2016: A Tale of European Cities

Monument to King Alfonso XII.

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom; it was the age of foolishness….it was the season of light; it was the season of darkness…”

I thought about this Charles Dickens quote from the “Tale of Two Cities” when reflecting on my accomplishments and disappointments in 2016. I started the year complaining on the road with fans from the Orange Bowl. I checked everything but the traffic when planning my road trip. Thanks to that mishap I now look at the traffic on Florida 511 and Florida events when traveling.

A view of Madrid.

A beautiful view of Madrid at Parque de la Montana.

The following month I traveled to London and Madrid. In Madrid, I was spellbound at the monuments at Parque del Retiro. I saw “Guernica” by Picasso at the Museo Reina Sofia. I visited The Museo Nacional del Prado home to paintings by European Masters like Durer, El Greco, Velazquez, Rembrandt, Rubens, etc. My favorite painting were “Las Meninas” by Diego Velazquez and “Adam and Eve” by Albretch Durer.

Museo Nacional del Prado.

Museo Nacional del Prado.

After Madrid I flew to London. In London, we stayed a block away from Buckingham Palace at the Nadler Hotel. We watched the changing of the guards several times.

Changing of the Guards

The gallantry of the Changing of the Guards.

We walked to West Minister and saw the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and worshipped at West Minister Abbey.

Big Ben at London.

Big Ben with a view of the London Eye.

The next day we rode the Tube to Trinity Buoy Wharf where I sketched a lightship and a lighthouse. Somewhere along the way, I went to the Tate Museum and saw the paintings JMW Turner bequeath to the people of London.

Self portrait of Turner.

Self portrait of JMW Turner.

My daughter wanted to stroll down her childhood memory lane so we visited the London Bridge. She was disappointed but satisfied that she had actually seen it.

London Brige

A view of London Bridge.

We ended our stay with a look at the Tower Bridge and The Tower Castle.

The Tower Bridge of London.

The Tower Bridge of London.

A few days after I returned from Europe, I had a kidney stone. The only relief was that I didn’t get sick while traveling overseas. That would have been a bigger pain than the kidney stone.

Sunset at Blackhead Lighthouse.

Sunset at Blackhead Lighthouse, Northern Ireland.

After the kidney stone, I felt a sense of urgency and decided to book a lighthouse trip to Ireland instead of waiting next year. During the summer, I visited The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland where I stayed at Blackhead Lighthouse. I had an oceanfront room with a fireplace for two nights. That alone was worth the cost of the trip. We saw over 24 lighthouses in the course of 8 days. It was an amazing trip.

As I look at my disappointments in 2016, I realize that I wouldn’t have accomplished much without them. I actually better prepare for my trips, drink more water, take advantage of more opportunities and have gratitude for the little things in my life. Without the darkness, we can not relish the light.

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Preservation 50 Friday: Local Lights

Gross Point Lighthouse in Evanston, Illinois.

Gross Point Lighthouse in Evanston, Illinois.

The very nature of a lighthouse is to standout: by its height, cost, complexity, construction, isolation and spectacular appearance. (D. Charles)

New Canal Lighthouse in New Orleans, Louisianna.

New Canal Lighthouse in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Lighthouses may stand out but ironically locals oftentimes don’t know they have a lighthouse in their city.

Trinity House Lighthouse in London, UK.

Trinity House Lighthouse in London, UK.

Such was the case in London, New Orleans and Evanston.

So do you know if you have a local lighthouse?

Preservation 50 Friday: London’s Lightship

Trinity House Lightship

Trinity House Lightship, London UK copyright elainemarieartist.com

I admire the art of JMW Turner. When I visited London this past winter, I stopped by the Tate Britain Museum. I was excited about the museum because Turner bequeathed over 300 paintings to the Tate.

A few days before visiting the Tate, I had traveled to Trinity Buoy Wharf to sketch London’s only Lighthouse. While there I also sketched the Trinity House Lightship. As I sketched, I thought about Turner and pondered how I could pay tribute to him.

Back in the United States, I looked at my yellow foreground and became inspired when I thought about how much Turner used yellow. According to the book “How to Paint like Turner”, “Some of Turner’s most daring and experimental innovations centered around his use of yellow. It seems to have been his favorite color and he used it liberally. ” “For more than thirty years his use of yellow became one of the most frequently mentioned aspects of his art, with critics variously accusing him of yellow fever”…

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