Sunday, May 6, 2012

O! is for Omaha

Omaha isn't one of those places that inspired a lot of excitement in me as I am sitting at home preparing to go.  I didn't have low expectations exactly.  I didn't think it would be ugly, not as I had with Laredo.  I thought there would be nothing.  Nothing to see, nothing to do. I was wrong.  Here are some highlights.

The Durham Museum and Omaha Union Station

The Art Deco style was designed by Gilbert Stanley and crafted by Jacob Maag.

I am not a huge fan of museums but this one is both the old train station and a museum so I thought it might have something different to offer.  The first portion is dedicated to the old Union Station. There are bronze statues on motion censors that talk when you approach.  A family traveling.  Lovebirds.  A traveling salesman.  Military men.  I listened to a woman ask for a ticket and heard the ticket prices.  I got quite a surprise when I went in the gift shop and saw the back of the employee she was talking to.

I kept hearing my dad's voice in my head saying, "Do you think he ever feels like half a man?"

The rest of the museum was dedicated to trains - still a big part of Omaha - and other more museum-like exhibits on the history of Omaha.

I was a little startled when I heard a train whistle (it was quiet down here and I was totally alone).  I thought maybe they had motion censors down here too.  It turned out the tracks behind the museum are still in use today.  That wasn't true of the cow sounds I heard later.  There wasn't a real cow, it was another recording.

There were several train cars strung together that you could walk through to see the various accommodations that were available.

A full-size bus too.

Spirit of Nebraska's Wilderness and Pioneer Courage Park

I had not read about this park in the visitor's guide I took from the volunteer at the airport but I couldn't miss it on the way to my customer's office downtown.

This is the first of the sculptures I see.  There are over 100 bronze sculptures that stretch 6 blocks.  They are - as you can see - sometimes crashing through buildings.  They are in the landscape beds, inside an atrium of another building.  It is almost as if they were there first and the city came in around them.

The Old Market

I put this off until the last day but really wanted to see it.  Cobblestone streets, shops and restaurants that were always busy.  Once I got down there I found it was more restaurants than anything else.

I had plans to eat at the Upstream Brewery as recommended by my customer.  However, when I got down here it was hot and I wasn't hungry yet so I went back to the hotel expecting to return for dinner.  I changed my plans last minute so I will have to save that for another time.

The Fairmont Antique & Mercantile was the most interesting store I went in.  When they say antique they don't mean some shabby-chic home decorator stuff.  They mean really antique. 

There is a working soda fountain here.  Also Hollywood candy shares the space so there is a LOT of candy.  Some of the antiques they had bordered on creepy...

I have thought about this doll several times since.  She was only $18 and almost came home with me but I was a little afraid she might slit my throat while I slept.  She is surrounded on all sides by Gone With the Wind Barbie which is probably why she is so angry.  

Film Streams at the Ruth Sokolof Theater

I was told this theater was in a "sketchy" neighborhood.  Maybe they mean this?

I didn't see anything or anyone remotely sketchy.  Actually, there was almost no one on the street when I came out after the movie.  This huge mural was on the wall across the street.

The theater is showing The Sweet Smell of Success as part of their film noir series.  The movie was released in 1957 and stars Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis.  I was only one of 10 total people in the theater but it was a very nice, comfortable place.  If we lived in Omaha it is definitely a place David and I would frequent.

Omaha Community Playhouse

In a last-minute decision my last night in Omaha, I went to a play here.  It was a comedy called Lend me a Tenor.  It was very funny and I enjoyed it as much as the chat I had with Nan & Dick in the foyer before it started.

Their website was not working properly and I couldn't buy a ticket online.  I decided to just drive over and see if they had anything I could get last minute.  I got an 11th row center seat for half price by showing up in person.  

Heartland of America Park & Century Link Center

Omaha is on the Missouri River and they have several nice parks situated along the river.  They also have a lot of public art here as you have already seen but there was more along the river and at Century Link Center, a convention center and arena where you can take in a sporting event or concert.

I have a few more things to share about Omaha in my next post including an important geography lesson learned that I will be sure to utilize as I prepare for future trips.  Also, more on the food in Omaha, fortunately none involving live animal spectators or piles of chicken bones.

A partial view of downtown from Heartland of America Park

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