Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Old Tucson, Arizona

On my last day in Arizona, Drew and I decided to head up to Tucson and check out Old Tucson. We have friends who suggested that we had to check this place out. I wasn't sure what to expect. Drew told me that it was an old movie studio turned theme park. I didn't even know that was a thing! It was built in 1939 for the movie Arizona. Since then it has been used for the filming of several movies and television westerns, such as Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, El Dorado, and Little House on the Prairie. It was opened to the public in 1960, and historical tours are offered about the movies filmed there, along with live cast entertainment featuring stunt shows and shootouts.

If you read my Tombstone post, you know that I'm not a fan of Western's, but Drew is, and he was so excited to see everything, that made it worth it for me. (Especially because it was over 100 degrees that day!)

Old Tucson, was founded to offer engaging educational programs about the people and cultures in the Arizona Sonora region from 1850-1912. The Arizona Sonora Western Heritage Foundation is helping Old Tucson evolve into a setting for truly understanding the human interactions of the time period commonly known at the “old west” or roughly from the Mexican-American War through Arizona statehood.

We arrived at Old Tucson just after 1pm. Be fair warned, the park opens at 10am-6pm and it does cost a bit to get in, ($18/adult $11/child) but it includes tours, most rides and even shows! Thankfully, there are free iced water stations throughout the park, they do provide cups, but feel free to bring your own water bottle preferably one of those double insulated ones that keeps the water cool.

Since we weren't sure where to begin, we took a look at the map they provided us on entry and saw that there was a 30 minute guided walking tour at 1:15. We be able to explore the streets that many television and movie stars have worked over the last 75 years. 

On the map, you are given a schedule of activities that are provided with your entrance fee. I'd take advantage of all the shows, especially since you've already paid for them! The best part about these performances is that they don't overlap, when one show ends, you have enough time to walk on over to the next show.

One of my favorite shows was at the Grand Palace Saloon, not only was it Air Conditioned, but we watched Lady Vivian and her girls perform a rip-roarin’, high kickin’, can-cannin’ good time! Drew was even able to join in the fun and be a part of the act on stage! He was the most energetic one on stage, minus the girls. It was a good time, the girls even posed for pictures after the show was over.

Since it was so hot out we decided to skip the stunt performance, since it was outside directly in the sun. The performers knew we weren't from Arizona, they said it's because all the natives know that it's too hot to be out, I told them that we're Floridians, we're no strangers to the heat. We decided to grab some food instead or trekking through the heat. There are a lot of places to chose from, we decided to eat at the Pony Express. For a theme park, and the amount of food we got I was pleasantly surprised to see that prices were pretty reasonable, maybe I was just expecting Disney prices. If you want to save a bit of money, pack a lunch, there are bench areas around the park that would be perfect to have a picnic on.

There are so many things to see and do here, since it's only open on Saturday and Sunday, I can see how and why people spend the whole day there. There are a lot of photo opportunities, take advantage of it, see a show, grab some food, but make sure you take the train.

The train will take you around the park in 8 minutes. It was a nice to see the old studio lots and be able to go out further and not have to walk in the heat. There is a specific spot where you get on the train, and it's not at the front entrance where it says "Train Station" Drew and I made the mistake and thought that we got on the train there, you don't. Follow the signs that say "Train Ride." They'll take you to the actual place where you can get on the train.

If you've got the time, make sure to stay till the end of the day. One of my favorite shows was the last show of the day. It's called "Rage Along the Railway". It recounts an actual event in which Arizona Ranger, Harry Wheeler steps in to protect travelers from a belligerent madman out for revenge. It's a gun fight (these are really cool to watch) and it's not as corny as Tombstone. Haha. I love that they all invite you to take photos with them! Even though, this time around I couldn't hold a gun. I casually mentioned that they let me hold one at Tombstone, the actors laughed, but still said no.

If you're looking for something fun to do in the Tucson area, make sure to check this out. Sure it's a little corny but it's the good corny that makes you laugh and feel like kid again. Besides, how many Old Western studios turned theme Parks are there in the world?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Best of Prague

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I love Prague or Praha as it's pronounced in Czech. After Garmisch-Partenkirchen, it is my most visited city in Europe. For good reason, Prague doesn’t need a brochure to sell itself, its the capital of the Czech Republic! Only 30 years ago, Prague was a mystery to world travelers, now,  it's one of the most popular destinations in Europe. If you're visiting Prague, here's a list of my favorite things to do and see while you're there.

+ Take a free walking tour

I love walking Tours. In big cities, Sandeman's offers free walking tours, so far they've been my favorite, but there are other ones to choose from in Prague. On these tours you'll learn history, see the main attractions, etc. All the tour companies meet near the astronomical clock in the Old Town Square. They will give you an overview of the main sites like the Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, the Jewish Quarter, and more.

+ Old Town Square

During Christmas and Easter Old Town is decked with markets and vendors (including food) that bring the city to life. Walk around it a couple of times and you will find everything you could possibly be looking for, from pub crawls and magic to break dance shows, you will never have enough of its vibrant energy.

+ Astronomical Clock

This clock is over 600 years old, it is one of the oldest, functioning astronomical clocks in the world. Every hour you can watch the clock come to life. Make sure you get there early, since it is located in the Old Town Square, this is a major tourist spot.


+ Lennon Wall

The John Lennon Wall is the Czech expression of freedom from the communist era. It's tucked away in a quiet street away from the hustle and bustle (you'll have to look for it) it is a colorful tribute to the Beatles singer and a symbol of love and peace. Today, the wall represents love and peace. Tourists are allowed to write or paint on it too.
Image via, http://czechmatediary.com/

+ Prague Castle & St. Vitus Cathedral

The Guinness book of World Records states that the Prague Castle, dates back to the 9th century, is the largest ancient castle in the world. This beautiful structure is the inspiration for fairy tales, films and television shows. Today, it is one of the most substantial remnants of medieval times. The Castle is really more of a small town that sits at the top of a hill, overlooking the city.

+ Charles Bridge

The Charles bridge is a 1,700-foot long medieval walking bridge that connects two sides of Prague, over the Vltava River. It was completed in the 15th century. It's completely free of cars, but during the day time it is crowded by vendors, street artist, musicians, etc. Here you'll find gorgeous views of the Vltava River and the iconic Prague Castle.

+ Watch a Street Performance

Prague is known for their street performers, from magic acts, to musicians, and bubble makers. Anything you can think of, you'll probably find it on the streets of Prague. Make sure to stop and watch for a minute. It's pretty amazing to see such raw talent for free!

+ Eat Czech Food

I don't know what it is, but Czech Food is amazing. Make sure to grab a glass of their Pilsener Urquell, made in Pilsen, >~1 hr from Prague. What's my favorite? Their pork dishes and bread dumplings are my favorite. There are so many amazing places to stop and eat while in Prague. Feel free to take your pick. If you're a foodie, you will fall in love with the Czech Republic. Make sure to grab  a Trdelník, famous Czech pastry, filled with cinnamon, nutella, or ice cream!

Other things to check out:
  • Old Jewish Cemetary
  • Prague National Theater
  • Dancing House
  • Clenentinum (Famous Library)
  • Petřín Lookout Tower

Heard enough? This is just a handful of things available for you to see Prague is a city that sure knows how to impress. Trust me when I say, Prague is a city you don't want to skip! I can go on an on about the beautiful things to do and see in Prague, but the only way you'll be able to fall in love with this magical city would be for you to get lost in it. You'll never know what you'll find hiding behind a random corner.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Tombstone, Arizona

Memorial Day 2016, happened to fall on Drew's birthday. Since he's been wanting to visit Tombstone, I planned a visit on his birthday, since at the time it was supposed to be my last day in Arizona. Little did we know I would be staying an extra 5 days!

30 minutes away from Sierra Vista, is the little town of Tombstone. Tombstone, Arizona has been titled "The Town Too Tough To Die" and for good reason as many things have worked against this town still standing. The town was formed around the area known as Goose Flats shortly after prospector and scout Ed Schieffelin discovered a wealth of silver in 1877. He had been warned of only finding his 'tombstone' while searching for his treasure and thinking this an appropriate name for this new town site the location soon become known as Tombstone, in the Arizona Territory.

The most famous event in Tombstone's history was the famed Gunfight at the OK Corral, which didn't actually happen at the corral, but in a vacant lot on Fremont Street. On October 26, 1881, members of the "Cowboys" had a run-in with Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp with help from Wyatt's friend Doc Holliday. 24 seconds and 30 shots later, Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury were mortally wounded. In many people's opinion, it was this one event that has kept Tombstone alive for all these years.

Honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect when we got to Tombstone. I haven't seen many Western movies, and cowboys don't really appeal to me. But ever since Drew got to Arizona, he's been wanting to check this place out.

Upon arrival, we found a place to park and decided to wing it and walk around town until we found something fun to do. I was enjoying taking pictures of the town. It looked like we were in the 1800s! We walked around town, unsure of what to do first. We stumbled upon a candy shop that sold fudge. Luckily we were good and only bought one piece.

While walking through town, one of the workers was advertising a Gun show. It was going to be the last show of the day. So we decided to check it out. It was $8 pp to check out the show, and I have to admit, I was pretty hesitant about going, but Drew was so excited, I couldn't say no. I'm glad to report that the show was worth it. I laughed more than I thought I would. 

The show is pretty well rehearsed, it does require audience participation, so hopefully you have an audience that is into it, if not you could drag Drew along, he seemed to be loud enough to make even the actors laugh. At the end of it, we were even able to take pictures with them, they even let Drew hold the gun (they wouldn't let us hold it at Old Tucson)

After the show, we walked around town a bit more, just enjoying all the different people who were dressed up and the look of the town. We stumbled upon one of the Old time dress up photos, I guess Drew's been wanting to take these photos for a while, he says every time we see one, he'll casually mention it, and I'll shut him down without hesitation, whoops. We ended up taking some photos, it was a lot more fun than I thought, although it was more work for me. If you've never taken any of these photos, I'd definitely suggest it!

It was a great day, and now I can say I've been to Tombstone, AZ! For those who've never been, it is a must see if you love Westerns, or if you're like me and just looking for a quick trip from the Tucson area.