Tag Archives: Washington D.C.

National Gallery of Art and National Portrait Gallery

I’m working my way through my posts about our trip to Washington, D.C.  I did a sum-up of nearly everything we did and another post about the great food that we had,  one political cartoon exhibit , so this time I want to highlight the art that we saw and experienced.

I had been to the National Gallery of Art before but never the east building.  This trip I saw both and what a treat that was!  My first visit was our second day in town.  We had just had a little lunch at the Pavilion Cafe then walked through the sculpture garden en route to the 7th Street entrance of the west building.  As I said in previous posts, the heat was just awful so we ducked into the west building on our way to the east building to avoid said heat. I had read there was a path between the two buildings.  We just followed the signs and voila!  A darkly painted tunnel with lights everywhere made us feel like we were on a ride at Disneyland.

We made it all the way to the east building in that nice, cool air conditioning.  The museum is unique due to its airy and bright atrium in the center.  There are pieces of art along the outer walls as well as hanging from the ceiling in the atrium.  It’s quite calming walking around and visiting the art galleries.  We saw Picasso, Braque, Stieglitz, O’Keeffe and Matisse, to name a handful.  We saw others too but I’m not remembering them now.  At the end we happened upon a piece that contained a mirror so I had hubby stand in front of it while I took that photo.

This first gallery shows some sculptures in the Sculpture Garden and some of my favorites from the East Building:

We visited the National Portrait Gallery with my sister and nephew.  Even after living in the area for a couple of years and my many trips to visit my sister and mother, I had never been to the Portrait Gallery.  When I saw photos and read about the Obamas’ portraits, I knew I had to see them in person so I included this museum on my list of “must sees”. It definitely exceeded my expectations!  The Portrait Gallery has four floors but we only had time for the second and third floors.  We also went to the gift shop on the first floor because you have to visit the gift shop!  Okay **I** have to visit gift shops.

The presidential portraits are on the second floor so we started there.  The portraits are laid out in numerical order in an open floor plan and you weave your way around to see them all.  There were other paintings beyond this area but since we had lunch reservations and I wanted to see Michelle Obama’s portrait, we headed up to the third floor where her portrait resides.  There are many other galleries on both the second and third floors that we didn’t have time to see so I’m hoping to back again.

I am not sure what the theme is or how the artworks on the third floor are chosen, but it was yet another display of fascinating portraits of many important people in American history.  This next gallery contains artworks that I was particularly fond of in the Portrait Gallery.

My last group of photos contains most of my favorites from the West Building of the National Gallery of Art. I have visited this museum many times and it’s one of my favorite art museums.  I never tire of going there to view all my favorites.  This time I went by myself as it was our last day in D.C. and hubby wanted to see the Library of Congress. So we split up and I took my time both viewing the paintings and sculptures that I like as well as spending time in the extensive gift shop.  I think this gift shop might be my favorite museum gift shop.  There are so many things to look at!

But first a little story of when I first entered the building.  I stopped at the information desk to get a map so that I could find all of my favorites.  A nice woman greeted me and asked if I needed help finding anything.  When I said no, she made the most interesting comment:  “you have of course been to the east building.”  This stunned me since I had only just visited the east building a few days ago so I asked her how she knew that.  “You just look like the type of person who visits the east building.” So I told her how I was intent on seeing the east building on this trip and that I just went there for the first time and absolutely loved it.  She agreed and we had a lovely encounter.

On to the last gallery for this post: some of my favorites from the West Building of the National Gallery of Art.

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Eating our way through Washington, D.C.

You may have noticed that I recently visited Washington, D.C.  I’ve mentioned some great meals that we experienced so now I want to go into a little more detail and share some photos of most of our meals.  I think you’ll like it :)

I had been perusing the various restaurants near our hotel in the weeks before we departed for D.C. to find a good spot for dinner our first night and there were several to choose from!  That is one reason I chose the Washington Plaza hotel for our stay.  For that first night I chose Estadio because it was within walking distance of our hotel and because it’s a Spanish tapas place. It also gets great ratings on TripAdvisor and is currently #38 of 2,703 restaurants listed on TripAdvisor for the D.C. area. The food was very good even if it was a bit spendy for what you get.  I was a bit disappointed in the tortilla de patatas or as I prefer, tortilla española.  Oh, it was good, but I was expecting the same tortilla española that you get in Spain.  Estadio puts their own stamp on it and they really don’t have to.  It was good, it just wasn’t what I wanted. We also got their jamón variety platter, boquerones, manchego cheese and olives all of which are pictured in the following gallery. The bread that accompanied several dishes was very fresh and quite delicious. There were little slices of sweet breads that came with the cheese, also very yummy. We also ordered shrimp and that was really too much for us. Probably should have skipped the shrimp but it was very tasty!  We took the rest of the ham and manchego as well as the olives back to our hotel’s mini fridge. And that package served as snacks for the next several days.

Another reason I chose our hotel was because it gave me the option to include breakfast with our room.  I did that and I’m so glad!!  The breakfast buffet at the Washington Plaza hotel is one of the best American breakfast buffets I think I’ve ever had.  They had everything you could possibly want for breakfast and that is one of my criteria.  They had an egg station and I chose that every day. I got an egg either over easy with fried veggies or scrambled with veggies. Their hot food choices were great too.  Green beans for breakfast?  Why not?!?! And they were delicious! Most mornings they had roasted potatoes, our last morning the spuds were still good, I just preferred the roasted spuds. One morning there were roasted tomatoes instead of the green beans and those were quite good too!  Photos of the hotel’s breakfast bar and my plates  from two different mornings:

We had some great lunches too, mostly sit down places and one cafe, the Pavilion Cafe located on the mall next to the National Gallery of Art. The food’s pretty good and I just like being amongst the sculptures.  I also ate at one of the newest Cava restaurants and that too was great! It’s similar to the Naf Naf Grill that we have in the twin cities area. Both use the same format as Chipotle where you build a meal. I usually get a salad bowl with hummus and other toppings.   Cava has way more choices than Naf Naf as well as some great tasting teas.

I looked around the area of the Portrait Gallery for a place all four of us (hubby, me, my sister and nephew) would like for lunch and I scored with Zaytinya! Oh my, this place was fabulous!  Truly, if you’re in the area, do check them out. It’s one of the many restaurants run by José Andrés and now I’ve been to three of them.  Each as great as the next.  Zaytinya is billed as serving Greek, Turkish and Lebanese food.  Everything we ordered was so tasty.  I wrote a review for Tripadvisor so feel free to check that out if you like.

We also randomly chose the Chop House Brewery for lunch on our last day.  We visited the National Archives just before lunch so we wandered up 7th Street and checked out what looked like many great spots and then chose the Chop House.  We were greeted warmly and seated immediately.  With our drinks came this warm cornbread in a small skillet and we didn’t eat it all.  My lunch was perfect and hit the spot.  Hubby enjoyed what he had too.

We had two very good dinners in the neighborhood of our hotel.  Hubby discovered P.J. Clarke’s  after exiting the wrong side of our metro station.  He realized his error when he didn’t recognize his surroundings but P.J. Clarke’s caught his eye that day and he stopped in for refreshment.  When he saw that they had an oyster bar happy hour, he knew he wanted to come back. That’s where we dined our third night and again, great food, friendly staff and perfect ambiance. He had his oysters at the bar then we moved to the patio for dinner. It was a perfect night to eat on the patio.  I even indulged in dessert.  A fantastic and rich dessert to end our repast.  Yum, yum!!   I wrote a review on Tripadvisor for P.J. Clarke’s.  Check it out if you’re so inclined.

Our last dinner choice was a bit of a struggle. We were both so tired of walking by our last night so we opted to choose something that was no farther than 5-10 minutes, preferably on the 5 minute side.  I know you’re going to find this shocking but again, we scored!! We chose The Pig of course for the location but it gets great reviews and I can see why. We got there just before the dinner rush and it was nice to have a bit of quiet after our many days of touring the city. Friendly staff once again,  great locally sourced food and most meals contain something pig-related.  One different thing that The Pig does is they offer 3 different sizes of wine glass.  I had never heard of that before but I chose the middle size and it was perfect.

I’m amazed that we had such great experiences with just about all of our meals.  It really helps to do research ahead of time.  I typically look at TripAdvisor reviews when seeking places to eat.  You’ll always get a mix of reviews but I try to choose restaurants based on the majority of reviews and so far, that has worked very well.  I would recommend each of the places that I talk about here.  D.C. certainly has no shortage of great restaurants to choose from!

 

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Washington, D.C. revisited

I have been to Washington, D.C. many times. So many that I have lost count.  My first time was in 1973 and the last time was just a few weeks ago.  This trip was unusual for a couple of reasons. One, it was the first vacation that I have taken with just my husband since 2011 when we went to Spain for our 20th anniversary.

While our daughter was in New York learning more about making music with her viola, we took a trip to D.C.  just the two of us.  We succeeded with our intention to not rush anything on this trip.  We had a rough plan of what we wanted to do and naturally that plan changed a little bit.  But that’s okay since nothing ever goes according to plan completely. We adjusted as needed and it worked fine.  The other reason this trip was unusual is that we stayed right in D.C. I have never done that before and it was just great!  We were close to a metro station and used that and walked and even took a couple of cab rides to get around.  And oh, did we walk!!

I’m writing this post in response to my friend Cathy’s Prose invitation so it’s going to be just a rough synopsis of what we did, a few photos of what we saw and the main focus of our plan to not be rushed.  I also plan to create more detailed posts on everything we did.  I hope you’ll come back to check those out!

Our first day started out as planned, however, it was so oppressively hot that day that we changed it up quite a lot. Our first stop was Arlington Cemetery.  Hubby did not want to do a tour so we wandered around on foot and found the things we wanted to see: all the Kennedy family graves and the tomb of the unknown soldiers from the Civil War. We actually had trouble finding this tomb so we asked a park ranger who was stationed outside of what used to be Robert E. Lee’s house, Arlington House. He pointed out that the graves along the perimeter of the house were there specifically to anger General Lee and to make his once grand mansion uninhabitable.

Our intention to walk across the Memorial Bridge to see the Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Memorial was interrupted by the aforementioned oppressive heat. Instead we got back on the metro for a different plan. We got off at George Washington University and there waiting for us as we exited was a restaurant with a bar for us to take refreshment and gather our strength for the 15 or so minute walk to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Our original plan was to take our time strolling the mall, eat lunch then end at the National Gallery of Art East Building. Instead we got a cab to take us the nearly two miles to our lunch destination.  And our timing was perfect as we got there before the lunch crowd, had a nice table in the cool Pavilion Cafe next to the window so that we could see some of the National Sculpture Garden.  We viewed some sculptures on our way to the National Gallery of Art’s West Building but our destination was the East Building. I knew there was a pathway underneath between the two buildings but I had no idea that pathway would feel like a ride at Disneyland.

I had never been to the East Building of the National Gallery of Art and we both absolutely loved it. From the bright and airy atrium containing a famous mobile to the rooms emanating from that central atrium, it made for a pleasant visit to see wonderful pieces of art.  We saw Picasso, Braque, Stieglitz, O’Keeffe and Matisse, to name a handful.

Following is a small gallery of some photos from our first day in D.C. that I hope you will enjoy.

Our second day we spent apart as part of the reason for the trip was for my sister and I to go through our mother’s photos and somehow divvy them up between us.  We had taken the metro to Virginia after our first day of touring D.C. to my sister’s 60th birthday party. I spent the night at my sister’s while hubby went back to the hotel and spent the next day touring the Holocaust and Air and Space museums.  I met him back at the hotel that evening and we had a fine meal at P.J. Clarke’s near our hotel.

Moving on to our third day.  I met my sister and nephew at the Metro Center metro stop and the three of us had a grand time shopping the Nordstrom Rack, Zara and H&M.  We stopped at Peet’s coffee shop for refreshment before heading back out into the heat to meet hubby at the National Portrait Gallery. On our way was Ford’s Theatre where Lincoln was shot so we stopped briefly in there to see what we could see.  We discovered that the museum is free but that you need a timed entry ticket to view the theatre.  We didn’t have time for that but my sister took a brochure because she wanted to come back another time.

I had never been to the National Portrait Gallery and since reading about and viewing the portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama online, I made it a point to get there this trip to see them in person.  I had no idea the treasures within the walls of this museum!  Wow, wow and more wow! And we just barely scratched the surface so I would like to go back again.

All of the presidential portraits are worth the time, but two portraits moved me to tears which was very unexpected. I had seen photos online of Barack Obama’s portrait but seeing it in person overwhelmed me.  His portrait is cordoned off as it is very popular and people wait in line to have time to view and take photos.  It is enormous and Obama is a bit bigger than lifelike with a serious look on his face. It felt like he was staring right at me.  I felt a wave of emotions as I stared back at him, from gratefulness for his presidency to sadness that he is no longer leading our nation. He is truly one of our greatest presidents and I’m happy his portrait has great prominence in our National Portrait Gallery.

The other portrait that moved me to tears was of Thurgood Marshall.  He played a major role in the 1940s and 1950s as a leader in the struggle to end racial discrimination in the United States(these words copied from the information next to his portrait).  I have always admired him so it was overwhelming to see his bigger than life portrait looking right at me.  The museum not only houses portraits of all our presidents but other fine artwork as well and I selected just a few of the photos that I took that day to display here.

Afterwards we had a fabulous lunch at Zaytinya then my sister, nephew and I headed off to the United States Botanic Garden.  I had been there only very briefly before so I knew I wanted to go back and my sister and nephew were game for it as well while hubby went off and did his own thing that afternoon.  I still don’t feel like I saw everything. Did I mention the oppressive heat during our entire D.C. trip? It extended to inside the Botanic Garden as well. There are climate controlled rooms but since it’s all under glass, some of the rooms were a bit stifling. Luckily we were able to escape to air conditioning periodically.  As we left we walked past an outdoor garden that is also part of the U.S. Botanic Gardens.  We were too hot and too tired to venture over there so I will have to go back again!

Our last day in D.C. started with an exhibit of political cartoons at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University .  Since I had already created a post of this, I will link it here rather than talk briefly about it in this post.  But I will say what a great exhibit it was and how necessary a free press is to the survival of democracy.  Here is one of the cartoons from the exhibit:

After the cartoons exhibit we were going to get a cab to the National Archives but the clouds rolled in and suddenly that oppressive heat didn’t feel quite as oppressive.  So we walked…….and walked…….and walked.  Uh, it was a little farther than I thought it would be and we were thankful to be in the air conditioning once again at the National Archives.  More wow!  We checked out one of the four surviving copies of the 1297 Magna Carta and some of the history of our nation on the first floor before heading upstairs to view the original Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  These original documents are all in glass cases in a darkened room to protect them so that future generations of Americans can view them.  It was truly awe inspiring to see our rights as originally written all those years ago.  I recommend this to every U.S. citizen.

Hubby and I wandered up 7th Street to find lunch.  We stopped into Oyamel where I actually dined with Cathy on a previous visit, but the wait was too long so we moved on.  We ended up at the Chop House Brewery and had another delicious meal.  I also highly recommend this restaurant that has great food and ambiance.

Once again we split up as I wanted to go to the West building of the National Gallery of Art and hubby needed to see more of the Library of Congress.  Years ago he travelled with me to D.C. where I was attending a conference for work. During that trip he stopped into the Library of Congress but only had about 10 minutes so that was one on his “to do” list for this trip and he enjoyed his extended visit this time.  I found all my favorites in the National Gallery of Art and I was able to take my time in the gift shop, something I love to do but I sometimes feel rushed when I’m with others. I found some treasures, purchased them and headed back to the hotel once again.

It was such a fabulous trip this time.  It was nice to be able to take our time and see the things we wanted to see.  I think we would have seen more if it wasn’t so awfully hot.  Every day we were there it was over 90 degrees but the worst of it was that morning at Arlington as we only had little bits of shade to rest under to barely escape the heat.  One key to our successful trip was that we decided we would not be rushed.  I only felt a little rushed at the Portrait Gallery. I could have lingered in there a bit longer but we had lunch reservations.  But by the time we sat down at Zaytinya, it was time to rest and take nourishment.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini tour of our most recent trip to Washington, D.C.  Please come back again for more detailed posts and more photos of our trip. Coming soon!!

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Another day in Washington, D.C.

I took a small detour in my weekly posts about my trip to Spain in March to attend my nephew’s wedding in the D.C. area.  So this week I’d like to share a bit about another day I got to spend in our nation’s capital.  This was the day after the wedding and the day before my daughter and I went home.  Similar to my last trip to D.C. last fall, this one was another short visit.  This trip was with my sister, her son (the one that didn’t get married) and my daughter.  We parked at the Vienna metro station about 9:45 a.m. and took the train into D.C.  We had reservations for a tour of the capitol building at 1:50 and planned to visit both the Botanic Garden and the Library of Congress and also get lunch prior to our tour of the capitol.  We did manage to squeeze it all in but I wish there would have been time to see more of those gardens.  But, I’m so happy I got to go there.  It was one of the highlights of the day for me!  Following are photos from our short visit.  I hope you enjoy them!

First we visited the Botanic Garden since we didn’t get to D.C. in time to take the 10:30 tour of the Library of Congress.  And we only had about 30 minutes but I did get a few nice photos of lovely flowers:

We had to hustle to make it to the 11:30 tour of the Library of Congress but we made it and just barely! We stuck with the tour for about 30 minutes then checked out the exhibit of Thomas Jefferson’s library.  I had never been to the Library of Congress before and my goodness, what a lovely place!  Our guide told us it was built to impress and it is definitely “over the top” with many sayings and printer’s marks all over the walls.  It’s definitely worth a look and very impressive!

Afterwards we took the tunnel to the capitol building where we had lunch in the “restaurant”.  It’s actually a cafeteria with many different types of food to choose from.  I got a salad from the salad bar, Miss M had a veggie wrap, nephew got sushi and sister got a turkey burger.  We all thought the food was very good so while it’s a cafeteria, I highly recommend it for lunch if you’re visiting the capitol building.

When we checked in for our 1:50 tour of the capitol we were given the option to join the 1:30 tour since it hadn’t left yet.  We had a very amusing guide which made the hour (or so) tour very fun.  I learned so many things from him but the tale he told at the end of our tour was one thing that stood out.  It’s a question that comes up often at my house:  is the tomato a fruit or vegetable?  Hubby has always said that it’s a fruit because it has seeds.  Did you know that there was a decision by the Supreme Court that the tomato shall be classified as a vegetable?  Yes indeed.  I thought our guide was kidding but I googled it and found Nix vs. Hedden from 1893!  So those of you that say it’s a fruit?  You’re breaking the law!  Too, too funny.

Well, I forgot a few photos for the last gallery and there seems to be a glitch with photo galleries whereas I cannot edit any gallery in this post.  So, rather than start over I’m creating another, small gallery for the photos I forgot to include.  These are statues of Norman Borlaug whose name caught my eye as there is a Borlaug Hall on the St. Paul campus of the U of MN where I work.  Sure enough, it’s the same person.  The other statue is the only one not specific to a state and it’s of Rosa Parks.  What a nice tribute to her role in the Civil Rights movement.

A few last photos of the capitol and Library of Congress from the outside:

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My few hours in Washington D.C.

If you knew you would only have a few hours in our nation’s capital, how would you spend them?  I knew immediately what I wanted to do when I had that opportunity recently.  I lived in the D.C. area in the late 80s and I visited Washington D.C. several times during those years. The National Gallery of Art left such an impression on me that I knew I wanted to come back while I was in northern Virginia.  I was taking care of my elderly mother while my sister and her husband took a well deserved vacation. They are Mom’s usual care givers. My mother goes to an adult day care center during the day so I thought it would be best to keep her routine and that gave me the chance to have some fun while I was there. And it was a great day!  Even if it was just a few hours.

I had plans to meet Cathy of nomad, interrupted at the museum between 10:00 and 10:30. We met in the blogosphere and she had said to let her know if I was ever in town.  Traffic was awful that morning which caused me to be further delayed. I decided to park at the new Reston metro station because it was close to the day care center, about 10-15 minutes away.  The parking level I entered was full so I headed down to the next level and found many open spots but they all had this reserved sign above them: Reserved from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m. By this time it was 9:57 so I parked and waited and called my friend to let her know I wasn’t even on the train yet :( It was another 5 minutes to get to the train and about 8 more minutes before the train left.  I did finally arrive in D.C.!!!  I called Cathy when I entered the museum and she showed up minutes later.  Finally we meet!

I remember that this gallery had a nice French impressionism collection and I wanted to be sure to see at least these paintings.  It’s also fun to go to a museum with others because you get their perspective and learn new things. Cathy picked up a brochure of some special items in the museum, and one was near the 7th Street entrance where I came in,  Degas’s Little Dancer sculpture.  I love Degas so this was a treat I wasn’t expecting. Bonus!  There were two that looked nearly identical in stance, one was made of plaster, the other of bronze. Click on an image to see a larger view.

Other fabulous works of art that we saw:

I loved all the Monet that I saw but these were my particular favorites. Notice the artist at work making a copy of one of them.

I loved the placement of this Whistler painting:

Other beautiful paintings in the French Impressionism section:

Other scenes from the museum:

The last two paintings are ones we stumbled upon as we were leaving to go find lunch.  They are by Goya, one of my favorite Spanish artists.

We had a fabulous lunch at Oyamel Cocina Mexicana just a couple of blocks from the museum.  Check out my post at the link about that experience!  After lunch it was about time for me to head back to take care of Mom.  It was a fun way to spend a few hours in D.C. and it was great to meet another blogger and world traveler there. Wonderful art, food and company.  You really can’t go wrong with that combination. I highly recommend this museum for art lovers. There is something for everyone here.

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Miss M goes to Washington

Prompted by Cathy at nomad, interrupted and her fabulous post about our nation’s capitol (do check it out, she takes awesome photos!) I decided to put this post together of my daughter’s first visit to Washington D.C.  I see now that I don’t have that many photos but the day was still very fun and a bit unusual due to the rain.  When you plan something you can’t let the weather stop you right?  Follow along as I show you our rainy day in Washington will you?

We took the metro to the mall and got off near the Smithsonian Institution.  Here’s my sister, myself and our kids who look very tiny in this photo.

we4WA_monumentI can’t remember in what order we saw the handful monuments that we visited that day but we walked all the way to the Lincoln Memorial and back to the same metro station.  We were all exhausted and wet by the time we got back to my sister’s house.

En route we saw the Lincoln Memorial:

Lincoln_memorial

We checked out the WWII memorial.  When I lived in northern Virginia I visited the capital many times.  But this was new since the last time I was there.  My father was a WWII veteran so we really wanted to see this memorial in honor of him.  Interesting aside is that he landed on the beach at Normandy and obviously survived that.  But right before the Battle of the Bulge he had to have an emergency appendectomy.  I might not have been here had he gone on to that battle!  The next several photos are from this memorial.

WWII memorialDad was in the army(8th Infantry of the 4th Division, Company M(Cloverleaf)) so I snapped this:

army,WWII memorialEach state in the memorial has a pillar so I made Miss M stand in front of the state she was born in:

MN pillar

Truman wordsAs you can see it was a rather moist day.  But I do enjoy this photo of the Washington monument in the mist taken from the Lincoln Memorial:

WA monumentLincoln(and the two cousins), one of our nation’s best presidents in my opinion:

LincolnAnd this photo really tells the tale don’t you think?  There were ponchos for sale at the kiosks along the mall and we all geared up for our rainy day.  Here’s the group having lunch with ponchos on:

wet lunchOn our way back to the metro station we walked through the Korean War Memorial.  I guess I only took one photo? It’s a very moving memorial and hubby took some awesome photos of it one trip a while ago.  But I think that was before the digital camera revolution so I’m not able to share them here.  Wish I could, he did a great job documenting it!  So, this one will have to suffice:

Korean war memorialHave you ever been to Washington D.C.? What was your favorite thing to do or see there?  I rather enjoyed visiting the National Gallery of Art on occasion when I lived in the area.  I also enjoyed the tour of the White House.  And my mother and I once visited the Holocaust museum, a very harrowing tour that was.  There are so many museums that I think one could spend an entire week there and still not see everything.

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