Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer in Europe - Part 1 - History and Culture


Our two week trip to Europe this summer afforded us the opportunity to see some truly bucket list-worthy sights.  For the sake of better preserving the memories, here are some highlights.

London

Having taught British literature for a few years, some of London's literary and artistic landmarks were at the top of my list here.


The "Treasures" collection at the British Library - complete with originally penned works by the likes of Keats, Tolstoy, Byron, Shelley, and Shakespeare.


The gallery of artwork by William Blake, one of my favorites, at the Tate Britain museum.  Some highlights were engravings from Songs of Innocence and The Ghost of a Flea.


Van Gogh's Sunflowers and the unexpected surprises of Sir John Everett Millais's Ophelia and John William Waterhouse's Lady of Shallot at the National Gallery.


The immensely famous Westminister Abbey.  I was particularly excited to see the resting places of some famous writers at "Poet's Corner."  In a single picture, you can see markers for Tennyson, T.S. Eliot, Hopkins, Wordsworth, Dylan Thomas, Lewis Carroll, and Byron.


Shakespeare's Globe - the modern reconstructed replica of the fabled playwright's performance center.


The George Pub - the oldest pub in London, frequented by the likes of Dickens and Shakespeare.


Geneva

We stayed in a small town outside of Geneva, right on the lake, with relatives of our good friend Junita.  

The market in the town Morges, about 15 minutes from our house.


The Chateaux de Chillon, a beautiful ancient castle on the shores of Lake Geneva, which I found out later is actually the most visited historic monument in all of Switzerland.  It also boasted literary intrigue for its self-carved name of Lord Byron in the dungoen, who was inspired by a prisoner of the castle to write "The Prisoner of Chillon."


The United Nations and the UNHCR in Geneva.


The Red Cross Museum, which featured both an inspiring tour of the history of the organization and some highlights global human rights efforts in general, including the original Geneva Convention and names of the millions of holocaust victims whom the IRC attempted to locate and re-connect with family members.


Paris

We spent a few packed-full days in Paris living out of a tiny AirBNB apartment in the central 1st Arrondissement.  It did not disappoint on any front.

We spent a Sunday morning popping into famous historical churches that included...

Sainte Chapelle, which contains one of the most impressive stained-glass displays I've ever seen


Notre Dame, which houses some famous Catholic relics that included Christ's purported Crown of Thorns


Some smaller, but equally impressive churches in the Latin Quarter - St. Julien le Pauvre, St. Severin Church, and Saint Germain des Pres. 


As for paintings, we skipped the Louvre and went to the Musée d'Orsay, which displayed such gems as Van Gogh's Sower with Setting Sun, Starry Night Over the Rhone, and some of Monet's Water Lilies


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