Posts Tagged ‘art’

Day out in the city

4th May 2011 by Helen

The city is huge – so on this first visit we could only see a tiny fraction of what is on offer.   After nearly being run off the road by a lorry (truck) the other day, we were more than happy to let Jaime give us a lift in.

We wandered round and appreciated some of the art on the pathway that runs along the middle of Paseo de la Reforma, what is in effect a city centre dual carriageway, before spending a few hours at the anthropological museum, and only managing to visit one floor.  The museum has a vast collection of pre-hispanic artefacts.

Prescott & Overland Journal

17th February 2011 by Helen
outside Overland Journal offices

outside Overland Journal offices

Tuesday morning, after our night in Walmart car park we set out to find a more comfortable RV park and came across one at Willow Lake.  It was very pretty there, nestled in amongst the low level rocks and trees, and not far from the two main lakes here.  We’ve seen our first flies in months.  Guess it must be getting warmer.  Have to get the mozzie net on the tent fixed soon!

Over the next few days we met up with and enjoyed the hospitality of the people from Overland Journal (by coincidence their offices turned out to be virtually opposite the RV park), spent some time exploring Prescott itself, including a lovely lunch in a popular café called the Raven.

There are quite a few art shops and galleries here too.  I really enjoyed a stroll round the Arts Prescott Gallery: a co-operative of several artists who have got together to display and sell their work in a shop in the middle of town.  Some of the art was the more expected paintings, but there was also jewellery, pottery, and creative use of natural materials such as gourds turned into decorative bowls, ornaments, jewellery, etc.  They had a guest artist, 17 year old Noel Brill, displaying his hand carved wooden spoon, using his own designs but inspired by the traditional Welsh love spoon.  Memories of home flooded back.

Willow Lake

Willow Lake

Thursday afternoon we hiked our way round Willow Lake.  We should have left earlier really.  Although the hike was just under a couple of miles the terrain meant it took us about two and half hours.  We’d parked in the car park near the edge of the lake and realised half way round that we were tight on getting back for the 7.00 pm closing time.  We got back at 6.50 pm.  Only to find that closing time was 7.00 pm or dusk – and it was now dark.  The warden was not overly happy sitting in the car park waiting for us!!

Cities

1st November 2010 by Helen

It’s been interesting (to me at least) to see how some of the cities we have seen have differed and reflected their countries.  This is just one of my ramblings of comparison.  We’ve not set out to visit cities, in fact, in a Land Rover Defender set up for overlanding and camping, cities have been more of an inconveniences.  Nonetheless, they have provided some interesting (I think) comparisons.  If you don’t agree, please ignore what follows.

Almaty is no longer the capital of Kazakhstan, since the creation and development of the of Astana.  Yet Almaty is still a huge draw for many visitors.  It still retains the feel of being the capital, is a modern and bustling city, with rich and poor alike.  Like most Western cities little of the rural lives of the country are reflected here.  Perhaps the only reminders that Almaty is in Kazakhstan come in the frequent power cuts and daily water cuts throghout much of the city.  Whatever outsiders think of the long term rule of the president there is no doubt that many people, young and old, are very supportive of him and the way he has brought Kazakhstan through the difficulties of separation from the USSR and into the modern world.

Ulaanbaatar was sprawling and very cosmopolitan, in complete contrast to the rest of the country.  Although some people were living in gers, mainly on the outskirts of the city, Mongolian culture and history did not predominate.  It could have been any Westernised city anywhere.  A plethora of Irish pubs suggest a large ex-pat community, and indeed many Western faces could be seen in the city, far more than mere tourism would suggest.  Perhaps more than the other cities we have seen, here we saw the extremes of poverty and wealth that often charactrise cities around the world.

In Russian cities it would be impossible to forget which country you are in.  They all have at least a Lenin Street, or a Lenin Square, and a statue of Lenin.  However, of all the Russian cities we visited it was Vladivostok that stood out as the most individual.  The importance of the Naval history in this port city was everywhere, from the museum WWII submarine, to the countless statues of naval heroes and lists of honoured naval serving men.  Water dominates this city, the sea is visible from almost everywhere.  Yet here too, the old history of the country is clearly evident in the traditional wooden houses still in occupation in the sprawling suburbs.  The docks, the railway station and the bus station nestle side by side, overlooked by the statue of Lenin.  And it’s here that the Trans Siberian railway ends, having taken all but a week to travel from the capital city of Moscow.  Despite this tourism is not pandered to and it’s hard to find somewhere even to buy a postcard.

2010 11 01 - 6 - signposts in anchorage (4) - Copy

It's a long way home from downtown Anchorage

2010 11 01 - 10 - cook monument in anchorage - views across the bay (9)

Captain Cook's view across the bay - the one he never saw because he never actually landed here!!

Anchorage has been another contrast.  Today we walked ‘downtown’, following a walking tour suggested in the Frommer’s guidebook. Downtown is very touristy, much like central London, bristling with ‘souvenir & craft’, ‘craft & Native art’, and ‘Native art & souvenir’ shops.  Whilst we both enjoy Native art, the commercialism manages to cheapen it and we were disappointed.   Tourism is evident elsewhere too, in the supermarkets and other stores, with Alaska hats, books on Native history, Alaskan wildlife and scenery.  With the white topped mountains looming over the city, and it reported that wild animals frequently stray into the city, they can perhaps be forgiven for the unabashed promotion of the glories of this the 49th US State.  Statues to Captain Cook, looking out over the magnificent bay, and Eisenhower, along with some of the public art such as the bronze Blue Whale and the Tlingit totem poles, are a welcome change from the more touristy representations of Alaska.  Anchorage is a young city, beginning, according to the guidebook, as a tent camp for the workers building the Alaska Railroad in 1915.  Hardly surprising then, that to us the architecture of the city gives it a kind of dated 60’s feel – big modern buildings in the often characterless style of the 60’s.  A few traditional wooden buildings have been preserved but they are few in number.  But it’s clean, tidy and well maintained.  And easy to navigate, laid out as it is in the traditional American grid system.  Anchorage even postdates the time when Alaska was bought from Russia in 1868 for 2 cents an acre, although I’m sure $7.2 million seemed like a lot of money at the time.  The Russians have kicked themselves ever since the Klondike gold rush, and the discovery of other minerals and oil!

Ah well, wonder what the next city will bring?