Art Insults My Intelligence

Architects sometimes get a little overzealous on the creativity and innovation.  You can probably imagine my surprise as I was traversing Barcelona, a city famed for Gaudi and for other pinnacles of aesthetic accomplishment, when I discovered this:

It's shiny up close...

It’s shiny up close…

This giant… ahem… feminine pleasure device, um… phallic symbol, no, er… rounded building of very painful glass loses its shimmer in the moist

Okay, I give up.  A work of art is supposed to make people pause and discuss; this building certainly accomplished its purpose.  However, I hope the discussion rises above crass humor someday.

But not today.  Immaturity is too much fun.

 

Reading Insults My Intelligence

When you’re traveling, you’ll inevitably encounter writing that you can’t understand.  You will piss people off if you continually ask “What does that mean?”  Especially here, at the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) in Lucerne.  A couple dozen of these images remain after some unruly flames decided to have some fun:

Imagine trying to read this as crowds of people rush past you.  Repeat 30 times.

Imagine trying to read this as crowds of people rush past you. Repeat 30 times.

It doesn’t matter what the words say, so don’t bother reading them.  The orange does its artistic duty and lends a halloweenish aura to the Latin and the skeleton… and even to the skeletons in the bridge’s second picture.

And that’s exactly what a “Chapel” is supposed to involve.  Skeletons and Halloween.

 

Hidden Masterpieces Insult My Intelligence

When all those architects and artists were designing churches so many centuries ago, couldn’t they have had the foresight to make the intricate artworks more accessible to photographers?

I took this photo at a church in Antwerp.  After twisting and contorting my body to get a good angle, I was finally able to get a somewhat decent shot of the art that looks down from on top of everything.  Even so, the shot could be improved.

By comparison, this makes the Sistine Chapel ceiling look easy to paint. Why not make things easier on the artists?

In other words, tourist attractions should be tourist friendly.  Our world had progressed greatly since the time this church was built.

Artlessness Insults My Intelligence

Why do people always feel the need to destroy things?  This was a perfectly good mountain before someone transformed it into a functional piece of art by putting a road inside.

Traffic cave

Near Prague’s city center, this tunnel looks just as historical as its surroundings.  I hope they only bored a hole through a mountain and not through a real castle…

On second thought, could the engineers and architects who designed this please come to the U.S. and replace our green steel monstrosities that in no way blend in with the nearby forests?

Freshness Insults My Intelligence

Welcome to Cologne, Germany.  Unless you arrived by Autobahn, you were most likely greeted by the famous Cologne Cathedral.  Right next door, you’ll find a Roman museum that contains some amazing ancient artifacts.  (When you see an old tiled floor, you’ll also learn that the swastika once held a different meaning in Europe.  It still does in other parts of the world.)  And as you explore, you’ll find more old churches (and a synagogue) as well as historical sites from the Nazi era.

The city deserves its reputation as solid a tourist attraction.

Problem is, almost everything there is old and tourists never express any interest in such unfashionable nonsense.  Fortunately, you can always always count on a city’s upscale shopping district (in Cologne’s case, a road that is limited to pedestrians) to offer up something fresh and tacky.

ice cream

On a rainy day, there’s nothing more refreshing than ice cream.

And on second thought, Cologne can be a dark and depressing place when the weather turns gray.  So maybe the fresh ice cream cone isn’t that bad.

Blue Skies Insult My Intelligence

I arrived in Stockholm late at night and awoke the next morning in a city I had been excited to visit.  The skies were blue and there wasn’t a drop of rain.

And do you know what?  Stockholm was hideous.  Various faded pastel colors adorned a lot of buildings, especially in the historic old town where the general atmosphere resembled a washed-out rainbow.  The city likes to bill itself as the “Venice of the North” and I wasn’t buying it.

But, the Swedes are pretty ingenious.  They’re the folks that gave us Ikea, Abba, and that cute little Muppet with the white hat.  Of course they’re going to have great architectural artistry.

And then it clouded up and drizzled the day I left.  Normally, rain is your enemy when you’re on vacation and none of the glossy tourist advertisements ever give you a glimpse of anything as “ugly” and “unmarketable” as gray skies.  But this is Sweden.  I already knew that major European cities with rotten northern weather often use Stockholm’s vomity color scheme, and now I could see why.    That day, I took pictures of things I had passed over because they hadn’t seemed like anything special when the sun was out.  Here are a few:

Washed out in the sun, but imposing in the rain.

Darkness brings out the color in this church.  No, they don’t worship Satan here.

Even mustard can look great on a building if the weather is right.  That peach building to the left also looks surprisingly good.  This is the only time I recommend mustard and peach together.

Because everything was so wonderful that day, I was running a little late and needed to grab a quick bite to eat before catching my plane.  Please believe me when I tell you that you should never buy caviar in a tube from a 7-11.  Not tasty.