Thursday, January 23, 2020

STAY: The Kimpton Cardinal in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Kimpton Hotel group, which falls under the IHG (also Holiday Inn) umbrella, is a chain of boutique hotels that was started in the 1970's in San Francisco. It was the first boutique hotel and restaurant company started in the US. It's known for: hosting pets of all size or breed for no extra charge, it's nightly complementary wine hour, restaurants using local ingredients and recipes and taking historic buildings and making them into their hotel properties. I experienced the "Kimpton experience" recently myself at my first stay at a Kimpton hotel - The Kimpton Cardinal in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. And I was quickly won over with this delightful hotel.

The Katharine
Housed in the 1920's Art Deco former R.J Reynolds Tobacco Company headquarters (supposedly the model for the Empire State Building), the Kimpton is only one mile from the Old Salem Historic District and within walking distance to a few restaurants in the downtown area. Unless you would like to stay in house to eat and dine at The Katharine Brasserie and Bar.  Named after Katharine Reynolds ( wife of the founder of  the R.J.Reynolds Tobacco Co), The Katharine blends "traditional french brasserie fare with Southern cooking." Included on the menu are such items as escargot, Duck breast, and North Carolina trout. And if you're lucky, you can enjoy $1 local oysters in the bar from 5 to 7pm. 

Recreation Galore So what else is special about The Kimpton Cardinal? Well, for starters there's a bowling alley. Yep, a bowling alley. In the basement rec room, there is a basketball court, lounge for lounging with your pals, a ping pong table, a two lane alley and a twisty slide. If you can't find fun there, then you aren't very good at finding fun.

Nightly Wine Hour As mentioned earlier, the Kimpton chain hosts nightly complementary wine hours. For our evening enjoyment, there were two types of wine available and a hot cider with bourbon topped off with whipped cream. 

Bring Your Fur Baby If  you need to bring Fido or Rover with you, that's not a problem. All dogs are welcome at Kimpton's no matter the breed or size for no extra charge. And there's a jar of dog treats in the lobby for your furry friends.

Yoga anyone? To round out the amenities, there is a yoga mat included in every room along with a mini-bar and umbrella, the fitness center is open 24/7, and there are loaner public bikes available to discover Winston-Salem. What more could you ask for?

So if you'd like to stay at the #3 of the South's Best Hotels by Southern Living or one of Trip Advisor's 2017 Certificate of Excellence recipients, then look no further. I think you'll enjoy your stay at The Kimpton Cardinal. I certainly did.

The Kimpton Cardinal
51 East Fourth Street
Winston-Salem, NC

Things to do in Winston-Salem:
Old Salem
Reynolda Mile including the Reynolda House Museum of American Art 
Wake Forest University
Pilot Mountain State Park -23 miles from the city
The Winston Cup Museum

Linking up with: My Corner of the World at Photographing New Zealand!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

A Rainy Day in Dublin - Ancient Artifacts, the Book of Kells and a Guinness at Temple Bar

We started the last day of our Ireland trip in Galway, drove to Dublin and spent a rainy afternoon seeing what we could with the few hours that we had. We managed to sneak in a visit to Trinity College and the Book of Kells, see some incredible ancient artifacts at the Chester Beatty and down a Guinness at Temple Bar. It was a rapid fire bit of touring but we did what we could. Come along as we see a bit of the largest city in Ireland!

The Chester Beatty Library and Museum
Chester Beatty was a collector, philanthropist and American mining magnate. He caught the collecting bug as a young boy growing up in Manhattan making his way west to work in the mines. He became one of the most respected mining engineers in the US and  a very rich man. On his travels around the world for his job, he started collecting African, Asian, Middle Eastern and European manuscripts, rare books and art. He moved to Dublin in 1950 and established the Chester Beatty Library. Upon his death in 1968 he bequeathed his collection, valued at 7 million pounds, to the country of Ireland and he was given a state funeral by the Irish government - the only private citizen ever to be given this honor.

This gem of a museum is free, open everyday but Mondays (from November to February) and is located within the grounds of Dublin Castle. Lonely Planet describes it as " not just the best museum in Ireland but one of the best in Europe." There are temporary and permanent exhibits which might include: the Sacred Traditions Gallery which exhibits texts, manuscripts and paintings from the great world's religions, and Arts of the Book including over 600 objects of books from the ancient world. 

If you have some free time in Dublin - or it's a rainy day - head to the  Chester Beatty. 

Trinity College and the Book of Kells
If you mention things to do in Dublin, the first one that comes to mind is Trinity College and the Book of Kells. Trinity is Ireland's highest ranked university and is home to a large study abroad community. Located in the city center, it houses two very important must-see's - the Book of Kells and the Long Room. Fortunately for visitors, the Book of Kells is housed in the Old Library building which also houses the Long Room.

The Book of Kells is "Ireland's greatest cultural treasure and the world's most famous medieval manuscript." Written, and illustrated, by monks in the 9th century it documents the Four Gospels of the New Testament. Written in Latin, it is believed to be the world's oldest book. The exhibition includes details about the lives of the monks who wrote the book, how it was written (and with what) and of course, the manuscript itself. No photography is allowed and you must purchase a ticket for entry. It's suggested to purchase your ticket online ahead of time as the lines can be quite long. We did not as we weren't sure if we would make it. Our wait was under 30 minutes, though, so it worked out for us. ( Unfortunately, due to restoration of the Long Room the Book of Kells is off exhibit until March of this year.)

After you visit the Book of Kells exhibit, you pass through the Long Room. At 213 feet long and filled with over 200,000 of the world's oldest books, it's quite an impressive room. And considered to be one of the most impressive libraries in the world. Marble busts of the great philosophers and writers line the room which was built between 1712 and 1732. It's the permanent home to the Brian Boru harp, the national symbol of Ireland, and the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. 

Both are really something to see. The Book of Kells might not look so impressive until you find out when - and how - it was written. Crushing plants to make dye to color the illustrations, writing at 3am in a cold abbey. Nothing that anyone would think to do today. And the Long Room, with it's size and unique smell of so many books, is quite something, also. I'm glad that we decided to go at the last minute - and were able to get in.

Temple Bar
With live traditional music seven days per week, Temple Bar is one of the most famous - if not the most famous - pubs in Dublin. It's so famous that the area it's located in is called "The Temple Bar neighborhood." 

It's been around since 1840 and has had some famous folk play their stage including The Dubliners. There is a store, beer garden, and they house over 450 kinds of whisky in their collection. 

So on a rainy day there was nothing better to do than stop for a Guinness at Temple Bar. Or a sunny day really. Check this one off the list!

I feel I need a return, and much longer, visit to Dublin. The weather and the short duration of my visit may have hindered me from truly enjoying this city. It was such a quick hop in and out. But I'd gladly return. And I hope to someday!

I'm linking up with: My Corner of the World at Photographing New Zealand!