Fort Worth Stockyards: Learn About the Old West

The Old West is not just something that Hollywood created, it really existed.  The cowboy lifestyle helps give Texas a bit of mystique and is a big part of the state’s culture.  I recently visited the Fort Worth Stockyards with my mom so we could learn more about what that way of life was really like.

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Historical Tour of the Fort Worth Stockyards

To learn about the history of the area, you should take the 90 minute guided walking tour of the Stockyards. Tours leave from the Visitors Center at 130 East Exchange Avenue three times a day.  Ticket prices are $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $5 for children.  Before leaving on our tour, we watched the “Spirit of The West” video to get a little historical background.

Historical Background

At the end of the American Civil War, cattle were everywhere in Texas and no one had money to pay for them.  People realized they could get a lot of money for the cattle if they could just get them up north.  Moving cattle 800 miles was not easy then.  The Fort Worth Stockyards developed as the place to rest before heading north.

Years later businessmen realized that it would be more efficient if the meat packing plants came to Fort Worth instead of transporting the cattle up North.  So in 1903, two large meat processing plants, Swift and Armour opened.  The Stockyards were thriving.

Anisa is ready for her walking tour of the Stockyards. - "Fort Worth Stockyards: Learn About the Old West" - Two Traveling Texans
Anisa is ready for her walking tour of the Stockyards.

After World War II, the trucking industry developed. Transporting livestock by road quickly became more flexible and cost-efficient than the railroad. This meant the market favored the shipper, not the meat packer, and smaller operations were taking business away from central locations like the Stockyards. (more…)

Pena Palace: Sintra’s Fairytale Castle

The first time I saw pictures of Pena National Palace, I knew I must visit Sintra, Portugal.  The bright colors of the castles up on the hilltop look like something out of a fairytale.  The palace has been considered one of the most romantic castles in the world, so you really must see it for yourself.  The architecture is a combination of Neo-Gothic, Neo-Moorish, and Neo-Renaissance styles and it is truly a masterpiece.  Pena Palace is popular for good reason, so be prepared to deal with crowds.

Plenty to explore on your visit to Pena Palace. - "Pena Palace: Sintra's Fairytale Castle" - Two Traveling Texans
Plenty to explore on your visit to Pena Palace.

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Brief History of Pena Palace

It all started back in the middle ages when a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Pena was built on the top of the hill after an apparition of the Virgin Mary.  In the late 15th century, King Manuel I, a very religious man, ordered a small monastery to be built on the site. (He also sponsored the construction of Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon). (more…)

The National September 11 Memorial & Museum: A Moving Experience

I wasn’t living in NYC at the time but I remember September 11, 2001 well.  I watched everything unfold on television from Phoenix and had a hard time comprehending what was happening.  While I can’t imagine what it was like living in NYC at the time, I think about it often.  It was really important for me to visit the September 11 Memorial & Museum.

The 9/11 Memorial is a beautiful tribute. Here is a photo of one of the two pools that make up the 9/11 Memorial. - - "The National September 11 Memorial & Museum: A Moving Experience" - Two Traveling Texans
The 9/11 Memorial is a beautiful tribute.
Here is a photo of one of the two pools that make up the 9/11 Memorial.

Visiting the National September 11 Memorial & Museum

I visited the 9/11 Museum for the first time shortly after it opened and found it really moving.  I went with my friends Kat, Beth, and Terry who were visiting from out of town.  We had early dinner plans that night since we were seeing a Broadway show, and couldn’t stay at the museum as long as I would have liked.  I knew I need to come back and I knew I wanted to bring Russell with me. (more…)

Philadelphia Mural Mile Tour: Get Inspired!

Of course, street art is pretty to look at, but Mural Arts Philadelphia creates street art that not only transforms the wall it appears on, but also changes lives.  The organization works with communities to create 50–100 new public art projects each year and also does a great job restoring the older murals in its growing collection.  Today, it is the largest collection of collaborative artwork in the world – there are over 4100 pieces! We were excited to do the Philadelphia Mural Mile walking tour, see as much as street art as we could, and learn some of the stories behind the artwork.

Pride and Progress by Ann Northup shows the history of the Gay Pride movement. You can see Russell taking a photo and that shows how enormous the mural is! - "Philadelphia Mural Mile Tour: Get Inspired!" - Two Traveling Texans
Pride and Progress by Ann Northup shows the history of the Gay Pride movement. You can see Russell taking a photo and that shows how enormous the mural is!

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The tour starts at the Academy of Fine Arts Hamilton Building, 128 N. Broad Street.  We checked in with reception and received buttons to wear. Everyone was ready a few minutes before the tour’s scheduled start time so our tour guide, Brendan, gathered the group and we headed off.

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Taste Test: Pat’s Vs Geno’s Cheesesteaks

Philadelphia is famous for its cheesesteaks.  I’ve tried cheesesteaks before but I thought since I was going to be in Philly, it was about time I tried the best.  The problem is there is a big debate over which is the best Philly cheesesteak.  Both Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks have very devout followings and their customers think they are the best Philly cheese steak shop.  I decided to do a taste test to see who serves the best of Philly cheesesteaks. Welcome to the Two Traveling Texans Pat’s vs Geno’s cheesesteak taste-off!  

How to Order Your Cheesesteak

First, you will need to decide what type of cheesesteak you would like to have.  You can choose your cheese and also whether or not you want onions.  We decided we should try onions on the cheesesteak.  For cheese, it was a tougher decision but we chose cheese whiz, a processed American cheese spread.  If you prefer, you could also have regular American cheese or provolone.  They also make cheesesteaks without cheese, but is that really a cheesesteak?

Geno's Cheesesteak With Cheese Whiz and Onions aka Cheesesteak Whiz Wit - "Taste Test: Pat's Vs Geno's Cheesesteaks" - Two Traveling Texans
Geno’s Cheesesteak With Cheese Whiz and Onions aka Cheesesteak Whiz Wit

Ok, so now you know what you want to order.  From what I read, I thought they were very particular about how you order your cheesesteak.  You are supposed to say which cheese you want and then if you want your cheesesteak “wit or witout” onions.  So I think I should have said, “I want a cheesesteak whiz wit.”  I was worried I would get yelled at for not ordering it correctly.  Lucky for me, that didn’t happen and I still got my cheesesteaks even though I don’t think I ordered the ‘right way’! (more…)