A picturesque harbour tightly packed with sailing boats. Rows of tall, thin, slate-fronted houses and stone salt stores. Waterside restaurants with colourful awnings and tables spilling out onto cobbled streets. Honfleur really is as pretty as a painting – and if you know much about art, then you might well recognise it from a few famous canvases. It started life as a fishing town, but the beauty of its historic port and Normandy’s luminous light made it a magnet for Impressionist painters.
A throaty tenor danced across the inky night, joined moments later by a chorus of lighter voices. The empty footpath widened as I approached the Kartlis Deda statue. The disembodied voices echoed across the cool night. Lit in soft green, Mother Georgia towered above me. The nearby voices lifted in perfect harmony, swelling as the ethereal melody penetrated […]
As you follow winding paths through Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean, don’t be too surprised if you come across a huge wooden chair or a deer spun from iron wire. They’re all part of the four-mile Sculpture Trail. Set up in 1986, it was designed to bring art into nature, with different artists commissioned to produce sculptures inspired by the forest. And almost 30 years on the project is still running, with 16 permanent and temporary artworks.
As you approach the Tower of London, the moat is a sea of red, with tightly packed flowers as far as the eye can see. It’s an awe-inspiring sight, and even more so when you realise that every single bloom equates to a life lost in the First World War. It’s all part of an art installation called Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red, created by ceramicist Paul Cummins, which centres around the symbol of remembrance – the poppy.
Train stations aren’t normally too high up on my list of attractions to visit (excluding London’s gorgeous St Pancras), but walking past Porto’s São Bento station we were drawn in by the flashes of blue and white through the doorway. Inside we found ourselves in a huge light-filled hall, covered with floor-to-ceiling blue and white tiled panels. You can see this type of painted ceramic tile – called azulejos – on the fronts of churches and houses all across Portugal, but these were some of the most impressive we saw.
Art Deco and Art Nouveau are probably my favourite architectural styles, with their classic, elegant, simple designs. But I never expected the Czech Republic to have one of the most spectacular Art Nouveau buildings I’ve ever seen. As we were heading out to explore Prague, the weather suddenly turned and first place we spotted to shelter from the showers was an imposing domed-roof building near our hotel.
Shrine to pacifism from communist times or bright coloured eyesore – Prague’s John Lennon Wall has always polarised opinion. After John Lennon’s death in 1980, a portrait of him was painted on a wall in this secluded square near the Charles Bridge. Beatles lyrics and political graffiti were added and despite the secret police repeatedly painting over it, they kept being put back up and the area became a focus for pacifist youth. After the fall of communism the original portrait faded, but more recently contributions from tourists have kept it going and it’s now a constantly evolving mix of paintings, messages and colours.
The air around me was cool and damp, the kind of pervasive dampness only found in old spaces, spaces locked off from human habitation for decades, centuries even. On every wall, remnants of an ancient culture depicted animals, kings, triumphs, and women, lots of women. We had visited several desert castles in Jordan that day, and Quseir Amra was […]
Ana and I planned out much of our travels in Burma around the ability to meet up with friends in the country and based on timing issues, we had four extra days and needed to stick close to Yangon, Burma’s capital city. Based on the recommendation of fellow travelers, Ana and I pointed our noses toward […]
Paris’ Metro may be well-known for its art nouveau-influenced stations, with their arching cast-iron entrances decorated with leaves, and their white-tiled platforms. But there’s one station that looks more like it’s stepped out of a Jules Verne science fiction story – Arts et Métiers. Given its name by the arts and craft museum above it, the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, the platform for Metro line 11 here was given its unique look as part of the museum’s 200-year anniversary.