United States
Victoria Mews

Here you’ll find travel reports about Victoria Mews. Discover travel destinations in the United States of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

8 travelers at this place:

  • Day4

    The Legion of Honor

    September 4, 2018 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 14 °C

    After a visit to an American Pharmacy, which I expected to be called a drug store but was not, we Ubered across town high up on one of the hills to visit San Francisco's famous Legion of Honor Museum. I had done a little homework on this place and knew that it houses a very fine collection of art from different time periods and locations.

    It is a very imposing building from the outside with a grand arched entrance. Inside the arch way, it opens out into a large outdoor foyer surrounded by columns, and in the centre, the famous statue by Auguste Rodin, Le Penseur - the Thinker. I've known about The Thinker since childhood and never dreamed I would actually see it. As a matter of fact, I've thought a lot about The Thinker but I'm not sure The Thinker has thought a lot about me. As you can see in the pic, I tried to emulate his pose, but alas, my coordination has never been my strong suit and it's clear from this picture, neither is my proprioception.

    To our great surprise and pleasure, the Legion had on a special exhibition called Truth and Beauty. This was a collection of the Pre-Raphaelites. Now in truth, I did have to read up rather quickly about this band of merry men and yes, they were all men, how they figured that something was lost in the paintings of their own day that they felt they wanted to capture again from the older masters from Rafael and before. So I got to see these guys but also some of the earlier famous artists they were emulating.

    This was very special for me as I got to see my very first live Van Eyck. I had really remembered from my youth Van Eyck's famous picture of the Marriage of Arnolfini which today I accidentally called The Marriage of Gandolfini. The groom had put on a bit of weight. But the Legion was not showing the Marriage. Instead, it was showing Van Eyck's The Annunciation. It really is also a beautiful painting. The Archangel Gabriel arrives and tells Mary that she will be with child. It is so Van Eyck I recognized it immediately without having read its accompanying inscription.

    There was also a lovely painting of Saint Cecilia the patron saint of musicians seated at a keyboard in a bright yellow dress and looking fabulous. Another work that really took hold of me was two little 16th century paintings by Pieter Coecke van Aelst depicting Mary Magdalene and Joseph of Arimathea having just seen Jesus crucified. If you zoom into Mary's face, you can see tears running down her cheeks quite plainly. Also if you look at Joseph's eyes, they are full and sad. Just beautiful.

    There is also an out-of-this-world painting of The Lady of Shalott, which Chris tells me, depicts the lady not permitted to view the world directly, but only through its reflection in a mirror. It was painted by William Holman Hunt. The Pre-Raphaelites seem to have a thing with woman's hair. The larger the better. Every time I saw one of these portraits of some incredible female personage, each one had amazing giant big hair. I was put in mind of Dame Joan Sutherland actually. His skin, her hair, her sheer size.

    The Legion of Honor is not the least bit squeamish about photography in its gallery. There was not a single sign anyway forbidding photography, not even flash photography. Needless to say, I took lots of shots and I'll only share a few of them here. There is only so much one can take of someone else's Gallery experience.

    I feel very lucky and very honored to be here and to see these incredible originals by artists such as Raphael, Rembrandt, Rubens, Albrecht Durer, Botticelli, Rosetti, el Greco and even some impressionists in one of the other rooms, Van Gogh, Degas, Monet, Manet, Pissarro; names I have known and read about my whole life.

    After the gallery, it was time for dinner so we headed on down into Chinatown and ate a small feast. San Francisco's Chinatown is one of the biggest outside of Asia. It is full of glitz and glare and was a welcome relief full of super informality and earthiness. Of course, being in Chinatown, I could hardly not take a photo of the Trans America Building. You will know of course the joke about the guy in the top office of the Trans Am building. He has a pointy head. Till next.

    Sent on the go with Vodafone
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  • Day8

    Dual Delights

    September 8, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    Yesterday was one of those days you remember. We have been in San Francisco just short of a week
    and still have not managed to take a good look at the Golden Gate Bridge. We saw it enshrouded in
    fog on the ferry journey over to Alcatraz, but not close up in all its gleaming glory. So today was the
    day, by hook or by crook. We T-lined it down to the end of the line and began the couple of miles
    walk to get to the base of the bridge. Lots of people passed us on rented bikes and I did have a
    fleeting thought that we should have done that. But I was happy for the walk, as the bridge was in
    sight all the way. Well not in sight exactly.

    The Golden Gate Bridge is rather shy and coquettish. For the entire week we’ve been here, the tops
    of its two pylons and the upper third of its long cables have been hidden in fog. The fog is so
    common-place here that San Franciscans have given it a name. Karl. Karl has played tricks on us all
    week. There is a low band of fog that sits at bridge height that sits over the city, so that often, even
    the tips of the high rise city buildings are not visible. The Golden Gate is no exception. I think Karl
    actually takes delight in hiding the bridge from tourists. Regardless, you can see part of the bridge in
    a few pics.

    Another serendipity was the discovery of Fort Point directly under the bridge. This former 1850s
    Army fort was a fortified gun emplacement that no ship could pass without being sent to the bottom
    of the Pacific. There are three levels and the battlements up on top, the canon emplacements all still there. It was quite amazing to stroll through it, check out some of the photographic information
    guides and get a bit of a feel for the lives of the soldiers during the Civil War. Its four sides surround
    a huge parade ground. The whole time you are in the fort, you can hear the cars going over the
    southern side of the bridge above you. When I say this fort is under the bridge, I mean this fort is literally
    under the bridge and thus, it gives one of the best views of the Golden Gate to be had.

    The Golden Gate Bridge is majestic and beautiful, but I had dinner on Circular Quay in Sydney a week
    ago and gazed upon our own Sydney Harbour Bridge. How do they compare? The Sydney Bridge
    feels like it is more substantial and even though its arch is graceful, the Golden Gate feels just a little
    more so. The arches formed by its cables are not as chunky as the steel in Sydney. However, if I had
    to put money on which bridge was the more seductive, the more enticing, the more entrancing, the more present, I would have to choose Sydney’s. To be fair, Karl hid the top of the Golden Gate the entire time we were there today, so maybe it’s not a valid judgement. I am not sorry to have spent some time with the Golden Gate today. In 1933, the American Society of Civil Engineers made it one of their seven
    wonders of the modern world.

    In the evening, we headed off to opening night of the San Francisco opera season to their Opera
    House to see Cavallleria Rusticana by Mascagni and its companion piece, Pagliacci by Leoncavallo.
    The Opera House was fairly buzzing. All of San Francisco’s society was there for the opening of their
    96th season. Tuxedos and fabulous ball gowns, jewels and shoes, handsome men, beautiful women,
    men in top hats. San Francisco’s Mayor was present and House Minority Leader (for now) Nancy
    Pelosi was there in a box and was given a rapturous ovation – not so many Trump supporters in that
    crowd – and the orchestra struck up the national anthem before the performance started,
    whereupon the whole theatre, all tiers stood to their feet, hand over heart and belted it out.
    Chris and I stood out of respect of course and I hummed along because (1) I don’t share America’s
    taste for nationalism (2) I don’t know all the words, and (3) I’m a lover of a good anthem and it’s a
    great tune. Bring on the La Marseillaise. I even like our own (when it’s done well). Girt by sea is
    bloody fine with me. The Star Spangled Banner was very moving and then we all got down to the operas.

    I haven’t made it a custom to go to the opera in the last decade or so. I used to go more often, but of
    recent years, I’ve concentrated my efforts on symphonic music, chamber music and the occasional recital. So it was with great anticipation to head into this beautiful opera house, which is far more
    ornate, but not over the top like some European houses, than our own Opera theatre in Sydney. A
    fair bit of gold, statuary, heavy curtains with giant tassels of course, and wonderful lighting
    throughout. It’s a round house and the tiers go way up to the ceiling, so you’re a long way from terra
    firma up on those seats. We were situated up on the gallery level. We were actually lucky to get
    tickets at all given the kind of night it was.

    Opera plots are typically silly. There is always death, a hero, a heroine who either dies and sings or who watches her lover die and they both sing. We had three deaths tonight. I think we got our money's worth. But if you get past the schmaltz of it all, there is often a very human theme there to be seen, accompanied by passionate music. I know so many arias without having seen their entire operas so that when something comes on that I recognise, you have one of those ah ha moments. Both of these operas had a few of those moments.

    Just two for now:
    Cavalleria Rusticana had that beautiful orchestral accompaniment that everybody knows and that is always in the top 10 gentlest pieces ever written. Google it and you’ll recognise it straight away. I always wondered where such an orchestral piece fitted into an opera. Now I know. The two protagonists dance to it.
    The second, was in the Pagliacci, where the clown sings THE most famous tenor aria in all
    of opera, Vesti la guibba.

    Our audience was different to Australian audiences, enthusiastically applauding and yelling Bravo at songs’s completion. The stuff of movies come true as I watched. The set was brilliant, the chorus was fabulous, the stars were stars. Standout performances were Marco Berti as Pagliacci and Ekaterina Semenchuk as Santuzza. The audience thought so too. I so enjoyed this experience.

    PS. There is a reason why Akubra have a range of hats. One important offering is the Akubra
    Traveller, a hat I bought a few years ago as a way to travel and still protect myself. You see, the
    Traveller can be squished with impunity. You can stuff it in your bag, flatten it down, and bring it back out again, straighten it up, and it’s fine. Thinking this is the Fall in America now and I wouldn’t need it, I didn’t bring it. I know, right. Dumb! Clearly, I was wrong. The walk in the sun to the Golden Gate Bridge yesterday morning now sees me sporting a glowing face that not even Karl could hide. I got myself a nice sun-burn, something I have studiously avoided for years, and here I go and do it right here in America. I’m off today to buy a baseball cap and some moisturiser.
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  • Day2

    The Flight Out of Egypt or Sojourn in SF

    September 2, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    After a fitful sleep with my head full of Brahms and the airport shuttle wake-up call, I woke rather tired on the day I was about to lose all understanding of sleep and rest. Sydney airport was kind. It’s relatively easy to get around and we both got through security without incident, although, I did lose my little tube of Oral toothpaste. “Not little enough,” said the guard, who insisted the bag must be re-scanned after removal of said offending paste.

    The only thing to say about the flight is that apart from being delayed about two hours, it was without incident. The skies were clear and we had a bumpless flight across the Pacific. We had a nice young chappy coming to San Francisco for the fifteenth time sitting next to us. Not for him the comfort of familiarity of such a flight. He was actually a nervous flyer and also a Catholic. On descent into San Fran, which takes about half an hour, he made the sign of the cross several times and once or twice, bowed his head in solemn prayer. I used to pray at the beginning and end of flights, but I don’t nowadays. I typically just think that if it’s my time, then God must know about it and must have something to do with what’s going on. In other words, I’m happy to leave it alone, get on with my flight and leave it to God. I must say though, that a smidge under fourteen hours on a flight is stretching the friendship of the body and peace of mind. Legs ache, thighs call out, buttocks complain. Australia really is a very long way away from the rest of the world.

    Chris and I ate well, I drank two littlun bottles of Chardy and did my best to sleep. Really, to no avail. I watched an episode of Maigret, the French detective, played by Rowan Atkinson in a dramatic role, which, bizarrely, is set in France with French protagonists, but the whole thing is done in English, with very plain unaffected English as the chosen dialect. Even Maigret’s name is spoken as May Grey. It’s wel-done, but it’s a bit weird.

    I also watched the final instalment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. This was enjoyable as I have been watching the whole series through again over the last couple of weeks as a preparation for reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, my holiday read, set nineteen years after the original books end. Though I had seen this movie before, I was very moved by Snape’s story as I watched it at 11000 meters above the ocean. Snape has been misunderstood for the entire series, hated, vilified, attacked, and yet his actions in secretly protecting Harry from danger because he had been in love with Lily Potter from their childhoods. Never to have the girl he loved, to lose her to murder, and only on his own deathbed, to have the truth come out was and remains incredibly moving. I shed a tear for Snape last night. And you cannot really talk about the character without praising the work of the late Alan Rickman in bringing his tragic story to life.

    Moral to the Story: there’s always something deeper going on than what’s apparent at the surface.

    Successful flight to San Francisco. Tick. Done.
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  • Day6

    Edser and May Go to Macys

    September 6, 2018 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 15 °C

    Today was a slower day. Chris has a cold, so we thought we'd hit the shops instead of traipsing around tourist spots.

    We started in Union Square a lovely large square surrounded by the citadels of commerce. I'd love Newcastle's own Wheeler Place to be a little more Union Square. Are you listening Lord Mayor Nuatali?

    Then on to Macys. Five floors of Menswear, almost all of it on sale with 25% to 50% off. We bought a few things.

    On the way home, we stopped by Alamo Square Park to see the famous Painted Ladies, the private homes that are forever associated with this city. Think Full House credits. A few pics of the Painted Ladies and some city buildings too. Some really stunning architecture.

    A little drink after and a nice Turkish dinner rounded off a lovely day. Till next.
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  • Day3

    Home Away from Home

    September 3, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    What's better than your thirteen and a half hour flight landing? Yes. Getting to your accommodation. We have a super nice Air BnB in Potrero Hill to call home. It's a quite well-to-do neighbourhood that has lots of cafes and restaurants. We are literally surrounded by San Francisco's amazing architecture. Our view down the hill and out over the city is beautiful both day and night. The yellow house on the corner, we can see from our front room and bedroom. We're on a bus route, electrified buses attached to overhead power by two cables, more properly called a trolley bus, so we can get around easily to see this extraordinary city of wood. Lots of shiny red gleaming fire engines. I can see why. America fortunately is learning about coffee and Farleys, just down the street, did the trick for these two barista-spoiled coffeephiles.Read more

  • Day5

    Prison to Prawns

    September 5, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    For those of my readers who were versed in the 1970 Christian best-seller Prison to Praise by Merlin Carothers, you will immediately have tweaked to the title of this Footprint. Today was a big day, covering Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf / Pier 39 and the Castro.

    I visited Alcatraz 30 years ago. Not much has changed. It is still a modern ruin, only more ruin with
    three decades more of wind and weather to wear the old girl down. You probably know already that
    Alcatraz has served in many guises: as a fort, as a federal penitentiary for the worst of the worst, and
    briefly, as a shining beacon for Native Americans.

    The ferry ride over the bay, only about twelve
    minutes, went like clockwork, as you would expect from a company that told us in the peak season,
    right now, they get 5000 visitors to the island every day. The boarding, the disembarking, the lining
    up, the return journey ad libitum when you feel you’ve had enough of The Rock. Everything slick.

    Chris and I spent most of the time doing an audio guided tour through the penitentiary. Again, this
    thing went like clockwork. “Walk to the left. Stop at Cell 248. Look up at the window. Proceed along
    to the left to the big green doors. Go through them and walk to the right side of the room”. I have to
    say that conceptually, being herded around like sheep, felt uncomfortable at first, but I must confess
    that I really enjoyed this tour. The directions, yes they were very specific, enabled hundreds of
    people to be milling and moving through the prison at the one time, all listening at different points
    of their audio. So, though you might think this sounds like chaos, actually, it wasn’t. The audio was
    quite wonderful. Aside from the explanations given, there were sound effects that were very
    realistic and at times, quite chilling.

    For me, I think the worst thing about Alcatraz the prison was the fact of its very nearness to San
    Francisco. On New Years Eve, the prisoners could hear the sounds of music and laughter, of life being lived joyously, all come floating across the water. This incredible beautiful city is so close you could reach out and touch it, but most prisoners saw it only rarely. And apparently, many would not look at it regardless. The idea of life, of freedom, of happiness, of movement, all happening just over there without being able to engage it was just too much. Alcatraz was a prison from 1934 to 1963. There are some pics of the city from the Rock and one or two of the inside of the prison.

    The other wonderful part I wanted to mention was the Native American occupation of the abandoned island in 1969. Many First Nations People went there to protest too many Government broken promises, land loss and exploitative dealings. They occupied the island for nineteen months and their occupation became something of an awakening in First Nations rights in America. While the San Franciscan local authorities wanted to remove them, believe it or not, Richard Nixon ensured they could stay. I understand he was close to his Native American football coach as a young man and this helped to stay the authorities’ hands. Eventually they were removed, but their message emblazoned across Alcatraz’ famous water tank is still there today.

    Chris and I went into a small room in the old fort where they had a humble display telling of the occupation and what it meant to Native American peoples across the country. Loved it.

    What can I say about Fisherman’s Wharf? It’s tired. There are still lots of eateries there. You’re
    supposed to chow down on the clam chowder. We didn’t but saw plenty of others doing so. It
    looked good, but we were not hungry at that stage. It’s all fish at the Wharf, so prawns is where my
    title comes in. Madame Tussauds, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, which I did go to 30 years ago and still
    have a very fetching picture of myself standing next to a life-size statue of the world’s tallest man,
    Robert Wadlow. It’s all still there. Pier 39 was more vibrant, cleaner, more alive and more colourful I must say. I bought a nice little rainbow San Francisco key ring in a souvernir shop. Very happy with
    that.

    Which leads me to the Castro. This gay Mecca is famous the world over as San Fran’s LGBTIQ district
    and made even more famous by the untimely death/murder of Local Councilman Harvey Milk, whose story was told in the recent film 'Milk' where Harvey is played by Sean Penn. The Castro is alive with lots of
    gays and lots of diversty, plenty of places to eat and drink and just to hang out. I liked its vibe very
    much. It is actually very rare for gay people to be in a place where you’re not hopelessly outnumbered by straight people. It's a nice feeling. I would definitely go back next time I’m here if there is ever a next
    time. We did a little shopping there this afternoon and then had a great chat over a beer with a gorgeous barman at a little bar called Blackbirds. So I like the Castro. Till next time.
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  • Day3

    A Palace on the Port

    September 3, 2018 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Strolling along the Marina district trying to get our first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge, which we did, but it was enshrouded in fog, we happened upon the Palace of Fine Arts. Never heard of it. Never knew it was here. But looking back away from the Bridge I spotted this giant domey thing just begging by its sheer size and grand architecture to be visited.

    The Palace of Fine Arts opens up as you wander through it. Built around an artificial lagoon, its truly humungous Corinthian columns rise all around you topped by giant statuary:
    some looked like gods
    ancient heroes
    four women standing around a giant block atop one column all looking in and bending over. I suggested they looked like they were crying, but Chris thought they were all checking their social media on their smartphones.

    The Palace of Fine Arts was built in 1915 for an Expo in San Francisco. Having an expo in the middle of World War I is an interesting idea and a question for another time. I understand the Palace was one of ten Palaces for the Exhibition, the only one still standing . Apparently San Franciscans loved it so much that they set up a Palace of Fine Arts Preservation Society which clearly won the day. Because here it still stands, waiting to be discovered by a couple of Novocastrians looking for a giant bridge.

    Its architecture, based on ancient Roman and Greek styles, is called Beaux Arts. No, I didn't know that the moment I saw it, as in "Ah Chris, notice this fine rotunda with interesting relief on the cupola in the Beaux Arts style". "Why I do declare you're right Stuart." I looked it up in Wiki. One of the original architects, Bernard Maybeck, came to our aid after we left as we were dry and parched and hungry, so headed off into a nice little establishment called Maybecks, with a stunning copper bar, for a beer and chips.
    You can take the Aussie out of Australia but - - - -
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  • Day142

    If you are going to San Francisco...

    October 27, 2017 in the United States ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    Unsere Zeit in San Francisco war sehr schön! Am Ende haben wir noch eine interessante Tour durch China Town gemacht. San Francisco hat das größte China Town in America und die Bewohner dort sind durch sehr schwere Zeiten gegangen und wurden nicht immer so akzeptiert wie heute! Wir haben einiges über ihre Geschichte gelernt und gesehen wie Gluckskekse hergestellt werden!Read more

  • Day2

    Almanac brewing taproom

    October 24, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 88 °F

    Last year, when we came out for Stu & Clay's wedding, this taproom didn't exist. But Tim knew it had opened, so we made the pilgrimage and it totally exceeded our expectations. Beautiful outdoor seating. so many awesome beers. Highly recommend.

You might also know this place by the following names:

Victoria Mews

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