Author’s Archive: Jelena D

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The Plaza in Midtown Kansas City, an Exciting Place for Families

Kansas City is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. Although it does not appear to be advancing, there are many parts of Kansas City that the residents and tourists are not aware of. Kansas City is filled with a variety of things to do and see for all ages. The Plaza area located in Midtown Kansas City, is a heavily populated section for businesses and attractions. Equipped with shopping, restaurants, and family activities, the Plaza is easily accessible and there is plenty of spacious parking. Although parking is not a major problem, there are a number of garages and free spaces available located right in the Plaza area.

Most people visiting the Plaza area enjoy walking while enjoying the music and visitors that frequent this part of Kansas City.

Kansas City is divided in divisions such as North, South, East, Midtown, and Downtown Kansas City. Residents from all parts of the metro visit the Plaza. They are more frequent from the months of March through September.

The main attraction of the Plaza is the fountain. The fountain of water constantly runs throughout the day and night. During the peek times of the Kansas City Royals baseball season; the water is blue and then red for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Next to the large fountain is a track. Walkers and runners take full advantage of exercising on the track in a beautiful area. On the inside of the track is grass. Families often picnic and engage in group activities of reading and Frisbee throwing for entertainment.

The Plaza is conveniently located within a selection of upscale shops. Armani Exchange, The Coach Store, Bebe, and Urban Outfitters, are just a few of the places people shop at in the Plaza area. Although these stores are very popular, there are over 50 stores in the Plaza district.

Along with shops are restaurants. There is a mixture of food dining to suit the needs over everyone. The Cheesecake Factory is one the busiest and the most spacious one for Plaza visitors. There are others places such as sports bars; including Chinese and Italian restaurants. A McDonalds is also there for the people who wish to keep it simple.

Other themes to enjoy are the Barnes and Nobel Bookstore and AMC movie theatres located within walking distance as well.

The one attraction that brings beauty to the area are the horse carriages. There are several that transport passengers during the day into late in the evening. There is no age limit and many riders are normally families of three or four.

The Plaza is located directly on a bus line throughout the area. Other businesses close to the Plaza include, Saint Lukes Hospital, The University of Missouri-Kansas City, The Marriott and Holiday Inn, several banking centers, and the Westport District.

The Plaza is an older area of Kansas City, nonetheless it is trendy and family oriented. Family members of all ages can enjoy a day on the Plaza in Midtown Kansas City.

The Green Tortoise Backpackers Hostel In San Francisco, California: Hostel Review

You’ll find the Green Tortoise on Broadway in San Francisco, in the North Beach neighborhood not far from the TransAmerica Pyramid. This is a pretty good location, with North Beach right in front of you, and Chinatown, Nob Hill, the water and Embarcadero within easy walks, and a couple of bus lines that can hook you up with the MUNI and BART trains in a fairly short ride. It does put you right in the heart of the seedy part of North Beach though, with strip clubs literally surrounding you, and at the focal point of attention of drunkard jerk out-of-towners who cruise in to PARTAAAY WOOOOOO every Friday and Saturday night. Whether this is a bonus or not is up to you.

The hostel itself sort of focuses on extreme sociability, late-night partying and sort of a hippie, weed-smoking culture (read more about the cultural diversity) so if you want a quiet bed for the night, this is totally the wrong choice. If you want to hit a beer bong (or real bong), however, and possibly hook up with some loose backpacker types then this is definitely first on your list of San Francisco hostels.

I don’t mean to knock the hostel in that regard, just to realistically prepare people for what it is. Like the Green Tortoise travel bus service they provide, the focus is basically young people with cash to fritter away partying. That’s what you should expect. If you want a quieter hostel nearby check out the HI in Fort Mason over by Fisherman’s Wharf.

Amenities are better here than what you usually get for the price. The staff usually preps a free dinner for everyone, there’s a “continental breakfast” of bagels, muffins, fruit, coffee and tea included with the price, and the under-bed lockers they provide for storage are larger than many of the in-room lockers at other hostels in the city (some of which can’t accommodate a standard backpacker-sized backpack.) Oh, they got a free pool table in-house too.

Dorm beds are 30 bucks per night here during the tourist season (May to October) and 25 bucks per night during the off season (November to April). Up until a year or so ago they were 17 bucks per night most of the year, which made this one of the cheapest hostels in the city, but not so anymore – their rates are up there with HI now. They also have private rooms in a separate building, at 60 bucks per night during the off-season and 70 bucks per night during the summer. $20 deposit required in all cases.

The price used to be a big draw in spite of the general noise level, now not so much anymore. Private rooms are about as low as you’ll get for a by-the-night rate in this part of San Francisco, though, so you might look into that. As far as the dorms go, definitely be willing to not get a full night of sleep, but that may be the sort of thing you are looking for.

The Green Tortoise Backpackers Hostel
494 Broadway
San Francisco, CA 94133

The Brookfield Center For The Arts In Brookfield, Connecticut

The Brookfield Craft Center in Brookfield, Connecticut has been open for business as a non-profit showcase for local and national artist to hone their skills and display their work to the delight of customers who have come from far and wide for the last 50 years. Or more simply put in the words of local resident Maggie Lyons, who doubles as an aspiring artist and regular customer, “Oh yeah, I’m all about it.”

Ms. Lyons stands with many others in the area on the same page as Nancy Haymeyer did in 1955 when she saw the opportunity to help preserve the skills of fine craftsmanship and promote the artists hoping to pursue them. The building next to the brook served as a grist mill for almost 200 years and had been a center for agricultural issues until it was pretty much abandoned by the late 1940’s, according to the center’s Executive Director Jack Russell.

Today, the old mill still appears on the register of historical places in Connecticut, but making its own mark on history for the craft center remains mostly in the past. “It’s really at the heart of our civilization,” says Mr. Russell, “because people have always been makers of things – whether they were making tools or art or clothing.

They haven’t always had a place where so many minds could meet under one roof with common cause. “The craft center offers upwards of 400 classes and workshops during the year in almost every topic imaginable from traditional things like woodworking, ceramics and weaving to some fairly unusual craft skills like wooden boat building, wood turning, glass blowing and blacksmithing,” says Mr. Russell.

It often translates into visits that end happily for gift givers like Lisa Bonavita. “I love the idea of giving something that’s different that they can’t get somewhere else,” she says, and the more the merrier as recepients realize the artisans mostly hail from the area, she adds.

The art appreciation and creation also flows both ways as New York City resident Michelle Melton has found. Having developed a liking to the wood objects over the years that are offered at the center, she says a class in wood turning lays ahead because “I want to learn how to make them.”

Other artists come from transcontinental locations such as California, Canada and Europe, but most find their way to the cozy three story artisan Mecca from the tri-state area and the mid-Atlantic region, says Mr. Russell. And whether their art pays most of the rent or only serves as an original birthday present, Mr. Russell piggy backs the words “very interesting” to profile the artists augmenting their skills at the center.

In addition to being craft artists, many of them are musicians, many of them are great cooks, many of them have interests in gardening or farming or nature,” he says. Mr. Russsell describes it all as being part of their whole lifestyle, while the center finds the average student taking between three and five glasses a year. They continue on at the center for about three to five years until they get to a point where they are able to go out and do it on their own.

Doing it on their own and at home without five years of working on a fine line gives all ranges of artists the opportunity to make easy functional art in the center’s polymer clay workshops. Polymer clay is a man made material invented about 15 years ago. It has been very popular as hobby art for children but has been picked up by professional artists in recent years with the wide range of colors it offers. The real appeal to both the home and the all the way artist, is that it can be hardened at home in the oven with the baked ziti at 250 degrees.

The Brookfield Center does not recommend the mix but this has become a very popular class according to Mr. Russell because “People can learn how to form pots on a wheel and fire them and take them home and use them.”

It definitely can get more complicated than spinning clay on a tray especially when the center moves backwards and east to the middle. A course earning the name Rediscovering Damascus, which dates its technique back to the middle ages and Middle East, is a highly technical form of Blacksmithing. “Steel is layered and pounded out and layered and pounded out and over time after layer upon layer you get a contoured kind of surface where the various layers of the metal show as profile rings on the surface,” says Mr. Russell.

Originally perfected to make swords, it seems the Brookfield artists have stuck to the basics on this one, as no weapons were on display but Ms. Bonavita finds prices very reasonable no matter where and when they date from “If you’ve ever done any type of artwork,” she says, “you know how much time that goes into it.

Maggie Lyons, besides liking the upstate New York feel of the place, chimes in on the same wavelength regarding the wide range of prices available off route 202 in Fairfield County. “I think anything hand crafted is reasonable,” she said especially if one spends a little time browsing the local malls.

It follows then, according to Mr. Russell, that large manufacturers cut corners, use the most economical material, and put profit motive ahead of all other concerns. As long as the rows of shelves are filled with cost effective ash trays, no one notices – except maybe the surgeon general. In contrast, he says, Brookfield “artists make this work to be the best it possibly can be by using the best materials and thinking very much about the end user, which is the consumer.

The floor workers at the center also think about the end user by appearing not to be thinking so intently about the end user. People are free to browse without the feeling of being rushed into their wallets by an eager teenager hoping to make quota. “Many of the volunteers are artists themselves, says Mr. Russell, “so it’s a good human experience because it’s the opposite of high pressure sales.”

It is the opposite of low volume learning though. The mission statement claims “to act as a clearinghouse for information related to handcrafts.” A claim that Mr. Russell can express in detail.

Since the artisans and students are often very intelligent and have varied experience over a wide spectrum of knowledge, there is a sharing of ideas that separates Brookfield from the typical classroom experience. “We call them workshops,” he says, “because they’re more than just classes where the instructor knows everything and the students know nothing and the instructor just talks and the students just listen.”

He describes this fellowship as a hallmark of these workshops which allows people to perfect there skills. And when students take that journey to a point of their own choosing, “it really makes us feel great when someone starts at the beginning and ends as a working artist,” he says.

Rich Monetti interview of Jack Russell, Maggie Lyons, Lisa Bonavita, Michelle Melton

Visit Kansas City's Past Through History

Although Kansas City began as a simple trading post to serve the needs of early trappers and the westward bound pioneers, the site soon grew into a booming city. Still an agriculture and rail center, Kansas City has a diverse history relected in the many museums and historical sites available to those who wish to trace the past.

Begin a journey into the city’s history at the Kansas City Museum in Kessler Park (3218 Gladstone Boulevard). Within the walls of Corinthain Hall, a fifty room former mansion, visitors find a working 1910 soda fountain where they can quench their thirst. Other exhibits feature rivers, the land, the early trappers and settlers, Osage Indians, and much more. A hall of natural history and a planetarium are also on site.

Other museums within the metropolitan area include The Libery Museum of World War I at Pershing and Main streets downtown. The 217 foot tall tower is visible for blocks and the museum complex offers a video presentation to complement the other exhibits that include canons, caissons, and other memorabilia.

Echoes of the city’s African-American history can be found at The Museums at 18th and Vine in the heart of the old jazz district. The American Jazz Museum traces the musical roots of the jazz movement and the Negro League Baseball Museum nearby offers an insight into the days when even sports were segregated.

In the River Market area, vistors can relive the era of steam travel at the Arabia Steamboat Museum. Discovered buried beneath the surface of a farmer’s field along the Missouri River in 1989, the Arabia sank in 1856. Items recovered from the sunken ship include frontier supplies, vintage clothing and shoes, firearms, medicines, bottled fruits and vegetables, jewelry and more. Stand on the full size reproduction of the deck to experience a moment from the past.

If playthings from the past are of interest, visitors to K.C. will delight in the Toy and Miniature Museum on Oak Street. Antique toys that include dolls and trains cover a vast area and include more than 80 furnished doll houses.

Union Station, a former railway station, at 30 West Pershing houses a science museum, theaters, and restaurants. Half of all GI’s deployed during the second World War passed beneath the landmark clock and more than 70,000 trains travled through this terminal in World War I. The site became infamous when several high profile gangsters were gunned down outside in what was dubbed “The Kansas City Massacre”.

The city’s emphasis on agriculture can be traced at the American Royal Museum and Visitor’s Center west of downtown. A film is available on Kansas City’s history and interactive displays educate both old and young.

Shoppers will find ways to pass the time with a visit to Country Club Plaza, the first planned shopping center in the United States. First opened in 1922, Country Club Plaza remains a viable shopping district today. With 55 acres of shops that include anchors Saks Fifth Avenue and FAO Schwarz, Country Club Plaza is at 47th Street and J.C. Nichols parkway. During December, many visitors come to see the lighted shopping center in a long standing holiday tradition.

Nearby, those with an interest in former Presidents can visit the home of President Harry Truman at 223 Main Street in Independence, Missouri. The site where both Truman and his wife lived until their deaths is open to the public and filled with the Victorian furnishings that date to their marriage.

A trip to Independence offers the opportunity to visit The Truman Presidential Museum and Library, located on U.S. 24 and Delaware Street.

Nearby Kearney offers a look into the criminal mind at the Jesse James Musuem, a historic site that is the birthplace of the noted outlaw. Restored to James’ boyhood era, the home is open to the public.

Kansas City is both cowtown and cosmopolitan center. The city offers an abundance of musuems and historical sites. Additional information can be obtained from the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Kansas City at ll00 Main Street, KCMO, 64105 or by calling 1-800-767-7700

5 Most Exciting Things To Do In The Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is one of Australia’s choicest tourist destinations. It has dozens of clean and scenic beaches, a wide range of theme parks, exciting boat rides, whale watching opportunities, and live dinner shows. That is why it is known as a major hub of entertainment for fun seekers and holidaymakers. Here are some of the most exciting things you can do in the Gold Coast.

5 Most Exciting Things To Do In The Gold Coast

1. Explore Beautiful Beaches

The Gold Coast has a coastline that stretches for about 57 kilometres, providing plenty of clean sand and water for those who like to surf or bask in the sunshine. Each of the beaches including Palm Beach, Nobby Beach, Main Beach, Duranbah, Currumbin, Coolangatta, Broad Beach, and the popular Surfers’ Paradise provide something unique. They are also extremely clean because locals take tremendous pride in their beaches. In addition, Surf Live Savers walk along each beach and most of them provide a mixture of barbecue and picnic areas as well as restaurants and cafés. Visitors will enjoy using the walking tracks to explore the coastline and cherish the scenic views of the beautiful coastline.

2. Take a Ride on a Jet Boat

Jet boat rides offer a more exciting way to explore the shores of the Gold Coast than a typical sea cruise. You will be able to view the marinas, surrounding islands and city skyline while you enjoy various stunts including high speed drifting and 360-degree spinning. You can also view a couple of beautiful landmarks such as the Palazzo Versace hotel, the Sea World theme park, and the South Stradbroke Island while you have some fun on the way. Most jet boat rides are scheduled to last for an hour, or half an hour. You should always remember to wear your sunglasses when you go on these rides. Wearing sunglasses will shield your eyes from the reflection of the sun’s rays off the water and protect them from the spray of salt water.

3. Visit An Amusement Park

The theme parks in Gold Coast make a very popular destination for families visiting from other states and overseas. This is one of the major features that distinguishes the Gold Coast from other holiday resorts in Australia. Each theme park has high quality attractions and at least one major feature that sets it apart from the rest. Some provide amazing aquatic fun while others provide rope courses and zip-lines that allow you to travel over forests and lakes which have live crocodiles! Some of these zip-lines are up to 200 metres in length. Each of these parks has a variety of rides and slide shows designed for all ages and you find something fascinating to do or see during each season of the year.

4. Explore Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the leading coastal, wildlife and adventure rain forests in the Gold Coast. Formerly called the Currumbin Bird’s Sanctuary, this wildlife park has hundreds of Australian animals residing in a natural bushland setting. It offers one of the best opportunities for true family sightseeing. You can see the wild lorikeet feeding, feed kangaroos and parrots, cuddle a koala, and watch the Snakes Alive show. In addition to the variety of animals, the park also has little trains that take you around the park. Also, there is an exciting tree ropes course for kids known as the Green Challenge. Here children can climb ladders, hang out in trees and balance on suspended bridges.

5. Go Whale Watching

The Gold Coast ranks among one of Australia’s best destinations for whale watching. Their annual migratory season usually starts towards the end of May and extends up to early November every year. The whales migrate towards Australia’s east coast every year as they move in search of warmer waters. During this time, you will have the opportunity to take a tour to see them while they come out to play. More than 10,000 whales move close the shores of the Gold Coast every year. The massive shallow bay provides a good location for these humpbacks to rest and play on their journey to the Great Barrier Reef. Various tour operators provide some guarantees while some offer to refund your money if no whales are cited on the trip.


Those are some of the exciting activities you can do when you visit the Gold Coast. To have the best experience in the Gold Coast, you should endeavour to book in advance for these activities and visit at the most suitable season.