Feeds:
Posts

Posts Tagged ‘Travel’

The Kennedy Center is a living memorial honoring President John Kennedy. The iconic Kennedy Center’s history began in 1958 as the National Cultural Center. It was a product of bi-partisan legislation signed by President Dwight Eisenhower, but as a strong supporter of the arts, President Kennedy became the driving force in raising the funds to complete the construction of the Center. He appointed his wife, Jacqueline and Mrs. Eisenhower as honorary co-chairwomen which I find fascinating since they were from different political parties but worked together on this important endeavor. Not something we see much of in today’s polarized political climate in the US. 

In January 1964, two months after President Kennedy was assassinated, Congress designated the National Cultural Center as a living memorial and renamed it: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Congress appropriated $23 million to fund it and fundraising continued with the Friends of the Kennedy Center volunteers. The volunteers worked earnestly across the country, raising money from private support and from nations around the world who respected President Kennedy and wanted to contribute to his legacy. Because the Center is a Federal Memorial, it continues to receive funding each year for the maintenance and operation of the facility but the artistic and educational programs are paid for through ticket sales and gifts from individuals, corporations and private foundations.

President Lyndon Johnson participated in the ground breaking ceremony in December 1964, and in keeping with its historic importance, he used the same gold-plated shovel which was also used in the ground breaking ceremonies for the Lincoln Memorial (1914) and the Jefferson Memorial (1938). The Kennedy Center officially opened in 1971 and the New York Times wrote a rave front page review which stated “The capital of this nation finally strode into the cultural age tonight with the spectacular opening of the $70 million [Kennedy Center]…a gigantic marble temple to music, dance, and drama on the Potomac’s edge.”

I always enjoy going to the Center and had the opportunity to attend several musicals including “Wicked”, “South Pacific” and “Book of Mormon.” I became a member for one year and appreciated their member benefits. As members, my daughter and I were able to watch a rehearsal of the National Orchestra. As a viola player, my daughter loved observing the behind the scenes of a professional orchestra.

Earlier this month,  I finally made it to one of the free performances at The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. We arrived early enough to take the last free tour at 4:30 p.m. I particularly enjoyed seeing the contributions of artwork throughout the Center which had been generously donated by several foreign governments. Click here to see the book listing all the gorgeous gifts given to the Center.

The Millennium Stage offers free performances nightly from 6 to 7 pm. The Happy Hour at the Grand Foyer bar is from 5-6 p.m. Seating begins at 5:30 and you can take your drink/food with you to your seat. The monthly calendar usually comes out the last week of the previous month. Click here for a list of upcoming performances.

Tips for visiting The Kennedy Center:

  • If you’re 18-30, you can sign up for My Tix at kennedy-center.org/mytix which offers discounted and free tickets.
  • There’s a free shuttle between the Center and the Foggy Bottom Metro Station. Departing every 15 minutes from 9:45 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday, 11:45 t0 midnight on Sunday, and 4:00 p.m. to end of last performance on Holidays.
  • If you want a good seat for the Millennium Stage performances, be in line shortly after 5 p.m.

Georgetown Kennedy Center
The Kennedy Center

Read Full Post »

Springtime always brings houseguests to our home and many of our visitors are first-timers to Washington DC. Although each person has their own particular interests/dislikes, and depending on their length of stay, there are sights I suggest everyone should see during their maiden journey into the city. My top 10 Washington DC (and surrounding area) must see list is as follows:

  • The Monuments at Night ~ The monuments are spectacular anytime of day but when they are lit up, they become magical. Bonus if there’s a full moon.
  • The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage Performance ~ There are free performances of music or dance every night at 6 pm.For a schedule, click here.

Capitol Building from the top of the Washington Monument
The National Mall ~ Smithsonian Museums, National Gallery of Art and The US Capitol

  • Smithsonian Museums ~ It would take weeks to explore all the wonderful and free museums in Washington DC. Visitors should “speed-date” by walking along The National Mall and ducking into each museum to see the highlights. Visitors can return to the museum they liked best for a deeper dive into all the treasures. Some of the more popular displays are: the Hope Diamond at the Natural History Museum, the Star Spangled Banner flag at the American History Museum and the Kitty Hawk at the Air & Space museum. Click here for more information on all things Smithsonian.
  • The National Gallery of Art ~ My personal favorite. Again, this could take weeks to explore but it’s worth popping into the gallery for a few hours to gaze at the paintings and sculptures which spans from the middle ages to the present. Don’t miss the: Little Dancer (Degas)Self Portrait (Rembrandt van Rijn), and the paintings by the masters such as Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and many more. For information on hours and directions, click here.

Capitol Building with scaffolding

  • The U.S. Capitol Building ~ Take a tour of the Capitol building and stop in to see the Senate in session.
  • The Library of Congress ~ The building is gorgeous especially the Reading Room. There’s an original copy of a Gutenberg Bible (circa 1455)  on display in the lobby. It’s the first bible (major book) printed in Western Europe using movable metal type and was one of the turning points from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance era.
  • Mount Vernon Estates ~ Mount Vernon is located 14 miles south of Washington DC along the GW Parkway. The house and grounds are lovely. Give yourself about four hours in order to tour the home, wander the grounds and visit the on-site museum. Mount Vernon is accessible by public transportation, boat, biking and private vehicle (parking is free). For directions and assistance on getting there, click here.

Arlington Guard

Washington Monument

  • Washington Monument ~ Tickets are free but have a $1.50 service charge per person and anyone two years and older are required to have a ticket to go to the top of the monument. Tickets go on sale three months prior and I highly recommend purchasing them online the day they go on sale. Tour buses snap them up quickly. Click here for more information. If you’re unable to get tickets online, there are a limited number of Same Day tickets distributed at 8:30 am at the National Park Service building located at 15th street near the monument. These are free same-day, timed tickets and one person can get up to six. The line forms much earlier than 8:30am so get an early start.
  • Georgetown ~ It’s a dynamic area of DC to wander around; parts of it are serene and parts are packed with people. Stop in to see the gorgeous Georgetown University campus, take a peek at The Exorcist stairs (and run up them if you’re in great shape), walk along waterfront park and stop in for coffee/pastries at Baked and Wired.

Please note: All buildings in Washington DC have security at the entrances and be prepared to go through a scanner. There are lists of prohibited items on each website. It’s best to pack lightly when touring around DC.

I’ve used my list for the last five years for about thirty first-time visitors. Only one houseguest went rogue. She preferred to visit the National Cathedral, Catholic Basilica, the Botanical Gardens and the Arboretum. That’s the great thing about Washington DC ~ there’s something for everyone!

Read Full Post »

It’s easy to impress first-time visitors to Washington DC. A lot of people have a negative preconception of the capital city and they are pleasantly surprised when they see all it has to offer. By far, the most common comment I hear from first timers is “We didn’t realize DC is so green and beautiful.” Followed closely by “There are a lot of good looking guys here.”

Last week, I invited a long time Northern Virginian to go into the city with me. Since she hadn’t been to the city in a long time and had already seen all the typical tourist sites, I decided to expand her horizons a bit.

My first suggestion was for her to visit the Madison Building located at 101 Independence Avenue SE to get her Library of Congress Reader ID card.  The free Reader card gives a person access to multiple reading rooms including the stunning Main Reading Room. It’s best to register online prior to going to the ID office where they will take a photo then print your ID card. It takes less than ten minutes. Click here for all the information needed to obtain a reader ID card.

Library of Congress Reading Room I
Main Reading Room at the Library of Congress
Library of Congress the stacks

Once she obtained her card, we decided we should utilize our cards. There are several reading rooms to choose from but, since we’re both interested in photography,  we headed to the Prints and Photographs room. The head researcher was incredibly helpful and we really appreciated her taking the time to explain in detail how to find photos both online and in the reading room.

We then ventured a couple of blocks over to the Russell Office Building  (2 Constitution Avenue) to visit Senator Warren’s (VA-D) office for gallery passes. Both the Senate and House galleries are open to visitors whenever either legislative body is in session. I’ve been to both galleries on a few occasions and find it fascinating to watch our Representatives in action.

The galleries are not part of the U.S. Capitol tour but passes to enter either gallery may be obtained from the offices of your respective Senator or Representative. For International visitors, go to the House and Senate Appointment Desks on the upper level of the Capitol Visitor Center to inquire about gallery passes.

The passes are good for one year (October to October) and when the House of Representatives is not in session, visitors with passes may visit the House gallery on weekdays from 9:00 am to 4:15 pm. The House gallery is closed on holidays and sometimes due to unplanned temporary closures.

The Senate gallery is open during scheduled recesses and visitors are admitted to the gallery weekdays from 9:00 am to 4:15 pm. The Senate gallery is closed on holidays (unless the Senate is in session), and during any recess or adjournment of less than one week.

Both the Senate and House are closed on weekends, unless they are in session.

To get your gallery passes, you’ll need to visit your respective Senator and Representative. If you’re not sure who your elected officials are, please go to League of Women Voters and enter your zip code.

If you’re a local or frequent visitor, you may want to get your own Reader card to do research or visit a Senate session to see you government in action.Library of Congress rain day II

At the United States Capitol

Read Full Post »

For the last few weeks, I’ve been hearing a lot about Port City Brewing Company. They recently earned the national title of Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival in Denver. They beat out the other 517 breweries in the small brewery category.
We were welcomed by a friendly, good looking bartender who explained how the flights worked: $12 for six tickets and an extensive taster menu:;
Tidings Ale ended up being my favorite one. It’s a Belgian Strong Blond and has honey, ginger, cardamom and coriander. I mostly tasted the ginger – mild and very refreshing.  
Every Friday night, the Borinquen Lunch Box food truck parks out front from 5:30 to 9 pm. DELICIOUS! I had the arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas), tostones (fried plantains) and a vegetarian empanada. John devoured his Cubano sandwich. If you’re looking for some authentic Puerto Rican food, I highly recommend stopping by for a bite (or take away).
This was the first of many visits – I’ll definitely be checking out Trivia Night but will pass on science fiction night. I’ll wait for history trivia. There’s also Beer Yoga and Comedy Night.

Port City Brewing Company is located at 3950 Wheeler Avenue, Alexandria. Give it a taste…

Read Full Post »

The drive from Washington DC to Philadelphia is under three hours which makes it perfect for a weekend or even a quick overnight getaway.

What I like best about Philadelphia is all the history you’ll find around every corner. It reminds me of Boston but with a little more grit.  Visiting with Ben Franklin at UPenn


A whole lot of LOVE on the Penn campus  I especially like the way the cobblestone was preserved – still there but not cumbersome.  


There are historic information signs everywhere explaining the importance of a building or area. A nice refresher of my Revolutionary knowledge.   Betsy Ross House

 Ben Franklin’s gravesite – I thought the pennies were a nice touch.  Didn’t see any $100 bills…

  A building reflected within a building.
 Christmas tree at City Hall.

 XOXO photo opportunity.


There’s a lot about Ben Franklin in Philadelphia and I was happy to finally see George Washington as well.

Since I have more time than money these days, I scowered the Internet (specifically Tripadvisor) for hotel deals in central Philly. The best deal was a Sunday night stay at the Hotel Monaco (Kimpton).

For a history buff, it’s perfectly located next to Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. The hotel is trendy without trying too hard and I appreciated the cheery welcome upon arrival. We walked to most historic sites, restaurants and shops but did catch a cab when we came back from the Theater. We weren’t planning to see “The Book of Mormon” but discounted tickets were available and the seventh row seats were hard to pass up.

After reading the reviews, I splurged and paid a little extra for a room with a view. It was definitely worth it:  

  Looking out to Independence Hall A very comfortable room with fun amenities like a kite – a nod to Ben Franklin!

Read Full Post »

With a Croatian Cheesemonger

With a Croatian Cheesemonger

When I travel, I love being able to chat with locals. My favorite Croatian encounter was with a cheesemonger at a rest stop on our drive back to Slovenia. She told us about the beautiful National Parks in the area and about her cheese/honey she was selling. When I asked her if she’d ever been to the states, she replied “No, but I LOVE Miami ~ CSI.”

I’ve been asked for more details about our brief visit to Split:

  • Accommodations: Hotel Slavija  €156.00 per night for a two bedroom, one bath, a balcony and breakfast for three. There’s also a €1.20 per per person per stay charge. We loved the central location of the hotel and the exceptionally friendly and helpful staff.
  • Tour of Diocletian’s Palace (highly recommended)  €20 per person. Our tour was approximately two hours and we were the only ones on the tour. There’s a max of 6 people for any of the tours unless you book as a group. Book in advance through the Hotel Slavija (don’t need to stay there). All guides are licensed and Mirjana was fabulous! To book, email info@hotelslavija.hr
  • The beaches are rocky ~ water shoes are a must. We didn’t have any and ended up walking in with our flip-flops. Comical!
  • We took an afternoon boat trip to Trogir (UNESCO protected) and to Blue Lagoon (a swim/beach area). There are lots of options and also sailboats which would make the trip less bouncy. The tour companies are lined up along the harbor so you can check out which trip will suit you best. The Hotel Slavija staff can also book trips for you.
  • Driving to Split from Slovenia was easy although we did get caught in summer traffic on the way there. And keep your passport handy for the border crossing. Tolls could be paid in euros or kunas. We saw license plates from almost every EU countries and even some Non EU countries. My advice is to travel early in the day. It made a big difference on the way back to Slovenia. Once we got to Split, we parked the car and didn’t use it until we left. The hotel is in a pedestrian only area but they provided detailed instructions on where to unload our bags and then where long-term parking was (we chose the bus terminal parking).
  • Learn a few phrases in Croatian ~ it goes a long way with the locals. My daughter was so impressed that I spoke only in Croatian on the way out of the pay parking area. It was only FOUR words: Dobar Dan (Hello), Koliko? (How much?) Hvala (Thank You) but it was fun to give the language a try, limited as it was. His response to my “how much?” was “deset” which sounded a lot like diez in Spanish so it was a lucky guess when I handed him 10kn. It was fun to give the language a try and we were all smiles as we left the parking lot (the attendant included).
  • Usually, I prefer to recommend rather than warn against but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our dinner at Tavern Favola. Don’t go. It’s tempting because it has a stellar location just outside the palace gates in a lovely courtyard. Unfortunately, the service was awful and the food even worse. With so few opportunities to enjoy the local cuisine, I was kicking myself for not looking up reviews on Tripadvisor or asking the hotel staff for their recommendations. Don’t make our mistake!
  • If you have specific questions not covered in the above, please leave a comment or send me a private message through facebook.
Croatian Flag, Trogir, Croatia

Croatian Flag, Trogir, Croatia

Read Full Post »

It was three in the morning, completely dark, except for the starlight and the occasional headlamp from a Leadville 100 runner. The only sound was lake water lapping against the shore. We could see the Milky Way and my daughter saw her first shooting star. That became my favorite moment of the summer.

The Boat Ramp at Turquoise is not an official aid station but, at mile 93, it’s the last best area to offer a runner support and we were waiting to see if Jean needed anything or John wanted to bail before completing the last 7 miles.

Our early morning stay at the boat ramp lasted about 45 minutes but my daughter and I only had 10 minutes or so entirely to ourselves. Other support teams came and went. We watched as the runners came by ~ some still running very strong, while others were struggling a bit. I shined my flashlight on the trail letting them see where to continue running as Logan shouted out “Doing great, only 7 miles to go. Two hours and you’ll be under 25!”

Jean and John waved to us as they went by ~ both just wanting to complete the last 7 miles and be done. Thankfully, they didn’t stop since those few minutes would have put Jean over the 25 hours.

Oddly, I did witness cranky supporters who felt since they waited for their runner, the runner was somehow obligated to stop. To me, the best thing was when Jean DIDN’T need anything and felt well enough to continue on. I could certainly entertain myself well enough at all the aid stations ~ the beautiful scenery, people and dog watching and, most importantly, spending time with my family. And then seeing Jean strong enough to continue on at such a great pace made it all the more enjoyable.

I went back the next day to see the boat ramp and it’s a beautiful spot but at night, it’s incredible:

Boat Ramp at Turquoise Lake, Colorado

Boat Ramp at Turquoise Lake, Colorado

It’s been an amazing summer but this is the moment I cherish the most. As I see the leaves turn colors, it’s time to chase a favorite fall moment. Do you have a favorite?

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »