America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland

Every story tells a picture – from Caravaggio to Van Gogh

Surrounded by our four walls in lockdown one of the few ways to transport ourselves to exotic shores is through our pictures.

It is after all  what our Vincent did when he struggled for his sanity.

Van Gogh had developed a taste for all things Polynesian from housemate Paul Gaugin.

Van Gogh also had his demons to exorcise too, particularly when incarcerated.

And he would explore such existential themes in his art as the Reaper himself.

Manic twirls: Van Gogh

Now I’m not saying that I obsess on the same even during lockdown.

But a print of his Wheatfield with a Reaper hangs proudly in our guest room, hopefully not spooking out our visitors (when they come).

žCan I be trusted on a bike? In Amsterdam

But reminding us of the captivating Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam on our tour of Amsterdam.

All of which meanderings has prompted me to share some of the finer art I’ve enjoyed on my travels.

Beheading for Malta

Lose your head: Caravaggio in Valletta. www.caravaggio.org

Beheading of St John the Baptist, Caravaggio, Valletta: There’s always something a bit unhinged about artists.

And the meeting of brushmeister and subject comes together in this classic painting, described as ‘the painting of the 17th century.’

Caravaggio was on the run and took refuge with the Knights of Malta in Malta.

But he fell out with them, was imprisoned and then escaped from their dungeons.

A theory floated in 2010 has it that Michelangelo Merisi, for it is he, was killed by poisonous paints.

Caravaggio’s Malta

And suspicious has since fallen on the Knights.

Caravaggio’s masterpiece hangs in St John’s Co-Cathedral and shows real insight into the shady side of life.

Valletta with its stunning harbour is a real jewel.

And and you can picture the intrigue and the underworld of Medieval Mediterranean life.

When we’re all able to get out again then Malta should be on your radar.

Monster Munch in Bergen

Keeping warm: A troll in Bergen.

The Rasmus Meyer Collection, Bergen: And you’ll gasp at what those naughty trolls are doing in the drawings in this gallery.

Up a fjord in mystic, fabled Norway you’ll find this artistic curio.

It wouldn’t be a Norwegian gallery without a host of Edvard Munches and Bergen doesn’t disappoint.

And the story notes give you a real insight into the travails of the Great Man.

Dark Secrets: Munch in Bergen

Bergen is also the place for the travels of JS Dahl whose paintings first popularised cruising in the fjords

The Real Dahl: In Bergen

A must visit on your MSC Cruises stop-off while, of course, you simply have to pull a Munch Scream pose.

Paint the ceiling in Padua

Giotto down your ideas: In Padua

Scrovegni Chapel, Padua: And it’s doubtful you would have a fresco ceiling of the Sistine Chapel without a Scrovegni Chapel.

Well, you probably would, but it might have been the Medieval version of Dulux!

Giotto was something of an inspiration for Michelangelo and you can see his halo work here.

And yes we know the finesse of Firenze, the merits of Milan, the riches of Rome and my own recent favourite, beautiful Bergamo.

But Padua, often in the shadow of Venice, should be praised to the heavens which in fairness to Giotto he does.

Masters and Mississippi

The settlers: The Mississippi Art Museum

Museum of Mississippi Art, Jackson, Mississippi: Yes, when we think art and America we immediately focus on MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York Art, the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

The First Nation: In the Mississippi Art Museum

But in truth America is a sweep of wonderful art, so take it in wherever you find it.

Which in Jackson, Mississippi is the Museum of Mississippi Art where you’ll see early Frontier art and much more.

Dirty old Lane

Art for arts sake: The Francis Bacon Studio

Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin: And it’s the Francis Bacon studio you want to see here.

Bacon bequeathed his studio to his home city on the understanding that it would be recreated in every detail.

All of which means it is messier than any student bedsit…

To think I was probably sitting on a goldmine back in Aberdeen in the Eighties.

 

 

 

 

 

Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

French voluntary rules… comme ci, comme ca

Merde! My Normandy Monet trip is in the balance after the UK imposed a two-week quarantine on travellers late last night.

In balance, oui. Because there is the option of going and just quarantining on the way back.

Because work for many of us lucky enough to find any is confined to our computer in our office/bedrooom.

And remember to check out if you are covered by your Travel insurance.

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Bravo: On World Cup final day at the French Embassy in Paris

Insure you’re ca va

Or what your holiday providers will do for you if you are caught short out there.

Or because there is the slim chance that the infection rates may dip in the next two weeks and France may yet be taken off the exempt list.

But equally as important is whether France impose Le Tit pour Tat.

No, not a porn film But a reciprocal two-week quarantine.

Le Tour: And I’ve made it to the top

Don’t treat us like enfants

The insouciant French have opted for voluntary quarantine thus fat…

France is leaving the choice up to ‘the public’s sense of responsibility’.

For now the greatest evacuation since Dunkirk is upon us as Britons try to get back before 4am tomorrow morning, Saturday 15, August.

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Chic: On the French Riviera

Ferry good

These days thankfully we don’t have to resort to fishing boats, and have Brittany Ferries instead.

I have been looking forward to Brittany Ferries and Normandy Tourisme‘s trip to Normandy ever since it came in.

To extend my French education which includes Paris, Strasbourg, Saint-Raphael, Mandelieu, Lourdes and the Pyrenees and Biarritz.

We’ll leave that to the UK Government. And judging by their record on education an algorithm will probably extend the quarantine to toujours.

Malta and Amsterdam too

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Get on your bike… if only we could

And let’s not forget that Malta and the Netherlands are in the soup as well as Monaco but then who among us can afford to holiday there?

We did on our much-storied post-school trip to Saint-Raphael on the French Riviera, taking a very scenic train journey out.

You won’t be able to though because… guess what, our politicians have banned us both ways.

 

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Toast Turkey

Cumhuriyet Bayrami.

Or Happy Turkish National Day.

OK, I’m a day late with Turkey turning 95 yesterday but what’s a day between friends?

I’m sure they’ll forgive me for my belated birthday wishes.

With my pal Onur from Turkish Airlines

I first fell in love with Turkey 16 years ago when our air hostess on our flight out to Bodrum mistook me for a Turk.

They took the Son and Heir for one of their own too on account of him being called Ally.

Istanbul in my heart

And every time we passed by the market the traders would call out his name with one even swinging him around.

I finally fulfilled a Travel dream this year when I got to Istanbul 26 years after I was supposed to.

Hamam slam

So a day’s late birthday wish is but a passing moment.

The big romantic gesture of a romantic proposal was meant to take place on the Bosphorus.

But we ended up in Malta instead… I told you I was hopeless with directions.

I guess the then Miss F must have been expecting something because when I bent down to tie my shoelace…

She screamed ‘Yes’.

My Bosphorus

Malta has remained in my affections ever since, as has Miss F.

And I had the good fortune to get back out there a few years ago Malta easer where I learned ‘our’ restaurant is still there http://www.visitmalta.com.

And enough time has probably passed that I can pull that trick again to get a free bottle of Champagne.

My next attempt at getting to Istanbul was in 1997 when we visited Bulgaria.

My TA Business Lounge

But the distance (there was an option) and the small matter of the Son and Heir who was in his Terrible Twos put the kibosh on that.

Now that I’ve finally got a taste for Istanbul Wham bam, thank you Hamam, one of the world’s great cities http://www.howtoistanbul.com I’ll not leave it so long in future.

And when I do go I’ll travel with Turkish Airlines www.turkishairlines.com.

And I’ll dally in their award-winning Business Lounge and maybe pay a visit to their headquarters.

To catch up with old friends, play on the flight simulator, and this time ask if I can slide down the aeroplane chute.

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It ain’t half hot, Mam

No, not an Irish version of a suspect colonial wartime sitcom in India.

But a nod to the balmy and clammy weather we’ve been having here in Ireland this week… trust me to get the wind and the rains up in Royal Portrush at the weekend although nothing could dampen our enthusiasm at seeing Shane Lowry win the Open.

Things have been hotting up too across the water in the UK with highs recorded of hot air… from the new resident of 10 Downing Street.

Valletta harbour. Photo by ines bahr on Pexels.com

Right across Europe the thermometers have been at boiling point.

Your intrepid blogger has been doing a bit of digging to see which of the European cities is the hottest and was surprised to discover that it is Valletta, courtesy of http://www.currentresults.com with an on average temperature of 22.,3. Today it’s 33.

Athens, which I had down as the hottest is only second on average according to that website.

Back in the day: In Gozo

Valletta, of course, is one of the great cities in Europe, nay the world. And when the temperatures soar as they are doing just now the thing to do is get out on the harbour.

And also get yourself out to the neighbouring islands of Gozo and Comino.

Ryanair Rooms offers 30% off your stay with the 3* Buccaneers Boutique Guest House in St Paul’s Bay with prices from €66 and the *3 Alexandra Hotel, St Julian’s, with prices from €77. Visit http://www.rooms.ryanair.com.

And also visit http://www.visitmalta.com.