Category Archives: Cultural Travel

the hand of God

The Vatican Museums – Three Paintings Out of Hundreds – Why These Three?

The three pictures in this post are some of my favorites though I took literally hundreds. These pictures from top to bottom are more interesting though – read on to find out why.

When you are in Rome, whether it’s for a day or a week, one thing you have to do is visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. If the ticket price of 15 Euros sounds a little high, let me assure you, it’s not. What you will see inside is worth every penny and more.

I’d like to introduce you to some of the wonders that I came across as I wandered through this incredible collection of the world’s most wonderful art.

As in much classical art, there was an abundance of angry dudes and sexy nudes – and there was a bunch of art too.

the hand of God

1) Despite the Angry Italian guys saying No Picture, No Video. Nearly everyone was taking photos in the Sistine Chapel. That included me. When I showed this picture to my wife she was disgusted “Aggghhh, how obscene to think you could depict God in a painting. You can be sure that painter is in hell.” Not exactly what I was thinking as I looked at one of Michelangelo’s masterpieces.

Coming in, you find a staircase and as you wind your way up it, you will notice that there are more than a few canoes and canoe paddles from the many places that Catholic missionaries have landed, converted, and conquered. For some reason these struck me in a bad way…although it was a magnificent collection of canoes. Moving on…

Cistine 3-d

2) When I first saw these saints painted in the niches, I thought they were real people. A photo can’t capture just how three-dimensional some off these paintings are…astounding.

If you are only going to visit one museum in Rome, certainly it should be the Vatican Museum. Add in a trip to the Colosseum, and a stop in Vatican City and you’ve followed the Vago itinerary to see Rome in a day. It wasn’t built in a day, but I feel like these three stops and the transport between them give you a good chance to get a feel for the what was once the capital of the Roman Empire and is still a masterpiece of a city.

The price of the Vatican museums might seem kind of steep at 15 Euros but when you consider that it includes some of the most famous art the world has ever produced and the celebrated Cistine Chapel, suddenly it starts to seem more reasonable. Museo Vaticani is a must see.

Vatican museum

3) I’m not a religious man and I’m nowhere near Catholic, but this painting spoke to my soul. Note the hanging bodies, the monk, pleading and the people in the background seemingly just having a chat…this was real life. It lives on.

Powerful and amazing. More to come soon.

Vatican Resources
Boutique Hotels Near the Vatican
Hostels Near the Vatican
Vatican Museum Books
Rome Tourism Books
Vatican Trip Insurance
Hidden Facts of the Vatican

DSCF1111

Art, Torture, Laundry, and Wallpaper in Ghent, Belgium – More Fun Than You Think

For me, Ghent was just a day trip from Brussels, but if you want to stay in Ghent, here is a complete list of hotels in Ghent with user reviews and multi site price comparisons. Ghent, Belgium Rafael was kind enough to pick up some maps from a very cool tourist office so the next day I took a shorter train trip to Ghent, a very hip, very cool little town. Ghent Wallpaper

Ghent has the coolest wallpaper store in the world. Wow.

Mango Ghent Sadly, it rained all day, I woke up with a sore throat, and it seemed there was immense construction going on, Ghent toilet historic as a result of some or all of the above, it seemed that just about everything was closed…maybe because it was Monday. Ghent, Belgium Anyway, I brought my dirty laundry and found a laundrymat, then I explored the Gravensteen castle Ghent Gravensteen Castle Gravensteen Castle which had an excellent torture museum. Waterboarding, old school style Ghent Torture Museum plus a guillateen which was used for numerous executions. Ghent Torture Museum Took a lot of pictures, Ghent walked around in the rain with my laundry, Ghent felt my flu getting worse, had some Belgian Fries and then headed back to Brussels, hoping that I didn’t have swine flu. I didn’t really care if I had it, but I didn’t want to pass it on to Raphael and his daughters. Ghent ashtray

Ghent also has the coolest ashtray I’ve ever stuck a butt in.

for some interesting Ghent History: http://www.trabel.com/gent-history.htm (Originally published 08 October 2009)

Denchu Hirakushi

Art and Travel – Discovering Beauty While Discovering the World – The Art of Travel

The Art of Travel is a phrase tossed about often, but I’m more interested in discovering art and travel. That’s what I mean by the Art of Travel.

One of the reasons I began to travel was my love of art. It was the love of art that made me wander and wonder. The sculptures of my grandparents, things they had brought from the Orient and installed in their home, presents and trinkets from abroad that sat in people’s homes.

the art of Denchu Hirakushi

Don’t misunderstand me – I love art from all places, but it was the exotic art of the Far East,the Arab World, Africa, and India that truly drew me into travel. The textiles of India, the burnoose my grandfather brought back from Iraq in the 1940s, the Indonesian knives my other grandfather had on his walls (now on my walls) and all manner of exotic art which called to my soul.

Never was I so touched by art as by that of Japan. It may be the reason why I spent so much of my undergraduate years looking at Japanese culture. Certainly it is why I have watched so many Japanese films, and it might even have something to do with why I ended up living in Hawaii. The Japanese aesthetic sings to my soul. And yet, I’ve still not been to Japan. My travels carried me East from Hawaii and I went as far as South Korea before returning West. Someday, I will visit Japan. I’m certain.

Denchu Hirakushi

In the meantime, I continue my fascination with Japanese art. I attend lectures when I can, look for antique pieces of Japanese origin, and make art of my own. I also look at different lectures and circuits in places where I am possibly going to be so that I can learn more. An example would be a nature and figure study about the Sculpture of Japan which will be held at the Henry Moore institute until the 20th of April and then again from 14 May to 27 July.

Art of Denchu Hirokushi

I’m not sure if I’ll be in Yorkshire during that time – If I am, I’ll probably get a hotel in Leeds and then go check out this exhibition which looks at figure and nature studies from the Taisho and early Showa periods. The main thing that drew me towards this exhibition is the prominence of one of my favorite sculptors Hirakusa Denchu (more correctly Denchu Hirakushi) who lived during the Meiji Period of Japanese history – for those who don’t know, that is a period of about 30 years when Japan’s Emperor Meiji transformed Japan from a rural and agricultural feudal society to a modern industrial society that defeated Russia in a war. This was a rich period for art in Japan and there were countless new studies and forms developed and absorbed into Japanese art. Denchu lived a long life, he was 107 when he died in 1979 which might be a part of why he continues to fascinate me. Our lives overlapped for 8 years. The other artists featured in the exhibition Hashimorot Heihachi and Takamura Kotaro were perhaps more influential but died well before my time.

Denchu Hirokushi
This is certainly an exhibition that I recommend anyone who finds themselves in Yorkshire attend. You will be witness to the birth of new forms of expression by three masters. Yes, it is art that I travel for … and food. The big question is, Why haven’t I yet been to Japan?

Do you travel for art? Tell me about it!