• Misspelled Billboards of Missouri

    They took the “dic” out of “contradiction”!

    Thanks for noticing, hoopstar311.
    Here is another local billboard I like albeit with no spelling errors.

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  • Checked Off My Bucket List: Colonia del Sacramento

    Colonia del Sacramento or simply Colonia is the oldest town in Uruguay.

    Day tours to Colonia available for purchase in Argentina from a variety of sources such as Buquebus include a round-trip on a ferry, a dinner, a tour and transportation around the city. There is not much of a tour (luckily our guide was fluent in English), dinner is average and the transportation is hardly necessary – the historic part of town is perfectly walkable and is close enough to the port. The big difference is the ferry: a newer ferry can make the trip across the river in one hour and the older one takes 3 hours. Since we bought our trip the night before, the faster, more expensive boat was sold out so we took the three-hour tour. My suggestion would be to get on the faster ferry if possible, forgo the dinner and the tour, and explore the town and find food on your own.
    The ferry is nice and comfortable and due to a sell-out we were upgraded to the first class seats automatically and for free. Interestingly, at the passport control in both ports the Argentinian and Uruguayan border officials are sitting side-by-side, stamping your passport with both exit and entry stamps (no visa is required for the US citizens), so you don’t have to go through the procedure again upon arrival.

    If you have a free day in your itinerary, I would highly recommend a trip to Colonia. There is something charming (I am pretty sure this is the first and likely the last time the word charming  is used on this blog) about this town with old cobblestone streets leading to the river; with brightly painted ancient buildings; with a weird mix of trees lining the streets where palms, cacti, and aloes are just as common as European varieties; with numerous restaurants and souvenir shops; with antique cars parked on the streets just for looks, and even nicely preserved Soviet cars. Colonia beckons you to wonder around, explore, take photos, see the sunset, have a coffee at one of the outdoor tables near a restaurant, or just relax watching the boats on the river. On the day we visited Colonia the weather changed from overcast to rain to sunny and the following photos reflect that. Overall, it was probably the most enjoyable side-trip during our visit to Argentina.

    Argentinian Navy
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  • Graceland

    One cannot visit Memphis without making a stop at Graceland. I’ve heard of people visiting Graceland more than once, but beyond checking the visit off your bucket list there isn’t much to do there that would warrant repeat visits. Elvis’s mansion might have looked impressive in the 1960’s but it’s pretty average today and it’s not even fully open “out of respect for Elvis”, so you won’t be able to see the infamous toilet where he met his demise. All the other exhibits across the street including Elvis’s personal planes and cars are of limited interest. And for a dead guy Elvis is charging way too much for the pleasure of strolling by all his jumpsuits and gold records and cassettes. That really doesn’t stop the crowds of people from filing in, and parking lot that would make an average Wal-Mart proud is never empty.

    The first thing that struck me was that the mansion is fairly small by today’s standards. I always imagined it to be more grand and lavish. Not so much.

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  • Old Photos: Kansas City Gambling

    In 1939 Life Magazine published an article “America Gambling: Half of the nation made bets in 1938“. Kansas city was prominently featured as one of the most notorious gambling towns.

    Thousands play bingo at church-sponsored game at Jersey City Armory. By poll, more Americans risk money in church lotteries than any other form of gambling.
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  • Olympics America Didn’t Get To See

    30 years ago today 10-year-old me was sitting in front of our 12-inch black-and-white TV watching the opening ceremonies of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. It’s safe to say that everyone else in the country was doing the same. Even though we had only 3 TV channels at that time and many shows enjoyed close to 100 percent rating, the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Moscow Olympics were probably some of the most watched events in the Soviet TV history. Unfortunately outside of the Socialist-friendly countries not too many people had a chance to see any of the 1980 Summer Olympics and it’s a shame because the USSR, anxious to show the triumph of the socialist system made them some of the most enjoyable and sincere ceremonies in the Olympic history. Since then many countries used complex scenarios and spectacular special effects but none has achieved the level of pure joy and emotional connection the Soviet people managed to build into their Olympiad.

    Even today, so many years later, it’s one of the most nostalgic moments in the lives of my generation. Many people remember the games, beautiful opening ceremony and a tearful closing, a rare glimpse into Western life, with the first Soviet-made Pepsi, never-before-seen imported foods, crowds of foreigners, new construction in Moscow. Others talk about the measures the government took to round up and deport the homeless (and prostitutes) out of the city for the duration of the games, or how many parents received heavy-handed suggestions to send their kids to the out-of-town summer camps away from the “danger”. I didn’t know any of that at the time, and probably didn’t care being 10. All I remember is the summer, beach, friends, little cabin we rented near the sea, and a small TV. A happy place, long time ago, far away from here.

    Olympic Presentation:


    Athletes entering the stadium:


    Views of Moscow:


    Moscow getting ready for the Olympics:


    A 25-minute video of the Olympic torch and the Opening ceremonies.

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