I spent Thursday morning doing a Volksmarch. The walk went through Bushnell park, around downtown (past the Ancient Burying Ground and Center Church), over the Connecticut River to East Hartford, and around the State Capitol. The latter is the only Victorian Gothic state house in the country, so is interesting in that respect. I thought I was going to be doing a 10 km walk, but I apparently took the wrong set of instructions inadvertently and ended up doing only 5 km. It was still a good tour of the city. I should also mention that being a compulsive reader of historic signs paid off with the tidbit that the first pay phone in the U.S. was installed at the corner of Main Street and Central Row.
I walked over to the Mark Twain House on Friday afternoon (about a mile west of the Homewood Suites). This was, apparently, his favorite home and he wrote many of his most famous books in the billiards room on the third floor. The house tour is a bit pricy but was reasonably entertaining and the visitor center has fairly good exhibits on Twain's life. I can't say I learned anything much new, but that is largely because I'd been to the Mark Twain Shrine in Florida, Missouri (his birthplace) as well as to Hannibal a few years ago.
Finally, I went to the Wadsworth Atheneum on Saturday afternoon. This is the oldest public art museum in the U.S. and is worth a couple of hours. I was rather disappointed in their special exhibit on lace. One of their major collections is of paintings by the Hudson River School, which are not really to my taste. But they do have a good selection of American paintings and I particularly liked works by George Morinko, Giorgio Chirico, Max Ernst, and Peter Blum. I should also note that they have a large number of pieces by Alexander Calder, though the more notable Calder work in Hartford is his Stegasaurus next door.
On the final travel related note, the fire alarm went off at the hotel about 9 o'clock on Thursday night. It's a pain in the neck when that happens, but I always do follow the instructions to evacuate since dying in a hotel fire is really low on my list of things to do. It turned out that a water main on the 6th floor had broken and the low water pressure was detected by the sprinkler system, triggering the alarm. We were allowed back into the lobby after about 45 mintues or so, but it was a while longer before we could go back to our rooms. The hotel staff served drinks (beer, wine, water, soft drinks) while we were waiting. I was on the 5th floor and, when I got back up there, I saw that the ceiling in the vending room had collapsed and the carpet in that hallway was soaked. That made me glad for the labyrinthine design of the hotel, which put my room a ways from there.
Also, speaking of annoying things, I got an emailed fraud alert regarding a credit card. When I called, it turned out really to be fraudulent this time. (The previous time that had happened - just a few weeks ago - was for a plane ticket I'd tried to buy on-line.) At least from Hartford, I could call them easily. I'm concerned about something like this happening when I'm in Peru and might not be easily able to deal with it. (You can deal with the security department on-line, but I'm not comfortable doing that from an internet cafe or hotel.) Modern life is a bit complex at times.