Friday, January 13, 2023

New Year's in Paris!




Rolling down the street in my Uber, I gazed out at the Paris skyline. Asphalt turned into cobblestones as we bumped up into the Montmartre district. My driver careened around streets narrow enough to sweep a bicyclist onto the sidewalk. I was thrilled to spend New Year's Eve in Paris with my family, and especially to explore this northern part of Paris which was home to a cultural revolution. 

Known as the Butte, Montmartre started inauspiciously as home to vineyards and windmills. A hike was required to get up into the hills and was therefore home to working classes and starving artists. From 1880 to the early 1900s, artistic greats opened studios and communed together creating a new avant-garde art. This Bohemian district was home to Picasso, Modigliani, and many female artists such as Suzanne Valadon, and Picasso's muse Fernande Olivier. Renoir was known to have hiked up and painted in the beautiful gardens. 

Not only did visual art flourish and expand, but writers and intellectuals descended on Montmartre, and a new raucous form of entertainment opened in the Chat Noir, and the well-known Moulin Rouge.  Artist Toulouse-Lautrec launched his fame by creating posters to market these venues. The famous Parisian Cancan became the lure for those desiring to skate on the edge of decency. 

Within walking distance of my Airbnb perched the Montmartre Museum. Contained in the collection are works by Valadon and her son Utrillo, as well as Picasso. In fact, Valadon's studio is preserved in the building and the grounds contain the gardens that inspired much of Renoir's work. Montmartre and the museum are a wonderful way to experience Paris! For more information see Montmartre museum in the heart of Paris (museedemontmartre.fr)

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Orange County Museum of Art, Costa Mesa, California

Walking past the picturesque lake and surrounded by lush green trees, I set my sights on the distant buildings. Having traveled to Cosa Mesa, California to see my daughter perform in The Nutcracker Ballet, I was gratified to see the performing arts campus was also home to the Orange County Museum of Art. This was my focus as I ventured out into the cool morning. Approaching the sweeping glass façade, automatic doors swooshed open. A generous entryway gave way to tall ceilings bright with sunlight. Gracious staff members gestured toward the desk, where I was given a map and instructions on how to best enjoy the museum. 
 When thirteen visionary women came together in 1962 to open the museum, as indicated on the website they shared a powerful conviction that Orange County needed a venue where important art could be enjoyed. From the seed of this idea, a small
art gallery became the Newport Harbor Art Museum in 1968 and the Orange County Museum of Art in 1997.  Recently, the museum moved to its new permanent home on the Segerstrom Performing Arts campus. Free to the public, the museum features a rotating collection of art. Currently, works by Sharon Ellis, Fred Eversley, Peter Walker and the 13 women who founded the museum, among others are on display.  

Walking into the first gallery, I was drawn in by the work of the original founding artists. Directly ahead, a square painting graced the wall. Hands holding a stopwatch in multiple panes danced across the canvas. Under each was a word – Happy, Sad, Awake – a plethora of adjectives to describe life. Artist Barbara Kruger offers this piece to reflect the range of emotions we experience throughout life. Additional works scrolled out ahead of me, including sculptures and paintings arranged to visually embrace and ponder. 

Circling around the end of an open wall, I was confronted by paintings which, I daresay, are my absolute favorite of the entire collection. Vivid landscapes captured my mind; bright colors and crisp lines brought trees and meadows to life in a surreal manner. Artist Sharon Ellis layers Alkyd paint to create an electric view of landscapes, sometimes taking months to create the final piece. Staring mesmerized by the works, “In the beginning, God created....” drifted through my mind. What a beautiful way to see the world. 

Climbing the open cement stairs to the second floor, another gallery opened up to feature pedestals filled with round sculptures created from resin. Artist Fred Eversley, a pioneer in creating optical illusions in light and space was featured throughout the gallery. A large concave cylinder, brightly polished and enhanced with translucent rosy color captured my attention. Gazing at the piece, I was amazed to see through it to other sculptures in the distance. I continued through the gallery, slowly down the stairs and out the door after a wonderful experience. 

There is much to experience and admire at the museum, and spending a few hours that day was well worth the visit. For those living near or traveling to Costa Mesa, be sure to take time to go! For more information, check out the website: Orange County Museum of Art (ocma.art). 

Friday, November 18, 2022

The Beauty of Prospect Park

 

Stepping off the subway at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, my husband and I ascended the steps into the sun. It was a warm day, and the still air surrounded us as we walked toward the historic Soldiers and Sailors Arch built near the entrance to Prospect Park. Built from 1889 to 1892, the arch is a monument for the Union soldiers and sailors who fought in the American Civil War. Reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, it stands as the entrance to the wide expanse of one of the most beautiful parks in New York.

Strolling lazily through the arch, we took in the green expanse of the Northern entrance to Prospect Park. 526 acres of pristine grass, trees and rambling paths opened up before us. We chose the path to the right as it scrolled out before us like a ribbon into the trees. Benches, placed strategically along the walkway offered a respite when the sun turned warm. It was a beautiful afternoon for a walk in the park, and we smiled and nodded to joggers taking advantage of the weather. Stopped for a moment by a sweet couple, we offered to hold their jackets and snap pictures of them tucked into the trees. Laughing and enjoying the moment, we embraced this special time in the park. 

Designed by two architects who also worked on Central Park, there are many elements that have a similar feel as that great Manhattan icon. Prospect Park includes a zoo and Audubon Center. It is also surrounded by the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and Brooklyn Museum of Art. With so many options to choose from for an outing, a repeat visit to the park is certainly in our future! See more about Prospect Park by visiting the website: Home - Prospect Park Alliance

Saturday, November 12, 2022

 Hi Everyone!

As I was researching for my article about Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn, I came across a great travel magazine called GoNomad.com. In it, I discovered an informative article about Brooklyn that you will enjoy. Check it out and be sure to scroll through all of the GoNomad articles!

Brooklyn Heights: NYC's First Suburb (gonomad.com)

Also check out this photo - a beautiful shot of South Congregational Church I took while strolling through Brooklyn a few weeks ago. It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood!


Friday, November 4, 2022

A Brooklyn Pub Crawl

The sun hovered delicately above ornate brick buildings, hanging for a moment until plunging the sky into darkness. I and my husband sauntered up the street, breathing the cold air that arrives in Brooklyn, New York in late OctoberOur goal was to haunt the many fabulous pubs and cafés dotting the Carroll Gardens district of Brooklyn, and as Halloween weekend approached witches, cats and ghosts brushed past us darting in and out of open doorways to enjoy drinks and appetizers. A Pub Crawl through Brooklyn is no small task, and as it turned out our adventure lasted several nights. 

Carroll Gardens is a beautiful neighborhood with 200 years of history. Parks bursting with lush, green trees and streets filled with towering brownstone apartments, families and single individuals alike call this area home. Evenings are alive with authentic pubs and cafés reimagined in historic buildings.

Swinging above the sidewalk, a brown sign announced Bar San Miguel. The wooden door was propped open, welcoming patrons as breezes blew through the bar. A smiling face greeted us and bade us to wait as servers cleared a table. Fare was varied and delicious authentic Mexican food. A skillet of queso passed by, carried to a neighboring table as spicy odors tickled my nose. Noshing on enchiladas with margaritas to chase them down wrapped up the perfect first night of our signature Pub Crawl. 

As the sun slipped behind the buildings on day two, drinks at Gowanus Yacht Club beckoned. The outdoor beer garden, not to be confused with, well, a yacht club was tucked into a corner by the Carroll Street Subway stop. Surrounded by a brick and iron fence, we entered the garden as rumbling sounds of trains filtered up through a grate in the pavementThe cash only establishment offered draft beers, ciders and canned offerings, along with grilled pub food. Old wooden chairs and stools propped up patrons seated at damp picnic tables and swiping my hand across a chair, I plopped down to sip on my White Claw. It was the perfect way to start the evening. 


Moving further up the street, the night air chilled my nose as an old, unassuming wooden doorway greeted us. Barely Disfigured was built on the site of a short-lived “house of ill repute,” and with the assurance that no prostitutes lingered we opened the door. A curved marble bar and dim lighting surrounded the room, part 1920s speakeasy married to modern Brooklyn. Unusual cocktails, elevated charcuterie platters and cheese trays graced the menu, along with a robust raw bar tempting the palate. Warm ambiance suited the bar like an old leather glove, and the crisp “George Washington’s Night Out” slid down my throat with a sharp tang.  A Charcuterie Board, like a work of art slid onto the bar before us, and my throat hummed in appreciation.


Our adventure continued a few blocks away. Wide glass entryways beckoned at Abilene – a sports pub complete with outdoor seating at wrought iron tables. Closing my eyes, I sipped a Cosmopolitan and snuggled into my wool jacket. The crisp night was perfect for enjoying the weather and snacking on wings with the accompanying accoutrements. With a sigh of appreciation, we strolled back down the street. Subsequent evenings brought additional adventures so to read more, check out my article at Brooklyn Pub Crawl - Follow Cheryl's visit to Brooklyn bars! (adventuress-travel-magazine.com)



Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Savannah With Friends

 

Hopping in the car on a muggy August morning, I looked forward to the four-hour drive to Savannah, Georgia. The tires rumbled on the highway as I and my husband made our way to the historic city. Excited to spend a few days with friends, we rolled into town at lunchtime, just in time for reservations at the historic Pirates House restaurant. Opened in 1753 as an inn for sailors traveling up and down the east coast, the house soon became a meeting place for wayfarers and pirates alike. 

Walking up to the building, I tilted my head to see the gray plank siding as it soared into the bright sky. Plenty of pirate memorabilia greeted us upon entry, and we wound our way to the table on wide plank floors. With a sumptuous menu and plenty of history, lunch was quite satisfying.

Nearby the restaurant, the Trustee's Garden beckoned. The site of our Airbnb, we walked to the courtyard surrounded with lush green bushes and trees. Two-story brick townhouses rose before us and crossing the patio we entered our what would be our home for the weekend. Warm polished wood floors and trim embraced creamy walls, definitely a lovely historic home.

Stepping into my tennis shoes that evening, we met friends to take in a walking tour complete with ghost stories, a historic cemetery and a few drinks! Savannah is known as one of the most haunted cities in the country and as the sun set, shadows closed in. Clustered in groups, fog swirled around and the humid air thickened as we walked over cobblestone streets under moss-laden trees. Each haunted pub had a story to share and a drink to enjoy.

In the morning, we strolled through the warm air and arrived at the first of many squares that makes up Savannah. Arranged around each square, brick and marble homes stood like sentries as a testament to the history embracing the town. The Davenport House Museum beckoned, and we stopped for a tour. A lovely two-story house, with accompanying carriage house made up the property and presented a historic look at the past and the plight of enslaved persons in the region.

No trip to Savannah is complete without experiencing Savannah Smiles Dueling Pianos bar. Arriving on the riverfront just as the bar opened, we snagged seats near the front. Nestled down the left side of the open concept space stretched a full bar, stacks of bottles rising to the ceiling. Directly in front perched two pianos, emblazoned with stickers, seated proudly on the stage. The party got started as patrons dropped slips of paper and tips on the pianos. The crowd rollicked and sang along with the entertainers, pianos pounding with classic and modern popular music. Several hours later we grabbed cabs back to our house with smiles on our faces and the joy of music in our hearts.

Our final day dawned clear and warm, and we made our way to the waterfront. Cobblestone streets stretched before us, brightly colored shops and terraced restaurants stretched over the water. Wandering up the street, we darted in and out of shops, settling on the terrace of a cafe to enjoy lunch before heading home. Saturated with history, abundant with ghosts along with a robust night life, Savannah is not to be missed and thrives on tourists. For more information be sure to check out Visit Savannah | The Official Guide to Savannah, GA. For Dueling Pianos bar, check out Savannah Smiles Dueling Pianos, and see more about the Davenport House Museum here Tours — Davenport House Museum.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Third Culture Kitchen


With fingers flying over the screen of my phone, I searched for a new culinary experience. Determined to reach past our usual haunts, I and my husband searched for the unusual. While the Space Coast of Florida is well known for rocket launches and launch parties, what is not commonly known is that Titusville has a burgeoning food scene with many restaurants offering locally sourced fare and imaginative cuisine. 

My search paused at Third Culture Kitchen. Celebrating the emerging unity of society, this unique kitchen offers fusion dishes and an eclectic menu appealing to many tastes. Combined with unusual cocktails, the experience was a flavor explosion. 

As we turned into the parking lot, we noted a steady crowd of locals. Stepping from the car, the mild Tuesday evening wrapped around us making the choice of outdoor seating a no brainer. Warm, dark wood and turquoise walls greeted us in an open, graciously appointed space. Once seated the server promptly approached to take our drink orders. Selecting from the specialty cocktails, I reached beyond the norm to order an "Apples to Apples." Yummy apple infused Haku Japanese Vodka mixed with pineapple, lemon and bitters swirled in my mouth. Food selections included Asian inspired tacos, handhelds and small plates with vegetarian and vegan options well represented. After choosing the flank steak with chimichurri sauce and summer salad, the unusual flavors warmed my stomach.

As stated on their website, "Third Culture Kitchen is the meeting place between the culture of our families, our homes, and the global community. There is no strain to find “authenticity” in our house, If it tastes good and feels right, it goes. Here, curiosity and combination are king." These words embraced our entire meal, and we left satisfied and hungry for more. See more at Third Culture Kitchen | Curry, Spring Rolls, Bao, Burritos, Poblano, Vegan, Vegetarian & Gluten Free Food - Titusville, FL

New Year's in Paris!

Rolling down the street in my Uber, I gazed out at the Paris skyline. Asphalt turned into cobblestones as we bumped up into the Montmartre d...