Category Archives: Travel

Bauhaus in Dessau

Bauhaus building in Dessau

On my way up to Berlin, I paid a visit to Dessau, where the restored Bauhaus buildings are the main attraction. Above is one end of the main Bauhaus school building built in 1926 and used until about 1932, when political resistance got too high. Below a shot of another side of the complex – notice the sheer glass wall with no outer supporting columns.

Bauhaus building in Dessau

About five minutes aware are a set of restored Bauhaus houses, built for the faculty at the school, and including such inhabitants as Kurt Weill and Paul Klee. Also built in the late 1920s, and only restored in the last 5 years or so. There were originally 4 duplexes, but half of one was destroyed at some point, but the ones that are left are in a lovely wooded area.

Bauhaus home in Dessau

Bauhaus home in Dessau

The Land of August

After Prague, I took the train north, making a short afternoon stop in Dresden.  One sight there was a massive mural of the leaders of the region over the last thousand or so years!  Below is the August, who ruled at a time of great wealth and power there.

August

A couple days later I paid a visit to Augustburg, his summer castle built atop a hill some 70 miles or so south west of Dresden.  Quite a place!

Augustusburg

That’s looking from one of the four corner towers down toward the courtyard.  All basically built in 4 years, they say.

A few shots of Prague

Prague

The start of my travels last week was in Prague, and I had some lovely weather there.  On Sunday I climbed the wooded hill on the right side of the picture above, and then climbed up the mini ‘eiffel tower’ on top of the hill for the shot below of the castle:

Prague

Here’s a shot along the river…

Prague

For now I’ll just put up one building picture – take note of the line of windows toward the top – Praha!

Praha building

Richard Serra's 'Promenade' in Paris

Outside the Grand Paleis

Made a quick trip to Paris this past weekend, and I made of point of heading over to the Grand Paleis for Richard Serra’s Monumenta 2008 installation entitled ‘Promenade’. I had never been in the building before, and this was a neat way to see it; nearly empty, with Serra’s five tall steel columns set up through the length of the hall.

Richard Serra's Promenade

One of the best features of the installation was that they had a audio guide largely consisting of Serra talking about the piece, explaining some of his thought process as he designed it for this particular building.

Serra's Promenade

The title acknowledges that the piece is all about walking through the space, using the columns as a way of guiding you through it, perspectives changing as you stroll up to and around the columns and then back away.

 

Serra's Promenade

It also had me thinking about the steel of the columns versus the steel of the glass roof, straight lines and curved metal. Serra also talked about spending some time in Kyoto, getting a sense of the zen gardens there where the individual object in the setting is less important than the whole of the garden.

Visit to Cambridge

St Johns College

After reading a biography of Isaac Newton, along with Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, I wanted to pay a visit on the English university in Cambridge.  I got lucky and got there on a beautiful Spring day!  Cambridge is really a combination of twelve or more individual colleges; above is St Johns.  Below is the ‘bridge of Sighs’ that goes over the River Cam.

Bridge of Sighs

 

Bush at Jesus College

 

Above, the garden at Jesus College; below, a view of King’s College from The Backs.

 

The Backs at Cambridge

Out among the flowers

Flowers in NL

A couple shots from yesterday’s bike ride, looping through the flower fields just north of Leiden. Beautiful day, lovely sights, intense colors and smells!

Hyacinths in NL

Views of Gent

Gent

Here’s a selection of shots from my wanderings around the Belgian town of Gent.

Gent canal

Gent

Gent - Gravensteen

"Harsh Interrogation Techniques"

Gravensteen

Above is the old castle Gravensteen in Gent, Belgium, which I visited yesterday. It dates back to days we refer to as medieval. For years it was used as a court, and prisoners were kept there. Nowadays it’s a museum of sorts, with rooms of old armor and weapons, massive ‘two-hander’ swords and such things. In another room one can find what we can only refer to as the torture instruments; thumbscrews, various bindings used to put people into ‘stress positions’, etc.

Here’s a shot I took of one old picture in the room.

Gravensteen Torture

This looks to me very similar to what we now call ‘waterboarding’.

Regardless of whether one thinks such techniques are necessary and useful, it seems to me that the Bush Adminstration is playing word games of the worst sort as it refers to its high-level discussions of ‘harsh interrogation techniques’. Torture is an ugly concept, and calling it something else does not make it go away.

Not to say that the current administration is using all the techniques of 500 years ago. Below is a torture that apparently was quite successful at eliciting confessions – a necklace of sharp pins that no one could stand for more than 4 hours.

Gravensteen Torture -necklace

Man’s imagination in coming up with incredible torments seems unfortunately quite vivid.

Street art from Barcelona

Barcelona grate art

One of the things I noticed in Barcelona were the paintings that become visible when stores and cafes pull down their grates after closing hours.  Here are a few I liked.

Barcelona grate art

Barcelona grate art

Barcelona grate art

Generally I didn’t see a lot of random graffiti in Barcelona.  In Brussels, however, there’s plenty of crap graffiti which gives the city a pretty shabby feel.

A bit more Gaudi – La Pedreda

Gaudi's La Pedreda

Here are some shots of the apartment building that Gaudi designed and built from scratch, featuring a steel frame that the outer stone facing is simply bolted onto.  Just a few blocks from Casa Battlo.  The last time I was in Barcelona this was a sooty, decaying building, but it’s been all cleaned up and fixed up, with one apartment on the fourth floor open to see what the interior is like.

La Pedreda

This last one is a shot of a balcony on one of the interior airshafts.

La Pedreda - balcony