Showing posts from 2019


Over Labor Day, I headed to Lima, Peru to visit my sister, her husband, my nephew and my niece.  My niece and nephew had the day off school, so we headed south of the city to check out Pachacamac.  It was about an hour south of the city although we hit traffic so it usually would be a little shorter.  The site is just off the Pacific Ocean.    

The site is named after the "earth god" Pacha Makaq, which is a god we heard a lot about when we were in the Sacred Valley.  It was started before the Incan period, but they continued to operate throughout the Incan empire.  It continued as both a temple and an administrative center.   

The ruins were first discovered in the 1890s.  

The museum was re-done about three years ago.  Excellently, I might add.  

We headed out to the ruins first, but I think you might want to check out the museum first.  I may also feel like that because our tour guide spoke Spanish and while I understood some of it, I am sure I did not catch it all.  The guide…

Detroit Science Center

A few weeks ago, we were visiting my parents while my sister, niece (4.5) and nephew (6.5) were in town.  On the anniversary of Apollo 11, we headed to the Detroit Science Center.  

We chose to head downtown -- with my nephew so excited.  Obviously.  It turns out that the museum was free for the month sponsored in honor of Apollo.  

We headed to the basement first.  We did a lot of playing with pulleys and magnets and lights and gears.  They had a lot of fun with a 500 lb with the pulley. Depending on where the pulleys are, the weight "feels" different -- they thought that was amazing.  

They had water rockets -- unfortunately, one of them did not seal as well as the other one.  It seemed like there were a number of exhibits that were just not quite right.  Some of the gears had been stripped in one exhibit.  Another one, when you pressed the buttons, nothing happened.  

We did end up going to the science show.  We (my sisters) thought it started a little slow.  They did an expe…

Cincinnati Art Museum

While my sister was here, we also headed to the Cincinnati Art Museum. She had never been and heard my mom talk about how much she liked the Art Museum here.

We started our visit out by getting brunch at the Terrace Cafe.  I had made a reservation.  I like heading there first and then going into the exhibit; I find that you miss more of the "right as it opens" crowds.

We had two missions this Saturday -- review the Burning Man and Kimono exhibits!

I was so excited to see the No Spectators: the Art of Burning Man.  As my sister pointed out, this is probably the closest either of us will ever get to it, so it was time to soak it all in.  The exhibit was spread throughout the museum, so the crowds were not too concentrated.  I had some idea what an "ethos" Burning Man was, but whoa.  It has its own rules, patches and clubs.

Some of the engineering items were very cool.  I liked the lighting elements.  This room was really cool; how they used light and cut-outs.

You could a…

Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center

My sister came and visited over the Fourth of July holiday.  The day after, we headed to the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center.  We parked at work and walked over.  

The museum is free to get into.  We headed all the way up to check the children's room first.  It seemed like it would be a good stop with kids -- they had different stations set up.  

We then headed downstairs to the exhibit, Creatures: When Species Meet.  What an interesting exhibit.  So, it definitely did not seem to be vegan friendly.  Animals were involved in the creation of art.  (Also it seemed like it was a lot of glitter in this exhibit -- a surprising amount).  Some of it was really cool -- some of it was definitely on the odder end of the spectrum.  I really liked the "art nests."  The artist left interesting materials around for the birds to make into nests. 

This was an aquarium with fish -- the water is tested daily and they even shift the lights to mimic natural light rhythms.  

They also elepha…

Quinta da Regaleira

Our last visit in Sintra was to the Quinta da Regaleira.  This was outside of the park system that the Mouros and Pena were a part of.  It is though considered part of the UNESCO heritage site.
Parking here proved to be the most challenging aspect of this visit.  There was a small parking lot close to the entrance that was full – otherwise, it was one way streets with very limited street parking.  We had to do a loop twice to end up finding a spot – and had a bit of walk to the entrance (which was fine).  We bought tickets to this when we arrived around 1 pm.  I think we looked to buy tickets in advance, but could not find how to do it.  The gardens were busy, but definitely not over-crowded.  We were able to get tickets right away. 
Then into the gardens to try to figure out where to go first.  I do wish they had given more of a path or guided route.  The signage was not great, so it was hard to make sure we hit the high notes.   

The gardens/land invoke gothic, Roman, Renaissance style…

Palace of Pena

After visiting the Castelo dos Mouros, we headed to the Palace of Pena.  

As I look back on this trip, we should have considered flopping these...potentially.  While we were able to get on the bus right away up to the palace, we ended up in a 30 minute line to get inside the palace.  We had bought tickets in advance -- through the same site we bought the Castelo dos Mouros tickets.  I am not sure if we had gotten there earlier, would we have been able to avoid the line.

To get up to the palace, we ended up purchasing the bus ticket.  It was about 2-3 EUR each and included a round trip up to the palace and back.  The buses seemed to be coming rather frequently.  After just climbing up to the Mouros, it was nice to sit on the bus for the fairly steep climb up to the Palace of Pena.  We did not use the bus on the way back, opting to walk down instead.  I was pretty pleased with that decision.

Jason waited in line and let me get out of the sun and rest my ankles for some of it.  That being s…

Castelo dos Mouros

So, I feel like I only have the hardest posts left from our vacation.  Our first stop in Sintra was to Castelo dos Mouros.   We bough tickets in advance.  

We ended up driving to Sintra.  We had our luggage with us, so it was definitely more convenient.  We were able to park fairly close to the entrance getting there a little bit before it opened. 

We were the first people in there.  It was a good start to the day with a climb.  He let us in a few minutes early and up we went.

The fog added a really cool element.  From one end of the towers, you can see the Palace of Pena.  

It's orange glow was visible.  You could also barely the Palace of Sintra.  We did not end up going to the Palace of Sintra.  You can see the little white cylinders.

The views of they valley were really pretty.

You could see all the way to Lisbon.

We just would have considered swapping it after seeing the crowds at Pena.

Times visited: 1
Time in monument: 1 hr
Overall: A-

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

One of the few tickets we bought in advance for this trip was for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.  What a beauty.  A piece of art in of itself.

Let me start with the outside, which has a number of statues and the building itself.  As we walked up to the building, we were greeted by the terrier of flowers.  It was fairly stunning at five floors high.  When you get up close, how the flowers and colors come together.

Getting into the museum, it was the smoothest entrance we had been in.  They have plenty of workers there handing out the headsets and checking tickets.  We got there as it was opening and headed immediately up to the top.  

The Jenny Holzer: Thing Indescrible exhibit was/is hard to forget.  I am not sure how much I would consider it art though.  It was thought provoking and we did spend some serious time thinking about it.  The scale of some of her work was stunning.  I can only imagine the impact that they would have had when they were first released in public.  

We did eat lunc…

Se Cathedral

After Castelo de San Jorge, we started walking down the hill.  We bopped into the Se Cathedral in Lisbon.  It had survived so many earthquakes and fires.

This church is adjacent to where St. Anthony was born and grew up.    

This was a quick nice stop to escape the heat in the day.  It is beautiful.  

Time in cathedral: ~30 minutes
Times visited: 1
Overall: B+

Castelo de San Jorge

On day 2 in Lisbon, we headed up (literally up the hill) to the Castelo de San Jorge.  

We were maybe going to take the trolley up the hill, but there was a queue of ~1.5 hrs.  After our experience the day earlier, I was definitely not doing that again.  We found an escalator that took us about six flights and then we walked....up.

We should have bought tickets in advance.  We ended up waiting in line for tickets for about 15 minutes.  That being said, once we were inside, it did not seem very crowded or busy (other than the women's bathroom line -- more about that later).

The view from the Castelo is really pretty.  It is a great view of the city and the Castelo itself is iconic in the skyline of Lisbon.

I was underwhelmed by the museum -- it was a lot of pottery fragments.  I did like the few plates, pots that seemed more complete.  The influence of the Moors is very prevalent/obvious in the tile.

We enjoyed look at t the walls, and learning more about what the castle was used for in…