Keyamour took a hiatus earlier this month, traveling to Europe for several weeks. It was a little work mixed with fun. We always manage to enjoy ourselves while we are away and it's a bonus when you can score some jeweled goodies. I am so happy for the opportunity to travel, see something new, experience a new city, try new food. It's like a little rev up for the imagination and mind. An exercise for the senses.
We started our trip driving from Heathrow Airport in England to Stonehenge. It's such an iconic place, and the whole concept of these prehistoric rocks getting placed where they are is mind boggling. How did this all get there around 2400 BC? While we saw the real thing, we saw it a little from afar because we didn't pay the entry fee and dogs were not allowed (we had friends who brought their adorable poodles). Anyway, it was a cool thing to do, and nice to stretch our legs for a walk through the countryside. I managed to take this photo when there weren't any people walking in front of it.
From there we drove to Salcombe which is in the southwest part of England in Devon. It's a lovely seaside town with cute shops, restaurants, small beaches and hotels. As England tends to be it wasn't hot summer weather, but rather brisk. No sunbathing here, but walking around and breathing the sea air was nice. We particularly enjoyed the local oysters and crab. Perhaps we overdid it with the oysters, I still am having trouble looking at one!
There are a few jewelry friends of ours who have vacation homes in the area, so we were well looked after and really enjoyed seeing the mix of sea landscapes with lush fertile green English countryside. It was really a sight to enjoy. We were surprised by the contrast.
Next stop was Padstow, Cornwall. Nicknamed "Pad-Stein" after the noted English chef Rick Stein who has several restaurants, hotels, and shops in the town and surrounding area. We stayed at the Seafood Restaurant where his famous flagship restaurant is, and had a 9 pm reservation to dine there. It wasn't meant to be - remember the oysters and crab... well, it was a nice hotel. Still managed to capture some of the beauty of Padstow which was different from Salcombe, but both beautiful landscapes.
We returned to London for several days where I did some shopping and a little touristy sight-seeing. Our hotel was the Number Sixteen - part of the the Kit Kemp empire of Firmdale Hotels. They have several properties throughout London and one in New York. Number Sixteen is in the heart of South Kensington and the entire experience feels a little like home with the pampering and luxury of being in a fine hotel. Plus it's close to the Victoria & Albert Museum where I FINALLY visited their jewelry collection. A really nice journey through the jewelry ages, genres, motifs, styles and iconic pieces. While you can't take photos in the museum, I found and bought this little gem in London - an early 19th century rose cut diamond cluster ring.
After London, we traveled for a few days in Madrid and then Barcelona. I did much more sightseeing in both those cities as I had more time to explore. Since I had seen the Prado Museum last year, I wanted to go to the Queen Sofia Museum which I had no idea was closed on Tuesdays. Oops. So, instead I stumbled upon the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum. It was once a large private collection that reflects the taste of the Baron Thyssen Bornemisza (he started the collection in the 1920s). The collection later evolved through the collection of the Baron's son and then his wife. I have to say it's a wonderful capsule look at wonderful movements throughout art history, with really nice examples of "all the majors." I know that sounds vague, but I was really impressed by each example they had and the emphasis on North American painters such as George Inness, William Merritt Chase and John Singer Sargent. Below are a few images I wanted to remember.
Last stop in the trip was Barcelona. We took the high speed train between Madrid and Barcelona which is very comfortable and an easy way to travel. For me, anything Gaudi is fascinating. We did long walking tours of Parc Guell and La Sagrada Familia. Even in one year a lot has changed with the ever evolving labor of Love Church! They added lots of stained glass windows that reflect beautiful light into the Sanctuary, and they finished some of the outer walkways. This time we also visited Hospital de Sant Pau which is a massive turn of the century hospital by Domenech i Montaner. He was a contemporary of Gaudi, and was also a mover and shaker in the Modernism architectural movement. It's interesting to compare the visions of these two innovators. By comparison Montaner is more Beaux Arts and traditional, though they had similarities. The use of color, light, and the effort to bring nature and natural elements indoors are very similar.
The trip was a memorable one. I look forward to parlaying some of the artistic inspiration from the museums and I visited into Keyamour. In addition, the website will soon reflect some of the new purchases made!