Thursday, September 30, 2010

Travel picture(s) of the day.

I'm not feeling too terribly chatty today, so instead, here are several pictures from Paris. 

Notre Dame.

 The Louvre - The room of Rubens. Hot damn!
 Holy moly! It's (#& #*& Code of Hammurabi!!
What a cherub really looks like

 I actually got to see the Nike of Samothrace! She's even more powerful and gorgeous and rippling in person.
 The Mona Lisa is really quite astonishing in person. Small and intense. My favorite shot of the entire trip - The stained glass at Notre Dame.

Outside of Notre Dame. The world needs more flying buttresses, dammit.

The statue of St. Michel, celebrating the liberation of Paris.

The Pont Neuf.

The Charming Man at the Pont Neuf.

At the Tuilleries Gardens.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Art in Person

Image copyright, The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The Jewish Bride is one of the most popular and mysterious Rembrandt paintings. We've all seen it, over and over, on the web, in our art history books, in our regular history books, and in prints on one's wall. I used to work at a library in an art museum. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what this painting was about.

I finally saw it in person while we were in Amsterdam, and nothing you can do will prepare you for the full impact of this image.

First - it's huge. Not as huge as, say, his famous Night Watch (which is truly huge), but the people are nearly life-sized.

Second, the color. In a flat image on a page or screen, the colors look rich and deep, but in person, they nearly vibrate in their intensity and depth. You can see how Rembrandt applied the paint so thickly in some places (the gentleman's sleeve, for example) that it literally swirls into peaks on the canvas. It is a truly three-dimensional painting.

Her jewelry looks so luscious and gleaming that you want to try it on.

I've often wondered about the man's hand on her breast. Sometimes it looked creepy and possessive, sometimes it looked greatly tender.

In person, I got a feeling of immense solace and comfort, instead. Rembrandt captured an important moment in their lives - something big had just happened to these people.

It made me think how you really can't have a full opinion on something until you've experienced it. You can have what Guy Baldwin, MS calls a 'provisional opinion', and it can even be a very well informed one. But to quote, "You can't decide how you really feel about Paris until you've been there."

I didn't how I felt about Rembrandt until I saw his work.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Travel picture of the day.

Amsterdam has some of the world's most intriguing architecture. Most of what we saw dated from the 17th Century, during the Netherland's time as the world's major trading power.  Designed to act as both homes and warehouses for goods, the narrow but tall buildings sport hoisting beams to pulley heavy bundles into the attics.  Then the merchants could bring their wares downstairs to show to purchasers.

To maximize space, they used a lot of spiraling staircases.

Very narrow, very steep spiral staircases.

For example, the staircase in the Hotel Brouwer, where The Charming Man and I stayed (by the way, this hotel was *lovely* and we highly recommend it).

I do believe these staircases are why the Dutch are such ridiculously good looking people.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The gift of travel.

How does one go about telling others how life changing and awe-inspiring a trip to another continent is?

Do I give you a day to day tour diary, complete with entries such as, "Days One - Three: Amsterdam. Amsterdam is truly the Portland of Europe. Or perhaps Portland is the Amsterdam of the United States."?

And of course, go on from there with quirky, amazing pictures of this brilliant, moist, complicated city with its surprisingly logical yet beautiful architecture and the weight of Rembrant's and Van Gogh's legacies pressing against your skin?

(Total Liz Gilbert moment there, huh? *preens*)

Or do I share my deep emotional insights that the entirely different surroundings gave me? (the short answer - I'm not nearly as much of a screw up as I've always thought :)

In the end, the best I can do is find some wonderful pictures and talk a little about each one.

Indeed, Portland is the Amsterdam of the United States.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Where's Waldo?

Or more accurately, where's Linda?

Well, I'm finally back in the Pacific Northwest after experiencing two and a half weeks in Europe with my beloved Charming Man!

Throughout the next few days, I'll be posting pictures and descriptions of this fantastic trip. :)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ah, fresh air.

Amazing what a very brisk walk combined with a goodly amount of sit-ups will do for a writer. I just got a wonderful idea for some necessary back story for Book Two. Yay!