Sunday, December 30, 2018

The United Nations

While I was in New York last October I walked over to the United Nations to see if we might be able to take a tour.  It would have been my second tour but as fate would have it, there was not another English speaking tour available until late in the day when another commitment called.

We did however, have time to tour the main building on our own and enjoy some of the many interesting things to see inside this famous place.

This wonderful statue of Nelson Mandela was not there when I visited before.

There is one observation point where visitors can peek into one of the many meeting rooms and observe a session.  On my last visit, there were no meetings going on so we only saw empty meeting rooms.  This was far more interesting.

This wall of flags was a great place for photo opportunities and I was lucky when these two adorable children plucked off a couple of flags and posed for their father.

I had forgotten about the Chagall "Peace Window" inside the main building.  It was a gift to the United Nations from UN staff members and Marc Chagall and it was presented as a memorial to Dag Hammarskjold.  I wonder if those missing panels are being restored.

Just outside the main entrance is one of Amaldo Pomodoro's "Sphere Within Sphere" sculptures.  There is one very similar to this one on the grounds of The Vatican.

Getting into the United Nations building was quite different than the last time I visited.  I had to go first to a security checkpoint across the street from the complex where I had to show identification and was photographed.  Then I wore a badge they printed with a very grainy photo of me on it.  The badge had my name, the date and Public Visit printed on it.  Then someone wrote 02 by hand on it and that covered me and my friend.  My friend did not have to be photographed and did not need to wear a badge.  That seemed a bit strange to me but it worked perfectly at all the checkpoints.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Another Look at Christmas in London

It's almost Christmas so I thought I'd pull out another Christmas season post from London.  When I visited the city in late November 2013, it was already in full holiday attire however, I'm pretty sure it gets even better as the month of December arrives.  The Queen's Guards at Buckingham palace were actually looking just a bit dull in their winter grays.

But those dull grey coats made way to bright lights and colorful decorations like this festive scene at Covent Garden.  It's a great place to shop or just to stop and listen to the music.

Harrods is always lit up at night drawing you closer to check out the window displays.

I always like to do a bit of window shopping in one of the arcades.  Burlington Arcade on Piccadilly Street is a favorite.  There are many beautiful things inside these small spaces.

Prince's Arcade is another place where window shopping is fun.  All of the arcades do a nice job of subtle, yet festive decor to bring the season to life.

And, I never miss an opportunity to visit Fortnum and Mason.  Whether it's the holidays or not, this place is a must for me on every trip to wonderful London.

On this particular trip to London, I visited the Queen's Galleries and after that, the Buckingham Palace gift shop.  Appropriately, the tree in there was decorated with royal crowns.

There is no question that London knows how to decorate for Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

A Library of Distinction

When I was planning my trip to New York, I did an internet search of things to see and one of the things that came up that I had not seen before was the Morgan Library & Museum.  The photos on the website convinced me that it was a "must see".  The entrance is located on Madison Avenue at 36th Street and it leads into a modern area that joins together three historical buildings.  Those stairs to the far right of the above photo, lead to the original Morgan Library built between 1902 and 1906.  It was built as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan.

The entrance foyer of the library feels like you are entering a church or some other holy place.

It is covered in marble. mosaics and topped with a grand dome.

The domed ceiling is surrounded by panels that tell biblical and mythological stores.  There is something to see in every direction.  You might get a bit stiff in the neck looking at it all.

His library office has a definite masculine feel with walls covered in red brocade and red velvet furnishings.  The large fireplace on one wall is crowned with a portrait of Pierpont himself.

But, it was the actual library room that drew me back for a second look after our tour had ended.  The walls are covered with bookcases with exception of this wall that is dominated by a huge tapestry.

The beautify of all those books sequestered behind glass doors and framed by polished dark wood was warming to my soul.  It felt like you could sit in the room and just absorb all the knowledge to be found in those millions of pages.

The Morgan Library is the only museum in the world to possess three copies of the Gutenberg Bible. Two of their copies are on paper (as above) and one is printed on vellum.  Considering there are only 50 copies remaining in the world, that is quite a legacy for the museum to protect.

I was very remiss in not getting a photo of the front of the original library from the 36th Street side so this miniature model will have to do.  It is as grand looking from the outside as it is from the inside.

There were many more things to see in the museum and I'll feature some of those things in a future post.  I'm so glad I made a point of seeing this amazing place.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Art at the Villa

Last week I had a post about Venice because it was in the news with all its recent flooding.  This week I'm posting about the Getty Villa because it was in the news this last week.  It seems they have an ancient bronze statue that the Italian government wants returned.  So much so that the government recently won a judgment that the museum must give it back.  After reading the news story, I scoured my photos from my 2015 visit to the Getty Villa to see if I had a photo of the prized statue.  I don't.
(You can see the article about the bronze statue and how it came to be reclaimed by the Italians by clicking the link above.)

So, instead I'll show some other scenes from the museum and some of the other artworks that can be found there.

The statue to the left was one of J. Paul Getty's most prized possessions and inspired him to build this museum in the form of a Roman Villa.  It's a statue representing the Greek hero Herakles.

Another piece that I happened to photograph was this storage jar.  It is decorated with Diomedes and Odysseus.  Clearly the artist was familiar with "The Iliad".

Some of the smaller pieces also caught my eye like this familiar looking statue of a boy riding on his parent's shoulders.  It's somehow comforting to know that parents have been lifting their children this way for many centuries.

While at the villa, I spent quite a lot of time in the outdoors areas because the gardens and fountains were all so beautiful.  The photo at the top of this post shows the front of the villa and the second photo one of the many courtyards.  I spent even more time in small patio pictured above.  I liked this space with the fountain in the center because it was so quiet and peaceful.  I enjoyed listening to the water in the fountain and finding water lilies blooming at its base.

And I watched this dragonfly buzzing around the water and plants and was determine to catch a photo of it.  That bright orange insect became one more beautiful piece of art from my Getty Villa collection of photos.

I posted about the Getty Villa once before back in 2015.  If you would like to see that post you can find it here.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Water as a Way of Life

I haven't created a post about Venice for quite a while and since the city has been in the news lately, memories of my visit there have started floating into my mind.  If you haven't heard, Venice suffered the worst flooding it's seen in 22 years.  I saw photos in St. Marc's Square with water up to people's waists.  Thankfully when I was there, nothing so devastating happened.  Above is my very first peek at the city as I exited the train station.

I was immediately struck by how busy the canal was with boats heading in every direction.  I had to adjust my thought process to this mode of transportation.  In any other city, it's cars headed in every direction.

And, just like any other city, there were that were quieter then the main thoroughfare.

The other thing to keep in mind is that there are no cars parked in driveways or garages.  However, there are plenty of boats tied up outside of homes.

Here and there you will spot docking posts that have been painted in bright colors.

One thing I was surprised to find was park-like green spaces.  They are rare but, they are there.

There are also many churches tucked away in quiet corners.

And of course, the occasional "Carnival" shop.

The shops feature beautifully designed and painted masks that will be worn at the annual festivities.

Venice is such a lovely city.  I do hope that scientists and engineers can think of ways to protect it from the devastating effects of global warming.