Thursday, October 4, 2018

Green Bay, Wisconsin: Packers Heritage Trail Plaza

Visitors to Green Bay often will stumble upon a sign indicating that they are staring at something that used to have some significance in the history of the Green Bay Packers. They have stumbled on the Packers' Heritage Trail.

The trail is designed as something of a walking tour and covers the first 50 years of the franchise, going from 1919 to 1968. Those were the days of Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi. It covers an old office building, the birthplace of Lambeau, a train station where thousands greeted the world champion Packers in 1929, and several other locations.

The center piece is in the middle of downtown, the Packers Heritage Trail Plaza, and it debuted in 2013. This plaza has statues of such people as Johnny "Blood" McNally and Paul Hornung. Look for it at Washington and Cherry Streets.

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Green Bay, Wisconsin: Tunnel of Automatic Fish

Sometimes, chasing down alleged tourist attractions can be a bad idea. This was one of them.

Green Bay offers a "tunnel of automatic fish" in its downtown district. What could that be? As a lover of all things touristy, it sounded as if it was worth a quick photo visit.

Obstacle 1 - It was raining. Hard. We pulled off the Walnut St. Bridge into downtown, and headed north. However, we came across Obstacle 2 - the directions for a parking lot didn't work. Apparently the space has been filled by a buildingover the years. So we headed south and found a lot relatively close. But remember, it's pouring.

I sprinted to the Riverwalk while my companion kept an eye on the car. I splashed may way through the area and found the entrance to the tunnel, which went under the bridge.

Here's what I found in photo form. There indeed are fish with lights there, although some didn't appear to be working from the tunnel entrance. I couldn't test the theory that each fish has a motion detector, since the floor was mighty wet from the day's storm. Funny how a color photo can look black and white.

So do what I say, not what I did. If you feel forced to check this out, do it on a non-rainy day.

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Green Bay, Wisconsin: Huge Football

This one is a bit of a puzzle.

This football is holding up part of a learning center on Lombardi Avenue in Green Bay. Now, Green Bay is associated with football because of the Packers, and Lambeau Field is about a block away. Still, there's no obvious connection to football here.

However, the building is in the midst of the entertainment district. An arena football league team has played in that area. So maybe there was a connection once upon a time. In any event, it's easy to pull off Lombardi Ave., take a photo, and go back to your business,

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Green Bay, Wisconsin: World's Largest Hex Nut

Every handyman needs the right tool to complete a job. If that worker has a need for a giant nex nut, I guess this is the place.

Packer Fastener is the proud owner of this monument. It checks in at 3.5 tons and 10 feet tall, and provides quite a welcome to those visiting the business. The owner got the idea from the Packers' 50-foot replica of the Lombardi Trophy in its atrium. And, the business is at the end of Lombardi Ave. - you can see the scoreboard at Lambeau Field from the net.

The company hoped it would be a good photo opportunity. Yes, you can stand in it and post for a picture.

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Green Bay, Wisconsin: National Railroad Museum

Not everyone comes to Green Bay to watch the Packers, although on the right weekend it seems that way. Some make the trip to town to look at old railroads. The National Railroad Museum is the place to go for them.

This started in 1956 or so as a way to raise money for a single train that traveled around the park. That idea grew until it was a full-fledged museum, greeting more than 100,000 fans per year. Looks like the place hosts a wedding every weekend when the weather is good; it is located right on the Fox River.

There are a variety of train-related items here. Some of the engines and cars are kept either inside a large hall or outside in a shed. The highlight might be Union Pacific's "Big Boy," one of the largest engines ever built. It takes up two full cars, tied together so it can go around turns. You can see the engineer's viewpoint of the controls in this photo. The museum also has part of an "aerotrain," which was GM's answer to airplane competition in the 1950s. It never really worked well at high speeds, and didn't catch up. Dwight Eisenhower's personal car from World War II is here. I enjoyed seeing a Pullman car, with the upper and lower sleeping berths on display.

By the way, you can take a ride around the grounds. It takes 25 minutes for two trips around and only costs a couple of extra dollars when you buy an admission ticket.

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Prague, Czech Republic: Dancing House

This probably is the first post you'll read about our recent vacation to Central Europe. On the other hand, it's my last of 170 posts on the trip. We saw a lot.

These buildings make for a fitting introduction or ending. It's the Dancing House in Prague. Or, as it is more commonly known, Fred and Ginger.

It seems there was a vacant spot on the riverfront, thanks to a stray bomb in 1945. The space sat idle for quite a while. Meanwhile, the neighboring space was owned by the family of Vaclav Havel, who didn't know it but was on his way to leading Czechoslovakia.

Eventually, a cultural center was planned for the spot - which never materialized. The architect wanted to show that the country was shifting from static to dynamic. But it's now an office building, complete with a bar and restaurant.

Some people don't think it's a good fit with the neighborhood, while others love. And so it goes.

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Prague, Czech Republic: Crawling Babies Statue

You'd think the statue at the Kafka Museum would be enough, but David Cerny wasn't done there. He's done a variety of work that is on display throughout Prague. The Kafka head was his idea too.

Just down the riverwalk in Kampa Park is this trio of sculptures. They are crawling babies, giving visitors a chance to get up close and personal with the work.

Crawling babies are also on the TV tower in town. Run for your lives!

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Prague, Czech Republic: Kafka Museum

No, I didn't enter the Kafka Museum along the west bank of the river in Prague. But that doesn't mean I didn't go there, because I did.

I had to see the peeing statue.

It's actually name is "Proudy." It features the sculpture of two men who are, um, urinating. The catch comes with their hips, which rotate a few degrees so that the stream lands on different parts of the base.

The men, by the way, are a shade under seven feet. Apparently you can send a text message to have the statues write something in the water.

A newspaper called it the most strange statue in all of Prague, and it's tough to disagree with that. But, it is Kafka, and we're talking about it.

The museum is located just off the Charles Bridge. Go to the west end and turn right. However, the area is not well marked and we got a little lost in trying to find it. So bring a good map.

After all that, you still want to see what it looks like in action? OK.

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Prague, Czech Republic: Old Town Hall

This normally would be the spot for a photo of the Astronomical Clock, one of the great attractions in Prague. But since it was being repairs, we'll spare you from that. Who wants to see a shot of scaffolding?

The rest of the Old Town Hall is pretty interesting too.

The first part of the tour goes through several rooms above ground. The rooms have some great artwork and furnishings in them, and they are often used to this day for ceremonial purposes. The Brozik Assembly Hall takes up an entire floor's space and goes up two flights.

Then there's the medieval underground. Part of it was used as housing back in the day, and another section was a prison. Since it's pretty much all stone, you can bet the prison was, um, less than sanitary. Gotta be careful walking around this part.

Finally, there's the tower. It's been around since the 14th century, but upgraded fairly recently. The views are excellent. It's fun to look right down into the Old Town Square.

Apparently the Nazis tried to destroy this building when the Soviet troops were ready to occupy the land. They did some damage, but it is nice that Prague has rebuilt it.

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Prague, Czech Republic: Statue of Franz Kafka

What, you would expect a statue that salutes Franz Kafka to be normal?

No. This is actually closer to hypnotic.

You can see on this photo that the "head" is cut into a few dozen slices. Each piece can rotate individually.

Let's say the top slice moves 15 degrees. Then the next one moves. And the next one. And so on. Eventually all of the pieces have moved 15 degrees, and the head is whole again.

But it may be more than one slice, as I recall. And maybe one piece starts before the other piece stops. You can amuse yourself for quite a while if you watch this, It's located south of the Old Town tourist area.

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