Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Prague: A true Bohemian city

Prague. Think music because no matter where you walk around the capital of the Czech Republic, you will see a concert notice or hear classical chamber or orchestral music.

The astronomical clock in Prague. (Jacobs photos)

The astronomical clock in Prague. (Jacobs photos)

Or think Central European history because it was the capital of Bohemia and home to Charles IV.

Whatever your interest, however, you won’t have enough time to see and do everything. So, first, sign up for a tour of the city and secondly, plan to come back.

Here are just a few places to put on the itinerary. BTW, the city has an excellent public transportation system of subways and buses. Cabs can be expensive so if taking one ask how much before you get in.

Your best place to stay is in the historic area because it’s colorful, fun to stroll and easy to find an outdoor café for a needed break. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This is where you’ll see a crowd gather in the Old Town Square (Stare Mesto) by the Prague Orloj, an astronomical clock on the Old Town Hall’s south wall.

If there near the hour, pull out the camera because the 12 apostles can be seen strolling past the clock’s windows.  Alert: the clock is undergoing repair so is not expected to be back in place until sometime August, 2018.

The cave in the White Horse Restaurant

The cave in the White Horse Restaurant

A great place to do dinner in the Square is at the White Horse, a protected UNESCO structure with a 12th century cave.

Although located near the astronomical clock, it is not a well-known touristy restaurant.

The dishes lean toward traditional local cuisine but also include an excellent salmon.  Yes, you eat in the cave if not outside on the Square.

Before dinner get your exercise walking the Charles Bridge which is near the Square.

Spanning the Vltava River, it is a way to go from Old Town to Prague Castle. Charles IV started construction on the bridge (replaced an earlier one) in the mid 14th century but it wasn’t completed until early 15th century.

See its Gothic Old Town Bridge Tower  and photograph the statues even though they are replicas of the original ones from about 1700.

Definitely visit the castle during your stay. It really is a huge complex of nearly 750,000 square feet that includes palaces, garden a cathedral, basilica, monastery, museums and the President of the Czech Republic’s official office.

While in the castle district area visit the Strahov Monastery with its gorgeous ceilings. The monastery has a noted brewery.

If looking for a restaurant that is noted for its beer and its local cuisine, check out Budvarka where Budweiser is rumored to have started. Its in the Devjice area and has a great duck confit and is a place where locals go.

Strahov Monastery Library

Strahov Monastery Library

Before leaving Prague, go see the Jewish synagogues. They are spectacular.

Surrounded by Old Town, the Jewish Quarter known as Josefov, contains a famous cemetery, the Jewish Museum, a Franz Kafka monument and five synagogues worth visiting.

They are the Old-New Synagogue considered Europe’s oldest active one (1270), the Spanish Synagogue (1868), the Pinkas Synagogue (1535, the Klausen Synagogue (largest one, 1694) and the Maise Synagogue (1592).

Oops, we haven’t even talked about the other museums, the city’s many galleries or its festivals.

Looking forward to next visit.

Jodie Jacobs

Five Memorial Day Weekend ideas

Chicago Memorial Day Parade is on State Street May 27. City of Chicago photo

Chicago Memorial Day Parade is on State Street May 27. City of Chicago photo

Say Memorial Day to some folks and the response is it’s the time to commemorate people who died while in military service. To others it signifies the beginning of summer vacation.

On some town’s websites are parades, ceremonies and even a history note explaining that Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day and started shortly after the Civil War.

On others, it begins the period from the end of May through Labor Day when beaches are open, lifeguards are on duty, several outdoor fests and tourist activities take place and bus routes are added.

Five suggested Memorial Day Weekend activities in the Chicago area range from fireworks and festivals to a parade and party plus there’s a bus route bonus.

 

Parade

The City of Chicago is holding a Wreath Laying ceremony in Daley Plaza at Dearborn and Washington Streets at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 27, 2017.  It will be followed by a parade that starts at noon from nearby State and Lake Streets and travels south on State to Van Buren Street. The Grand Marshal is Marine Corps Commanding General Robert S. Walsh. The parade, among the country’s largest, includes veterans’ groups, marching bands and antique military vehicles. Visit Chicago for more info. The national Memorial Day remembrance is 3 p.m. Monday, May 29, 2017.   For an excellent government-based web-site with history and other info visit Government.

 

Parties

View the city while partying at Roof on the Wit Memorial Day Weekend. Mike Reeves photo

View the city while partying at Roof on the Wit Memorial Day Weekend. Mike Reeves photo

Chicago House Party – DJs and performers take over Millennium Park,’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion and North Chase Promenade Tent May 27, 2017, from 2 to 9 p.m. Expect a variety of “house music” a style started in Chicago that is danced to throughout the country. The grassy areas are good for picnics or dancing. For performer schedules check City of Chicago. Millennium Park is at Randolph through Monroe Parkways along Michigan Avenue.

 

ROOF on theWit, a fun space with great cocktails and views of the city is starting its JETSET s series May 26-27, 2017. The party transports  guests to Barcelona, Spain  minus the airline hassle. ROOF on theWit is 27 stories above the Wit Hotel at 201 N. State St. at Lake Street, Chicago. For reservations visit Roof. JetSet weekends start at 2pm.  For more information and reservations, visit Roof or call  (312) 239-9502.

 

 

Festivals

The Belmont-Sheffield Music Fest runs from noon to 10 p.m. May 27 and May 28, 2017. A street party that has been going on for more than 20 years, the fest attracts excellent bands, good food, beer and wine booths and also features arts and crafts. A $5 entry donation benefits the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce. Entry is at 3200 N. Sheffield, Chicago. Vist Chicago Events for more information.

Dovetail owners Hagen Dost and Bill Wesselink welcome visitors to their brewery.

Dovetail owners Hagen Dost and Bill Wesselink welcome visitors to their brewery.

 

Celebrate “Mayfestiversary,” a block party at and around Dovetail Brewery, 1800 W. Belle Plaine Rd. Dovetail is celebrating its first anniversary with Begyle Brewing which is marking the second  anniversary of its taproom. There will be food trucks,  live music and games. B elle Plaine Avenue will be closed from Ravensood to the CTA line. Part of proceeds benefit Foundations of Music.The festival goes from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. May 27 and 28, 2017. For more information visit at Dovetail or call (773) 683-1414.

 

Fireworks

Navy Pier is always good for a holiday outing but the Chicago attraction restarts its summer fireworks display Saturday, May 27 at 10:15 p.m. Among the ways to celebrate the weekend is to cruise on the Spirit of Chicago or Odyssey or stop in at the Miller Lite Beer Garden to hear Hot Rocks do Rolling Stones tributes from 2 to 11:30 p.m. BTW the Rolling Stones Exhibitionism upstairs at Navy Pier is worth seeing.  Navy Pier is at 600 E. Grand Ave. , Chicago, IL 800 )595-PIER (7437) For more information visit Navy Pier or call (800) 595-PIER (7437).

 

Bonus

The CTA’s No 10 Bus that goes to the Museum of Science and Industry starts again Memorial Day weekend. That means it will be easier to get there from downtown Chicago to see the terrific Robots  exhibit.

 

A Day in LA

 

Sometimes you go to a city to visit relatives or friends. Other times you are passing through on the way to a vacation spot. Then there are those times the city is your vacation destination but there are so many things to do you’re not sure how much to fit into one day.

To help you start out the year on a you-can-do-it note, here is a Day In series for towns that ought to be on your  bucket list or when visiting friends and family. Don’t be surprised if the people you visit say they’ve been meaning to go there. People who live in an area often don’t  play tourist in their own city.

The recently redone Petersen Automotive Museum. A subway system is currently being extended just outside and below the museum.

The recently redone Petersen Automotive Museum. A subway system is currently being extended just outside and below the museum.

The Day In series spotlights two main places and a restaurant, however, one or two alternatives are also included. Tip: no matter what the reason for the trip or what you do – plan some down time.

 

First in the series: A Day in LA

A red building wrapped with a chrome-like grill, rises from one corner.  Across the road, another modern art structure seems to beckon you to go over there and see what’s inside. You’re at Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles,

Park the car within the red building’s garage and you are ready to go exploring.  You don’t have to try this building first. Both corner buildings are filled with treasures.

Inside the eye-catching striped structure is the newly remodeled  Petersen Automotive Museum. You don’t have to be a car buff to fall in love with the beautifully designed Bugatti, silver “gullwing” Corvette, Steve McQueen’s 1956 Jaguar XKSS or the Batmobile, all currently on exhibit.

Start on the third floor and then head down. You might come across a car your parents or grandparents drove such as  a red 1956 Bel Air Chevrolet convertible or a black 1922 Chevrolet 490 series coupe that the great grandparents might have driven.

The Petersen Automotive Museum is at 6060 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036

 

Chris Burden's 'UrbanLight'

Chris Burden’s ‘Urban Light’

Across the road is what everyone in LA knows as LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with its 21st century remodeled look and added buildings.

The very contemporary, multi-winged-topped structure on the campus’ western corner includes Renzo Piano’s Workshop-designed Broad (pronounced Brode) Contemporary Art Museum.

Often referred to as BCAM, it opened February 2008. It is adjacent to the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion added in 2010.

But first, pull out the smart phone to take photos of your group wandering through artist Chris Burden’s “Urban Light” outside LACMA. It’s a fun collection of old-looking street lights. Then, stop at the LACMA Will Call window for tickets to  “Picasso and Rivera: Conversations across time.”

Tip: Many LA area attractions including this exhibit need tickets so instead of waiting in long lines, purchase or reserve them on line to be picked up at the venue’s Will Call.

The ‘Picasso and Rivera’ show reveals how much the two famed artists were alike as they changed styles ranging from classical to abstract. Opened December 2016, the exhibit is in the BCAM section of LACMA through May 7, 2017.

Anyone who missed  the “Moholy-Nagy Future Present” show at the Art Institute of Chicago fall of 2016, can catch it at LACMA Feb. 12 through June 18. It’s a fabulous exhibit of  László Moholy-Nagy’s photographs, paintings, graphics and commercial designs.

Moholy, as he usually was called, was an influential Bauhaus teacher, founder of the Chicago Institute of Design and a pioneer of combining art with technology.

LACMA also has fine Asian, Latin American and Islamic collections. So you might want to divide up the time to do more than see a featured exhibit.  The museum is at 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90036.

 

Now about food. It would be a shame to be in the area and not take advantage of lunch at Canter’s Bakery and Deli about a mile east of the two museums on Fairfax Avenue. Since opening in 1931, the famed deli has been the background for the ‘Mad Men’ series and has fed such celebrities as Barack Obama, Wayne Gretzky, Mick Jagger and Larry King. Canter’s is at 419 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036.

 

Canter's Deli has been serving up some of the best Jewish food in the LA area since 1931

Canter’s Deli has been serving up some of the best Jewish food in the LA area since 1931

An alternative suggestion: The Broad Museum that opened to well deserved hype September, 2015 is worth a stop when in LA.

You will want to snap photos of the building, inside and out, see its exceptional collection of contemporary art and check out Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room.”

Museum admission is free but reservations are essential. If going there, get in line once inside for a timed ticket to the Infinity Room. The Broad is at 221 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

 

As to getting to these places, just be patient. Almost anywhere else you would likely time your forays to miss the rush hour. However, it always seems to be rush hour when driving the LA freeways. Since you are likely visiting or traveling with a companion take the car-pool lane.

Tips: Attractions are less crowded when they first open in the morning. Whatever attractions you choose, base your day on location. The places suggested here are near downtown LA.

Photography by Jodie Jacobs

 

New visitor center makes navigating Chicago easier

Visiting Chicago can be overwhelming without a little concierge help. You know to toss questions at a hotel concierge but when downtown you now have another concierge desk ready to answer those “where are” and “how do you get there” questions.

A new Chicago Visitors Center recently opened at Macy's on State Street

A new Chicago Visitors Center recently opened at Macy's on State Street

Macy’s on State Street added a terrific Visitor Information Center in June in conjunction with Choose Chicago, the city’s main tourist information bureau.

The Macy’s center has a concierge desk, maps, brochures and interactive kiosks that have dining, attractions and shopping suggestions.

When you stop in the store, ask for directions to the fountain and its main escalators. Then go down to lower level near the candy and food area to find the Visitor Information Center.

The kiosks there will not merely light up with restaurant suggestions for several types of cuisines and tell you how to get to your restaurant of choice by bus, car or walking, it will also print out the directions so you don’t have to write them down. Same goes for attractions such as museums and shopping categories.

Restaurant choices and how to get there are on interactive kiosks

Restaurant choices and how to get there are on interactive kiosks

However, you can also check at the desk for savings passes and other information.

Macy’s has the International and Domestic Savings Program that gives a 10 percent discount on most store purchases to visitors from outside the store’s shopping region. Qualifying documentation such as a government issued ID is needed. The Savings Pass can be printed at interactive kiosks or from the concierge desk. BTW, remember on your travels to ask for a Macy’s savings pass when at the company’s other stores.

Visit Macy’s State Street for more information.

Photos (C) Jodie Jacobs

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