Indy for the Holidays

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Almost every year part of our holiday merriment happens in Indianapolis. It’s become a tradition. The visit is typically a winter wonderland filled with snow and single digit temperatures. Growing up in California, I did not experience that type of cold often, but since living on the east coast, I’ve adjusted my definition of cold. A secret about me – every time I emerge from a warm dwelling into the, let’s say, 2° weather, I automatically giggle. True story, no explanation, it just happens.

While in Indy, we visit family and friends for a few days, visit museums, theatre and other cultural events, and venture out on our own for a few meals. There are favorite restaurants we frequent with the family and those we frequent independently by form of habit and comfort. I’m a fairly adventurous person, though experimenting with food is not very easy because of my allergies. Though, every year it seems easier as vegan friendly options appear on menus and more vegan restaurants pop up outside of my metropolis.

This year the family outing was the Indianapolis Ballet performance of the Nutcracker at the Old National Center. The Nutcracker is one of my favorite ballets from childhood and it’s nice to see it when possible. Although I am grateful to live in NY where I have easy access to Broadway, dance, opera, and more, I love being able to take in and support local arts in other communities as well. Following the Nutcracker, we had a family dinner at Saigon Vietnamese restaurant, which is climbing my list of favorite Indy restaurants. It is a traditional menu but they always make sure my vegetable option is vegan.

While in town we also stopped at Cafe Patachou, which has a little something for everyone. It used to be a place we frequented for lunch but after trying their Vegan Cuban Breakfast, I’m always angling for a morning visit now. In the trying something new category – we went to the Sinking Ship for lunch. The website drew us in with its substantial vegan menu and the establishments snarky rules, including what will be playing on the TV and no kids allowed. They have a couple of locations, one of which might allow kids. The location we visited is a proper bar meant for adult beverages and adult conversations…It has a college vibe, good music and fantastic vegan comfort food. They do have a full menu for carnivores as well. Recommendations – chili mac, mac & tease, buffalo seitan wings, and star tots.

Until the next time…

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A Little Matisse To Break Up The Holidaze

Whenever I travel, whether stateside or abroad, I always investigate the arts and culture offerings during my stay, which has led to many wonderful experiences. Over the summer, with a few hours to kill in Atlanta, I stumbled across the listing for the exhibit of Vermeer’s restored Girl With The Pearl Earring that I have longed to see in person. It was worth the wait and I found it far more breathtaking than viewing the Mona Lisa in person.

During the December holidaze season, Pocky and I try to visit both sets of families, which means one trip to Indy and another to California. While visiting family in Indianapolis over the 2013 holiday season we attended the Matisse, Life In Color exhibit. The pieces are part of the collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art. The exhibit contains more than 100 Henri Matisse works that span the period from 1869-1954.

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I have always been a fan of Matisse but experiencing the diversity of this exhibit was great because I viewed unexpected pieces, colors and styles that I had never viewed in person.  Another positive – IMA allowed photographs of the exhibit.

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These pieces are part of the Cone collection. Long ago, Claribel and Etta Cone travelled to Paris and purchased art by up and coming artists such as Picasso and Matisse, returned to the states, and filled all available wall space in their Baltimore apartments with these treasures.

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Among the paintings and sketches, I found some wonderful sculptures. One of which, “The Serf,” featured Italian model Bevilaqua, also used by one of my favorite artists — Auguste Rodin for the “Walking Man.”

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The exhibit was definitely worth seeing and the rest of the museum is fabulous as well. They always have interesting travelling exhibits as well as the permanent collection featuring fabulous Asian treasures and a fairly comprehensive African collection. IMA is worth a visit while in Indianapolis.

Holiday Travels

Every year Pocky and I head to Indy after I finish winter finals for a late Chanukah over the Christmas break. This year I took finals, graduated, and visited with family and friends in Charlotte. Then we braved the airports and bad weather, eventually arriving in Indy.

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Last year; however, we deviated from the plan. In 2011, I was studying in London, so Pocky and I spent the holiday season in the UK and France – it was fabulous. Though, if you are going to spend Christmas in Europe or the UK, keep in mind that transportation, restaurants, etc. will not be accessible on Christmas or Boxing Day. What is Boxing Day, you say? Once upon a time, servants and tradesmen received gifts from their employers on the 26th of December, but today it is a national holiday.

We arrived in London on the 24th, after a few days in Bath. We had a great day, but a lot of what we wanted to see and do in Bath was not open on the 24th. We returned to the Marriott County Hotel in London in the evening. The hotel warned us that it would be difficult to find a restaurant that was open and that we should make a reservation for the hotel restaurant for the next night because everything would be closed. Then we headed out; we had a great time running around the evening of the 24th and we headed to the South Bank where a handful of restaurants were open. We chose the Italian restaurant, Strada for a late dinner.

DSC01833editBecause there really wasn’t anything on the prix fixe hotel menu that I could eat we took our chances on the 25th…The only place open was Chilli Chutney in the Waterloo area across from the London Eye, only a few blocks from the hotel. It’s a tiny Indian deli and though it wasn’t the best Indian that I’ve ever had, it was a nice Christmas dinner. Then we wandered to the hotel to enjoy our fabulous view of the Thames. We flew out on the 26th, which I do not recommend because unless you hire a car for almost $300 dollars, you will not make it to the airport.

This year was more traditional; we stayed at our usual hotel in Indy, met up with friends and family and shopped. We are not much for packing presents, we shop while we are there and wrap in the hotel room. We almost always have the hotel to ourselves; sometimes there are a few people staying there, but not many.  While in town, I dragged Pocky over to Broad Ripple Village, which is a hip, ever changing artist area of town that I really like. It was cold and snowy the entire time that we were there, but compared to how it normally is (5 degrees), 25 degrees felt almost warm. We stopped for coffee at Starbucks and found comfy seats next to the fireplace. It was a nice break from shopping and the cold.

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We usually go to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, but unfortunately they did not have any special exhibitions that I wanted to see. I actually did a bit of pleasure reading for the first time in six months (aside from planes and airports). We had the chance to spend a lot of quality time with Pocky’s family and had a lovely Chanukah dinner at his mom’s house. Our return flight to Charlotte was on the 25th and luckily we made it out before the blizzard arrived later that night.