Amsterdam!

[As I write this, we’re sitting in Amsterdam airport, awaiting our flight to Frankfurt, where we’ll catch the flight to Denver. I hope to have time to share stories and photos from our 3½ days here, over the next day or so, but be patient, it may take longer than that.]

The first thing we noticed when we arrived on Saturday night, the 22nd, was that we were bringing the heat with us from Italy. Ugh! The forecast was for highs in the high 80s to mid 90s. Oh well…

Mallory’s cousin’s daughter (a “first cousin once removed”), Marley, is living in Amsterdam while studying for a masters degree. She’s very close with Rosy & Louisa, and Mal’s extended family is all very tight, so it was great to be able to see her here and have her give us somewhat of the ‘locals’ tour.

Sunday morning, we went out for breakfast and I had the most amazing fried chicken, scrambled eggs and waffle plate:

Fried chicken, scrambled eggs and waffles for breakfast
Fried chicken, scrambled eggs and waffles for breakfast!

I’m going to post this now, since our flight boards in a few minutes. We’ll probably see some of you before I have a chance to do another post!

Our three-day art immersion in Florence

I’ve just been going through my photos of the time we spent in Florence before flying to Amsterdam on Saturday evening. It’s almost overwhelming, even for me. So much art! [And spoiler alert; I’m writing this on Monday evening, and we’ve seen even more world-class art in the last two days here in Amsterdam. 😳]

I think it might a little over the top to bombard you with a lot of this art, world-class as it is, so I’ll try to just give you the highlights. Contact me directly if you want to see more, I’m sure it can be arranged. 😁

Just so you know, here’s the list of museums, galleries & gardens we visited in Florence:

  • The Galileo Museum
  • The Uffizi Galleries
  • Galleria del’Accademia (aka “The Academy”)
  • Boboli Gardens and a tiny bit of the Pitti Palace
  • The Leonardo da Vince Museum
  • Giardino dei Semplici (aka the Florence Botanical Garden)

Phew, what a shocking amount of phenomenal art, architecture & landscapes in one relatively small city! I highly recommend a visit, if you’ve never been. Yes, the tourists have almost overrun the place, but we were able to skirt the hordes pretty well over the course of our three days.

Okay, on to the highlight reel of photos…

An armillary sphere, in the Galileo Museum, Florence
An “armillary sphere” in the Galileo museum. It took 5 years to build, and represents the solar system in relation to earth at the center. Crazy, eh?
One of the oldest calculator/computers in the world?
One of the oldest calculator/computers in the world? (Also in the Galileo Museum)
Botticelli’s gorgeous “Birth of Venus”, in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence
Botticelli’s mind-boggling “Birth of Venus”, in the Uffizi Gallery.
Michelangelo’s portrait of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in the Uffizi Gallery
Michelangelo’s iconic painting of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the Uffizi. Zoom in on this one; it is one of the most astonishing paintings I’ve ever seen.

In between long stretches in museums and delicious Italian meals, I did manage to capture a couple of nice street scenes…

Florence’s Duomo looming over a narrow side street
Florence’s “Duomo”, looming over a side street
Interesting architecture, lit up at night
Interesting architecture, lit up at night

The next day began with a tour of Boboli Gardens, next to the Pitti Palace, across the River Arno to the south…

A piece of modern sculpture contrasts with the Florence skyline from Boboli Gardens
A piece of modern sculpture contrasts with the Florence skyline, from Boboli Gardens
Mallory next to a towering hedge, under an azure sky
Mallory next to a towering hedge, under an azure sky
More sculpture, next to the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens
More sculpture, next to the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens

Then it was on to the “Academy”…

Cellos from the 15th & 16th centuries
I may have missed T-ride Bluegrass this year, but I still saw some incredible instruments!
Michelango’s “David”, in all its glory
Michelangelo’s “David”, in all its glory

Lastly, we managed to squeeze in a visit to the Botanical Gardens, aka the Giardino dei Semplici, or “Garden of Samples”…

A giant cork oak, planted in the 1800’s
A giant cork oak, planted in the 1800’s
“Up close and personal” with the bark of the cork oak
“Up close and personal” with the bark of the cork oak
Unidentified evergreens
I’m embarrassed that I don’t remember what these evergreens were, but they’re beautiful! 😜

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t post some flower shots too…

Pick hydrangea
The hydrangeas were bursting out all over, making it hard to pick just one to share!
Pink water lilies
The loveliest of pink water lilies

One last visit to the cathedral, then back to Florence!

I’m getting further and further behind, I’m afraid, so you’ll just have to keep coming back to check for updates…

This will be a (relatively 😜) short post, as it will only cover the morning of the day we left Orvieto and trained to Florence in the afternoon. We had decided the night before that Orvieto’s cathedral was worth a visit inside, and if we went fairly early, we might beat the crowds. It really is quite the exquisite piece of ecclesiastical architecture, from the amazing mosaics on the facade to the stunning frescoes & stained glass windows, with their thin slices of marble in their lower sections (which I’d never seen before)…

Spectacular mosaic work on the exterior of the cathedral
More gorgeous mosaic work
The vault of the Orvieto’s cathedral
The towering ceiling of the cathedral
Dazzling stained glass
Stained glass (with thin marble slabs that I’d never seen before coming to Italy) lit by the morning sun
Orvieto cathedral’s rose window
The rose window, which faces west, still glows nicely in the morning
Altarpiece(?) of astounding detail
Altarpiece(?) of astounding detail!

There was a anteroom off the main part of the cathedral with breathtaking frescoes covering every square centimeter…

Frescoe details
Such dazzling work
More stunning frescoes
I can’t imagine the hours (years?) these took…
The arches are decorated to the hilt as well
Even the arches are elaborately decorated

Still reeling from seeing all that beauty, we were glad to head back to our hotel, pick up our bags, and head to the train station. One last fun detail: we got to take a funicular down from the top of rock to the station at the bottom. Here’s a shot of that, looking back up from the bottom:

Looking up at the funicular from the bottom, with fountain in the foreground
Looking up at the funicular from the bottom (you can see the little car if you look closely)

After we arrived in Florence, we found our hotel and settled in for three days of museums and galleries. Get ready for a lot of photos of art, coming right up!