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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
#415-834-1000
http://www.greentortoisehostel.com/

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

Humayun’s tomb Delhi

Delhi is a significant place which can satiate your hunger for travel.  With its historical significance, the place has become one of the major tourist attractions.

ThePalaceonWheels.org provides the special offer on the booking of luxury train on the selected departure dates. In this article, we are going to discuss about top 5 tourist attractions of Delhi , significant in their own way. So let’s begin!

Humayun’s Tomb

Top 5 Places To Visit In Delhi

Known as the first Garden Tomb of India, this magnificent architecture stands on the banks of river Yamuna. Suggestive of the name, the tomb houses the mortal remains of the Mughal Emperor Humayun and many other Mughal descendants. Patronized by Humayun’s chief consort, Bega Begam , this was built in the year 1569-70. The tomb is situated in the Nizamuddin East area of Delhi. In 1993 this fabulous piece of architecture was declared a WORLD HERITAGE SITE by UNESCO due to its unique fusion of islamic and Persian style  with a subtle touch of Indian exuberance. It is embellished with six sided stars and is built from granite , red sandstone and marble. Its main features are jaalis , door frames and chhajjas and  stands on an elevated platform.

Qutab Minar

Top 5 Places To Visit In Delhi

Built by Qutub – ud – din Aibak , the founders of the Mamluk dynasty, this complex is located in Mehrauli , Delhi and has various other structures built inside the campus. There is a spiral staircase with a flight of 379 steps. The building tilts at angle at a height of 65 m from the ground. The Minar has been built with red sandstone and marble. Balconies protrude out of every storey, suported by corbels.

Red Fort

Top 5 Places To Visit In Delhi

Holding a historical significance, the Red Fort was known to be the ma8n residence of the Mughal Emperors. Located at the centre of the city, this monument derived its name from the Red sandstone walls of which it is built. Architected by Ustad Muhammad Lahauri, this imposing piece of architecture, is a mixture of the Indian, Persian and Timurid style. The structure of the Fort is octagonal and is surrounded by several gates. Lahori, Ajmeri, Kashmiri, Delhi , Mori and Turkman gates are the prominent.

The premises of the Fort houses various structures known such as Diwan-i-Am, Diwan-i-khaas, Moti Masjid and Narh-i- Bashisht.

It was declared a WORLD HERITAGE SITE in 2007.

India Gate

Top 5 Places To Visit In Delhi

Popularly known as the India Gate, located along  Rajpath in New Delhi, this massive, awe inspiring Gate was built to commemorate the 82 thousand soldiers, both Indian and British who laid down their lives in the First World War and Third Anglo Afghan War.This War memorial is often compared to Gateway of India in Mumbai and Arch of Constantine in Time.

National Zoological Park

Top 5 Places To Visit In Delhi

This zoo was inaugurated in 1959 and was previously known as Delhi zoo. It is a home to almost all the species of animals from big cats to tiny birds. The animals not only live in an environment close to their natural habitat but also are helped in breeding. Conservation programs for Asiatic lions, Royal Bengal tigers and various other animals are held in order to make them capable of thriving in the wild. It is a favourite weekend attraction for adults as well as children.

Palace on Wheels start and end their journey from Delhi. Visit these gems of -Delhi and satisfy you wanderlust.