Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum - Madison, GA

The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum first hit my radar a few years ago as the location of a couple of Mold-A-Rama machines. I may have mentioned my mild interest in Mold-A-Ramas once or twice here. Anyway, I recently realized that said Microcar museum is only about an hour and a half from our current location. Armed with that info we set out on Saturday to check it out.

A small Mold-A-Rama collection at the museum
 A short aside here, the tale of the Mold-A-Ramas is not a happy one. I emailed the museum to check if they did indeed have the MAR machines that the MAR website has listed for their location. And, yes, oh happy day, they DO have them. Yay right? Not so fast. They have them but they're not.turned.on. Ok, alright, no need to panic. Dear Microcar Museum I wrote, please turn on the machines because I'm coming to visit and I really, really, REALLY want those damn MAR's OK! Ahem. Not gonna happen. The machines are there but they won't be turned on. Even with this awful news we decided to head out there anyway. I thought maybe, just maybe some of the MAR figures would be made and available. Turns out I was right. But the figurine that was available was Mickey Mouse. I know right? Mickey Mouse. Le sigh. So while I was thisclose to two really cool MAR's they were not to be mine. Not yet.


Despite the so-close but so-far brush with the Mold-A-Ramas the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum was a fun and interesting place to visit. Microcars had their heyday in Europe at the end of WWII. Things were in ruins, there were shortages of every commodity and there was a lot of work to do. Microcars were born as a way to mobilize the population under adverse conditions. The bubble car boom (as they were known) lasted only ten years but left a lasting impression.

 From the website: The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum seeks to pay tribute to the people who built and loved these wonderful vehicles, some of which achieved lasting fame, others sinking into obscurity. It hopes to bring this brief, colorful flowering of talent and ingenuity to the attention of a new generation of automobile enthusiasts. It is currently the Largest Single Collection of Microcars in the World. If you know a larger one, please let us know!

 Walking around the museum you can't help but feel like Gulliver in a land of Lilliputian cars. You can't help but smile as you look out at the sea of teeny tiny cars in lots of bright colors. Little cars in all shapes and sizes, some with two doors, many with one. Each and everyone restored to its prime condition.

Amongst the restored cars are period advertizements, restored vending machines, kids rides and a few peddle cars.

 Before we realize a couple of hours have zoomed by. Just when you think you've seen the whole of the place something else catches your eye.

And in the everything old is new again file:

The museum as it sits today is going to be auctioned off in February of 2013. Every car, every vending machine, the Mold-A-Ramas. The next few months will be your last chance to see all of these tiny pieces of history in one place.

Don't be surprised if on that day in February one intrepid blogger will be in the crowd eying the Mold-A-Rama machines wondering once I win them where ever will I keep them.

Happy travels!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Presto Latin Cantina - Marietta, GA

My dining companion surprised me this weekend with breakfast at Presto Latin Cantina. Presto calls itself a Caribbean and South American restaurant with an emphasis on Colombian home cooking.

The menu lists several Latin Specialties and Mexican dishes. Breakfast seemed to be a combination of both. Having tried Colombian food for the first time earlier this year in Key West, I was looking forward to having it again. (Colombian Grace, Key West, FL)

We were greeted by our server and shown to a table, the first customers of the day, but we weren't alone for long. Once we were settled with our menus I took a look around. The interior is festive and inviting. Colorful artwork, some of which is for sale, lends a cheerful air to the bright space.

I looked over the menu and selected two items for breakfast. The first was called Calentado. It's a rice and bean casserole with chicharron (here that meant thick cut pork belly lardons) served with scrambled eggs and a fried flour arepa with queso fresco. (An arepa is very similar to a Mexican gordita. They can be made of wheat flour or corn and can be fried, boiled, baked or grilled) The second thing I ordered was a Venezuelan specialty called Arepa Reina Pepeada, a grilled flour arepa stuffed with avocado chicken salad.

The Calentado was rich, homey and clearly made from scratch. The combination of rice and beans with bacon hit every comfort food note. I could eat this kind of thing for breakfast everyday. The flour arepa was totally different from the corn type I've had previously. It was a good foil for the sauce served with my breakfast but on its own not nearly as flavorful as the corn version. The slab of queso fresco served with it was creamy and mildly flavored.

 My dining companion had the Arepa de Choclo, a sweet corn caked grilled and served with queso fresco. This was very similar to the breakfast we had at Colombian Grace earlier this year. The sweet corn cake with the cheese has an almost nutty, salty sweet taste. A flavor profile I really enjoy. It was delicious and didn't disappoint. 

It turned out though the clear star of breakfast was the Arepa Reina Pepeada that we shared. The cool creamy avocado mayonnaise, moist chicken that had a real depth of flavor all wrapped up in a grilled flour arepa. Different than any chicken salad I've had before. I will go back for this dish.

 We plan on going back for dinner. The dinner menu looks very interesting and is filled with the types of flavors I love.

On Saturday nights Presto heats up with the sounds of live music to rumba by. A band plays merengue, salsa and vallenato. Muy caliente!

While I wouldn't know the difference between a rumba and a cha cha I can't wait to sit there with a frozen rum drink and take it all in over a plate of Colombian comfort food.  Like the sign outside says:

Happy travels!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

And many happy returns...

Well, this blog has passed the one year mark. I'm surprised and happy by that fact. 
Thanks for hanging in there with me. I'm having fun and hoping for more happy travels ahead.

It was quiet around here this past week. Some tentative plans are being made for fall and later travel, hope to get them firmed up soon.  

Thanks for stopping by. Keep watching this space, more fun and adventure ahead.

Happy travels!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Savannah Redux - So long summer

An iconic sight all over the city...Spanish moss hanging from tree branches

Just about a year ago (where does the time go?!) when I was starting this blog, we were planning a trip to Savannah and Hilton Head Island. We had such a good time we decided to head back there this Labor Day weekend.

On that first visit we made an unexpected side trip to Tybee Island, GA. Tybee Island is my kind of beachside community. I couldn't believe that I had never been there before. Kitchy shops side-by-side with nicer boutiques. Flop flops and shorts or the uniform of choice. You can get a daiquiri drawn out of a slushy machine or have a nice glass of wine in a sit down restaurant. All go into making this a fun, eclectic place to spend some time.

I broke one of my cardinal rules of travel this trip. A couple of my complimentary stay certificates were going to expire at the end of this month and I let that influence my choice of hotel. Don't get me wrong, the hotel we stayed at was very nice. (Residence Inn, Savannah Midtown) But, it didn't meet my walking distance criteria. I knew on this trip that we were going to concentrate most of our time on Tybee Island so I thought being a bit out of the downtown wouldn't matter. I was wrong. Usually in the evening when we might have walked out to get a drink or just take in the city we were faced with having to get out the car to go anywhere. It put a bit of a damper on things. Lesson learned or reinforced more to the point.

We started out early Saturday morning and stopped for breakfast at the Red Eyed Mule in Marietta before we headed out of town. Figuring we would get to the hotel prior to check-in time, we decided to head to lunch as soon as we got to Savannah. We checked with the hotel just in case and we were too early for check-in. Lunch it was!

Decorative wrought iron work

Our lunch destination had already been decided, Uncle Bubba's Oyster House. The food we had there on a previous visit was so good we wanted to go back. The food this time around was very hit or miss and mostly disappointing. However, the one thing that didn't let us down was the key lime pie. It was so good we had it twice. We stopped back on Sunday just for that pie. The place was packed and on a wait but the bar in the back is full service and first come, first served. We walked out back and snagged the last high-top near the bar. We ordered our pie and looked around the bar. Guess who was seated at the table right next to us? Paula Deen's husband, Michael Groover. Captain Mike was having lunch with his brother. Lot's of people stopped by to say hey and a few to get there pictures taken. He was smiling the whole time and took it all in stride. We didn't approach his table but he did greet us as well as others in the area.

 After lunch on Saturday we drove a little further down highway 80 right out to Tybee Island. We had no plan other than to walk out to the beach and pick up a few souvineers. I was so anxious to get to the beach I had my travel companion parking the car way sooner than I should have. Let's just say my memory was hazy and I had us parked about 10 long blocks away from where we wanted to be. Fail! We made the best of it and took a walk on the beach before heading back to and re-parking the car. (I hope someone found the meter with all that time still on it.) Once we were re-parked we walked over to the public pier on the beach and took in the beautiful view of the ocean and the beach. It was beautiful day and I really enjoyed my time there.

The plan for Sunday was so take a trolley tour of Savannah. Something we've done and enjoyed in other cities. We took the Oglethorpe Gray Line tour. It's a 90 minute on/off tour that takes place in downtown Savannah. The tour was fine but the on/off component didn't operate like any I had experience with before. Once around for the whole tour and then you get dropped off at one of two stops. From there the on/off service is provided by small buses (think hotel shuttles) that pick you up and drop you off at the various points the tour covered. It was fine and worked as advertised but wasn't what I expected and kind of took some of the fun out of it for me. Your experience my vary but at least you now know what to expect. Note to self: read the fine print.

After the tour we headed back to Tybee Island for lunch at Stingray's, a seafood restaurant right on the main drag. The best I can say about this place was that the food was ok. Everything was just bland and uninspiring. Between this place and Uncle Bubba's the food this trip was not a standout. Except for the key lime pie at Uncle Bubba's, that was awesome, and worth a trip there just for that.

So the long weekend went, eating ok food, enjoying good company and spending time at the beach. Not a bad way to ease into fall.

Happy travels!