Category Archives: vacation

Northern Ireland — Belfast Architecture

Montague Burton Buildings

Today we’ll just sit back and watch the architecture go by while we sit atop that Hop-on/Hop-off, beginning with the image above of the 1929 Montague Burton Buildings on High Street and Corn Market. This structure currently houses a Dunnes Stores, but also once hosted a Woolworth’s:

Woolworth’s relief on the Montague Burton Buildings

Just northeast of Montague Burton is the Albert Memorial Clock at Queen’s Square and Victoria Street which you can see in the distance as we head toward it on High Street:

High Street looking toward Albert Memorial Clock

Now let’s get a closer look at the Albert Memorial Clock, which was completed in 1869:

Albert Memorial Clock at Queen’s Square

One of the places we visited this day aboard our Hop-on/Hop-off was Northern Ireland’s Parliament Buildings. These structures are located east of Belfast on the Stormont Estate:

Parliament Buildings, Stormont Estate
Parliament Building

Now let’s head back to Belfast City Hall for a glimpse at the Titanic Memorial:

Titanic Memorial at Belfast City Hall

Other structures displayed in today’s article I’ve described before. But today I’m going to show them in compositions different from past depictions:

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Filed under Photography, R. Doug Wicker, travel, vacation

D-Day — Pointe du Hoc

In honor of D-Day, 6 June 1944, I am rerunning this entry from my six-part D-Day series, so disregard the first two sentences in the next paragraph:

All this week I’ll be rerunning my six-part series on the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, France. Next week I’ll return you to our Baltic trip and beyond. In the meantime, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Operation Neptune (the Normandy landings) and Operation Overlord (the Battle of Normandy) in the event we now collectively refer to as D-Day:

100-foot/30-meter cliffs of Pointe du Hoc

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the U.S. Army Ranger Assault Group landed at Pointe du Hoc. Their unenviable mission was to scale the 100-foot/30-meter cliffs and take out German 155mm gun emplacements that endangered the ships that would soon stream toward Omaha Beach directly east and Utah Beach to the west. It turned out to be a bloody exercise in futility, as those 155mm guns were not even there.

German bunker overlooking Pointe du Hoc

The Rangers were sitting ducks, and in the end only 90 survived out of the 225 men who landed there.

Memorial to the U.S. Army Ranger Assault Group

More photos of Pointe du Hoc:

Pointe du Hoc
Provisional Engineer Special Brigade Group
German bunker entrance
German bunker
Memorial to the 2nd Infantry Division

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TripAdvisor is NOT Your Friend

Denali as seen just south of Talkeetna, Alaska

Another special bonus blog article this week. It appears I was a bit early in my previous praise of TripAdvisor doing the right thing and reposting my revised review of Denali Fireside Cabins & Suites in Talkeetna, Alaska, and the positively abominable owner Don Devore.

To recap, Ursula and I had a run-in with this immature, insecure, post-election snowflake on May 12 of this year. We asked Mr. Devore if he had available a cabin to rent to us. Instead of getting an answer, we were instead subjected to a third-degree on our political leanings and, when we failed this intrusive and unwelcome oral exam, we were told to take our business elsewhere.

I posted on Yelp, Google Reviews, and TripAdvisor a rather scathing review. That review is still up on Google and Yelp, although Yelp has it listed as “not currently recommended.” I suspect that’s because I don’t yet have many reviews on that site. To read my revised review, go to this Google Reviews link and have some fun.

TripAdvisor initially posted the review, but soon removed it because, … your review does not include any first-hand experiences about the facilities or services of the establishment. After some back-and-forth, during which I proved that my review was indeed a first-hand account of the service (or lack thereof) that we received, I was told to resubmit a review and to let the moderators know when I had done so. I revised and toned down my review, resubmitted it, and notified the moderators that my first-hand account was available for them to review.

After a very short time, one hour thirty-six minutes to be precise, my revised review passed moderation, and I was advised via email that the review was online. It was . . . but not for very long. Shortly after I posted a quick blog article thanking TripAdvisor for doing the right thing, I received another message from yet another TripAdvisor moderator that the review was taken down because, you guessed it, “… your review does not include any first-hand experiences about the facilities or services of the establishment.” Now, it’s true that my review isn’t a first-hand account of facilities, for obvious reasons, but it most assuredly is a first-hand account of the service inflicted upon Ursula and me by this whiny loser who still hasn’t gotten over last November’s election.

If TripAdvisor thought I was going to let this slide, then they don’t know me very well. Hence today’s article exposing this scam they have going. As I noted in my response to this latest TripAdvisor outrage:

Okay. Got it.

In a nutshell, it is TripAdvisor‘s stated policy that an innkeeper can interrogate a customer on political leanings, deny lodging based upon that interrogation, and then TripAdvisor will remove any review that warns others of this innkeeper’s criteria for accommodations so that future customers don’t waste their time.

And I now understand that it is also TripAdvisor‘s stated policy that removal of a review can be based upon the fact that the customer was denied accommodations for failing to pass the innkeeper’s political leanings test, since the customer didn’t actually stay at the inn and thus has no “first-hand experience” with the facilities.

I assume it’s also safe to say based upon this clarification that TripAdvisor would sanction the removal of reviews from customers who are denied accommodations based upon other rejection criteria as well, such as acne, crossed eyes, weight, hair color, make and model of car, poor taste in ties, disfigurement due to a fire, race, religion, and other nonrelevant criteria.

Now that I fully understand the policy, I’ll be advising others via my blog just precisely what TripAdvisor‘s policy is on reviews and the arbitrary nature of what constitutes “first-hand experiences” for a TripAdvisor review.

Thank you for the clarification on TripAdvisor‘s review policy. I’m really looking forward to writing up this blog article.

Best Wishes,

R. Doug Wicker

Consider yourselves forewarned. TripAdvisor moderators are deliberately padding TripAdvisor’s online customer ratings by hiding poor reviews written by people who are denied accommodations, at least at this establishment (I’ve no reason this isn’t happening with other establishments as well). I say “people” because I seriously doubt we were the first, and I highly suspect we won’t be the last to suffer this silliness at the hands of Don Devore. How many people will make reservations at Denali Fireside Cabins & Suites this upcoming presumably busy tourist season, only to find out they will not be accommodated because upon arrival they fail Mr. Devore’s political leanings oral exam? Why is TripAdvisor complicit in aiding and abetting this behavior?

Will TripAdvisor make whole those whose travel plans are ruined by this childishness? I think we all know the answer to that one. They won’t. They will however leave you hanging out to dry because they are removing from their site any reviews warning unsuspecting travelers to Talkeetna. So when that unwary family is met with no place to stay, and subsequently tries to warn others, expect TripAdvisor to kill their review because they didn’t stay at that establishment. What kind of circular logic is that?

Google Reviews, on the other hand, is not playing this you-didn’t-stay-there-so-you-can’t-review-them game. Google Reviews accepts honest reviews on the service you can expect to receive at places such as this. Keep that in mind when you next research destinations, tours, lodging, dining, and other establishments and services.

TripAdvisor is not your friend. But TripAdvisor certainly doesn’t mind protecting splenetic business owners with an adolescent axe to grind.


Filed under Lodging Review, Opinion Piece, R. Doug Wicker, travel, vacation