Thursday, May 29, 2014

Modern Art Museum

One of the many, many must see attractions in Washington DC is the beautiful Hirshhorn Museum which is part of the Smithsonian complex.  Joseph H Hirshhorn endowed the museum during the 1960's with his vast collection of modern art.  Today it is one of the "big five" modern art museums in the U.S.

The building itself is a modern work of art.  It is shaped in a circle with the center open as a courtyard.  The whole thing stands on four massive legs that hold it up from the ground level.  It is said that the Smithsonian staff told the architects "that if  it did not provide a striking contrast to everything else in the city, then it would be unfit for housing a modern art collection."  I think they accomplished the task at hand.

On the mall side of the museum is a large sculpture garden with a variety of wonderful sculptures to admire.  To the left is one of Rodin's "The Burghers of Calais."

Monday, May 19, 2014

Show Stopper

When I visited Italy two years ago, my friend Janet and I spent the second week of our trip with her nephew who was working and living in Treviso Italy.  He took that week off of work and very kindly toured us around northern Italy.  One day when we headed off on one of our explorations, we were driving along when I spotted this place and said "you have to turn around".  I wasn't sure what I was seeing and I had to get a second look.  We discovered that it was a restaurant called "Gargantua".  I simply had to get a picture of it.  I thought we Americans had the market on tacky eating establishments.  The sight of this place proved me wrong.

No, we didn't stop to eat there!  It didn't appeal to any of us.  I did look it up on the internet and found a TripAdvisor rating of the place.  They give it 3 out of 5 stars.  It's located in Paese Italy in case you want to look it up on your next trip to Italy.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Home of Grappa

The Italian town of Bassano del Grappa is know for inventing the spirit grappa, traditionally served as an after meal drink.  It's made from the discarded grape seeds, stems and stalks of the grape vines.  Today the town has a thriving tourist industry partly drawn by a covered, wooden bridge, it's very own Ponte Vecchio.

The view from the bridge is beautiful, even on a chilly and blustery day like the day I was there.

The first mention of this city dates back to the year 1150.

The city square or "piazza" is surrounded by historic buildings.  The one on the left has a gorgeous clock on it.

And the ever-present Venetian winged lion has a prominent place in the center.

It's a beautiful little town, well worth a visit.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

South American Villa

On a trip to Argentina a few years ago, I found myself drinking a popular bottled water with a picture of a villa on the label.

I didn't realize when I bought my first bottle that I'd be visiting that villa later in the trip.

After spending several days in Buenos Aires, I flew to Mendoza with my friends to tour a few of the famous Argentinian wineries.

On one of the days in Mendoza, we took a day trip into the Villavicencio Natural Reserve, about 60k from Mendoza.

The drive into the foothills of the Andes went from desert to low mountain shrubs within just a few kilometers from Mendoza and as we made the final climb up to the villa, our van suddenly filled with a heavenly scent.  Along the side of the road was a field of yellow blooms and their perfume was filling the air.

A little research makes me think these flowers are something called Birdsfoot Trefoil (but, I'm not really sure).  All I know for sure is that they are beautiful and they carry a strong and very pleasant scent.

The Villavicencio Hotel opened in 1940 and closed permanently in 1978.  During it's operation, it served as a hotel and spa near the location where the spring water that was bottled and sold was found.  In 1978 when the World Cup took place in Argentina, well-off families from around the country and the world stayed here during the games.
The building itself is not open to tours but the grounds are full of trails and paths that lead through the gardens and to several mountain lookout points.

The grounds of the property even offered a small chapel where guests could attend Sunday services.

Before we left the area, we stopped at a small countryside pub that used to serve as the kitchen facility for guests of the hotel.  It still operates and provides travelers with a little nourishment for their road trip and of course, a large selection of those good Mendoza wines.