Final Florence Day!

Final Florence Day!

Today was quite an adventure-filled day! (Also, the sun came out for the first time, which felt incredibly nice after long days of rain.)


We started out enjoying the leather markets of Florence, which were vast and filled with tons of amazing items. I ended up getting a wallet and a belt, and even managed to get the belt customized to my waist. Another great find? I met an artist who did engravings of the city and picked out a beautiful print similar to the one in the picture set below. He matted and signed the print and even packaged it nicely for me.


After the market, we took a bus to the Piazza Michelangelo. It was absolutely breathtaking to see the amazing view. (Dad, you were right. It was one of the best things I've ever seen.) We took tons of photos, admired the view, and relished the sunshine.


Post-Piazza, we ventured back to the train station and caught our train to Rome. After a good amount of walking, we finally reached the hotel. We checked in, ate a small dinner at a nearby restaurant, and have crashed back at home. We will see tons of Rome tomorrow!


Enjoy the pictures below!


The Market


The engraving


By the Market


By the market


Piazza Michelangelo

View From the Piazza Michelangelo

Group shot!


The Classic Eric Self-Shot


Another View From the Piazza Michelangelo

Another View From the Piazza Michelangelo



Another View From the Piazza Michelangelo


Florentine Days!

Florentine Days!

Today was another day of fun, slightly rainy still, but so much fun!


We adventured all around Florence, eating good food and seeing amazing art, including Michelangelo's David in the Academia and Donatello's David in the city squares. Another great find was the Medici palace. It was a fantastic lens into the past, and we recognized many of the artworks inside from our art history course on 14th Century Art From Florence to Flanders. Professor Nuttall, if you are reading this, be proud; we felt so knowledgable thanks to your course! We also saw the Duomo and tons of other fantastic buildings!


Tomorrow is another awesome day, with a visit to the Plaza Michelangelo (per the recommendation of the best dad ever, Bomi Mistry) and some leather markets in Florence. Also, as always, good food and plenty of photography.


In the evening, we will head to Rome! Stay tuned!


As usual, some pictures below…




Medici Palace Courtyard


I blend in…

Fantastic artwork in the Medici Palace

Amazing Room in the Medici Palace

Yet another amazing room in the Medici Palace


Madonna Di Filippo Lippi (Master to Botticelli)


Another courtyardin the Medici Palace


Another View

Lunch stop- takeaway pasta or pizza for €5!


Lunch: Tortellini con Prosciutto



Donatello's David

Michelangelo's David (the original in the Academia, not the copy in the square.)




Guardian Lion

River near sunset


Coffee break… (Note the subtle touch with the artistic leaf in the cream. Very nice.)


Dinner: Pizza and salad.


Sunday Surprise

Sunday Surprise

In London, a surprise is waiting around every corner.

What started out as a routine trip to get groceries turned into an awesome little jaunt into the local art scene. I had gotten off of my bus that brings me close to the supermarket, Sainsburys, when I saw a poster for the Islington Contemporary Art and Design Fair. I thought that sounded pretty awesome, so I followed the signs to a local gallery/artspace.

Inside, I found a small collection of local artists selling their works from stands and explaining their work processes to anyone who was interested. I struck up a particularly interesting conversation with a local printmaker who had some amazing prints and t-shirts. I also found something else awesome in the gallery: a flyer that proclaimed that drop-in art lessons on weekday evenings were starting up soon. Even better? They are only £7, which is about what a lunch out costs. I am really excited to try out these classes and become a better artist.


It was a great little Sunday surprise. I always am excited to find little galleries or unexpected awesomeness in my daily life around the city. It's totally worth investing a little more time and going off of the beaten path or daily routine. Though it may be overused, the often-quoted Robert Frost poem says it best, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I/ I took the one less traveled by/ And that has made all the difference.”




Amazing Drawing Studies At the British Museum

Amazing Drawing Studies At the British Museum

Today for art history class, we climbed all the way up to the fourth floor of the British Museum to enter the Print and Drawing Study Room. It houses some amazing materials, and you need to register to enter. After some brief signing-in and rules explanation (including no cameras, which saddened me greatly…) we were ushered into the large room.


It was a large room filled with volumes and large folios. Immense wooden desks with easels lay ready for the invaluable drawings and other works to be placed upon them for closer examination. The smell of old ink and paper, better than the best library, permeated the air. The quiet, still air lent an atmosphere of near-reverence to the room. It was almost as if one could feel the weight of the historical treasures that surrounded us.


Our course today focused on the evolution of commission drawings. We started with early works, including some stock drawings by Benozzo Gozzoli, which were designed to be placed cookie-cutter-style into commission drawings, creating a fairly standardized picture. The pieces at the end, by artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were much more fluid and sketchlike, allowing the artist to craft a scene creatively, rather than dropping in stock pieces.


It was incredible and surreal to be mere inches from works from the Renaissance masters. This class has been an incredible experience so far. Not only do we get to see magificent works by famous artists all the time, but I am also learning so much about what to look for in art. I am learning so much new information about everything, and I am loving it!


Gozzoli (c. 1450)


da Vinci, (c.1470)

ImageMichelangelo (c. 1508-1512)

Reference drawing for Sistine Chapel's Creation of Man



London Adventuring!

London Adventuring!

Today was an adventure-filled day!

After class, Grace and I decided to make the most of her last day and see lots of London.

The highlights?

We ate some awesome Indian food, explored a bit of the Tate Modern Art Museum, and climbed the over 300 steps to the top of the Monument to the Great Fire.

We ate Lamb Kalia (lamb and potatoes), Chicken tikka, Stuffed paratha, Papadum, and more at a small restaurant on Bricklane. It was amazing and so delicious! We also picked up some little desserts from a local Indian bakery, and they were another amazing taste of home.

After filling our bellies full of scrumptious food, we proceeded to the Tate Modern to explore a few exhibits. The building was massive and so impressive. It's amazing to see how much art is available to see free in this city. I love just being able to walk ten minutes and see some world-class art for free.

Post-post-modern art experience, we decided to go traditional touristy and climb to the top of the Monument. Over 300 steps later up a spiral staircase, we emerged onto the observation deck and were greeted to an amazing 360 degree view of London. It was absolutely gorgeous and totally worth the arduous climb.

We finally made it home, where I made Parmesan Chicken and some Caprese Salad. Dinner was enjoyed by all. Pictures below, per usual!






It's a Long Way Up…

…And Down






Bounding about Brussels

Bounding about Brussels

We left Bruges early this morning, arriving in Brussels just around lunchtime. After a quick tour of the city square, we were left free to wander for about two hours. Between a wonderful lunch featuring the best hot chocolate in the world, and the wonderful wandering around the markets and shops surrounding the main square, we were doing quite well. We then visited another amazing museum as a group.


Post-museum, we ventured home to London. It was so wonderful to finally be back in the flat. It's funny how homelike this flat has become. I also enjoyed many Skype chats, including ones with Emily (with grandparents and parents and PUG!!!!), Ben and Chris.


Brussels was beautiful, so enjoy some pictures below.







Beautiful Bruges (Day 2)

Beautiful Bruges (Day 2)

Today was a wonderful day, per usual. I started with an early morning run around the city and finished in the town square as a market began. I bought some rotisserie chicken and some great seeded bread, and enjoyed the fresh bread melding with the hot chicken as the sun came up over the city. I then made my way back to the hostel and enjoyed some breakfast and tea with my fellow Grinnell-In-Londoners.


Post-breakfast, we walked around the city on a walking tour, led by Professor Nuttel, which brought us to the Groeninge Museum. The museum had a fantastic collection of paintings, especially a few spectacular pieces by Jan Van Eyck, a famous painter who worked in Bruges. We analyzed the paintings and enjoyed the incredible opportunity to see them literally inches from our faces.


We then went on to tour a few more places, including a fantastic church with a statue by Michaelanglo! After the museums and churches were all visited, we were free to explore the city. I went chocolate shopping and also picked up a few postcards. It was another wonderful day in Bruges, and I am excited for our trip to Brussels tomorrow. Enjoy the pictures.


View From The Room



A Piece by Jan Van Eyck

Painting Analysis


Pastry Analysis


The Bellfry

The Michelangelo Piece



Classy Coffee Class and The V&A

Classy Coffee Class and The V&A

Today for my Cultures of Empire class, we met in a rather fun setting, a Belgian-style coffeehouse/bakery! We spent the first half of the class discussing the reading over some coffee, tea, and breads with spreads. It was a wonderfully different way to start our day, and the location made it easy to stroll over to the V&A (the Victoria and Albert Museum) one block away for the second half of class. We spent the second half of class looking at some archival pieces, prints from the Exhibition of 1851, which we had read about for class and spent the previous hour discussing. It was incredible to hold these antique, yet perfectly-preserved documents and study their details and ideas firsthand. The archive room is amazing, and I cannot wait to do some preliminary research on my free days for my potential MAP. Enjoy the pictures below!


A Quali-Tea Way to Start Class


Claire Cares for Coffee


A Unique Classroom Setting


The Archived Collection Cover


Detail From a Print


The Class Studies the Prints Firsthand


First Visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum

First Visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum

Today, we visited the Victoria and Albert Museum for my art history class. It was the first of (I hope) many visits for me. The V&A, as it is commonly called, houses pieces from around the world and through various times. The focus is on good design and craftwork. We went to examine some Donatello pieces. (The museum hosts the largest collection of Donatello pieces outside of Italy.) They were amazing to look at, and seeing the pieces inches from us, rather than in a book, made the pieces so much more accessible from an intellectual standpoint and yet more intricate at the same time. It's amazing being in a city where so much art is. I am constantly astounded by the quantity and quality of the museums. Today's moment of “Wow!” came when I walked by a little nook where none other than one of Da Vinci's journals. What an amazing city.

From Outside

Class in the Gallery

By Donatello


Da Vinci's Journal

St. Francis


St. Sebastian


Exploring Bricklane Again (Plus Gözleme for lunch)

Exploring Bricklane Again (Plus Gözleme for lunch)

Today, Tracey and I ventured back to Bricklane market and its surrounding streets stuffed full of stands and of shoppers. It was another exhilarating, interesting experience. We explored countless stands, browsed designer sample racks, and ducked into little food halls to check out the best meal. We saw hundreds of stands, and looked over thousands of items. Prize find of the day? Russian Cold War Era medals for extremely cheap prices. I picked up some Olympic themed pins from the '73 Olympics in Moscow, while Tracey opted for some more military oriented pins. We also got a few presents for people back home, but I won't be naming what they are, because I know they read my writing here. We also saw some phenomenal graffiti and antiques, featured after the food descriptions below.


For lunch, I had a dish known as Gözleme at a stand inside of one of the markets. It is a Turkish dish that consists of spinach and feta cheese being cooked inside a dough crust and topped with various vegetables and sauces. My Gözleme was accompanied today by cabbage, lettuce, tomato, and hummus, all with a creamy garlic dressing drizzled on top. The hummus was particularly outstanding, with a strong tahini taste that accented the feta cheese in the Gözleme quite well. The Gözleme itself was also incredible. Fresh off of the griddle, it was incredibly hot and filled with tons of fresh spinach and reasonable amount of feta. I feasted in total delight upon the hot Turkish food. It was familiar to me, as it was like the Turkish version of a Salvadoran pupusa, yet totally unique in its combination of flavors by including the incredible hummus and garlic sauce. I love being able to travel the world, eating all its wonderful food, without ever leaving London. It is truly the world within a city.



Graffiti 1