Sunday, November 30, 2014

Passing Through Luxembourg.

We visited the Vianden Castle in northern Luxembourg just as it was closing for the evening, and were allowed to wander freely through the empty castle. Flitting from hall to hall of this medieval castle (some parts are nearly 1000 years old) one couldn't help but imagine the rich lives of the counts and countesses who once lived within these walls. A we drove away, we caught these stunning views of the castle, shimmering in golden light, just before the sun sank behind the neighboring hills...

...and then on to Luxembourg City, where we passed hours in the Grund, the quaint valley below the main city where one could become happily lost for hours, pastry in hand, wandering the narrow medieval streets.

And of course, there's the city itself, at once charming and elegant (and how could it not be, with "luxe" in its very name?), with its turreted Grand Ducal Palace, below, at its center.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Drachenburg Castle, A Fairy Tale on the Rhine.

Schloss Drachenburg (or Drachenburg Castle), a fairy tale of a mansion in the hills above Germany's Rhine River. Unlike the gilded palaces of the posts below, this late nineteenth century castle is characterized by cozy, dark wood paneling and medieval-influenced decoration. With sweeping views of the town of Konigswinter, the residence has lived many lives, starting as one man's dream home and transforming into a summer resort, a convalescence home, a Catholic boys' boarding school, a Nazi school, a WWII U.S. army shelter, a railroad conductor training center, and, finally, a historic monument open to the public.

One wonders at the stories that might be told by the painted kings below, if only walls could talk...

Monday, November 17, 2014

A day in Bruges.

Photos from a lovely day spent in Bruges. With our day largely unplanned, we spent the day simply wandering the quaint, car-free streets of the historic downtown area, exploring a cobblestone courtyard here, popping into a chocolate shop there... We tried the most divine Belgian waffles (you MUST visit this waffle stand) and tested Belgian fries, strolling along the river and across the numerous picturesque bridges.

And then a momentous moment for this art history lover, a pilgrimage to the Church of Our Lady to see Michelangelo's Madonna and Child. Always breathtaking to see a work by a master, especially an artist whose work one once devoted hours of study as a university student...

We finished our day with a visit to the quiet Begijnhof, a peaceful clearing that was absolutely still in the late afternoon light (speaking is strictly forbidden), and then an early evening walk through the Stedelijk cemetery, eerie and haunting as the sky darkened above us.

Farewell to sweet Bruges, and onward to our next enchanting destination!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Interior Pretty: The British Ambassador's Residence.

Having just returned from a two-week holiday to the UK, am especially enchanted by these photos of the British Ambassador, who lives just a few minutes away from our own home in Washington, DC. Published in The Architecture of Diplomacy: The British Ambassador's Residence in Washington, released earlier this year, these photos reveal the glamour and sophistication of rooms frequented by Washington's and Britain's elite. Written by Anthony Seldon and Daniel Collings, with photography by Eric Sander, the book includes a forward by HRH The Prince of Wales. Below, a glimpse of this storied manse:

source / source
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