Monday, November 28, 2011

Munch!!!!!

What's famous about Norway?

The fjords? Ibsen? A-Ha?

Well personally, I think that Edvard Munch and his "Scream" series of paintings would have to be up there as one of Norway's greatest ever cultural contributions to the world (besides the songs of M2M of course).
So, I jumped on the surprisingly efficient and convenient Oslo metro system (who would have thought that such a small city could support such amazing public transport?) and dashed towards the aptly named "Munch Museum", that was apparently full of the works of the great man himself.
The funny thing about this museum though....

.... was that they didn't display any of the "Scream" series.
None at all in fact.

Instead they were showing his lesser known works.

I have no problem with this and I think it's a good thing to display lesser known works in order to give people a better understanding of his full body of accomplishments. However, not displaying his most famous paintings at all? That I find to be a bit much.

Instead, I found myself inside the National museum, in a room that was dedicated to Munch. There I was able to get my fill of some of Munch's masterpieces such as one of the "Screams" and "Madonna".

Sadly, I wasn't allowed to take any photos in the room itself, so this was the closest I managed to get.
It's an impressive legacy that this painter from the tiny country of Norway has managed to create some of the most widely known paintings in the world. Works of art that transcend the art world and are embraced even by people in every day life.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Norwegian wood

Who would have imagined that I would have THREE friends whom I met independent of one another living in Norway?

Three!!!

It's not exactly a country that is on the "must do" list of tourists and travellers.

However, knowing this number of people in Oslo meant that it had now moved onto my own personal "must do" list. The way I think about it, this trip to Norway was not only necessary to visit my friends, it was a welcome journey down a road less traveled. It isn't every day you get such compelling reasons to go to country outside the norm, so taking advantage of it is a must.
This was not a decision I regretted.

Norway is a beautiful country.
In fact, the decision I made to only spend a couple of days here may have been a bit of a mistake, as it confined me to Oslo.
This is a country where nature dominates, and while it was a great experience to be in Oslo seeing my friends, I definitely wished I could get out into the countryside.
Wandering through the parks and the forests, I felt at peace and relaxed.
It was quiet and calm. Everything I needed to unwind from the stress of work and the daily grind.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Learning stuff

London is a learning experience.

A historical and cultural learning experience.

Most of my time spent there seems to involve museums.
It can get a bit much. Moving from one historic location to another, trying to soak in all of the displays and the knowledge.
Still, there are worse ways to spend your time.
It's a journey through history, only with an audio guide.

Mega tourist

My inner tourist is slowly forcing its way through.

It's becoming increasingly difficult to convince myself, let alone others, that I'm not into the touristy stuff when I travel.

.... I really am.

I enjoy travel for all it's perks, and one of those perks is being able to be embarrassingly lame!

So in London, how do you do that?

By visiting the Tower of London!
Navigating my way through the throng of tourists was an experience in itself. I'm used to hanging around a different style of traveler. I wasn't used to the tour groups or the older crowd of couples and families.
Was it worth it?

It probably was! It was horrifyingly manufactured, but it was still something that you have to do. It's something that has been instilled in my mind since childhood through a combination of stories and nursery rhymes.
I even got to see one of the ravens!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Vertigo

Every time I travel, I seem to end up climbing up stuff.

That seems to be the fate of all tourists. To see something tall and then feel compelled to reach the top for a "better view".

It's a bizarre compulsion that never seems to arise when I'm at home, only when I'm somewhere outside of home.

In London, I found myself staring at the Monument to the Great Fire of London.
Clearly, I had to climb this.
Even though I was feeling shaky in the legs as I ascended the steps, the view was nice enough.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A bit disappointing

One of the big reasons I wanted to return to London, was the Tate Modern.

This art gallery had a major impact on me and triggered my appreciation of modern art. Since I first went to the Tate Modern, I have come to learn about the story of modern art and I have come to be inspired by how breath taking its message can be (when it is done well of course).

So I was very excited to be going back to the Tate Modern.
Walking down the Millennium Walk Bridge towards the building, I felt excited as I did when I first stepped foot inside years ago.

Down in the Turbine Hall, I wandered across what was left of "The Crack" installation that had been there previously. All that was left was the marks showing where the concrete had been filled in. It looked like a giant scar across the floor, just as had been intended by the artist.
Walking through the different halls, I was still confronted by the amazing works that had drawn me to this place.
But sadly, things were missing.
I had come at a bad time, and the new major installation hadn't been put in place yet.
Added to that, changes to the display meant that my Mondrians weren't on show and my favourite painting in the entire collection, "Night Vision" by Fiona Rae wasn't there either.

It was a bit sad actually. It just wasn't quite the same. It was like seeing a ghost of something I had once loved. A faded whisper of what was once such a loud scream in my mind.

Friday, November 11, 2011

London calling

It's nice being back in London.

It's been years since I first wandered the streets and I think in that time I've lost much of my greeness.

Seeing everything through some more mature eyes was nice.

The awestruck wonder with which I first viewed London was gone, but now I was able to appreciate it from a different light. It was a more measured view of the place and I still liked it.
Somehow, London didn't seem as "amazing" as it did to me when I first saw it. However, it seemed more like a place I could actually live as I now seemed to see more than merely the famous landmarks.

I loved the convenience of the place and how accessible everything was. Everything was just a short tube ride away, only a short walk and you could get to pretty much anything you wanted.
Not to say the sights weren't still amazing though.
Something you notice particularly as you stroll past St Paul's Cathedral.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Monday, November 07, 2011

Oh Canada

I only had a few days in Canada. But it was worth it.

I got to see Connie and her family for the first time ever!

It had been 8 years since I had seen Con, so seeing her with a young family was a pretty crazy thing.
Canada is an incredibly serene and pleasant place. It sure is cold though.
Surprisingly so in fact.

There are always stereotypes about how "nice" Canada and Canadians are, but there really is a lot of truth to it.
I even found myself some lumber jack food in the form of the "beaver tails"
What was most unexpected was the quality and the freshness of the food.

Canada is pristine and it definitely shows in the food. The salmon and the fresh produce were amazing.
However, some of my newly formed habits were difficult to break, and even in Canada, I sought out some bagels. Thankfully, I was able to satisfy my wants with the famed "Montreal bagels".

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

New York, I love you

I have never been in a city that has had such a positive impact on me.

New York is truly an amazing place.
It's a place that barely lets you rest. There is just so much to do there. Anytime you stop doing things to rest or relax, you get the uneasy feeling that you're missing out on something. It's as though the opportunity cost for rest is almost always something amazing.
This feeling definitely has an impact on you.
I was loving my holiday, but relaxation was not something I was experiencing. In fact, I was feeling more exhausted. I couldn't sit still. I had to move. I had to be outside. I had to be running from one place to another, trying to soak in as much as humanly possible in as little time as possible.
Eventually, it had to come to an end though.

Sitting on the plane as I left JFK, I couldn't stop looking out the window and feeling sad. I wanted to stay. I didn't want to go.

This was another first for me. An overwhelming feeling of despair that I was leaving a place!