Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Travel Year!

I'm hoping that this year will include travel to Turkey and the Seychelles, along with a few trips closer to home. Both are destinations I've wanted to get to for a very long time!

What are your travel hopes for the coming year?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Photo Thursday: A Foxy Wedding Crown

A girlfriend has been looking to buy a Swedish wedding crown, which is probably why this one, on display in Georgetown, caught my eye.

Ok, maybe it was the fox that caught my eye.

I'm not sure this one is actually for sale - it sort of looks as if it might be the shop's symbol. . . and you would have to get it away from that fox. And really, unless you are a wealthy benefactor who wants to donate one to the local church, you don't buy a wedding crown. You borrow one from the church or, here in Minnesota, from the American Swedish Institute.

For more "Photo Thursday" images, visit Nancie's Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Happy Holidays to all!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Almost Christmas in DC

A meeting scheduled for shortly before Christmas was a great excuse for a few days of checking out Washington DC while it is decked out in its holiday finery.

(December 15, 2011)
In Search of Ansel Adams – Part 1: At the Wilderness Society
Photo Thurday: As Close As I'm Likely to Get To Seeing the President
Meditating on the Meaning of Art at the Corcoran
In Search of Ansel Adams – Part 2: At the Department of the Interior
Christmas Lights on the Mall

(December 16, 2011)
Georgetown is Well-Dressed for Christmas: Part 1
Lobby Trees

(December 17, 2011)
McPherson Square Is Occupied
Architectural Contrasts
DC’s Chinatown
Inside the National Building Museum
Reflected Fountains and More at the National Gallery of Art
Horses! (At the Museum of the American Indian)

(December 18, 2011)
More Christmas Spirit in Georgetown
Abstract Images Along the Canal
Best Discovery in DC: The Circulator

(December 29, 2011)
Photo Thursday: A Foxy Wedding Crown

(January 5, 2012)
Photo Thursday: Two More Holiday Images

Washington DC home page

The Best DC Discovery: The Circulator

We’d never gotten to Georgetown before largely because we usually don’t have a car while we are here and Georgetown doesn’t have a Metro stop. It isn’t that it was that hard to get there, but so many other interesting places were so much easier to get to that we never bothered.

Meet the DC Circulator. Yes, this transit-rich city has yet another way to get around. It also fills a few gaps in the Metro system. This is a god-send for tourists (like my parents) that might be intimidated by the (sometimes crowded and usually below-ground) metro system or a regular bus schedule. Once you find a map of the Circulator system(which was a bit of a problem), the routing is simple and clear, buses stop every 10 minutes, the bus stop signage is distinctive and obvious, and each one-way ride is $1.

Unfortunately, the system doesn’t seem to be promoted as much as it could be – apparently it has been in service 2005, but this is the first we’d heard of it.

I wish we had stumbled across the Circulator earlier in our trip. Besides providing an easy route into Georgetown, it also let me actually SEE the city I was passing through!

We’ll definitely use the Circulator on future trips.

Abstract Images Along the Canal

While this section of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal is picturesque in its own right, I really like the way the windows of this old industrial building offer a distorted view of the historic homes across the street.

More Christmas Spirit in Georgetown

It is a cold, but sunny, morning - a perfect time to wander the residential areas of Georgetown a bit more.

(A few homes are a bit more flamboyant than their neighbors.)

It’s beautiful out, but cold, so it’s time to warm up with a snack and some shopping.

We end our visit with a walk along a segment of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.

It is a lovely and bucolic spot.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Horses! (At the Museum of the American Indian)

The current special exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian is A Song for the Horse Nation. It is an intelligent and stunningly beautiful show (with some of the most amazing quillwork I have ever seen).

Go see it.

Reflected Fountains and More at the National Gallery of Art

Sections of the National Gallery of Art receive daylight through these pyramids. Although I find them architecturally interesting, they must exist solely for their functionality, as they sit in what seems to be an overflow loading area between the museum’s two buildings.

I keep waiting for a security officer to come by and ask what we are doing here. Maybe when they finish residing the East Building they’ll turn this into a pleasant courtyard.

Inside the National Building Museum

The National Building Museum is one of my favorite stops in DC. More than anything, it is the museum of the built environment – so it has lots of information on architecture and urban planning, but presented so well that it is accessible and interesting to the general public!

We are here today to see the Hildreth Meière show, which includes some wonderful Art Deco mosaics and murals. I love mosaics and the craftsmanship needed to get from design to installation is amazing. It’s certainly not something I would ever have the patience to do.

Also see: Walls Speak: Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, 1945-1961 from National Building Museum on Vimeo.

We also visit the museum's fascinating Unbuilt Washington show. The show generally confirms that there could have been worse decisions made regarding the design of the city’s buildings. After all, it’s hard to imagine the Lincoln Memorial as a pyramid (there were a number of pyramid proposals over the years for various things) or how dreary it would have been to replace all the Greek revival office buildings with Brutalist concrete monstrosities ala the FBI building.

Proposed Lincoln Memorial: National Building Museum

FBI Headquarters: UPI photo

But there were some misses too – proposals for one of the art museums and for the Kennedy Center included beautiful modernist structures that would have been much, much better than the more conventional designs that were finally selected and constructed.

Proposed Kennedy Center: Greater Washington

Even if I weren’t interested in the exhibits, it would be worth visiting just to see the building itself. Modeled after palaces in Rome and constructed in the 1880s, it was designed both to provide space for the Pension Bureau and for grand social functions. Because of this dual goal, it doesn’t look or feel like and office building inside - the central hall is a gorgeous grand space. It’s one of my favorite spaces in the city and, for once, I have a tripod with me.

What fun!