April 29, 2014

X Is for X Marks the Spot


Last year, we had some pretty wonderful adventures. So in today's post, X will mark the spots we enjoyed. These are pretty much in date order:

Statue
Parque La Carolina, Quito
1. Quito — While the city seems less easy to live in than Cuenca, Quito has a lot to offer. A World Heritage site, there are many historic buildings, some of which are being spectacularly reconstructed. 

If you go, I recommend the hop-on-hop-off city tour. It covers a ton of area (Quito is a long and narrow city, so best to get a general overview). We stayed at the Community Hostel in the area adjacent to the old Produce Market and about three blocks from the Old Town. Not the most beautiful neighborhood, but super convenient. And the hostel is one of the best we have ever chosen. These days, it is across the street from a new brew pub, Bandido Brewing, owned by a bunch of guys who met at Willamette University in Oregon. So the beer should be pretty good.

Temple of the Sun, Ingapirca, Ecuador
Photo by Delphine Ménard
2. Ingapirca — This location contains the largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador. So if piles of ancient rocks and mystical locations are your thing, this pretty much fills the bill. Even higher altitude than Cuenca, those with any breathing difficulties should take note and maybe pack along their inhaler.

3. Piscataway, New Jersey, for the Steampunk World’s Fair — One of the best conventions we ever have attended. Large welcoming community, terrific entertainment, creative vendors, and amazing costumes. If you are intrigued by this thing called Steampunk, SWF would be a good introduction. 

As a bonus, my friend Judy, who lives about an hour away, met us there, and we had a great lunch and a fun few hours to catch up. K. W. and I had never been to that part of New Jersey, which is near Rutgers University; it is a beautiful part of the state.

4. Madrid — One of the most enjoyable aspects of travel is discovering that some place, which only had been of marginal interest, was truly marvelous.


Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid
Photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra
That was Madrid for us. The sheer beauty of the architecture, the music, the museums, the dancing, the food, the shopping, the people — it was all pretty mind-blowing. Of course, what made it even more special, was that we met up with our friends Allison and Fred. It was so much fun to share the wonders of this special city with them. Plus, they introduced us to a well-located and fairly priced hotel. Always good to have that one favorite hotel in a big city.

Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre
Photo by Aurelien Guichard
5. London — London is, well, simply London. Theater, ballet, opera, symphony, art, and friends. K. W. had a book signing at Forbidden Planet with fellow writers Tim Powers and Jim Blaylock, which went well. And we met a ton of new folks, including Joseph Remesar, one of the first to write a Spanish-language Steampunk novel. 

We spent time with friends at pubs and at the Southbank CenterPlus, we had a big surprise. Our friends Jared and Dorian's honeymoon trip fleetingly coincided with our stay. We only were able to get together for a little bit, but it was wonderful to be even a small part of their celebration. As always, we left London way before we were ready. Especially since we totally missed seeing Le Corsaire by the English National Ballet, which was high on our To-Do list. But that's traveling for you. Can't do everything. 

Pulteney Bridge, Bath
Photo by Michael Maggs
6. Bath —We lived in Bath for two year in the mid-1980s. This was our first time back, and we had a marvelous time visiting friends and seeing how much, and in many ways, how little the city has changed. All the children we knew are now quite grown up with children of their own. We had a lovely time getting to know them as adults. Our plans are definitely to spend much more time in Bath in the near future. 



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2 comments:

  1. You've been some neat places! I saw some Mayan ruins in Mexico and thought they were so cool! If you have time, and want to, you can check out my X post.

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    1. Lisa -- Thanks for stopping by. I certainly will check out your blog.

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