Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lions Monument

Lion Monument

Close up of Lion Monument

Summer Vacation Part 4
Lucerne Switzerland

The Lion Monument in Lucerne , the most sentimental of SwissMonuments, commerates the Swiss mercenaries who, serving the French King Louis XVI, lost their lives during the French Revolution at the Tuileries Palace in Paris . Many were killed during the invasion of the Tuileries on the 10th August 1792 while others were guillotined on the 2nd and 3rd September 1792. The inscription above the Lion reads "Helvetiorum fedei ac Virtuti" which translates as "To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss." A fitting tribute.

Carved into the cliff face, the monument measures a staggering 10 meters in length and and six meters in height. Captain Carl Pfyffer von Altishofen commissioned the Lion Monument which, in turn, was designed by the Danish classicist sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsenwhilst in Rome in 1819. Lucas Ahorn, a stone-mason from Constance in modern day Germany, carved the sculpture out of the limestone cliff face in 1820 and 1821.

The artist captures so much emotion in the details of the this dying lion's face. I am thankful for artist and their ability to translate history in such a moving way. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Lakes, Mountains and Chocolate

Nothing can prepare you for how breathtaking this city is. 
Views in Lucerne

The city by the lake

The distance mountains of Switzerland

Summer Vacation Part 4

Nothing can quite prepare you for the breathtaking beauty of Lucerne Switzerland. The Alps are truly beautiful, words do not give justice to this area. This is my first time to Switzerland - and I have promised myself I will return. 

Our first stop in Lucerne was emotion as we visited the Lion Monument - this deserve it's own blog page. Hopefully you will visit my blog again in a few days to catch up.

Fontainebleau Forest and Burgundy

The Grand Canal Fontainebleau Palace
Summer Vacation Part 3
We left the lights of Paris driving pass Fontainebleau Forest and the historical Chateau de Fontainebleau. This is a weekend getaway for Parisians - not the Chateau, but Fontainebleau itself. 

A lot of signing of historic documents have been done in the Chateau - Treaty of Fontainebleau (Louisiana territory), later Napoleon signed another Treaty of Fontainebleau authorizing passage of French troops through Spanish territories so that they might invade Portugal.

Napoleon held Pope Pius VII prisoner at the Chateau for almost two years. Enough about the history. The forest was lush and beautiful.

Continuing on the motor coach we headed through Burgundy.  This is one of France's main wine producing areas. It is well known for both its red and white wines, mostly made from Pinot noir and Chardonnay grapes. After traveling through the lush countryside, I can see why Burgundy wine is so good, giving a new respect to wine and origin. 

I must admit I did not take photos along this journey - (a) the reflection of the window (b) I wanted to enjoy the memories without the hassle of trying to get the perfect photo while on a moving coach (c) it was more enjoyable not to worry about taking photos - the scenery was perfect. 

On to the Alps!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Louvre and Lunch

Macell, Luis and myself after lunch at the Louvre

Does it really need a caption? Tom Hanks and Dan Brown says "no".

After a nice lunch in the food court at the Louvre we set out on a guided tour. The world’s largest museum - The Louvre has one of largest art collections. The magnificent, baroque-style palace and museum — LeMusée du Louvre in French — sits along the banks of the Seine River in Paris. 

The Louvre’s collection includes Egyptian antiques, ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, paintings by the Old Masters, and crown jewels and other artifacts from French nobles. Its works span the sixth century B.C. to the 19th century A.D. More than 35,000 works are on display at any given time. The displays are divided into eight departments:Near Eastern Antiquities, Egyptian Antiquities, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Islamic Art, Sculptures, Decorative Arts, Paintings, and Prints and Drawings and of course the Mona Lisa.

As an artist, I could live in the Louvre, sigh......

Monday, September 22, 2014

Montmartre - Sigh

Street on the way to Montmartre.

First Dinner in Paris
Summer Vacation Part 2
Paris - Montmartre
The first dinner in Paris was in Montmarte. While Montmarte is gentrified and somewhat clean these days, the neighboring areas are a little sketchy. We started at the base of the hill in the village area of the Moulin Rouge and Elysees Montmarte Theatre. Our hopes were to board the "little white train" unfortunately the train driver was not cooperating and we readily convert to plan b - walk the hill and ride the incline. Not a big deal and we got to see the street market. Unbelievable but the prices in this area were not to high. These street stalls were selling everything from household items to art supplies. Arrive early on Saturday morning and you will be amazed to see trucks pull up and dump enormous cardboard boxes onto the sidewalk. Then the workers run out with boxcutters, split the tape seals, and literally dump piles of jeans or sweaters made by Naff Naff or Bennetton or Esprit onto huge wooden sidewalk bins. People go crazy - running - throwing elbows etc. the sight alone is remarkable. 

As we aimed for the big white church as the top of the hill (Basilica of Sacre-Coeur) I imagined the life before us - artist meandering these streets and buildings. At the bottom of the hill is the Boulevard de Clichy which is lined with bars, kebab shops, and more sex shops and peep-shows than you can possibly pretend you are not looking at. 

Look at your map and draw out a triangle, the base of it to be the section of Blvd. de Clichy and Blvd. de Rochechouart between the metro stations Blanche and Anvers. The tip of the triangle would be the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur. The area between these three points is roughly the area of interest. 
Basilica of Sacre-Coeur, Montmartre, Paris
Basilica of Sacre-Coeur
Because all the great poets have told us the journey is more important than the destination, I recommend you start at metro (Moulin Rouge) or metro Anvers and gradually enter the "village". This will make it feel more like a pilgrimage toward the place that nurtured most of the great artists and writers living in France this past century. 
Moulin Rouge, Paris
Moulin Rouge

Paris Montmartre view
View from stairs

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Old vs New

Summer Vacation Part 2

One of things that amazed me about Paris was the dividing line in history, literally the old part of Paris and the new modern existing Paris. The skyline of the old buildings only to a level of approximately six floors (what is that about ten feet a floor?). The feel is of this height is so different than the modern part of a city where building range in height and age. 

Tell me your thoughts on Paris and it's glory - love to hear them. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Heights and History - Eiffel Tower

Selfie and smiling - however trepidation is creeping in...

Thank goodness there is a barrier between me and the ground. 

Summer Vacation Part 2
You couldn't possibly visit Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. Even if you do not want to visit this world famous structure, you will see its top from all over Paris. The tower is 984 ft - did I mention I do not like heights?  This temporary exhibition, wondering when it is coming down? Just kidding - Gustave would be a little disappointed (Gustave you still have the Statue of Liberty). 

We rode the elevator up to the second level - high enough for me. A then made a near fatal mistake - taking the stairs down to the first level. Yikes, descending down these open metal, slippery steps on a waning structure was not well thought out and regretted. Anxiety set in (yes, I know that there is medication available) along with trepidation of the next level. Level 2 has glass floors for viewing (oh goody! my anxiety said).  Finally after my deep breathing exercises and review of my yoga classes (thank you Brittney) I pulled my chi back together and enjoyed this lovely structure and its view. It's all good - thank you Gustave for your beautiful mind and sharing it with the world. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Notre Dame Characters and Life

Summer Vacation Part 2
The Eurostar from London to Paris was a fast and efficient way to travel the miles. Now, I cannot say I didn't get a little anxious on the train, thinking about the fact that we were traveling underwater. Amazing isn't it? Not, my anxiety but that a train can travel underwater safely? 

Once in Paris we boarded the coach (they don't want you to call it a bus) and tour around stopping at Notre Dame. A long list of characters flashed into my head at the site of this landmark. 

Napoleon, of course and his decision to save the Cathedral from destruction; this would also be the site of his crowning.

A long list of King Louis and their desires to "modernize" the cathedral.

The Bishop Sully who vision from the drawing in dirt to the completion of the cathedral (unfortunately he died before the final completion). 

And my all time favorite association, Victor Hugo, Quasimodo and Esmeralda (notice I left the antagonist out - who wants negative energy). 

Onward to our accommodations and little rest. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hyde Park and Harrods

Summer Vacation Part 1
On our way to Harrods we strolled through Hyde Park, this proofed to peaceful and relaxing. We stopped along the way to see the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain. It can be appreciated as a marvelous creation, and a suitable tribute to The People's Princess.  In marked contrast to many public monuments, this is unobtrusively beautiful and in perfect harmony with its surroundings. What sets it apart from other monuments? That fact that you can actually wade in the water. It was so enjoyable to watch the children splash and play in this fountain.

Harrods you ask? Yes, I always visit Harrods when in London - it is art and design with a sidebar of retail therapy. The food is amazing, the merchandise spectacular and the energy level off the charts. My favorite room in the store? The spy room - gadgets and devices even James Bond would have. I am still thinking about that drone, would love to have it to play with. No, not to spy or intrude on someone's privacy. But to deliver messages and possibly food to my grandchildren. Now, if they could just improve the battery life and weight limit as to what it can carry - I would be in. Last Day in London, tomorrow on the Eurostar to Paris!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Graffiti Art

Summer Vacation Part 1
London - Walking along the Thames River we came across this area where the city had provided an area for skateboarders. The interesting thing to me was the allowance of Graffiti Art. How wonderful that the city had encouraged and provided a space for visual and performance art. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Double-decker Bus

Summer Vacation
London - Double-Decker Bus
Remember nerdy - here we are again riding the Double-Decker Bus. It was a beautiful day and it sure beats riding the tube from North London and missing the scenery. The added bonus is the audio - great tips and history. Cheers!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

London Eye

Summer Vacation - 
London Eye
Yes, I am a nerd and like nerdy things, tourist attractions included. Having visited London before, I have done a lot of these tourist attractions - but my husband hasn't; therefore it gave me an excuse to be nerdy again. Settle down - I also love the classic parts of London (and we did indulge). 

The London Eye is fun and I encourage everyone to experience this marvel - especially for the view. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Primrose Hill Park

Primrose Hill Park was a short distance from our Hotel and where we headed before dinner. This park is highlighted by a grassy hill that offers one of the best panoramic view of London. It was wonderful. I know, the name doesn’t ring a bell – it’s not known like Notting Hill, or even Brixton – but I can guarantee you know some of the residents. Celebrities in Primrose Hill include the likes of Jude Law, or Kate Moss. So picture this, a pre dinner stroll, handholding,  map in your pocket and your iPhone. This northern pocket of London is home to the pretty colored townhouses. 

Did we spot celebrities? I will keep that secret for another post. I can tell you it was a splendid walk accompanied by a delicious Italian dinner. Cheers

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Camden Stables Flea Market

Summer Vacation Part 1
Stables Open Air Flea Market
At the Stables Market there is around 700 shops and stalls, perfect for a morning stroll.  The Horse Hospital, formerly used to care for horses injured pulling canal barges is in Camden Stables Market. This was a way to overcome jet-lag.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tower of London

How I spent my Summer Vacation - Part 1
Because I am slow on the draw - especially when it comes to posting and social media, my vacation is being shared in the afterlife. This summer my husband and I got to take an extraordinary (and well needed) extended vacation. We spent a few weeks trekking thru Europe (about 1200 miles of trekking). 

First stop - London 
Flight - just like I like them "uneventful"
Train to station - fast and easy
Station into cab to hotel - comfortable
Hotel - room ready at 8:00 a.m. - A definite bonus
Breakfast - spectacular 
Trying to stay awake - difficult - but abated by a lovely walk to the Stables an outdoor flea market - converted from Victorian stables - absolutely fabulous.
Nap-time - ahhhh
Dinner - yummy preceded by a lovely walk to Primrose Park (photos on another post)
Sleep - my circadian cycle has landed in London 

Trips and vacation as you well know can pick up energy and go into a vortex of no return or a lovely path of enlightenment and enjoyment. Fortunately we had the latter, this vacation went smoothly and might I say perfectly. 

The Tower of London has always been one of favorite places to visit; it is full of history, intrigue and romance. A bonus to this day was an art installment by Paul Cummins and stage designer Tom Piper, 100 years since the first World War; each poppy was to honor a fallen soldier. It was a spectacular display of color, dimension and most of all emotion. So thankful I was there in person. 

(from their website)
To commemorate the centennial of Britain’s involvement in the First World War, ceramic artist Paul Cumminsand stage designer Tom Piper conceived of a staggering installation of ceramic poppies planted in the famous dry moat around the Tower of London. Titled “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red,” the final work will consist of 888,246 red ceramic flowers—each representing a British or Colonial military fatality—that flow through grounds around the tower.
Volunteers began placing the poppies several weeks ago and the process will continue through the summer until a final flower is symbolically planted on November 11th. You can read more about the project over on theHistoric Royal Palaces website, and see the volunteers’ progress by following the #TowerPoppies hashtag on Twitter.
888,246 Ceramic Poppies Surround the Tower of London to Commemorate WWI WWI multiples London installation flowers ceramics blood