Posted: Monday, June 30, 2014
One of the yellow-painted houses dotting the island of Frederiksø. Photograph by Stephen Manzi
Continuing to Lithuania, our next port of call, we anchored for a couple hours off the Danish island of Christiansø. Originally a seventeenth-century military fortress, Christiansø—together with its smaller sister island, Frederiksø (a very narrow footbridge connects the two)—today has a population of merely one hundred people. Amid the islands' stark, craggy rock outcroppings stand the remains of the fortress's towers, bright yellow-painted homes, and stunning gardens.
Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2014
The first leg of our Baltic excursion began with a driving tour of Copenhagen and included a visit to Hillerød to see Frederiksborg Castle, which was built during the reign of Christian IV of Denmark (1588–1648).
Posted: Saturday, May 10, 2014
As our boat was lifted by a lock in the Scheldt river between Antwerp and Arnhem yesterday evening, Inés Powell, the Museum's lecturer for this trip, uplifted our minds with a brilliant lecture on Vincent Van Gogh's later landscapes. This prepared us for today's visit to the light-filled and beautifully designed Kröller-Müller Museum and its 91 paintings and 180 works on paper by Van Gogh, which were collected by Helene Kröller-Müller between 1908 and 1920. There aren't any tulips in the detail photographs shown here due to Van Gogh living in France when he painted these works, but the variety of blossoms and colors was vibrant and incredibly moving. Our group simply didn't want to leave, but we all look forward to tomorrow's visit to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, where we will see even more.
Posted: Thursday, May 8, 2014
Marjan Ruiter, director of the Zeeuws Museum in Middelburg, welcomed us with a short presentation over coffee and pastry, after which we were given a private viewing of the extraordinary Zeeland tapestries. Although one of these tapestries was previously on loan to the Met during the 2007 exhibition Tapestry in the Baroque: Threads of Splendor, our group was able to see all six tapestries that were created as a series around 1600 to commemorate the battles at sea between the Netherlands and Spain. The complexity and artistry of these tapestries are amazing, as you can see in the details shown here.
Posted: Wednesday, May 7, 2014
After a sumptuous breakfast on the ship, our group was met with a great surprise in Rotterdam's Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen: a wonderful self-portrait by Carel Fabritius—the Dutch artist best known for The Goldfinch, an artwork that also serves as the subject of the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel of the same name by Donna Tartt. Fabritius was a student of Rembrandt, and died tragically when a munitions factory in Delft, a city we had just visited, exploded in 1654. Many of his paintings were destroyed, but, fortunately, this self-portrait survived and was shown in a 2001 exhibition at the Met. This is exactly how I pictured the character of Boris in Donna Tartt's novel.
Posted: Sunday, May 4, 2014
After visiting Sochi, Russia, traveling across the Romanian countryside to see the incredible painted churches of Bucovina, and stopping in the Bulgarian ports of Varna and Nessebar to behold amazing archaeological artifacts, we returned to our starting point: Istanbul/Constantinople. Disembarking here is a poignant end to a trip throughout a rich, multicultural region that has been so influenced by this ancient yet modern city for centuries. It has been an incredible journey—one filled with illuminating lectures and discussions, new discoveries, and many interesting people.
Posted: Saturday, May 3, 2014
There are tulips everywhere, so we must be in Holland. After a lecture and visit to the Keukenhof Gardens—which are only open eight weeks each year and boast over seven million bulbs and eight hundred varieties of tulip—I can understand how "tulipmania" developed. With so many magnificent tulips, each one more beautiful than the next, it was impossible to pick a favorite. Striped, solid, tall, flat, ruffled, giant, and colors from white to dark purple. View the photos below and see if you can choose a favorite, since I can't.
Posted: Friday, May 2, 2014
From the ancient Turkish port of Trabzon (formerly Trebizond), we traveled up into the hills to visit the monastery at Sumela. Built into the cliff, with dramatic views of the gorge below, the group received a lively and engaging explanation by curator Helen Evans of the monastery's wall frescoes dating from the sixteenth century. From Turkey, our group sailed to Batumi, Georgia—a rapidly growing city—before traveling inland to Kutaisi to visit a monastery and cathedral dating back to the tenth and eleventh centuries, respectively. Both are UNESCO World Heritage sites, although the recent and controversial restoration of the cathedral has placed it on a watch list, which may result in removal of the designation by UNESCO.
Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Our trip began today by bringing together the various groups of travelers in Istanbul for lunch: those here for the trip's prelude, others exploring the city on their own, and those arriving today on the group flight from New York. After a sampling of cuisine inspired by Ottoman palace menus, our group then toured the incredible Hagia Sophia. We then strolled on the plaza facing the six minarets of the beautiful Blue Mosque before boarding the bus and driving out of Sultanahmet, across the Golden Horn to our ship, the Variety Voyager. We settled into our cabins and dined on-deck while sailing out of Istanbul, up the Bosphorus and into the Black Sea. Tomorrow brings a day of relaxation at sea as our journey continues east.
Posted: Friday, March 21, 2014
After driving through the lush mountains of the Rodovia dos Imigrantes highway, we toured Brazil's largest city, São Paulo. Our first stop was the Pinacoteca art museum, a glorious building that combines old and new architecture and boasts a comprehensive survey of Brazilian art. During our visit, there was both a contemporary art installation in process as well as a choreographer preparing his dancers for an upcoming performance. The group then moved on to the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), which houses an important collection of European art and contemporary installations. An exhibition of Brazilian artist Regina Silveira's work was a welcome find—truly a highlight of São Paulo's many offerings.