Bella Vida by Letty

architecture

The Exorcist Steps in Georgetown Washington DC

the exorcist steps

The Exorcist steps are famous for being featured in one of the scariest horror films of all time, The Exorcist. The book and film are loosely based on an actual events.  The novel was inspired by a 1949 case of demonic possession and exorcism that American author William Blatty heard about while he was a student in the class of 1950 at Georgetown University.  The Academy Award winning movie which came out in 1973 is about an actress filming in Georgetown who seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter when the teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity.

the exorcist steps

The Exorcist steps are 75 concrete stairs located in Georgetown at the corner of Prospect St NW and 36th St NW, leading down to M Street NW.  The stairs were built in 1890 as a shortcut between M Street and Prospect Street.

I visited right before sunset and did find the place creepy.  Nested between an ivy covered stone wall and a brick warehouse with dumpsters overflowing with stinky garbage.

Yes, they are very long and steep.  The height of the steps are equivalent to a five story building.  I gripped the railing all the way down pausing only to snap some pics.

exorcist stairs

The stairs appear in the scene where the priest sacrifices his life to save the girl.  This is a definite stop to take photos for every horror movie fan.  A visit an iconic spot in cinema history is a must. It’s one of the most famous steps in the world.

On Halloween of 2015, more than 40 years after the film was released, Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council member Jack Evans memorialized the steps with a plaque with  Director William Friedkin and and writer William Peter Blatty on hand.

 

exorciststeps

Depending on the time of your visit you might find the steps crowded with people exercising and lots of the students from Georgetown University.

Have you visited the Exorcist Steps in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington DC?

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Things to do in Chicago Take in the Willis Tower Views

Things to do in Chicago

The Willis Tower was originally built and still commonly referred to as the Sears Tower. This 108-story skyscraper is one of the most famous landmarks in Chicago, Illinois. It took 2,000 workers three years to build and has been open to the public since 1974. It’s the second tallest in North America and the Western Hemisphere and the eight tallest building in the world.

Skydeck Willis Tower

If you’re visiting Chicago I highly recommend checking out the views from this iconic skyscraper. The Skydeck is the highest observation deck in the United States and from the 103rd floor features expansive views of the city and lake front. Visibility from the Skydeck is approximately 40-50 miles. On a clear day you can see four states: Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Skydeck Willis Tower

Fun Fact

The average sway of the building is six inches from true center. But don’t worry the building is designed to sway up to 3 feet and you won’t feel it anyway.

Skydeck Willis Tower

Insider Tip

The Willis Tower Skydeck is a popular attraction, which receives about 25,000 people each day. The best times to visit are either early morning or evening. One way to beat the long lines and save money is to purchase a Chicago CityPASS. If you purchase the booklet ahead of time you can totally by pass super long lines and go straight to the elevator that swoops you up to the Skydeck.

The CityPASS also includes entrance to Chicago’s most popular attractions, The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, The Art Institute, Museum of Science, Planetarium, etc. It comes out way cheaper than purchasing tickets for each individual attraction. Especially if you’re traveling as a family.

Skydeck Willis Tower

Chicago CityPASS  ~ See the Best and Save Money

 

Have you visited the Skydeck at the Willis Tower?

Where you brave enough to step out onto the platform?

Willis Tower related products.

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The Garden District of New Orleans

The Garden District in Uptown New Orleans

There’s a beautiful neighborhood in New Orleans called the Garden District and during my visit where I stayed.  It’s a wonderful place for taking a long walk especially if you enjoy taking photos.  In this neighborhood you will find row after elegant row of Greek Revival and Vintage Victorian mansions with perfectly manicured gardens.  Every single one is different.  You really never know what will be around the corner.

The Garden District in Uptown New Orleans

The Garden District of New Orleans is considered to have the best preserved historic mansions in the US.  The area is one of the earliest expressions of Greek Revival and the streets still named after the nine muses of Greek mythology.  It was developed after 1830 by wealthy Americans who made their money in the shipping, cotton, sugar and slave trade industries.  While they may have been short on ethics there was no shortage of money.  St. Charles Avenue is where the wealthiest and most powerful residents of New Orleans lived.  It’s incredible to see such lavishness from the past survive.

I’ve read both sides behind the reasoning they chose this location.  One, because they were snubbed by French Quarter Creoles and or two they thought they were just too good to live alongside them in the French Quarter.  The evidence is in the opulence of the Garden District where residents spent tons of money trying to outdo one another in having the most extravagant home.

The Garden District in Uptown New Orleans

My imagination ran wild inventing stories of the types of people who lived in these mansions back then and now.  The Garden District has had many famous residents over the years: Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt, John Goodman, Nicolas Cage, Helen Mirren and the Manning’s to name a few.  I was looking for two characters in particular, Lestat de Lioncourt & Louis de Pointe du Lac.  And I found them.  Do you know them?


I love spooky stories, especially ones with vampires.  You know I had to stop at Anne Rice’s old home.  It stood elegantly on a corner surrounded by tall oak trees and shmancy mansions.

 The Garden District in Uptown New Orleans

 You may think some of these photos look a little tilted but the reality is this place is so old the sidewalks have huge cracks in them making them uneven.  The same can be said about the streets.  The culprit is usually the root system of an extravagantly large oak tree.  Be sure to watch your step.  The best time to visit is early morning on a sunny day when you can enjoy all of the little details that make this neighborhood great.  Take your time walking.  There’s plenty of shade and don’t forget your camera.

Have you been to the Garden District of New Orleans?

 

 

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Exploring the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana

French Quarter Royal Street New Orleans Collage

When visiting New Orleans a trip to the French Quarter is an absolute must.  Stretching from the Mississippi River toward Esplande Avenue and Canal Street up to Rampart Street, the neighborhood is a feast for the eyes and bursting with things to do.  Precisely because there is so much to do and so many interesting facts to learn I recommend taking a tour from one of the locals.  Tours are numerous and are designed to entertain just about every taste.  I did the cemetery Voodoo tour of which a portion of the proceeds goes back into the community to assist in preservation efforts.  That tour was so fun I have to write up a separate post to tell you all about it.

French Quarter Streets Collage NOLA

Leaving our bed and breakfast in the Garden District we took a short ride down St. Charles Avenue to Canal Street in one of the city’s famous streetcars.  For a three dollar day pass you can hop on and off as much as you like.  They are a reliable source of transportation scheduled nine minutes apart.   It was a short walk to Cafe Beignet on Royal Street where we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of Cajun hash browns and coffee.   I love to eat and everyone I spoke with told me there was no bad food in NOLA.  They were not lying.  The people of New Orleans are super friendly and treated us well.  After breakfast we window shopped along the antique shop lined street and took in the architecture.

French Quarter architecture Collage NOLA

Founded in 1718 the French Quarter is New Orleans oldest neighborhood.   It was French Canadian, Sieur de Bienville, who came upon this crescent of the Mississippi River deemed safe from tidal surges and hurricanes.  Under his governorship New Orleans, which he named in honor of the Prince Regent of France, became the capital of French Louisiana and this its center.  Today the district is a National Historical Landmark containing numerous historical buildings.  Most of the surviving French Quarter architecture was built during the forty year of Spanish rule which we can see today expressed in colorful pastel walls and elaborately decorated ironwork balconies.  They stand today in part because the Spanish had stricter building codes and eliminated flammable materials like wood.

Jackson Square French Quarter New Orleans  Collage

Our trip coincided with the Red Dress Run, the biggest little red dress event in the world so everywhere we looked there were men and women in sexy red dresses.  The event is held the second Saturday of every August and is sponsored by the New Orleans Hash House Harriers, a social club of self proclaimed drinkers with running problems.  They spilled out of beautiful Louis Armstrong park and onto the streets of the French Quarter in a festive mood.  There was music and drinking going just as you would expect to happen after midnight at ten in the morning.  I must admit, their energy along with the very friendly people of NOLA had me in a such a great mood, the sweltering August heat had no chance of ruining my day.

After our Voodoo Cemetery tour we headed to Riverwalk in search of something cold to drink.  We ended up having a late lunch of scrumptious jambalaya partnered with a cold fruity drink called a Cherry Blossom at River’s Edge.  Following lunch we strolled past local artists displaying their latest works of art along the beautifully manicured landscaping of Jackson Square.  The main attraction is sculptor Clark Mills’s grand statue of Battle of New Orleans hero and U.S. President, Andrew Jackson.  The square is surrounded by historical landmarks like the old St. Louis Cathedral, the Louisiana State museum and the oldest apartment buildings in the United States.

corner french quarter

We then headed back to our quiet, clean and comfortable room in an elegant Greek Revival mansion for a long nap so we could party all night long on infamous Bourbon Street.  Do not miss visiting Bourbon Street, no matter how crowded and obnoxious, it was entertaining to say the least.  I couldn’t think of a better place for my first taste of absinthe than at the Old Absinthe House Bar.  Absinthe reminds me of the anise flavored Columbian drink, aguardiente.  I sipped it slowly so I was all good.  This bar is almost 200 years old and looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in at least 100 and the bathroom at least 300.  I guess the interesting characters that came in and out that night kind of made up for it.  People of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities having a great time together.

You know how I really like to dig in and explore the city.  I had to go back to the French Quarter one more time to visit more than the tourist scene on Bourbon Street.  I had to experience the local jazz music scene for myself.  On my last night we had a blast bar hopping on Frenchman Street.  None of the places had cover charges.  In between stops we ran into an open air art market to inspire my creative side. Every place I visited that night had live music and every single band was great.  Non stop dancing hula hoop girl can attest to that.  We hit up The Spotted Cat, Club Negril and Maison to name a few.  The atmosphere was festive and lots of people were dancing.

horse tie french quarter

I have wonderful memories of the French Quarter and I’m sure I’ll go back one day.

Have you been to the French Quarter?  What are your recommendations?

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“New Orleans food is as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.”   Mark Twain

“I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln 
went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy 
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.”  Langston Hughes

“In the spring of 1988, I returned to New Orleans, and as soon as I smelled the air, I knew I was home. 
It was rich, almost sweet, like the scent of jasmine and roses around our old courtyard. 
I walked the streets, savoring that long lost perfume.”   Anne Rice

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Travel: Doors of Savannah’s Historic District

Doors of Savannah's Historic District

I visited Savannah last year and not only do I have wonderful memories but I also have a ton of photos.  One of my photo projects was to focus on the doors and windows of the beautiful historical homes.  Most are well kept and in great condition.  I was enchanted with the architecture of Savannah’s Historic District.  There was so much to look at.  So many little details, I just wanted to eat them all up.  I walked up and down the streets for hours under the canopy created by rows of ancient live oak trees draped in Spanish moss.  I felt I was in another world and my imagination ran wild.  It was early so I had the streets mainly to myself except the incredibly loud sounds of cicadas was a constant reminder I was not alone.

Doors of Savannah's Historic District

The houses and public buildings are arranged around a series of public squares.  These squares are actually tiny little well kept parks.  The perfect place to sit and rest.  The town plan was created 1733 by Gen. James E. Oglethorpe, founder of the British colony of Georgia.  Now that’s old.  It really makes you appreciate what a fine job the city does of maintaining and preserving its history.

 Doors of Savannah's Historic District

It’s a wonderful place to enjoy architecture.  The homes are representation of eighteenth and nineteenth century architecture in a variety of styles including Federal, Georgian, Gothic Revival, Greek Revival, Italianate, Regency, Victorian, Colonial and more.  The section of quaint Victorian houses were so pretty you can’t help but be reminded of the gingerbread house.

 Doors of Savannah's Historic District

Among the historic homes that have been preserved are: the Pink House, the Sorrel Weed House, Juliette Gordon Low’s birthplace, the Green-Meldrim House, the Owens-Thomas House, theWilliam Scarbrough House, and the Wormsloe plantation of Noble Jones. The Mercer-Williams House, the former home of Jim Williams, is the main location of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  Savannah’s historic district is actually is the largest registered urban National Historic Landmark district in the United States.

 Doors of Savannah's Historic District

If you are visiting Savannah Georgia I recommend you make some time for a leisurely stroll to the Historic district.  It’s truly a feast for the eyes ya’ll.

 Doors of Savannah's Historic District

Have you been to Savannah?  What’s your favorite place there?

 

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“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” Helen Keller

“Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.” Emily Dickinson

“Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door. ” Coco Chanel

 

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Every turn is a New Opportunity

San Juan Puerto Rico 2008
“Take wrong turns. Talk to strangers. Open unmarked doors. And if you see a group of people in a field, go find out what they are doing. Do things without always knowing how they’ll turn out. You’re curious and smart and bored, and all you see is the choice between working hard and slacking off. There are so many adventures that you miss because you’re waiting to think of a plan. To find them, look for tiny interesting choices. And remember that you are always making up the future as you go.” Randall Munroe

La Puerta de San Juan Puerto Rico 2008

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” Don Williams, Jr.

La Puerta de San Juan Puerto Rico 2008
“The world turns aside to let any man pass who knows where he is going.” Epictetus

“A wise man turns chance into good fortune.” Thomas Fuller

“Fiction is a piece of truth that turns lies to meaning.” Dorothy Allison

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Favorite Places ~ Old San Juan Puerto Rico

“You can fall in love at first sight with a place as with a person.” Alec Waugh
Old San Juan Puerto Rico Sunny Day 2008

My favorite place on the planet is Old San Juan Puerto Rico.  I never tire of walking street after street. Each visit holds new surprises. If you end up walking with me you’re in trouble because I can walk forever.

I love the off balance sensation of stepping on gray worn cobblestone laid centuries before.  I love the mystery of following unplanned paths that will eventually lead me to the deep blue oceans edge.  There is no wrong way.  There is no getting lost. Taking the challenging uphill walkway past a music school I saunter to the pace of bomba which will transform to salsa, reggaeton or merengue as I continue onward.  At the top of Calle Cristo my eyes are greeted with an explosion of colors. On every facade is a festival for the eyes in a pattern eluding repetition.  My eyes feasting on colors like candies; pilon lollipops  pasta de guayaba, coco-pina, miel con almendra, ajonjoli, limber de parcha, papaya-lechoza and crema de coco.

 

 

Old San Juan Puerto Rico – rainy day 2008

Seeking relief from the sun or natures other elements the museums, art galleries and studios became my playground   Shops and boutiques display cultural treasures; local handmade arts and crafts. Admiring and appreciating every piece made on this island fills my soul with inspiration.  I feel a camaraderie with these artists. The commonality of artistic qualities and roots to the island is very comforting. I am less lonely knowing there are others like me.

I feel connected to this place with every swirling sound, graced texture, dancing vision and pleasing aroma.  I feel connected by family, by blood by DNA from the ends of my long curly black hair to the tippy tips of my aura. Every cell of my being has been switched ON to happy.

 

La Fortaleza – Palacio de Santa Catalina Puerto Rico – rainy day 2008

 

I get that sensation each time I visit my favorite place.

“How hard it is to escape from places. However carefully one goes they hold you – you leave little bits of yourself fluttering on the fences – like rags and shreds of your very life.” Katherine Mansfield

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Rainy Photographs of Puerto Rico

“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.” Roger Miller
Capilla del Cristo Old San Juan Puerto Rico 2008

I love pictures of the rain, rainy days, rain washed settings . . .
The clouds conceal the light leaving it’s affects on how color is perceived.
Dark clouds stir emotions like a warning of something coming inciting the feeling of needing protection.

Old San Juan Puerto Rico 2008

I love rain water reflections. Precious diamond moments when we see ourselves projected outside of our bodies. Reminding us that we are here. We are alive. Ceaselessly taking part in the endless chain of being affected and affecting the universe.

Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery Old San Juan Puerto Rico 2008
“The wind shows us how close to the edge we are.” Joan Didion
“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.” Langston Hughes

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