Since my last post I have traveled to three countries: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain. For winter break my friends and I decided to travel up north and visit Brussels, Gent, Bruge, and Amsterdam. The food in Brussels was just incredible; Belgians are known for their mussels, fries, waffles, and chocolate. It was food paradise in my opinion.
We saw the Mannequin Pis, which is a tiny fountain of a little boy “peeing” the water. It’s funny because even though this is a small statue, it is the top site visited in Brussels and seen everywhere in the souvenir shops.
We went to Gent for the day and visited the “Mystic Lamb” altarpiece by Van Eyck, which was breathtaking. The audio guide explained each panel in depth for better understanding of the subject matter, composition, paint, and the artist himself. The colors that Van Eyck used were vivid and gorgeous. My favorite part was the 14 angels surrounding the sacrificial lamb because all of their wings were ombre, starting with dark colors up top then slowly fading into beautiful pastel colors.
After Gent, we left for Brugge, which is in the western part of the country. I would say Brugge was my favorite part of the whole trip. The town is the epitome of charming, with its old medieval streets and classic windmills. We rented bikes and biked throughout the entire town, every nook and cranny. It’s bizarre to see everyone on bikes here in Belgium and the Netherlands, but it’s a great mode of transportation because the streets are so narrow. The windmills were ginormous and so picturesque with the background of the river.
Our last leg of the trip was in Amsterdam. Here we walked everywhere and really got a great sense of the city. The canals are just stunning. We didn’t take the canal cruise because it was too cold, but I hope to one day return in the summer and do it! At the Van Gogh museum it was awesome to view the majority of his works (over 200 paintings!) and to see other artists who took after Van Gogh. I personally loved the painting of the irises, his self-portraits, and the scenic countryside in his south of France landscape paintings.
Last, I visited the Hermitage Museum, which had an incredible exhibition on Rubens, Van Dyck and the Jordaans, which I studied last semester in my Baroque art history class. I never realized just how fortunate we are at SMU to have the Meadows Museum because the collection there could easily rival this exhibition I saw. I can’t wait to return to campus to view Meadows again with a fresh new perspective.
This past weekend I visited Barcelona, Spain, with my friend Sean. I would say Barcelona is my favorite place I have visited thus far. The atmosphere was just blissful with the Mediterranean weather, culture, the laid-back welcoming people, the amazing architectural sites by Antoni Gaudi, and the delicious paella all made this trip just utter bliss. I’ve never fallen so fast in love with a city besides Paris and Vienna.
We walked all of Barcelona; when I say walked I mean we started from the beach and walked all the way up north covering everything. We saw most of the Gaudi architecture with the beautiful mosaics. At Parc Guell, which he designed himself, it was fascinating to see his manipulation on nature, which nevertheless kept the park very natural.
From up top, one can see all of Barcelona. The Sagrada Familia church is still to this day in construction long after Gaudi’s death. It is here Gaudi is buried beneath his ever-continuing masterpiece. The church was unreal. I loved his use of modern geometrical shapes and colors for the stained glass windows. I was sad to leave Barcelona on Monday, but excited to return home to my Parisian host family to tell them all about my adventures. This next weekend I am traveling with my program IES to Normandy, France. A plus tard!