Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sleepy Hollow

Two weeks ago I posted about visiting Walden Pond in Concord Massachusetts.  A visit to Concord would not be complete without at stop at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.  When I visited in the mid 90's, it was a chilly and damp fall day, perfect weather for a walking around the rolling hills of this historic place.  The cemetery was dedicated in 1855 by Ralph Waldo Emerson who was buried there some 10 years after it's dedication.

There many well known people buried in this place like Louisa May Alcott and other members of her family.

And of course the Thoreau family graves can be found here.  Nathaniel Hawthorne is also buried in this famous cemetery.  Wandering around the hills of this place on a gloomy fall day its easy to see how this place inspired tales of the supernatural.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Holiday Shopping, London Style

I've been to London two or three times in late November so I've had an opportunity to see the city decked out with holiday lights and decoration.  Since it's so close to Christmas I thought I'd make this post all about shopping at Harrod's, that iconic London shopping experience.  Everything about Harrods's is over-the-top from the huge building covered in lights and taking up an entire city block, to the elaborate displays in every department to the sky-high prices that are attached to every item for sale.

The most crowded part of the store during the holiday season is the famous food halls.  That's where you'll find all those gift boxes of exotic candies, cookies, nuts and fruits.   There are also jams and jellies and teas and coffee too, and oh so much more.

This lady has been doing some serious shopping.  She has quite a lot of shopping bags at her feet and many of them are the famous green bags of Harrod's.  I think she's managed to drop quite a lot of money in this store already.

The only thing I usually buy in this store is a little something from the souvenir shop.  That's where you can buy all sorts of items with the Harrods logo on them.

In fact, I've managed to acquire quite a collection of Harrod's shopping totes over the many years that I've traveled to that wonderful city.

I think this one was the first one I ever bought which makes it 30 years old!  Yikes!

A little holiday shopping in the world's most famous store seems like a perfect way to spend the evening after a long day of sightseeing.  

And, you don't have to spend a fortune to come home with a little treat for yourself and your friends and family.  

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Walden Pond

A quick weekend trip to the east coast back in the late 90's gave me an opportunity to see some of our eastern most states.  The friend I traveled with was a huge fan of Henry David Thoreau and she put Walden Pond on her list of places to visit.  We calculated our route so we would pass through Concord Massachusetts so we could make a stop at the pond.  We somehow missed the cabin but, we could revel in Thoreau's descriptions of the pond as we walked along the shore.

We didn't see as many fall colors on this trip as we wanted but, walking around the pond gave us an opportunity to see plenty of them on the ground around the area.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Charming and Quaint

Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay has been described as charming and quaint by almost every tour book I've read and once you step into the village it's easy to see why.  The beautiful tree lined streets frame a peaceful environment filled with colonial architecture.

Very much like Cuba, Colonia is one of those places that had a booming economy at one time and when it slipped away, residents held on to their luxury cars passing them down from one generation to the next.

You will see some classic cars along the streets in every direction and if the car is beyond restoration, it just get put to another purpose altogether.

Colonia del Sacramento is a one and a half hour ferry ride from Buenos Aires across the Rio de la Plata making it a perfect get-away from that busy city.

The cobblestone streets are lined with museums and galleries and the occasional souvenir shop.

And, there are plenty of colorful places to eat and drink while you enjoy the history that surrounds you.  It is the perfect day trip when visiting Buenos Aires. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

An Arizona Railroad Town

Last spring I traveled to Winslow Arizona to spend the night at the historic La Posada Hotel.  I wrote about the hotel here.  The town of Winslow is located in the north east of Arizona in Navajo County right on Interstate 40 and on one of the main railroad lines through the state.  In fact, the railroad has played an important role in the town ever since.

As I explained in that earlier post, the Las Posada Hotel was built as one of the many Fred Harvey Houses that ran through the southwest along the Santa Fe Railroad line.

Today the town is a sleepy place that serves both traffic from the interstate and traffic from the BNSF Railroad line that passes through.  The traffic on the highway is constant and so is the traffic on the railroad line with one freight train after another passing through all day and all night.  The only passenger train that passes through is Amtrak.  One westbound train in the evening and one eastbound train in the morning.  In fact, a few of the guests at the hotel were waiting for those trains.

There are two stories to how the town got it's name.  One says that it was named for a prospector by the name of Tom Winslow who lived in the area.  The other story says it was named for Edward F Winslow, President of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad.

I like to think it was named for both of them.

Today many tourists stop in Winslow to get a photograph of the guy "Stand'n on the corner in Winslow Arizona".

He's been standing there for quite a long time waiting for that girl in the flat-bed Ford to drive by.  Who would have thought that a line from a song by the Eagles would inspire an attraction that draws  hundreds of travelers every day.  Take it easy folks!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

London Red

If you close your eyes and imagine you are standing in London, I'll bet there is something red in the scene you are picturing.  Red is a color that seems to dominate the streets.  Here we have two of those iconic red phone boxes pictured above.  Sadly, they are slowly disappearing but there are still plenty on the streets to see.

And of course, there are those wonderful double-decker buses.  You will see them everywhere all of the time.

And, let's not forget the wonderful royal guards in the snappy red coats and tall black hats.

The same goes for the royal band that marches out for the changing of the guard ceremony.

Over on Whitehall Place, you can find the Horse Guards on duty and in the winter months they don long red coats.

If you happen to be in London in November you will see plenty of red poppies for  Remembrance Day.  

Red is everywhere in this great city.  

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Architectural Gem

The last time I visited Chicago was the first time I got to see this award winning high-rise building called simply "Aqua".  I was very impressed with the look of this building.  So much so that I did some research on who designed it and I was amazed to find out that the architect was Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang Architects.

It turns out that this building is the tallest high-rise building designed by a woman in the United States.  And what a design.  The building was designed with balconies of different shapes and sizes creating an undulating, almost liquid effect.  Because of that design, the base of each floor of the building is a different size and shape.

The building was completed in 2009 and that same year it won the Emporis Skyscraper Award.

The building contains a Radisson Blu Hotel, condominiums and apartments.  I checked and those apartments run anywhere between $1400.00 to $4000.00 a month.

I also checked the price of the condo units and all the ad said was all listings  over $1,000,000.

One interesting note is that each site I visited to gather information for this post listed a different number of floors in this high-rise.  One said 84, another said 87 and still another said 82.  I wonder which is correct.

When I was working a 2-year contract in Chicago back in the late 90's, I lived in this building.  I had a gorgeous one bedroom apartment facing south and east with views of Grant Park, Lake Michigan and the Chicago River.

The new Aqua building is now right behind where I used to live.  You can see it peeking out behind this building. If I still lived in that same apartment, my windows would now be looking right at it.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Montezuma Castle

Montezuma Castle is one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in America.  In 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt designated it and three other places as the very first Historic Monuments in the Untied States.
When it was discovered in the 1860's by vagabond miners, they misnamed the place after the Aztec emperor Montezuma and although it had nothing to do with Aztec peoples, the name remains.  In fact, the people who live here were of the Sinagua Culture.

The castle is actually a 20-Room high-rise apartment building built into the towering limestone cliff.  Much of the artifacts left by the people were scavenged long before historians arrived on the scene.  There was enough remaining for archaeologists to learn about the people who lived here some 800 years ago.  It is thought that this place along Beaver Creek was inhabited by the Sinagua people for between 300 and 400 years before they left the place.

Following the path along the creek and looking up at the castle is a spectacular sight.  It opens the imagination to wonder about how these people lived in such a remote area of northern Arizona, building such a magnificent dwelling and hunting, fishing and farming in the valley below them.   An even greater wonder is how this wonderful dwelling has survived some 800 years.

If you are driving between Flagstaff and the Phoenix area, it is well worth a stop here to gaze upon this magnificent piece of history.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Madison Square Garden

This is not the Madison Square Garden your thinking of, it's actually the Madison Square & Garden Cafe in Laguna Beach California.  My good friends Julie and Dave (most of you know them) introduced me to this place and Julie and I have had breakfast or sometimes lunch here when I visit them in California.

It's a very eclectic place with all kinds of interesting gift items.  You know; its the kind of place where you love to browse and almost always come home with something.

They also cook up some very good meals served outside on their antique lined patio.  It's a fantastic place to enjoy your food slowly while enjoying all the interesting items that line the garden.

All of this is packed into a Registered Historic Structure built in 1912. 

You also might just find that certain something you can't live without like this cute little dog made of old boots.  No, I didn't buy this one.

Or maybe this big eyed frog.  If I still had a garden I would have been tempted.

I did give in to the urge to buy this cute little door stop and I immediately put it to good use when I got home.  

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Art, Art & More Art

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is a vast complex of several buildings each filled with a vast array of classical, contemporary and culturally significant art works.  The photo above shows one of the buildings with it's maze of stairs, escalators and platforms.  The views from that top platform are quite spectacular.  You can see the Hollywood sign and the observatory at Griffith Park from up there.

Also on the outside of the museum is this art installation called Light by conceptual artist Chris Burden.  These rows and rows of classic street lights are very popular with people of all ages.

And it seemed they were even more popular at night when they were all lit up.

Another installation by Chris Burden is called Metropolis II.  It's an intense kinetic sculpture modeled after a fast paced, frenetic modern city.  It's operated in full motion at specific times during the day and when it's on, the cars, trains and busses whiz by you on that network of roads and bridges.  You can actually see the operator in the photo above there in the center of the "city".  This one was fun to watch and as you can imagine, a big hit with the younger museum guests.

The piece above is called Red Concave Circle by artist DeWain Valentine.  It's made of cast polyester resin and it certainly makes a perfect place to snap some interesting photos.  It is part of the 50 for 50 Exhibition at the museum celebrating the 50 years that the museum has been in operation and showing pieces that were gifts to the museum celebrating that anniversary from 25 different donors. 

I even managed to create my own "artistic" shot while I was there by photographing just this single chair that was part of a much bigger art installation.  I liked how that red chair looked sitting there in the dark.  

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art or LACMA as it's affectionately known is a treasure trove of artistic ideas and talent.  It's a must see while visiting the Los Angeles area.