Posted: Saturday, January 3, 2015
Our first full day in Moscow began, appropriately enough, at the Kremlin, where we saw some of its amazing treasures—including eighteenth-century carriages and tsars' thrones—and had a private tour of the lavish, nineteenth-century Grand Kremlin Palace. (We didn't run into President Putin!)
Posted: Thursday, January 1, 2015
New Year's Eve is one of the most popular holidays in Russia, and Saint Petersburg was decorated with "New Year's trees" and lights in anticipation of the evening's celebrations. Our group spent the evening at the annual Tsar's Ball in Catherine the Great's palace in Tsarskoe Selo (now part of the town of Puskin). As we arrived in black-tie and ball gowns, they greeted us with a military brass band and literally rolled out the red carpet over the snow.
Posted: Wednesday, December 31, 2014
We have enjoyed extraordinary access to the city's rich cultural offerings—from early entry into the State Hermitage Museum (where we had the staterooms and galleries to ourselves to explore without the usual crowds), to a performance of The Nutcracker at the Mariinsky Theatre, the very stage on which it premiered in 1892. Our day has been full of masterpieces, from da Vinci to Matisse, with a few imperial Fabergé eggs added for good measure!
Posted: Monday, December 29, 2014
Our Russian winter adventure began in Saint Petersburg in late December—one of the most magical and festive times of the year, and one the Russians call the "White Days."
Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2014
Our driver in Panama City told us that as recently as five years ago, most of the city didn't have stoplights. There just weren't enough cars to require more than stop signs at intersections.
Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2014
The Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) in Bogotá should be a model for any art institution in the world, from the largest and most prestigious to the small and local. Coherently and poetically, it tells the story of this prestigious material from the perspective of its meaning to the multiple indigenous tribes that have lived in the territory we now know as Colombia, and that in some cases continue to thrive today throughout the country's diverse regions.
Posted: Tuesday, December 9, 2014
With rich and fertile soil, a lack of seasons, and two coasts, the food here in Colombia is spectacular. Ripe, local fruit is everywhere—including mangoes, guavas, bananas, and plums—as are the arepas: a plump and tasty bundle of cornmeal, butter, and salt that is either filled or mixed with white cheese and then fried or broiled.
Posted: Sunday, December 7, 2014
I had been looking forward to visiting the Bogotá home of textile artist Olga de Amaral, whose work can be found in the Met's collection; however, little did any of us know just how great our visit would be. Not only did we meet the artist herself, we also met her family—her husband, Jim (a prolific sculptor himself), as well as their two daughters and their son.
Posted: Saturday, December 6, 2014
Our trip across Colombia and Panama began in Cartagena—a Caribbean city on the northeast coast of Colombia, where the tropical air hit our skin as soon as we arrived. Our hotel, a former convent in the heart of the Old City, is steps away from the famous San Pedro Claver Church, where we began our first walking tour.
Posted: Saturday, September 13, 2014
With a cultural heritage that spans world civilization from prehistoric to contemporary times, Turkey is home to some very important museums. In the past week, we've seen some of the top Turkish museums, including the recently reopened Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, which we visited on a day trip when traveling from Cappadocia to Istanbul.
Posted: Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Today we had to get up early to catch a seaplane to Bursa, the first Ottoman capital and city, which is about 250 kilometers south of Istanbul.
Posted: Friday, September 5, 2014
The first stop on our journey to Turkey was Cappadocia, inhabited since Hittite times and famous for its unique landscape, where wind and erosion naturally created deep valleys of sand-dune-like formations and its characteristic Peri chimneys.
Posted: Wednesday, September 3, 2014
The next stop on our trip was the town of El Ciego, known as the "City of Wine." We stayed in the dramatic hotel Marqués de Riscal, designed by Frank Gehry to simulate flowing red wine, in the heart of the Rioja region.
Posted: Sunday, August 31, 2014
I'm currently traveling as the Museum's lecturer on Travel with the Met's first Met Adventures trip. Join me as we follow in the footsteps of medieval pilgrims on selective hikes along the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Our first stop is Pamplona, where we visited the street where the famous bull run takes place.
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.