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 on our mural arts tour.

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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…)

The Ultimate Packing List for the Beach

As you have probably realized by now, I do really enjoy beach destinations.   I love going to the Caribbean, Florida, or even beaches close to New York City.  I never feel like I can get enough time at the beach though, but I think the secret is to be prepared.  With my complete packing list for the beach, I can make sure I get the most of my beach time!  

On a nice summer day, everyone wants to be at the beach! - "The Ultimate Packing List for the Beach" - Two Traveling Texans
On a nice summer day, everyone wants to be at the beach!

If like me, you enjoy your beach time, then this list may give you some ideas to make your beach day even better. This list contains a variety of things that you might need for the beach along with some fun items that you might enjoy.  I think you will find this beach packing list helpful whether you are going to the beach for a day or it’s a weeklong beach vacation.  Click on any of the pictures to check current prices, availability and get more information.

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The Beach Essentials

My packing list for the beach starts with the items that you really need for your day in the sun.  If you are flying to the beach destination, you will need to know the baggage rules for the airline you are flying.  Also, think about what items will be available at the beach you are going to.  For example, if you are going to the beach at your hotel, there may be lounge chairs there you can use. (more…)