Walker Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis – Autumn 2019

Back to a local treasure, the Walker Sculpture Garden. It’s been a long while since we’ve visited and I’ve been wanting to go since it reopened in June 2017 after a renovation. We went on a sunny, early October day a little over two years since its reopening. Hey, at least we finally got there!

I enjoyed our walk about but I’m not so sure I like the changes. It seems that it’s not laid out as well as it previously was and that’s hard to describe. Sculptures are mostly arranged in various squares with other sculptures surrounding the squares. So, you enter one side of the square to get a close up view of the sculpture in there.  When you exit you only get to see that side’s sculptures making it a long walk to see the other sculptures on the other two sides?  Yea, like I said, hard to describe.  There is one Alexander Calder mobile on the western edge that felt like it took a long time to walk to. There also used to be a green house and that is gone.  There are, however, nice gardens that probably looked better in spring and summer but I tried to capture some of those. There still was some beauty to behold gardenwise and several flowers still blooming.

The Walker Sculpture Garden opened in 1988 but the history actually goes back to 1906 when the land that would become the sculpture garden was donated to the Minneapolis park board by Thomas Lowry. Lowry was a real estate magnate and head of the Minneapolis Street Railway Co.  His home was where the Walker Art Center now stands, adjacent to the sculpture garden.  There is the Lowry tunnel as part of interstate 94 close by and now I know who that tunnel was named for. Interesting!  The gardens contain more than 40 works of art on 11 acres and is the largest urban sculpture garden in the country.  I learned most of this from the Minneapolis Parks website.  Check out more interesting stuff at this link.  At the Walker Art Center’s website is a page containing photos of all of the sculptures as well as the layout. I grabbed the names of the pieces and the artists’ names from this site.

I was also curious how the Walker Art Center got is name.  Instead of summarizing here I will direct you to this link for some interesting history of Thomas Barlow (T. B.) Walker, a Minneapolis lumber baron who loved art.

I hope you’ll enjoy this photo tour of our day in the sculpture garden. I didn’t capture all of the sculptures but I’m happy with my samples. And it was a perfect, sunny day with gorgeous blue skies.

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Jardín Botánico Histórico La Concepción, Málaga

As most of you already know hubby and I took another trip to Spain at the end of August and through the first week of September. I’ve created a couple of posts already so feel free to check out my intro post as well as my summary of the food we had.  This post is all about that glorious Jardín Botánico Histórico La Concepción in Málaga.

I learned of the Jardín Botánico through TripAdvisor and after reading about it, I knew I had to make the trip to see it. In our previous trips to Málaga we had not ventured outside of the historic center.  We wanted to see more than just the sites in the city center so I learned about bus passes and the Jardín was one of the places we ventured to.  The nice gal at the tourist office confirmed which bus we needed and where to pick it up.  We had about a mile hike from where the bus let us off but we didn’t mind although it was pretty hot that day. It was nice to walk through different neighborhoods of the city.

The Jardín Botánico was acquired by the city of Málaga in 1990 and were created in about 1855 by the Marquis of Casa Loring. In 1911 the gardens were purchased and extended by the Echevarría-Echevarrieta family and display a beautiful open-air collection of tropical and subtropical flora. The plant species come from Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Oceania. In 1943 they were officially declared a historical-artistic garden and are currently declared as being Bien de Interés Cultural, a place of cultural interest. In 1994 the city opened it to the public and it’s been enjoyed by many since then.

Although it was hot the day we were there, we found refuge in the many shaded areas as well as benches to rest upon. We were given a map at the entrance and we wandered around and saw most of the gardens. The one exception to the shaded areas was their huge display of cactus plants. We were both so enthralled by the many varieties of cacti we almost didn’t notice the sun beating down on us.  My first gallery consists of the cactus plants. This is a combination of both mine and hubby’s photos. Take a look. I think you’ll be impressed!

The next gallery is a combination of the other areas of the gardens that we explored. By the time we got to the Palm Collection we were too tired to walk down there but we both got a photo of the entrance.

On our way out we noticed a beautiful tiled picture of the gardens that I’m including here. If you’re visiting Málaga, I hope you’ll take the time to tour this beautiful place.  It’s not just for gardeners as hubby really enjoyed it and I’m the gardener in the family.  Here’s the link  to their website for more information.  Stay tuned for future posts of our trip to Spain.  Enjoy!!

 

 

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Autumn 2019 – Twin Cities Minnesota

I’ve been absent for a bit as I traveled to southern California for my niece’s wedding. It was a fabulous weekend full of love and sunshine, a perfect day for a southern California autumn wedding.  It was a great time!

I’ll be putting together a post about other things I did that extended weekend, as well as other posts that are in the queue.  For now, I wanted to post some autumn photos from the twin cities before autumn is over.  So, without further ado, please enjoy these photos.

More photos:

And a couple of autumn flowers.

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The food in Spain

Or I should say, the food that we enjoyed in Spain this trip. If you missed my intro post about our trip to Spain, you can check it out here.  For this post I thought I’d talk about the food on this trip.

We landed bright and early in Málaga, even before the sunrise, on a Friday morning. I thought that we might be able to sleep on the plane, then we’d be ready to explore Málaga a bit before being able to check into our room. Oh that was not to be and we had four hours to kill before we could finally relax. I think no more early morning arrivals for this gal.

I had a few things jotted down that we could do that morning and the times those things opened. As we deposited our bags at the hotel, the receptionist giggled a little when I asked if Casa Aranda was open. That’s our favorite churros place and we were hoping to get a table on the patio. He thought maybe but it was so early!! Like I didn’t know that, heh. We did wander over to Casa Aranda and by now it was about 7:15 and they were just setting up the patio. They guided us to a table inside and we sat there until the patio was set up. I wasn’t really hungry as they fed us something on the plane before we landed. So we each had a coffee (and the two churros that the waiter comped us!) and moved on to wait for the tourist office to open at 9:00. It was nice to sit on the plaza and people watch. It was a pleasant 75 degrees with lots of people on scooters, some runners and many birds chirping and flying around.

Finally the travel office opened and I asked all my questions about bus routes for the things we wanted to see outside of the city center. The nice gal wrote all over a tourist map showing where the bus stops were. Hubby bought some post cards and we moved on again.

Then El Corte Inglés (Spain’s biggest department store) didn’t open until 10:00 so we stopped at La Canasta for refreshment. I had my first fresh squeezed orange juice of the trip. Oh my!! You have not tasted OJ unless you’ve had this fresh squeezed stuff. I had it every. single. day. Or close to it anyway. So delicious!! I had a warm croissant with homemade strawberry jam that was also delicious.

Some eating adventures in Málaga were not as good as we had hoped. We went back to one place we had gone to in 2016 but it was not nearly as good so that was too bad. So, no photos of that food, sorry.  There was another one in Plaza de la Merced. We got the sampler tapas deal which really wasn’t that great either. I’m now having trouble remembering what all the five tapas were. We did stop at El Pimpi after climbing around at Gibralfaro then walking down the hill back to town. We had their shrimp pil pil and it was delicious. Forgot to take a photo!

We did have a great meal at Matiz, the restaurant attached to our hotel in Málaga, Molina Lario.  Alas, I only have one  photo from that evening and it was the olives and bread we enjoyed before the meal. One evening we were being particularly picky I guess because it took us over 30 minutes to settle on a place to eat. We were called in by a waitress. Many waiters in Málaga will stand on the patio looking for customers when it’s not busy and try to get you to eat at their restaurant. And so this gal spoke to us in English and we looked at the menu. Oh good, they’ve got boquerones en vinagre (anchovies in vinegar) so this place is okay. This is one of hubby’s favorite things in Spain. And they had the shrimp that he wanted. Cold shrimp that you have to peel. Not my favorite but they were good, once you got the shell off. They had a really good ensalada mixta(mixed salad) so I was happy too. We shared everything and really enjoyed that meal. The waitress spoke about four languages, or was it five? She was Italian but knew English and Spanish and I heard her speaking French to the customers at the next table. When we told her we were Americans she said she’d love to visit America but she won’t because of our so-called president. She also said she likes Americans better than the British.

Yes, back to the food.

We tried different breakfasts this time. I really liked the croissants with ham and cheese. I probably had that the most for breakfast. We ate at Lepanto, a famous pastry and sweet shop in Málaga that also has a full menu.  Loved their croissant sandwiches. We had a tortilla espanola one morning. It was a plate with two pieces so was perfect for the two of us. We also partook of the fabulous breakfast buffet at our hotel in Madrid. Did I not take photos of that either? Well, here’s the sad tale. I travelled with sore shoulders this time. I had good and bad days so I guess this affected my photo taking. I did manage to get some food photos that I’m including in the gallery below. I’m also going to include some of hubby’s photos to fill in the gaps.  I included photos of our two favorite churros places in my previous post and I’ll include them again in this gallery. They are Casa Aranda in Málaga and San Ginés in Madrid.  And of course we had fresh squeezed orange juice at both too. Oh, yum!!

Some other nice meals included a meal of tapas at Nacalú, across the street from our hotel in Málaga. We kept seeing the place fill up in the evenings and decided it must be good and it was!  We got a sampler of tapas along with our ticket to the flameco show that we saw in Málaga.  The flamenco was at Cal Y Canto and the food came from the adjoining restaurant, El Gallo Ronco. We talked about going back for another meal but we didn’t make it. I read that the cafe in the Jardín Botanico was good and since I was hungry after exploring that glorious place, I decided to try it out. Score!! I had their spinach quiche accompanied by a mixed salad with the most tasty citrus-flavored dressing. Oh my!! One last meal in Málaga was at Quitapenas on the marina. Seafood and another ensalada mixta.  See a pattern here?

We had the same meal that we had three  years ago at Café Varela, the restaurant attached to our hotel in Madrid, Hotel Preciados. They have the best paella and ensalada mixta that I’ve ever had.  I managed to get my favorite tortilla española at El Brillante in Madrid. When I ordered it the waiter asked me if I wanted a whole tortilla española.  Oh no! I only wanted one piece.  Oh “pincho” he said.  Ah yes, I forgot that part.  Oops! Delicious and as perfect as I remembered it.  We wandered around central Madrid on our last day and then began searching for a place to eat. We stood outside El Botín for a long while because I hadn’t had any lamb yet on this trip. And Botín’s lamb is fantastic!  We hemmed and hawed and decided to try something different instead of somewhere we had been before. That and I didn’t want another high priced meal. So we ended up down the street at Mirador del Arco de Cuchilleros. Since their patio was full, a good sign that it’s a good place, we ate inside which was very pleasant. Nice waitress and good service. We had another meal of tapas including boquerones en vinagre, croquetas de jamón, acetunas and chuletitas de cordero (anchovies in vinegar, ham croquetas, olives and lamb chops). Everything was delicious!  They even gave us a little salad of tomatoes and cucumbers as a free appetizer.

I hope you’ll enjoy the following gallery of the food that I did manage to photograph. And stay tuned for more posts about our trip to Spain.

 

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Minnesota State Fair 2019

It’s time for my annual recap of our trips to the fair.  We did opening day a little differently than most years where we all have the day off and go together. One big difference this year is that I no longer have a parking spot on the St. Paul campus which meant a different way to get to the fair. And I didn’t have enough vacation days to take the opening day off.  Instead, hubby and Miss M met each other at the fair and I met up with them a few hours later.

All the lots had filled up by before noon I believe but I know there is a first wave of people who went to the fair early and after lunch, they were ready to head for home. I timed it perfectly and found a parking spot about 3:00 on opening day. And the bus came five minutes later. On other trips we weren’t as lucky and had to wait for a bus for about 30 minutes once. Taking the bus is a great option for us as there are many lots nearby to park for free and the bus takes you to the fair for free. We even tried a different lot this year because we had volunteered for a 2 hour stint at my new department’s tables at U of M Central in the Crossroads building. And that was a Sunday which meant that all the church lots around us didn’t open until 1:00 and we had to be there at 11:00 so we parked in another lot not owned by a church. It went amazingly well :)

We had lots of fun at the fair again this year. Great food, great company, great art and great stuff in the agriculture building, as usual. Fantastic crop art again this year and you’ll see some of that in my galleries below. We saw some animals and old tractors too.

For the floral displays in the center of the agriculture building this year was a theme of  “Minnesota Grown”. Here’s the wording from the fair’s website:

This year’s floral extravaganza features large-scale handcrafted and personalized designs created by local florists to celebrate the lives of iconic “Minnesota Grown” hometown legends such as Judy Garland, Charles Schulz, Prince and others.

I really enjoyed this year’s floral extravaganza. I actually never knew it was called an extravaganza. The things one learns. Below is a gallery of those displays. I loved it so much I had to take a second and third look. See what you think.

Next, some scenes at the fair:

Another great year for art, both in the art building and the crop art in the agriculture building:

To end, here are some antique machines and some animals that we saw:

 

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Spain, revisited

We just returned from many adventures in Spain and I’d love to tell you all about them! We spent six nights in Málaga then three nights in Madrid.  It was magical and frustrating and beautiful and all of these things.  This was our fourth trip to Málaga and we got to explore the city further and visit new places like the automobile museum and the Jardín Botánico and we finally got to Gibralfaro, the castle at the top of the hill above the alcazaba.

It was sunny and in the mid to upper 80s every. single. day.  Hubby was in heaven, it was a tad too hot for me. But you put your hair up and just make sure you’re hydrated and take lots of refresco breaks. Because of the heat we did not go to the Alcazaba as planned and ended up paying for it but not using the ticket. We took the bus to Gibralfaro then walked down and we thought it was the trail that lets you into the alcazaba. Nope. By then we’d already climbed in the heat and we’d have had to climb up into the alcazaba. No. Time for a refresco at Pimpi. That’s the huge restaurant right next to the teatro romano. They have a nice patio and after climbing around up at the castle, the timing was good and we sat right down, ah……

We had a variety of meals and tried different breakfast items this time and made time for two of our favorite churros places.  Of course we had tapas many times and several boquerones en vinagre as that is hubby’s favorite. I tried several ensaladas mixtas (mixed salad) and my favorite, hands down, is Cafe Varela’s in Madrid. We saw a fantastic flamenco show in Málaga and it included a sampler of tapas and the food was great!! So was the flamenco. I’m so glad we did that.

We saw lots of art.  We love art. I read about and saw photos of urban art in the Lagunillas area of Málaga, to the east of Plaza de la Merced. Not the best neighborhood but they didn’t seem to mind us taking photos of the art. We naturally went to the Picasso museum in Málaga. We always go there. We love that museum! We also went to the Pompidou in Málaga, then the Reina Sofia and the Prado in Madrid. Lots of art!!

We were celebrating hubby’s retirement with this trip and we wanted to see if we could tell if we’d like living in Málaga. I do still love the city but I am no longer sure that I want to retire here.  We are rethinking our retirement plans and perhaps we spend 3 months in Málaga each year then do something else the rest of the year.  We’re able to stay for 90 days with our passports whereas if we retired there we’d have a lengthy retirement visa process. So, more to think about.

I’m going to create other posts of our trip but for now, I thought I’d share some highlights of our 10 day adventure in Spain. Be on the lookout for some more posts about España!

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Summit Avenue Walking Tour, St. Paul, MN, June 2019

Last weekend my friend Ruth and I went on a Summit Avenue walking tour in St. Paul and I wanted to share photos and what I remember. It’s a 90 minute tour of some of the biggest and oldest homes on Summit Avenue that starts at the James J. Hill house.  We walked maybe a mile total and heard histories of several homes.

We learned the James J. Hill house was the most expensive house on the Avenue at the time.  The enormous mansion cost $1,000,000 to build in 1891, about $2.7 million today. Throughout the tour our guide would tell us how much each of the houses cost to build and the James J. Hill house far surpassed every other house we viewed.  One can’t help but notice the dark stones on this house. It was due to coal being used to heat the homes at the time. Our guide spoke of an attempt to clean the stones using a sandblaster and how that damaged the stone, so they stopped doing that. It sounded like cleaning these stones was low on the priority list of upkeep for this house.

James J. Hill was the guy who created the Great Northern Railway between St. Paul, Minnesota and Seattle, Washington.  He made a fortune in the railroad business and was able to build the home of his dreams.  The tour of his ornate mansion is also worth a visit. I took the tour shortly after I arrived in Minnesota 27 years ago.  I think it might be time to take that tour again. These two photos were taken at the same time but I lightened up the second one:

One of the themes of this tour was money because all of the houses on the tour were owned by the wealthiest people in St. Paul.  Our guide told us how much it cost to build each of the houses on our tour. It’s so interesting especially in today’s market.  Towards the end of the tour we saw Hill’s carriage house(260 Maiden Lane) for the mansion across the street. It’s been converted into condos and one of them sold for $800k recently. We all wondered what Hill might think of this, that one third of his carriage house is worth nearly as much as he paid to build that huge mansion across the street.

Next door to the Hill house was the home he built for his son Louis, apparently the favorite son.  Along the way our guide mentioned the many styles of the houses and you could see that each owner selected styles that appealed to them.  I don’t remember all of the styles mentioned but Richardsonian Romanesque was one that was repeated a few times. The Hill house is in this style. Others mentioned were Queen Anne and Italianate.  The following gallery contains the first several homes that we looked at, including the oldest standing structure on Summit Avenue built in 1858 at 312 Summit.

There’s a bit of a story about these next homes. They are called the Leitner and the Leitner-Young homes. These two owners were lawyers together and our guide joked that they must have liked each other so much they lived in a double house together(322 Summit). Some years later, Mr. Leitner had another home built right next door. Had enough of Mr. Young and family? Hmmm.  There is also a tunnel between the houses.

The following gallery contains photos of the next homes that we viewed.  Our guide pointed out that on the left side of the large red stone house the carriage area had been converted to a garage.  She pointed out the white house across the street(365 Summit) as this one’s her favorite on Summit Avenue. She likes that it’s the only white house on Summit and that it’s the first house on Summit Avenue that was owned by a female, Martha Bass.

We rested a little bit at “Lookout” Park, or Summit Overlook Park, which offers a nice view of the Mississippi river valley below as well as The University Club, a very exclusive club. It was even more exclusive during the time all the mansions on Summit Avenue were being built. In order to become a member you had to be a white male with an Ivy League education. So James J. Hill, who had only an 8th grade education but was one of the wealthiest men in St. Paul, could not become a member. But his son Louis, who went to Yale because his father wanted him to have the best education, could become a member.  Irony of ironies that.

After our short rest in Overlook Park we crossed Summit and our guide took us down Maiden Avenue(parallel to Summit), so named because the female servants for the wealthy people along Summit Avenue lived in row houses here.  We passed the building named The Commodore  where F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda resided when their daughter Scottie was born. This was also where many gangsters lived during Fitzgerald’s time. Check out this interesting article about those gangsters that I found on MinnPost. I had never heard of The Commodore before but Ruth had been there for a wedding reception and said it was very nice. I think I may have to check out the restaurant soon!

The tour ends at the St. Paul Cathedral which was designed by Cass Gilbert, a prolific architect who also designed the Minnesota State Capitol as well as the William Leitner house at 318 Summit noted above. Both Ruth and I really enjoyed this tour and would highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys architecture and/or the history of  some of the wealthiest people of St. Paul.  While doing research for this post I came across several interesting articles that I’m going to link here for anyone that would like to do further reading. Within the first link there is a photo of the oldest house on Summit (at 312 Summit) covered in ivy, quite the contrast to how it looks today.

Summit Avenue History: The Story of Saint Paul’s Famous Street

Another Summit Avenue walking tour

 

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