Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bhaktapur, Nepal

The news gets worse by the minute, one report from the London Telegraph said half of the buildings in Bhaktapur has been destroyed. Bhaktapur, an UNESCO world heritage site is a living museum, a place where nothing has changed for centuries, the same buildings, the same crafts, the same farming. Nepal is an incredible place with living museums like this all over the Kathmandu area. I've always wanted to return to Nepal but haven't found the time yet. Pray for Nepal, send help if you can.

7.9 earthquake in Nepal

I was in Nepal 3 years ago. Its a lovely place, one of the most affordable places to travel in. I pray for the people of Nepal especially those in Kathmandu.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Go smell the roses


Roses in a garden in Dresden, last May (2014). I collared a passerby to take my picture. They tell me I need to insert myself into the pictures too. Anyway I just used my British Airways miles to buy a ticket to Europe, leaving next month, returning in 4 months. I shall be bringing my laptop and be posting from where I may be. I still have a lot to take care before I leave. Its going to be epic!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hire your guide for Matera

 As soon as I returned from Matera in February this year, I uploaded my ebook on Amazon Kindle and I've been seeing a few downloads. I hope some of these people would show up in Matera.
 In the ebook I wrote about our experiences with our guide, Luigi at Guida-Matera.it We are friends on Facebook and this was a picture he posted yesterday. Two Americans! Well, I don't know if they downloaded my ebook. I know for sure they had a great time and this will form one of the best experiences of their travel lives.
One of the highlights will be a trip to the crypt of original sin or in Italian, la cripta del peccato originale. Its not easy to get to the crypt, easier if you have a guide with a car. The cave has the most exquisite frescoes in it. I have a picture of it on the wall in front of my desk and another picture, a Klimt painting of Adele Bloch-Bauer II, both of which are exquisite. I can see the comparison, the attention to detail, amazing!

Sforgliatelle and Rum Baba

 Rum Baba
Sforgliatelle

I have a dilemma, while Rum Baba is easy to find, Sforgliatelle is not. Rum Baba is actually French but the city of Naples has adopted it and one can wander in Naples and stop off at a coffee shop to eat some. Sforgliatelle, on the other hand, is a staple of Naples and only found in Naples. So what am I going to do, the next time I'm in Italy. I adore Sforgliatelle. The only way is to do a Sforgliatelle run the next time I'm in Rome. Take the Frecciarosa train (1 hour) from Rome to Naples, buy some and head back on the train. There's this huge shop across the street from the train station in Naples that sells both! That's a wonderful idea!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sorrento, Italy

Sorrento 2006, that was the last time I was in Southern Italy. It was great to be back. As I said before Naples is scary but I've been there before. A lot of Italian cities has been inundated by African immigrants, Naples is one of those cities. But underneath the surface there lives a very tolerant Italian population, maybe. One does not have to stay in Naples, just a short train ride away is the Amalfi coast, the Southern Italian rivera. Even so, one does not have to stay in a hotel in Naples. There is always the lovely Sorrento. It is a beautiful city, small and upscale. After finishing with Pompeii we jumped back on the train and went to Sorrento, its at the other end of the circumvesuviana line. We found a restaurant, had dinner and went back to Naples on the same train. I prefer to stay in Naples and next to the train station. There are lots of old mansions that have been converted into hotels and in February, rooms were so cheap. The area is not that great, its actually the red light district but it doesn't bother me. Once we're in our room, we shut the world out.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Pompeii

 As the train sped through the countryside, we can see Mt Vesuvius, majestic and quiescent but wasn't so in history, AD79 to be exact.





I've been to Pompeii before and this was my second visit. Its very easy to get to from Naples train station. You don't even need to leave the station, just follow the signs that say 'Circumvesuviana'. This little train goes from Naples to Sorrento and back. On the way it stops at Pompeii. Its that easy. There seems to have been more work done to the site, I see more frescoes being uncovered and restored.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Gustav Klimt & fin de siècle Vienna by Anne Chung



I know these are not Klimt's but Egon Schiele's. I first encountered Egon Schiele's work a few years ago when I visited the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. I was surprised at my own reaction, far from being appalled by its almost pornographic nature, I actually admired his work. It was art. In working on my current project, I came across more interesting events about Schiele. A certain Austrian by the name of Dr Otto Kallir was a life long and ardent fan of Schiele. Kallir was born a few years after Schiele and was therefor a contemporary of Schiele in Emperor Franz Josef's Austria. Kallir was born Otto Nirenstein and like many Jews, changed his name, to avoid anti-semitism. He served in Franz Josef's army in the first world war. He was introduced to Schiele by an army mate. He wanted Schiele to paint something for him but being in the army he had no way of paying and so the commission went nowhere. He became an art dealer in Vienna after the war and owned many of Schiele's paintings and drawings and a few of Gustav Klimt's. After the Anschluss (annexation of Austria into the Third Reich by Hitler) he moved to Paris but stayed only one year. Then he moved to New York. He was able to mount a few exhibitions showcasing Schiele's work. The first exhibition, he sold one painting of Schiele in 1941 but it did not deter him. He plodded on until today there are a few Schiele in every major museum in the USA. Definitely the Maria Altman vs the Austrian government case has propelled Gustav Klimt into the limelight that he enjoys today. But Klimt paintings are a rarity, all told there are about 200 Klimt paintings worldwide. Some of his work are too fragile to be moved, others were destroyed in the Castle Immendorf fire. A lot of Klimt's are in the Belvedere in Vienna and these will never leave the walls of the Belvedere! Personally I'm more partial to Gustav Klimt, hence my project.... stay tuned, more to come!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Warhol at MoMA, New York

I've always thought this was one big painting. It is actually 32 individual canvases. Blum, some guy bought it for US$1,000 but sold it for US$15m. He did sell a few of the canvases but bought them back to keep the group together. Today they are at MoMA in New York. Who would have thunk?