Photography and Writting Blog of a Traveller

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David and The Emperor’s new Gallery

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I came to Florence with very high expectations. Although I know better than to have raised hopes when going into a new experience, so as to avoid being let down, I felt pretty confident that Florence wouldn’t disappoint and indeed it didn’t. It was refreshing to be away from a big, bustling, dirty and noisy city like Rome and be around fresh air and nature again. The signature terracotta coloured rooftops were even more beautiful that the pictures I had seen for years, and the iconic Duomo dome and the Florence Cathedral tower were remarkable to see in person.

I was shocked by the actual size of the Duomo, not realizing the cathedral body itself would be as monstrous and complex as it was. I felt as if the body was as impressive if not more so that the dome which gets all the attention initially. I was hoping to be able to go inside and take in the view but wasn’t able to beat the lines in time. However as excited as the Duomo was for me to see, I had one thing that was at the top of my list as an absolute must see and that was Michelangelo’s David. Following that would be the legendary Ufizzi gallery.

The day came to go see David and I made sure to book my appointment for the latest possible time so as to potentially have less tourists to contend with and this proved a wise move as there were much fewer people at 4pm than I expected. What I loved most about this gallery (Academia) was that they didn’t bury the best treasure deep within the gallery for you to spend an hour trying to get to your main interest. Instead as I entered the gallery and made my first right turn, there he was in all his grandeur, David standing larger than life at the end of hall.

Nothing prepared me for the experience because I had seen countless images of David for years and studied the work in Art History, so I was quite familiar with the piece, but I was still completely stuck and stunned by the absolutely otherworldly beauty and perfection of the thing. I couldn’t believe my eyes how beautiful and utterly impressive it was. I approached it slowly until I was as close as I needed to be and stood with my mouth gaping, trying to comprehend how something this perfect could have been created by anyone. I moved slowly around the piece, pausing for 15 minutes at a time to take it in from different angles. The absolutely attention to detail alone was unbelievable, but there was something more present. The sculpture had a presence and an aura about it that was undeniable and palpable. There were three distinct moments I remember having to hold back tears, I was so moved. It is literally the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. The 16th century art historia Giorgio Vasari stated, “The statue so far surpasses both in beauty and technique, ancient and modern statuary that one needn’t bother seeing other works of sculpture.” I have no reservations about agreeing whole heartedly with this bold statement.

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Standing in stark contrast to my experience of the David statue was the Ufizzi gallery. I was troubled to have to pay 24 Euro for the entry fee but I knew I had to do it or forever be haunted by having been to Florence and not going to the legendary Ufizzi. For an art history student this would be a cardinal sin. Once inside I was immediately annoyed by the gross disorganization and bad design of the front foyer. After clearing security and now being firmly in the gallery I found myself stuck behind a massive crowd that wasn’t moving. After standing motionless for 10 minutes and being berated by a tour guide who didn’t take lightly to me squeezing past her group, I finally realized the reason for the hold up. A single person turnstile, was creating an artificial choke point. There was no reason for it to be there as no one was taking tickets at that point and was completely unmanned. After finally getting through and now being free of the standstill crowd I began my rounds. At this point I was approaching saturation point of Madonna and Child painting, so when the bulk of the art ended up being another multitude of the same motif I started to grow fatigued fairly soon.

I came to the disheartening conclusion that the current mystique of the Uffizi gallery was based now mostly on hype and everyone’s refusal to point out the plain truth that the only thing it’s got going for it is Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Raphael’s Madonna and Child, Caravaggio’s Medusa, Titian’s Venus of Urbino, Gentelissci’s Judith Slaying Holofernes, the Hellenistic Laocoon sculpture and perhaps a few more that I will give the benefit of the doubt that I might have missed. The entire gallery and it’s mythos, floating on a handful of works. I left the gallery, feeling drained and disappointed. Maybe it was David’s fault, for setting such a high standard the day before, that nothing could live up to it, but I think it was more than that and perhaps the Ufizzi gallery is a bit overrated and doesn’t quite deserve it’s legendary status and is in fact just another case of the emperor’s new clothes.

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All roads lead to Rome!

Roman CollesiumRome was exactly as I expected and more. I did my research and I knew better than to have a romantic ideal in my head of only fantastical ancient monuments and dreamy skylines at night. I knew Rome was a Capital city and like any other city had it’s fair share of impatient locals, pushy street peddlars, pick pocketers and road ragers. I also knew that millions of tourists descend upon it every day and that that would be serious force of nature to reckoned with. I had also heard that Rome was dirty and smelly.

Armed with this knowledge I had no stars in my eyes about what to expect an as a history buff and Fine Art major I just wanted to see the monuments, Cathedrals, Pantheon and of course the Colosseum. I din’t think much would move me other than the art and the grandiose monuments. But alas, I was still taken by surprise by something that I should have seen coming, the Metro.

The last thing I expected was to become a human sardine, desperately grasping my handbag with fear of a pick pocketer now being smushed against me with now easy access to my wallet. Never have I been so acquainted with a stranger’s armpit or felt the forceful shove of a human body wave intent on either getting on or off the train by any means necessary.

This was the most shocking thing in Rome for me, and I soon figured out the way to avoid this onslaught was to leave home around 10:45am,  so that by the time I got to the metro around 11am the morning rush would be gone and the lunch rush not yet started. Additionally downtown departure would be made after 8:30pm to avoid the city rush. This worked out remarkably well and I often found myself alone waiting for the Metro. What a delight. I often will deliberately head in the opposite direction of the crowds so this tactic was a necessity to stay sane.

Sistine Chapel

Having now learned to side step the masses I was able to take in the Monuments I really came to see and they were marvellous. Nothing disappointed. The Colosseum was as colossal and striking against the sky as I anticipated, the aged and haunting columns of the Pantheon were even more eerie as I came upon it quite by surprise, the relics of the Forum had countless mysteries still left to the imagination, St Peter’s Basilica and the insde works of Michelangelo and Bernini were even more astounding than I expected (and my expectations were high for these), and the long awaited Sistine Chapel and the Final Judgement of the Vatican museum took my breath away.

I was also more than pleasantly surprised by the sudden appearance of Raphael’s School of Athens and two Salvadore Dali paintings, which I had no idea were in the Vatican museum. I saw several Medieval alter pieces from masters like Giotto that completely lived up to the hype proclaimed by my Art History professor. Ultimately Rome not only matched my expectations of being noisy, smelly, hectic and rough, it surpassed them as well in ways unexpected and in ways I hoped for.

My short life in Sorrento

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After a 2 day journey involving four flights across 2 time zones, I’ve made it to Sorrento Italy. The sky was overcast and grey but the mountain views were still magical with a thick veil of fog and rain.  Looking out over my cute little european balcony I see people hurrying along under umbrellas of blues, whites and polkadots.

To be honest I was quite happy with the weather being the way it is because now I have an excuse to lay in bed and recover from jet lag. However my obsession with Cathedrals and the fine art housed inside gave me enough motivation to wander out into the drizzling rain to go investigate the St Antonio church just half a block down the street. To my delight mass was in session. I would be able to lurk in the back and soak up the ceremonial process and hear the choir sing in Italian.

The art was not the best I’ve seen but it is always fascinating to see how different religious artists depict the various icons and moments from their scripture. The golds, blues and whites were rich and vibrant, while the sculptures were bigger than life.

As the mass began to wrap up, I made a stealthy exit and retreated back to my quarters where I quickly assumed the horizontal position. Eye patch on, ear plugs in, I soon descended into the depths of a black unconsciousness and remained in a dreamless state for 10 hours.

International Village Food Court – Chinatown’s quiet little secret


It’s 11:30am on a Friday in the International Village of Chinatown, and the food court is empty. I’m starving and I know this is my best chance of finding something to eat in a pinch. All the vendors are open and I head directly to the Thai Kitchen counter and order a Pad Kee Mao. I sit and wait. People start trickling in by the ones and twos. Eventually a group of five show up who look like a grandparent set and three grandkids. By 11:45am the Taco Time is getting the most action of all the joints. My food arrives steaming hot, and my  nose if filled with the sting of pepper and cilantro. Despite the heat I dive in and a familiar joy washes over me. Nothing like Thai Food. By noon there are still only a handful of patrons. Two elderly Asian men, a middle aged Philippino couple, a young woman and the family of five. The Taco Time is still the main attraction. I’m certain I got the better deal.

Not many tourists know of this little escape from the hustle and bustle of the Chinatown sights and shopping, but it’s a reprieve that is filled with a variety of foods options for a reasonable price. Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Thai and Western palettes abound, and nothing is over the $15 range for a sizeable meal. However, most appealing of all is the relatively low number of people that take advantage of this little refuge, so you will be able to enjoy your delicious meal in peace and quiet.

Babes and Castles

Babes and Castles

Babes and Castles

Life in the BVI

I recently moved to Tortola BVI to experience life in the Caribbean. It’s always been a dream to live here, so here I am. These are my photos.
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Off to Hawaii!

I arrived in Hawaii safely and a little bit tipsy. Here are some of my first shots taken.
Aloha!