Tag: Trolley

Christchurch – Everything is Going to be Alright

Christchurch – Everything is Going to be Alright

Christchurch, New Zealand – November 2, 2016

Everything is going to be alright…according to the sign on the Christchurch Art Gallery.  The neon phrase is 46 meters (151 feet) long.  One cannot miss it, particularly at night.  Unveiled in 2015 as part of the Christchurch Art Gallery reopening following the 2011 earthquake it is one of a series of neon work done by Martin Creed.

Say no more…

I was in Christchurch as part of a team preparing for the visit of Secretary of State John Kerry.  His ultimate destination was “the ice.”  He was to visit some of the facilities of the United States Antarctic Program (USAP).  The departure point for flights to the USAP McMurdo Station is a corner of the Christchurch International Airport.  The flights are on Boeing C-17 Globemaster operated by the United States Air Force.

To make sure everything was ready for his visit, the team went to the USAP offices and clothing distribution center.  Those are in buildings just across the street from the airport.  The clothing distribution center is essentially a large warehouse with all sorts of winter-weather gear.  The gear is checked out and fitted to those making the trip.  During the fitting, the travelers are given an in-depth briefing on the dangers of the Antarctic and how to deal with emergencies.

Entry to the USAP terminal.
The Clothing Distribution Center.
Poster delineating what must be worn or carried on all flights.
The various clothing items that may be issued for a trip to the “ice.”
A Boeing C17 Globemaster.
One of the airport support buildings.

Before going to the ice, the Secretary had several engagements in Christchurch. As soon as there was a decent weather-window, he and his entourage were off to the airport. It is about a five-hour flight. He was to spend at least one night there, depending on the weather at the Antarctic.
While he was gone, we spent time preparing for his return. In the off-hours, I wandered around the city, taking photographs.My restaurant of choice became The Rockpool. It is a sports bar/pool hall/restaurant. One day for lunch, I decided to have a Whitebait Butty sandwich. Whitebait is a small fish, about the size of a sardine. It is a favorite fish in New Zealand. I had wanted to try it, so I took the plunge.
The sandwich is made up of a whitebait fritter and two large, toasted, and buttered pieces of bread. The fritter is egg and the fish. I thought it was good enough; however, I do not know that I need to have another.
The Rockpool is where I had dinner with some of the team as we watched the results of the U. S. presidential race.  At many points during the meal, there were collective groans throughout the restaurant as it became apparent that Donald Trump would win the election.  The newspapers the next day demonstrated the frayed feelings of New Zealanders as it related to our new president.

The Rockpool Restaurant and Bar.
A Whitebait Butty sandwich.
The November 10, 2016 edition of the Dominion Post.
The November 10, 2016 edition of The Press.

Walking around town, one does not have to look hard to see the remnants of the February 22, 2011 earthquake. The scars from that 6.2 magnitude earthquake are everywhere in the central business district. One of the most notable, or at least the most visited, would have to be the Christchurch Cathedral. The western ¼ of the Cathedral is gone, lying in ruin on the ground. There are supports in place to keep other parts of the Cathedral from falling. Unfortunately, it is no longer a place of worship, but rather a home for pigeons. If anything, it presents an eerie, but a strong memorial to the 185 people who were killed that February afternoon.
The Cathedral Square area seems to be becoming more and more vibrant. There are several art installations and frequent visits from various food trucks. The Christchurch Tramway streetcars also have a stop at the square. That means people are always coming and going from the area.

Panorama of the damaged Christchurch Cathedral.
Flag Wall by Sara Hughes (2014) at Cathedral Square.
Chalice by Neil Dawson (2001) at Cathedral Square.
View of Planted Whare by Chris Heaphy at Cathedral Square. The word “whare” is Maori for the house.
Food trucks at Cathedral Square.

About four blocks east of the damaged Cathedral, one finds the Christchurch Transitional Cathedral.  That is the “replacement” worship space for the Anglican parish displaced by the earthquake.  Locally it is known as the “cardboard cathedral.”  That is because it is made substantially of cardboard.  It is most visible when one looks at the cylindrical forms used to support the roof.  They are quite literally forms, used when pouring concrete in the ground for footings or foundations.  It is a unique look.

The Christchurch Transitional Cathedral.
The Christchurch Transitional Cathedral.

Just a few blocks north of the Transitional Cathedral is the Firefighters Reserve, a memorial to firefighters worldwide. Its focal point is steel beams from the World Trade Center donated by the City of New York to the City of Christchurch. It is moving in its simplicity beside the Avon River.

A plaque at the Firefighters Reserve, a 9/11 Memorial. “A Tribute to Firefighters. This sculpture was designed by Graham Bennett. The steel, from the New York World Trade Center site, was gifted by the City of New York to the City of Christchurch to honor all firefighters worldwide. 26 October 2002.”
Detail of the 9/11 memorial.
Steel beams from the Twin Towers.

On one of my walks, I visited the Canterbury Museum. In 2016, Air New Zealand celebrated its 75th anniversary. To commemorate that, the museum had a special exhibit. I thought it was fascinating. As a collector-come-hoarder (some would say) I particularly liked the numerous old advertising posters. My favorite was of the plane taking off in the evening over Wellington.
There was a darker piece of the exhibit. That was the area dedicated to the tragic November 28, 1979, Antarctic flight. On that day, an Antarctic sightseeing flight from Auckland crashed on Mount Erebus. All 257 aboard were killed.

75th Anniversary sign.
A NAC plane flying over Wellington.
Memorabilia from an earlier Air New Zealand Antarctic sightseeing trip. About two and one-half years later, a sightseeing plane crashed, killing all 257 aboard.

Adjacent to the museum is the Botanical Gardens. At the entry-point, one encounters the Peacock Fountain. It is not named after the bird, but rather the man; John Thomas Peacock. Upon his death in 1905, he bequeathed a large amount of money to the Christchurch Beautifying Society. The Society used the money to install the fountain.
The 7.6 meters (25 feet) tall fountain is imposing. Erected in 1911, it was ultimately dismantled and placed in storage in 1949. Restoration efforts began in the 1980s. Very nearly half of the more than 300 pieces had to be recast. The rededication of the fountain in its current location was in 1996. It is indeed a sight worth seeing.
I found another fountain in the Gardens, the Regret Fountain. At roughly six meters (20 feet), it is not quite as tall as the Peacock Fountain, but it is impressive in its way. Sam Mahon is the fountain sculptor. The installation dates to 1997. That is a lever at the edge of the fountain beckoning people to push. When pushed, the fountain comes to life. I witnessed several people do that while I was there.

The Peacock Fountain at the Botanic Gardens.
The Regret Fountain.
Watching the Regret Fountain.
Trying out the Regret Fountain.

At the southeast corner of the park, at the end of a dirt path, is a Tudor-style house.  It is known as the Curators House and is now a restaurant.  I stopped by and noticed it was a Spanish restaurant.  That immediately put it on my list for that night’s dinner.

It was about a three-block walk from my hotel to the restaurant.  Once seated, I struck up a conversation with my server in Spanish.  She was surprised not only by me speaking Spanish, but Spanish with a Castillan accent.  That was fun to dust off my language skills.

The Curators House Restaurant.

For my starter, I had to have Patatas Bravas. Here it consisted of hand-cut potato wedges topped with spicy oven-roasted capsicum, tomato dressing, and aioli. That was one of my favorite tapas when we lived in Spain.
I followed that delicious tapa with Pescado a la Plancha (chargrilled fish). The menu described the dish as fish of the day with Canary Island style mojo verde, herbed vinaigrette, and sautéed seasonal vegetables. The fish of the day was an entire sole. It was easily the size of a dinner plate. I was not able to eat the whole serving, but what I had was so rich and delicious. I had zero room left for dessert. The walk back to the hotel helped settle my colossal meal.Later in the week, I stopped at the Christchurch Art Gallery. For such a small museum, they have an extraordinary collection. A couple of my favorites are the painting No! and the sculpture Survey #4. No! by Tony Fomison (1971) reminds me of the phrase, “talk to the hand.” Survey #4 by Peter Trevelyan (2013-2014) is impressive because the entire sculpture is made from 0.5mm mechanical pencil leads. I do not believe I could have come up with such an idea in a million years.
I also liked Portrait of O’Donnell Moffett by Rita Angus (c. 1939). I think what strikes me about that painting is the fact a copy of it appears on the wall of a building on New Regent Street. More about that soon.
On the exterior of the gallery, my two favorite pieces are Chapman’s Homer, a sculpture by Michael Parekowhai (2011).  I guess that is because the bull reminds me of Spain.  I also enjoyed the whimsical sculpture Quasi by Ronnie van Hout (2016).  Even though it is on the roof of the gallery, at five-meters (16 feet), it is easily seen from the ground.

Detail of No! by Tony Fomison (1971).
Detail of Survey #4 by Peter Trevelyan (2013-2014). It is a small sculpture made of 0.5mm mechanical pencil leads.
Detail of Portrait of O’Donnell Moffett by Rita Angus (c. 1939).
The sculpture Chapman’s Homer by Michael Parekowhai (2011).
Quasi sculpture.

About a block away from the gallery is The Arts Centre. The center is an extensive collection of neo-gothic style buildings dating from the early 20th Century. The buildings were severely damaged in the 2011 earthquake and had been undergoing painstaking restoration. The buildings were originally the University of Canterbury.

The Arts Centre building.
Stay by Sir Antony Gormley (2015).
Building on the grounds of the Arts Centre.
Detail of a stained glass window at the Arts Centre.

Maybe it is because there are a lot of buildings that no longer exist, leaving bare walls; but there is a lot of wall art in the central business district of Christchurch. They are each colorful and eye-catching in their way. One of those is the copy of the Rita Angus work on the north end of the buildings on New Regent Street. That area of two-story buildings dates to 1932. It is a genuinely colorful area of the CBD with many boutique shops and cafes. The pastel colors of the buildings repeat every fourth building. It can be a bustling area, especially when the streetcars pass along the pedestrian-friendly street.

New Regent Street looking south. Note the wall with the Portrait of O’Donnell Moffett. The original is at the Christchurch Art Gallery.
Wall art. This is on the west wall of the Isaac Theatre Royal on Gloucester Street.
Wall art detail.
Have you paid for your wall art? This was on the west wall of the abandoned building at 159 Hereford Street.
Wall art. The walls meeting in the corner is just an illusion. The wall is actually parallel to the camera.
Art on the west wall of 113 Worcester Street.

The Re:START mall is another unique feature of the post-earthquake CBD.  Since so many of the stores in the CBD were destroyed, the Re:START mall tried to pump life back into the area with stores in shipping containers.  That idea has helped keep the CBD shopping alive.  It is in a beautiful setting near the Bridge of Remembrance and the Avon River terrace seating.  There always seems to be an abundance of people in the area.

A portion of Re:START mall.
Champions mannequins are outdone by the reflection of mannequins in dresses.
The Re:START mall.
Avon River terraced seating.

One evening, even though it was raining, I went out for a photo walk. It was a little uncomfortable and challenging, but I think I got some excellent photos; mainly since I was working without a tripod.

The east side of the Bridge of Remembrance.
Quasi, a sculpture by Ronnie van Hout at the Christchurch Art Gallery.
The Worcester Boulevard bridge over the Avon River.
The Maori pouwhenua at the Christchurch City Council building. The inscription translates to the mooring post.
Koru.
A flock of Korus.
A silver fern.
Rose.
Kayakers.
Kayaks on the Avon River.
Punt boat on the Avon River.
The abandoned Harley building.
The building at 159 Oxford Terrace.
156 Oxford Terrace.
Waterwheel on the Avon River at the Hereford Street bridge.
A building being demolished across from the Cathedral.
Looking north on New Regent Street.
Building facades.
Bustling New Regent Street.
A streetcar turning onto New Regent Street.
Sidewalk cafe on New Regent Street.
A police car driving by the Cathedral.
Flag Wall.
Flag Wall and Cathedral Square.
The north wall of 156 Oxford Terrace.
A streetcar crossing the Avon River.
Detail of the Maori pouwhenua at the Christchurch City Council building.
The Firefighters Reserve.
Duck and eel.
Mamma and the babies.
Mamma and the babies II.
Mamma over the eels.
Avon River terraced seating.
Duck on the Avon.
The Avon River flowing by the Bridge of Remembrance.
The East side of the Bridge of Remembrance.
The east side of the Bridge of Remembrance.
Avon River as seen from the Manchester Street bridge.
Mural on the east wall of the UniMed building at 165 Gloucester Street.
Looking west toward the intersection of Hereford Street and Manchester Street.
The You Are Here Sign sculpture by Matt Akehurst (2011).
Side view of Quasi by Ronnie van Hout.
Detail of Chapman’s Homer.
Post-earthquake bracing.
Road Closed.
Street markings.
Sunning on the deck.
The Manchester Street bridge over the Avon River.
The Edmonds Clock Tower.
The Avon River from the Madras Street bridge.
Reflective Lullaby by Gregor Kregar (2013).
In the belly of the gnome.
The sculpture Bebop by Bill Culbert (2013) hangs over the main staircase at the Christchurch Art Gallery.
A streetcar along Worcester Boulevard.
NAC, the National Airways Corporation, was the forerunner to Air New Zealand.
A 1970’s Tahiti poster.
A TEAL poster with Maori designs.
A TEAL poster.
Travel posters from days gone by.
Entry to the Canterbury Museum.
Spring flowers.
The sculpture, Reasons for Voyaging by Graham Bennett (2007).
The back side of the elevator structure for the Christchurch Art Gallery parking garage.
Wreaths at the base of the Bridge of Remembrance.
View toward the west side of the Christchurch Cathedral.
The lobby of the Christchurch Art Gallery.
The sculpture Bebop by Bill Culbert (2013) hangs over the main staircase at the Christchurch Art Gallery.
Detail of In the Wizard’s Garden by George Dunlop Leslie (c. 1904).
Detail of La Lecture de la Bible by Henriette Browne (1857).
Detail of Soldiers in a Village by Joost Droochsloot (c. 1640).
Detail of Cottage Interior with Kitchen Maid artist unknown (c. 1660).
An abandoned building at the corner of Worcester Boulevard and Cambridge Terrace.
The Worcester Boulevard bridge over the Avon River.
Columns in front of the Christchurch Returned and Services’ Association. Gallipoli and Chunuk Bair are both sites in Turkey from WWI.
The wall of remembrance at the Christchurch Returned and Services’ Association.
Quasi, a sculpture by Ronnie van Hout at the Christchurch Art Gallery.
Directions and a bull on the piano.
Everything is going to be alright…
The Maori pouwhenua at the Christchurch City Council building.
The Worcester Boulevard bridge over the Avon River.
Hereford Street bridge over the Avon River.
The west side of the Bridge of Remembrance.
The office building housing the United States Antarctic Program.
Apparently, it is everywhere…

TranzAlpine Train & Christchurch

TranzAlpine Train & Christchurch

Christchurch, New Zealand – February 23, 2016

We departed Greymouth at about 14:30, some 40 minutes late. We were on-board the KiwiRail, TranzAlpine train, heading to Christchurch. It is called the TranzAlpine because it bisects the South Island of New Zealand, going over and through the Southern Alps. Our impending journey was about four hours long.  We were all excited for the penultimate portion of our tour of the South Island.

Two passengers ready for the journey.
Two more passengers…

Our seats were in carriage H, the last enclosed carriage of the train. Behind carriage, H followed the last carriage of the train, the observation carriage. The unique thing about the observation carriage was that it was completely open. There was nothing to come between the camera and the photo. I spent more than half of the four-hour journey standing up in the observation carriage. When the tracks turned just right, I could capture the front of the train.
While not having any glass to introduce glare into my photographs was nice, the observation carriage came with its own set of challenges. First of all, when the train was moving at full-speed, I had to mind my cap. With the wind blasting in from both sides, it could have quickly relieved me of my cherished hat. Secondly, moving that fast, I estimate 100 to 120 kilometers per hour (62 to 75 mph), it was challenging to keep one’s balance. I know that added some camera shake to many of my photographs. Regardless, it was an exhilarating experience.

Watching the sites fly by.

The trip is not an express, stopping at seven small towns between Greymouth and Christchurch. The stops include Kokiri, Moana, Otira, Arthur’s Pass, Springfield, Darfield, and Rolleston. At times, the tracks paralleled a road. At other times, the train tracks were the only thing to be seen in the valley. Frequently, the train traveled parallel to streams and rivers. It is incredible to me to see how clear the water is in New Zealand. It is so clear that it makes it very difficult to fly fish. The fish can easily see when someone approaches.

Crystal clear stream.
Crystal clear stream II.

Each passenger received a set of earphones. I did not use them; I was too busy going back and forth to the observation carriage. Lorraine thought the narrative available through the earphones enhanced the journey. The narrator shared history and tidbits of information all along the route.

Listening to the narrative while on the journey.

The town of Otira is at the entrance to the Otira Tunnel. On the Christchurch side of the tunnel is the village of Arthur’s Pass. The tunnel is just over five miles long. Part of the reason for the stop at Otira is to couple an additional engine to the rear of the train. The reason for the second engine is safety. In case there is a problem in the tunnel, the engines can pull the train to safety, regardless of which direction. The trip from Otira to Arthur’s Pass has a gain in altitude of over 800 feet. While Baldwin Street is steeper at 1:5 (see blog entry Otago & Olveston), the pitch of the tunnel is 1:33. Opened in 1923, the tunnel was the seventh-longest tunnel in the world at that time. The observation carriage was closed during the trip through the tunnel.

The train stopped on the Arthur’s Pass side of the tunnel, to allow the uncoupling of the second engine.

Preparing to couple onto the rear of the train at Otira.
Otira depot.
A colorful building in Otira.

With all the stops and because of our late departure, we were an hour late arriving in Christchurch. We disembarked and walked to the front of the train to retrieve our baggage. My bag was the absolute last one to come off the train. The last bag in hand; we walked outside the station. We abruptly discovered taxis were scarce. Many of the taxi drivers tired of waiting for the late train. They departed to find other fares. That left 30 or 40 passengers waiting for taxis. One by one, taxis dribbled back to the station and loaded with crankier and crankier passengers. I do not think we were grumpy, but I know we were thrilled when we were finally able to get in a taxi.
Unfortunately, I was not familiar that Corporate Cabs operates in Christchurch. Had I known, I could have made a reservation ahead of time. That would have meant a cab would be there waiting for us regardless of our arrival time. Oh well, live and learn!On our way to the Ibis Christchurch hotel, I asked our driver if he had been in Christchurch when the big earthquake struck February 22, 2011. He said he was. Liquefaction destroyed his home. As we drove along, it was apparent that Christchurch was not back to 100 percent. Many buildings still stood damaged. The driver said that wherever there was a vacant lot, there had been a structure there before the earthquake.
I felt sad for and about the city. It seemed to be only a shell of its former self. The central business district should have been bustling with people, business, and commerce. It was not; it just seemed to be “existing.”
By the time we made it to the hotel, we were all tired and hungry. We checked-in tossed our bags in our rooms and made a beeline for the hotel restaurant.
The next morning, after breakfast, we were ready to explore Christchurch. Just around the corner from the hotel is the Christchurch Anglican Cathedral. Construction on the Cathedral began in 1864. It took 40 years to complete. The 2011 earthquake partially destroyed the Cathedral in a matter of seconds. Indecision and inaction, except for some bracing and some screening fencing, means it remains in a state of disrepair. It was sad to see it in that condition.

The earthquake damaged the cathedral.
Into the damage…

Very near the Cathedral, we discovered the Christchurch Tramway. The Tramway is public transportation utilizing restored streetcars dating from the early 20th Century. The tickets we purchased allowed us to use the Tramway throughout the day.

Another of the Christchurch streetcars.

We got off the Tramway at the Canterbury Museum. The main building of the museum dates from 1870. There have been some building additions since then.
Our first stop in the museum was the Christchurch Street area. The area housed multiple storefronts reminiscent of the 1870s Christchurch. Each of the storefronts contained period artifacts. We truly got the feeling of walking in Christchurch in the late 19th Century. One exit from the Christchurch Street exhibit led directly into an old gallery area containing 19th Century costumes and decorative arts.
One of the unique exhibits in the museum is the Paua Shell House that has some actual portions of and furniture from a real home in Bluff, New Zealand. Fred and Myrtle Flutely covered their home in Bluff, inside and out, with paua shells. Leslie and I both like paua shells. They are beautiful; however, I think we will stop short of doing our house up with the shells. It took Fred and Myrtle 40 years to cover the home. I am sure it was a real conversation piece while it was located in Bluff.

The Canterbury Museum.
Out for a ride.
In the peloton…
Paua shells.

Departing the museum, we boarded the Tramway again. This time we got off on the famous New Regent Street. The street is a block-long collection of pastel-colored two-story buildings, dating from the mid-1930s. The ground level shops were a mixture of coffee shops, cafés, and boutiques. After walking the city for a while, it was back on the Tramway.

A streetcar on New Regent Street.

Our next stop was the Christchurch Art Gallery. Since it was lunchtime, we first stopped at the Fiddlesticks Restaurant and Bar that is directly across the street.

Detail of Ana Reupene Whetuki and Child (Ngati Maru) by Gottfried Lindauer (1880).

There is an outstanding collection of art in the gallery. From the second floor, one can see the Maori totem in front of Christchurch City Hall from a window. When we left the museum, Hillary was able to pose with her best haka face in front of the totem.
After the haka pose, we waited across from the museum for the next Tramway. After 15 minutes, we still had not seen a Tram. I finally called the Tramway company. The person that answered the phone told me the Tram was no longer running that day because of issues beyond their control. We discovered later that the track along New Regent Street was closed. Some newly discovered earthquake damage on one of the buildings caused the closure. I certainly did not notice anything dangerous about the premises while we were there earlier in the day. But then again, I was not looking for anything. After hearing that news, we strolled back to the hotel for some well-deserved naps.

From one tiki to another…
Posing in front of the Maori pouwhenua at the Christchurch City Council building.

When we woke up, we had one more stop we wanted to make, the “Container Mall.” The actual name of the development is Re: START Mall.  A few blocks from our hotel, this area is several retail stores housed in uniquely positioned metal shipping containers. The idea is to replace temporarily the shopping spaces damaged or demolished because of the 2011 earthquake. I have certainly never seen another mall like that one.

I could not keep the earthquake out of my mind.  The ground on which the mall is situated was no doubt the location of multiple buildings; buildings that were destroyed and subsequently razed.  Colorful paint on many of the containers made the setting a little less industrial.  Additionally, there were several pieces of whimsical art throughout the mall.

View of the Re:START Mall from above.

The shopping was uneventful. None of us purchased anything. We strolled back to the hotel and prepared for our departure from Christchurch the next day.
After a leisurely breakfast and morning, we hailed a taxi and headed to the Christchurch airport. The airport was rehabbed after the 2011 earthquake. Our wait went like clockwork, taking off on time.
The flight was uneventful. It was a little bumpy on our approach into Wellington; however, it was not as bad as the first day Leslie, and I arrived a few months ago.

The train on a left bend.
Off into the distance.
At times, there seemed to be a lot of nothingness.
The train on the right bend.
A weathered peak.
Looking forward from the observation car.
A desolate mountain.
Closer view of the mountain peaks and river.
Looking down into a valley and at the river.
Mountain peaks.
Majestic mountains.
View up a valley.
A home at Otira.
Otira homes and a playground.
Homes across from the depot at Otira.
The stream running along the valley floor.
The meandering stream bed.
The train making a fairly tight left turn.
The Grey River near Greymouth.
The rail behind.
A dam on the Grey River.
A small lake by the tracks.
The stream feeding the small lake.
Limbs
Geese
Making a left.
The Grey River on a gray day.
A wide valley.
Colorful building in Otira.
The Otira market building.
Awaiting the arrival at the Otira depot.
One of the Christchurch streetcars.
Art in the Re: START Mall.
A woman and her dog.
Infinite definite.
A woman feeding cats.
Photo and mural.
A double-decker container coffee shop.
Colorful panels at the cathedral.
A cairn near the cathedral.
Riding in a streetcar.
View toward the front of a streetcar.
Contemplating the ride.
A group of school children preparing to enter the Canterbury Museum.
A corrugated car.
Detail of the paua shells.
Antarctic cat.
A sarcophagus with very detailed painting.
The Peacock Fountain.
The pastel facades that are New Regent Street.
Crossing to the sunny side.
At the end of New Regent Street.
A long, lost family business…NOT!!
The south end of New Regent Street.
Passengers in a streetcar.
The main streetcar stop at the end of New Regent Street.
The opening to New Regent Street.
Looking in the opposite direction from the New Regent Street stop.
Watch out for the toro.
Detail of Cass by Rita Angus (1936).
Modular 3, Series 2 by Ray Thornburn (1970).
Detail of Pip & Pop: The newest new wold.
Detail of Clearing up After the Rain, Foot of Otira Gorge by John Gibb (1887).
Detail of The Dutch Funeral by Petrus van der Velden (1875).
Povi Christkeke by Michael Tuffery (1999).
Detail of Povi Christkeke by Michael Tuffery (1999).
My Sister, My Self by Michael Parekowhai (2006).
Bull on the piano.
Detail of The Physician by Gerrit Dou (1653).
Museum stairs.
Detail of the bull on the piano.
Museum lobby.
Helsinki

Helsinki

Helsinki, Finland – July 15, 2015

As the Regal Princess slipped into the Port of Helsinki, we could tell we were in for an exceedingly beautiful day. The sky had barely any clouds, just a fantastic azure color. The port was bustling. Large ferries came and frequently went to other ports in the Baltic.

The Princess Anastasia is a ferry. It can carry 2,500 passengers in a combination of seating and 834 cabins. There is a deck that holds 580 cars.

Arrangements by the cruise line included a shuttle bus. For 10€, we had roundtrip transportation from the port to a bus stop near the corner of Erottajank and Bulevarden. Lorraine and Arlene made arrangements for a tour of the city.

A rather unique bicycle rack on the road near where our bus dropped us off.

Leslie and I opted to see some sights on foot.
Once we got our bearings, Leslie and I began our stroll to the Helsinki Cathedral at Senate Square. We entered the west end of the Esplanadi, a park-like area about four blocks in length. The east end of Esplanadi is at Market Square. Along the road on the north side of the Esplanadi are all the high-end stores like Louis Vuitton. There were several bronze statues throughout the park. In the center of the park, the wide walkway is gravel.

Statues in the park.
A walk in the park.

At Unioninkatu we turned to the north. As we neared the end of the first block, we got our first glimpse of the Helsinki Cathedral at Senate Square. On the corner, just across from Senate Square, we found a souvenir shop. Yes, we bought another magnet.
After the magnet purchase, we crossed the street to Senate Square. The mid-19t h Century Helsinki Cathedral dominates the north side of the Square. There are 52 steps leading up from the Square to the Cathedral. In front of the stairs was a large portable stage. The Square teamed with several cheerleading squads, obviously preparing to perform on the stage. We saw a couple of different crews practicing in the Square.
Given the number of steps, Leslie decided to sit at the base of the stairs and watch the cheerleading squads while I went to view the Cathedral.  I ascended the stairs and found the main entrance on the west side of the Cathedral.

This is the Cathedral of the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of Helsinki.
A Swede posing on the steps of a Finnish Cathedral.
One of the minor domes of the Cathedral behind a statue of Peter.
View of the main dome of the Cathedral. The statue is of the Apostle Thomas.

The exterior of the Cathedral is all white with six columns holding the four pediments above each side. The top of the Cathedral has a large green dome adorned with a gold orb and cross. Four smaller domes with similar balls and crosses surround the central dome. The peak and two edges of each of the pediments are the bases for three statues.
It was hard to miss all of the gymnasts in the plaza next to the Cathedral. We found out the 15th Annual World Gymnaestrada. This is a gymnastic event held every four years. In Helsinki, there were 21,000 entrants from 55 countries.

Two groups of gymnasts practicing before one of the competitions for the 15th Annual World Gymnaestrada. There are a total of 55 countries and 21,000 gymnasts competing.
A ground view of the two practicing squads of gymnasts.
The steps of the Cathedral are pulling double duty as seating for the gymnast competition.
Some additional practice.
A slight hop in the routine.

The interior is quite Spartan. The chandeliers, altar, and pipe organ were all beautiful; but, other than some statues, there was not much decoration. Much like the encounter with the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, when I entered the Cathedral, I found myself saying, “That’s it?” With all of the hype, I was expecting a wonderfully decorated church. Instead, there was hardly any decoration inside. I was glad I did not have to pay to go inside the Cathedral.

Inside the Cathedral. The main aisle leads toward the altar.
The altar in the Cathedral.
Detail of the painting at the altar in the Cathedral.
The pipe organ in the Cathedral’s choir loft.
In a niche of the Cathedral, one finds a statue of Martin Luther.

Exiting the Cathedral, I noticed a smaller white building at the southwest corner of the Cathedral property. As I got closer, I saw it was the gift shop for the Cathedral. Inside I saw some lovely handmade crosses that I thought would go well in Leslie’s cross collection. Instead of just buying one, I walked down the stairs and told her what I discovered. She decided to walk up the 52 stairs with me and look at the gift shop. She did find a cross she liked. The gift shop also sold coffee. We decided to have a cup of coffee at the small table outside, and people watch.

I guess the sign outside the gift shop says it all.

Finished with our coffee, we decided to walk downhill to the Market Square. We chose Katrinegatan for our one-block walk to the Square. We saw an interesting store, Made by Helsinki, and decided to go inside. Local artisans made everything inside. Everything from jewelry to pottery and clothing was on display. We found some wooden Christmas ornaments that, when assembled, were three-dimensional. We bought three, one for Lorraine, one for Arlene, and one for us.

On Sofiankatu looking north toward the Cathedral.

There were many people in Market Square, each going from vendor tent to vendor tent. Leslie and I each bought a Finland t-shirt. Although the designs were different, each had the words “Finland” and “Suomi” emblazoned on the front.  I asked one of the vendors what Suomi meant.  He said it is the name of their country in Finnish.

The rather crowded market square. This is where we scored our Finnish t-shirts.

From the Market, we began to walk west toward the high-end shops. I wanted to find the littala glass store. I read a lot about the glass factory in the Lonely Planet guide to Helsinki. We found the store, but quickly decided it was not for us.
We emerged from littala and hailed a cab. We headed to the Museum of Contemporary Art (Nykytaiteen Museo Kiasma). American architect Steven Holl designed the modern-style building, apparently much to the chagrin of many Finns.
The building is striking, finished in 1998. Entry to the museum was 12€ per person.
We decided to start on the fifth floor and work our way down to the ground floor. One of the first exhibits we saw on the fifth floor was Think of One Thing by Mariele Neudecker. There were several clear plastic cubes, each containing a mountaintop poking above clouds. They each looked very realistic. Another unique piece we saw was the “wind” drawings. The artist (I forgot to write down the name) attached a pen to the branch of a tree or bush. The pen rests against a piece of paper, making marks as the wind blows. The artist did something similar with photographs and light, but I could not figure out the logistics of those.

Think of One Thing.
Think of One Thing detail.
Branch drawing by the wind.

On the fourth floor, we both thoroughly enjoyed the exhibit Face to Face. That is where we saw works such as Scarlet, Villu’s Portrait, Jack, Topless Compact, and Michael. Possibly the oddest work was Michael. It is a video made in 2015 by Iraqi artist Adel Abidin. The video depicts a fictional interview with Michael Jackson when he returns from death, complete with screaming fans in Times Square.

The ramp from the fifth floor to the Face to Face exhibit.
Face to Face. Note Leslie in one of the mirrors.
Detail of the Face to Face exhibit.
Scarlet by Stiina Saaristo (2004).
Villu’s Portrait by Berit Talpsepp-Jaanisoo (2015).
Jack by Juha Hälikkä (2009).
One scene from the Michael Jackson video.

Except for the Andy Warhol and the Yoko Ono photographs, neither of us liked the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit on the third floor.

Andy Warhol and Yoko Ono.

When we left the museum, we walked about a block and one-half to the central Helsinki train station. I wanted to see it because of the art deco styling of the building. We found a place to sit and have a beer. Leslie stayed there while I ran around taking various photos of the station.

A view of the Central Train Station.
The Central Train Station dates from 1919.
Detail of the statues holding lights at the Central Train Station.
A stop for a well-deserved refreshment. It is entirely possible that these glasses became Finnish souvenirs.

After the beer, we continued walking to the south. Ultimately, we knew we would end up at the bus stop from this morning so we could make it back to the ship. We stopped at the Virgin Oil Co., a restaurant, to eat lunch. We shared a pizza and had a Koff beer. This building also had art deco styling, including some art deco statues.
Sitting at the Virgin Oil Co., I noticed an advertising sign touting the grapefruit and cucumber Crook’s Head Dram… no, thank you. I will stick with beer or wine. I will keep my fruits and vegetables separated if you do not mind!

What?? Another beer?? Note the smile!!
Some of the statues adorning the building at the Virgin Oil Company.
I like grapefruit and cucumbers; however, I do not need them in my alcoholic drink…
A family waiting for a table at the sidewalk cafe.

From lunch, we walked the final two blocks to the bus stop. There was a bus there, so we were able to board and sit down immediately. Across the street, I saw an El Jeffe sign. I had to snap a photo of that since that is how my team in Madrid referred to me. At the same spot was the Erottaja Bar. While that may sound like the word “erotic,” it is a nod to the name of the street, Erottajank.

I had to capture “El Jeffe.”
If my Finnish is correct, Erottaja translates to Separator.

The bus deposited us back at the dock within about 15 minutes. There was a large tent under which were more vendors. We bought a couple of packages of some type of rye cracker. It ended up that Leslie did not like them at all. I thought they were good. There was a photo of a statue with the face cut out. Leslie was a good sport, allowing me to make her crazy photograph there.

My very own Finnish (Swedish) goddess!

Coincidentally, Lorraine and Arlene were there too. After we all had our fill of looking, it was back on board to relax and wait for the second formal night for dinner. While Leslie and I waited, I sat on our balcony and took photos as the ship departed Helsinki. The most striking thing I saw was Pihlajasaaren Beach. It is located on a small island just about a half-mile from the mouth of the port. The colorful beach cabanas are what made it so picturesque. While we passed the beach, I found it surprising the number of seagulls flying beside the ship as we sailed. I heard the captain on the intercom warn the passengers that it was illegal according to maritime law to feed the seagulls from the boat.

A view of the island of Pihlajasaari as we departed Helsinki.
A seagull gliding by the ship.
Seagulls by the dozen followed the ship for a long way.

Leslie and I dressed for dinner. We sat and had a glass of wine, overlooking the piazza area of the ship where a quartet was performing. The ensemble was there every evening, just before the first dinner seating. When we finished, we went into the dining room to meet Lorraine and Arlene for another of our delicious meals.

Still in love after all these years.
Our cruising companions ready for a wonderful dinner.
Dockside photographer.
As we were departing Helsinki, this seagull showed up on top of one of the lifeboats with its dinner.
Vehicles and a trolley are stopped, waiting for the green light.
A beautiful bas-relief on the frieze of the National Library of Finland across the street from the Cathedral.
The cobblestone street in front of the Cathedral plaza.
A trolley operator in the old-town area of Helsinki.
The Russian Orthodox Uspenski Cathedral.
Colorful, but empty, chairs at a sidewalk cafe.
A family out for a stroll.
Motorcycle parking.
The Canadian coat of arms at Pohjoisesplanadi 25, the location of the Canadian Embassy in Helsinki.
Flowers in a planter above the entry to the Helsinki City Hall.
Corrugated cardboard tubes.
Corrugated cardboard tubes detail.
Exhibits on the fifth floor.
Corrugated cardboard tubes close-up detail.
Horizons sculpture.
The Helsinki Music Center as seen from the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma.
Skateboard ramp outside the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma.
Corrugated cardboard tube sculpture.
A side view of Villu’s Portrait by Berit Talpsepp-Jaanisoo (2015).
Detail of Jack by Juha Hälikkä (2009).
A piece from Come back – Stay – Go – Talk to me by Tracey Emin (1998).
Seat and shadows. A sitting area in the museum.
Seat and shadows with a view to the outside.
Handful of Empties by Käsi Tyhjiä Täynnä (2013).
Four Seasons Suite, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter by Ismo Kajander (1975-1992).
A ramp to level 2.
A red moto parked outside.
Ramps and stairs.
The museum gift shop.
Ikea!!
A trolley preparing to stop in front of the train station.
The main entrance to the train station.
Two of the 21,000 gymnasts from 55 countries attending the 15th World Gymnaestrada in Helsinki.
Bicycles crowd the side entry to the Central Train Station.
Bicycles seem to be strewn everywhere.
Just watching the hustle and bustle.
A young traveler.
Checking the phone.
Locking a bike at the metro station.
A very yellow maintenance trolley.
The Stockmann department store.
Pedestrians crossing from McDonald’s.
People waiting in queue for a drink.
Pedestrians crossing from McDonald’s.
A busy sidewalk cafe.
Two pedestrians passing by the sidewalk cafe.
A very busy part of Helsinki.
Stopped for ice cream while walking the dog.
A memorial at a Helsinki roundabout.
There may have been more bicycles in Helsinki than there were in Copenhagen.
An operator of the number 3 trolley line.
A wider view of the number 3 trolley.
A lovely park as seen from the bus on the way back to the cruise ship.
The endless geometry of construction.
A sailboat slipping by the cruise ship as we departed Helsinki.
A panoramic view of the Helsinki port.
A ferry and a cruise ship in the port.
A view back to the port.
Other ships navigating around the rocks on the approach to the Helsinki port.
The rocky end of the island of Pihlajasaari.
Looking back toward Helsinki across the island of Pihlajasaari.
A final view of the very busy port.
A lot of people enjoy a summer day on the island of Pihlajasaari.
A passing sailboat with the flag of Denmark flying at the stern.
A Viking Line ship negotiating the arrival to the Helsinki port.
The Helsinki skyline. The white dome to the left is the Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral. The twin spires to the right of the Cathedral are of the St. John Lutheran Church.
Heading back out to the Baltic Sea.
Another sailboat passes the cruise ship. This one has a Finnish flag at the stern.
A view of the string quartet on the ship.
A closer view of the string ensemble.
Ready for dinner.
The “ready for dinner” portrait.
The couple from Islamabad.
St. Petersburg (Санкт-Петербург)

St. Petersburg (Санкт-Петербург)

St. Petersburg, Russian Federation – July 13, 2015

We docked at St. Petersburg, Russia this morning. At breakfast, Leslie and I commented that we would never have guessed we would ever visit Russia, but here we are!
This morning, we were part of orange group #1, our tour group for our visit to the Hermitage Museum. Before we got on the bus, we all had to go through passport control. It was not necessarily a breeze. The immigration officer looked closely at us. She even motioned to my passport photo in which I sported a goatee and then pointed at my now clean-shaven face. In addition to our passports, she also demanded to see our ship excursion tickets. Those essentially acted as our Russian visas. Ultimately, even though she seemed a little cranky, she did stamp both of our passports. We thought it was cool getting that entry stamp.
Leslie, Lorraine, Arlene, and I boarded the tour bus. Leslie and I lucked out and got two of the front seats. That made it helpful for taking photos on the way. It was one of several buses lined up at the cruise depot. By 09:00, we began our journey to the museum. On the way, our guide told us St. Petersburg enjoys only about 60 days of sunshine each year. That is precisely the opposite of Colorado, which enjoys approximately 300 days of sun each year. Our day was nice. It was not until later in the day when we returned to the ship that we encountered some raindrops.

All of the buses…
Buses…buses…buses!
Color on the other side of the international border. The colors are beside the ship. Standing on this side of the barrier with the buses, one is in the Russian Federation.
The business end of our Russian tour bus.

After about 30 minutes on the bus, we arrived at the museum. The Louvre in Paris, France, has long been my favorite museum, but that may be in jeopardy now. At the Hermitage, in addition to the museum, one also walks through an awe-inspiring palace. The other fact that sways me is that one of my favorite paintings is at the Hermitage, The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt. The only downside is the size of the exhibit area does not comfortably allow for viewing when the museum is crowded.

The green building is our first glimpse of the State Hermitage Museum, also known as the Winter Palace.
The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt (1663-1669). I got this view as our tour group walked by the portrait on their way to another.
Just before we left the Rembrandt room, the guide gave some insight into my favorite painting by the artist.

When we arrived, our guide shared that we were in luck. We were entering the museum about an hour before it opened to the public. That meant we had many portions of the museum virtually to ourselves. That worked out well for my photography.

The worn, bilingual sign near the entrance.

The museum is just over 250 years old, founded by Catherine the Great. The palace consists of six different buildings. We walked through five of them; the Winter Palace, Small Palace, Old Hermitage, New Hermitage, and the Hermitage Theater. The buildings total over 2.5 million square feet of space. The ornate decorations in each building and the displayed artwork are just incredible.
We entered the museum through the main Winter Palace door facing the Neva River. It took a little while to get our entire group through the turnstiles; however, once we did, we met the very ornate staircase known as the Ambassadors’ Stairs. When an ambassador visited the Tsar or Empress, they ascended the Ambassador’s Stairs. I am unclear on whether the audience took place in the Peter the Great Throne Room or the St. George Hall. Regardless, they were both stunning spaces.

The Hermitage Museum seems to stretch on forever.
Detail of the pediment above the main entrance to the Hermitage Museum.
At the base of the Ambassadors Staircase, a name used in the 1700s.
A marble statue in a niche on the upper portion of the Ambassadors Staircase.
The columns at the top of the Ambassadors Staircase.
The second landing of the Ambassadors Staircase.
A ceiling fresco above the Ambassadors Staircase.
The tour group ascending the Ambassadors Staircase.
A marble statue in a niche along the Ambassadors Staircase.
The first landing of the Ambassadors Staircase.
Marble sculptures near the top of the Ambassadors Staircase.
Our guide explains many of the features of the Ambassadors Staircase.

Departing the upper landing of the Ambassadors Staircase, we entered the Field Marshal’s Room. While it was impressive, it may have been the least remarkable space we saw that day. One may come to that opinion simply because the decorations are quite muted, not so ornate, and over the top, as some of the other spaces in the museum.
Most notable in the Field Marshal’s Room is the massive chandeliers. They each weigh a jaw-dropping two tons; 4,000 pounds! Several members of our group stood under the lights until our guide related that the chandeliers did fall once. That was enough to get everyone to clear the space.

The Field Marshal’s Room.
A vase in the Field Marshal’s Room.
A portrait of Field Marshal-General His Serene Highness Prince Tavrichesky Count Grigory Alexandrovich Potemkin.

The Peter the Great Throne Room was a little more intimate than the vast expanse of the St. George Hall. The throne room had an intricate parquet and wood inlaid floor. The walls were a warm, but dark red. That red echoed in the throne dais carpet and the upholstery of the throne itself, displaying the double-headed imperial eagle on the back, an imposing figure. The ceiling consisted of arches and coffers with hints of gold leaf. It was elegant.

The throne in the small throne room of Peter the Great. The painting behind the throne chair is Peter I with Minerva dating between 1732 and 1734. The columns are made of jasper.
The parquet inlaid floor in the Small Throne Room.
The throne chair. I believe I prefer my recliner…

Leaving the Small Throne Room, we walked into the amazingly ornate Armorial Hall. The amount of gold in the hall defies description.  There was so much gold in the room that there was a gold hue throughout.
At one part of the hall, one could see through the doorway toward the throne in the St. George Hall. It is hard to imagine the numbers of staff that must have been required to make this Winter Palace a place to live and receive guests. Had I been alive in that era and in the St. Petersburg area, I am more than confident I would have never been able to set foot in the palace.
Comparing the Winter Palace living areas to the Napoleon Apartment in the Louvre in Paris is like comparing Versailles to a studio apartment in New York City. There is just no possible comparison between the two.

The Armorial Hall. By the way, all that glitters IS gold!
The Capture of Berlin on 28 September 1760 by Alexander Kotzebue (1849) in the Armorial Hall.
A very ornate lamp.
A view into the St. George Hall.
The aventurine lapidary in the Armorial Hall. Across the top of the lapidary, one can catch a glimpse of the throne in the St. George Hall.
Some of the golden columns of the Armorial Hall.
A marble sculpture in the Armorial Hall.

Even though we could see the throne in the St. George Hall, there was yet one more room to traverse; the Military Gallery. It is a long, narrow room. It is sometimes referred to as the War Gallery of 1812. The walls have dozens of paintings, all approximately the same size, of war heroes involved in the defeat of Napoleon. The entire tour group made quick work of the visit and moved on the hall.

Another tour guide leading her group through the Military Gallery.
Emperor Alexander I on his steed. The painting is in the Military Gallery. Equestrian Portrait of Alexander I by Franz Krüger (1837).
The bas relief above the door from the Military Gallery to St. George Hall.

The St. George Hall was an immense and massive space of approximately 800 square meters. That translates to about 8,500 square feet. That is more than three times the size of the average American home. A large dais, throne, and canopy dominated the east end of the hall. The throne seemed to be an exact duplicate of the throne in the Small Throne Room, including the imperial eagle. Behind the throne hung a large red banner from the canopy with an equally large imperial eagle. The ornate white and gilded ceiling soared two-stories above the floor.
Leaving St. George Hall, our group wound through some smaller spaces, ultimately stopping in Pavilion Hall. Intimate and two-stories do not necessarily go together, but this space was genuinely intimate. Dominating this hall is the 18th-Century Gold Peacock Clock. The clock is behind a glass covering. The peacock is life-size, as well as the cockerel and the owl. With such large creatures in the clock, one might think the clock face is large too, wrong. The hidden clock face is actually in a small mushroom. The automated birds originally went through a series of movements every hour. My understanding is that the clock now moves only a few times a year. That is to keep from wearing out the mechanical parts. Even though we did not see it move, it was an impressive piece.

The Peacock Clock in the Pavilion Hall dates from the 1770s.
One of our tour group members getting a closeup of the Peacock Clock.
Chandeliers in the Pavilion Hall.
The Peacock Clock.
Mosaic floor in the Pavilion Hall.
Detail of the mosaic floor in the Pavilion Hall.
Courtyard off the Pavilion Hall.
A sculpture in the courtyard titled “America.”
View from the Pavilion Hall across the Neva River to the Peter and Paul Fortress.

We ended up in the Old Dutch Masters area shortly after leaving Pavilion Hall. That is where we began seeing painters copying various paintings. They had easels, stools, and drop cloths set up. We quickly saw a dozen or more painters. Our guide shared that it was a big test for the art students through one of the local universities. I could barely take photographs of the paintings; I know there is no way I could copy one with a brush. Their talent was amazing.

This art student was copying Haman Recognizes His Fate by Rembrandt (circa 1665).
Ready to apply the paint at just the right spot.
Mixing paint.
Another view of the student copying Haman Recognizes His Fate by Rembrandt (circa 1665).
The unknown art student was copying Portrait of an Old Man in Red by Rembrandt (circa 1652-1654).
This view provides an idea of how each artist set up so as to not make a mess.
The tour group went from alcove to alcove, listening to our guide. We entered the display at the far end. That is where The Return of the Prodigal Son hangs, just out of view.
A closer view of the artist at work.
This art student is copying the Holy Family by Rembrandt (1645).

Our next viewing was the Italian Renaissance area of the museum.  Below are some of the works that caught my attention.  In this area of the museum, we found more art students copying paintings.

Madonna with Child and Two Angels by Paolo di Giovanni Fei (circa 1385).
A chandelier near the theater.
Another painting on the ceiling near the theater.
A painting on the roof near the theater.
Our guide describing an unknown painting.
This art student was copying The Madonna and Child (The Litta Madonna) by Leonardo da Vinci (circa 1495).
A stop in the Hall of Italian Renaissance Art.
This art student was copying a painting in the Hall of Italian Renaissance Art.
This art student is copying Portrait of a Lady by Lorenzo Costa (circa 1506).
The Nativity by Giovanni Della Robbia an example of 16th Century Italian majolica pottery.
An anteroom and chandelier near the theater.

Another unusual feature of the Hermitage is the Raphael Loggia. It is a relatively narrow hall, but it is around 20 feet tall. Some call the loggia Raphael’s Bible. That is because Raphael painted several stories from the Bible in this loggia.

The Raphael Loggia.
Detail over a door from the Raphael Loggia.
Detail of the ceiling from the Raphael Loggia.
Detail from the Raphael Loggia.
Our guide in the Raphael Loggia.
Detail from the Raphael Loggia.
Detail from the Raphael Loggia.

Below, in no particular order, are some of the other sights we saw in the Hermitage Museum.  The narrative continues well below the photos.

Another ornate ceiling.
A row of chairs in the Small Italian Skylight Room.
An art lover in the Small Italian Skylight Room.
Our guide imparting information in the Small Italian Skylight Room.
Martyrdom of St Peter by Caravaggio (circa 1601).
The beauty of the Small Italian Skylight Room.
The Mystical Marriage of Saint Catherine by Domenico Beccafumi (1521).
Madonna with Beardless St. Joseph by Raphael (1506).
An art student copying an unknown work in the Small Italian Skylight Room.
Death of Adonis by Giuseppe Mazzuola (1700-1709).
Portrait of Doña Antonia Zárate by Goya (1810-1811).
An unknown art student’s copy of Boy with a Dog by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (circa 1655-1659).
This art student is copying the Repentance of Saint Peter.
Our guide was very knowledgeable.
The base of a lamp.
An unknown art student’s copy in progress of the Battle Between the Lapiths and Centaurs by Luca Giordano (circa 1688).
Meeting of Joachim and Anne near the Golden Gate by Paolo de San Leocadio (circa 1500).
Another detailed ceiling.
The Doctor’s Visit by Jan Steen (Circa 1660).
Marriage Contract by Jan Steen (circa 1668).
Detail of the large vase.
A large vase.
A small, but beautiful chandelier.
Smokin’ !!
Fruit and a Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem (1655).
Esther in Front of Ahasuerus by Valentin Lefevre (circa 1675-1699).
Yet another chandelier.
This painting of Jesus entering Jerusalem caught my eye.
Inlays on the side of a table.
Some very ornate chairs.
Detail of a light fixture.