The day after Halloween, the Christmas decorations went up in my neighborhood. Then right after Boxing Day, there were already Valentine’s Day candies in stores. As someone who really enjoys the holiday season, this early decoration overkill and immediate disappearance seems like both too much and too little. That’s why I appreciate some historical perspective on the season.
Just some locals in Williamsburg enjoying the holidays.
18th century Americans didn’t decorate until Christmas Day and then spent the next 12 days celebrating with parties, dancing, weddings, and lots of eating and drinking. To take in the classic (and not so classic) wreaths, greens, and holiday trimmings essential for the holiday spirit, I spent a few days in Jamestown and Williamsburg, two living history museums in Virginia.
As the weather cools and Fall takes over, folks in the north start to daydream about the Caribbean for a sun-filled weekend away. While I’ve never been much of a beach person, I recently took a quick trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico and enjoyed it. The old town was lovely to wander through, I enjoyed the historic fortresses, and the public beaches were relaxing. While Puerto Rico’s status as an American territory makes travel there easier, the unique local culture and cuisine made it feel like I was exploring another country.
Pretty and relaxing beach in San Juan
I’m usually a much better planner than this. I arrived in Basel with a vague idea to explore the old city center because, as I’d already discovered, old Swiss city centers are amazing. Basel’s old town is dominated by the bright red Rathaus, or town hall. Already impressed by the Rathaus’ exterior decorations, I jumped at the chance to take a guided tour of what I thought was a museum inside or minimally a preserved historic interior. Even though the tour was in German (which I don’t speak), I completely enjoyed this insider’s look at the art, history, and, surprisingly, the contemporary life of the city housed inside this Basel landmark.
My lunch time view of the magnificent Basel Town Hall, or Rathaus, and Marktplatz square.
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.
Good morning Tower Bridge!
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”, 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.