So yeah, it’s cold. Like, really cold.

I’ve been daydreaming about warmth while slowly going bonkers in my apartment…

When it’s cold (and even sometimes when it’s not!) I like to visit greenhouses. There’s something so satisfying about fighting against the wind and snow to pry the door open, only to enter a tropical paradise. One of the best things about it is the glass ceiling and walls, so you can watch the nastiness outside while smugly ensconced in warmth! The drawback? At some point, you have to go back into that nastiness… although squatting in a greenhouse would probably be a pretty magical experience….

Anyway, here are some of the coolest ones I’ve visited

{N.B. There is a wonderful one in Toronto, called the Allan Gardens Conservatory, but it’s kind of far from me, so I haven’t visited it yet this winter… did I mention how cold it is??}

California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

University of Oxford Botanical Gardens, England–



Royal Botanic Kew Gardens, London, England. Seriously, one of the coolest sets of greenhouses I’ve ever seen, with a balcony around the entire perimeter of the upper level! —




Balboa Park Botanical Building, San Diego, CA. Made entirely of wood lath. I love that in Southern California, the greenhouses don’t even need the greenhouse-effect of the glass to grow tropical plants! —




Residencia de Paranal, Chile, which is where Astronomers studying at the Paranal observatory sleep (and lounge by the pool, apparently). So it’s basically Biodome… **


It’s a truly incredible building, in the middle of the Atacama desert. The exterior of the building (featured in Quantum of Solace, by the way…) blends into its arid surroundings, so the color and warmth of the climate-controlled interior comes as a welcome surprise! We weren’t able to see much more than this view, and had to be completely silent while visiting, as the Astronomers sleep during the day (so they can stargaze at night, of course!). I did manage to sneak around a bit more than my fellow visitors, though, under the pretense of having to use the fancy facilities (which turned out to be less fancy than I had hoped)…

The silver thing that looks like a crumpled-up umbrella is expanded at night to cover the glass ceiling — no light pollution! The Atacama is known as the driest place in the world, and some weather stations there have never recorded rain. Because of its high altitude, nearly non-existent cloud cover, dry air, and lack of light pollution and radio interference from the widely-spaced cities, it is one of the best places in the world to study the skies. The Paranal Observatory includes the Very Large Telescope. The Extremely Large Telescope is currently under construction nearby. No joke! Seriously cool.


**In case you’re wondering, yes, I am quite pleased that I got a Pauly Shore reference into this post…


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