Travel

If you’re looking for something fun to do in Kansas City on a Friday night, consider heading over to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. We started out with the $5 happy hour in the Bloch building lobby.

Then we had dinner in Rozzelle Court. The food — though delicious — is a bit pricey so we each ordered large salads and split an order of crab cakes. The atmosphere is the real show stopper. You feel like you are dining in a courtyard in old world Italy. If you look up, you can see about a dozen Rodin sculptures on the second floor balcony. Free music is also featured. We listened to a jazz duo as we ate dinner. 

On occasional Fridays, the Nelson hosts artist walks by recipients of the Charlotte Street Foundation awards. On March 8, fashion designer Peggy Noland shared slides of her wearable graffiti-type clothing and the ever-changing art installations on the exterior of her shop. One week, a cheshire cat adorned the front door of her Crossroads District shop Peggy Noland Kansas City; the next week featured a giant pink hand with purple nails. She has designed clothing for numerous music groups and is creating the costumes for a yet-to-be-named movie. Rihanna’s stylist discovered Noland on Instagram and hired her to create the costumes for the singer’s upcoming world tour.

Noland finished off the evening by taking us on a walking tour of five pieces in the gallery that influenced her work in some way. Abstract painter Mark Rothko was a major force, while Thomas Hart Benton was not. In the midst of the tour, she discussed creativity, ownership of an artist’s inspiration and where she found her ideas.

If you are looking for a similar evening of fun, check out the next Charlotte Street Artist Walk. Poet Glenn North will be featured on April 12 at 6 and 7 pm. The event is free but tickets are required. Include the happy hour and dinner in Rozzelle Court, and you will have a memorable night.

 

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Cool Kansas City Events: November

by Cathy on November 2, 2012 · 0 comments

in Kansas City,Travel

Proving that once again Kansas City is NOT a flyover state, there’s plenty to do around town in November. Check out these fun, frivolous festivities:

Friday, November 2, 2012
First Friday -
Excerpts from Kansas City Ballet’s The Nutcracker
6–7:30 p.m. FREE Family Fun Night, no reservations required
The Frost Studio in Kansas City Ballet’s Bolender Center
You and your family will experience the unique opportunity to peek behind the curtain of Kansas City’s favorite holiday tradition for a 90 minute Open Rehearsal.  Enjoy different sequences of The Nutcracker as you move throughout the Bolender Center, visiting multiple studios where the ballet is being worked on by the professional company, plus dancers from the Kansas City Youth Ballet. It’s a casual, come as you are, stay as long as you’d like evening.

Sunday, November 4, 7 pm
Rock legend Lindsey Buckingham performs at Johnson County Community College as part of the Performing Arts Series.

Wednesday, November 7, 6-9 pm
Kansas City’s Got Talent: Corporations from around the metro will be competing for top honors in the second annual corporate talent show at Boulevard Brewing Company, 2501 Southwest Boulevard. Proceeds benefit the Women’s Employment Network.

Saturday, November 10, 4-7 pm
Second Saturday in Weston
Stroll into Unique Shops & Galleries for late night shopping and enjoy in-store specials, local wine and beer, food samples and live entertainment. Have fun with every Second Saturday…shops open late in downtown Weston.

Thursday, November 29, 6:30  pm
Last Bite Cookbook Dinner at Story’s Restaurant in Prairie Village
Featuring Special Guests Pete Dulin and Roy Inman Dinner includes signed copy of Last Bite: 100 Simple Recipes from Kansas City’s best chefs and cooks and four courses from Chef Carl Thorne-Thomsen based on recipes from the book.

Ongoing

KC Strip – KC Trolley Tours: For only $10, you can hop a trolley and visit up to eight entertainment districts, as well as 100 restaurants and bars with exclusive specials. An easy way to experience Kansas City’s nightlife.

Howl at the Moon, “The World’s Greatest Rock ‘N Roll Dueling Piano Show“, is partying five nights a week in the heart of Downtown at the Kansas City Power and Light District. Howl at the Moon’s talented musicians will have you singing and clapping along to everything from Barry Manilow to Lady GaGa.

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I work as a freelance consultant, which means that my office is my home or a good coffee shop. I’ve sampled my share of coffee shops in Kansas City and my favorite is … The Roasterie in Brookside. This is also a locally owned company with an interesting story.

The most important criteria for judging a coffee shop is the coffee and the brew rocks. I’ve never had a bad cup of coffee here — my favorite is the Vanilla Latte. While you’re at it, order one of their amazing pastries. The cinnamon or blueberry scones are particularly good.

Best of all, the atmosphere is conducive to getting a lot of work done. One wall is entirely windows so the light is terrific, and if you are particularly lucky, you can snag a table on their outdoor patio. You’ll find a laptop on nearly every table because this is a favorite haunt of both the self-employed and the students at nearby UMKC. I’ve written half an e-book at this place! Judging by my lagging work output in recent weeks, I need to visit the Roasterie again soon! 

If you need to take a break from work, visit the cute shops right around the corner … The Dime Store, World’s Window, the Reading Reptile and the best gift shop/artist emporium in Kansas City — STUFF.

Leave a comment and tell me YOUR favorite coffee shop in Kansas City. I need to find some additional work locations!

(Photos courtesy of Man Seeking Coffee.)

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Kansas City has become a rich stew of flavorful local artists but when we visited Art Westport a few years ago, we found it, well, a bit bland. Last night, though, we sampled the various art from local artists and found it quite tasty. The funky Westport area was alive with artists’ booths full of photography that makes you want to travel the world, crafted jewelry that makes you want to blow your paycheck in one night and paintings that are so varied, I couldn’t begin to describe them. Here’s just a brief sampling:

(Photography by Karen Geisler of Photographic Escapes)

(Work from artist Nyle Gordon)

(Jewelry by Michelle Babcock of Michelle’s Enamels)

Then we ate a late dinner at the Beer Kitchen, where we split a Reuben sandwich that a reviewer on Yelp.com said was “the best reuben you will ever eat. Period.” It was pretty darned tasty. We also split a “build-your-own mac and cheese” that we topped with burnt ends and bacon. It was so bad for ‘ya that it was GOOD. This place had over 200 reviews on Yelp — I know, 200! I don’t even like beer but this place is great. I did have a blackberry pear cider, though, and I liked it — a lot.

So, if you head over there today during this gorgeous weather, you can catch Art Westport on its last day. If you don’t make it this year, be sure to mark your calendar for next September. It was a winner.

 

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Best Bike Trail in Kansas City?

by Cathy on June 3, 2012 · 3 comments

in Travel

So our last child is going to college. You would think this is mid-life crisis time but neither one of us wants to buy the red convertible. We bought a different kind of ride — bikes! We are now on a quest to explore the Midwest (U.S.?) on two wheels. We live in the southern part of the city that has countless wooded, paved trails. I love being outdoors but I’ve got to admit that an urban ride is a lot more interesting. Here is where we went.

1. We rode on the Trolley Track Trail, the site of the last streetcar line in Kansas City. We parked in a lot outside The Well in the Waldo area — we were one of several cars with bike racks — and picked up the trail there. The next time we do this trail, we will probably start in Brookside because we had to contend with a few busy streets to cross from Waldo into Brookside.

2. The trail drops off and picks up just past the shops in Brookside. This is where the trail is particularly lovely. We drove past lovely stone churches, through old city parks and past bungalow, cottage-type homes in Brookside. (Did I mention that I would love to live in Brookside?)

3. From Brookside, we drove past the edge of the UMKC Campus and on down to the Plaza. The Plaza section of the trail runs along Brush Creek. The view is lovely but the cleanliness of the water? Not so much. (That’s my bike companion, also known as husband, in the photo.)

4. We traveled along Brush Creek, then turned around and went up the hill to the Plaza Library, where we locked up the bikes. Then we ate lunch outdoors at The Mixx, a great restaurant across the parking lot. I had the Garden of Eden salad with chicken, cranberries, (hold the Gorgonzola cheese) with a champagne vinaigrette and a whole-grain roll. Amazing! Wish we could have taken the leftovers home on the bike.

5. Then we spent time in the Plaza Library cooling off. In addition to an amazing view of the Plaza, the library has some fascinating exhibits. One was a photo exhibit of the architectural firm, Hare and Hare, that designed much of Kansas City … the Country Club Plaza, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s original building, much of the Sunset Hill Neighborhood … and on and on.

6. From there we headed back to Brookside and stopped for iced coffee at the Roasterie. From there, we headed back.

For a list of other great bike trails in the KC area, visit Trails/KCBike.Info or just keep following our blog. We plan to cover them all so stay tuned — and I promise to take more photos.

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Long before the Internet, TED Conferences, and South by Southwest, new ideas and innovations were introduced at the World’s Fairs. Countries, companies and individuals participated in order to learn from one another, fan the flame of customer demand and move the needle of progress forward. The World’s Fairs exhibit at the Kansas City Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art provides the back story on these events, which shaped the modern world.

The inspiration provided by the World's Fairs challenged manufacturers to create jewelry from new metals, such as aluminum.

Innovation in science and technology: Innovative manufacturing technologies and materials, such as plastic, synthetic rubber, poloyester and Plexiglas were showcased at the World’s Fairs.

British porcelain manufacturers were inspired by Indian textiles presented in World's Fair displays.

Cross-cultural influences: As one example of this, Prince Albert pushed for London to host the 1851 World’s Fair because he wanted to raise the level of design in his country by exposing artisans to the work of other countries. For example, British manufacturers were inspired by Indian metal work and textiles, which is reflected in this vase.

National pride: Finland was trying to break away from Russia at the turn of the century so the pieces the country entered in the 1902 World’s Fair in Turin features Finnish motifs.

Style: Japanese style was first introduced to the rest of the world at the World’s Fair in 1855. Prior to that, much of the world had no exposure to this mysterious country. The Z Clock, which debuted and the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago, introduced sleek modern style that used less materials and lowered production costs.

History: Many objects presented at the World’s Fairs used the modern manufacturing techniques of the time paired with classical designs of another era.

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Make It Count: A Cool Video

by Cathy on April 12, 2012 · 0 comments

in Ideas,Travel

Actor and director Casey Neistat was hired by Nike to make a video with the theme “Make It Count.” Instead, he used the money to travel the world with his friend Max until the money ran out. (Smart man!) The resulting video he created is pretty amazing but then, hey, I love to travel. I also love the inspiring quotes that appear in the video.

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We took the same Carnival Cruise twice, three years apart, and booked two wildly different shore excursions in Progresso, Mexico. The first excursion was tourism at its worst — local merchants constantly pestering us to buy cheap souvenirs as we attempted to sunbathe on the beach. This most recent excursion was a grand adventure, rich with local culture, beauty and physical activities. (Though the scuba nightmare and the human sacrifices lent a chilling air to the experience!)

Our excursion began with an hour van ride to a small Mayan village. (Yes, the Mayan people still exist!) A primitive dirt road wound its way past simple, side-by-side shacks and led to our first stop, a bicycle shop, We hopped on mountain bikes and trekked along bumpy paths through the jungle to a cenote — a natural sinkhole filled with crystal clear water. The cenote resembles a water-filled cave with stalagtites and stalagmites.

The Yucatán Peninsula is the site of the largest series of cenotes in the world. Two creepy facts: First, the ancient Mayans performed ritual (as in human!) sacrifices at the cenotes and just a few days before our visit, a scuba diver got lost in the vast array of underwater caves, never to be seen again. Thankfully, our snorkeling in the cenote was not nearly that dramatic. Before we jumped in the water, a Mayan shaman “blessed” our adventure with a Mayan prayer. Then he told us just a bit about the local plants and herbs he used to cure a host of physical maladies among the local villagers. An interesting guy!

After a bit of snorkeling, we pedaled to a larger cenote and snorkeled there. Then, we hopped back on our bikes and pedaled through the jungle to an open-air cottage with a thatch roof. Here the local Mayans fixed us a tasty, authentic Mexican lunch. (And no, we did not get sick eating it because they washed all the produce with bottled water.)

The van ride back to the cruise port found many of us dozing. We were exhausted but man, it was a good adventure! If you take the Carnival Cruise to the Yucatán Peninsula, be sure to book the Biking and Cenote Snorkeling Expedition.

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The next time you travel to New Orleans, plan to stay at a charming historic hotel that is a destination in itself — the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter. This ornately furnished gem is only one of three hotels named a literary landmark by the Friends of the Library Association. (The others are the Plaza and the Algonquin in NYC). My family and I spent the night there a few nights ago under the same roof that once sheltered Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, and a long list of famed southern writers. The Hotel Moteleone wasn’t just a place to hang their hats — it figured into the lives and writings of many literary greats. Here is a sampling:

Nobel prize winner Ernest Hemingway covered the Spanish Civil War as a journalist and the Hotel Monteleone is proudly memorialized in his short story “Night Before Battle”, which takes place during that war.

Truman Capote was fond of telling interviewers that he was born at the Hotel Monteleone. Actually, his mother stayed at the hotel leading up to his birth and the hotel staff transported her to a local hospital to give birth.

Rebecca Wells, author of the Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, features the Hotel Moteleone in her novel Little Alters Everywhere.

In addition to the Nobel Prize and a Pulitzer Prize, William Faulkner received the Legion of Honor Award and was interviewed at the Hotel Monteleone by New Orleans newspaper columnist, Albert Goldstein. Faulkner biographer Joseph Blotner has written that the Monteleone was Faulkner’s favorite hotel.

Eudora Welty, born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1909, is best known as a Southern writer of short stories and novels (although she also worked professionally as a photographer). During her lifetime she was the recipient of numerous awards, including several O. Henry Awards and the Pulizter Prize. The Hotel Monteleone’s famous Carousel Piano Bar and Lounge is immortalized in her short story, The Purple Hat.

Playwright and novelist Tennessee Williams first visited the Hotel Monteleone as a young child, and always claimed it was his favorite hotel. He was so enamored of it that he included it in his play The Rose Tattoo.

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STA Travel Australia sent filmmaker Rick Mereki, actor Andrew Lees and traveler Tim White on an amazing trip around the world: 44 days, in 11 countries, 18 flights, totaling 38,000 miles. Three one-minute videos feature their journey of a lifetime. The videos each focus on a different subject: eating, learning and (see the previous post) traveling. Where do I sign up for this job?

Eat:

Learn:

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