travel

One Day Only: Albany, NY

Last week I spent a day in the capital of the Empire State – Albany, NY.  I hadn’t really ever been to the capital (outside of a dazed campus tour of SUNY Albany in the late 90’s). I wasn’t expecting much, knowing that Albany is still recovering from the urban decline the city experienced in the 80’s. But there were a few pleasant surprises in downtown Albany.

I was most excited to see the impressive brutalist architecture at the Empire State Plaza, which was built under the direction of Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller between 1966-1978. The lead architect on the complex of government and state buildings was Wallace Harrison whose work includes the United Nations, La Guardia Airport, and the Lincoln Center complex, including the Metropolitan Opera House.

The construction and planning of the Plaza was somewhat of an engineering and financial debacle, but the result is a cluster of structures that surely can’t be ignored. Preservationists and beaux-arts enthusiasts have dismissed the collection of imposing buildings as mediocre behemoths of modern architecture. Most people hate brutalist architecture. I really like it.

Cultural-education-center

Cultural Education Center

Agency-Office-Buildings-Empire-State-Plaza-Albany-NY

Agency Office Buildings – Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY

The-Egg-Triangles-and-Arches-Alexander-Calder-Empire-State-Plaza

From right to left: Corning Tower // Triangles and Arches by Alexander Calder (1965) // Trio by George Sugarman (1969-1971) // The Egg Performing Arts Center // The Justice Building // The New York State Capitol

Cultural-Education-Center-Empire-State-Plaza-Albany-NY

Cultural Education Center

Agency-Building-1-Empire-State-Plaza

Agency Building 1

NY-State-Capitol-Building

New York State Capitol

I spent most of the day exploring the [FREE!] New York State Museum and walking the Plaza. The museum kicks ass – I highly recommend it.  I don’t use the words “museum” and “kicks ass” together very often. I’ve only learned to love museums in the last 8-10 years. Anyway – this one kicks ass!

iroquois-longhouse

The view from inside a reconstructed Iroquois longhouse in the Iroquois Village Exhibit

ruby-throated-hummingbird-specimen

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird specimen in the Birds of New York Exhibit – told ya!

atlantic-right-whale-skeleton

Atlantic Right Whale skeleton in the Sea Port Exhibit – I love a good whale skeleton

I would also recommend taking yourself on a Modern Art Scavenger Hunt and try to find as many of the 92 works of Abstract Expressionism spread throughout the Plaza as you can. I only had time to see about 20 pieces. Nelson Rockefeller was an art enthusiast and assembled the Empire State Plaza Art Collection which is pretty amazing and includes works by Jackson Pollack, Mark Rothko, James Rosati and Isami Noguchi among others. It’s been called the greatest collection of modern art that isn’t housed in a museum. Did I mention it’s FREE?! Here’s a full list of the works in the collection. 

donald-judd-1968

Untitled by Donald Judd, 1968, NY State Museum

I’ve lived in New York for over 11 years now, my family for decades, but I still don’t feel like a New Yorker. Maybe it’s because I still sport a strong Chicago accent. Maybe it’s because I still dream about moving back to the West Coast. Maybe it’s because there’s just so much to get to know about this huge state and I’ve barely scratched the surface.

New Yorkers: Go to Albany! It’s cooler than you think. And can be done in One Day Only.

Loveyoubye, Maggie

Eating Well in Charleston, SC

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we just took a couple days off and went down to Charleston, SC last week. It’s been on my list of places to see for a few years and NOW is a great time to visit. Charleston is BLOWING UP right now with awesome restaurants. And when we travel…we eat. Aside from the awesome food scene, the city is brimming with history and you can walk your meal off while admiring charming Georgian architecture, antebellum mansions and scenic plantations. Spring is a good time of year to go, too, at least for Northerners who aren’t used to the extreme humidity of summers.

charleston-3

If you’re planning a trip, I highly recommend making dinner reservations before you roll into town. Most restaurants are poppin’ off so hard that they’re booked for lunch AND dinner. Once you’re in town eating and drinking your faces off, make sure to get your fair share of local oysters, She-Crab soup, pimento cheese, shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, iced tea, coconut cake, chocolate pudding and fried chicken. Here’s a short list of places we were able to check out that I highly recommend.

charleston-4

We also had a heck of a good time at The Cocktail Club, upstairs from The Macintosh. They make awesome cocktails (obvi) and you must order their BACON SPICE POPCORN for $3 (!!) that comes in a giant straw basket. Holy sheet was it good.

We didn’t have enough room in our bellies to hit up these spots, which we’ve heard are also outstanding:

  • Fuel Cantina (in a re-imagined gas station)
  • Two Boroughs Larder
  • Jestine’s
  • Martha Lou’s Kitchen (for the real deal fried chicken)
  • Xiao Bao Biscuit
  • Dixie Supply & Bakery
  • S.N.O.B.
  • Basil Thai Food
  • Aluette’s Cafe
  • The Grocery
  • Prohibition
  • Sugar Bakery

charleston-2Take me back! Who else knows what’s up in Charleston?

Loveyoubye, Mags