Areo or Ærø is one of the destinations in Denmark that doesn't get a lot of attention but is a hidden gem that any traveler who is anxious to find something a little bit different should definitely try and visit.Read More
There are hundreds of museums all over the world, and almost every one of them is worth a peek inside, but probably my favourite antiquated museum is the Musée Mécanique in San Francisco. This place is truly a one of a kind collection of oddities saved by devoted collector that tell a story of a bygone era. But the best thing about this museum, is that it lets you interact with every piece inside their doors. Some museums have very strict velvet rope policies with their paintings and artifacts, so much so that sometimes you barely can make out whether the thing is real or not. But here, you can get right up close, stick you head inside and even have your fortune read by one of these mechanical wonders.Read More
When I was young and beginning my very first steps towards art appreciation, for some reason I never found myself drawn to Sculptures. On my days at the AGO with a school trip or even just on my own, I would always skip the sculpture gallery and spend most of my time in front of the paintings, drawing and modern art installations. It was only as I got into my twenties and started studying Art History in University that Sculptures began to take on a new meaning. Suddenly I couldn't stop looking at them, collecting books on the subject and hoarding hundreds of pictures on my computer from searches on the Internet. My pilgrimage to Italy was largely influence by my desire to see these art forms in person, be able to look into their eyes and, in some case, even touch their cold marble flesh. But throughout all my time researching and studying sculpture, a name I name came across was Thorvaldsen. It wasn't until I stumbled upon the steps of his Museum in Copenhagen, that I truly knew how deep my love, of his work and of the craft of sculpture, could really go.
The Thorvaldsen Museum is unique in the fact that it houses works from one single artist, that of Bertel Thorvaldsen. The art displayed in the museum spans Thorvaldsen's entire career and even contains pieces of work the museum had to fight to bring into their collection from their original home in Rome (where most of his work was commissioned). The Museum is a delicately and lovingly curated experience and takes you on an intimate journey throughout his lifetime of moments frozen in marble.
Thorvaldsen was born in Copenhagen and was a prodigy at an extremely young age. His father was a wood carver and as he watched his father, he developed a strong sense of forms and of construction. This quickly turned into a full blown love affair with sculpting and at the age of eleven, he was accepted into the Royal Academy of Arts. After several awards and mass recognition in Denmark, Thorvaldsen was offered a space to study under great masters of fine arts in Rome. It was in Rome that the young sculptor quickly found notoriety and fame.
After a long career working for the nobility in Rome, he retired in his hometown of Copenhagen. A museum was established to house his work in honor of his amazing achievement. Now, Thorvaldsen rest eternally amongst his masterpieces, buried in the center of the Museum's courtyard.
The first room you come across seems larger than life and the sculptures housed inside of it are just as such. His draperies and almost too lifelike. They seem to shiver and shake with every echo that comes down the hall...
This smaller collection of sculptures are his actually a representation of his larger commissions, for nobility, conquering heroes and even religious figure. Although stunning, these sculptures of real men of the worl are not as intimate and etheral as the world of myths and legends he was so passionate about. But nonetheless these are incredible things to see. This sculpture of Pope Pius the 7th, designed to memorialized his death, was erect in St. Peter's Church in 1831. A stupendous achievement for a Danish born sculptor and the only work from a non-Italian artist to be houses inside the St. Peter's Church.
Angels Playing, 1833
In this sculpture, two women encircle the central goddess, Venus, who son Cupid, lies at their feet. Take a ook at the number of hands in this sculpture, there almost seem to be too many of them. They seem to touch, hold and caress every part of each others bodies, keeping an almost invisible barrier around them - protecting the child below.
Love and beauty are two constant themes that run through the veins of Thorvaldsen work. Above we see Venus staring at the apple which Paris gave her to designate her as the fairest of all the Goddesses. Below we see Cupid and his arrow of love - the object that create life on Earth. Such power given to such a young boy. This gaze seems to almost reflect the feelings of sculptor himself as he was such an influential sculptor at such a young age, so much weight on his shoulders to create ever more beautiful pieces of artwork.
But the museum doesn't only house Thorvaldsen sculptures, it also is the home to hundreds of his sketches and drawings as well as his enormous collection of art and ephemeral objects from Greek, Roman and Egyptians Antiquity.
You will feel truly blessed to experience this place for yourself and I cannot express more what I trip here during you stay in Copenhagen will do for your soul as well as expose you to, in my opinion, my most beloved sculptor of all time.
We awoke early in the morning on our second day in Amsterdam excited and anxious for our adventures at the Keukenhof. The Keukenhof is known as the "Garden of Europe" and if you've ever had the chance to walk through its doors you will truly understand what they mean by this. For two months a year, from March to mid-May, a rainbow of million and millions of flowers (4.5 million to be exact) bloom all over the 32 hectares of gardens that span the Keukenhof grounds creating what can only be described as a blanket of fantastical aromas and ethereal colours covering the Dutch countryside.
The Keukenhof garden's were first established in the 15th century on what was then a hunting ground. The name Keukenhof means "Court Kitchen" in Dutch as these immense grounds once served as a giant herb garden for the Queen's castle. Throughout the years, the various royal family members who inherited the castle continued to expand the garden and in the 19th century, the Baron and Baroness Van Pallandt hired Jan David Zocher, a renowned landscape architect, to re-design the grounds and create a truly unique and luscious garden.
As time went on, the gardens became the property of the city and in 1949 the major of Lisse decided to open them to the public. He held an exhibit of flowers from all over the Netherlands and Europe. People were able to see and smell hybrid flowers never seen before as well as get to walk through incredible flower garden designs created by seminal landscape architects. Since its establishment in 1949 the Keukenhof has held the title as the world's largest flower garden as well as being the most photographed place on the earth. Today it houses more than 100 varieties of tulips, more than 2,500 trees in 87 varietes and 15 kilometers of walking paths that have seen over 44 million visitiors over the last 60 years.
The tulip is the main feature of the flower garden. The tulip was first brought to Europe in the 16th century and really caught on in popularity in the Netherlands. The tulips were able to stand the harsher tempratures and conditions of the Netherlands in comparison to other flowers. Since it was such a resilient flower, botanists began to collect more and more tulips for their gardens, knowing they would flourish and create a spectacular sight. Soon, everyone saw their beauty and importance and they became a luxury item and status symbol for anyone who planted them in their garden or held a bouquet of them in hand as they walked down the street.
There are different groups and breeds of these Dutch tulips. One is called the Couleren, which refers to the red, yellow or white coloured tulips. Then there is then Rosen, which are the bright red or white with little streaks of white veining on the petals. The Violetten are the purple or lilac tulips, my personal favourite. And finally, and best named, is the Bizarden, which are the rather more peculiar tulips. They tend to be coloured with brown with red or purpled with yellow venings. A virus was known to infect these tulips during growth and was called the "mosaic virus" which actually made the tulips bloom in vibrant colours sometimes with lines or flame-like streaks on the petals. Although it was a virus, it was one that botanists cultivated since those features were more and more desired by the buyers. Throughout the years, some of the biological elements of the tulip have changed but what hasn't is the peoples love for this simple, yet elegant and alluring flower.
Before heading out the door we were surprised to find a bag full of fresh croissants, that our host Amanda had left for us, sitting outside our door. They were baked just this morning from the bakery down the road and it took everything inside of us not to eat them right away. But, we had no time to eat them now, so we stuffed them in our bag, along with some jam left for us too, and headed out the door.
Our journey to the Keukenhof was rather simple. We took the train from our local station, Amserdam Zuid, back to the airport train station. From there we boarded the Keukenhof bound bus and in a few short minutes, while taking in the suburban landscape and sights, we arrived at the gates of the flower garden. We had purchased our tickets online to avoid waiting in the line, so we quickly bypassed the waiting patrons and headed in the door, two of the first visitors of the very early morning.
As soon as we stepped through the door we were amazed by the colours and the overwhelmingly Dutch atmosphere of the gardens. There was an old wooden crank organ sitting in the front beside the fountain and the bright, rosy cheeked Dutch boys and girls playing their instruments guided us with their music into the garden.
As we walked through the garden we noticed right away how different the tulips were from the ones at home in Canada. We saw marbled petals and extremely tall stems. Bright colours I'd never seen in tulips before amazed me and Sarah as we bent down to smell the sweet and sharp aroma of the flowers.
Before stopping for breakfast we found an old giant chess set and, as is somewhat of a tradition for us, set out to play each other. I started out in front but at the end of the match, Sarah was the clear winner. We had drawn quite the crowd, I'm a very vocal and loud person so I'm bound to draw people in, and after our game we gave the pieces to the next players and found a small picnic table to eat our breakfast on while watching the other people pass by, smiles on their faces as they took in all the gem toned flowers spread out around them.
The hedge garden and maze was a lot of fun. We wove in between the thick hedges, discovering sinuous sculptures dotting the area. As we strolled through the garden, we saw a small petting zoo with tiny horses and cows sitting in the middle of nowhere. Children were laughing as they reached their hands over the edge to pet the fuzzy little creatures.
Then, it was off to the seminal monument of this Dutch Disneyland; the Windmill.We climbed up the windmill to get a better look out over the fields where the tulips are original grown before getting moved to the gardens. As we climbed down we took a moment to try on a few pairs of clogs and giggle at their cute little exhibit of matching certain clogs styles to modern shoes.
As we left the park, still in awe of all the wondrous things we saw, we caught sight of a Bride and Groom entering the grounds for their wedding photos. The Bride's dress was almost unbelievably strange and cheesy and the men were all but undressed in their half disheveled tuxes but their smiles were beautiful and as they ran through the flowers I couldn't help but wish them all the best and hope that the magic that swelled all over this place, bestowed upon them the love and happiness that could be felt all over the gardens in the heart of those happy heart that were moved into a state of amazement by the beautiful flowers all around them.
The skating rink is located just off Michigan Avenue inside Millennium Park. Millennium Park is wonderful area to visit while you're in the city as it's only blocks from the lake and faces the city's most most awe inspiring architectural masterpieces. The park was built to celebrate the millennium (hence the name) but the actual construction didn't fiinished until 2004...but nonetheless the park's beauty and almost perfect urban landscaping won over everyone despite it's late bloom.
As it was New Year's Eve the line up for Skate Rentals was a bit long but we were lucky enough to get there right before the rush. Skate rental were $8 a piece and lockers cost $1 (a must if you're wanting to skate about on the rink without having to carry around all your travel gear).
Here we are putting on our skates we wait for the ice to finish getting all smoothed out for us!
The rink was amazing. The Zamboni was there just before we arrived so the ice was nice and smooth. Although there were lots of people there, they do a good job of staggering people inside the rink so it's never too crowded. For the most part it was an incredibly relaxing, romantic and all around beautiful experience. Getting to hold the hand of someone you love while whizzing around on the ice, seemingly just gliding without effort across the rink feels almost like flying. There's nothing like it, especially while you get to take in all those gorgeous Chicago sites!
The rink faces is sandwhiches between the Michigan Avenue Architecturla skyline and the infamous Chicago Cloud Gate or "The Bean" as it is better known.
Cloud Gate a three store tall sculpture by artist Anish Kapoor. The steel shell is made out of more than 160 steel plates all welded together and polished to give it a seemless appearnce that reflects back the viewer, themselves against the city all around them.
As you skate about the rink you can gaze above you at the Cloud Gate and see yourself skating around below. It's quite a magical thing.
On the oppposite side from the Bean you can gaze out at what is called the "Streetwall" along Michigan Avenue. The streetwall consists of some of Chicago's most interesting and historical architectural buildings.
What I am always taken aback by, when I'm in Chicago, is the Gothic, Baroque and Romanesque styles of architecture found throughout the city - and all of it is present on the "Streetwall". Chicago Cultural Center
If after you finished skating up a storm - take a break and enjoy some delicious dining at the Park and Grill Cafe. One of the greatest people watching spots in the city, perfect for relaxing while watching the skaters fly by....