Thursday, September 20, 2012

Madison Again

By Claire

I didn't think there would be anything to say about our second leisurely day in Madison.  Wrong.  Chuck had planned several things to do today, starting with a walk to Picnic Point, located on Lake Mendota.  It's part of the UW campus.  I'm surprised at how easy it's been to get around by car and to find parking.  This is not a loud, busy city--rather, a nice, tidy, polite town of 234,000.  We began our walk down the trail at about 9:30am and it was destined to be a beautiful day with a slight breeze.  It turned out to be 74°.

Picnic Point

Next up:  a drive to the Monona Terrace Community Convention Center, another Frank Lloyd Wright design.  Did you know that he is a University of Wisconsin alum?  He has strong ties to this area.  We noticed the theme of circles and domes right away and wondered if there was a connection with the view of the capitol dome.  This is from literature about the site:

Frank Lloyd Wright originally proposed a design for the Monona Terrace in 1938. His architectural vision for the City of Madison – a curvilinear gathering place that would link the shore of Lake Monona to the State Capitol. Monona Terrace spans ninety feet out over shimmering waters, incorporating thoroughly modern technology and amenities with the architect´s signature organic design.

Parking structure

We had decided to do a quick tour of the Capitol Building.  It's so beautiful and we have walked past it and around it several times.  Beautiful inside--very stately, and best of all, great bathrooms!  We walked back to State Street, which connects with the Capitol, where there are many, many coffee houses, ethnic eateries and shops. Chuck needed coffee and something sweet and I needed something good.  I had a vegan sandwich--Chuck had a sandwich and a delicious brownie.  We both had cappuccinos and just relaxed.  After lunch we browsed through a book store and then filled up on fresh squeezed orange juice.  We had another walk ahead of us, the Ollrich Botanical Gardens which includes a Thai Pavilion that was a gift to UW.  They didn't have a place for it so it ended up here.  The trick was figuring out which tropical plants could survive the Wisconsin winters.  It was a perfect day for strolling around and taking in the gorgeous plants.  We enjoyed a few of the nicely placed benches too.

 Inside a curly weeping willow

Statue just before the bridge leading to the Thai Pavilion

 There are numerous signs warning you not to touch the building--it's the gold leaf

More gardens

 Sunken Garden

Madison is a great city.  The university campus is huge and sprawling and beautiful and a distinct part of the city.  There are lots of things to see and do and most of the students seem to travel by bicycle or scooter; so we would fit right in.  I think I could live here...except for the winters.  

We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfilment. ~  Hilaire Belloc