Tag Archives: summer

Creative Travels

It’s officially summer today, and whether you’re staying local or traveling abroad, it’s a great time to explore the arts and get inspired by what others have created. While this typically  involves visits to museums and various festivals, there are also some highly unusual places to explore which are off the beaten path, with fascinating stories of dreams and perseverance. They all have kid appeal and are definitely worth putting on your travel wish list, or at the very least, your virtual trip list:

Italy: The Tarot Garden

The Tarot Garden. Photo: http://www.nikidesaintphalle.com

The Tarot Garden is located in the southern region of Tuscany, and is filled with sculptures of Tarot cards interpreted by the artist Niki de Saint Phalle and her collaborators. This magical looking sculpture park took almost 20 years to complete, and was a place the artist hoped would bring joy to children and adults alike. For more information visit: http://www.nikidesaintphalle.com

Poland: Wieliczka Salt Mines

The Wieliczka Salt Mine. Photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wieliczka_Salt_Mine

The Wieliczka Salt Mine in southern Poland produced table salt from the 13th century until 2007. Today, a visit to the mine takes you on an historical journey through the various mining techniques and tools used from the Middle Ages to modern times. But what really sounds amazing are the galleries and corridors filled with works of art sculpted in salt like in the photo above. For more information visit: www.kolpalnia.pl

France: Le Palais Idéal

Le Palais Idéal. Photo:www.naturepixel.com

This is an amazing story about Ferdinand Cheval, a postman living in Hauterives, who one day tripped over a stone and was inspired to build the palace of his dreams out of this material. He continued to collect stones while on his mail route, and worked on the building whenever he could. It took him 33 years to complete this incredible space, filled with inspirations from different civilizations, religions, and philosophies. It received recognition and admiration from the likes of Ernst and Picasso, and has been declared a cultural landmark by the French Minister of Culture. For more information visit: www.facteurcheval.com

India: The Rock Garden of Chandigarh

The Rock Garden in Chandigarh. Photo: http://www.nekchand.org

Here’s a similar story about a man with a dream. Nek Chand was a roads inspector, working for the Department of Public Works in Chandigarh. He had a dream of creating a magical place and when he had time, began building a rock garden filled with sculptures of animals, musicians, and dancing women, all made of recycled materials and stones. This secret place began in the middle of the jungle, and for 18 years remained undiscovered. Eventually, with the government’s full support, Chand’s garden was completed and is one of the most visited folk art sites in the world. For more information visit: www.nekchand.com and www.nekchand.org

Japan: The Hakone Open-Air Museum

Hakone Open-Air Museum. Photo: http://www.traveljapanblog.com/ wordpress/tag/museums/page/4/

This impressive looking museum is home to over 100 sculptures by modern and contemporary artists like Rodin and Moore, scattered throughout the exquisite grounds that only the Japanese could create. It also has 5 exhibition halls including a Picasso Pavilion, restaurants and shops and, get this, a foot bath spa nestled in the beautiful gardens. Who wouldn’t dream of that after a day of sightseeing. As their website says, it allows you to enjoy “the splendor of art in nature”. And for children, enjoying art while being able to run around freely in the gardens makes it more pleasant for all concerned. For more information visit: http://www.hakone-oam.or.jp/english


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Fan The Breeze

The glorious days of summer are almost upon us, but let’s keep our enthusiasm in check shall we? Keep in mind the multitude of ailments the sun’s harsh rays are responsible for, leaving us to reap its benefits from pills in a bottle rather than a stroll in the noonday sun. And don’t forget those cottage visits, where hopes of a little R & R are dashed by a variety of blood-sucking insects that make the three hour trek not worth ANY amount of engaging conversation or wine. When we finally nod off, we are plagued by memories of garbage strikes, liquefied rubbish and fruit fly infestations. Back to the urban jungle and we’re forced to cross paths with humans unschooled in the fine art of deodorant use. We are worn out by relentless sweating, and subjected to olfactory distress caused by the ongoing stench. Goodness, that’s starting to sound a bit harsh. Shall we begin again? The glorious days of summer are almost upon us. Heavenly scented lilacs have just finished blooming, followed by a magnificent display of rhododendrons. Spring showers have greened the landscape and provided the perfect backdrop for the abundance of colourful flowers whose petals flutter in the breeze and provide delicate landing pads for those busy little bees collecting pollen, like the little bugger who stung me on the leg yesterday while I was sweeping… Let’s just make the fan which will enable us to cope with the heat in style.

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