Tag Archives: travel

Review: The New York Botanical Garden and the Holiday Train Show®

The New York Botanical Garden is an iconic living museum and, since its founding in 1891, has served as an oasis in this busy metropolis.

As a National Historic Landmark, this 250-acre site’s verdant landscape supports over one million living plants in extensive collections. Each year more than one million visitors enjoy the Garden not only for its remarkable diversity of tropical, temperate, and desert flora, but also for programming that ranges from renowned exhibitions in the Haupt Conservatory to festivals on Daffodil Hill.

The Garden is also a major educational institution. More than 300,000 people annually—among them Bronx families, school children, and teachers—learn about plant science, ecology, and healthful eating through NYBG’s hands-on, curriculum-based programming. Nearly 90,000 of those visitors are children from underserved neighboring communities, while more than 3,000 are teachers from New York City’s public school system participating in professional development programs that train them to teach science courses at all grade levels.

NYBG operates one of the world’s largest plant research and conservation programs, with nearly 200 staff members—including 80 Ph.D. scientists—working in the Garden’s state-of-the-art molecular labs as well as in the field, where they lead programs in 49 countries.

The year 2016 marks the 125th Anniversary of the founding of The New York Botanical Garden.



After hustling it all over New York during my first week, I decided to have a quiet Sunday and grab the Metro North train from Grand Central station and check out the New York Botanical Garden.  It was the perfect way to spend a Sunday away from a busy city and some relaxed time in nature.

I made a point to inhale the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory which houses tropical and desert plants.  I took my time walking through the space which was humid, damp and laden with a quilt of chirpy plants all dewy in their presentation.  The space is beautifully laid out and perfect for the whole family.  There are quiet nooks for you to sit down and take everything and friendly staff to answer questions.

I sipped my tea as I made my way over to the forest on the property.  This experience proved to be the most therapeutic experience on my trip.  Resembling that of Kew Gardens in England – the sleepy trees, a well maintained path, a rose garden, streams, a bridge and quiet respites made me feel at ease and welcoming of the peaceful quiet.  I took a moment to stand in a pile of fallen Fall leaves and make a memory for when my work week get’s me down.  NYBG is brimming with memory postcards and I was sure to snap them all up like collector cards.

Once I felt the Zen washing over me, I made my way over to the piece de resistance for the holiday season, The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show®.  It is a beloved New York City tradition and it enters its 25th year with the exhibition’s first roller coaster. The Coney Island Cyclone will join NYBG’s collection of more than 150 replicas of New York buildings that are all made out of plant parts and enlivened by large-scale model trains. The Holiday Train Show opens to the public on Saturday, November 19, 2016 and runs through Monday, January 16, 2017.

In addition to the famous Cyclone, new this year are Coney Island’s Wonder Wheel (complete with LED sign) and the Elephantine Colossus, a gigantic elephant-shaped hotel from the 1890s. The Holiday Train Show already features several Coney Island structures, including the Galveston Flood Building, the Luna Park Arch, the Luna Park Central Tower, and the Luna Park Ticket Booth. All of the collection’s Coney Island models will be displayed in the Reflecting Pool of the Palms of the World Gallery in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. This year the 30-foot-long Brooklyn Bridge will be relocated to the Palms Gallery, completing the Brooklyn scene. The Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge will also make its exhibition debut.

In the Holiday Train Show, more than 25 G-scale model trains and trolleys will hum along nearly a half mile of track past re-creations of iconic sites such as the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Terminal, The New York Public Library, and Radio City Music Hall. Artistically crafted by Paul Busse’s team at Applied Imagination, all of the New York landmarks—which include Hudson River Valley houses and other buildings from New York State as well—are made of natural materials such as bark, twigs, stems, fruits, seeds, and pine cones. American steam engines, streetcars from the late 1800s, and modern freight and passenger trains ride underneath overhead trestles, through tunnels, and across rustic bridges and past waterfalls that cascade into flowing creeks. Thomas the Tank Engine™ and other beloved trains disguised as large colorful insects delight children as they zoom by.

The next time you are in New York – push yourself to get outside of the bubble of the city and take the trip to the Bronx.  The New York Botanical Garden will make everything right in one visit.


Hotel Review: Holiday Inn Manhattan View Long Island City


Did you know that Queens is now the new Brooklyn? Well, whilst I was in New York I wanted to stay outside the city, save some money, be close enough to the subway and still feel safe as a single girl travelling on her own. I stayed for 11 days at the Holiday Inn Manhattan View Long Island City and it was a perfect fit to my needs.

Holiday Inn Manhattan View sets the bar high for Manhattan area hotels. With views of the unmistakable New York City skyline,  the hotel is an exceptional backdrop for both business and pleasure.  This Queens hotel is just minutes from Manhattan, New York City’s legendary landmarks.  Explore the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Museum of the Moving Image, and the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Broadway, and Madison Square Garden. Holiday Inn Manhattan View is a nearby neighbor to many Fortune 500 companies, offering easy access to Citibank, MetLife, the United Nations, JetBlue, Delta, and Mount Sinai Medical Center.  The hotel is conveniently located within a short drive of all the major New York airports: LaGuardia, JFK and Newark.  I was at the Holiday Inn Manhattan View within 45 minutes of arriving at LaGuardia Airport.

I loved being able to get into the city in ten minutes in the morning.  Even during those long days in the city – I would roll back to the hotel around 11 p.m. and walk the two minutes back to the Holiday Inn Manhattan View.  I never had any issues in regards to safety.  The street was quiet but the hotel is in a sleepy neighbourhood alongside a few other hotels nestled within the same block.

The Holiday Inn Manhattan View offers free high-speed Internet access. Ideal for international travelers and vacationers, this Astoria, Queens hotel is located just one block from the N and Q subway lines and just a few blocks from the E and R subway lines. Start planning today and enjoy the great room rates and deals at Holiday Inn Manhattan View.

I’m never going to hesitate to book another with the Holiday Inn Manhattan View Long Island City the next time I am in New York.  I hope you consider them as well!


Contest: Win 2 New York CityPASS Ticket Booklets from Thirty Four Flavours & CityPASS!

nyI’m off to New York in a few weeks and I can’t wait! It’s been a year and a bit from my last holiday and I’m looking forward to kicking back and enjoying myself.

I’m ready for my trip to New York City with my trusty CityPASS in hand.

Visitors to New York City can find it overwhelming, but not if they have CityPASS – the very best attractions hand-picked and wrapped up in an easy-to-use ticket booklet. Because CityPASS is valid for 9 days starting with the first day of use, there’s no need to feel rushed – save time on your research, see the city that never sleeps at your own pace, and truly enjoy the experience.

Getting a New York CityPASS ticket booklet is simple. No matter how, where or when you buy, you’ll see the same huge savings and get the same price.

Using New York CityPASS is easy. Simply show up at the attractions with your booklets or voucher. The pros at each place will know just what to do.

Once you have your booklets, your party can split up and visit the attractions in any order you wish. And your New York CityPASS booklets are good for nine (9) days starting with the first day of use, so there’s no need to rush through the attractions; you can see them at your own pace. A CityPASS booklet you buy today expires February 28, 2018. A voucher you buy today must be exchanged for a booklet within 6 months of purchase.

The tickets in your booklet are actual admission tickets good for one visit (unless otherwise noted). You’ll want to leave them in place for the pros at the attractions to tear out. If tickets are removed, they’ll be considered invalid. Sorry, but rules are rules.

You’ll love CityPASS. They have hand-picked the top attractions for you, so you don’t need to spend time researching. And with CityPASS, you’ll save up to 40% over regular admission prices.

Because your New York CityPASS booklets are good for nine (9) days, you can visit the attractions at your own pace—see several attractions in one day, or spread them out over your whole trip. You’ll be able to fully experience the attractions and still have plenty of time to explore the city.

What am I checking out with my CityPASS booklet? Voila!

The Empire State Building Experience +Exclusive Feature

American Museum of Natural History

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Top of the Rock Observation Deck   or   Guggenheim Museum

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island   or   Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises +Exclusive Feature

9/11 Memorial & Museum   or   Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Thank you to the generous folks at CityPASS who have gifted Thirty Four Flavours with two pairs of CityPASS ticket booklets to New York! Send an email, tweet, or inbox me whilst I am on my adventures in New York and let me know you why you would like a New York CityPASS for your chance to win two New York CityPASS ticket booklets. Contest closes on Monday November 28, 2016.

Good Luck! See you soon!


Toronto CityPASS: Royal Ontario Museum and Toronto CityPASS Giveaway!

16_Don Gutoski_Canada_Tale of two foxes

I’m well into my Toronto staycation. Today I visited the Royal Ontario Musuem with my trusty Toronto CityPASS and it was indeed quite the adventure!

What did I see?  The Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) exhibition!  It opens at the ROM on November 21 and is on display until March 20, 2016 and it was my first stop!

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) exhibition presented by Quark Expeditions opens on Saturday, November 21, 2015 at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). The exhibition, on tour from the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London, showcases the natural world’s most astonishing images from professional and amateur photographers from 96 countries. This year’s show features photographs from three Canadians including the overall winning image from Don Gutoski, of London, Ontario.  Gutoski’s photo, A Tale Of Two Foxes, was taken near Wapusk National Park, near Cape Churchill, Manitoba. Also featured are photographs from Connor Stefanison, the Rising Star Portfolio Winner, and Josiah Launstein, a Finalist, 10 Years and Under. WPY is the most prestigious wildlife photography competition in the world and attracts more than 42,000 entries from around the world. The exhibition is now in its 51st year and is making its third appearance at the ROM this year.

Turtle Flight from David Doubilet demonstrating a hawksbill turtle as it swam past the photographer was such a beautiful testament to our earth and how precious it is.  Seeing a wee turtle navigating itself in the ocean’s realm is such a lovely reminder that life goes on even in the deepest of oceans when we are locked in the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives.  The pause in inhaling this photo was dream like.

Beetle Beauty and the Spiral of Love from Javier Aznar Gonzalez de Rueda captured Jewel weevils getting ‘busy’ in their glowing and iridescent forms.  These beetles looked like they were either dipped in oil or worse something out of an Alien film.  I smirked at the cheekiness behind the photo.

Make sure you check out the Butterfly in Crystal snap from Ugo Mellone.  As winter approaches Toronto – it’s a nice reminder of what is buried unknowingly under our feet as we traipse in and out of the snow for the next few months.

A Whale Of A Mouthful from Michael AW will leave you awestruck.  Think National Geographic in 100D.  It was truly a feat to capture such a vivid and daring photo of a whale amongst a school of fish.  A gobsmacking shot.

Exhibition Details

WPY is on display in Third Floor, Centre Block where photographs are installed with custom light boxes creating a dramatic view of the natural world. The exhibition is both family-friendly and attractive to the expert photographer, with 13 categories ranging from Youth Awards, to design and landscape images, and stunning animal portraits.

New this year is a ROM Photographer of the Year contest, which encourages visitors to submit their best wildlife photos. The winning image, selected by panel of ROM judges, will win an Arctic Expedition for two valued at $24,000 (CDN), generously donated by WPY Presenting Sponsor, Quark Expeditions. Contest entries can be submitted between November 18, 2015 and January 31, 2016, using Twitter and Instagram (entries must include @ROMtoronto and #ROMWPY). Details are available at: www.rom.on.ca/contest.

Add The Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) exhibit to your visit when you use your CityPASS at the ROM for a small additional fee.  It’s well worth it!

Here’s a lil more info about the Toronto CityPASS for your ROM visit the next time you are in Toronto.

Once you have your booklets, your party can split up and visit the attractions in any order you wish.

You’ll get to skip many ticket lines with CityPASS. Look at the tickets in the booklet for entry instructions at each attraction.

There’s no need to rush through the attractions because you have nine days to use your Toronto CityPASS booklet. That’ll give you enough time to fully experience the best attractions while leaving plenty of time for shopping, dining, shows, etc. Explore at your own pace – see several attractions in one day, or spread them out over your whole trip.

Admission for the Toronto CityPASS Includes

1 CN Tower

2 Royal Ontario Museum

3 Casa Loma

4 Toronto Zoo

5 Ontario Science Centre

I am giving away two Toronto CityPASS’ ticket booklets to pass on my Toronto staycation buzz! Thank you CityPASS!

What are the rules when entering the Thirty Four Flavours and Toronto CityPASS Giveaway?

Please sign up to Thirty Four Flavours Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thirtyfourflavours, Twitter https://twitter.com/34flavours, or email subscription to enter the draw. When you have signed up please send me a Facebook message, a tweet or email (thirtyfourflavours@gmail.com) telling me which Toronto CityPASS attraction you are interested in visiting. Easy peasy! I will announce the winner on Monday November 30, 2015.  Good luck!



Toronto CityPASS Ticket Booklet Giveaway!

As part of my Staycation adventures I thought I would stay close to home and check out Toronto’s tourist attractions to channel my inner wanderlust. What better way to be a tourist in your own city on a budget with a trusty Toronto CityPASS ticket booklet in hand.

Getting a Toronto CityPASS ticket booklet is simple. No matter how, where or when you buy, you’ll see the same huge savings and get the same price.

When you buy online, choose between receiving a voucher that you can print or have the booklets shipped to you. Easy as pie.

Vouchers couldn’t be easier to use – just bring your printed voucher to the first attraction you visit, and they’ll exchange it for your CityPASS ticket booklet. Just note that you may run into a line when exchanging your voucher during peak times. And, it’s always a good idea to bring your ID (attractions may ask for it).

You can also buy once you get to the city. It’s simple – just make the purchase at the first attraction you visit. The team there will know just what to do to get you in as quickly as possible. Piece of cake.

A CityPASS booklet you buy today expires February 28, 2017. A voucher you buy today must be exchanged for a booklet within 6 months of purchase.

I am giving away two Toronto CityPASS’ ticket booklets to pass on my Toronto staycation buzz!  Thank you CityPASS!

What are the rules when entering the Thirty Four Flavours and Toronto CityPASS Giveaway?

Please sign up to Thirty Four Flavours Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thirtyfourflavours, Twitter https://twitter.com/34flavours, or email subscription to enter the draw. When you have signed up please send me a Facebook message, a tweet or email (thirtyfourflavours@gmail.com) telling me which Toronto CityPASS attraction you are interested in visiting. Easy peasy! I will announce the winner on Monday November 30, 2015.  Good luck!

Check out my Toronto staycation adventures starting next week!


Let’s Duty Free Shop at Toronto Pearson International Airport!

Do you know how you get to Pearson early just so you can speed past security, just so you can sit at your flight’s gate at Pearson International Airport using their free Wi-Fi for hours?  Deep breath.  Well, I have another reason for you for you to get to Pearson early.  Think wicked duty free shopping on the Canadian Dollar!  Yup, there are deals to be had before you even before leave Canadian soil.

To most Canadians, the words “duty-free” and “shopping” have traditionally been associated with common purchases, such as alcohol, chocolates and souvenirs. But did you know that throughout 2014, Toronto Pearson passengers shopped for three Burberry scarves per hour when the Burberry store was open?

With the busy March Break travel period upon us and Toronto Fashion Week just around the corner, Canada’s largest airport, Toronto Pearson, wants you to re-think what you know (or think you know) about duty-free shopping.

A recent survey commissioned by Toronto Pearson found that…

  • Men (51 per cent) are more likely than women (43 per cent) to buy gifts at Duty Free stores.
  • Alcohol is still the most commonly associated product with duty-free shopping (84 per cent of respondents), followed by tobacco (47 per cent) and beauty products (36 per cent).

FUN FACT: In 2014, Toronto Pearson passengers bought approximately 1,000 bottles of ice wine per day!

  • Treat yourself – Nearly 70 per cent of duty free shoppers see it as a great place to purchase a little something special for themselves.

With an expanded retail space and a wide selection of luxury brands, The Duty Free Store by Nuance provides a world-class shopping experience – one that is sure to delight and surprise travellers while they await their flights. Here’s a bit more info about duty-free shopping at Toronto Pearson:

  • Designed to feel like a shopping mall, the new layout features custom designs, creating an inviting atmosphere for shoppers to explore the new stores and restaurants
  • The expansion of Nuance Duty Free marks the completion of Toronto Pearson’s Terminal 1 transformation that began in 2011. The airport now offers 68 restaurants, 84 shops and 36 services

If you have ever Duty Free shopped at overseas airports you have been easily introduced to the best of luxury labels.  In Toronto, we now have the same experience without the currency exchange hit.

Terminal 1 International Duty Free spans over 20,000 square feet and features a wider selection of top fashion and beauty brands, including Bvlgari, Burberry, Coach, Ferragamo, Gucci, Longchamp, Longines, Michael Kors, Montblanc, Omega, Rado, Swarovski, Tissot, Tumi and Victoria’s Secret.

See you there?

Visit Seattle

The previous post was my last Fall Holiday post for Seattle!  I hope you enjoyed reading about my travels until next year.  I’ll keep you posted.

For now check out, http://www.visitseattle.org/Home.aspx for your own Seattle trip planning ideas.

Till next time!


Asian Art Museum: ‘Live On: Mr.’s Japanese Neo-Pop’

Live On: Mr.’s Japanese Neo-Pop

Nov 22 2014 – Apr 5 2015

Asian Art Museum

Tateuchi Galleries

The devastating disaster of the March 11, 2011 tsunami and the nuclear accident afterwards were both a shock and inspiration for Japanese Neo-Pop artist Mr. In response, he composed a massive installation made of hundreds of everyday objects from Japanese life. It’s the central work in this exhibition, presented here with a series of new paintings and other work. A reminder of the debris that blanketed the Tohoku area in the aftermath of 3.11 tsunami and earthquake, the installation embodies the post-disaster fear and frustration of the Japanese people since the catastrophic events.

Live On, which is organized by SAM, presents Mr.’s art of the past 15 years and is his first solo exhibition in a U.S. museum. Born in 1969, Mr. is a protégé of Takashi Murakami, internationally acclaimed icon of Japanese Pop art. He borrowed the name “Mr.” from “Mister Giants” (Shigeo Nagashima), the superstar clean-up hitter of the postwar Yomiuri Giants baseball team.

Having grown up during Japan’s postwar “economic miracle” period, Mr. often exercises his art as a weapon against social expectations. As a member of the otaku subculture, his work ties closely with the lifestyle, which is marked by obsessive interests in anime and manga and being confined in one’s room with limited interactions with other people. He says,

I’ve had one eye on anime since the day I was born.

The exhibition includes a group of Mr.’s new works that take kawaii (cute) Japanese Pop art to a new dimension, known as moe (which literally means budding). Through fictional, adorable characters, moe speaks to a longing for youth, or youthful energy. It grew out of Japanese youth subculture, and its rebellion against authority and political engagement in favor of fantasy and virtual experience.

While Mr.’s art often appears playful at first—even cheerful—its veneer of bright imagery expresses darker themes and addresses anxiety. The works seen here offer his personal and artistic responses to trauma—whether natural disaster, war, psychological angst, or social anxiety—and demonstrate defiance against such adversity.


I had a last minute urge to trek up to the Asian Art Museum on one of my last days in Seattle.  I am so glad I did.  Even though I missed the above ‘Live On: Mr.’s Japanese Neo-Pop’, from what I viewed as part of a press preview looked like a stunning exhibit.  It’s always nice to see a fun exhibit in the midst of floors filled with classical work and dollops of modern art.

Upon my visit to the Asian Art Museum, I fell in love with the ‘Mughal Painting: Power and Piety’ in the Foster Galleries.  The ‘Hamza outside the Fortress of Armanus, 1567-82, Mir Sayyid ‘ali, Persian, active 16th c., opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper, 34 15/16 x 28 3/4in. (88.8 x 73cm), Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Richard E. Fuller’.  It ached of layers of imagery, ornate handiwork, Mughal rulers and notables.  The other portraits depicted a ruler’s supremacy with his personal accouterments—daggers, rings, necklaces—crafted from luxurious materials and inlaid with jewels.  Bling and more bling!

At the end of your museum visit, make sure you find time to walk around Volunteer Park.  It’s a gorgeous property and I found myself swooning in the autumn sun at trees galore.

Asian Art Museum

Volunteer Park

1400 East Prospect Street Seattle, WA 98112

206.654.3100 & TTY 206.344.5267


Seattle Art Museum: ‘ City Dwellers: Contemporary Art from India’ and ‘Pop Departures’

The Seattle Art Museum is immense.  I decided to narrow my visit down by focusing on exhibits of interest as oppose to overwhelming myself.  It was a good plan.  I settled on the ‘City Dwellers: Contemporary Art from India’ and ‘Pop Departures’.

City Dwellers: Contemporary Art from India

Aug 30 2014 – Feb 16 2015

Seattle Art Museum

Third Floor Galleries

Bollywood movie culture, venerated politicians, religious traditions, and art historical icons all contribute to the myriad of influences in contemporary urban Indian culture. The artists in this exhibition pay tribute to this multitude even as they introduce elements of irony, introspection, and critique.

Through their photography and sculpture, the artists negotiate diverse ideas and influences on contemporary Indian society—Hindu mythology, Bollywood movies, Indian and western art, and icons of everyday life in a global market economy. Many of the works are influenced as much by popular movie culture and the use of digital technology as by the conventions of religious ritual and street processions, traditional theater, and dance.

Come see the colorful, contradictory, and complex India of today through the works of some of the country’s leading artists.


When I was walking through the space to take in the ‘City Dwellers: Contemporary Art from India’ exhibit there was a school class on a learning break.  I was so impressed of  their  interpretation of “India Shining V: Gandhi with iPod”.  Their comments on India as a tech-savvy consumer society was a great assessment.  I saw a bright-red Gandhi, gaudy and grotesque, grinning at his iPod menu. No telling what he’s listening to, but it’s not a tune from the India he led to independence in 1947.

Being of South Asian origin, I felt exuberant to see such beautiful images of India’s people, places and artistry in play.  Cheeky but thoughtful.  “The Reassurance”, from the series Definitive Reincarnate, 2003/2006, Nandini Valli Muthiah, Indian, b. 1976, color photograph, 40 1/4 x 40 x 1 in., Collection of Sanjay Parthasarathy and Malini Balakrishnan was a favourite.  The bombastic colours, cultural and religious nods were respectful and the dance of bridging old world thought into modern Western re-thinking was an important conversation to have within the context of beautiful photographs and statues.

Pop Departures

Oct 9 2014 – Jan 11 2015

Seattle Art Museum

Simonyi Special Exhibition Galleries

In the 1960s, art for the first time embraced the brash world of commercial culture, advertising, and mass media—images of shiny newness, youth, and seduction. Pop art electrified artists, audiences, and critics alike. It changed our understanding of art, and the ripple effects of its seismic shift are still felt today. Pop Departures presents the bold visions of American Pop artists, including the works of icons such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, and Claes Oldenburg.

The exhibition takes us beyond the pioneers of Pop and to the work of subsequent generations of artists for whom Pop art has been an inspiration or a vehicle for critique. See works from the 1980s and ’90s by artists such as Lynn Hershman Leeson, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, and Richard Prince. Continue with work made in the era of digital markets and social media by Margarita Cabrera, Josephine Meckseper, and Ryan Trecartin—contemporary artists who use Pop as a point of departure.

Pop art changed the way we consume media and redefined art as part of our market economy. Pop Departures will blow open your notions of Pop and take you on a journey through the last 50 years of American popular culture.


If you are a fan of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein ‘Pop Departures’ is for you.   I had many rendezvous’ with Warhol’s ‘Mick Jagger’ on the day I visited.  It is very rare to see these works on view and it was a true explosion of colour, pop art and humour.  There was no stiff upper lip apparent in this exhibit that kept giving and giving.

“The Kiss V”, 1964, Roy Lichtenstein, American, 1923-1997, magna on canvas, 36 × 36 in., Collection Simonyi, © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein was important to pay homage to.  One of the more popular Lichtenstein portraits – checking out the dots up close was fun especially if you are a pop art fan.  I was more interested in the traditional pop art on display and for me proved to be a joyful time.

You need a good two to three hours to walk the length of the Seattle Art Museum and make sure to double back for the works of Chihuly (a small space but well worth the one on one time with) and the decadent Porcelain Room which will have you craving a cup of tea and biscuits.

Keep in mind; in 2015 the Seattle Art Museum is bringing an exhibit on the works and clothing of Yves Saint Lauren to their shores.  It maybe worth a flight out to catch up close.  😉

Seattle Art Museum

1300 First Avenue Seattle, WA 98101

206.654.3100 & TTY 206.654.3137


Seattle Symphony: Delta Air Lines Masterworks Presents ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor

Augustin Hadelich, violin

Esteban Benzecry: Colores de la Cruz del Sur

Attending the Symphony is a magical and deeply moving experience.  To be able to concentrate and let classical music envelop you in its most pure form was a luxury.  It should be something everyone should experience once in their life.

The three compositions included in the program of ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ are markedly different in sound and style, and their music suggests different sorts of experiences. Colores de la Cruz del Sur (“Colors of the Southern Cross”), by the Argentine composer Esteban Benzecry, is a kind of travelogue through South America, though the places and scenes the composer describes in his music have perhaps more to do with his imagination than with observed reality. Felix Mendelssohn’s famous Violin Concerto makes no attempt to convey anything so specific. But from its impassioned opening through its exquisite slow movement to its buoyant finale, there seems a dreamlike quality to much of this music.

Modest Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ is a visionary composition in two senses of the word. First, as much as music can do such a thing, it translates into sound images from drawings and paintings, a process that relies on what we can only call a keen sense of musical vision. No less impressive, it creates these impressions through quite novel harmonies and aural textures, sounds that Mussorgsky evidently created solely for this purpose. Plagued by alcoholism, Mussorgsky led a chaotic life and did not achieve all that he might have. But at his best, as he is in Pictures, he deserves to be called a visionary composer.


ESTEBAN BENZECRY Colores de la Cruz del Sur

Travelling solo in Seattle offered my mind so many opportunities to check out and inhale in some new energy.  I appreciated that the ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ began with a musical tour to South America, a voyage not only through different regions of the continent but to diverse cultures, both ancient and modern. The sounds of this journey are exceptionally colorful, sensuous and vibrant.  It felt like a musical painting was being brought to life without the traditional classical charm.

There were moments I was soaring high above the plains of South America in a National Geographic film.  It was such a lucid experience to see and feel the music at the hands of the Seattle Symphony’s musicians.

Portraiture of  Peruvian mountains, sightings of the stars in their full splendor,  the wind in the frozen desert, glaciers breaking and sudden interruptions of the wind and birds and imaginary folk dances culminated into what Benzecry describes as “sounds of an imaginary magical forest, with its birds, and the shining stars are seen through the tree leaves.”

The musical installment was visceral and gave me room to ponder walking in the woods in Portland just a few days before.  Alone, reflecting on how lucky I am to be in such natural splendour and to have the time, opportunity and resources to enjoy myself.   I found Benzecry ‘Colores de la Cruz del Sur’ highlighted my blessings and illustrated my travel journey.

FELIX MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64

The 19th century produced five great concertos for the violin, those of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Bruch, Tchaikovsky and Brahms. Each of these works has its virtues. But Mendelssohn’s is probably the most popular, this for its winning melodiousness and sheer sonic beauty.

Mendelssohn’s musical installment was far more emotional.  I found myself walking around museums and galleries on this trip and immersing myself in beautiful art which I only seem to indulge upon when I am on vacation.  It’s the only time I have time.  It made me think…what else don’t I have time for?

This experience encouraged me to consider what comes next.  The gentle nod although blanketed in serene woodwinds was also dramatic enough to soothe my fearful heart of what has been holding me back. I have beautiful talents that are locked away that need to see the light of day again.

Upon observation of the full orchestral team, I got a sense that the woodwinds are the most underrated of the team.  They were powerful in evoking such an emotional attachment when listening to their epic sound.  What underrated qualities of mine are worth showcasing?

MODEST MUSSORGSKY / orch. Ravel, Pictures at an Exhibition

Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto belongs to the mainstream of 19th-century Romanticism in music. By contrast, Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition stands at that movement’s edge. Stirring, haunting, frightening, amusing and at times astonishing, it is above all inspired and utterly original.

This segment I found far more haunting and full of deep romantic intent.  I wondered about the portraiture of my year.  I felt the energy flowing through me.  It felt therapeutic but also startling.  This year has had its ups and downs but also moments where I was struck with my own growth.  The vigour of the music had enough force that it knocked out the stones that have been weighing me down for some time.  The power of letting go in that moment was tangible.

The biggest draw for me to attend the Seattle Symphony was to see the acclaimed violinist Augustin Hadelich perform Mendelssohn’s gem of the repertoire in ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ along with the stellar Seattle Symphony.  The talent in such a small space was awe inspiring.  It’s hard to believe that such beauty can come out of wood and brass instruments at the hands of someone like you or I.  There were members of the audience who felt the full intent of the performance and were not afraid to scream out passionately ‘Bravo’ and ‘Yes!’ upon the conclusion of each piece.

The space at Benaroya Hall where the Seattle Symphony calls home is even more decadent.  It was truly the dulce de leche of my evening.  Before the performance had commenced I felt like I was being prepared for an evening of swooning.  From the Dale Chihuly chandelier piece in the front entrance of Benaroya Hall, to the rich woods and open space.  I felt like I was in nature.  As the music washed over our senses I could observe people transfixed in the glow of the space.  It was a riveting experience.

The lovely warm wood, high ceilings, chairs that were easy to sink into and have your mind, body and senses give into the experience.  From the ambiance,  the formidable musicians and their musicianship – the Seattle Symphony is indeed offering you more than just a musical experience on a night out.

The Seattle Symphony’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ was a treat and highlighted moments in my trip to both Portland and Seattle this Fall.  The symphony was on a journey and so was I.  A perfect piece for my travel reflection.

I am finding as I am aging I am seeking out new forms of art and music that speaks to my life experiences, successes and hurdles.   It’s about setting the bar high so you can reflect back on your journey and come to some tough conclusions around what is working and not working in your life.  I encourage you to submit to the music at the Seattle Symphony and observe what your mind and body chooses to ‘breathe in’ in return.