Author Archives: Joe Benning
Washington D.C., which at the moment is unseasonably warm, is chock full of extraordinary museums. We decided to take advantage of the weather and visit some of them. First was the National Gallery of Art. It is currently exhibiting work of John Singer Sargent as well as some of the paintings of Johannes Vermeer. After the National Gallery it was on to the Freer Museum. The Freer featured an exhibition of Asian Art as well as an exhibition that included the Peacock room designed by James McNeil Whistler. Photo taking is permitted so I put an iPhone to work. Here are some samples below.
Through the University of Virginia, the state runs an arboretum that is part of the Blandy Experimental Farm. Officially known as the Orland E. White Arboretum it is more popularly known as the State Arboretum of Virginia. It is open to the public.
The Experimental Farm is huge—to the tune of 700 acres willed to the University of Virginia by Graham Blandy in 1924. Consistent with Blandy’s wishes it was used to train college students in agricultural methods. Orland E. White, the first director of the farm also used it as a field research station. There is actually a long and unfolding history of the farm which you can read about at this link.
One of the more interesting sections of the farm is Gingko Grove, which contains a large number of Gingko trees whose leaves change from green to a spectacular yellow in Autumn.
We visited the farm recently to and wandered around the grounds. Here (below) are a few photos from that trip.
The Potomac River and its waterfalls can be seen from Maryland or Virginia. Great Falls National Park is located on the Virginia side and is a great place to visit the falls, have a picnic, or just go hiking. We stopped by the other day to take a look at the falls and the tree leaves tuning colors as fall begins to head towards the winter months. We were not disappointed. Here are a few shots from out visit.
Cape Breton Island is one of the premiere sightseeing places to visit in Nova Scotia. There is just a wealth of things to do and see. We went on the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park where we went on a hiking trail, visited the Bay of Fund, got on a boat and did some whale watching. We were lucky on two counts: the weather was glorious and we saw a lot of whales. Some photos are below.
We spent most of the 3rd day in Nova Scotia visiting Lunenburg and Peggy’s Cove. Lunenburg is known for its Victorian architecture in the Old Town Section. The Old Town section is one of only 2 urban communities in North America designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Something like 70% of the original colonial buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries are still in use with their colorful facades.
After Lunenburg we were off to Peggy’s Cove and its famous lighthouse. Peggy’s Cove is a small, picturesque fishing village with one of the most photographed lighthouses in Canada. Or at least that’s what the claim is, although it’s hard to tell how that could be measured. Needless to say, some photos of these places are below.
The next day we saw some more of the city of Halifax, which is the largest city in Nova Scotia and a major economic center. But with a population of about 440,000 people it is kind of a small city by most standards.
The city is an important tourism center with numerous National Historic Sites including Citadel Hill which is where Ft. George is located. Downtown Halifax is a major shopping center which includes Scotia Square, the Maritime Mall and Spring Garden road where the city maintains a public garden.
The city is home to numerous colleges and universities including Dalhousie University, University of Kings College, Mount St. Vincent University, NSCAD University, and Nova Scotia Community College. With so many colleges and universities located in such a relative small town, there is no lack of student bars and there is always good pizza to be had.
We wandered around the Halifax Harbor Boardwalk, visited the Maritime Museum, went for a ferry ride to Dartmouth and back, visited the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the cemetery where many of the victims of the sinking of the Titanic are buried, and had several excellent meals at local restaurants.
Some photos of our wanderings are below.
We arrived in Halifax in early September to begin a 10-day tour of Nova Scotia, a beautiful place. As we made our way around we managed to catch hurricane Fiona, which made landfall on September 24. Most of the damage appeared to be in Cape Bretton, which we left the day before.
Needless to say Halifax Stanfield International Airport was shut down so all flights were cancelled. Consequently, we had to stay for a day or two extra before we could Geta flight out. Note to self: Don’t ever fly Air Canada again. They were a nightmare to deal with.
But Nova Scotia was beautiful, and the people were exceptionally nice. Our Road Scholar trip started in Halifax where we visited (among other places) Citadel Hill, Fort George, the Titanic cemetery where many of the ship’s victims are buried, the Maritime Museum, the public Gardens of Halifax and the boardwalk. I included a few shots taken at some of these spots in Halifax. Please see below.
Friday we left Seville for Madrid for a 3-day weekend. Seville is a nice, relatively small city. Madrid on the other hand is very large and magnificent. Magnifico as they say. With a population of 3.4 million and a metropolitan area population of 6.7 million it is the second biggest city in the European Union (EU) by its administrative limits. Only Berlin is larger. Measured by area it is also the second largest in the EU with only Paris being larger.
Madrid is stunningly beautiful with its Gothic and Spanish Renaissance architecture. It is the capital of Spain and there is a plethora of art museums to visit, including the world famous Prado Museo (Museum). We visited that museum as well as the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum which features one of the largest private collections in the world. It is chock full of works by Manet, Monet, Gauguin, Picasso, Joan Miro, Kandinsky, Rodin, Goya and el Greco to name a few.
We also visited the Reina Sofia which featured more modern art, especially Picasso’s famous Guernica which dates from 1937. After the city was bombed, Picasso worked feverishly to produce the huge paining—its size is 11.5 x 25.5 feet—in three weeks. It remains one of his most famous works.
Madrid is a large and important city that easily fits into the league that includes London, Rome and Paris. If you get a chance, it’s worth a visit.
Some photos from our weekend are below.