An Art Exhibit Even Non-Art Lovers Can Appreciate

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I have a confession to make. I don’t really like going to museums. Well, let me qualify that. Some are ok. I’ve enjoyed a few in Washington, D.C. and a few in Paris. But generally, (and I know this isn’t a popular thing to say) I’m not all that big on art, and I guess those are the museums I’m least thrilled about seeing.

Have you ever heard the name Dale Chihuly? He’s a Seattle “Glass Master” who received his MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1967, (where I live) and a number of his pieces hang on the walls of the Kohl Center, Madison’s sports/event center. So in 1998, shortly after its opening, I escorted one of my kid’s school classes to see the permanent art exhibit. Being the (non) art aficionado that I am, I found the pieces interesting, but unusual.

Fast forward to 2017, on a recent visit to Seattle, attending the Chihuly Garden and Glass art exhibit was low on my priorities of “things to do in Seattle.” Especially to the tune of about $30 per person, and there were six of us. Oh, joy.

Boy, was I wrong. This place was amazing!

Entering the exhibit, it takes a few moments for your eyes to adjust. You enter a completely dark room, illuminated only by the enormous displays of art glass, one after another, room after room.

 

I’m a horrible judge, but each of these ensembles are the length of a room, probably 20 feet or more in length. Sitting on a smooth-as-glass base, the reflections are as exciting as the art.

Continuing on, this room is probably 30 feet or more in length. If you look closely, you can make out a few people to the left and right, below.

 

While some of the pieces are set into a base, others are hanging from the ceiling, while still other pieces are enormous bowls and vases. Chihuly concocted a way to create art pieces with one color on the inside and another on the outside, as below.

 

Meandering through the exhibit leads to a bright, window-walled room with a huge display hanging from above:

 

And finally, passing out through the gardens, a co-mingling of art and nature.

This wondrous display turned into the highlight of the day. If you have a chance to experience this exhibit (in Seattle, New York and other locations) I highly recommend it! You won’t be disappointed.

 

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Is Anybody Watching?

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Do you remember the old song that reminds us to dance ‘like nobody’s watching’?

We came upon this ostrich in the Tarangiri National Park in Tanzania, Africa recently. He was primping and pruning himself for a very long time. I was posed to catch an interesting photo, wondering if he was ever going to do anything but fluff his feathers. Suddenly, he bolted right, wings outstretched and flapping in the breeze! Then swerving left, he spun around like a ballerina! Back and forth, this boy was dancing his heart out, and I’m quite sure he was hoping that someone was watching!

Such a deliberate and purposeful prance, but I love the way he almost looks like he’s swooning!

Where’s the video camera when you need it! 🙂

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Child’s play in Tanzania

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I’ve just returned from the most wonderful week in Tanzania, photographing animals on safari game drives. Days were long – up early and late to bed – and exhausting from the bumping and bouncing on dirt roads, and forever jumping up on the seat, trying to capture the best light and angle for my safari photo album.

But actually it was a lot like playing kid’s games.

You see, much of safari drives are a game of “Hide-and-Seek.” The animals hide, and we seek. Sometimes we seem to drive long distances to spot them, and other times they are just so well camoflaged that they are hard to pick out. It definitely helps to have a good zoom lens.

Leopard
Verreaux Eagle-Owl

(yes, those are pink eyelids!!)

Cheetah
Mama Cheetah with one of her cubs
Mama Cheetah with four of her cubs. Surprisingly, when she sets off to hunt, the cubs stay behind together, watching.

Other times, it’s a game of “Peek-a-Boo,” waiting to see what will come out of the bushes. Patience…

Cape Buffalo
Giraffe
Waterbuck

And, occasionally it’s “Where’s Waldo?”  How many elephants can you see here?

Baby elephants are always well protected.

Yet, oddly enough, as long as we stay beyond their “comfort zone,” many animals were unconcerned with our presence!

This Giraffe walked so close to us I could barely get a shot of him!
Zebras watching us!
Hippos grunting and splashing in the hippo pool
Young Zebra. They turn from brown and cream to black and white as they mature
Lion basking in the sun, caught by the paparazzi, not pleased his slumber was disturbed!

Care to join me?

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Any Reason to Get to Santorini Will Do!

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When asked for suggestions recently about where this bride-to-be should hold her destination wedding, naturally I responded with “Santorini!!,” having just returned from this stunning island. Afterall, with one incredible view after another, ‘why would you choose anywhere else?’ I thought. In the two or three days there, we must have seen at least five or six weddings!

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Her response was that it might be too difficult for their guests to get there, and reluctantly I had to agree, although Santorini has lately become a popular spot for destination weddings. Just google “Santorini weddings” and you’ll see what I mean!

There are three main ways to arrive in Santorini. By far the most common is by cruise ship. According to Conde Nast Traveler, around 10,000 tourists arrive per day in peak season this way! One can also take a ferry from Pireaus (the port near Athens), ranging from 5-10 hours travel time – not great. Aegean Airlines and Olympic Airways also fly into the tiny, highly chaotic airport.

Perhaps this would be a better honeymoon destination – just the two of you in this most romantic of settings. I’d recommend the “shoulder” seasons of spring or September/October. First, to avoid the oppressive heat of summer and second, to avoid the oppressive crowds that make every turn and photo opportunity a challenge.

Credit cards are widely accepted here and most people speak English, making your stay easy. Be sure to book your your restaurants and tours before you leave home, if possible, or immediately upon arrival.

With a destination so focused on tourism, you can imagine there is plenty to do!

1. Enjoy each other and your first sunset.  Be sure to take some time on your honeymoon to just lay around the pool and enjoy each other’s company! Santorini excels in beautiful hotels with pools that overlook the caldera, so you get the sun, water, and each other all in one! And don’t forget the romantic sunsets – what Santorini is known for! But, where everything I read said to go to Oia for the sunset, I found them to be viewed far better from Imerovigli, a town mid-way between Oia and Fira, the capital.  Even restaurants that boast a great sunset view in Oia may still have views obstructed by bars, rooftops and lots of people.

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2. Tour a Winery. Santorini is blessed with excellent grape growing climate and soil that produces exceptional wines: mostly whites, and some reds. We chose a tour at Venetsanos Winery – which also included a tour of Oia and Pyrgos village – largely because of the stunning setting and their ability to serve traditional Santorinian dishes, including tomato fritters, Santorini salad (amazing, and different from a traditional “Greek salad”) breads with a tomato sauce dip, olives and a surprisingly tasty fava dip, along with excellent wines!  This turned out to be one of the many highlights of our stay!                                          img_1989    img_1997

3. Visit Akrotiri. Towards the south part of the island, you’ll find the archaeological site of Akrotiri, once a flourishing town settled by the Minoans as early as 3000 BC and destroyed by volcanic eruption around 1450 BC. It is thought of as Santorini’s Pompeii, although no human remains have been found here.

4. Tour Oia.  Pronounced Ee-a (not oy-a). Unfortunately, you’ll be in good company here, as this tends to be where most tourists go. Therefore, there are plenty of restaurants, bars and hotels, but most importantly, stunning views with every turn! Be prepared to take a lot of pictures! Also be sure to tour other towns on the island, as they are all uniquely beautiful.

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5. Set sail on a catamaran cruise. Whether daytime or for sunset, be sure to include this in your itinerary! Even if you and boats are not friends, generally speaking the water is calm enough and the catamaran stable enough that you’ll be fine. Opt for a cruise like this one offered by Viator that was beyond amazing!! Whisked from our hotel to the departure point, we set sail past the Red Beach and White Beach, into the caldera and over to the hot springs by the volcano. A word of warning, the sulfurous hot springs will ruin any fabric that is white, so bring an old bathing suit, shorts/t-shirt or something you don’t mind being discolored.

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For lunch, we were treated to a mouth-watering spread of grilled shrimp, fish, chicken, salad, bread & dips, wine, beer, sodas, you name it! Heaven!

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We returned to our hotel late afternoon, tired and full, but ready for another cocktail at sunset.

Be sure to select a hotel with views of the caldera. I recommend the town of Imerovigli. It’s less populated (read: crowded), has great restaurants, and incredible sunset views! We  stayed in a boutique hotel at a high point of the island where one could enjoy both sunrises and sunsets! Keep in mind that once the sun starts to set, it can get quite chilly, so be sure to have a scarf or sweater along.

Santorini is a fabulous place to visit, whether for a wedding, honeymoon, anniversary or any other excuse you can dream up! The weather is great, the food is fabulous and the people are friendly and welcoming. You’ll fall in love all over again!

Pin me!

honeymoons-in-santorini

 

 

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Warning – Use Caution in This Area of Turkey

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No, it’s not that it’s dangerous here, unless you consider an assault on your pocketbook a danger. But it won’t be your Samsung Galaxy smoking – it will be your credit card!

It all started so innocently…

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One moment we were checking out ancient ruins of Ephesus in the area of Kusadasi, on the fertile west coast of Turkey, admiring the remains of beautiful buildings, stone carvings of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, and enjoying a tiny cup of grow-hair-on-your-chest Turkish coffee. And the next, we were being charmed by Mr. Cenk Aknur, of Anaudala, a Turkish rug boutique.

They walked us down the proverbial path, demonstrating to us the age-old rug-weaving technique. Already on the loom, the women knotted and cut the wool with lightening speed, then in slo-mo, so we could actually see what they did! As fast as they worked, even the small carpets still took months to make!

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Next, they showed the technique they used to spin the silk that makes the luxuriously soft silk rugs. We were taken inside to appreciate the various carpets – colors and patterns, wool and silk, large and small, round, runners, you name it. All stunningly beautiful. The quality was literally palpable, as we ran our hands and squished our toes in the pile. One by one, they laid out different rugs. Some they even spun around like a magic carpet to show how the color seemed to change by the direction of the light. Those two poor men must have hoisted and thrown at least 50 carpets at our feet.

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Out came the refreshments! Coffee, beer, wine, raki? (couldn’t pass that up!) Shipping? No problem! It’s free! American Express? Of course! Now my ears perked up!

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Ok, now, I can hear you saying, ‘what were you thinking?!?’ Actually, it was still ok at this point. It wasn’t until I asked (hypothetically, of course) what ‘would one like that cost?’ My fatal error. “Let’s go into this room, where we can talk about it” he said, leading me to a private room. That’s when I knew I was in trouble. My guide intercepted me along the way, offering insight into quality and price and assistance negotiating. (no need, I thought, I’m an old pro.) And my husband joined me after a bit, wondering if we were coming home with a new rug, and where on earth was it going to go?

Now, I’ve made the mistake of making a large purchase overseas in the past and I’ve never lived it down. It wasn’t entirely a mistake, because I have an 8-piece place setting of ceramic dinnerware from Chang Mai, Thailand. And it’s my favorite dinnerware on earth, so not really a mistake. But at the time, I was rather naive and didn’t realize what I was getting into when I placed that order, and I wasn’t about to repeat it this time. The gentleman assured me, however, that it would clear customs without any additional expense, and would eventually make it to my door step in about two months, hopefully by Thanksgiving!

Here’s what I ended up with. I love the natural colors of the wool they used on this one, and it should go perfectly in my house! And we negotiated a great price.

But what was that smoke coming from my purse?

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