bets, I bet on red a couple of times and it returned me a few dollars more than I started so my friends and I opted to get out while we were ahead given the odds.

A return to nice landed us at Ma Nolan’s Irish Pub for a meal of fish n’ chips. This brought us back to our Irish escapades in 2010. The music was a lot of fun and the beer a good variety. I did not steer away from my lovely pint of Guinness.

The following day we would visit Cannes, where the International Film Festival is hosted. It is a very picturesque city from the waterfront, the tower, the little winding streets and the murals on buildings. My lunch in Cannes was superb at this little cafe – I’d go back just for the chocolate crepes.

My friends and I spend much of the spare time playing this card game called “Bang”. Despite, all the rules written in German it provides a level playing field for even the non-German speakers with an opportunity to win. The game involves outlaws, a sheriff and a bounty hunter. Just like the old wild west, the rules are simple – the outlaws win if the sherriff is dead, the bounty hunter wins if all are dead but the outlaws must go first and the sheriff wins if all are dead. With additional players there are multiple characters, including the addition of a deputy sheriff and it creates more fun and excitement. Each character has certain powers and every game is completely different. We have likely played a hundred games in the last few years. It is like my love for Rook at home!

A visit to another French Shore and Moments in Monaco were amazing times with my best friends! Until our next reunion, I’ll be living rural!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

Expo 2015 in Milan, Italy!

Expo 2015 or the World’s Fair will be held in Milan, Italy – Canada’s fourth largest trading partner. It is unfortunate no Canadian city was successful in securing the Expo 2017 as a means to celebrate Canada’s 150 birthday!

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International trade and sharing of ideas, expertise, showcasing new inventions, facilitate cultural exchange based on a theme, and are used for city, region and of course nation building. In today’s global world, our image on the International scene needs more attention to see the ripple down benefits reach places like the Great Northern Peninsula in Newfoundland & Labrador.

Rural Newfoundland & Labrador has relied heavily on International Trade to see the success we have today, without it where would our salt-cod, seals, whale oil and other natural resources such as minerals and oil have been sold?

I studied International Business in the Czech Republic and I’m approaching visits to 40 countries across the globe. There are immense benefits to diversification, connecting with new people and immersing yourself in the culture to determine what benefits and opportunities exist to do business internationally or attract more direct foreign investment. I was a little early for Expo on my vacation, but I could hardly resist seeing the infrastructure, set-up and participate in an early event!

I took the train and metro to Milan Fiera Rho so I was able to get to my hotel, which I had to walk through the Expo Centre to reach the NH Fiera Rho. It was picture perfect from the room. The Expo centre would not disappoint, nor would a cup of cappuccino and some live music by from a distance, I thought jokingly, “is that my colleague Jim Bennett?” He belted out AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Europe and others.

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I’ve been to Milan before, it is quite electric, modern and one of the fashion capitals of the world. This visit was a quick overnight stay because my Swiss friend would pick up myself and our Swedish friend and drive to Southern France to meet our German friend and have a mini-reunion. We have been getting together each year since we first met in 2007, it truly is remarkable to have such wonderful friends.

Although not in the same league as Expo 2015, the St. Anthony and Area Chamber of Commerce and the Town of St. Anthony are partnering to host a trade show in St. Anthony in September. This type of activity will help promote further commerce, create new partnerships and build a stronger business community. I commend them on undertaking this initiative as it is a great opportunity to showcase our business, our people, our communities and other assets. We need more conventions and trade shows being hosted on the Great Northern Peninsula, so let’s keep on building and sharing that knowledge.

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

A Mountain of Relaxation in San Marino

After leaving Malta, I took a low-cost flight with Ryanair to Bologna for $75, a bus to the Central Train Station for a couple of Euro, a train to Rimini for $20 and then a bus for $7.50 to find myself in what is known as the “Most Serene Republic of San Marino”. San Marino is a micro-country of just 61 square kilometres with a population of just 32,000 people nestled in the northeastern peninsula of Italy near the city of Rimini. This country is noted as the oldest surviving sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world. I spent three nights and two full days in this European country before moving on to my next destination. I would advise that this is sufficient time to enjoy the sights and surroundings.

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I enjoy all the public transportation options that exists in Europe, even in the smallest of countries. This leg of the journey involved planes, trains, buses and automobiles. It was lovely to see the snow-covered Italian mountains from the plane, but a little chilly in Bologna with snow covering the ground. I was very happy that I only have a couple of minutes to catch my train versus waiting in the chilled air of the Central Station. If I had known more Italian, I could have had a great conversation with an older woman who was travelling home after a nice visit with her granddaughter. You can purchase your return bus tickets to San Marino at the Tourist Information Centre for 10 Euro. I basically had a private ride on the bus to my hotel that night, saving the 50 Euro taxi ride. The hotel shuttle unfortunately was not the Lamborghini shown below. It was at the airport and I had to snap a picture. A ride in it would simply be amazing!

The Grand Hotel San Marino was simply perfect – an amazing view from the balcony of the mountains, delicious food at the restaurant and an extremely help staff. Upon arrival after being awed by the bright lights I decided to check out the restaurant. I ordered the Menu of Tradition which consisted of bread to start, Italian salami with mousse of cheese, potato gnocchi with porchini mushrooms and gratinated green lasagne, the second course claimed a small mix of grilled meat from the territory and seasonal vegetables. Dessert was homemade cake with mascarpone and coffee cream. It was a little overwhelming all the first plates I would eat that night, but I ate like the locals and feasted for quite some time. When I requested my typical espresso, I also received some powdered biscuits. It was unbelievable for 25 euro. Needless to say, I was unable to have breakfast the next morning. On my last evening in San Marino, I decided to return to the hotel restaurant and it was recommended I try to the fish tasting plates, which consisted of Scottish salmon with brioche bread and curls of butter, tar-tare of sea bass marinated in soy and lime, swordfish carpaccio with pink pepper as an appetizer, noodles drawn in bronze with local sepia, clams, mussels and calamari as a first plate, the second catch was an assortment of grilled local sea fish and dessert was a lemon sorbet with a caramelized piece of fruit and a coconut cookie. The food was simply amazing, high-value and very well-priced. I would only imagine as tourism season begins the menus are adjusted.

The morning or evening views were so enjoyable. I just would sit and read and sometimes just stare off into the distance, reflecting upon the Maltese experience, the wonder of San Marino and the next steps of my journey. I would also get lost in local author and Newfoundland and Labrador’s favourite storyteller, Earle B. Pilgrim as I turned the pages of the Day of Varrick Frissell. It was intriguing to read about the tragic event on the sealing ship the Viking of the Great Northern Peninsula that should have brought so much more promise and attention with a film crew getting the last images needed for a film “White Thunder” that would be produced and distributed by Paramount Pictures.  IMG_20150211_145336

I enjoy reading on vacation and this time I decided to take a little piece of home with me. Exploring San Marino was easy by foot, but one has to be prepared to walk up and down multiple stairs or inclines given the terrain of this fortress city.

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There are three towers that are a must when visiting, getting panoramic views, seeing the gardens or visiting the museums. such as the armory in tower two. There is a nature park that allows you to circle around the city and give you a tranquil feeling of being in the great outdoors. I toured the palace and House of Parliament, cathedrals, museums, galleries and shops. I enjoyed a couple of local brews and a nicely prepared diavola pizza. There are more than 20 sites and attractions listed on their map and I was able to see most of them, enjoying the walk down to the Museum of Natural History but taking the cable car back up to the main city.

The San Marino guide was a great publication outlining the area attractions, local business and events. There is still value in print and publication to promote a region to travellers. No question, there were times when I felt I was the only tourist in San Marino, but there were others enjoying the peacefulness of the countryside. Tourism is peak during the summer, but in San Marino they too treat it as a year-round business. It lives up to its slogan of serenity and for me – a mountain of relaxation. If you want a couple of amazing days to rejuvenate, add San Marino to your list.

The next leg of my travels took me to Expo 2015 in Milan, Italy!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA

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