Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Art of a Train Station

I fell in love with St. Pancras Station in London back in 2013 when I visited it for the first time.  I had read about its rebirth as the home to Eurostar, the international railway that connects England with the European continent via the Channel Tunnel.  It's hard to believe that back in 1960 it was scheduled for demolition.  That would have been an unimaginable travesty.

I've featured photos from this wonderful station before but, this time I'd like to concentrate on the art that can be found inside this marvelous building.

(Previous  posts here and here.)

I'll start the artistic tour with this wonderful statue of the Poet Laureate John Betjeman.  It's fitting that he should be honored with this bronze statue because it was through his successful campaign that the station was saved from the wrecking ball in the late 1960's.

Sir Betjeman appears to be frozen in wonder at how his beautiful station has not only been saved but is now a magnificent destination as well as a functioning train terminal. The statue sculpted by Martin Jennings truly conveys his awe at how well his efforts have been executed.

There is another bronze statue in the station and this one is impossible to miss.  It's called "The Meeting Place" and it stands 30 foot tall near the main entrance.  It was designed by British artist Paul Day and was intended to evoke the romance of travel through the depiction of a couple locked in an embrace.

The plinth on which the statue stands is encircled with several bronze reliefs telling stories related to rail travel in the United Kingdom through history.  The one above shows workers building the rail system.

This one shows a lone traveler waiting for the train to arrive.

Here is a peek inside a train at rush hour.  I've been on an underground train when it was this crowded.

Here's a scene that brings us right up to date.  It shows a couple greeting each other at the station but, not without a quick check of the cell phone.  

The clock that hangs high above the station area known as the Barlow Train Shed, has been reconstructed by the original clock makers, Dent.  It has an elegant appeal befitting its Victorian surroundings.

Also located in the Barlow Train Shed is a new art project called "The Terrace Wires".  It's a place where a new, large-scale art piece will be suspended above the station for a period of about six months every year.  While I was there in 2016, the work was called "Thought of Train of Thought". Isn't that a clever name?  This piece was created by celebrated sculptor Ron Arad.  It is a twisted blade made of aluminum and it rotates slowly to create optical illusions.

There is no illusion about this beautiful old station.  It is a Victorian masterpiece that has been lovingly restored to it's original glory.  They simply don't build anything like this today.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Where to stay in Paris!

I've been to Paris several times and have stayed in hotels as well as apartments.  On this last trip back in late 2016, I was only going to be there one night and I was meeting some friends from Chicago who where there for a family gathering.  I decided it was simplest to just book into the hotel they had already booked.

It was a small boutique hotel called Jules and Jim located on a narrow little side street in the Marias area of Paris only a few short blocks from the Pompidou Centre.

My room was spacious and modern with some very eclectic decorative features.  That bed was so very comfy that I hated getting up in the morning.  Since this was my second night in Europe, a good night's sleep in this room helped to resolve any lingering jet lag issues I was having.

However, my favorite feature of the room was this fantastic shower.  That rain-shower head was so wonderful, I probably took the longest shower here of my whole trip.  I really should get one of those for home.

At the very heart of the hotel was a little courtyard and a common area where breakfast was served along with light snacks and drinks in the evening.

On my second day in Paris, I had scheduled my return trip to London for around 3 in the afternoon so after a morning of sightseeing, I headed back to the hotel around 1:00 pm and decided to relax for a while before I headed back to the train station.  That courtyard patio was the perfect place to relax and rest the feet.

I would pick this hotel again on another trip to Paris.  It had everything one could need, a comfortable bed, a fantastic shower, friendly and accommodating staff and peace and quiet from the hustle and bustle of the busy Paris streets.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Italian Alps

The town of Canazei in Italy is located in the far north of the country in the beautiful Dolomites or the Italian Alps.  When my friends and I were driving through this stunning region we stopped in Canazei to stretch our legs and indulge in some sightseeing (and a gelato).

The town is a true Alpine resort town full of hotels, restaurants and ski shops.  Wandering its streets, we found beautiful things around every corner.

This carved log was stationed in front of one building.  It has a weathered look making me wonder how long it has been there and how long ago it was carved.

Another turn in the road brought us to a bridge over the rushing water of a mountain stream.  We were tempted to dangle our feet in the water for awhile.

Around another corner we found this elaborately decorated building adorned with murals and lacy woodwork.

On the corner of the building was a sign that read "Misteri e Magie" which I believe translates to mystery and magic.  It certainly is a magical looking building.

After a nice walk around this pretty place, we followed the little mountain stream back toward where we left our car.  There is something truly rejuvenating about a walk in the mountains.  I bet this town is buzzing with winter sports fans about this time of year.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Urge for Sunshine and Warmth

This is the time of year when many northern dwellers are thinking about escaping to someplace sunny and warm to escape the frigid cold.  I know this because where I live in Arizona is one of those places that fills up with sun seekers during these winter months.  Maybe because I live in a desert, my thoughts of escape would tend to include large bodies of water.  Luckily, I live pretty close to California so it's easy to pop over to the coast for a refreshing view of sailboats skimming by.

Some people might think that a January break might be a good time to exercise off some of that holiday weight gain.  Water exercise with the sun beating down on you is much better than in one of those indoor pools.

Or maybe you would like to do your exercising in a little more daring way.  You could rent a water board and paddle around the bay for a while.

If you have an artistic streak you could set up your easel and paint the beautiful scenery before you.

Or if you are the curious type, you might want to find a "Tidepool Educator" and learn all about the creatures who live in the cracks and crevices along the beach.

I tend to enjoy a long walk along the beach where I can enjoy the vast variety of nature's offerings.  A rock full of water birds offers quite a lot to observe.

You never know what you might encounter walking along the beach.  Besides the plentiful wildlife, there might be some interesting human activity to observe.  I stumbled on to a photo shoot on one walk.

But most of all, I think almost everyone would be happy with a brilliant sunset and a skyline dotted with palm trees.  Besides my wonderful Arizona, I think the California coast offers just about everything needed for a winter break.