Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sights to See: mid-century modern architecture with the Palm Springs Mod Squad, Palm Springs, California


The Palm Springs Mod Squad specializes in architecture and design tours.  The 90-minute Essential Palm Springs Tour shows you prime examples of mid-century modern architecture (it is limited to just five participants because of private car size).  In addition, it is a good opportunity to see the town’s neighborhoods and learn some movie star history, and you’ll learn more than you can possibly absorb about desert post-modernism in Palm Springs.  If you want to get good pictures, do sit on the right side--which is the right side of the car. 
exterior of Palm Springs Visitors Center, Palm Springs, California
exterior of Palm Springs Visitors Center, Palm Springs, California


Buildings seen on The Essential Palm Springs Tour:

Mirage house  At end of East Racquet Club Rd., past the guard house.  
guard house in Palm Springs, California
guard house in Palm Springs, California

The site-specific Mirage house art installation by Doug Aiken is in the form of a ranch-style house but composed of reflective mirrored surfaces.  Minus doors and windows, it reflects and disappears into the desert landscape.  It is part of the “Desert X” art exhibition but will remain on exhibition after that closes on October 31, 2017.
exterior of Mirage house in Palm Springs, California
exterior of Mirage house in Palm Springs, California

exterior of Mirage house in Palm Springs, California
exterior of Mirage house in Palm Springs, California  


Robo Lights  1077 E Granvia Valmonte, in Movie Colony District, (760) 200-4143.  Open seasonally in December, daily 4-9:30pm.  By donation, $5.  Owned and designed by Kenny Irwin Jr., this colorful display of recycled “junque art” is in a neighborhood known for good Christmas lights.

Robo Lights house in Palm Springs, California
Robo Lights house in Palm Springs, California


Kaufmann House  470 West Vista Chino Drive, in Old Las Palmas neighborhood.  Located in the neighborhood that is the Beverly Hills of the desert--where the Rat Pack once lived--this is one of the most famous homes in Palm Springs.  It was designed by Richard Neutra in 1946, was once owned by Barry Manilow, and now you can rent it for $8,000 per month. 
exterior of Kaufmann house in Palm Springs, California
exterior of Kaufmann house in Palm Springs, California



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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Great Sleeps: Holiday House, Palm Springs, California


Holiday House  200 W. Arenas Rd., downtown, (760) 320-8866.  28 rooms.  Age 21+.  Pool; hot tub.  Restaurant; breakfast included.  No phones or TVs.  Pets ok.  Free parking.  Resort fee $15/night, includes Wi-Fi, continental breakfast, and use of bikes.  This two-story boutique hotel is well situated in a long-established neighborhood and is just one block from downtown central Palm Springs and just a few blocks from the base of the San Jacinto mountains.  It has a beach-house-in-the-desert vibe that includes a beachy color scheme of blue and white.  At check in, we were welcomed with a “love beads” necklace to wear during our stay and offered a complimentary glass of rose to enjoy at our convenience (we picked it up later from the open-air bar, in a plastic cup to sip in the hot tub).  A large pool and hot tub dominate the center courtyard, and a shuffle board and several fire pits are adjacent.  Refreshing misters are used throughout to cool things down.  The property features midcentury-inspired elements and displays artwork that includes pieces by David Hockney, Roy Liechtenstein, and Mr. Brainwash.  Most rooms have either a balcony or patio with charming but hard-to-get-in-and-out-of butterfly chairs, and six patios have a private outdoor shower.  It is possible to turn off the AC for the night and open windows to the cool desert air, which also admits the sound of chirping birds in the morning.  The simple continental breakfast buffet includes hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruit, yogurt, granola, and housemade bread that makes delicious toast.  Holiday House’s sister property--Sparrows Lodge--is nearby.  It is similar but with a ranch decor.   

central courtyard at Holiday House in Palm Springs, California
central courtyard at Holiday House in Palm Springs, California



love beads at Holiday House in Palm Springs, California
love beads at Holiday House in Palm Springs, California



guest room at Holiday House in Palm Springs, California
guest room at Holiday House in Palm Springs, California



guest bathroom at Holiday House in Palm Springs, California
guest bathroom at Holiday House in Palm Springs, California



buffet breakfast at Holiday House in Palm Springs, California
buffet breakfast at Holiday House in Palm Springs, California



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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Things to Do: Jinli Old Street, Chengdu, China


Jinli Old Street  One of the oldest shopping streets in Sichuan Province, this street was also one of the busiest commercial areas during the Shu Kingdom (221-263).  Recently restored and re-opened to the public in 2004, it is now visited by throngs of people who come to stroll its lively streets, relax amid the traditional-style buildings, and sample local cuisine.  Shops, local crafts, and street performers add to the fun.

entrance gate to Jinli Old Street in Chengdu, China
entrance gate to Jinli Old Street in Chengdu, China

Starbucks on Jinli Old Street in Chengdu, China
Starbucks on Jinli Old Street in Chengdu, China

art brush seller on Jinli Old Street in Chengdu, China
art brush seller on Jinli Old Street in Chengdu, China

bored barker on Jinli Old Street in Chengdu, China
bored barker on Jinli Old Street in Chengdu, China

street performers on Jinli Old Street in Chengdu, China
street performers on Jinli Old Street in Chengdu, China

rickshaw ride on Jinli Old Street in Chengdu, China
rickshaw ride on Jinli Old Street in Chengdu, China






passion fruit snack on Jinli Old Street in Chengdu, China
passion fruit snack on Jinli Old Street in Chengdu, China

octopus and fish snack on Jinli Old Street in Chengdu, China
octopus and fish snack on Jinli Old Street in Chengdu, China


fruit popcicles on Jinli Old Street in Chengdu, China
fruit popcicles on Jinli Old Street in Chengdu, China


Located adjacent, the Wuhou Temple (Memorial Temple of Marquis Wu) is dedicated to Zhuge Liang, the Marquis Wu (Wuhou) of the Kingdom of Shu in the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280).  Surrounded by old cypresses and classical red walls, it displays clay sculptures of Emperor Shu and his ministers standing together.  The most valuable cultural relic is a huge 144-inch high by 37-inch wide stone slab monument (a stele) set up in 809.

entrance to Wuhou Temple in Chengdu, China
entrance to Wuhou Temple in Chengdu, China



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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sights to See: Chengdu, China


WHO KNEW ABOUT CHENGDU?

Located just a 2 ½-hour flight inland from Shanghai, Chengdu--the 2,000-plus-year-old capital of Sichuan--is the province’s second-largest city and the country’s fourth-largest.  With a population of 14 million, it is larger than--and perhaps glitzier than--NYC, yet it is considered only a second-tier city.  It is clean and prosperous, with leafy wide boulevards and a Kimpenski Hotel, Ferrari dealership, and huge Louis Vuitton boutique.  It is concrete and steel and high-rises as far as the eye can see.

highrise in downtown Chengdu, China
highrise in downtown Chengdu, China

Louis Vuitton in downtown Chengdu, China
Louis Vuitton in downtown Chengdu, China

The New Century Global Centre opened here in 2013.  It is the largest free-standing building in the world (in terms of floor area), and the claim is that 20 Sydney Opera Houses would fit inside.  Designed to be a self-contained city, under the dome inside it holds a Mediterranean “village,” a beach and water park, a pirate ship, an ice skating rink, a 14-screen IMAX cinema, and many hotels, not to mention plenty of shops.  An artificial sun provides light and heat.

New Century Global Centre at night in Chengdu, China
New Century Global Centre at night in Chengdu, China

Yet it remains best known for being the home of the rare giant panda.  Manufacturing is big in the surrounding area--70% of the world’s iPads are manufactured here.  But the pace is slower than in Beijing and Shanghai.  It is also a center for the silk brocade industry and known for hibiscus.

panda bear at research base in Chengdu, China
panda bear at research base in Chengdu, China

Located in a basin surrounded by mountains keeps the weather generally mild and comfortable, but in summer stifling humidity and rain storms can make it uncomfortable.  There is not much sunshine and rainfall can be heavy but that is how everything stays so very green.  September and October are the perfect months to visit the "Land of Heaven."


Asia’s first UNESCO-designated City of Gastronomy, Chengdu serves up refined Sichuan cuisine.  Be aware that if you come across some odd little things that look like they might be an exotic vegetable, they are most probably actually duck tongues--a local delicacy.  And you’ll know you’re getting real Sichuan peppercorns when your tongue feels the distinctive numbness. 

restaurant in Chengdu, China
restaurant in Chengdu, China


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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Great Sleeps: Shangri-La Hotel, Wenzhou; Wenzhou, China


Shangri-La Hotel, Wenzhou  1 Xiangyuan Road, Lucheng District, (86 577) 8998 8888.  5 stars.  409 rooms.  Indoor pool, hot tub; fitness center; full-service spa; lighted tennis court.  Located away from city center in the business district near local government offices, this luxury 5-star hotel built in 2009 overlooks the Ou River/Oujiang River.  It is a popular business hotel, but there is no night life or restaurants in the area.  The staff is especially accommodating and friendly, and many employees speak good English.  

view from guest room at Shangri-La Hotel, Wenzhou in Wenzhou, China
view from guest room at Shangri-La Hotel, Wenzhou in Wenzhou, China
 
guest room at Shangri-La Hotel, Wenzhou in Wenzhou, China
guest room at Shangri-La Hotel, Wenzhou in Wenzhou, China

The large lobby bar is furnished with upholstered chairs and couches and has a grand piano in the center as well as high ceilings, a long, drapey crystal chandelier, and floor-to-ceiling wall of windows looking out to a garden. 

lobby bar at Shangri-La Hotel, Wenzhou in Wenzhou, China
lobby bar at Shangri-La Hotel, Wenzhou in Wenzhou, China

O Cafe features various specialty food stations and is open all day,

O Cafe at Shangri-La Hotel, Wenzhou in Wenzhou, China
O Cafe at Shangri-La Hotel, Wenzhou in Wenzhou, China

happy noodle maker
 


while the Shang Palace Restaurant serves an all-you-can-eat dim sum.
Shang Palace Restaurant at Shangri-La Hotel, Wenzhou in Wenzhou, China
Shang Palace Restaurant at Shangri-La Hotel, Wenzhou in Wenzhou, China

spectacular foggy dessert pudding




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images and videos ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers