Wednesday, March 29, 2017

PUERTO RICO: OLD TOWN SAN JUAN

San Juan, Puerto Rico's capital city, is the second oldest European-established capital city in the Americas (behind Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic). It was founded by Spaniards in 1521, which explains why it is so hard to drive around Old Town--narrow streets, one-way signs, little parking, etc.

Still, Old Town San Juan is an immensely charming area that lends itself to long walks with frequent refreshment stops. After a morning at El Yunque National Forest, we headed for Old Town San Juan.

The first picture I took as we ambled along was of this niche in a church wall. It turns out that it is part of St. Anne's Catholic Church, one of the original churches in San Juan. I wish we had gone inside!

One of my favorite things about Puerto Rico is the unabashed use of glorious color. Puerto Ricans must think our California subdivisions shrouded in muted palettes are very dull.


It's easy to forget that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, and seeing familiar signs like this one was always a bit surprising:

Sunday, March 26, 2017

PUERTO RICO: ARRIVAL IN SAN JUAN, DINNER IN LEVITTOWN, AND AN ICE BATH IN EL YUNQUE NATIONAL FOREST

When my husband suggested a Caribbean cruise, I thought he was kidding. It sounded so ordinary, the kind of trip other people take while we are somewhere a bit more unusual. I have to admit, it wasn't my first choice for how to spend my spring break. However, our trip far exceeded my expectations. We had a blast.

I got a little confused with all the names for this area: the West Indies (so named by Europeans of Columbus's day to distinguish it from the East Indies), the Eastern Caribbean, the Greater Antilles (Puerto Rico), and the Lesser Antilles (the rest of the Islands we visited). Even my phone was confused. At one point I saw "Welcome to Jamaica" on my screen.

We flew to Puerto Rico and spent two days there before boarding a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that took us to the US Virgin Islands, St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia, and Barbados.

One of the things that made the trip extra fun was that our traveling companions were my brother and his wife from Utah, and my sister and her husband from Montana. We met up in New York's JFK airport. There is something magical about meeting traveling companions in an airport so far from home. Maybe the magic is that we were able to find each other! Twenty years ago before we all had cellphones, it would have been a lot harder.

Bob and I were lucky enough to get an upgrade to Delta Comfort seats on both legs of our journey, and I had a window seat for the flight into San Juan. Although there were no skyscrapers to speak of, I was really surprised by how large and modern the capital city appeared from the air.

Then I saw his huge iguana walking across the runway, and I realized we weren't in California anymore:

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

DOOR PENINSULA, WISCONSIN: CAVE POINT COUNTY PARK

Before I get into this last post in my Wisconsin series, I have to say a few words about Wisconsin cheese: There's a lot of it.

Wisconsin produces more cheese than any other state in the Union. In 2014, it produced 2.9 billion pounds of cheese, or just over 25% of all the cheese produced in the United States. In a 2006 article, the New York Times noted, "Cheese is the state's history, its pride, its self-deprecating, sometimes goofy, cheesehead approach to life." On our way north to the nethermost regions of Wisconsin, we stopped at a remarkable cheese shop with so many delicious options that it made my head hurt:

Player Shaped Cheese, Football Shaped Cheese, State Shaped Cheese, Cow Shaped Cheese (in both black & white and yellow)--they have cheese I never knew I wanted but did as soon as I saw them (never mind the lack of hyphens in the names):

They have more kinds of cheese than Germany has brats or France has breads:

What does a bear have to do with cheese? I have no idea, but he is cute, isn't he?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

TREATS IN WISCONSIN: CEDARBURG AND GREEN BAY

Traveling as a couple requires some give and take. In spite of having been married over 37 years, we have our differences. (Surprising, I know. I'm sure this isn't true for any other oldy-weds, right?)  Bob humors me by detouring for chocolate, art museums, and all things quaint, and I humor him by detouring for anything animal related and college football stadiums.

On our Wisconsin trip, we had some of that give-and-take that ended up being a win-win. We both got something out of the other person's passion.  

MY STOP was "historic" Cedarburg, a borough founded in 1845 by Irish and German immigrants. (How Germans and Irish could live in the same place is a mystery to me.) Together they built five dams, five mills, and a thriving community. Cedarburg has done a great job preserving their 19th century buildings, and coupled with a resort-ish main street shopping area, the town has become a tourist destination.

The St. Francis Borgia Catholic Church of Cedarburg was built in 1842 and is still going strong.

I was touched by several things in the St. Francis Borgia churchyard, including this plaque that reads, "In Memorium. Leona Lesage Grant & Rose Weber. Born to eternal life, November 9, 1999. Killed when struck by a car when they crossed the street after attending morning mass. Safe in the arms of Jesus." 

I was also intrigued by this statue of a woman holding what looks like an empty blanket:

This is the plaque on the base:

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

WISCONSIN: MILWAUKEE ART MUSEUM

Warning! This is a L-O-N-G post, but do not be deterred by length. It is another cataloging of art that I've seen and loved. It's mostly pictures with just a little text.

Coming upon the Milwaukee Art Museum is a lot like driving past the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles or the Space Needle in Seattle. The drama of the structure stops you in your tracks and makes you whip out your camera.

The building was designed by internationally renowned architect Santiago Calatrava and was completed in 2001. The triangle "wings" span 217 feet and can be folded in at night or during storms. To me, the design looks like a cross between a ship and an airplane or spaceship.

This bridge provides safe passage over a busy street in front of the museum and connects the museum to downtown Milwaukee:

The very long lines of the fountain echo the rigging cables seen the in photo above:

The inside architecture is just as spectacular as the exterior:

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