Monthly Archives: April 2018

Czech Republic, Prague – a visit to Cesky Krumlov and knuckle of pork!

A brief sojourn from Lisbon has taken me the the Czech Republic with my mate Jo. We spent the first day on a day trip to the lovely town and castle of Cesky Krumlov. It was quite a drive but worth it to walk around the castle grounds and the castle (which was owned by three families who kept dying out due to a lot of intermarrying)! The town is charming too and the weather did all the right things. Southern Bohemia at its best.

And when we got back to Prague we ended the day with knuckle of port – and scoffed the lot

Portugal, Lisbon

And now for another continent. I am using Lisbon as a base for a month with a few side trips to catch up with friends. I am staying in the Chiado area which is the older part of town. Lots of hills, charm and red and other coloured rooftops. Luckily they have quite a few “elevadors” to enable you you to get up and down some of those hills a bit faster. The one below was built at the same time as the Eiffel Tower.

the city is full of squares and many have Carioca cafes which are tiny and sell wine, beer, snacks and lottery tickets – it is a great spot to watch the sun go down and the local Fado singer do his thing. And the statue is of an old style lottery ticket seller – if you touch the ticket you are bound to win.

In Chiado I visited the church of St Rocque which as you can see was very sumptuous. There was an excellent one hour English tour for the same price as entry. Highly recommended. These pictures just show the King’s private chapel. Commissioned in Portugal, designed and built in Italy, dismantled and shipped to Lisbon and rebuilt. Plenty of lapis lazuli, amethyst etc.d nothing is painted – everything you see is mosaics. It’s good to be king!

Decided to do something totally different and visit the renowned aquarium which is much more about conservation than most of these and there are absolutely no shows – although there were a lot of kids I had to avoid stepping on but some were unavoidable – oh well. Note to museums of ostensibly kids things -how about some times for adults only?

Here are some inhabitants who live close to the ocean. Love the penguins.

Then there was my favourite part which were the plants beneath the ocean. The second set of photos is an underwater garden designed by the Japanese wabi sabi guru Takashi Amano. Basically this is a giant garden designed to be under the water but enabling you to look upwards at the light on the surface of the water. Hard to explain but breaktking to experience. Nature remains pretty cool.

USA, Washington DC – Presidents galore, a sprinkling of cherry blossoms, cocktails and the new museum of African American History and Culture – lots going on in DC – wear comfy shoes

The portrait Gallery was opposite our hotel – the Kimpton Monaco which was reasonably priced and easy to walk from or subway from to just about everywhere including the Regan Airport. Of course we wanted to see the new Obama portraits too – from an art perspective I preferred Obama’s.

Here are a few who came before (in very different artistic styles) (and amazingly the Nixon one was a Norman Rockell) plus a few others who could have been president – well anyonce can can’t they????

If you get a chance to get into the National Museum of African American History and Culture – get it. Tickets are available the month before and are free but in hot demand so ask your concierge too – that’s how we go ours on our last day. So worth it. I only did the culture sections as that took three hours – when I go back I will tackle the history floors which are all underground. This montage shows Chuck Berry’s Cadillac as well as the tower of books just about Abraham Lincoln (from the Ford Theatre Museum where he was shot)

Cocktail grazing with Urban Adventures DC after the National Portrait Gallery is a good way to go.

And finally the glorious cherry blossoms. We had a cold spell but because it followed a warm one we hit the prime cherry blossom viewing time.

USA, Washington DC – monuments and museums

Ages since I was last in DC and it remains a wonderful place of larger than life monuments, parks and museums – all are some of my favourite things and most of them are free too. Just wandering about and snapping pics of buildings that are iconic and seen in so many movies as well as newspapers and tv is great fun.

I also did a great evening tour with DC Urban Adventures which enabled me to see all the monuments at night – a whole new experience and well worth it.

I have visited a load of museums while here and there are still so many I have yet to visit so might come back later in the year. On Day one I visited the Hirshorn, Sackler and Freer art museums and was delighted to see art named after me and of course as usual thrilled to see anything by Yayoi Kusama – so of course I loved the massive pumpkin on the lawn as well as the superb Bowie photo.

And the magnolias in front of the Smithsonian castle were in full bloom too.

USA, Miami – last few days included Art Deco buildings, Everglades and Little Havana.

Have had a great time getting to know the Miami region over the past few weeks which was even better given I had the chance to catch up with friends from the US, UK, Austria and Australia who all happened to be visiting at various points.

The Art Deco buildings – exterior and interior are looking really great. Originally they were large private homes of the wealthy and then they were used by the underworld for many decades so are all designed to have a through hall (front to back) for quick escapes when needed and many have a tiny bar (used as a front for more nefarious businesses) and often the hotel was always “full” if anyone asked – another front! Nowadays they are real small and unique hotels on the beach with loads of character. Miami Vice seems a long time ago.

No trip to this area is complete without an airboat tour to the Everglades. Gorgeous scenery as you either drift by slowly or travel at very windy speed. Further excitement added by spotting one or two of the 1.5 million alligators who live in Florida (not sure who counted them?).

Finished the day with a drenching from a typical Miami storm in Little Havana and watching some cigar rolling with my mate Liza.

USA, Miami Wynwood Walls – Art and a few Ducati bikes for good measure

I went back to this cool area about 15 minutes from Downtown Miami for a walking tour of the curated art within Wynwood Walls as well as the street art in the surrounding streets.

Much of it is replaced every year as part of the Art Basel events every December so I think you could go back every year and have a totally different experience. I do love to see places regenerated and attracting new visitors – this was a no go area not so long ago.

If you find yourself there I also thoroughly recommend lunch at Kyu. This restaurant is a spin off from two of the original Zuma chefs (if you know Hong Kong or London you may have been). Excellent bites and the best Vietnamese porkbelly bao bun I’ve ever eaten even in Vietnam!

Below is a mix of Wynwood streets and also a couple of pieces from the Margulies Collection Gallery.

And these Ducati bike were at a special exhibition at the nearby Design District. Even I think they are cool and I know nothing much about this stuff.