1–10 of 213 entries in the category: Travel

Oh, Lola.

March 1st

Mexico City trip

Dolores Olmedo made her fortunes through importing tobacco into Mexico City, or so I was told when we recently visited her eponymous museum in the southern neighborhood of Xochimilco. She also married an American publisher, Mr. Phillips, who was very wealthy, and had four children. The Olmedo Museum was one of the prettiest places we toured. You enter through a set of heavy carved wood doors into a quiet, shaded courtyard that seems like an oasis from the noise, fumes and parade of people just outside the stone walls.

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

The grounds are massive. There are a series of small stone buildings surrounded by lush green lawns, tropical succulents and towering trees. To make the sight seem more magical, there is both a family of Indian peacocks strutting on one side of the property flaunting their iridescent plumage and six Xoloitzcuintli — Mexican hairless dogs. These pups were so sweet, and we were told they are vegetarian. (And were once delicacies to the Aztecs.) There are also ducks, geese and a gaggle of caretakers running around the grounds taking care of all the animals.

 

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Now that we’ve got all the good out of the way — let me cut to the chase. It is alleged Dolores, or Lola as her friends called her, was one of Diego’s many side pieces. So, of course, in true telenovela fashion, she and Frida hated each other. At age 94, Dolores was still telling the press how inconsequential Frida’s work was in comparison to her husband’s. (A matter of opinion, and one I do not share.)

Mexico City trip

Putting the gossip aside, what we do know is that Diego entrusted both his collection of works and Frida’s AND the Casa Azul in Lola’s care when he died of cancer in 1957. What we also know is that the Casa Azul, where Frida was born in 1907 and lived until her death in 1954, was in financial and literal ruins until Lola died in 2002. Afterward, others got involved and turned the Casa Azul into the great museum it is today. To her credit, Lola left her home, art and money to also become a museum, featuring the largest collection of Diego and Frida’s work.

Mexico City trip

As a super Frida fan, it pleased me that her collection is currently on loan and not at good old Lola’s house. But Diego’s work was there, and darn it if that scoundrel didn’t know how to paint. The collection is impressive. I prefer his murals, but seeing his smaller works showcased how he grew and developed as an artist with time. Also, there are other artists on display who studied under Diego. Finally, there was a collection of Mexican folk art by state that I absolutely loved. It was worth the one-hour cab ride from Coyoacan alone.

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City travel tip of the day: if you visit, make the time to go see the Olmedo Museum. Xochimilco is also home to the ancient canal system and floating gardens.

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Travel
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Oh, Frida

February 25th

Mexico City trip

I’ve wanted to visit Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s home, and now museum, in Coyoacan, Mexico for ages. When Jason and I discussed a trip to Mexico, I looked for a place to stay in this neighborhood of Mexico City. We were lucky to find a small, one-bedroom apartment over a cafe just a few blocks from Frida’s blue house.

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Coyoacan has cobblestone streets, brightly colored homes with terraces full of potted plants, and a main square (zocalo) with second oldest church in the country. The bell tolls on the hour as vendors sell handwoven baskets, push carts offer cups of roasted corn or churros with hot chocolate, and couples stroll hand in hand.

It is a delightfully slower pace of life.

We sat on on one of the benches in the zocalo park just to enjoy the people watching. Frida and Diego couldn’t have picked a more beautiful neighborhood. It isn’t like the many others of this giant city. There are no billboards. There is no significant sign of corporate America. It is tucked away beneath huge rubber trees and tropical pines, noisier and far more posh barrios in all directions.

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Coyoacan has remained quiet and quaint. The Frida museum is undoubtedly the biggest tourist attraction. By midday, the lines wrapped around the block.

We spent Valentine’s Day at the museum. I wanted a day when we could linger, toward the end of our trip. We were among the first few in line in front of the exterior cobalt blue wall, alongside other fans. Half a dozen languages floated in the air around us.

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Soon, after a $10 ticket and a $5 photo permit (without flash, as are the rules in most Mexican museums), we were inside, following a queue of folks into a wide central patio, through the kitchen, into the studio and library she shared with Diego and finally through her bedroom, which includes a frog-shaped urn that holds her ashes.

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

My fingertips lingered on the walls, when possible. I couldn’t believe I was really there, in Frida’s house. Frida stood on those steps. Frida ate in this kitchen. Frida painted here! The walls are full of her art I’d see only in books, and many framed family photos. My heart pounded as I walked from one beloved portrait to the next, having read in great detail the story behind the paintings.

Mexico City trip

When we got to her bedroom, which included a small bed and the milieu of a woman who in many ways never matured in her interests beyond girlhood, I let the tears fall off my chin standing before her urn.

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

I cannot explain why I feel so connected to this artist. I’ve loved her art for decades and appreciate how unique and sassy she was in a time when Mexican women were expected to rarely been seen or heard. (Women in general, really.) She always marched to her own beat, including in her decision to marry the much older and infamous womanizer, Diego Rivera.

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

He also happened to be a prized muralist, communist and advocate for Mexico’s indigenous. Frida’s mother was a native Mexican who married the German/Austrian photographer Guillermo Kahlo. Her parents thought she was nuts for marrying Diego and her mother was reportedly horrified Frida identified with Mexico’s indigenous, not her more “refined” European ancestry. This love for Mexico is demonstrated in Frida’s choice of clothing — embroidered tops, long skirts (which also served to hide her leg brace) and heavy, rustic jewelry.

Mexico City trip

Diego, Diego. Oh, you toad, as Frida called you. You were such a tramp. Little did I know how you’d fooled even me until we later the same day traveled more than an hour across town to the barrio of Xochimilco to visit the Dolores Olomedo Museum. This gorgeous estate-turned-museum holds the largest collection of Diego’s work.

Of course it does. Dolores was Diego’s mistress. But that’s a story for tomorrow.

Mexico City trip

Today’s Mexico City travel tip: go see Frida’s art and house. Get there before it opens and plan on spending at least an hour. Walk to the zocalo in Coyoacan afterward and enjoy a leisurely lunch. And if you have to cry, I get it. That museum is a powerful place and the art will live on in your heart.

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Travel
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Museums and Musings: Mexico City

February 22nd

Mexico City trip

If you visit Mexico City and don’t care to rent a car, consider the Turibus. For $8US a day, you can ride one of the double decker buses on any or all of the four routes around the city. We picked up the Turibus in Coyoacan, a quick walk from our apartment. You can buy the tickets at the bus stop, and they accept both cash and cards.

Mexico City trip

We sat on the top level, with the cool spring air keeping us happy all day. We would got off the bus to take photos or take a break, knowing another one would be on its way sooner than later. This system is clean, easy and really comfortable. We rode the buses multiple days to get across one of the world’s largest cities, and did so with ease. The longest we had to wait for a bus was 20 minutes.

We visited only a handful of the many, many museums in the city. The big four included:

The National Palace is where the President of Mexico lives, and where Diego Rivera was hired to paint murals depicting the history of Mexico from 1929-1935. The artwork is huge and colorful and breathtaking; Diego was hired to celebrate the recent Mexican revolution. The artist returned from living in Europe to join his countrymen in the revolution.

There is so much detail to see, you could spend a week with these murals and still see more on the next visit.

Additionally, the museum includes the history of Mexico’s government. We saw copies of the first constitution, portraits of Benito Juarez, and ancient Aztec maps. This museum is free.

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Just me and Frida, hanging out 

The Templo Mayor is what it sounds like: the largest and most culturally significant temple of the Aztecs. The site is being slowly excavated. The attached museum holds the history of the Aztec people and many relics found around Mexico City during the last 200 years when others were digging to build new structures. This museum cost about $4.50 and is beautifully curated. I got a bit overwhelmed by the end, which likely had more to do with thirst and adjusting to the thin Mexico City air.

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

I will post about the two Frida/Diego museums we visited tomorrow. They are worthy of their own time, and there are so, so many great photos.

(Tip for today: take the Turibus!)

~K

 

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Travel
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Viajando

February 21st

Jason and I spent last week in Mexico City, wandering and adventuring. One of the many reasons I love this man is that our spirit of travel is similar. We like tours, to a point. We like adventurous foods, to a point. And we like to see a new place by foot when possible.

Mexico City is home to 24 million people, many of whom live outside of the capital, in brightly colored modest homes that stack on top of each other. To look at these colonias, you wonder how so many could live in such a small space. The barrios are cheery in color and faulty in design. The lack of water is one of the biggest public health concerns. 

Here are a couple photos from our trip, including the Shrine of Guadalupe, Zocalo and a couple pyramids we managed to scale.

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

We are standing on the pyramid of the moon here, with the pyramid of the sun (Teotihuacan) in the distance. The view from both was amazing.

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

These were a couple shots from the pyramid museum. I was impressed with the sheer number of museums available in Mexico

— most of which are open to the public for free, and showcase relics centuries old. This carving was made without metal tools. So were the pyramids.

Mexico City trip

The Shrine of Guadalupe was a life changing experience. I’ll write another post about this.

Mexico City trip

This 1600-era Spanish Catholic church in downtown Mexico City was built with the rocks of the previously dismantled Aztec pyramid seen in the foreground.

Mexico City trip

The Revolution Monument, with the elevator running up the center to a museum in the middle.

Mexico City trip

Flora and fauna at the National Palace.

Mexico City trip

The fountain in the central courtyard of the National Palace.

Mexico City trip

The central Zocalo, looking toward the (sinking) basilica of Mexico City. The city was built on a lakebed, and sits near a major fault line. Buildings are sinking at an increasing rate due to global warming.

Mexico City trip

Mexico City trip

Palace of Fine Arts built with marble from Europe

Mexico City trip

Benito Juarez memorial plaza

I hope these posts will serve as a tourism guide for Mexico City. We couldn’t have had a better time.

Tomorrow: a museum roundup.

~K

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Travel
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Seattle!

June 9th

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Seattle 2015

Oysters, kayaking, cycling, ice cream on Bainbridge Island, lots of walking and staring into that gorgeous man’s baby blues. A lovely adventure!

 

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Travel
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Final Grand Canyon Photos

October 9th

I’m sure I’ve bored you to pieces with all of these photos. Here are a few of the remainders I love:

Grand Canyon Trip

 

Who knew the Colorado looked like chocolate milk? This was the only time we really saw the river.

Grand Canyon Trip

 

More falls. You cannot tell from this vantage, but that is a 25 foot drop.

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

See that trail down there? Yep. Walked it.

Grand Canyon TripDone! Sweaty, tired, and DONE! Some three days and 30 miles later. Woo!

Loved it. Can’t wait to go back. Have I mentioned this?

~K

 

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Arizona, Happy Hippie, Travel
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Phantom Ranch

October 8th

Rather than camp at Bright Angel, the group made reservations a year in advance for Phantom Ranch. There are a dozen or so small rock cabins, full of bunk beds. The accommodations are simple, clean and very comfortable. (Real toilets, hot running showers) The main canteen offers breakfast, sack lunch and dinner with reservations. Otherwise, they are well stocked with snacks and drinks. Long tables hold 12 people; meals are a tight fit, but it feels like adult camp.

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon TripGrand Canyon Trip

How do they get those supplies down there? The same way they run the mail and trash up the canyon: by mule. I’m fairly certain this is the last remaining mule mail service in the US.

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

I loved being there. We did yoga one morning on our bath towels outside, stretching out the previous day’s hike. We eyed the board games, drank bad boxed wine, watched a bit of wildlife, took side hikes and sat in the river — again, trying to ease the soreness.

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

The meals were the same from day to day. Breakfast was coffee, pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs. Lunch was a sack of snacks. Dinner was cornbread, chili, salad and cake. We ate it all with gusto.

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Pretty incredible supply chain, someone is managing — all via UMS. (United Mule Service)

Also of note: apparently they do not like you to touch the mules. Even if they are adorable and wiggle their ears at you and basically BEG to be nuzzled. Coincidentally, I got scolded by a cowboy, and that was not all bad.

~K

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Arizona, Happy Hippie, Travel
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Ribbon Falls

October 6th

Perhaps my favorite part of the trip was the side hike to Ribbon Falls. Just south of the Cottonwood campsite, Ribbon Falls are a brief .5 mile hike off the main trail. We were able to easily climb up the falls and stand behind the water, watching it pour down on years (centuries?) worth of limestone and moss. The water was a refreshing break after 10 miles of hiking from the north rim. And simply gorgeous:

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

 

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Amazing!

~K

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Arizona, Happy Hippie, Travel
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We Hiked the Grand Canyon

October 5th

We started in Flagstaff and continued on, North Rim to South Rim, with a couple of nights at Phantom Ranch in between:

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

Grand Canyon Trip

We parked at the South Rim, took a shuttle across the Navajo Reservation, and spent the first night at the North Rim. The lodge is fantastic in every western way; made of old wood beams and rock, it is a marvel of architecture and history. It sits on the lip of the rim. We arrived in time to watch the sunlight drain from the sky, the moon climb, and lights on the other side of the canyon twinkle as dusk faded into night. The North Rim lodge has far fewer visitors and is a good bit higher in altitude than the South. It is fairly hard to get to, unless you are dropping in by helicopter from Las Vegas. The 4.5 hour drive was mostly desolate reservation, with red cliffs and sage green hills. As we crept closer to the rim, climbing in altitude, the horizon changed from dust to juniper to pinon pine and aspens — which were yellow and rust orange, ready to shed their leaves to cooler weather. The aspens stood out like show girls, waving all their color and sass on an otherwise green hillside.

After a cold first night in bunk beds, nestled in a log cabin, we started the hike off the North Rim. In darkness, we used headlamps for the first 30 minutes as we descended with our group down the path. The early morning light danced on the canyon walls, and we watched with true awe as the colors changed before us, shifting like crayons in the box of 64. The sky from indigo to azure. The rock walls from forest green to sienna and amber. The dirt beneath our feet changing too. In places dusty red, and in other sandy and silty — with puddles, toads and moss.

The first day was a little more than 14 miles — longer than I’ve ever gone with a pack and poles. It was a long, delightful journey and my feet were so very happy to arrive at Phantom Ranch.

~K

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Arizona, Happy Hippie, Travel
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Britney — blah blah blah. But HOLY MOLY BOBBY FLAY!

August 26th

We went to see Britney this weekend in Vegas:

Vegas!

Vegas!Vegas!Vegas!

The concert was silly and fun and likely exactly what you’d expect: incredible dancing and costumes. Her performance was okay. Her wig was NOT okay. And I’m not terribly fond of paying more than $100 for a concert that lasts less than 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Whatever. We danced. We sang along. We had a great weekend. But the real star was Bobby Flay.

I’m not a celebrity chef groupie, in part because local chefs have stolen my heart and I don’t have a television. I’m out of the loop on much of reality tv these days, and don’t get the hype. So, entering the Mesa Grill wasn’t as big of a deal for me as it was for my friends. But the meal we ate was by far the best meal I’ve ever enjoyed:

Vegas!

This isn’t going to do the experience justice, so just believe me. If you get a chance to eat at the Mesa Grill in Vegas — take it. It was so, so good. (And certainly not crazy expensive for the quality of food. I’ve eaten a meal that was lackluster at Le Cirque for three times as much.)

Also: the Wicked Spoon buffet isn’t so bad either. Sushi, pastries and a gelato bar. Oh, the pillaging that happened at that gelato bar:

Vegas!

So, yeah. Our 20s in Vegas: PARTY! Our 30s in Vegas: EAT!

I’m okay with that.

~K

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Travel
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