Peter and I arrived in Athens on Tuesday evening. We opened the curtains to look at the view and there was the Acropolis, which we could see from our hotel window, all lit up and it was magical and beautiful! I didn’t expect a work of art to stop me in my tracks, but it did. During the day, when we were back in the room, we watched the light change on this beautiful piece of architecture. We aren’t that close to it of course but we can see it so clearly – the big Parthenon and the side temple or temples. It’s on this magnificent promontory of rock and it so stands out in the city among the dense buildings that make up this huge city of around four or 5 million.
I began to think if there were other works of art that stopped me in my tracks in the same way a beautiful scene, such as mountains or sometimes cliffs of islands might do – or any beautiful scene. This has happened before. When I was in Spain some years ago, I saw Picasso’s Guernica which is a huge and powerful painting. The painting is about the bombing of the small-town where I believe the Germans were testing their new bombs and it just rains terror. Of course, Picasso is very angular and seemingly non-realistic, but it really captured the horror of what was happening
Many years ago, I saw the Sphinx in Egypt which is so big and so monumental and yet it feels so light and so graceful. It is a beautiful huge sculpture obviously carved out of an extremely large rock or perhaps what we might call a mountain.
When I visited the Louvre some years ago, there was a magnificent statue called Winged Victory. I had studied it in art history in college. It is like a woman without a head that has big wings and it’s at the top of the stairs and when you go up the stairs, all of a sudden you see this soaring figure. I was captivated by it.
There is so much we can see when we travel that is beautiful or that we might remember having seen pictures of. But so often what we expect to stop us in our tracks may not do that and then something surprises us which we don’t expect. I saw the Parthenon in 1970. I’ve seen pictures of it many times. But I have not seen that in a photo or in person with the magnificence I am seeing it now. It is another one of those wonderful surprises that so often happen when traveling.