Posted by: RasmaSandra | August 1, 2022

Terrific Tacoma

Our armchair travels across the US have taken us to the west coast and the state of Washington.

Our first stop is Tacoma, a city that sits on the shoreline of Puget Sound and has a colorful waterfront district with restaurants and attractions.

One of the city’s highlights is the large natural space Point Defiance sitting on a peninsula that juts out into the Puget Sound on the far north end. The park offers different attractions like the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. The park has a scenic network of both hiking and biking trails.

While at Point Defiance Park, take the time to visit the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum. This is a replica fort that has been designed to resemble one of the first settlements in Puget Sound, dating back to 1883.

If you want to relax in the sun, head for Owen Beach while hikers enjoy the Five Mile Drive and Trails system.

The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is the only combination of both zoo and aquarium in the Pacific Northwest. You can see animals from all over the globe. There are Sumatran tigers, red wolves, and polar bears. The zoo has different habitats, like the Asian Forest Sanctuary and the Arctic Tundra. Two massive aquariums represent the South Pacific and Pacific Seas.

The Chihuly Bridge of Glass stretches from the Museum of Glass over Interstate 705. The bridge connects to the Washington State History Museum and Union Station on the other side. This is a unique pedestrian bridge that has three massive Dale Chihuly glass artworks decorating the walkway. The bridge is open 24/7 and has lights illuminating the glasswork at night.

Seaform Pavilion is one of the first installations when you come from Pacific Avenue. It features a glass ceiling stuffed with thousands of tiny glass pieces.

Next is the Crystal Towers, which resemble massive rock candy sticks. The blue sculptures are lit underneath at night.

The Venetian Wall is the third installation and is a cabinet-like structure housing over 100 decorative glass-blown vases.

The Bridge of Glass is a great place to see the sunset. The nearby Thea Foss Waterway has a beautiful lighted walkway and several local restaurants with menus you can check out.

America’s Car Museum is a world-renowned repository of classic and modern automobiles. These cars are part of the personal collections of Tacoma residents Harold and Nancy LeMay. There are hundreds of cars that span the last century of manufacturing. Over 300 cars are on display. Permanent exhibits focus on themes such as Route 66 and the British Invasion. Among the highlights is the popular “Speed Zone” package, including a ride in a racing simulator. The museum also hosts outdoor events, including several classic car shows.

The Museum of Glass, or MOG, is located in downtown Tacoma. The museum was constructed atop an old Superfund site. It is in the Thea Foss Waterway neighborhood and has unique architecture. The museum offers several exhibits dedicated to different glass and glassblowing arts. Exhibits rotate regularly, and one permanent exhibit features the world’s most renowned glassblowing artist, Dale Chihuly, a Tacoma native. The main attractions of MOG are the Hot Shop and glassblowing studio, which is the largest and most active glass studio on the West Coast.

The Washington State History Museum features the natural and cultural events that shaped the US state of Washington. It is located opposite the MOG and connected by the Bridge of Glass. The main exhibit is the Great Hall of Washington History which is a multi-room exhibit spanning the time before dinosaurs to WW II and beyond. Another permanent exhibit tells the story of immigration and how people found a second home in the Pacific Northwest.

The Tacoma Art Museum is housed in a lovely building. The Haub Family Collection of Western Amercian Art is one of the largest collections of Western American Art in the Pacific Northwest. Dale Chihuly also has some pieces on display. The museum regularly rotates exhibits. The museum offers art classes to kids, teens, and adults, as well as family programs.

The Foss Waterway Seaport is the northernmost museum in the Tacoma Museum District. It is housed in a former wheat-transfer plant from the early 1900s. It tells about the maritime history of the city, There are boats on display along with photographs and maritime artifacts.

Wright Park is a beautiful natural space near Tacoma’s Theater District. The park acts as an arboretum with interpretive information about the different trees. There is a playground and splash pad. You can also find a tranquil pond and fountain.

W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory is also within this park and offers amazing displays of flowers all year long.

Mount Rainier National Park is a great day trip to take. Mount Rainier is the largest mountain in the state and the most prominent peak in the Pacific Northwest, The Nisqually entrance to the park is one of the closest areas and most visited from Tacoma. You can stop and spend the night in the Longmire Historic District and Cougar Rock Campground. The entrance gives you access to Paradise, a region on the mountain’s southern flank.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | August 1, 2022

Visiting Brno

Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic. It is a university city.

Historic Zelny trh Square is the oldest part of the city and is known for its markets, cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and galleries.

Here you can find the city’s most attractive monument, the Baroque-style Pamas Fountain dating from the 17th century.

Visit the Peace Memorial, which is located on the site of the Battle of Austerlitz, a confrontation between Napoleon and a combined Russian and Austrian army.

The Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul sits atop Petrov Hill. It is considered to be one of the most important Czech cultural monuments. The highlights are the impressive Baroque interior, and the 84-meter-tall twin towers added at the start of the 20th century. You can see the remnants of the original city walls buried beneath the cathedral. Regular daily mass is held here.

St. Thomas’s Abbey includes the Mendel Museum commemorating Gregor Johann Medel, OSA, biologist, meteorologist, mathematician, Augustian friar, and abbot of St Thomas.

Spilberk Castle dates from the 13th century and was built on a commanding hill by Czech King Poemysl Otakar II. It has been a royal castle, fortress, and prison. Today you can find the Brno City Museum here with a permanent exhibit focusing on the architectural history of the castle and also the history of Brno. Concerts, and theater performances, among them a popular Shakespearian Festival, is held in the courtyard.

The Moravian Karst and Caves are amazing caverns containing over 1,000 known caves and gorges. Five are open to the public for self-guided tours with clearly marked trails. Some less-traveled caverns can be explored with a qualified spelunker as a guide.

Among the highlights are interesting stalagmites and stalactites as well as a boat tour along an underground river, The Macocha Abyss is a deep chasm overlooked by viewing platforms and footbridges. There are great hiking and biking trails.

Tugendhat Villa was built by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. It is considered one of the most extraordinary examples of modern architecture from the early 20th century. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Stiassni Villa was built for wealthy textile moguls. It is noted for its impressive interior and beautiful gardens.

Villa Low Beer houses a local museum, library, and cafe, Guided tours are available.

The Dietrichstein Palace was built in the early 17th century in the Baroque style, The palace is home to the Moravian Museum, which is the country’s oldest museum and one of the largest, with over six million historical artifacts. Among the permanent exhibits is a Moravian village in the Middle Ages.

The Anthropos Pavilion covers the earliest known period of human habitation in the area. The Moravian Museum administers some smaller museums as well, among them the historic Bishop’s Courtyard and the Palace of Noble Ladies with a children’s museum.

Saint James Church – Brno, Moravia, Czech Republic, Europe

The Church of St. James dates from the 14th century, It is a National Cultural Landmark and features an old Gothic crucifix, early 16th century reliefs, and a Baroque organ.

Veveri Castle is just 12 kilometers northwest of the city center. It sits high above the River Svratka and was founded in the 11th century, You can explore the interior by taking part in the English language guided tour. The castle also is accessible to various well-marked hiking trails, or to see nature all around, you can take one of the ferries that travel on the River Svratka.

The Brno Zoo was established in 1953 and is home to over 1,800 animals from nearly 400 different species. You can see polar bears, grizzly bears, and tigers, among others. Among the highlights are the animals native to Eastern Europe and Siberia, Kamchatka brown bears, and Arctic foxes. The zoo has excellent breeding programs and offers educational programs for children.

The Old Town Hall dating back to the early 13th century, is one of the city’s most important historic buildings. It was home to the city’s administrative offices until 1935.

Among the highlights is a Late Gothic Gate with elaborate decoration created by Antonin Pilgram in 1510. You can climb the 63-meter-high tower to get panoramic views of Brno.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | July 27, 2022

Ostrava at the Confluence of Four Rivers

In our armchair travels in Eastern Europe, we have arrived in the Czech Republic. This is a landlocked country historically known as Bohemia. It borders Austria to the south, Germany to the west, Poland to the northeast, and Slovakia to the southeast.

We begin our travels in Ostrava in the northeast of the Czech Republic and its third largest city sharing a border with Poland at the confluence of four rivers – the Oder, Opava, Ostravice, and Lucina.

Silesian Ostrava Castle dates from the 13th century and was built by a Tesin prince. One of its highlights is an impressive 16th-century tower. This fortress stood strategically along the rivers and the border with Poland. Mining tunnels beneath it have caused the castle to sink 16 meters into the ground. Inside is a museum dedicated to the history of the city and the torture methods practiced in the castle dungeons.

The mining museum at Landek Park is the largest in the Czech Republic. It includes a mining museum which is an interactive museum about the city’s mining and industrial history, Coal mines are on display, and you can experience what it is like to work in a mine. Guided tours are available.

One of the most popular tourist attractions is the Dolni Vitkovice. This structure was originally one of the most extensive ironwork facilities in Central Europe. There is a museum and a performing arts center. Some highlights are the Bolt Tower, built on a former blast furnace, and the concert hall, a room that was once a massive gasometer. Vitkovice hosts the Colors of Ostrava, a series of four-day music festivals.

The New City Hall houses a tourist information office. The tower here is the tallest viewing tower in the country. You can get a guided tour.

Masaryk Square is a pedestrian area and a great place to people-watch. In the main square you’ll see two monuments – the Marian Plague Column commemorating the end of an outbreak in 1702

and a statue of St. Florian, the patron saint of firefighters.

Michal Coal Mine is a preserved former coal mine that became a National Cultural Monument in 1995. You can take guided tours through control rooms and mine shafts.

Ostrava City Museum is housed in the converted Old City Hall and is a museum dedicated to the city of Ostrava. Here you can learn about the area’s geology, view mining artifacts, and see the art and furniture donated by local families.

Antonín Dvořák Theatre hosts opera, ballets, and plays. The interior of the building is decorated in the neo-Baroque style.

The Ostrava Zoo is the second largest zoo in the Czech Republic. There are many animals to see, and the zoo contains the House of Evolution teaching the theory, plus a safari, an Amazon Hall, and a garden and play area for kids to meet with farm animals.

Sareza Aquapark is a fun water park for families. There is a lake-sized swimming pool, splash pools and waterslides. The park also has a cafe, food court, and top amenities. You can find volleyball courts, a mini golf course, and walking trails.

You can tour the factory at Ostrava Brewery, see antique brewing devices, and sit at the tap bar to sample local brews. Beer is the national drink of the Czech Republic.

Ostravice River is a beautiful place to cool off and relax. Walking and biking trails follow the river into the surrounding countryside. Benches on which to sit and just relax. There are canoes and rafts to rent to get out on the river.

Stodolni Street is the city’s entertainment district and has more than 60 bars, clubs, and restaurants.

For shopping, visit Forum Nove Karolina, one of the country’s largest shopping malls.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | July 27, 2022

Las Vegas Your Wonderland

No trip to Nevada would be complete without visiting Las Vegas. When I began writing about Las Vegas, I realized that this would turn into a very informative and interesting article. So I published it on Vocal Media, and if you, please follow the link, you can read all about this fantastic city.

Posted by: RasmaSandra | July 27, 2022

Taking a Look At Carson City

Carson City is officially the Consolidated Municipality of Carson City. It is an independent city and the capital of the US state of Nevada.

The Downtown Container Park hosts evening entertainment with different performers. What interests people is the awakening of the giant Praying Mantis. It is accompanied by a drum circle, and the metal insect shoots flames from its antennae as it comes to life.

The Kit Carson Trail stretches for 2.5 miles and is a self-guided historic walking tour. It starts at the Capitol Complex and heads through the adjacent West Side Historic District. The Governor’s Mansion, century-old churches, and many historic homes can be seen.

The trail has nearly 50 landmarks with interpretive information by the properties giving historical details and information about the early history of Carson City.

The Nevada State Capitol Complex is a lovely place to see with tree-lined walkways. It includes other government buildings like the State Library and the Supreme Court. You can take a rest at the large plaza.

The State Capitol was constructed with native sandstone between 1870 and 1871 and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, It is one of the oldest capitol buildings west of the Mississippi River. Self-guided tours are available. It is home to the Battle Born Hall on the second floor, a museum showcasing the Trailblazing Nevada Exhibit.

The Nevada State Railroad Museum offers insight into the state’s locomotive history. The museum has several rail cars and locomotives inside. You can also see photographs and memorabilia. Many exhibits relate to the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad.

The Nevada State Museum offers a historical look at Nevada, the Silver State, There are artifacts and exhibits relating to the state’s geology and history.

The museum is within the historic Carson City Mint, dating back to the late 1800s. There are permanent exhibits ranging from native populations to the rocks and minerals comprising the state’s unique landscape.

Along the southeast shore of Washoe Lake, you’ll find the popular state park Washoe Lake State Park, just a 15-minute drive north of the city. The park offers recreation like hiking, camping, and horseback riding, There is a boat launch to get out onto the lake, and water sports are popular here. The lake has a beautiful backdrop of the Carson Range. Different kinds of wildlife make their homes here, including birds. There are dunes, beaches, and inland shrubs.

The Virginia & Truckee Railroad is a historic short line that dates back to the 1870s. The gold and silver boon put Virginia City on the map, and by 1872 the line connected to the larger Central Pacific Railroad. Today the V&T is a heritage line that offers scenic passenger trips from Truckee to Virginia City and back. It is a scenic route with canyons and tunnels.

You’ll explore Virginia City, Nevada, home to the 1870s Big Bonanza silver and gold boom. It is a historic mining town accessible on the V&T railroad. A boardwalk straddles both sides of the main drag and has several colorful storefronts.

You can see the Mackay Mansion Museum, Fourth Ward School Museum, and Saint Mary in the Mountains Catholic Church.

Bowers Mansion Regional Park is located on the west shore of Washoe Lake. There is plenty of lawn space for picnics, playgrounds, and a popular public pool.

This is the site of the Historic Bowers Mansion dating back to 1864, when silver mining was at a boom. Guided tours are available.

On the western edge of Carson City, you can enjoy Lake Tahoe with hiking and boating. There are several beaches like Chimney Beach and Sand Harbor Beach.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | July 5, 2022

Interesting Reno

In our armchair travels across the US, we have arrived in the US state of Nevada. The state is bordered by Oregon to the northwest, Idaho to the northeast, California to the west, Arizona to the southeast, and Utah to the east. Nevada is known as the “Silver State” due to the importance of silver in its history and economy. Most of the state is desert and semi-arid lying in the Great Basin areas within the Mojave Desert and Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada mountain range lie on the western edge.

Our first stop is Reno which is located in the northwest of the state on the border with California. It is known as the “Biggest Little City In the World.” It is known for its casino and tourism industry.

The National Automobile Museum is great for car lovers and is based on a private collection and has some 200 vehicles everything from vintage cars to modern ones. There are four galleries – 1890s-1910, teens-1930s, 1930s-1950s, and the 1950s and beyond. You can see cars once owned by such celebrities as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and John Wayne. On display are also two art collections with auto-related pieces like costumes and accessories. The museum features historical lectures on the development of cars. The “Passport to Adventure” program introduces children to the history of cars in the US.

Animal Ark is located just outside of Reno and it is just the place for animal lovers and families. It is a wildlife sanctuary that helps non-releasable wildlife survive in a beautiful rural setting. It mostly focuses on the rescue and rehabilitation of North American predators but also has some exotic species. You can find all kinds of animals here from tortoises to cheetahs to bears and wolves. The Ark has native trees and vegetation as well as boulders to create a natural habitat, They feature such exciting things as “Cheetah Runs” when you can see cheetahs race across the desert.

The Truckee River is accessible right in the heart of Reno. Here you can find walking trails along the river and bridges to cross as well as benches to sit and take in the view. Along the riverfront are restaurants with patios.

The Nevada Museum of Art has unique collections and features national and international traveling exhibits. There is a permanent collection of the artwork of E.L. Wiegand and the Sierra Nevada/Great Basin works. The signature exhibit is the Altered Landscape Photographs of a Changing Environment which is a collection that is focused on human interactions and interdependence with the natural world. There are also educational programs like art classes and workshops for teens and children. Guided tours are available.

The Stremmel Gallery is a contemporary art gallery featuring paintings and sculptures from Europe and America.

The Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts has found its home in an impressively designed building and offers a variety of performances from professional opera and ballet to rock concerts. Among the highlights are performances by the Reno Philharmonic Orchestra, AVA Ballet Theater and the perennial favorite Broadway Comes to Reno series. For some laughs there is are the Pioneer Underground comedy shows.

The Nevada Historical Society Museum is the oldest museum in Nevada and was founded in 1904. Among the highlights are the permanent collections “Living on the Land,” “Neon Nights,” and “Riches of the Earth,” which provide a fascinating insight into the human habitation of the Reno area over the past 10,000 years, from the early Paleo people to the Paiute, to the coming of the Euro-Americans and events right up to the present day. The museum also features an impressive research library, along with a well-stocked book store.

The well-known Reno Arch was created in 1926 and lights up the night sky as it looms over Virginia Street and Commercial Row in the entertainment district. It was originally built to honor the Nevada Transcontinental Highway Exposition. After the exhibition was over the town slogan was coined “The Biggest Little City in the World.” The arch is lit by LED bulbs and the colors are changed to coincide with celebrations and special events.

When you want to relax and do some swimming take a trip to lovely Lake Tahoe which is an hour’s drive south of Reno. The lake sits in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is great for outdoor activities like swimming, sailing, diving, and fishing, The freshwater lake is the second deepest lake in the US. There are many hiking trails to enjoy and sandy beaches to relax upon. In the winter you can find some of the best ski resorts here.

The Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum is also just called The Discovery. It is one of the newest attractions there are exhibitions focusing on areas of technology, engineering, science, math, and art, Among the highlights are interactive hands-on exhibits and galleries for exploration and learning.

For bowling fans, there is the world’s largest facility that is dedicated to ten-pin bowling the National Bowling Stadium. You can’t miss it because it has a huge 80-foot aluminum bowling ball on the roof. This is a 78-lane stadium that is also a big draw for professionals when competing in high-stakes tournaments. It is also a popular convention space and has been a backdrop for movies with bowling scenes like “Kingpin” starring Bill Murray and “Greedy” with Kirk Douglas and Michael J, Fox, You will also find the International Bowling Museum here with an interesting collection plus the Bowling Hall of Fame.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | July 5, 2022

Exploring Warsaw

Warsaw is officially known as the Capital City of Warsaw and is not only the capital but the largest city in Poland. It sits on the River Vistula in east-central Poland.

The historic Old Town is of interest and has impressive architecture and monuments. It has earned the status of being a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are alleys and passageways to explore with guildhalls, churches, and burgher houses.

Old Town Market Square used to be the epicenter of commercial life in the city. You can see Renaissance and Baroque merchant houses in different colors. There is a mermaid figure on the fountain in the center that holds a special meaning for Warsaw and in the summer you can sit at a restaurant table and watch the city going by.

The Royal Route will take you past all the historic landmarks starting at Castle Square and heading south for 15 kilometers arriving at Wilanow Palace. Along the way are churches, parks, palaces, institutions, and townhouses.

Wilanow Palace will give you a look into the majesty of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth before Poland was annexed by Prussia and Russia in the late 18th century. It was built in the Baroque style and has a parterre with two terraces with topiaries, broderie, and statues that symbolize love. Outside the castle are many different statues.

Among the highlights are the White Hall with mirrors, the King’s Library, the King’s Bedroom, and the North Gallery with statues and amazing ceiling frescoes.

Lazienski Palace and its lovely eponymous park is Warsaw’s largest park there are two orangeries, an amphitheater, a planetarium, promenades, water features, and monuments of national standing. One of the most prestigious monuments is in honor of composer Frederic Chopin which was designed in 1907 in the Art Nouveau style.

Warsaw Royal Castle is at the southern entrance to the Old Town and is a Mannerist and Baroque Castle with its last reconstruction in the 1980s. It is a museum where you can see the apartments of the 16th century King Sigismund II Augustus and visit the House of Parliament. There is also a collection of artwork from the 16th to the 18th century.

Warsaw Royal Palace, Castle Square (Plac Zamkowy) with the Royal Castle and Sigismund’s Column at sunset.

Castle Square when Poland’s capital moved from Kraków to Warsaw in 1596 the square beside the castle became the cornerstone of the largest Empire in Renaissance Europe. The man responsible for the change is Sigismund III Vasa who is commemorated by a bronze statue atop an 8.5-meter column.

Copernicus Science Centre is the top science museum in Poland and opened in 2010. The center offers over 400 interactive exhibits across six zones. Among the highlights is the World in Motion which has an earthquake simulator and a moving model of a human skeleton on a bike. Webcams offer footage directly from a falcon’s nest at the Palace of Culture and Science and the gorilla enclosure at the Warsaw Zoo, There is also a planetarium with 3D sound.

Copernicus Monument is located in front of the Copernicus Science Centre and is to honor the Renaissance astronomer and mathematician. It depicts Copernicus with a compass and armillary sphere.

The Palace of Culture is the tallest building in Poland at 237 meters. There are four theaters on its 42 floors with multi-screen cinema, two museums, a Congress Halle seating 3000, government offices, academic institutions, and private companies. On the 30th floor is an observation terrace for great views over Warsaw.

The National Museum is the biggest museum in the city and one of the largest in Poland. Among the highlights is the collection of antiquities with some 11,000 Egyptian, Greek, and Roman artifacts. You can enjoy a collection of Polish Medieval Art from the 14th and 15th centuries including artwork produced for churches and cathedrals, including devotional paintings, altarpieces, and sculptures. There is also a lot of art from the Early Modern Age and the 19th century.

St Anne’s Church is one of the oldest landmarks in the city and was founded in 1454. In the 17th century the church was rebuilt four times and now has a Neo-classical facade. Between the columns and pilasters are statues of the Four Evangelists. The church has a stand-alone bell tower from which you can get awesome views of Warsaw.

Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier is located in Pilsudski Square, the largest in the city, and a monument for unidentified soldiers who died fighting for the county.

The monument housing the tomb is a fragment (three arches) from the arcade that once belonged to the Saxon Palace, demolished after the Warsaw Uprising. Under the central arch is the tomb and eternal flame, watched by the Representative Honour Guard Battalion of the Polish Armed Forces.

At the stroke of every hour 365 days a year the guard is changed. The monument and square are the focus of ceremonies for the Polish Armed Forces Day every 15 August.

The Holy Cross Church is a Baroque monument that was built in the first half of the 18th century. It was rebuilt after being blown up by the German army in 1945. Here Frederic Chopin’s heart was brought to the church in an urn by his sister and embedded in a pillar in one of the chapels.

Warsaw University Library Garden is near the Vistula River and once you walk up the exterior stairway you’ll find one of the largest roof gardens in Europe. The garden is open from March to November and has fountains, streams, arbors, and lawns. The views of the city are fantastic. There are many sculptures from the mid-18th century.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | June 26, 2022

Fantastic Phoenix

Phoenix is the capital of the US state of Arizona. This city is known for its year-round sun and warm temperatures. Here you’ll find the Valley of the Sun with high-end spa resorts.

Papago Park located in the southeast part of Phoenix is a lovely natural area. You can enjoy hiking along the nature trails and climbing upon the red rocks all over the park. There are routes for cycling and places for golfing. You can enjoy the two most popular trails the Elliot Ramada and the Double Butte Loop. These will take you to the strange rock outcroppings that are a key feature of the park. Occasionally you can see wildlife mostly rabbits and at times bighorn sheep. Within the park, you’ll also find the Desert Botanical Garden and the Phoenix Zoo.

The Desert Botanical Garden features both nature and art, There are art installations all over the gardens which are home to many plants and display examples of vegetation from deserts all around the globe. You can also enjoy butterflies and hummingbirds that are attracted by the many different plants. There are trails that wind their way through the gardens and a particularly wonderful time to visit is in the spring when everything is blooming.

The Phoenix Zoo is home to over 1,400 animals among them endangered species. It’s especially known for its Sumatran tigers and orangutans. There are four different trails leading through the zoo – the African Trail, Tropics Trail, Arizona Trail, and Children’s Trail. The zoo offers children’s programs and events, splash pads, and play areas. A highlight of the zoo is animal encounters. People enjoy The Monkey Village which offers an open exhibit with monkeys swinging by. Children enjoy the Red Barn, a petting zoo with sheep, goats, and horses. The zoo also has a 4D theater.

Heard Museum dates back to 1929 and is known for the art and culture of the Indian people of the Southwest. You can see displays of basketwork, pottery, jewelry, textiles, and a large collection of kachina dolls. The museum features galleries and outdoor courtyards with traditional and contemporary Native American art. Outside is a sculpture garden. You can relax at the outdoor care with courtyard seating.

The Phoenix Art Museum has a permanent collection that displays the art of the European Renaissance and Baroque period, the Far East, and the American West. You can also see modern and contemporary artwork, fashion design, live performances, and films. The building is a work of art by itself and was designed by New York architects Tod Williams/Billie Tsien& Associates in the mid-1900s. Since the founding of the museum in 1959, it has developed into one of the leading art museums in the American Southwest.

South Mountain Park/Preserve is one of the largest city parks in the US and covers more than 16,000 acres of a desert landscape. There are miles of hiking trails, trails for horseback riding, and also for mountain biking. There are great views over the desert. If you come at night you can see fantastic views of the lights of the city. The highest point in the park is Mount Suppoa. The highlight here is the highest lookout that can be reached by trail or road – Dobbins Lookout at 2,330 feet.

The OdySea Aquarium is the largest of its kind in Arizona. There are many interesting exhibits as well as three different touch pools. There are over 70 exhibits, many of them interactive. The aquarium is home to more than 6,000 aquatic animals from penguins to sharks to stingrays, otters, and octopuses. There are also sloths and tropical birds. One of the highlights is helmet diving where you descend into a pool filled with fish in a special diving suit or you can have an interaction with the penguins.

Arizona State Capitol Museum is set in lovely gardens and was the seat of government until 1974. The state building is now a museum that focuses on the history of Arizona. Exhibits are on four floors with a unique display of the Arizona flag made of 113,998 Lego bricks. Each Lego brick represents one mile in the state.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | June 26, 2022

Beautiful Krakow

Krakow is a city in southern Poland near the border of the Czech Republic.

The Krakow Old Town is a UNESCO Heritage site. The Market Square has been a place of action since the Middle Ages. Here you can find bars housed in the cellars of Medieval buildings, there are street cafes and restaurants. Among the landmarks are the central Renaissance Sukiennice or Cloth Hall and the Town Hall Tower (the hall was demolished in 1820.)

Main market square, cloth hall and town hall tower seen from above, Krakow, Poland

Sukiennice or Cloth Hall is the world’s oldest shopping center. There are plenty of souvenirs and food stands.

Wawel Castle is a mix of Gothic, Renaissance, Rococo, and Romanesque architecture. It was home to Polish kings and queens until the 1600s. It has also been used as a barracks, a military hospital, and the official residence of the state governor after WW I.

The Dragon’s Den is an exciting thing to tour. According to legend the Smok Wawelski dragon used to live beneath the mound of Wawel Castle and would terrorize the city residents. It came to an end thanks to a shoemaker and a sheep stuffed with sulfur. There is a statue of the dragon breathing real fire.

Wawel Cathedral stands behind the old walls of the Wawel Castle and is the most important church in Poland.

Planty Park is the green belt that covers the whole area of the historic Old Town. There are pathways that weave their way past sculptures, fountains, and brick towers.

The Barbican is the only remaining gatehouse of the Medieval fortifications that once encircled the city. Today theater productions and other art shows are hosted here.

St Florian’s Gate marks the start of the Royal Route. As you pass through you can hear buskers playing as you head into the Old Town.

The soaring hill of Kosciuszko was raised in 1823 to honor its namesake national hero, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, who fought for Poland against the Russians and the Prussians in the 18th century. From the top of the hill, you can see awesome views of the city, and on clear days see the Tatra Mountains to the south.

St Mary’s Basilica has a redbrick facade and twin spires. It was founded in the 13th century but destroyed during a Mongol invasion and there are many replacements. The basilica still hosts the hourly bugle call – the Hejnal Mariacki.

The Vistula River weaves its way through the heart of Krakow. Its banks host wide green spaces, summertime markets, beer bars, and boat cafes. You can hire a bike for riding or go strolling or jogging watching the boats on the river.

Wieliczka Salt Mines offered up tonnes of valuable rock salt from the earth below the city. Today you can see sculptures carved in subterranean passages and St Kinga’s Chapel – an underground cathedral made of salt.

Auschwitz-Birkenau offers an informative insight into the horrors of the Holocaust and the destruction wrought by the Nazis on Jews and other minority groups. The memorial and museum are located about an hour from the city center.

The Rakowicki Cemetery is full of graves and grand sepulchers of Polish artists, politicians, poets, film actors, generals, and others. On All Saint’s Day on November 1, you can see thousands of candles twinkling in honor of the dead.

The Ojocow National Park is a 20-minute car ride from Krakow, There are walking trails and deep caves, Supposedly haunted castle ruins, and traditional country taverns.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | June 2, 2022

Terrific Tucson

Tucson, Arizona is known as the “City of Sunshine” and is home to the University of Arizona. It is the second largest city in the state.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is located in Tucson Mountain Park which covers about 20,000 acres of Sonoran Desert landscape. There is an extensive trail system that is used for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The park abuts the west section of Saguaro National Park and you can expect to see wildlife like mountain lions and bobcats among others. There is also one of the best campgrounds the Gilbert Ray Campground.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum offers visitors a closer look at the desert landscape around Tucson. Displays show living animals and plants which are native to the Sonoran Desert among them some endangered species such as the Mexican wolf, thick-billed parrot, ocelot, margay, jaguarundi, desert pupfish, Sonora chub, bonytail chub, razorback sucker, and Gila topminnow.

Along the footpaths you can see hummingbirds flitting from flower to flower. There are about 40,000 plants representing 1,200 species. You can see live animal presentations among them the Raptor Free Flight where haws fly over the audience. There is a stingray touch tank and an aquarium with 14 tanks showcasing the aquatic life of the desert. The Gulf of California along the Riparian Corridor area features river otters, bighorn sheep, and beavers.

In Saguaro National Park you can see the signature saguaro cactus which is the tallest species in North America. There are hiking trails all through the park and among the animals and reptiles that live here are Gila woodpeckers, cactus wrens, desert tortoises, jackrabbits, and Gila monsters (lizards).

There are two sections to the park – the more popular Saguaro East – Rincon Mountain District and Saguaro West – Tucson Mountain District. Saguaro East has wonderful paved driving roads with short hikes while Saguaro West had more rugged beauty and offers awesome hikes and scenic drives on gravel roads.

Mission San Xavier del Banc is known as the “White Dove of the Desert” and was established by the Spanish Jesuits in 1770. The ornately decorated church offer a fine example of Baroque architecture. Today it is used by the Tohono O’odham Indians as a spiritual center. Visitors can walk through the old church and the grounds. The museum has artifacts that high light the history of the Misson and there is a 20-minute video.

The El Presidio Historic District is one of the oldest inhabited sites in the US. It was once the home of the Hohokam Indians and in 1775 it became the site of a Spanish military fort that later would become the City of Tucson. In this area you can see a mix of Spanish-Mexican and Anglo-American architecture as well as restored adobe houses.

Among the main tourist attractions is the Old Town Artisans, a restored marketplace from the 1850s. There is an entire city block of galleries and stores housed in unique buildings. You can relax as the El Charo Cafe which claims to be the oldest continuously operating family-owned Mexican restaurant in the US.

Catalina State Park located just north of Tucson, is a desert regions with picnic areas and offereing great hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails. You can enjoy seeing wildlife and it is home to some of the best camping in the Tucson area. Visitors enjoy seeing the Romero Ruin archaeological site. A walking trail will take you through the desert to the remains of a Hohokam Indian village.

The University of Arizona in Tucson is home to the impressive Arizona State Museum, Mineral Museum, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona Museum of Art, the Flandrau Science Center, and the Campus Arboretum.

The Arizona State Museum documents 10,000 years of Indian cultural history, It was established in 1893 and is the oldest and largest anthropology musuem in the southwest US. Among the exhibits include the largest vessel collection of Southwest Indian pottery, a comprehensive Hohokam artifact display, one of the top Navajo textile collections, and hundreds of Mexican folk masks.

The Mineral Museum offers a vast collection of gems, minerals, and meteorites from the US and all over the globe.

The Center for Creative Photography, created in 1975 by the one-time University of Arizona President John P. Schaefer and renowned photographer Ansel Adams, features tens of thousands of photos and focuses on the history of North American photography.

The University of Arizona Museum of Art has a large collection of artwork from the old masters through to contemporary art.

St. Augustine Cathedral was built in the Mexican Baroque style in 1896. Looking at the facade you can see the intricate coat of arms of Pope Pious XI and carvings of various native desert plants. Inside the door hangs an impressive crucifix dating from the 12th or 13th century.

The Reid Park Zoo is a small zoo with a collection of exotic animals. It includes such favorties as elephants, bears, lions, tigers, giraffes, and other animals. The zoo is laid out in a large loop, with three smaller loops, including Expedition Tanzania, Tropical Trail, and the Lee H. Brown Family Conservation Learning Center. Among the attractions is the Reid Park Zoo Express train, a wet play area, and daily activities that change regularly.

Colossal Cave is a short drive east of Tucson in nearby Vail. It is one of the largest dry caverns in the US. Three different tours are available: Classic, Ladder, and Wild. Depending on your level of adventure and fitness. The 2,400-acre park also features a museum, butterfly garden, guided horseback riding, wagon rides, as well as hiking and horse trails. Basic camping is also available but there is no electricity or water on the individual sites

The Tohono Chul Botanical Gardens have a wonderful collection of plants from the Sonoran Desert. One of the highlights is the Cereus plant that blooms only at night. There are eight different outdoor exhibits ranging from a desert palm oasis to a wall highlighting the geology of the area. Two walking trails will take you through the southern section of the garden. There are also several permanent artwork collections on display from artists including Mark Rossi, Fred Borcherdt, and Ned Egan.

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