Monthly Archives: April 2013

Arriving in Boston

April 25 2013

I left work early to catch a 3:30pm train to Boston. In the train station I was approached by a crazy woman, but she walked away once my mom walked over. I wonder what that lady was up to. We used my free birthday Krispy Kreme coupon for my birthday so my mom could get a free doughnut and coffee. We tried to guess what track the train would pull in on so we could be first. That didn’t work, but we were in the first group to be let in.

The train was coming from DC so it was already packed. We got the only empty two seater left in the quiet car, but there was no window and it was smaller. We felt trapped. A woman got off at the next stop so we moved up to her two seater with a window. So much better!!! I listened to my iPod and watched the scenery. The train took forever to get through Connecticut. I was going crazy. The scenery was beautiful when we got to the Connecticut Rhode Island border. The bathroom absolutely stunk in our car so I went to the first class car to use the restroom.

We finally arrived and surprisingly it was on time despite it feeling like it took forever. We caught the bus to our hotel (Courtyard Marriott Downtown). Everyone outside our hotel looked like hookers and drug dealers. I had read that the neighborhood was considered club district. I was very worried about our hotel because most people hated it. We got it using Priceline’s name your own price tool. We only wanted to pay $100 for that night in Boston since that night was a last minute addition to our trip. The hotel was over $300 a night on their website for that night. People complained of paper thin walls, loud traffic noise, small rooms, and loud music. The lobby was nice and they sent us up to our room. We had requested a high floor, not facing Tremont St, and away from elevators, maids’ room, and the ice machine. They gave us a room next to the elevators, ice machine, and maids’ room. We asked for a different room. The next room was on a lower floor facing Tremont. The room was super small, but the bathroom was large. The shower didn’t have a tub. The TV was very small and only got a dozen channels. There was free wifi though.

We decided to go for a walk because we hadn’t eaten in 12 hrs. The neighborhood wasn’t the best. We found a Panera where my mom got a muffin and we found a 7-11 where I bought a water and corn muffin. We went back to our room and ate our food. We watched a Law and Order SVU marathon and settled in for bed. Tremont St was loud and we had noisy neighbors who didn’t go to bed. Yeah for paper thin walls. The reviews were right about this place.
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Categories: Boston, Family Vacation, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pictures from my Amtrak Window

A bunch of photos from my Amtrak trip. They are all from Connecticut. 20130425-214746.jpg

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Packing Rant

I’m trying to pack for my trip to Boston and I realized how much I hate packing. I also realized I’m not very good at it. I always start with a list so I don’t forget anything. However, I never know what to put on the list. Do I pack for rain even though the forecast doesn’t predict rain? If I don’t I know it will wind up raining. Do I pack a million different medicines in case I get sick or hurt? How many jackets should I bring? How thick? It’s going to be cold on this one day, but nice on the others. How do I balance that? Then you have shoe issues. I’m always worried about shoes breaking or suddenly turning evil and hurting my feet, but to pack extras takes up a lot of room and makes the bag heavier. I also don’t like to check luggage (when you don’t have your bag for a week in over 110 degree weather and your plane outfit is long pants and a black shirt-you will understand why), which forces me to shove everything in a carry on. Food, meds, clothes, shoes, electronics, books, and trip info in one little bag requires a magician. Space bags? Yeah tried those. They work somewhat ok going to your destination, but coming home they are a waste. Add on all the new clothes and souvenirs you’ve purchased and your bag wants to explode or break (like mine did in CDG airport in 2011). I always wonder how the people that pack light do it. I’ve traveled with people who having been traveling for months and they had one backpack. I would need like 3 huge suitcases. The funny thing is I’m not a girly girl who packs 900 things of make up, every hair product known to man kind, hair styling irons/devices, shoes for every occasion, two outfits a day, jewelry, etc. I’m a basic jeans or skirt with t-shirt hat girl. I don’t even like bathing suits.

I just shoved everything in 1/2 a carry on (my mom has the other half) and a backpack. I have no idea how I’m going to do this in June when I’ll be traveling for much longer.

Any packing thoughts? Hate it? Love it? Tips? Tricks?

The picture below is of my lost suitcase once it arrived in Luxor. I agonized over packing for weeks for it not to matter in the end

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Categories: Mish Mash, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Love Park/JFK Plaza

I had been to Philadelphia probably 25 times before I finally got to Love Park also known as JFK Plaza. There really isn’t much to do except to pose for a bunch of pictures. There is a gift shop in the park, but I didn’t feel the need to visit it. Everyone wants their picture taken with the giant LOVE statue. Even though it was freezing out there were several groups of people waiting to take a picture. We waited and finally were able to be alone with the statue. Every time I have walked by since then I always see groups of people huddled around the statue. The spot is also very popular with brides who like to pose with their grooms and bridal party in front of the statue.

Across the street there is a municipal building with a plaza outside of it. The plaza is filled with boardgame parts. There are pieces of Monopoly, Sorry, Dominoes, Chess, and Checkers. The plaza is a lot of fun and we enjoyed posing with the different pieces. Sometimes there are homeless hanging out here, but they don’t bother anyone.

Categories: Family Vacation, Philadelphia, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Liberty Bell

When I was a little girl you were able to walk right up to the Liberty Bell and touch it. You could walk all around it and see all the detail. In a post 9/11 world the Liberty Bell is now super roped off. The Liberty Bell has its own building across the street from Independence Hall. Depending when you go, the line for the bell can be very long. Once you get to the front of the line you can only spend about a minute or two taking it in. Unlike Independence Hall you do not need a ticket to see the bell. I highly suggest visiting when it isn’t busy so you have time to really examine the bell. This bell is the replacement bell for the original one that cracked after reaching Philly. The funny thing is this bell also cracked. Then it was repaired only to crack again. It originally hung in the bell tower in Independence Hall.

1995

1995

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Restoring Thomas Jefferson’s Estate

The following article belongs to Yahoo and BRETT ZONGKER. To see the original article click here.

FILE- This April 22, 2009, file photo, shows former President Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Va. A $10 million gift from a Washington philanthropist is poised to transform Monticello by helping visitors see the full plantation, including its history with slavery. David Rubenstein, the co-CEO of The Carlyle Group private equity firm, is announcing one of the largest gifts ever for Monticello. It will fund the reconstruction of Mulberry Row, the community where slaves and workers lived on the Virginia plantation. Monticello officials plan to rebuild at least two log buildings where slaves worked and lived. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — One-time slave quarters will be recreated at Thomas Jefferson’s home at Monticello, and more of the Declaration of Independence writer’s living quarters will be restored using a $10 million gift from a philanthropist who has a keen interest in the nation’s history.

Mulberry Row, the community where slaves lived on the Virginia plantation, will be reconstructed with the funds. Monticello officials plan to rebuild at least two log buildings where slaves worked and lived and will restore Jefferson’s original road scheme on the plantation. The gift will also fund the restoration of the second and third floors of Jefferson’s home that are now mostly empty and will replace aging infrastructure.

Businessman David Rubenstein, the co-CEO of The Carlyle Group private equity firm, announced his gift on Friday night. It is one of the largest ever to the Monticello estate.

Archaeologists and historians designing the project will follow a drawing Jefferson made in 1796, describing the material and dimensions of the log structures along Mulberry Row. Over the next two years, they plan to rebuild a structure described as being among “servants’ houses of wood, with wooden chimneys and earth floors.” The 12-by-14-foot dwelling would have housed a single family, representing a shift from barrack-style housing.

It’s believed to have housed members of the extended Hemings family, who held important positions at Monticello. Most historians believe Sally Hemings, a slave, had a relationship with the third president and that he was the father of her six children. In the recreated house, curators may also focus on the life of Hemings’ younger brother John Hemings, who was a highly skilled joiner and cabinetmaker.

“By bringing back the place, we bring back the people, and we’re able to put a face on slavery,” said senior curator Susan Stein. “It’s actually the lives of people.”

Rubenstein told The Associated Press he has become a student of Jefferson in recent years since purchasing several copies of the Declaration of Independence and came to admire the man who wrote that “all men are created equal.” Rubenstein visited Monticello about two months ago and decided he could help with projects the estate’s trustees had planned to better tell Jefferson’s story.

“I think it’s important to tell people the good and the bad of American history, not only the things that we might like to hear,” Rubenstein said. “And the bad of it is that as great as Jefferson was, nobody can deny that he was a slave owner.

“I think if Jefferson were around today, he would say ‘I would like to see Monticello restored as it was.'”

The gift follows major donations Rubenstein has made to preserve U.S. history at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, at the earthquake-damaged Washington Monument in the nation’s capital and elsewhere. He said he’s driven, in part, by concern that Americans don’t know enough about their history.

Leslie Green Bowman, the president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, called Rubenstein’s gift “transformational.” It ranks among the top five gifts in the foundation’s history since it purchased the estate in 1923 and began restoring Monticello for historical tours.

Monticello officials said Rubenstein understood the needs of the historic site when he toured the empty rooms of Jefferson’s house.

“I think his silence said a lot,” said Stein. “He was probably staggered that the refurnishing and restoration had not yet taken place.”

Curators have only been able to restore one upper room as it would have been in Jefferson’s time. Now they can begin restoring the living quarters where generations of Jeffersons lived, where guests stayed and where servants circulated through the house.

Curators also plan to rebuild the plantation’s storehouse for iron where Isaac Granger Jefferson worked as a slave in the 1790s. Jefferson sent him to Philadelphia to learn tinsmithing, and Granger later became one of the most productive nail makers. His memoirs were documented in the 1840s.

Monticello has been studying slavery for decades and has provided descriptions of slave life since 1993. Rebuilding sites where slaves lived and worked on Mulberry Row, though, represents a change to include even more African-American history.

“It’s a huge step forward that we’re including that story as an essential part of Monticello’s history,” Bowman said. “Jefferson did not live here in a vacuum.”

She said Rubenstein’s gift catapults Monticello’s long, painstaking plans for restoration into action. Officials hope to complete most of the projects by the end of 2016.

The addition of two new buildings where slaves lived and worked will change the way visitors see Monticello, Stein said. The focal point now is a beautiful hilltop house, but there are few reminders that it was part of a plantation.

“People will look at Monticello and be reminded of its real history,” Stein said. “Not the history that we imagined but the history that was.”

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Monticello: http://www.monticello.org/

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Follow Brett Zongker on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DCArtBeat

Categories: History, Mish Mash | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Penn Museum

As I have previously mentioned I am studying for my certificate in Egyptology. So I try to see as many museums as I can that have Egyptian exhibits. I had never been to the Penn museum so we decided to go and take a look. The Penn Museum is on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania so we got to look around as we walked to the museum. The museum has a discount for AAA members, which shaved off a couple of dollars.

We started with the Egyptian exhibit. They have a great timeline that I took pictures of and still refer back to. There was a giant sphinx and there were several architectural pieces that belonged to Merenptah. There were numerous statues of the gods. They also had several mummies, some had undergone the artificial mummification process and some had gone through the natural mummification process. Additionally, there were artifacts from the Amarna period. There were some large busts but some were replicas. There was a copy of the Narmer Palette and of the Rosetta Stone.

After looking at the Egyptian exhibit we walked through the rest of the museum. There were some great pieces from Asia. I enjoyed looking at the dragons and Buddhas. There was also a copy of Hammurabi’s code. I spent a lot of time looking at the Greek statues. They also had a large collection of Greek Pottery. There were so many that it reminded me of the museums in Greece that were filled with them. The gift shop is small, but it has an entire room dedicated to Egypt. Many of the items were expensive and that was because many of them came from Egypt. I owned several pieces so I only bought some postcards. We eventually ran out of time in the Mexican and Central American section.

The museum is definitely worth seeing and is easy to get to via public transportation. I would allow at least two hours here.

King Tut

Akhenaten

Neferkheperure-Waenre
Akhenaten
Nefertiti

Ptah

A serekh

Sekhmet

Osiris

Replica

Ramesses II

Canopic Jar
Duamutef
Contains the stomach

Copy of the Narmer Palette

Hercules

That’s a big nail

I’m with the replica of Hammurabi’s Code

Penn Museum

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Egyptology, Family Vacation, History, Philadelphia, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Warner Brothers Studio Tour

My cousin works for Warner Brothers and gave my Dad a studio tour today. Thought I would share the photos with you guys.

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Categories: California, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reading Terminal Market

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this place. This is food heaven!

I first saw Reading Terminal on Food Network. Bobby Flay was having a throwdown with Delilah. It was a mac n cheese throwdown and it took place at her stand in the market. I have had her mac n cheese and I can see why Bobby won. It’s just ok. It’s expensive for very little. Oprah says it’s the best mac, but I’ve had better. I found it a bit dry and it wasn’t hot enough for my taste. If it wasn’t so expensive I would get it once in a blue moon just to satisfy the urge.

There are several other places in the market that have mac n cheese. The Rib Stand sells a version that is coated in a nutmeg like substance that’s pretty good. Tootsie’s in the back has some in their buffet. The mac is also just ok. It tastes more like Kraft Mac.

I love the Amish bakery (Beiler’s Bakery) that’s along the far left wall when you enter. They have cakes, whoopie pies, cookies, breads, buns, etc. Everything is good and they often discount right before they close. Saturdays after 4pm everything is on sale. They also have a little candy store (Sweet as Fudge Candy Shoppe) where you can buy fudge. The fudge isn’t cheap, but it is good. It is worth getting if you can only go once. They also have a pretzel stand (Miller’s Twist) where you can see them make the pretzels. I have had several pretzels and they are all good. There are other pretzel places in the market that are also very good. Just make sure you don’t get a well done one/burnt one.

As for chocolates. When you first walk in and head to the far right there is a row of a chocolate and Italian pastry cases. The chocolate cases belong to Chocolate By Mueller and the pastry cases belong to Termini Brothers Bakery. Sometimes you can even see them dip the chocolates. They often have free samples and that’s what I usually go there for. I can’t afford the chocolates and pastries, but from the samples they are good.

The Greek place (Olympia Gyro) in the market is quite good. We’ve brought back spinach pie several times to my Greek grandparents. Again it is expensive, but try to have them pick out the biggest piece.

There is a New Orleans style place in the market (Beck’s Cajun Cafe). I got a king cake roll from them and it was fantastic. The roll was like $1.50. It was my first king cake so I don’t have a lot to compare it to, but my mom and both enjoyed. I’ve been wanting another since my last visit.

There is a bread stand (Market Bakery) that has bagels, rolls, baguettes, etc. The breads are great. I haven’t had a bad one yet. They sell out of the good stuff early in the day.

Many people buy their cookies from The Famous 4th Street Cookie Company. However, I find them absolutely awful. They are expensive, often burnt, and are just not worth it. Their location at the front of the market brings them a lot of business. My favorite cookie place is actually at the back of the market. It is the Pennsylvania General Store. The cookies are out of this world!!!!!!!!! My mouth is watering just thinking about them. There are about a dozen varieties. The cookies are filled with m & m’s, butterscotch chips, nuts, Reese’s pieces, chocolate chips, cinnamon, etc. Some are even dipped in chocolate! They are pricey, but they are worth every single penny!

Other places that are popular in the market are: DiNic’s (Home of the Travel Channel’s pick for Adam Richman’s best sandwich in America!) and Dutch Eating Place (for their pancakes).

Delilah’s Mac n Cheese

Tootsie’s Mac n Cheese

Delilah’s

The famous Reading Terminal pig

Pennsylvania General Store Butterscotch Cookie

Pennsylvania General Store M&M Cookie

King Cake

 

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Categories: Family Vacation, Food, Philadelphia, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Boston Memories

I took a day off of blog posting yesterday in honor of the victims of the Boston Marathon Explosions. It was my version of a moment of silence for them. My heart and prayers go out to the victims, families of the victims, and everyone who witnessed the horrific events first hand. As a girl I watched from my classroom window (located across the street from the World Trade Center) the atrocities of 9/11. I know what it is like to wish you could take the images and sounds out of your memory. I know what it is like to run for your life. I know what it is like to wish that you were safe at home watching on TV instead of being in the middle of it. So I know how you feel. The pain, sadness, and the memories start to fade and blur over time. Though each horrific event or anniversary will temporarily bring them back.

I’m headed to Boston next week. This is a trip I have had planned for months and am not going to change it. I’ve been to Boston several times before and thought I was use this post to show off my favorite Boston memories. I will post pictures from my times in Boston with my college friends and with my family. I will go back to writing about Philly tomorrow.

Did I mention it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend?

This was right after a guy came up to us and said “beam me up Scotty!”

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

No idea why Star Wars people were at the parade

At the parade

After freezing our butts off for hours this Borders was our savior

Paul Revere’s Pew

At Harvard

Loved Make Way for Ducklings when I was little

Where everybody knows your name…

Always have to find the Masonic Lodge

Yummy! From Flour Bakery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Boston, Family Vacation, Photos, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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