Today was free museum day. Even though I have been to Fraunces Tavern several times before, I decided to go again because I haven’t been back in years. The museum closes at 5pm and I got there at 4:20pm. I started in the room where George Washington said goodbye to his troops. There was a docent telling stories in this room. The room was packed with people and I had a gentleman right on my back. The docent explained that the alcohol was over 100 proof back then. So they would take a punch bowl and fill it with 50% water and 50% alcohol. They would then add sugar and nutmeg to it. The bowl would be passed around and people would pour into their mugs. They didn’t believe in germs back then. She also talked about the term spring cleaning, which meant that’s the time of the year you would clean your clothes. The clothes could dry outside in the spring. She was talking for a while so I decided to visit the other rooms plus I didn’t like that I gave the right answer to a question and she gave the credit to the man in front of me who said salt (the answer was sugar cane). Pictures weren’t allowed in this room. The cashier said it is because the items in the room are lent to the tavern and the owners didn’t want people taking pictures of them.
The next room was filled with images of Washington. The room next to that one belonged to George Clinton. He was Vice President of the US and the first Governor of New York. The wallpaper in his room was beautiful. Next I headed to a room with a DVD player. I didn’t feel like listening to it.
I went upstairs to the Sons of Revolution room. The Sons of Revolution used to meet in the tavern during the American Revolution. The room contained Washington’s hair and teeth. The next room had some letters. After that was a room that showed the evolution of the American flag. Then there was a room of random artifacts. The last room was of different revolutionary paintings. They were beautiful. Sadly no pictures were allowed.
I went to the gift shop and bought two pens. They were $2 each and I usually see them for $6. I also bought 3 postcards at 50 cents each.
On a side note my mom also took advantage of the free museum day. She went to the Mount Vernon Hotel.
Back in May I had participated in a scavenger hunt sponsored by Discovery Times Sq. I followed clues around Lower Manhattan. The hunt ended at Trinity Church. The first person to go up to the pirate would win a treasure chest which would be filled with money. There were several of us waiting. It turns out some kid approached a random guy (not in costume) and asked are you with the pirate and he said yes thus winning. Neither him nor his mother were excited that they just won thousands of dollars. Everyone thought it was fishy. My mom got #13 because at that point it didn’t matter. We did get two tickets to see the Shipwrecked exhibit.
So my mom and I finally decided to go and see the exhibit. The train we took was decorated with the European football teams. Go Manchester United! I absolutely love Times Square. Most New Yorkers hate it. I love all the lights and the feel of it. Yes, it is beyond packed with tourists, but a true New Yorker should be able to navigate through it without a problem. This was my first time seeing Guy’s American Bar/Restaurant. I also took some pictures outside Jekyll and Hyde.
I’ve been to Discovery Times Square numerous times. I saw the following exhibits there: King Tut, Pompeii, Harry Potter, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. I liked them all except the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. It was too boring and this is coming from a history teacher. Discovery had 3 exhibits on display this time. In addition to Shipwreck they also had Lego and Bodies exhibits. Each exhibit is about $20. They had a Lego guy in the lobby so people could pose for pictures with him.
You weren’t allowed to take pictures in the exhibit but I snuck two anyways. There were a lot of hands on activities that were great for kids and adults who want to be kids. You could create your own pirate, learn how to to tie sailors’ knots, listen to stories about shipwrecks, steer a ship, pick up coins using underwater technology, and even experience hurricane force winds. A little word of advice about the hurricane force winds, if you are prone to eat issues make sure to cover them. My ears hurt for days afterwards. I couldn’t believe how many bars of gold and silver they recovered from the wrecks. There were also tons of coins. There was a lot of porcelain also recovered. Many of it surprisingly in good condition. There was even an old set of dominoes, which my students love to play. There was a lot to see, but still don’t think I would have spent twenty dollars on it. It was worth about fifteen.
I’ve been dreaming about going to Egypt since I was about 7 and read my first King Tut article. I’ve been obsessed with Egypt ever since. I own at least 40 books on the subject and am even going to school to become a certified Egyptologist just for the fun of it. Going into this trip I had no idea what to expect. My friend had backed out because of the revolution so I was technically going alone. I had “met” Alexis, Janelle, Megan, and Sonja through Facebook months prior to the trip. This was also my first time flying by myself and my first layover. So I was anxious and excited all at the same time.
Though my luggage was lost and I had to deal with the stress and lack of clothing and toiletries it was still the best trip of my life. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. Contiki, Spring Tours, Sherif (my tour guide), and my tour mates made the trip unforgettable. I honestly wish the trip was longer and covered Alexandria and Abydos.
Despite what was going in Egypt while I was there, I felt completely safe. We were kept informed about what was going on and Sherif kept us out of harms way. In southern Egypt it was completely calm and that’s where we spent the majority of our time. The locals we interacted with were all friendly. They all appreciated the little Arabic I knew and all of them were genuinely upset over my missing suitcase. So many of them wanted to stop and chat and not in a creepy way.
Egypt is beautiful! Words cannot even begin to describe how amazing the tombs, museums, statues, and temples are. You are immediately transported back in time at each site. If I had my way I could have spent hours at each site. There is just so much to see!!! I was like a kid in a candy store. I just couldn’t stop smiling knowing that I was seeing first hand what I have read about and watched on TV. My absolute favorite site was Abu Simbel. I am so glad I decided to take the 45 minute plane ride to see it. It was breathtaking! It is officially my favorite place on earth besides my beloved home city of NYC.
I knew I would be in awe of the history, but I had no idea that the Nile and Red Sea would also bring me joy. Sitting on the top deck cruising down the Nile was literally the most relaxing experience I’ve ever had. You just felt like life couldn’t get any better. The Red Sea is gorgeous and you feel like you are at a Caribbean resort and not in the middle of the Middle East.
I do not regret my trip whatsoever! Best decision I’ve probably made. Would I go back? I want to go back with my family and relive it through their eyes. I want to see places I didn’t go to like Alexandria, Sakkara, and Abydos. Would I go back in the near future? Sadly, no. The area is too volatile. I got lucky with when I went to Egypt and several other countries. There is only so many times you can go to a country during war and revolution and have a safe experience. I wouldn’t want to push my luck. If I had to go back now then I would stick to the south where things are soooo much calmer. It’s a different world down there.
Thanks for reading my Egyptian adventure. I still need to post my postcards from the trip and maybe even some of my souvenirs.
Pictures below aren’t in order. They are just some of my favorite ones from Egypt.
When Miriam and Theo Siebenberg purchased a plot of land for their new home in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City that Israel had just a few years before captured from Jordan, they had no idea of the antiquity treasures dating back from Jesus’ time and before that lay underneath.
Before the Siebenbergs built their house in a neighborhood where archaeological finds were regularly cropping up, Israeli Department of Antiquities inspectors examined the site, but found nothing of historical significance that would have stopped construction.
Descending into history at the Siebenberg House (Photos Credit: Tzuriel Cohen-Arazi/Tazpit News Agency)
In 1970, they moved into the new home and were soon to discover how wrong the inspectors had been.
At the time, archaeologists from the Hebrew University were excavating all around the Jewish Quarter.
“I went over one day and asked the archaeologists if they had checked the area where my house was,” Theo Siebenberg told the New York Times in 1985. “They said they had and that they were sure nothing was there.”
But to Siebenberg, that answer didn’t seem right.
“I would stand here and picture myself in the Second Temple Period. The temple was just over there,” he told the Times, pointing to the nearby Western Wall, the most holy site in Judaism. “Why wouldn’t Jews have built here then? Every inch of land near the Temple must have been very valuable.”
The enormously challenging digging project in the early 1970s (Photo courtesy: Siebenberg family)
So he took matters into his own hands. He approached the engineers who had built his new house, asking if he and his wife could conduct an archaeological dig underneath. They told him that if an excavation upset the stability of the land, it could cause the neighborhood to slide down the hill.
Still, he didn’t give up.
Engineers came up with a pricey plan to construct a restraining wall held down by steel anchors which would secure his neighbors’ homes. A wealthy man, Siebenberg was able to fund the project independently, according to media accounts 30 years ago, and to guarantee his neighbors that he would pay for any damage the dig might inflict on their homes.
So the wall was built and the Siebenbergs were able to embark on their treasure hunt. They hired a team of architects, engineers, archaeologists, laborers and even donkeys to bring the rubble up from down below.
It was only after eight months of digging that they found their first artifact, a bronze key ring from the era of the Second Temple which may have been used as a key to a jewelry box.
The first find: a bronze key ring from the Second Temple period (Photos Credit: Tzuriel Cohen-Arazi, Tazpit News Agency)
Soon after, they came across an abundance of ancient archaeological treasures. Among them: the wall of a 2,000-year-old home, two mikvehs (Jewish ritual baths), arrowheads possibly used by Jews defending themselves from the Romans, a Byzantine water cistern, an ivory pen and an ink well. Encouraged by their finds, they dug further. Sixty feet below, they found empty burial chambers believed to be at least 2,600 years old, dated to the First Temple.
“The Siebenberg excavation is not only a monument to determination and plain bull-headedness, but an engineering and structural marvel,” wrote Biblical Archaeology Review in a 1982 article about the project.
Arrowheads on display at the Siebenberg House (Photo courtesy: Siebenberg family)
After digging for 18 years, they converted the lower levels of their house to a museum where visitors can view the ancient treasures and descend into the excavation to feel what it was like to dig into ancient history.
For Theo, the project was motivated by his personal quest to find his roots. At age 13, he was forced to flee Belgium to escape the Nazis. After moving around Europe and eventually to the U.S., he felt he was missing a connection with Jewish history. His wife Miriam tells TheBlaze that he dedicated his life to finding a true home he felt he had lost in Europe.
The project “was motivated by wanting to find his roots. My husband was born in Antwerp. He felt like a boy without a home. He was searching for a spiritual home,” Miriam says.
“All of the investment and the dedication and effort were aimed at finding the home he was looking for his whole life. That was the idea, finding the historical continuity,” she adds.
The Siebenbergs decided to one day donate the museum and its contents to the Israeli public. They have set up a non-profit organization for that purpose.
You can view many more photos of the museum and collection on their Facebook page.
Not everyone wants the typical room service, continental breakfast, and double bed of a chain hotel. Whether you still harbor a childhood dream of living in a treehouse, or you love wine so much you’d give anything to sleep inside a giant empty wine barrel, there’s a crazy hotel out there that fits your vacation needs. Sometimes, something whacky is called for. Here are 7 of the world’s most eye-popping, weird, and wonderful hotels. | By Maggie Gorman
You don’t need to live in an igloo to get the full Canadian experience, but it would probably be fun anyway. For a few months each year you can experience this sensationalized Eskimo lifestyle in this Québec Cityhotel, constructed entirely of ice and snow. Even the bedframes are freezing to the touch here, where 500 tons of ice and 15,000 tons of snow comprise soaring 18-feet ceilings and intricately carved furniture.
“Is it possible to put myself in the place of my hamster?” queries the website of this wacky place tucked on a humble Nantes side street. If this question resonates with you, La Villa Hamster holds the answer—and with its woodchip-lined bathroom, haystack beds, giant suspended foot-operated water bottle, and trés romantique hamster wheel for two, the answer seems to be yes. Yes, you can be a hamster for a night if that’s what you want, right down to the fur—the front desk equips each guest with hamster masks upon check-in.
Living in a bubble isn’t just for Glenda the Good Witch anymore. In France, you can see what it’s like by booking a stay in one of designer Pierre Stéphane Dumas’s inflatable private pods. The see-through, surreal shelters are floating all over France in eight different nature-y locations. Guests have options when it comes to privacy (half-translucent bubbles are available) and size. And with a filter that removes all bugs, moisture, and allergens, along with ultraviolet-proof plastic, these glamorous orbs provide protection from the elements that’s much better than that of an actual bubble.
For true privacy on your next retreat, it’d be hard to beat the Grand Canyon Caverns Suite. At 220 feet, it’s so deep underground and devoid of natural light that absolutely nothing lives there. Thanks to the mammoth limestone cavern that contains it, the room’s air is dry and filtered; and along with the beds, attached living area, and bathroom, the cavern is perfectly fit for human hospitality. The cavern functioned as a Cold War-era bomb shelter fit to support 2,000 survivors for a month, and is now part of a larger, 48-room motel at the Grand Canyon.
If the kooky, avant-garde ethos of Berlin could be captured in one hotel, it would be in the Propeller Island City Lodge. In fact, there’s a reason “hotel” isn’t in its name—a stay at Propeller Island is more akin to spending the night in a work of art. Every room holds a radically unique ambience constructed entirely by German artist Lars Stroschen, including a peppy prison cell complete with coffin beds and a room where upside-down furniture dangles from the ceiling as you unpack your sunken bed from within the floor below.
Photo courtesy of Gianluca Battista
Save the Beach Hotels, multiple locations
Who would have thought a hotel that’s literally made of trash would have advocate-guests as well-heeled as Bar Refaeli and Helena Christensen? Apparently German artist HA Shult foresaw a glamorous future in repurposing refuse as refuge—his mobile hotel creation, placed first in Rome in 2010 and then in Madrid in 2011, is constructed from 12 tons of litter found on European beaches. The idea is to revitalize the beaches by cleaning them up, and the hotel is the mission’s vibrant manifestation, with walls studded with everything from plastic bottles and crushed cans to abandoned instruments and limbs of discarded mannequins.
All that glitters is not gold—sometimes it’s silver. Although, we’re not sure if there’s even enough light at 500 feet underground to cast a sparkle on anything. That’s the depth of the Sala Silvermine Underground Suite, but the one-room hovel is mesmerizing if only for being the deepest hotel in the world, carved in an abandoned 18th-century Swedish silver mine and sparsely furnished with silver-hewn pieces. Guests are treated to a brief tour and then left to weather the chilly, 36-degree room for the night—not a suite for the faint of heart.
I spotted several people in NYC walking around with a really cool travel tote. Turns out it is from TJ Maxx and is only $1. I haven’t used it yet, but I love it. There are stamps on there from Egypt, India, UK, Australia, Spain, Sweden, and Norway.
Sometimes, flying direct just isn’t an option, and you’re stuck kicking around some airport terminal before boarding a plane to your final destination. Less than ideal? For sure. Painful? Totally depends on which airport you’re trapped in. La Guardia‘s filthy, LAX is jam-packed, O’Hare is a known nightmare, and most mid-sized stopovers offer little more than Dunkin’ Donuts or Panda Express.
But if you wind up with a layover at Minneapolis-St. Paul International, you’re not only in for a breezy transfer experience – quick lines, easy-to-navigate layout, mostly on-time flights – but you have all the spoils for a damn good time. If you’ve got more than an hour before takeoff, you may as well latch the laptop shut and take full advantage of MSP‘s surprisingly vast, very un-airport-like selection of top-notch restaurants and cocktail lounges.
Sure, you’ll find the usual fast-food chains and coffee carts, but MSP hosts several secondary outposts of favorite Twin Cities haunts – and they truly don’t feel like cheesy, crammed mockups of the originals. There’s Ike’s Food & Cocktails, a retro-themed joint that serves up steaks, ribs, a seriously amazing burger, and a bunch of interesting small plates and apps, along with killer cocktails. For lighter fare, French Meadow Bakery & Café delivers unique and locally sourced salads, sandwiches, and entrées with a great wine selection set in an open, inviting space. Axel’s Bonfire is another winner, with wood-fired Southwestern-inspired nosh and the restaurant’s signature Bull Bites.
Surdyk’s Flights restaurant in Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport (Photo: M C Morgan / Flickr)
Rather stretch your legs than belly up to a bar? The terminal is huge, so there are many miles to cover, and the layout makes it so you can walk casually without getting stuck in a stream of hurried travelers or having your ankles nipped by baby strollers. Just be sure to stop by Surdyk’s Flights, a fully stocked wine and gourmet cheese shop and tasting room based on the renowned, nearly 80-year-old Minneapolis liquor store.
If you must cram in some work during your stopover – or maybe you’re only a few hours out from dinner and drinks with clients and would be wise to just chill – MSP has you covered there, too. Despite its size, several parts of the terminal are sectioned off into several smaller areas, almost like rooms or mini-terminals, so there’s no shortage of spots to hunker down and not be bothered. The one knock is there’s currently a fee for wireless access, but MSP plans to offer free service by the end of this year, according to the airport’s website.
Obviously, you’ll never plan a trip around a layover, but if you’re bound to make a brief Midwest stop and can choose between Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Milwaukee, or Minneapolis, you’ll know what to do.
All rights belong to Flickr, Yahoo, and Michael Hughes
When most people travel, they typically come home with countless photos: selfies, playful poses with friends, iconic landmarks, etc. But when photographer Michael Hughes is abroad, he goes about it a little differently. Breaking away from a picture perfect postcard, Michael inserts cheap local souvenirs in his shots; resulting in memorable, hilarious photos.
“My images are fun because I really like to play with them,” Michael says in the accompanying video. “I like to play with the way people look at my images, and I’m always up for a joke!”
“I remembered that I had a postcard for my daughter in my pocket,” Michael recalls. “When I pulled it out, I noticed that I was standing exactly where the photographer had been when he was taking the picture for the postcard. So I started playing with it and I managed to fit it exactly into the scene. When I got back to my computer and looked at my pictures, I could see there was something really good going on.”
A few weeks later, Michael went to New York City and decided to take a ferry around Manhattan. On his way to the pier, he bought postcards of the New York skyline to mimic his photo from Germany. In his mind, Michael was already brainstorming a “picture within a picture” photo series. Minutes later on the ferry, however, his idea evolved into something unexpected.
“When I boarded the ferry, I bought a cup of coffee,” Michael explains. “We went past the Statue of Liberty, and I suddenly realized the coffee cup had a picture of the Statue of Liberty on it. So I threw out the contents of the cup, held it up and it fit right in front of the statue. It was perfect! And it was at that point I realized I didn’t have to use postcards, but it could be any kind of souvenir… and that was the start of it!”
Michael created a set of rules for his new souvenir series. First, he wasn’t allowed to take anything (a prop, an object, etc.) to his destinations. Second, Michael had to buy a souvenir on the spot.
“The rules worked well because it put me in a bit of a tricky situation,” Michael says. “You might turn up somewhere and there might not be a good souvenir, so you have to be creative. I like a bit of risk. I also like involving people into the photos as well. People who are standing around adds to the fun.”
“My wife came over and showed me this multi-colored lollipop that she’d found,” Michael explains. “My daughter was also there, so I set it up that she was supposed to lick the lollipop. I really love it because it’s a nice family moment. The lollipop fits perfectly, and there’s a lovely violet sky.”
“It was the funniest thing in that you could put batteries in it, and it would light up in all sorts of colors,” Michael says. “When I went to see the Jesus the Redeemer, I was standing in front of it and looking at it from a bit away. When I held up my souvenir, it looked like some tourists in the background were actually looking up at my souvenir instead of the real thing! It was very cool.”
Michael’s received a lot of positive feedback and encouragement since posting his photos on Flickr. What he likes about his series is that it plays into people’s perception about travel.
“What I like is giving people a question. I think it’s fun to make people think about the world we live in and get them excited to see it. But more importantly, it’s great to have a joke with them at the same time.”
I find that it is important to learn a couple phrases and/or words in the native language of the country you are visiting. They can be used in a pinch in case you are in an area where they don’t speak English and at the very least it makes the locals happy that you are trying. I often see Americans get angry at tourists that don’t know basic words like bathroom, yes, thanks, etc. Yet those same people don’t learn any when they go away. Here are some of the words and phrases I have picked up over my travels.
Habibi-Good friend/dear friend
La Shukran=No thank you
Ma batkalemsh Arabi=I don’t speak Arabic
Boker Tov=Good morning
Erev Tov=Good evening
Layla Tov=Good night
Kali Mera=Good morning
Kali Spera=Good evening
Con ta bai?=How are you?
Bon dia=Good morning
Bon tardi=Good afternoon
Bon nochi=Good night
Pasa un bon dia=Have a good day
Di nada=You’re welcome
Mi ta bon=I am good
Dushi soño=Sweet dreams
Advertisements in other languages of movies or products that you have back home also help you pick up on words. Like the one below.