Victoria here. My husband and I had a fabulous vacation in Europe this summer, and though I can’t pretend to duplicate Kristine’s hilarious adventures in England, I will attempt to interest you in a few of my own explorations.
Vicky and Ed in Potsdam, at the Palace (one of many)
Like Kristine’s hubby, mine is tolerant of my obsessions with all things English, and equally long-suffering when it comes to being dragged around to historic sites, stately homes, and even pet cemeteries. And a little like Kristine’s Greg, my Ed suffered a bit of a malady, if only some burst blisters. It was tough going for him by the end of our journey.
I will not go into detail on the entire trip, but to begin with, we had our first trip to Prague in the Czech Republic. The city is lovely and has a fascinating history. Perhaps my favorite spot was the Klementinum, part of a large complex once a monastery and church, now mostly a study center and concert venue.
The Mirror Chapel
I have to lift the photo below from the web, as they did not allow cameras near the library. It is a breath-taking sight and it made me yearn to study there. The guide said it is open to researchers...but I didn't see a soul.
Klementinum Baroque Library Hall
We were surprised when one of our stops was to visit the beautiful scenic area of the Bohemian Mountains which straddle the Czech Republic/German border, called variously Bohemian Switzerland and Saxon Switzerland. I was completely taken by surprise at the two adjoining national parks. This dramatic scenery was much beloved by the early Romantics, including writers, poets, composers and artists from all over. Among the English visitors was Mary Godwin Shelley (1797-1851), of Frankenstein fame.
Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell (1800-1868), NPG
She wrote of the area in Rambles in Germany and Italy (1844):
"Immediately on quitting the village the portals of the mountains opened before us, and we plunged into their recesses. It is difficult to describe the peculiarity of this region; it differs so much from every other...In Saxony, the impression is as if the tops of the hills were the outer circumference of the globe, strangely fissured and worn away by the action of water...The mystic imagination of the Germans has indeed peopled this region with gnome and kobold, who watch over hidden treasure..."
"...The precipices are broken into a thousand fantastic shapes and forced into rough columns, pillars, and peaks numberless; with huge caverns, mighty portals, and towering archways; the whole clothed with pines, verdant with a luxuriant growth of various shrubs; and but that for the most part the long drought has silenced them, resonant with waterfalls."
Another famous Romantic who visited the area was the English painter J. M. W. Turner. He sketched the scenery and his work is in the Tate Britain. Here is one example, viewing the river Elbe from above:.
Below, two of my photos, from a similar vantage point.
The well-known German artist of the sublime Casper David Friedrich (1774-1840) left us this atmospheric painting which also expresses the Romantic mood of the region.
Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, Kunsthalle Hamburg