Browsing Tag

Museums

Museums, Travel, UK

A Tour of the Tate Modern in London

July 31, 2017

Tate Modern

People keep asking me what I am going to do London for a month, I respond, “See all the museums!” In order to do that you have to get started right away. I probably won’t review each one I visit individually, but the Tate Modern needed its own post as it is quite large.

Now I am not a huge fan of modern art. However, two years ago when I attended the Venice Biennale I had a change of heart and decided I would be more open to seeing modern art. This motivated me to see the Tate Modern plus I had heard so much about the building.

Getting to the Tate Modern

The Tate Modern is accessible by several tube stations including Blackfriars and Southwark. However, I recommend arriving at St. Paul’s station and walking across the Millenium Bridge. This offers you an amazing view of the museum and of the Thames River.

Tate Modern

Inside the Tate Modern

The building used to be a power station, so it is quite large. However, don’t let the size scare you away from visiting. The museum is well laid out and has elevators and escalators to every floor, so you never have to climb the stairs unless you want to.

Tate Modern

Unless you are at the museum to see a specific exhibition, I would start on the first floor and work you way up. Then you can cross to the other side of the museum and work your way down.

Tate Modern

Don’t forget to look at the structure of the building as it is essentially part of the art. This is best done from the bridges between the two gallery spaces. You can do so at each level and get a different perspective. Also, go down to the ground floor and look up. It is then you get a sense of how large the space really is.

Tate Modern

What I really enjoyed about the Tate Modern is the size. I never felt I couldn’t see the art and even though there was a line to get in, it was never crowded inside.

Tate Modern

Not all the art was modern either! There was a room with Mark Rothko piece and he was inspired by Monet’s large art. So, there was one of Monet’s Water Lillies right next to the room!

Tate Modern

The other thing I really loved about the Tate Modern is that the space allows for large art to be on exhibition. For some reason, large pieces of art appeal to me. It’s probably why I like Monet so much!

Tate Modern

Tate Modern

See St. Pauls

This is one of the great unknowns of the Tate Modern, but it offers stunning views of St. Pauls! If you head to the 3rd floor gift shop outside the visiting exhibition space. There is a smoking balcony there and you can see St. Pauls. You can also see the Millenium Bridge. The sun was shining the day I went and the man next to me said to someone, “St. Pauls is glistening. That rarely happens.” It is definitely a sight to see.

Tate Modern

Have you been to the Tate? What is your favorite piece there?

Driving, Europe, Travel

Dropped into a Fairy Tale in Slovenia

May 6, 2016

 

Dropped into a Fairy Tale in SloveniaThere is only one way to describe Slovenia, like a fairy tale! From the minute I stepped out of the airport and was presented with an amazing view of a snowcapped mountain to the fields of dandelions along the highway, Slovenia never disappointed. Even though I was there for a work conference, I would have been happy just to stare at Slovenia if I didn’t get time to sightsee. Lucky me, though, as I had one day to do some sightseeing outside of the conference.

Dropped into a Fairy Tale in Slovenia

Dropped into a Fairy Tale in Slovenia

The conference was in a small town called Radenci. Radenci is a spa town located on the eastern side of Slovenia near the Austrian border. While the hotel was not great, the surrounding area was beautiful. There is a park outside the hotel, which I am still not 100% on the official name of, but if you google Radenci Park, it comes up. The park seems to be the old town center with the old spa hotels located in the park. In the summer, there are restaurants in the park and a waterpark. Winter had just left Slovenia, and the flowers and trees in the park knew it!

Dropped into a Fairy Tale in Slovenia

Dropped into a Fairy Tale in Slovenia

Dropped into a Fairy Tale in Slovenia

I have really come to love driving in a foreign country. I see small towns and get a feel for how the locals drive. Unfortunately, on this trip, I didn’t have a data connection so I couldn’t take any side trips. Each adorable town had at least one tall church steeple that I could see from the highway that made me want to exit every few minutes. Many of these towns were on the tops of hills and mountains. Slovenia was dotted with small farms and cows throughout.

Dropped into a Fairy Tale in Slovenia

Dropped into a Fairy Tale in Slovenia

After spending two days in Radenci at the conference and walking most of the small town, I started my drive back across the country towards Ljubljana, the country’s capital to make my way to Lake Bled. Lake Bled is the country’s most well-known sightseeing spot and is highly photogenic as is the surrounding countryside. The lake itself is a stunning shade of green turquoise with a bright green forest surrounding it. The day I was there it was sunny with a slight breeze, and it was perfect.

Dropped into a Fairy Tale in Slovenia

There is an island in the lake that houses a church, The Church of the Assumption of Mary. Due to several earthquakes, it has been rebuilt several times, and the current church was built in the 17th century. There is also a bell tower on the island that you can climb to the top of to see the inner workings of the bell and to get a higher view of the surrounding area. First, though, you have to get out there! To get to Bled Island, you can either row yourself out in a rented rowboat or take a traditional plenta rowboat to the island. The plenta is a small shallow boat that is rowed by one person and could hold about 20 people. The plenta oarsman is a coveted position in Bled and is handed down in generations in families. The boat seemed a bit unstable as I got in, but once we were under weigh it was more stable. The ride over took about 15 minutes and the boats wait for you for 50 minutes, which is plenty of time to see everything on the island and have coffee at the shop. Of course, you have to climb 99 steps to get to the church, but it is worth every stair.

Dropped into a Fairy Tale in Slovenia

The church is very small and unfortunately, was undergoing some restoration work when I was there, so I could not see the frescos that it is known for. However, I did ring the wishing bell! Legend has it that if you ring the bell three times, you will receive your wish. The sound was so beautiful; I wanted to keep ringing it. It was even better when I went outside and heard others ring it. Right outside the church is the bell tower, in which you will have to climb another set of stairs to reach the top. After all, that stair climbing you can have a rest in the coffee shop or wander around the island to take photos of the surrounding Julian Alps.

Dropped into a Fairy Tale in Slovenia

A short drive around the lake takes you to Bled Castle, which was built in 1011! The castle now showcases the history of Slovenia in the museum, print works, forge, chapel and a restaurant. There is a replica of a Gutenberg printing press and a copy of the first book ever printed in Slovenian. The location of the castle on a steep cliff gives you excellent views of the lake and valley. The museum is simple but gives you a thorough understanding of the history of Slovenia. The highlights for me were a visit to the chapel and the restaurant. I don’t think I have ever seen a chapel with painted frescos in this salmon hue. The walls were also painted in this color. The restaurant also offered an outstanding view of the lake from its full glass window in the dining room. I know Slovenia has excellent wine, so I ordered a Slovenian wine and stuffed chicken in a king prawn sauce that was melt in your mouth good. All of it was very simple but had great flavor. I owe this to the fact that it was all probably grown within 50 miles or less of Bled.

Dropped into a Fairy Tale in Slovenia

Dropped into a Fairy Tale in Slovenia

Dropped into a Fairy Tale in Slovenia

Dropped into a Fairy Tale in Slovenia

Sadly, I didn’t have time for much else at this point and decided to drive to my hotel for the night. Since my flight was early the next morning, I opted to stay close to the airport instead of in Ljubljana. While the evening was quiet, the scenery was worth it. The tiny village that the hotel was located in was basically a large farm. The house across the street had a barn with cows in it that I could hear. The view from my room was of the breathtaking Julian Alps and even had a small balcony. I spent the evening walking through the town to admire the views and enjoying the fresh air.

Dropped into a Fairy Tale in Slovenia

Dropped into a Fairy Tale in Slovenia

Getting there: Flights to Slovenia will fly into the Ljubljana airport, which is outside the city by about 25 miles. If you want to go to Lake Bled, there is a shuttle from the airport that can also take you into Ljubljana. If you want to go to the eastern side of the country, you can take a train, but I recommend renting a car as the timings are your own and you can see more.

On this short trip of four days, I took over 200 photos. I will post more of them on my Instagram account. Please go have a look for more Slovenia pictures that I have already started to share! 

This park was located right outside my hotel in Radenci, Slovenia. Such a quiet beautiful place! #slovenia

A photo posted by Tiffany (@agirlandherpassport) on

This post contains affiliate links that earn me a commission at no additional costs to you, but allows me to keep sharing my travels with you!

 

 

 

Egypt, Museums, Travel

Stepping Back into the Past at the Egyptian Museum

February 29, 2016

Egyptian MuseumWalking into the Egyptian Museum feels like you have stepped back into the past. The museum was the first purpose built museum in the world. It doesn’t look like much has changed since it was built in 1902. Being a former museum person, I was in awe of all the artifacts on display. You could never see it all in one day.

Egyptian Museum

Egyptian Museum

The first floor is laid out in chronological order. The scale of the artifacts on this floor is what struck me the most. Most of the artifacts were large stone pieces. Many of these were heavily inscribed with hieroglyphics.  The statues and sphinxes were mostly made of granite and must of weighed tons. Other pieces were also stone and consisted of pieces of buildings and stelas. This stone sculpture is of King Khafre, who is the builder of the second pyramid at Giza. There is also several sculptures of King Hatshepsut, a female king, shown below!

Egyptian Museum

Egyptian Museum

Egyptian Museum

Egyptian Museum

Treasures abound on the second floor. King Tutankhamun’s tomb items are displayed here including the famous mask. Unfortunately, photographs are not allowed in the area where the mask is kept. This room was also slightly more modern than the rest of the museum, and it displayed much of the smaller pieces found in his tomb. The large golden shrines are outside that encased his sarcophagus are outside the room and go from large to small. The canopic jars that stored his organs are also on display next to the mask room.

Egyptian MuseumEgyptian MuseumEgyptian Museum

Egyptian Museum

The second floor also houses the Royal Mummy rooms. They are split into two rooms that are across the museum from each other. Not everyone on my tour opted to do the mummy room as it was an extra charge. However, it was worth it to me. I am fascinated by the mummification process and how it preserves the bodies so well. It was also interesting to read the descriptions of the person’s health, which they have gleaned from x-rays and MRIs. Some of them had hair, and one had a very impressive set of white teeth! There is also a room of animal mummy’s that I did not visit. The other people on my tour said they mummified every kind of animal. This room was included in the price of the regular admission ticket. To help preserve the mummies, there is no photography allowed in the rooms.

Egyptian Museum

Egyptian Museum

Egyptian MuseumThe rest of the second floor contained many more sarcophagi and hundreds of cases of smaller objects. Not only was the collection large, but it was deep. It seemed everything in the museum’s collection was on display. Each case held several pieces and in some cases, there was much more. The items ranged from scarab beetle pendants to shoes to small statues to wigs! Some were simple, and some pieces were very elaborate. There were rooms I didn’t even go into because I didn’t have the time and not even sure what was in them.

Egyptian Museum

Egyptian MuseumEgyptian Museum

Every time I see things from ancient civilizations, I am always in wonder of the skills and tools they used to make them. Also, the patience! Never in today’s world would we have the patience to build on person’s tomb for 20-30 years!

Getting there and tickets: My advice is to take a Uber or a Careem there as taxis may want to negotiate the rate and not turn on the meter. You are assured a fair rate if you use Uber or Careem. There will be a line to get through security right when you get there. If you want to take pictures inside, go to the ticket booth to the right of the security entrance. The cost is 50 Egyptian Pounds. This is a new procedure as of January 2016, as before photographs were not allowed. If you are buying an entrance ticket, you can do it there as well. Ours had been purchased in advance. I believe the price is 60 Egyptian Pounds. The cost of the Royal Mummy room was 100 Egyptian Pounds, and you buy the ticket at the door. You will go through security one more time before entering the building, and they will ask for your photography ticket if you have a camera. You will also have your bag inspected when you leave. I would recommend paying for all the extras as it was great to see the mummies and to take photos.

Have you been to the Egyptian Museum? What was your favorite part?

Museums, Thailand, Travel

Mystery and Silk: Jim Thompson House

November 9, 2015

Jim Thompson House

Stepping out of the air-conditioned van into the humidity of Bangkok, I realized this experience would be different from the rest of my time in there. The noise of cars and motorbikes had disappeared to be replaced by the sounds of boats in the canal nearby. Walking down a gravel path past the gift shop and restaurant, the giant plants of the garden almost obscured the house from view. Having arrived before opening, I took the time to walk around the garden to explore. Plants seemed to grow to extreme sizes due to the humidity and rain. Giant coy fish also appear to have developed unencumbered in their pond.

Jim Thompson House

Jim Thompson House

Knowing little about the man who’s house I was about to explore, I was glad when the tour started for the Jim Thompson House. But this is also where the mystery begins. Jim Thompson revived the silk trade in Thailand in the late 1940s after World War II ended. During the war, he had served in the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA. After the war had ended, he was assigned to set up the OSS office in Bangkok. In 1946, he was discharged from the army, and he returned to Bangkok to work on the Oriental Hotel, but after some disagreements with other shareholders, he turned his attention to Thai silk.

Jim Thompson started his own company to export Thai silk and had great success. He even provided the Thai silk for the movie production of “The King and I.” Jim Thompson was also an architect and designed and built the house. He noticed many of the old style Thai houses were still in excellent condition and decided to create his own in the Thai style along with some western touches, such as an internal staircase.

Jim Thompson House

After much success and opening a physical store on March 21, 1967, Mr. Thompson took a holiday to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. Five days later Mr. Thompson disappeared and has never been seen again. Many theories abound as to what happened to Jim Thompson. Was he kidnapped? No ransom has ever been asked for. Was he killed? No body has never been found. Was he a double agent about to be exposed and he deliberately disappeared? There was a supposed sighting of him in Tahiti a few months after the disappearance, but nothing sense. Did he get lost or die of starvation or was attacked by an animal? This is highly unlikely as he was trained in jungle survival as a part of his OSS training. Was he still a spy and he was captured? No government has ever claimed to be his abductors or asked for a prisoner trade for him. Adding to this mystery is that his sister was murdered six months later in her home in the United States.

Jim Thompson House

Eventually, people stopped looking for Jim Thompson, and his house became a museum. His company still runs and produces the bright Thai silk that he made famous. The house is basically untouched from when he left for his trip to Malaysia. While his disappearance was only briefly mentioned on the tour, it hung in the air while the tour continued around the house. You could almost sense that his possessions were awaiting him to walk through and sit down on the silk divan to take his regular nap.

How to Visit the Jim Thompson House: The Jim Thompson House is conveniently located less than a five-minute walk from the BTS Skytrain National Stadium stop. The hours are 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, however when we were there, I think they opened at 9:30. The entrance fee is 150 Baht for adults and 100 Baht for students under the age of 22. The guided tour is mandatory, and your shoes must be removed to tour the house. Photography is not allowed inside the house.

%d bloggers like this: