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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fire Museum by Margot Justes

Last Saturday we spent the day without power due to a storm that blanketed the area with darkness. About one o'clock Saturday morning the power went out as did the sump pump and an hour later the back-up pump quit. All is now under control.

The weekend before that I spent time with Dina, and we paid a visit to Indianapolis, Indiana. After breakfast at the Hilton, (which was delicious and highly recommended) we opted for a walking tour of the city.

The heat and humidity notwithstanding, Indy is a great city to see on foot. We hiked to Massachusetts Ave and the highly anticipated 'best chocolate in town' shop, it didn't disappoint and the gelato was a welcome surprise in the stifling heat.

There were a couple of art boutiques, where we browsed and a few galleries which unfortunately were closed on Saturdays.

The highlight of the day was a visit to the Indianapolis Fire Museum, an amazing place that opened in 1996 in a remodeled fire station. The fire station dates back to 1872, the building bought by the fire fighters union has been fully restored and also serves as the Union Headquarters.

Guided tours are offered by retired fire fighters. It is a living and breathing memorial to past, present and future fire fighters. I got a tiny glimpse of life in a fire station, beautifully restored, the building has antique fire equipment on display, and 'the Survive Alive program' which teaches children what to do in case of fire. According to the brochure, about 20,000 children participate in the program annually.

A visit to that particular museum in Indianapolis should not be missed. I came away with a better understanding of the demands of the job. Chatting with our guide, I got the sense of the camaraderie that exists within the community and the willingness of that community to help others. It is not just a job, it is a profound calling to help others, and holds immense pride and shared brotherhood.

Evocative memories of those lost in the line of duty and the continuous support of family members were always within reach. The names were carved in the bricks, wall plaques, or simply the fire fighter telling me about comrades who lost their lives in various wars, fires and 09/11.

It was a deeply moving visit.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Mini Vacation by Margot Justes

I was lucky enough to play tourist both in my own neck of the woods-Chicago and New York.

My daughter received her MBA at Nary Pier last Saturday, so we spent the weekend in Chicago and had a delightful walking adventure. We had breakfast at the Marriott on Michigan Ave. and we were lucky enough to be seated in front of a huge window overlooking the magnificent mile.

We stopped at Bloomingdales and visited the Nespresso boutique and of course had coffee. It was a terrific family weekend that culminated with Solonge's graduation.

Monday I flew to NY for an altogether different adventure. The Marriott Marquis located in Times Square fits the area well, loud and boisterous and doesn't seem to sleep, just like the famed spot.

I tried to see as much as I could and still manage to attend a few functions at the RWA conference.

What I thought would be a wonderful treat turned out to be a very expensive and great disappointment. The high tea at the Plaza hotel fell far short of expectation. The recommended bold tea was anything but, served in a pouch, it was weak and pretty much lacking in flavor. The bread of the finger sandwiches had been cut and allowed to sit, because when served it had that cut and dried prepared hours ago feel to them.

The best part was the volcanic scone eruption. I picked up my scone and tried to gently pull it apart, a scone will easily divide in half if not desiccated with age. This cone erupted, crumbled and tiny specs scattered everywhere. Rather like a crumbly volcanic fall-out.

When I finally was able to get the waiter to ask him for more hot water, I told him this was literally the crumbiest scone I've ever had, his reply was, "believe it or not, it is very fresh." My reply, "Seriously?" He never even asked if I wanted another scone. The price of that delight was $50.00 plus tip. Visit the hotel, the building is gorgeous, but for tea head to the Waldorf Astoria.

If you're in Chicago and want high tea, there are 3 places I recommend, the Russian Tea Time restaurant, it's small and intimate but serves a delightful high tea, the Russian food is good too. The Drake Hotel for the ambiance and an excellent tea service, but the best is the Peninsula hotel because the food is exceptional but service can be inattentive.

Till next time.
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris