Projected Itinerary

There’s a white-out in New York… actually, the whole East Coast is blinded by a snowstorm of horror or “The Notebook-esque” movie proportion. My flight was canceled and I was re-booked on a flight leaving Thursday… in business class on Lufthansa! Wooooot. The snow day, though somewhat inconvenient, did provide me with a chance to organize my itinerary for the trip. Here’s a preview of what my next two weeks will look like:

Fri. Feb. 12: Arrive in Frankfurt at 5:30AM. Pick up rental car, down several coffees, and make the 543km trek to Salzburg, Austria, where the hills are alive with the sound of music

Sat. Feb 13- Sun. Feb. 14: Weltcup/Coupe de Monde 2010, Salzburg — competing with and watching some of the best fencers in the world

Sun. Feb. 14, post Final: drive to Munich

Mon. Feb 15 – Tues. Feb 16: Meet up with The Forman and hit the ” Weltstadt mit Herz” (the Cosmopolitan city with a heart)

Projected stops:

  • The “Art Area”: Neue Pinakothek, Alte Pinakothek, and Pinakothek der Moderne — the city’s major art museums covering everything from the 17th centuries to present day. In particular, I’m stoked for the Moderne — “It is one of the world’s largest museums devoted to the visual arts of the 19th and 20th centuries. Artists from Picasso to Warhol are exhibited, as are 400,000 drawings ranging from Leonardo da Vinci to Cézanne.”
  • Schloss Nymphenburg – an Italian-inspired summer home for Bavarian monarchs… the building and lavish park bear a close resemblance to the French palace at Versailles… apparently, the stucco and interior embellishments are “the most memorable” in all of Bavaria
  • Lenbachhausnoted for its collection of Blaue Reiter works (who doesn’t love Kandinsky!?)
  • Neuschwanstein — the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella Castle, outside of Munich but likely worth the short trek

Wed. Feb. 17- Thurs. Feb 18: Wurzburg, the Romantic Road, Tauberbischofsheim, and the German Olympic Fencing Training Center

Fri. Feb 19 – Sun. Feb 21: Leipzig, Germany, Coupe de Monde

the World Cup final will be fenced in the new wing of the Museum der Bildenden Künste — the Leipzig Museum of Fine Arts — I mean, could it be anymore perfect for me?

Mon. Feb. 22 – Tues. Feb 23: Dresden, Germany

Wed. Feb 24: Back to Frankfurt, hop on LH400 and return to New York with a ton of photos and home-HD-movies

Stay tuned for highlights after the 24th.


A Globe-Trotter’s Favorites

On Wednesday, I leave for a two week stint in Austria and Germany. All the trip preparations initiated a rapid recall of previous excursions abroad — stories of stick-shift driving gone wrong, conversations in muddled tongues, museum mishaps, and divine culinary discoveries. I started making a list of highlights from my many travels.* Here are a few Bests from my non-American journeys… (category suggestions for future posts welcomed)

The Hotel Saint-James

Once in a lifetime MealLe Saint-James Restaurant Gourmand, the Saint-James Hotel, Bouliac, France. The Saint-James boasts one of the best restaurants in all of France. Overlooking a vineyard and the city of Bordeaux, the view from the small dining room is breathtaking. The menu epitomizes  modern French cuisine, it’s expensive but easily the most amazing meal you’ll have in your life.

Breakfast– the homebaked crusty rolls with house-made jams and local cheeses accompanied by a giant cafe au lait at La Chapelle Saint Martin, Nieul, France.

Afternoon TeaThe Lords of the Manor, Upper Slaughter, England.

Snack-attack — the tapas selection at the NH Hotel Bar, Estado Puro, Madrid, Spain. The fried anchovies and cod fritters, washed down with a glass of wine, were excellent fuel for an afternoon at the Prado (conveniently across the street)

Appetizer — fresh local mushrooms and shaved asiago cheese, Rome, Italy. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, all i remember is that it was near the Pantheon. The plate of thinly sliced mushrooms and shaved artisan cheese is the dish dream about.

Dessert — Sacher Torte, Vienna.

a sunset in Cozumel

Bouillabaisse Marseilles, France.

Pint — a lively pub off a back road near Shannon, County-Clare, Ireland. Reels and jigs played by a crinkly old man on his fiddle, i wasn’t permitted to refuse a dance or a guinness.

Local Brew —  Sherry, just about everywhere and at every meal, Spain.

Beach for a sunset — any beach on the western coast of Cozumel, Mexico.

Often Overlooked  Sights

  1. Nero’s Domus Aurea, Rome, Italy
  2. The Villa Jovis, Capri, Italy
  3. The Roman Aqueduct, Segovia, Spain

Buy your Che memorabillia before you get on your plane at Havana's airport

Balcony — Hotel Marina Riviera, Amalfi, Italy. Positioned just above the coastal town of Amalfi, the Marina Riviera offers unobstructed views of the Mediterranean, the cliffs behind, and the charming town below.

Place to buy a Che Guevara t-shirt — the Museo de la Revolution or the Airport, Havana, Cuba.

Mineral BathTemple Gardens Mineral Spa, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Coastal HikeThe Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Place to buy hand-made sandals — the back streets of Nice, France. There’s an Italian cobbler there who makes a stellar gladiator sandal, and will custom fit them for you.

Sunday Stroll — the open fields between Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter, the Cotswolds, England. Makes you feel like a hero/heroine in an Austen novel.

View of the City –from the Castle District of Budapest onto the Hungarian Parliament, Budapest, Hungry.

The Hungarian Parliament from the Castle District

Place to rent and ride a scooter Bermuda.

Walk Back in time —

  1. Pompeii, Italy
  2. Chichen Itza, Mexico.

Place to see ugly Communist-era public sculptureBratislava, Slovakia.

Unexpected Roman RuinChedworth, England. Sure it’s near Bath, and sure we know about Hadrian’s Wall, but somehow perfectly preserved Roman mosaics in the middle of the English country side is not what you’d expect to run into on an afternoon stroll.

“Craft” MuseumMusee National Adrien Dubouche, Limoges France. A museum dedicated to Limoges’ most famous product — porcelain.

Marquee MuseumMusee D’Orsay, Paris, France. Manet’s Olympia and Courbet’s Burial at Ornans — need I say more?

“Non-Marquee” MuseumMuseo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain.  Typically overshadowed by the Prado and the Reina Sofia, most tourists miss this beautifully curated collection of outstanding artworks.

Solo-Artist MuseumThe Rodin Museum, Paris, France.

Local History Museum — Museum of the City and Museum of the Revolution, both Havana, Cuba.

Baroque Colonial Square Valladolid, Mexico.

Off the beaten track food to go

the main drag through Nice along the French Riviera

  1. road-side farmers’ markets in the Berry/Limousin region of France
  2. Grande Boulangerie de l’est, Acadian region of Nova Scotia, Canada.

Coastal Drive

  1. Amalfi Coast, Italy.
  2. The Riviera from Genoa, Italy, to Marseilles, France, with a requisite pit-stop in Monte Carlo.

both have their twists and their turns, both offer the most stunning views of the Mediterranean, both require a confident driver (and preferably, an automatic transmission…)

In-Land Drive — a safari at Ulusaba Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sand Reserve near Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Scariest Wild Animal Interactions:

  1. being chased into the bathroom by a baboon, Cape of Good Hope, Capetown, South Africa.
  2. being chased by a herd of elephants, Ulusaba Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sand Reserve near Kruger National Park, South Africa
  3. being chased by a flock of pigeons, Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy.

*originally, “Meet Me in the Drawing Room was entitled “Journeys in a Discovery,” and was thus originally conceived as a travel-blog. Consider this the start of a new column….

Artwork of the Week for February 1, 2010

February launches us into a new artwork of the week theme — “Sacred and Profane Love” — a theme inspired in part by the month’s adoration of a divinity with a quiver, and in part by a painting of the same title. And so, let us begin February in Venice and with a discussion of the painting in question, a work that renders “the double motion of the soul, its simultaneous attraction to the earthly and the heavenly.”


Sacred and Profane Love, 1514

oil on canvas, Museo Galleria Borghese, Rome, Italy

A viewer stands before Titian’s 1515 painting Sacred and Profane Love and is instantly placed at the crossroads. On his right stands one woman, a statuesque nude with marble-like skin and tendrils of hair brushing her collar bone. On his left is the nude’s voluminously clothed twin. The nature of the choice before our viewer is clear: on one side stands the chaste, the virtuous; on the other stands the corporal, the profane. But which is which? On closer inspection the surrounding details blurs the line between virtue and vice, and the viewer realizes the choice is more difficult than it initially appeared.

The figure we immediately associate with chastity is the woman on the viewer’s left. With her weighty white dress and gloved hands, and with the glaring white citadel in the deep background, she seems the model of feminine modesty. However, a collection of other elements hint at something else. Her exposed décolletage, the flowers she holds near her hip, and a pair of rabbits (nature’s famous reproducers) behind her help our viewer identify her as a bride. As a woman for whom a pending marriage promises love of a physical nature, she comes to embody the figure of “Profane” Love, for as Ingrid D. Rowland writes in From Heaven to Arcadia, “the bride represents love as it occurs in the life of the real world.” The woman on our viewer’s right must then be the personification of “Sacred” Love. Despite her open nudity, a virginal-white drape across her lap maintains her modesty as does her averted gaze. She holds a lamp, a symbol of charity, high above her billowing scarlet robe. Along with the ominous background, a lakeside village over which the sun has already set, her attributes infuse her presence with a divine power.

Titian aligns the two figures through multiple compositional details. Besides rendering the two women as identical in facial features, he paints them seated on the same surface – a Roman marble sarcophagus converted into a fountain. By placing them on the same pictorial plane, he portrays them as equals. Additionally, Titian conflates traditional attributes of personified Virtue and Vice to blur the distinction between the dual figures. The temptation is to see these women as polar opposites, but what Titian reveals through the painting’s structure and selection of detail is that they are, in fact, interrelated, inseparable, figures – the Sacred and the Profane are in fact “born from the same seed.”

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