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12 Hours in London

If you’re someone like me who doesn’t live on the road, it’s important to maximize your travel experiences. I love taking advantages of international layovers to spend a day in “bonus” city, like Paris or Amsterdam. This Spring I finally got to see London with a day-long romp through this fantastic capital.  It turned out to be plenty of time to see the highlights and get the flavor of this historic city.

Tower bridge, London

Good morning Tower Bridge!

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Digging into the Legend of Troy

The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art-focused travel blogs to post on a common theme.  This month we are discussing Folklore!  Take a look at all the great stories at the bottom of the page.

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, "The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy"

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, “The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy”, 1773, National Gallery, London (Photo)

Whether it was reading through the Iliad and Odyssey in school or seeing Brad Pitt as Achilles, we all know about Troy.  This mythical fortress city conjures up images of fierce battle, epic warriors, beautiful Helen herself, and of course, one of the greatest tricks of all time, the magnificent Trojan Horse.  Sometimes its easy to lump Troy in with Atlantis, the island of the Minotaur, or the lands of the Amazons – just fantasy places that serve as a setting for Greek mythology.  But what do we really know about Troy?  Along the northwest coast of Turkey are the archaeological remains of a city with walls that just might have been great enough to hold back the Athenian army and Achilles himself.

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Bern’s Historic Old City

If I had to describe a nation’s capital city, I would think of broad streets, massive administrative buildings, and commercial areas.  I picture public art, decorative architecture, and parks too but its all in the context of the greater metropolis at the heart of the city.  So then imagine how unprepared I was to visit Bern, Switzerland’s national capital.  Instead of a booming, modern downtown, they’ve done an amazing job of preserving the historic old city center.  The heart of the city is gorgeous and the perfect place to spend a day strolling.

Bern Old Town

The historic soul of Switzerland can be found in its incredible capital city, Bern.

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The Best Early Christian Tomb Frescoes (Not in Rome)

I love the early Christian catacombs of Rome.  But since you can only enter as part of a guided tour, visits feel rushed.  The frescoes in these maze-like tomb complexes reveal the first Christian images and thus the stories, priorities, and spiritual direction of the early church.  Even more importantly, here’s where artists started to lay out the visual language, or iconography, of the religion which had a huge effect on the history of Western Art.  But early Christian images aren’t all in Rome.  There is a pocket of fantastic early Christian tomb frescoes in the city of Pécs in southwestern Hungary.  It’s an incredible treasure in a very unexpected place.

Burial Chamber of Saint Peter and Paul, Early Christian burial tombs, Pecs, Hungary

“Mary and Child fresco” in the Burial Chamber of Saint Peter and Paul, 4th century early Christian burial tombs, Pecs, Hungary

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How to (Legally) Bring Home a Piece of a UNESCO Site

Recently I wrote about the incredible Matthias Church in Budapest which along with Castle Hill has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Given the astounding decorations inside the church, I was definitely going to pick up something from their gift shop.  I thought maybe some note cards or a bag or a book, but I found something way better.  Half-hidden on a shelf at knee level was the most random but also the most incredible “souvenir” I have ever encountered in all my travels.  You better believe I bought one which is how I managed (legally) to bring home a piece of the church itself.

Budapest, Matthias Church tile roof

The Matthias Church from the exterior (Photo: adapted from Wikipedia)

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