Posts Tagged ‘travel’

The island is known for the most part as Hy-Brasil and was first put on a map in 1325; it was made by the Genoese cartographer Angellino de Dalorto. He placed it to the southwest of Ireland and was described as almost perfectly round with a river down the centre. It has been noted locally before that but this is it’s first documented appearance.

The Celtic people put this to be an island of eternal plenty and happiness, it was populated by an advanced civilization and they possessed the best technology and wealth. The island had towers and streets of gold, and it was shrouded in fog, it was only witnessed by the general population once every seven years and if you tried to approach the island you would never be able to fully reach it. Of course there are supposed to be the rare people that did and they came back richer than their wildest dreams. The race seemed to be on to get to Hy-Brasil and claim it to make themselves richer than anyone else!

1480 saw explorer John Jay Jr depart from Bristol, England to try and find it but came back empty handed. 1481 two shops from Bristol called Trinity and George went out and again seemed unable to find it. Several other attempts were made, it remains speculation about their success as there was nothing further noted.

1480-1497 the Italian explorer, John Cabot, made an excursion to find North America but had an ulterior motive to try and locate Hy-Brasil, he was convinced it was out there and it’s not certain if he found it or not. After the 1497 voyage a letter from the Spanish diplomat, Pedro de Ayala, claimed that Cabot had found land that has been discovered by Bristol men in the past, or at the very least he had seen it. The speculation on that one could anything at all from he found it, to he decided to bunk off using it as a reason.

In 1674 Captain John Nesbitt made the biggest claim, saying he had set foot on the island and explored it. He said they had been sailing when a dense fog enveloped the ship and when they landed they were at an unfamiliar shore. They found that it was inhabited by large black rabbits, and there was a wizard there in a stone castle. They returned loaded with gold and silver given to them by the islanders and then Alexendar Johnson followed up his claims saying that Nesbitt was correct with his information.

It seems that despite the hardships of confirming the islands existence it remained on the maps anyways, but the position of it appears to shift and two maps in 1595 show it lying west of Ireland. In all of the maps it was still round with a central river, and then it helps popping up until 1870 when the British Admiralty removed it. This didn’t stop stories about encounters though and in 1878 the people of Ballycotton in County Cork were amazed to see an island appear where it hadn’t been before.

18th February 2012, pilot Niger Gosseur reported a mysterious bank of god along the ocean on the west coast of Ireland, in otherwise clear conditions. He reported that his compass went haywire and that he saw landmasses where he was sure there was none before. Baffled he continued to fly over to Ireland.

One of the ideas put forward is that the island may well have existed at some point and has been buried under the waves. The evidence for this might be the west coast of Ireland has a place known as Porcupine Bank,a raised seabed found in 1862, this for some suggests it is perhaps evidence that an island once existed there. Another theory is that many have mistaken the nearby Baffin Island as the island of Hy-Brasil, this is off the northern coast of Canada. The location of the island has slowly crawled around and changed so it’s possible that it was misidentified and has slowly been corrected over time.

Another explanation is that the island has never existed; it could be an optical illusion. One type of mirage that can account for this is the Fata Morgana, a layer of warm air which sits on a layer of cold, it then acts like a refracting disc and can created inverted images from distant areas and coastlines. Perhaps they are seeing this? Whatever the history/story it’s brilliant idea for a story… and the imagination of many has been captured about the idea of the disappearing island that comes up to grant you lots of cash!

Ortelius 1572 Ireland Map.jpg
By derivative work: AFBorchert (talk)
1572_Europa_Ortelius.jpg: Ortelius – 1572_Europa_Ortelius.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4785261

The hotel is located in Manhattan, New York and a half-block away from Times Square. It was originally financed by a loan to Harris and Percy Uris in May 1929, then chartered by M C Levine on 22nd April 1930. Until 1976 the hotel was known as the Dixie Hotel and it is 24 stories high, when it opened it had 1000 rooms and now has 700. It was incredibly large but the wing on 42nd street has since been demolished.

Thanks to reviews from 2004-2008 the hotel gained notoriety because it was voted the dirtiest hotel in America for those four years in a row, numerous reports on Trip Advisor warned of bedbugs and unsafe conditions. As of 2012 it was still in the process of renovation and mixed reviews are on trip advisor of late with the location being it’s primary bonus but the reviews still seem to show that the hotel’s age and wear still show. I am a little frustrated that I found out about this after I had been, during my visit to New York I am sure I would have convinced my friend from Connecticut that we could have a nose around!

The hotel has seen several owners and so I am going to just pick up on relevant points for interest in regards to this blog. For instance the hotel and bus terminal were sold in March 1932 during the Great Depression to pay off a debt, Roy S Hubbel gained control of it and incidentally died in the hotel in his room October 1932, aged 55.

In 1942 The Carter Hotels corporation took over, they allocated money to it in 1976 for renovation and sign alterations as part of the project to clean up the Times Square area. They then changed the name to fit with the chain of hotels. The bus depot there was in used for 27 years, finally closing July 1957. At the peak it handled 350 buses per day in summer.

April 1942 it got an increase in people using it as a permanent residence, there was a 255 seat theatre there that opened in 1966 and was then used as a nightclub and restaurant. Food was served in the hotels restaurant and amateur magicians would drop in during the 70’s to sit around the “Dixie Round Table” to swap stories and tricks. The theatre is now occupied by the Cheetah’s Gentleman’s Club.

In 1983 the hotel was home for 190 families and in December 1983 it was cited for constantly failing in regulations for health and safety, the city sued the hotel and by 1985 the owner (Truong) was found in contempt of court and ordered to pay out a $10,000 fine. New York City used it as a homeless shelter in June 1984 and the hotels 43rd Street Entrance was in regular use for teenagers and children to gather.

By the end of 1985 the number of families there had been reduced from 300 to 61 and eventually the city moved all of the homeless families from the hotel in 1988. They moved the homeless families because of troubles with plumbing, electricity, security and vermin, yet despite this they continued to try and attract guests to the hotel. In 1990 the Penthouse Hostel operated leases on the 23rd and 24th floors and the hostel sign was barely visible, then in 1998 the hotel was temporarily closed because an emergency fire exit was damaged.

There are a few anecdotes for the hotel, such as the store clerk, Sidney Miller, being arrested for violating an antismut law and was convicted in March 1966. He had an accomplice and the two were printing dirty magazines. In 1980 Darrell Bossett was an unemployed laborer who was arrested in a scuffle with police on the 4th floor. He was then charged with first and second degree murder, along with possession of a weapon, for the shooting of Officer Gabriele Vitale.

Along with this are the deaths, George R Sanders from Brooklyn jumped out of the 14th floor on 13th March, 1931. His body went through the roof of a single story restaurant; he landed at the feet of two customers and the night manager. No doubt scarring them for life! Mr Sanders left a note in his room to identify himself and citing that he was depressed.

Olga Kilbrick committed suicide too October 1931, she was the daughter of a wealthy Brockton, Mass insurance executive and had been staying on the 21st Floor. Police found a Brockton Musical Chorus card, 15 cents in change, her gloves and a pocketbook in her room.

Another suicide was Mr James M Fairbanks, a former office manager and was discovered by hotel employees on the roof of a three story extension, April 1932. He was avoiding a $29,000 embezzlement from his employers, he was staying in Room 2002 that night, and he was due to be sentenced the next day which would have carried a 5-10 year sentence.

September 1941 saw a young man from Wayne, Nebraska meet his end on the 12th floor of the hotel when he fell asleep smoking. The story made headlines because just after he arrived he got a letter from his father saying that he his mother had a premonition of something happening to him. He was found by the hotel employees in a chair with the clothes on his upper body burned completely, he died after being taken to Roosevelt Hospital.

In November 1983 there was a tragedy too, a 25 day old infant was beaten to death by Jack Joaquin Correa, the father and resident. He was charged with murder and child abuse. In 1987 a woman was thrown to her death from a window on one of the top floors and then in July 1999 a clerk murdered a co-worker in a brawl near the front desk.

31st August, 2007 a housekeeper found the body of Kristine Yitref, 33 years old, who was wrapped in plastic garbage bags under a bed in Room 608. Clarence Dean, 35 years old, was a sex offender who was charged with her homicide. “Miss Kris” was a former member of the goth rock group, The Nons, and turned to prostitution to fuel a drug habit, sadly she met her end at Hotel Carter.

That leads me to the whether or not it’s haunted, well it seems that guests think so. A review on Trip Advisor from May 2010 tells you that the place was dirty and the staff weren’t too great either. What they did put was that the elevator would take you to the wrong floor, it might be wiring but happened to others they new, they say that they had a shower and hangers kept swinging uncontrollably and even flew off for some reason. They radio then turned on, they had checked and there had been no alarm set. The customer said that they feel it was haunted.

The second one that I found was from further back in November 2003, so just before all the bad reviews really kicked into the limelight. The customer again mentioned the rudeness of some staff. They had a nicer hotel to start with but wanted to save money and so picked the alternative 2 star, sensibly so they had more to spend on things to do.

The review goes on to say that they felt “creeped out” and they assumed it was just down to it being an old hotel. The guests in the party got very little sleep in four days and when they she did sleep she was awoken to the feeling that someone was there, like they had jumped on the bed with them. Lisa says that two of her friends felt good with the ghost but she felt pretty freaked out. She even felt that she needed to shower with the door open and that she warns people that whilst the hotel was great you needed to be aware of the spooks

In 1946 there were more than 400,000 POW’s from Germany and there was some controversy about the Geneva convention, as many were not returned until well after the end of the war. Nearly a fifth of the farm work on British Soil was being carried out by POW’s and there was a ban on fraternisation between POW and the general populous. The ban was lifted in Christmas 1946 and so many men experienced a more friendly Christmas with local families for the first time in many years. Around 250,00 German POW’s went home but around 24,000 decided to stay in Britain.

Records from the time give some insight into the camp life, many of the documents don’t reveal the camp locations as they were not allowed to write their address on the letters they sent home. However many have been identified, some are better known than others and a list of them (ongoing) has been compiled to preserve the records even if the buildings themselves are gone.

It was part of the Redmires, and nearby is a large golf course, the old Lodge Moor Hospital’s remaining buildings are part of a residential complex, a plane crashed into the hospital killing one and injuring seven back in 1955.

The nearby land originally was planned for an airfield and racecourse, due to the elevated position the land was marshy and not suitable so the costly layouts went to waste. The overlapping land was used by the Sheffield Battalion for training grounds to dig trenches and practise for warfare. Sadly many of those that were training up on the high and uncompromising land would be lost in the Battle of the Somme.

There was a prisoner of war camp situated at Lodge Moor in the First World War, from 1917-1919 and was used to house German captives. An archaeological website details that the capacity of the camp was greatly extended bu the use of tented accommodation. It says that it was guarded by double wire perimeter fences with watchtowers. From 1917-1918 (for about six weeks approximately) it housed U-Boat captain Karl Dönitz, whom Hitler picked for his successor as Führer, he failed this in the last days of the Second World War. He returned to Germany in 1920, after being sent to Wynthenshaw Hospital after displaying odd behaviour, it is not unreasonable to assume he would have acted this way to ensure that he was taken from the camp in the first place.

The site was then used as a Smallpox hospital as an extension to the establishment at Lodge Moor but this was demolished and another POW camp set up for the Second World War. This time it housed Italian and German prisoners, this time it was slightly more to the right and opened out in front of the Three Merry Lads, this area is now demolished and opened up for planted woodland and traveller enclosure.

A local oral story says that the local Redmires army gave the Italian prisoners free cinema tickets and food to help them leave the area once Italy surrendered. Many in fact decided not to go back to Italy due to the way they were treated and remained in Sheffield. This seems quite reminiscent of the Dad’s Army episode, but the episode I believe is based more on Island Camp Farm than Sheffield’s. Locals also recall that the Italian POW’s would wave and try to talk to people because they missed their own family and so seeing some sense of normality they would want to interact.

Recently, armed with the iPhone as the camera batteries died when I got on to the site, we headed out to see the remains of the Lodge Moor Prisoner of War Camp. Lodge Moor lies on very open country side, in an elevated position, we found it by parking at the Sportsman Inn and then following the public footpath. It was icy there and snow lay on the ground, from Nottingham however there had been no such conditions with it being a lower ground.

A 1923 Survey map shows the layout of the buildings and is marked as the “Redmires Special School” and there is now a pub called the Three Merry Lads which was unmarked on there at the time. Originally when we pulled up we thought it was that car park we needed but the Sportsman’s Inn proved to be the better for accessibility.

The site itself is out in the peaks and is behind a large unmarked wall, protected from the roads and it is overgrown. The old cement outlines can be seen amongst the vegetation and trees, and we had a little of the frozen ground to protect us from the mulch thanks to the rain and the pretty much flooded basement levels.

It’s quite hard to imagine now, but prisoners would arrive at the camp and be interrogated by the Prisoner-of-War Interrogation Section, it categorised their strength of belief in National Socialism. Those who were fervent believers were labelled “black”, those non-believers were “white” and those in the middle – “grey”. At Lodge Moor some of the “black” POW’s joined in others to help plot and escape to help sabotage the war effort. Some had already begun tunnelling there and did much of it whilst the guards thought that they were asleep.

Whilst the prospect of being a POW is grim they fared better in the English camps than those in Germany, they were reasonably fed and cared for. They were educated outside of the Nazi propaganda, the POW’s were allowed to be used dor labour as long as it did not benefit the British War Effort and they could not be allowed to go into factories, as they were likely to be bombed.

Sleeping conditions were also rough, and this was not hard to be imagined when standing up on a frosty, snow covered hill in the middle of nowhere. Many prisoners would be sleeping rough and by 1944 the lodge was full so people were sleeping in the tents, many slept on bare mud in wet conditions.

The Hypogeum of Paolo, Malta is a subterranean structure from 3000-2500 BC. It may originally have been a sanctuary but became a necropolis and the remains of some 7,000 and more individuals have been found.

In 1980 the World Heritage List was updated to contain the Hypogeum, after restoration in the 1990’s the site has since re-opened and allows for entry for 60 people a day.

The structure was discovered in 1902 by accident when building workers broke through into the roof of the complex.

If you want to go and see this piece of history when you are in the area it is suggested that you book your tickets well in advance.

Photo_Ellis_Hal_Salflieni
Photo Ellis Hal Salflieni” by Richard Ellis décédé en 1924 – domaine public. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Venice, Italy is a phenomena in history of it’s own, having not joined the Kingdom of Italy until 1866 it has been quite independent until Napoleon and the Austrian forces came into play in 1797. Venices history is pulled in by a variety of influences, countries and a unique collection of islands that are man made around it’s lagoon.

A famous spot in the city is the Bridge of Sighs or Ponte dei Sospiri, it was named by Lord Byron in the 19th Century and yet was built back in 1602.

The bridges purpose was to connect the new prison to the interrogation rooms located at the Doge’s Palace. The bridge was supposedly to offer the convicts one last view of the beautiful city before they were forever locked away in the prison below.

It seems though that Byron may have romanticized this, as the windows from the bridge are covered in stone grills. By the time the bridge had been built the prison would have been more used for petty criminals. The times of summary executions and inquisitions were over.

So what of ghosts? It is said that you can hear sounds, strange noises and the shuffling of feet but it was so busy when we went really all you heard was boats, tourists, workers and Venetians trying to carry on with their lives around the lagoon.

A more romantic tale is that couples in love should take a gondola ride, hope to time it so that the bells of St Mark’s Campanile are tolling and then kiss. This should bless you for eternal love.

(picture taken July 2013)

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