Free Night at Portland Art Museum

Like this blog, I had been avoiding the Portland Art Museum since our return from Europe.  Perhaps I had art museum fatigue.  And summer was coming.  And the current exhibits weren’t very interesting.  And also, it costs 12 bucks to get in.  So, being the cheapskates, ahem, “conscious consumers” we are, we got the scoops on the free night each month (currently the 4th Friday)… and promptly forgot about it for months.  I know, terrible.

Modern Art

Photo by CafeMama

I recently happened upon an article about photographer Catherine Opie having an exhibit at the art museum, and we only had one free night left to see it.  Oh, it was on like Donkey Kong.

Parking sucks anywhere downtown, so we usually just leave the car home and walk or take the streetcar.  The streetcar has an Art Museum stop, so duh.  Awesomeness.  And free.  Awesomer-ness.

The museum is free from 5pm to 8pm, and they make checking in pretty painless.  Hand stamp, free bag/coat check, and off you go.  I didn’t learn until later that you could rent an iPod Touch to enhance your museum experience, or download their (of course) iPhone/iPod Touch app to do the same.  Sweet.

The museum is divided into two buildings– one side for the contemporary art and the other for everything else– connected by a cool underground tunnel (ok, ok, so I happen to think tunnels are inherently cool; am I alone here, people??).  The exhibit we wanted to see was on the contemporary side, and since we tend to take forever when touring anything with placards… well, we decided to concentrate Friday evening’s explorations on just that one side of the museum.

Because it was Free Night, it was crowded.  Singles, couples, families, cliques, guide dogs– everyone having a night on the town, getting their culture on.

Since the Opie exhibit was on the top floor, we thought we’d be smart and take the elevator up and work our way down.  Yeah.  Didn’t count on that elevator being really, really slow.  Or the crowds of equally capable folks stepping smartly up the steps.  Or that dude rollin’ up in his wheelchair, separated from his friends stepping smartly up the steps because of his wheelchair.  I love gentle reminders.

The climb to the top took less than five minutes.

Catherine Opie

Catherine Opie

So after all that, the exhibit, while interesting, was very… abbreviated.  Opie is a great photographer; I would have loved to have seen more of her work.

Like any museum, the rest of the Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art was a hodgepodge of love-it-or-hate-it pieces.  There was the usual collection of splash-paint-on-canvas crud mixed in with solid blocks of color with highfalutin’ names.  Lots of diamonds in the rough, though, which always make a museum visit worth it.

If you happened to follow our European tour of world-class museums, you may have been interested in seeing the great works yourself.  Now, you don’t need a plane ticket or even museum admission to see the good stuff.  Enter Google Art Project.  For those familiar with Google Street View, you can now tour a long list of awesome museums from the comfort of your own browser.  From Florence’s Uffizzi to New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), there’s plenty to see and admire… without the stern security staff.

Amazing Amsterdam…

We are getting ready to head out to Berlin tomorrow and have spent some time reflecting upon the city of AMS and just how much we have enjoyed our time here.

The Heineken Experience was most excellent – complete with two free samples! 😉 Check out the e komo mai on the wall — too cool!

We were even individually bottled!

We were even individually bottled!

liking Heineken more and more...

liking Heineken more and more...


We also enjoyed our time canal biking… or at least that’s what we keep telling ourselves! 😉 We kind of did get lost but quickly found and decided that two hours of it was just enough.

ummmm...we're both supposed to fit in there?  just checking....

ummmm...we're both supposed to fit in there? just checking....

can it really be that old?

can it really be that old?

they call it canal biking - not as relaxing as one might think it would be when you're trying to navigate!

they call it canal biking - not as relaxing as one might think it would be when you're trying to navigate!

Like trailers on the water...but less trashy

Like trailers on the water...but less trashy

We love the transportation system, the walk-friendly traffic, the (mostly) friendly people, and the pretty decent food. Prices are a little higher than Seattle/Honolulu for in-house seated dining. Service is a little slow overall but excellent when you get it. Anywho – we’re building a table to track a few characteristics of each major city that we visit. We’ll post it soon – I’ve gotta figure out how to do it. Heehee…

You’ve gotta love a town where bicycle = SUV and there’s no social pressure to change that. Beautiful…

Amsterdam!

We made it! We arrived safe and sound in Amsterdam! Since I don’t quite know where to start or exactly how to do this whole “blogging” thing – which is why I think I’ve dragged my feet a little bit — here goes nothing — I’m just going to “talk story” with you…come along for the ride….

We had some flight craziness – the one leaving Seattle was delayed by 1.5 hours so we missed the connecting flight in London and had to take a later one. We were pretty cool about the delay in Seattle and nice to the attendant and when we got up to the ticket counter to board the plane they pulled us aside and said – wait, you’re not going to row 31, we’ve got better seats for you and printed out a pass for Club World (British Airways). When we got to our seats we were blown over. We could sit facing each other in a pod-like seat with a personal fold-out TV, fully reclining seat, footrest, and all the drinks we could handle. When the flight attendant came up to us pre-board and asked if we wanted a drink, “Champagne, OJ, or water” – we were so blown over that we kept thinking they’d ask us to leave the area and just took the OJ! 😉

Here are some pics of the plane and the excellent food – complete with several courses to each one and multiple utensils!!

Dinner Salad

Note my feet in the background -- ahhhh....  footrest...

Note my feet in the background -- ahhhh.... footrest...

When we arrived we had to figure out the train station to the hotel transportation and once we figured out which credit/debit cards would work, we were able to board without too much difficulty. We arrived at the hotel at about 1 am and initially had a hard time gaining access and getting our room but it all turned out fine and we were asleep by 3.

We’ve spent the last two days getting acclimated and trying to get over jet lag – we finally slept through the night last night, so I think the worst is over (you know, waking up about once every two hours throughout the night…).

We’ve toured throughout the central party of the city, walking waaaaayyy too much on the first day. Did I mention that I think I’ll be abandoning a pair of shoes here? LOL – they were killing me by the end and I think I’m going sandals all the way!! 😉

The second day we spent working out some transportation snafus. We know that everyone speaks English here very well — and usually multiple languages, so I expected more of the signs and transportation-related notices to be in English. Alas – it’s all Dutch to me! We also toured the Red Light District quite accidentally – stumbling upon our first of many windows with scantily clad women in them. We were there around late afternoon and actually walked around enough to notice the change over from the day shift to the night shift workers. Let me tell you the day shifters were an interesting bunch – the 60+ year old granma really took the cake! She was really working it too — I swear she was closer to 70 than 60. Yipes!

One thing we noticed was the women are like the food vending machines they have everywhere – you walk up, pic what you want, pay for it and move on…

(No pics of the women allowed (unless we paid I guess) so you’ll just have to imagine for yourself. Instead, here is a shot of the vending machines):

Food vending...take your pick!

Here are some street shots/building shots – the architecture is amazing and is literally all-over the city like this. Beautiful!

Beautiful Day

Not sure what this was...but it was nice!

Yet again... ;-)

What a view - while drinking a latte - or as they call it here in direct translation -- a child's drink!  ;-)

A nice canal pic...

Check the dates on the buildings - the young one's from 1901!  The one next to it is 1619 I think...

So we’re wandering around yesterday and happen to be on this amazing little Dutch street right next to a canal bridge when I suddenly saw the Google car coming right directly for us! We were definitely in the pics because I was trying to take their picture as they drove by! What are the chances? Too cool!

Google Car!!!

Okay, so I promise to write more frequently in this blog and won’t worry so much about whether or not the writing is concise, funny, or includes insightful and witty commentary. If ya’ll don’t mind, I’m just going to talk stories little while….

Final Packing!!!

We had an absolutely fantastic 4th of July at Tiki Bar Bill’s house. It had great food, and a truly explosive fireworks competition with the neighbors. I screamed so hard that I’ve kind of lost my voice today!

Thanks Bill and Tammy for your exceedingly wonderful hospitality. Thanks for coming out to spend time Mo – hope you had fun too.

Everything fits into a tiny backpack and one tiny bag. I’m so excited to be heading out and very scared at the same time. As I write this we still have yet to determine which laptops will be making the trip with us. Interesting events have transpired so we’ll have to see who makes the cut.

I’ll weigh the bags tomorrow to see how much we’ll be lugging around. We’ve done a good job of “slimming down” our lives so to speak. Now if only we felt free enough to leave our heavy Rick Steves books at home. I just don’t think I’m ready to give them up. So – here’s to each of us carrying one heavy book and one laptop – but which one…? Stay tuned…

Oh yeah and I had to take my jewelry off to store it so I don’t look like I have anything interesting to steal. Good times – we love you guys — wish us luck!!