Museum of Underwater Archaeology – Bodrum/Turkey

Those who follow me, may recall that part of the year I live in Turkey on the Aegean coast about 150 miles south of Izmir. The advantage of my location is, that I am literally surrounded by some of the most awesome sites in Turkey, like Ephesus, Miletos or the Didim Apollo temple. All of which makes for nice daytrip.  If  I wish to dip my toes into ancient history, all I have to do is hop on a bus and be off.

South from where I live is another one of those sites, Bodrum. The modern town of Bodrum sits on top of what was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the mausoleum of Halikarnassus. The mausoleum was a tomb and something like the Taj Mahal in reverse: Built between 353 and 350 BC, the monument was ordered by Artemisa of Caria II, the wife and sister of Mausolos, a satrap of the Persian Empire.

So heartbroken was she after her husband’s death that she vowed to create the most splendid tomb to bury him in and remember him by and the result was a magnificent tomb, 45 meters high and decorated on four sides by the sculptures and carvings of the most famous Greek artists of her time. Ever since, huge tombs are referred to as mausoleums.

But, over the centuries, several devastating earthquakes first tumbled the columns, then the golden chariot on top and finally  the entire structure and next to nothing is left today. More damage was done by the Crusaders at the end of the 15th century, when the basic structure of the mausoleum was still intact: they decided to built a massive castle to protect the important port of Bodrum and made use of the elaborately carved ‘rubble’ from the mausoleum. So did many other people and that’s why today you can see many colored marble pieces intermingled with ordinary bricks in the walls of quite a few  houses in Bodrum and in the Crusader castle too.

The castle overlooking the port is huge and impressive, but what this article is really about is a curiosity: how often do you find a Museum of Underwater Archaeology in a medieval castle? Not often I guess, but that’s the case in the Bodrum Castle and the museum is one of a kind.

Bodrum castle

It’s a vast and beautifully displayed collection of artifacts and every day utensils as used in ancient Greece and all recovered painstakingly from the bottom of the sea. The museum gives you a rare view and insight of what life was like for the traders and fishermen who shipped their wares, mostly olive oil and wine in relatively small boasts all over the Mediterranean  and how they lived on board ship.

One of the many murals

The castle’s many rooms lend themselves to this kind of museum and each room has a different theme. Entering from the po rt level and climbing up through the castle wall, the path is dotted with urns and amphoras  until you reach a higher level and the entrance to the museum proper.

Murals in vivid colors depict the making of wine and olive oil as well as how these people built their ships. Then you continue on and enter the different rooms. My absolute favorite is what I call the ‘glass room’: bathed in mystical light, the showcases contain vessels, jewelry, plates and.. a 5 inch long needle, made from blue and white glass and unbroken after thousands of years resting at the bottom of the sea.

There are also chunks of `raw`glass in the most vivid reds, blues and greens and fresh as if they were made yesterday ready to be crafted into more plates and glasses.

Another room contains a cut in half and reconstructed boat, complete with figures and depicting a scene of how people lived, slept and cooked in cramped conditions because most of the space was reserved for their wares.

There are many more and you can stroll around at your leisure. In the middle is an open courtyard with a tiny waterfall, tables and chairs from a café and shade is cast from hundreds of years old trees, populated by rare birds.

One of the finest museums I have ever visited because it so beautifully combines history, art and simply an enjoyable day out with spectacular views over the sea from the height of the castle.

The museum is open every day (except Mondays) from  9am to 7pm. Admission is TYL 20.

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Harley-Davidson Museum Milwaukee/USA

Morning at the Museum: A visit to Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

[Milwaukee, WI] — A visit to the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee is a pilgrimage every Harley enthusiast should make.

On a recent trip to the city, I spent a couple of hours browsing the museum’s exhibits, but could easily have stayed all day. The motorcycles and memorabilia tell the history of the Motor Company from its beginnings in a shed in 1903, up through the present day.

The 130,000-square foot, three-building facility opened in 2008 and includes over 450 motorcycles on display, starting with the legendary “serial number one” bike from 1903 as well as examples of Harley’s military, civilian, business, and racing machines, including board track racers, hill climb, and dirt track bikes. There are even examples from Harley’s dalliances in the snowmobile, boat, golf cart, and minibike fields, as well as mountains of fascinating motorcycle memorabilia. I also toured a special exhibit of watercolor paintings by Willie G. Davidson (known throughout the motorcycle world as “Willie G.”), a talented artist and Harley’s longtime Chief Styling Officer who recently announced his retirement after 48 years with the Motor Company.

An upcoming exhibit will feature the black leather jacket’s place in motorcycle and pop-culture history: Worn to Be Wild runs from June 16 through September 3.

My adrenaline raced as I toured the museum; there is so much to see and I only had a couple of hours before I had to return to the airport for my flight home.

The Harley-Davidson Museum is truly a don’t-miss experience for any Harley enthusiast, and anyone interested in learning more about one of America’s most iconic brands and its place in history and pop culture.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Harley-Davidson Museum website: www.h-dmuseum.com

400 West Canal St.

Milwaukee, WI 53201

1-877-HD-MUSEUM

Hours:

Open 7 days 10 am to 6 pm (open until 8 pm on Thursdays)

Admission:

Adults: $16

Children: $10

Seniors, Military, & Students: $12

Museum members: free (see website for membership details)

I’m proud to announce the first Guest Post for my blog. Kindly written by my writer friend Glen Abbott, member of  SATW – Society of American Travel Writers.

His fabulous blog is called: www.TravelinGringo.com

Follow Glen on FB: www.facebook.com/travelingringo

and enjoy his tweets: www.twitter.com/travelingringo

Glen Abbott is a freelance travel writer/photographer living in New Orleans, LA (USA). His work has appeared in Harley-Davidson’s HOG, American Iron, RoadBike, Motorcycle Bagger, Rider and other motorcycle magazines, as well as the American Automobile Association’s “Going Places” magazine. His online persona is “The Travelin’ Gringo,” and he blogs at http://www.TravelinGringo.com. Glen is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and the Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX). Contact Glen at glen@travelingringo.com
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Archaeology Museum Antalya/Turkey

Some museums just cast a spell over you the very moment you set foot inside. It’s not only because of the exhibits you have come to see, but also because the building as such has been devised in a way which holds your attention. Antalya’s Archaeology  Museum is such a magic place.

Founded in 1922 by Süleyman Fikri Erten, a teacher who wanted to protect priceless artifacts rescued from the looting of the region in the south of Turkey after WWI, the museum was first housed in the Alaaddin Mosque in the Kaleici, the historical center of Antalya. Since 1972, it’s located in the current building  in Konyaalti, right at the end of the tramline to the beach of the same name.

Konyaalti Beach

The museum comprises 14 exhibition halls and includes an open air gallery where the very best artifacts and statues from the ancient cultures of Lycia, Pamphylia,  Psidia and Perge  have found a home. What catches the eye though is not only the size and beauty of many of the statzues, but the design of the exhibition rooms.

The walls are painted either dark green or burgundy red and the spot lights have been so cleverly placed, that they cats long shadows of the  statues which seem to bring them to life. It’s an experience which makes it difficult to tear yourself away.

Downstairs near the entrance is a room dedicated to explain history to kids. It’s delightful and a splendid idea.

Kids' room

Local culture downsized for kids

Address: Konyalalti Cad. 1

www.antalyamuzesi.gov.tr

Open daily from 9am to 7pm, closed on Mondays

Admission: 15 TYL

 

 

 

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Heimatmuseum in Prien am Chiemsee/Germany

Prien am Chiemsee a pictoresquesmall  town located on the shores of the Chiemsee in the south of Bavaria is a place I visit often. I never faiol to enter the Heimatmuseum, so typically Bavarian.

Everything is rural, mini and very original in Prien and the Heimatmuseum is no exception. You can translate it into ‘Folklore Museum’ and that’s what it’s all about Chiemgau traditions, art, crafts and fashion!

Admission is a modest EURO 2 and you find yourself in a typical old stone house built in the style of the region with painted adornments around the door and windows, wooden floors, small rooms and low ceilings. The building dates from 1837 and is called Beim Mayerpaul.

Heimatmuseum Prien

The exhibits of the museum reflect history and traditions of the south of Bavaria. Fishing is an age old trade around the Chiemsee and the Chiemsee Renken, which in taste and texture are similar to trout are a delicacy  as is the eel. Pottery is a craft which still is very much alive on the Fraueninsel, another island in the Chiemsee and the tiles to cover stoves and ovens made by Klampfleutner of the Fraueninsel were and are much in demand.

The famous Kachelofen

Bavarian wood carvings

Candle making

Several rooms are furnished  in the style of the 19th century and you can see bedchambers, kitchens,  a  Biedermaier dining room and  of course Trachten, the traditional clothing of the region. Well known is the Priener Hut, a hat which you can even try on.

Biedermaier dining room

Rural bedroom

Local costume

Trying on the Priener Hut

The Heimatmuseum  is located opposite the church on the market place where I found a cozy café and enjoyed a Haferl, a mug of wonderful filter coffee before embarking on my lake journey to the Herreninsel.

 

 

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World Amber Museum – St. Thomas BVI

I have always associated amber with the Baltic Sea. Who hasn’t heard about the fabulous Amber Room in St. Petersburg? Therefore it came quite as a surprise when I found out that amber is also found in the Caribbean, in even more colors and shapes as in the Baltic Sea and once used very much like money in trade. And how did I find out? Simple.   Ask the locals! Pearl of travel wisdom #1! To find the best attractions of a foreign place, you can’t beat what comes up in conversation with the natives. Exactly what happened, when I ‘escaped’ my cruise the moment the liner docked in the very pretty harbor of Charlotte Amalie, the capital of St. Thomas in the US Virgin islands.

I already   saw the half moon bay of white, red and pink low houses along the shoreline when standing in deck and decided on the spot to make my way there on foot.

Of course, I knew about the 99steps and Blackbeard’s Castle on the top and the history of St Thomas, closely connected to pirates, smuggling and other very exciting adventure stories. There is much more to the island, like a butterfly farm, the sky ride up to Paradise point or Eco tours including snorkeling and kayaking, but given the limited time I had on the island I had to make decision. As I am a history fan, Blackbeard and pirates it was!

The walk along the waterfront is very pleasant and a lot more enjoyable that taking a bus or taxi. It seems that cruise ships arrive all at once and the infrastructure isn’t made for such a sudden influx of tourists, all heading in the same direction, which measn that 4 wheel traffic gets stuck in exhaust fumes, whereas the happy pedestrian just whizzes past, breathing the fresh sea air.

It’s about 2 ½ miles from the cruise ship dock to the center of Charlotte Amalie and I got thirsty. I stopped at a colorful stal,l selling a huge variety of freshly squeezed fruit juices and run by a very jolly island lady. Naturally, we got talking and I asked her what to visit apart from the obvious.

“Oh,” she said, after taking an assessing look at me, “you  will like  the amber museum.”  How did she come to that conclusion, I wondered.  And amber?  In the Caribbean?  That was news to me. I had to see. “Just walk up the 99 steps,” she continued, “half way up you’ll find a sign and then ask for Michael.”

I downed my pineapple/mango juice and turned right towards the 99 steps which, really, are 103. Built by the Danes in the early 1700 the steps were meant to facilitate going up and down the mountainous island and the bricks used had actually come over from Europe  as ballast on the sailing ships. I started my climb and, sure enough, came upon a small sign which  read “World Amber Museum” with an arrow.

So far, so good, but each level of the steps is quite a labyrinth of connected buildings and it is no small feat to find the entrance, leave alone Michael. I finally located him in a wonderful little café, he sells you the ticket at$2 and tells you to “enter where you hear the roaring and see the jungle”. As it turned out, an apt description because the entrance to the museum is made to resemble a rain forest complete with taped rather frightening animal sounds.

The start may be a bit garish and ‘disneyesque’ but the museum which lies behind is glamour pure. Distributed over three mystically lit rooms, the exhibits, all made from amber are stunning. Replicas of historical pieces from Russia and modern art sculptures alternate with explanations of the history of amber in the Caribbean . Exit the museum and you can gape in awe at a 20 feet high waterfall, made entirely from amber pebbles.

An incredible sight glittering in the sun

To my great delight, the last room is a small jewelry  shop. They sell beautiful pieces, necklaces, rings and bracelets set in gold or silver. Amber doesn’t come cheap but I couldn’t resist and bought a bead bracelet with all the colors of amber from the lightest green to black.

This sculpture actually moves.

The museum only opened in February 2009  but it’s fast becoming a big tourist attraction.

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Toy Museum Göztepe/Istanbul/Turkey

It seems that poets and novelists have a penchant for founding their own museums. Think about Turkish Nobel prize laureate Orhan Pamuk and his’ Museum of Innocence’ now open in Istanbul’s Cukurcuma district. The museum is closely related to his novel of the same title.

Equally famous in Turkey, although maybe less known abroad is poet  Sunay Akin. His passion, apart from his literary work, are toys. To exhibit his vast collection and make it accessible to the public, he opened a Toy Museum in Göztepe.

Toymuseum/Göztepe

As it turned out, a visit to Gözetepe’s Toy museum is a delightful day trip, because you have four experiences all rolled into  one outing. Göztepe is a very green and quite elegant residential suburb located on Istanbul’s Asian side and well worth a visit on its own. To get there, I enjoyed a Bosporus ferry ride. I took the ferry to Kadiköy from Eminönü near the Galata Bridge and made sure it stops at Haydarpasha train station. The art deco building is a famous Istanbul landmark which you can visit en route to Göztepe.

Interior Haydarpasha train station

Past the Maiden Tower en route to Göztepe

Then take the suburban train from Haydarpasha to Kartal which departs from platform 2, alight at the fourth stop, cross the road, walk down Tanzimal Street until you reach Dr. Zeki  Zeren Street, turn left and proceed to the end.

The building itself is attraction number  three. The museum is housed in a beautifully restored konak, one of the old wooden houses not located on the water which, well into the 1800s prevailed in Istanbul over stone houses. Fires, earthquakes and neglect have destroyed many, so it’s a special treat to visit a konak restored to its former glory.

Pay your admission of approx. $3 and become a child again for the next hour or two. Akin has assembled more that 4000 toys from all over the world and they are displayed over four floors, grouped together by subjects. German Käthe Kruse dolls,  sit  next to a splendid Barbie collection. Doll houses, replicas of American drug stores, Indian fortresses and space shuttles, all are rubbing shoulders in this extraordinary museum.

Round the visit off my enjoying a coffee or tea in the Café located on the ground floor next to a toy shop where you can buy toys, teddy bears, books  and other souvenirs.

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30 am to 6pm.

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World Erotic Art Museum – Miami/Florida

One sunny afternoon, I drove  to South Beach and as I was walking along Lincoln’s Road, I saw, quite by chance, a notice stuck in one of the shop windows, advertising the World Erotic Art Museum. It was an innocent clothes shop, not even a branch of Victoria’s Secret. Naturally, my curiosity was peeked. “What,” I thought, “might that be about? Maybe a sort of glorified peep show with some artistic posters on the wall?” I had no idea what to expect and the only way to find out was to go and have a look.

I was close by  anyway, as the museum is located in Washington Avenue. Believe it or not, I walked past the entrance twice. In my imagination I had expected something garish like maybe a red door with gold lettering, a venue resembling a nightclub more than a place of art. Far from the truth. I finally spotted a simple black door with a discreet plaque next to it. I pushed the door open and found myself in a gray concrete stairwell with steps going up and up and up. Thankfully at every landing there was a small arrow and a sign indicating that I had to climb even further to contemplate erotic art whatever that might turn out to be. Trying to find out where the stairs might lead, I completely overlooked the elevator.

Finally I reached a  glass door and entered a lobby with an extremely welcoming gentleman at the desk and a few of the famous Marilyn posters on the wall. Hmmm……

The museum's lobby

I handed over my admission fee of $15 and followed his sweeping gesture to ‘proceed to the rooms beyond and have a look at my leisure.’ I did as told and my breath was taken away. After the rather small lobby what opened out before my eyes was a huge exhibition. 20 rooms filled to the brim with art from all cultures and all centuries the likes of which  I would never have imagined .All dealing with a subject as old as Adam and Eve.

The lights turn on and off as you proceed and you find books, furniture, paintings, sculptures, artifacts, cartoons and even jewelry all with a touch or more than a touch of the erotic. The center piece is a replica of the bed of Catherine the Great and her favorite armchair, who, as we all know was not only famous for her political achievements but also for her voracious love life.

Catherine's armchair

The modern sculpture of a man’s face entirely composed from female entwined bodies caught my eye. What imagination. Naughty French cartoons with the accompanying saucy text made me laugh out loud.

Mesmerizing sculpture

Turning just another corner I came face to face with a very elegant middle aged lady who was watching me. (I happened to be the only visitor at the time). She certainly fit the image of a glamour granny. It turned out to be Naomi Witzig, the owner of the place and the entire collection. We got talking and naturally I wanted to know how she had started to become interested in erotic art.

“It’s my son’s fault, really,” she smiled. “Many years ago when he got his first apartment he asked me to find him something extraordinary to hang on his walls. And I happened upon a French painting and from there my interest grew. I have traveled the world in search of erotic art and everything you see here belongs to me. Over 2000 pieces,” she added with visible pride.

“I lecture about erotic art here at the university of Miami and am often invited abroad, most recently to Hong Kong.” Then she turned serious. “I get upset when people confuse erotic art with pornography and it’s my mission to explain the difference and give people an education. Nothing, but absolutely nothing which is even remotely pornographic will ever cross the threshold of this museum. Erotic art is just that, an art form which has been brought to the highest  level of sophistication in the oldest cultures of this world.”

We spent nearly half an hour talking about art in general and her quest to add even more to her ample collection. A woman with a mission and a passion.  Naomi also has a heart for budding artists and sponsors many of them with exhibitions and vernisages  in her museum. Never again  will the notion of ‘peep show’ cross my mind when I hear the words erotic art.

Naomi graciously allowed me to take pictures.

 

 

 

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