06 June 2012
Seeing as I was in Europe, my sister came to meet me and tour Spain when my semester ended. We did a tour of Malaga, Seville, Cordoba, Granada, and a few other smaller towns along the way. The main purpose was to explore the Moorish influence on Spanish architecture, something I knew very little about before. The tile works and stucco plasterwork was incredible! I had never seen anything with quite as ornate details as the palace interiors.
Real Alacazar, Seville:
While in Cordoba, it happened to be the Fairea de Mayo, a huge celebration of Flamenco. Basically, there are rows and rows of tents, each with their own bar and music. We danced the night away and by the end, I think I almost had the hang of some Flamenco moves!
Fun fact: The Spanish word “Granada” means pomegranate. It is also the origin of the word “grenade” because a pomegranate smashed against the ground will splatter the staining seeds in every direction. According to Jewish legend, Eve was tempted to eat a pomegranate in the Garden of Eden. The city of Granada uses the symbol of the pomegranate on their street posts and other governmental hardware throughout the city.
I couldn’t get The Clash unstuck from my head the whole time:
04 June 2012
When I realized just how quickly my time in Denmark was running out, I made a bucket list of must see touristy things that I simply had to do before I left:
2. Malmö: It’s just a half hour train ride under the sea and over the bridge and welcome to Sweden. The city is rather small and not super touristy, but it still has a very old feel. We visited a castle turned museum. There was a special exhibit graphically depicting torture methods- curious as I am, I looked into a peephole on a door and blood started squirting out! All and all though, it was a lovely afternoon filled with gardens, gelato, and shopping.
3. Vintage shops of Copenhagen: after my last final, on my last day in Copenhagen, a friend and I set out to explore the CPH second hand scene. While they range from last season’s channel to, well, junk, trash to treasure is very a very trendy way to fill in a Danish wardrobe.
5. Christiania: The famous community of anti-establishmenters gets a bad rep for drug usage, but I found it to have a very peaceful, down to earth vibe. There is incredible street art and sculpture and a whole neighborhood of little, bohemian houses. Their only rules: Have fun, don’t run, and no pictures.
Alas, I have yet to complete a few crucial things (canal tour anyone?). All the more reason to return!
07 May 2012
On Sunday, I began the day with morning mass at Notre Dame.
For the afternoon, we completed a scavenger hunt through Le Marais, the area of Paris untouched by Haussmann’s 19th century restructuring. It encompasses the Jewish quarter and the world’s best falafel.
But in true DIS style, our final event was a dessert tasting at Le Pub Saint Germain.
Au revoir, Paris. We’ll meet again.
Saturday morning was museum morning. We began with the Musee de l’Orangerie which was designed to house Monet’s water lilies. While it is really just two rooms and eight paintings, I could have spent hours with them. Because the rooms are lit naturally, the paintings change depending on the weather. It amazes me how they can look so abstract but evoke such concrete feelings. I’ve seen pictures and studied them in class, but nothing compares to being so close that for a few minutes I was actually inside, surrounded by water and light and the magic of a carefree summer day…
To complete the impressionism tour, we went to Musee d’Orsay which boasts the largest collection of impressionist works in the world. After a while in there, I was pretty well on my way to an art overdose, so it was time for me to experience Paris as the Impressionists did: flaneuring wherever my senses took me.
To complete the evening, we went on a dinner cruise down the Seine. DIS treated us to a three course French meal:
But the night was still young! So I went to the top of the Eifel Tower!Every hour on the hour, the tower lights up in a paparazzi of flashes. Seeing it the night before from the ground, I thought it was dazzling, but seeing it at the stroke of midnight from the top: absolutely magical.
On a whim a few months ago, I signed up for a one credit DIS course entitled “Impressionism in Paris.” After six classes learning about the origins of the impressionist movement, distinguishing between Manet and Monet, and how social factors of the late 1800s influenced art, we finally made our way to Paris for the weekend.
We began our trip Friday with a bus tour of Paris that ended with a tour of Versailles, the palace built for King Louis XIV as a display of absolute power. You have to put yourself in a 17th century mindset to really appreciate the scale of the structure and intricacy of design.The Hall of Mirrors
Marie Antoinette's Bedroom
Can’t you just imagine a group of corseted women in wigs wondering through the garden as a group of men in tights and heals look on?
After the tour, we were set free to explore Paris. The city is charming. There are gardens every few blocks and trees line the boulevards of uniform “Haussmannized” building complexes. The street cafes are positioned with outdoor seating for optimum people watching and the food they serve is simply delicious! Of course, there are a lot of tourists, but it is easy to find a quiet park bench in a secret courtyard for some peace.