Tag Archives: travel

Rearview Mirror on a Summer

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Long Beach, Vancouver Island

September has come, it is hers / Whose vitality leaps in the autumn…*

Except that my vitality ain’t doing too much leaping at the moment. I’m still scrambling to catch up with the long, busy, and, above all, “away” summer – you’ve seen a few of the pictures. We left home on July 9th; spent two weeks in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island; came home; then after all of two days I hopped on a plane (or rather, a series of them), and headed for Europe for a month. A few days of sightseeing in Munich; three weeks of family stuff (helping with a move, to be precise); then to cap it off, three glorious days in London.

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Marienplatz, Munich, with Mary’s Column and Old Town Hall

Six weeks, 1500 photos, a wealth of experiences and memories. My house and garden, meanwhile, went to pot. As for my writing – well, I was going to say that nothing happened on that front, either. But that would actually be quite untrue. No, I didn’t really put any words to paper (or screen, as it were). But among those 1500 photos are quite a few that I took specifically as references for my WIP (that’s short for Work In Progress, for the un-artsy of you). The whole time in Germany I was soaking up atmosphere, sounds, tastes, sights – all with a mind to how that could be put to paper. My hotel in London was a converted Regency townhouse – inspiration pure (I might just have to write a Regency novel one of these days just so I can set it in that street; it was called Burton Crescent in those days).

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Cartwright Gardens, Bloomsbury

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I want to go back…

One street over, Tavistock Square, was where both Virginia Woolf and Charles Dickens lived for a while and wrote To the Lighthouse and A Tale of Two Cities, respectively. Five minutes walk up the street was the British Library – I got to see original manuscripts by (i.e. stare in awe at the notebooks of) Jane Austen, George Eliot, and Oscar Wilde; my jaw literally dropped when in one of the gorgeous glass cases I saw the Lindisfarne Gospels, and in another the Codex Sinaiticus… But I didn’t just revel in high-brow literature – I stopped in at King’s Cross Station and took a look at the Platform 9 3/4 store with its trolley stuck into the wall, too.

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The one and only portrait of Jane Austen, by her sister Cassandra. National Portrait Gallery, London.

I drank Bavarian beer in Munich, Württemberger wine in Stuttgart, and English cider in London; I ate pork roast with dumplings in the Hofbräuhaus, lentils and spätzle in the old part of Stuttgart, and beef-and-ale pie in a pub by King’s Cross. I got claustrophobic in the Bloody Tower as one of the bloody masses of tourists and sat in silence in the Stiftskirche in Stuttgart among a few other visitors stopped in to pray. I revelled in train rides and was moved to tears by world-famous paintings. And in between, I packed boxes and unpacked boxes; walked to the grocery store, walked to public transit, walked to visit people, and on Sundays went for walks by way of recreation.

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Beef pie and Symonds cider, in honest-to-goodness London pub

And now I’m back home in the land of peaches and salsa and grapes, where one has to take the car even to buy a jug of milk. I have limitless wi-fi again, so I’m catching up with what I’ve missed on the internet (which I haven’t actually missed that much – I’m considering making this a lifestyle). And I’m bound and determined to get back to writing. I have great good intentions to regularly sit down and work on my, well, work. One can always be optimistic, no? I certainly have enough inspiration to carry me along for a while.

Life, the Universe, and a Long Busy Travelling Summer. Now to process all those impressions…

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Franz Marc, “Birds”. Lenbachhaus, Munich. So beautiful it made me cry.

*opening line from a poem by Louis McNeice, Autumn Journal

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Holiday Slide Show, Part 2

Okay, the second slide holder is in. Lights off, here we go (chick-chook):

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Palaces aren’t the only buildings that were dripping with gilding and marble in the Baroque. This is the Abbey Church of Fürstenfeld, outside of Munich, which was one of the strongholds of the Counter Reformation. They pulled out all the stops to convince the people that the Catholic church was worth sticking with. Speaking of pulling out all the stops, we got to hear an organ concert here – it was fantastic.

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Yes, that’s a dead guy. A 1900-year-old dead guy, to be precise – St. Hyacinth, who starved to death at the age of 12 around the year 100 AD because he refused to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols. You can tell that his weight loss program was effective. But at least he got impressive duds out of the deal, even if it was a millennium or two after the fact.

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Munich has several world famous art museums. I took the time out to visit the Neue Pinakothek, which holds a selection of 19th-century art – well, from the late 18th century to the early 20th. I was thrilled to find that there were several pieces by Angelica Kauffmann – for example, this, her most famous self-portrait. She’s got to be awesome with a name like that, no?

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Moritz von Schwind, “The Fairy Tale of Cinderella”. Probably my most favourite piece in the whole collection… (sorry, Vincent van Gogh).

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Cinderella tries on the shoe.

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One of the labels in the frame.

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Fernand Khnopff, “I Close the Door Upon Myself”. There’s something about this chick’s eyes that I find kind of creepy, in a rather awesome way.

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Klimt, “Margaret Stoneborough-Wittgenstein”. My favourite of all the famous pieces there.

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A German supper: at least three different kinds of bread, cheeses, meats, tomatoes, stuffed peppers… I miss it. Can I go back?

Another slide holder change…

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Holiday Slide Show, Part 1

I’ve been trying to think of witty things to say about this trip which Steve and I just got back from. Erudite things, informative ones – but I can’t really come up with anything. So I think I’ll just show you a few pictures, and you can decide yourself what you think of it all.

Imagine yourself in my living room, the blinds drawn, a slide projector set up, and the painting of the West Coast taken off its hook so I can project my pictures against its spot on the white wall. (That, dear children, is why they call it a ‘slide show’ when you put pictures in consecutive order to show to people. It’s how folks back in the dark ages, ca. 1975, shared their holiday experiences with friends, family, and other unsuspecting victims. Depending on the liveliness of the presenter, one was rather apt to want to fall asleep – the darkened room didn’t help. However…)

So here goes, the first slide (chick-chook goes the slide projector):

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Air Canada Jazz planes looking decorative at the Calgary airport, where we switched from a little cloud hopper like this (I think ours had a yellow leaf on in) to one of the big jets.

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Munich, Marienplatz. The towers in the background are those of the Frauenkirche (Our Lady’s Church), the icon of Munich. This is the Fussgängerzone (pedestrian zone), which is roughly speaking a giant outdoor mall. I love Fussgängerzonen. Stroll around on the city streets, with no cars to get in your way – it’s the best shopping and hanging-out-in-the-city experience ever.

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Munich City Hall. What everyone is staring at is the Glockenspiel, the musical bells, where a bunch of little puppet guys pop out of the tower and do a dance. It’s sort of half-way up the tower.

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Weisswurst and a Brezel at the Viktualienmarkt (victuals market) in Munich. They’re an institution. Oh, and Weisswurstsenf – a special sweet mustard which is mandatory to eat with Weisswurst.

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View over the Marienplatz through the ancient window panes of the toy museum.

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Nymphenburg, the baroque summer palace of the kings of Bavaria.

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I did say baroque, didn’t I?

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A selfie the old-fashioned way. The green bed in the background is where Ludwig II of Bavaria was born (the royal nut bar who built Neuschwanstein, that Disneyland castle that Americans are all so terribly fond of).

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Nymphenburg was, and still is, the site of a world-famous porcelain manufactury. These are from the 18th century, by Bustelli (I think). They’re no more than 20cm (8″) high; the detail is astounding.

Excuse me while I change the slide holder. Anybody want another drink of Spezi (cola-orange pop mix) or Apfelschorle (apple juice spritzer) while I do that? No?

To be continued…

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I’m Leaving On a Jet Plane…

…for a couple weeks’ worth of visit to the Fatherland. Checking in with you from the airport, waiting for the first leg of the flight.

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Here’s Steve, yesterday, waiting in the bag for me to stop fussing with such unnecessary things as which clothes to take, and get on with packing him up already.

Posting might be somewhat intermittent in the next bit, but we’ll try to keep you updated.

Life, the Universe, and Travels. See you later!

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