Showing posts with label Traveling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Traveling. Show all posts

September 4, 2023

Hippo Haven at Adventure Aquarium

A few weeks back, the boys and I met some friends at Adventure Aquarium, where they've just reopened the Hippo Haven exhibition.

We've been to Adventure Aquarium a few other times, and have always been impressed with the hands-on, family-friendly exhibits, and Hippo Haven was no exception.
When you walk in, you're greeted by a dramatic vista of the exhibit.  The use of contrast in shadow and light makes for a memorable entrance, almost like waiting for a performance on stage.  The atmosphere is enhanced by low-playing music as well, kind of a low hum that adds to the drama of the exhibit.
 There's so much to take in and see as you enter the space.  You have the option of going upstairs to Hippo Lookout for a wider view
or meandering along the path to see the two female hippos, Button and Genny, close up.
Genny was born 13 years ago in Disney's Animal Kingdom, while Button was born 17 years ago in Parque Zoological de Leon in Mexico.
They're amazing creatures that seem to tiptoe-dance along the bottom of their water habitat.  It's so cool how graceful they appear, considering what large animals they are--they can actually outrun humans!
There are a few vantage points from which you can view the hippos, even being able to see them under water in the lower level.
The fish swimming about are an added bonus, making the hippo habitat a bit more authentic to their natural living conditions in an African river.
The kids were amused by the hippo gals' "toy", a torn up tractor tire.

As you make your way to the lower level of the exhibit, you can sit and watch Genny and Button or watch a video about hippos.
Sprinkled throughout the exhibit are interesting facts about these beautiful animals.
Having worked in museums, I'm impressed with the way this exhibition has been reworked.  It entices visitors to enjoy and learn about these amazing animals in a unforgettable environment.

Of course we had to stop and see Lizzie before we left, along with the other amazing displays of aquatic life throughout Adventure Aquarium.
Adventure Aquarium is open year-round, and I'd imagine this time of year is a great one to take preschoolers and toddlers because school is back in session and field-trip season hasn't yet begun.  And of course weekends are a great time to visit with older children.   We've been to Adventure Aquarium multiple times over the last few years and always learn and see something new.
Disclosure: I received tickets to Adventure Aquarium to facilitate this post.  All opinions are my own.

August 13, 2023

Unplugged, Partially Recharged

It's been like a blog power outage around here the past week+.  I was at the BlogHer conference, then Chris ripped apart our kitchen sink and cabinets in anticipation of the appliances that will be arriving as part of the Maytag Dependable Kitchen Moms campaign,
and then we headed to Bethany Beach for our usual summer getaway.
Hence I haven't had much time for writing, though my camera certainly filled in the gaps.  I sometimes forget how much I love photography, or more accurately, I forget to make time for it.  And forget to have my camera on hand during ordinary moments.
This week we return back to the routine, which is always a hard adjustment.  As the old adage goes, I need a vacation from vacation.  It was nice being mostly unplugged the last week or so, but now I'm overwhelmed with emails, posts that are due, and general household and childcare responsibilities again.

However it was great to recharge a little and step away from the house, and to reconnect with Chris especially, since most of his weekdays are spent at work.

How are you recharging this summer?  Or savoring the last weeks of it?

October 19, 2023

The Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel

During our weekend in Washington, DC, we had the pleasure of staying in the Liaison Capitol Hill, an Affinia hotel only a few blocks away from the US Capitol building.  It is a great little boutique hotel, with a highly-rated restaurant, Art and Soul, owned by celebrity chef Art Smith, on the premises.  We didn't end up eating there, since it's focus is on Southern food and there weren't a lot of vegetarian options for us. 
The Liaison Capitol Hill is a funky, modern of hotel within walking distance to the National Mall and Union Station.  I like how the decor hints at its location in the Nation's capitol without going overboard with stars and stripes and stuff like that. For example, in the lobby there were huge Warhol-esque paintings of political figures like Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The lit votive candles along the lobby walls each night are a nice touch. Actually, all of the mood lighting throughout the lobby was lovely and created a welcoming, fun atmosphere.  
The front desk staff was warm and sociable, and attended to any questions we had.  Near the desk was a table with complementary mango-raspberry fruit drinks for guests to enjoy while waiting. Yum!
View of ArtBar from the lobby
It's nice staying in a modern hotel where the details all come together, rather than a bland chain hotel where you don't notice anything.
There were little surprises around each corner, like this chainmail curtain (below, to the right of the room numbers sign) that cordoned off the housekeeping supply area on our floor.
Our room was nicely appointed too, with the typical amenities like cable TV, bath supplies ample seating, and a hair dryer.
I did wish that the rooms had mini-fridges, which are helpful for dinner leftovers and drinks.
It's so nice to have a full-length mirror in the room.

I did wish that internet access was complementary, like at many hotels.  We paid $9.95 for one night of it, which really helped us figure out where we wanted eat at or visit when in the city, rather than relying just on guidebooks.
One other nice touch was the walking kit that the hotel's PR representative left in our room.  It included a pedometer, a deck of City Walks cards for the city, an MP3 player with music and a walking tour, a towel, water and a visitors' guide--all packaged in a nice woven box.
They really thought of everything that a newbie to the city might like for stepping out on their own and exploring DC.
Though small, the bathroom was clean and cheery. Outside the door was the coffee station and a mirror
While inside, there were plenty of surfaces to park any of your personal accouterments.
Most impressive were the eco-friendly toiletries.  Why hasn't someone thought of this idea before?
Rather than all the waste from tons of teeny bottles, why not make refillable pumps that are mounted on the shower wall?  I loved the scents of this earth-friendly brand, Sprout Out by Gilchrist and Soames. 
It was so easy to get around the city from this hotel, since it's right in Capitol Hill. With Union Station only a few blocks away, it was easy to hop on one of the Circulator buses that criss-cross the city, or even hop on the Metro.  We did end up parking at Union Station because the rates in the Liaison's garage were more than double what we paid per night at Union Station.  But the walk really wasn't far, even with luggage.
We really were impressed with the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel, and will definitely return on our next visit to DC.
Disclosure: I received a media rate on my hotel room at the Liaison Capitol Hill for writing an honest review of my stay at the hotel.

October 18, 2023

Washington, DC

We had a nice getaway to DC this weekend, in celebration of 10 years of marriage.  It was great visiting galleries and museums, walking the city, and, most importantly for me, enjoying a few leisurely meals!  Certainly rare for parents of a 2 year old.
 Me acting all tourist-y above
It was a picture-perfect weekend in terms of weather, a bit breezy and cool but wonderful for all the walking we did. We stayed at the Liaison Hotel (review to come) which was in Capitol Hill, so we were close to the Mall. 
We walked around the National Gallery of Art on Friday--it had probably been at least 10 years since we visited the museum.  We stopped to admire the gorgeous oculus in the dome. 
It was a rare opportunity to view some paintings by the Dutch artist, Johannes Vermeer. I'm always surprised at how small they are.
A bit blurry for lack of a flash (not permitted in museums)
 There was an entire room of Rembrandts, or school of Rembrandt, in some cases.
I'm happy to have seen a painting by a woman artist, Judith Leyster. I remember learning about this painting, a self-portrait, in one of my many art history classes.
 Posing outside the entrance
Our evenings were spent walking some more, and eating! We had Japanese one night, then Indian, our favorite.
On Saturday we headed back to the Mall and to the Freer and Sackler galleries, which had a lot of Asian art.
We ended up buying a set of fancy chopsticks for $5 in the gift shop. What a purchase! But we were in need of some, since we can't seem to find the ones my grandfather brought back from being in Japan after WWII (oops!).

I insisted that we visit Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian's American History Museum.  Chris obliged, but waited outside the room (it was dang crowded!)
Above is her wall of copper pans, which were in her kitchen at Cambridge.  In fact, the entire kitchen was transported from there.
I love the colors of her cabinets, though I think the kitchen is a bit too crowded with stuff for my taste.
We had some lunch, took the bus to Georgetown with its fancy shops (actually left Anthropologie, without spending anything), then walked some more and ate some more.  All in all a great weekend, other than the Phillies losing game one of the NLCS.  But last night made up for it.

Now back to the daily grind of changing diapers and playing with cars! 
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