Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hartford by (mostly) foot in 10 hours - part 2

When I left you last I was sitting filling my face with some awesome BBQ.  Fully sated with meat, coleslaw and cornbread I staggered out of the restaurant and waddled over to the Ancient Burial Ground in downtown Hartford which is the oldest historic site in the city.  Off the "official" route I was following but what the hell...I wanted to see it.  A young boy greeted me at the entrance asking if I wanted a "free " tour.  "Ha" I thought..."I wasn't born yesterday" and said no.  As it turned out it was legit but oh well....I wandered around taking photographs and admiring the markers, some of which have been there since the 1600's.  Once I got over the initial creepiness of walking over dead bodies a few years back I now enjoy visiting graveyards.  This cemetery was HUGE but now concrete and buildings cover a great deal of these former settlers and residents of Hartford. 

Apparently you had to have a bit of money to have one of these - people had picnics on these when they came to visit you so I was told....okay...

I found this very poignant

Then it was time to head over to the Connecticut river downtown. 

Loved this sculpture of Awesome Abe and Harriet Beecher Stowe - author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin".

There were quite a few of these Lincoln sculptures along the river path apparently and being a fan of Lincoln I was disappointed I just didn't have the time to explore. 

Old State house - gorgeous.  I can only imagine how beautiful inside - but sadly it is left to my imagination as it was closed on Mondays.   

I carried on walking until I came to the Mark Twain House and Harriet Beecher Stowe home which are side by side.

I enjoyed touring Mark Twain's home -his most famous works were written. here.  What a fascinating man! 
 I toured the Harriet Beecher Stowe house before then which was interesting - I did the two houses as a package but if I had to do it over again I would have just toured Mark Twain's house and museum as there was so much more to enjoy.  Sadly I had to leave when it closed at 5 and there was still so much more to see!!! So frustrating!!! 

I then took the bus back downtown and transferred onto a bus that took me back to my abode in West Hartford. I just could not face doing any more walking - I figured by then I was well over 10 km. 

I was a bit hungry so I went to a nearby restaurant called A C Peterson farms known for their ice cream so guess what I had for supper?  An ice cream sundae of course.!   Well you know when you are a kid and say when I grow up I am going to do this.  Well I do that quite a bit now - this isn't the first time I've had an ice cream sundae as a main course!  Accompanied by singing staff...well the less said about that the better....

The next morning I knew there was really not enough time to go downtown and do more exploring so I walked over to a  huge shopping area of West Hartford where I did a bit of retail therapy - when there is a Whole Foods Store and a REI in the same vicinity I am a happy traveler!

Back to my abode where I picked up my luggage and said farewell to Natacha and Bastion.  I then caught a local bus out to the airport - quickly buying a sandwich at the nearby grocery store before I left.  It was a little gem and one of those "oh damn why didn't I see you before now" type places.

I liked Hartford and I feel I have unfinished business there - if planned right it's a short and cheap megabus trip from New York City so who knows...I have to do more exploring of that Mark Twain museum, take a walk along the river to see more Awesome Abe sculptures and get to know Bastion a bit better!!!  I really enjoyed my time there. 

I had to transfer downtown so checked out the small farmers market in the courtyard of the Old State Capital Bldg and had a homemade sorbet.  Very nice on a hot day.  Then off to the airport on my two dollar fare - can't beat that.

So off I went home....or did I?  Stay tuned! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hartford by (mostly) foot in ten hours - part 1

Hartford was US capital city #31...after my day of ambling around Albany I got the 3:45 Greyhound bus to Hartford.  Well supposed to be 3:45 but it was 45 minutes late due to waiting for passengers on another bus that was arriving into Albany late. We drove through the beautiful Berkshires which was a treat but sadly the car in front of us hit a deer and I saw it in its death throes.  Very very upsetting for me, the animal lover.   Upon arrival at the bus depot I texted my airbnb host Natacha (originally from Argentina and a professor at a local university) however it was not going through for some reason.  I hopped in a taxi and luckily she was there to greet me.  I was shown to my room - simple but covered the basics and worked for me.  It was like staying in a friend's spare room and for $51 a night much cheaper than a hotel room.  I even got my own space to store toiletries in the bathroom which is a first for my airbnb experiences.  Natacha and her boyfriend Mike were so friendly and helpful.  Their dog Bastian, a hound dog was even friendlier - coming up to greet me every time I came in and  walking behind me between my legs so I was almost riding him! (keep it clean!)   I am laughing just thinking about it.  Sadly I did not get a picture of him nor his "parents" as I was not there much at all. 

So we fast forward to the next morning and it was off for breakfast at the place Natacha had recommended - the oldf fashioned Quaker Diner just around the corner where I had a really good bacon, egg and cheese bunwich. 

All fueled up I then started walking to the start point of the 10km walk - Natacha and Mike had kindly mapped out a route for me to follow to catch up with the route near Elizabeth park.  After about a 40 minute walk I reached the park and sat down by the water and had a rest as it was starting to warm up.   

I walked around Elizabeth Park which was just lovely even if I couldn't find a damn toilet!!!  

The majority of the roses were a bit past their "sell by" date but to this Spring deprived Saskatchewanian they were beautiful!

After leaving the park I came across this board on someone's lawn -"Be Kind" was my contritibution.

Then it was on to the State Capital - there was major construction going on but a friendly cop helped me cross the very busy road to the park in front of the capital building.  And yay, being a Monday the building was open so I was able to go inside and have a snoop around.  I had just missed the tour but that was okay - I prefer to look around on my own sometime with a brochure.  I mean let's face it - they give you all this information which you promptly forget anyway.   However one thing did stay with me from that brochure...more on that in a bit. 

The building was completed in 1878 and was the third state capital building since the American Revolution
Very ornate - without the dome it could be a castle. 

A true heroine - read below.

Fountain on the grounds of Bushnell Park in front of the State Capital. 
What?  I know I walked a lot but how did I end up in Germany?   This is the Soldiers and Sailors memorial (Civil War) which was completed in 1886.  Beautiful!  I am only showing you the top as the bottom was covered with scaffolding.
 Okay time for a break...I wandered back downtown and was quite peckish and in need of a cold drink and air conditioning.  I stopped here....
Yes, a New Orleans style eatery - I am obsessed I know!

Vegetarians look away quickly!!!  Pulled pork, beef brisket, coleslaw, red beans & rice & corn bread.  Oooee!!  Need I add I couldn't finish it. 

Oh boy was it good...

To be continued....

Friday, August 8, 2014

Lazing around at home having a pity party for one

I still have tales to tell on my blog, never fear... but I've been home for a month now with absolutely NO definite plans.  Well no flights or accommodation booked - can you believe it?  I sure can't.  However things will be changing in my life in a BIG way soon...I am just waiting for a couple of things to come together.  The anal control freak (me) actually has to plan her life around other peoples plans...eek!  (and they are not even coming with me)  It's a good lesson of "just being" as my meditation teacher would say. 

So I've been out with friends, attending weddings and when not working my two day a week job I have been sitting enjoying a coffee on my balcony most mornings and reading lots.  Lots and lots. Every chance I get.  Or else binge watching stuff on Netflix. There's other more productive things I could be doing but know....

Some days I don't venture far from here...(yes, it's a book about travel.....if I can't do it I can read about it!)

I messed up a disc in my back (likely picking up a box the wrong way - I kind of felt "something" go click..).  I went for a massage on my lower back which was giving me grief and the next morning I could barely get out of bed due to the pain radiating into my left leg.  And here it stays.  I am taking physio therapy and the therapist assure me I should be good to go by next month however as I hobble around and wince with pain I am not entirely convinced.  As you might have guessed I am not a patient person. 

I still have more to share about Banff, Vancouver and my trip to Hartford - oh and my afternoon in Chicago...oh and then there was that summer day trip in southern Saskatchewan.  I usually try to do my blog posts as a diary but did not take my computer with me on these short weekend trips so lots of catching up to do. 

Guess it's back to reading "Mortality for Beautiful Girls" (I just discovered the "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series and I can't get enough - and of course I have to read them in order..)  or maybe watching another episode of "Orange is the New Black".  Hmmm.....

Monday, August 4, 2014

Ambling around Albany

Yeah, yeah I know...lame title.  You don't want to know how long I agonized over the title of this blog post and keep thinking that title is too lame and then I finally thought "sod it".  Who cares!!

Anyway.....when I found out Paul McCartney was going to do a concert in Albany, New York I knew I had to do it - Paul and a state capital - doesn't get much better than that for me.   In case you haven't heard... after walking in all the provincial and territorial capitals in Canada (of which I am very proud - in fact thinking of going back and doing it all over again!) I am now on a quest to walk all the state capitals.  It is a work in progress...nine years so far....31 state capitals and 34 states so I've got a few to go yet.  I am having lots of fun doing this though and who knows when it will get done but I will...even if I have to whiz around these cities in my battery operated wheelchair! I know I will only visit most of these places once so being a history buff I visit their state museums as well to learn more about the state and what makes it tick.  The standard walk length is 10 or 11 km but there are shorter ones as well.  If my time is limited I  do the shorter walk so I can visit the museums or other attractions as well - especially if it looks like I will be wandering around a residential area that is pretty well the same as everywhere else.  At the end of all of this I will get a certificate of some kind through the American Volkssport Association but to me it's all about the fun I am having doing this. Some of the places on my list such as Juneau and Honolulu I have visited BV - before Volkssport so darn it I have to do them again...such a hardship I know! As it turned out I had booked a cheap return fare to Albany on the Megabus when I was in New York in February however the weather was so cold and nasty I opted out of it.  So walking around Albany on a beautiful July day was meant to be! 

After a two night stay in Buffalo  (more on that in another post) with my friend Pat we drove on to Albany with our friend Vicky.  The concert was fabulous as per usual....#43 done...and many more to go I hope. 

.."The morning after" Pat and Vicky headed back to Buffalo and I stashed my luggage and set off on a 6 km walk.  I decided to forgo the longer walk as I wanted to visit the state museum and I had a 3:45 bus to catch. 

Albany was originally occupied by the Iroquois and Mohican tribes.  Henry Hudson claimed it for the Dutch in 1609 and it became a settlement in 1614.  In 1797 it became the capital of New York and is the longest continually chartered sitting in the United States. As you will see in the following photos its buildings are very European in design. 

So off we go for an "amble around Albany".

First place to admire - City Hall which was completed in 1883 and has been called one of the most beautiful buildings in America....the adjoining carillon was completed in 1927.

Next up was the fabulous State Capital building.  This beautiful building was completed in 1899 and was the most expensive building of its time.  It is definitely different from other state capitals with the absence of a dome - it was built in the Romanesque Revival Style.  It is a stunning building and one of my favourites.  Another reminder of Europe! Sadly I could not tour the building as it was closed on Sundays. 

Next stop was the Empire State Plaza which was really quite impressive.  Government buildings surround a long pool which features a very different looking arts centre called The Egg.  This complex was built between 1959 and 1976...apparently this was created from an idea by Governer Nelson Rockefeller who had been embarrassed when he took Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands around  this area to celebrate the citys' Dutch roots and he knew it wasn't quite what she had expected.  I really was impressed and enjoyed the State Museum that resided in this area as well. 

Firefighters Memorial

The Egg on the right side - would have loved to have attended an event there

Beautiful reflection of the state capital building

 From there I carried on for more exploration...As part of an art project there were various pianos scattered around the city for people to play...

 I really wanted to eat at this place being as it was at one time considered to be the oldest building in Albany but I discovered they served brunch food only on 1 p.m. I was not in the mood for breakfast food having had some at my hotel that morning...
Sculpture of former Mayor Thomas M  Whalen III and his dog Finn in Tricentennial park.  

I loved this sculpture - a salute to Albany's Dutch roots.  

As is this....    

One of the many downtown churches...this was the first church in Albany.
Okay please tell me what drive in worship is? 

Another beautiful church. downtown.

 I enjoyed my time in Albany as short as it was.  I don't think my travels will take me to Albany again but never say never - and I wouldn't mind if they did!

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