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Category Archives: Travel

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World’s Best Museums: My Top 5

world's best museums

You’ve come to the right place.

You know I’m not really going to tell you that my Top 5 list is the sole authority on the world’s best museums. This is just a snapshot of what I like … and I want to hear your responses. To compile my list, I considered a few factors: Weirdness, content and different perspectives just to name a few. So, now I’ll get on with the list. These are in no particular order.

Iceland Phallological Museum – Reykjavik, Iceland
This museum just about 30 miles from the Arctic Circle stood in a league of its own during my visit. It has since moved back to Reykjavik, which makes it easier for more people to reach. As a curated collection of detached members, it ranks high in oddball street cred. And it appeals to my dirty sense of humor. You’ll find penises that were attached to mind-boggling array of creatures – watch out for the taxidermied whale willies. Some of them just far enough from the wall to poke the unwary. My original blog post offers a more lengthy, penetrating review. Oops, I’ve built it up and now you’re going to be disappointed.

world's best museums

That’s creative use of crashed airplanes.

Vietnamese Military Museum Hanoi, Vietnam
This museum is packed full of memorabilia and information from thousands of years of conflict. As you might expect, it devotes a good percentage of its space to Vietnam’s more-modern conflicts with France and the United States. I was actually surprised that much of the content was more neutral than I expected. I only saw phrases like “imperialist aggressors” and “puppet government” a few times. Gear from captured U.S. personnel have a chilling power that I can’t explain. And there’s a magnificent sculpture crafted from parts of crashed aircraft. Added bonus: The museum is in a beautiful part of Hanoi.

List of museums in Washington, D.C.

List of museums in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

International Spy Museum – Washington, DC
“My name is Gary Wozniak. I’m a schoolteacher from Edmonton. I’m travelling for pleasure.” This was my cover nearly 10 years ago when I visited the International Spy Museum. And I’ve stuck to it like Chuck Bartowski sticks to his Charles Carmichael alias. This monument to Cold War espionage will make you shake your head in disbelief while totally roping you in with the random checks of your cover story (too much fun!). It really does need an exhibit called “Amazing Things Spies Have Stuck Up Their Butts,” though. Umm, reproductions would be fine for that exhibit. Fun factor and fascination make it a definite entry on my world’s best museums list.

world's best museums

The light, airy, photo-friendly Museum of Flight

Museum of Flight – Seattle, Washington
Let me get something out of the way: The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum has some awesome exhibits. There is nothing like seeing an actual Soyuz, Mercury or Gemini spacecraft. But the Smithsonian’s main location in D.C. is painfully dated, like Walt Disney’s 1960s vision of 1997 (Walt did not foresee nu metal, I promise you).

The Museum of Flight, on the other hand, uses natural light that flatters its also-magnificent aircraft collection. You’ve got everything from rickety bundles of twigs and canvas to supersonic fighters. And they’re laid out in photo-friendly fashion, for the most part. You have a few darker rooms … but most of it is bright and airy. Perfect for aircraft. Perfect for making my world’s best museums list.

Titan Missile Museum Green Valley, Arizona
I have never been in a museum as effective as the Titan Missile Museum. Between a cavernous interior that seems to suck up sound and tour guides who worked in similar installations, it’s less a museum and more of a time machine. You go in now, and shoot straight back to 1969. Need proof that it works? I went in to the museum with a bunch of tweens – and I doubted they would get it. But I soon overheard them saying stuff like “I can’t believe it was really like this!” Our tour guide got them involved by seating them in the control seats and running through the business end of the launch sequence.

The only way I could love this museum more is if the Titan missile itself was a bit more photo-friendly from the top. But still, it handily makes my list of the world’s best museums. It might even top it if this list went in order.

So, what makes your list of the world’s best museums?

Visiting Filming Locations Around the World

Years ago, I got hooked on A Game of Thrones. I was surprised to see HBO take the ambitious step of turning A Game of Thrones into a series – and doing a pretty good job of it too. Sure, some of my favorite background characters didn’t make the cut; a few situations changed too.Continue Reading

Overlooked Oregon – Places Beyond the Hype

Tell someone you’re going to Portland, and you’ll get two reactions: “Ugh, why are you going there?” This is usually people from cities like Chicago or New York who can’t fathom that there’s actually cool stuff in other places. “Powell’s! VooDoo Donuts! Rogue Brewery!” All great, but … all plummeting toward cliché status. I madeContinue Reading

Oregon Blimp Hangar Ranks Among Coolest Aviation Museums

It never fails to amaze me how many aviation museums I can stumble across. My latest one is the Tillamook Air Museum in Oregon. To be honest, I didn’t even plan to stop. I’ve seen more aviation museums than I can remember. And the Tillamook Air Museum doesn’t exactly have a huge collection. My plansContinue Reading

Quick Guide to Easy Icelandic Words

My ears love the Icelandic language. My tongue, though, hates it. Just about every attempt at saying a few bits (aside from “takk fyrir,” the phrase for “thank you”) earned me a few chuckles. I still had fun trying, and I think it’s good for any traveler to try learning a few words – noContinue Reading

Where to Beat the Summer Heat in Arizona

p5rn7vb If you live in Arizona, there’s a good chance the summer heat has its oppressive boot squished against your neck. And you want to know how and where to beat the summer heat in Arizona, someway, somehow. I have some tips for all of you who are afraid of getting heatstroke on the way outContinue Reading

Six Things to Know About Curitiba, Brazil

The World Cup put Curitiba on the rest of the world’s radar. Many of us just think of Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paolo – for better or worse. I went into Curitiba with few expectations – I didn’t really have enough information to form any. And the blogosphere let me down. It seems evenContinue Reading

Dysentery Dangers and Poop Puns A-plenty

According to the Dysentery Dangers infographic, I should’ve had explosive diarrhea on at least two continents. I should’ve had the squirts in South Korea. A colon blow in Costa Rica. A bowel bomb in Belize. A … well, I can’t think of any sort of euphemism for a power dump that starts with a JContinue Reading

Dog Poops On a Flight, Causes Unscheduled Landing: Analysis

A dog poops on a flight and causes an unscheduled landing … and the most-amusing aviation story in a good, long while. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of  the Philly.com story about US Airways Flight 598 bound for Philadelphia from Los Angeles. All copy in italics comes from Philly.com. Everything else is my commentary. AContinue Reading

What Makes Phoenix Better Than Tucson?

People from Phoenix love to shit all over Tucson by saying things like “It’s dirty” and “the roads are terrible.” (Disclaimer: I am an Arizona State University graduate. But I also have little regard for silly-ass tribalism. I also like Tucson more and more with every visit.) While those who bash Tucson run their mouths,Continue Reading