Made My Own Souvenirs. It Was Awesome.

While I was on my trip, I didn’t buy many souvenirs for myself. I came home with a small assortment of postcards, an evil eye bracelet and three small bowls from Greece, a first American edition of Mill on the Floss from a bookstore in Brussels, a scarf from Lisbon (which I bought because it was starting to get cold), a thin cloth bag for groceries from Barcelona, and durable smaller bag from Ireland (which I used as a carry-on to lug back all the souvenirs I bought for family and friends). I don’t think that’s too much given that we were gone for three months. Matt and I figured that the photos I took would be our souvenirs. But printing a photo book is expensive (I’ve found more important things to spend my money on with our recent move). We printed out a few photos to hang on our fridge and put at our desks at work but not much else. Before we even moved to our apartment, I knew that we needed something to commemorate the trip by, something that everyone could see. I knew it wouldn’t be that photo book quite yet so I decided to make my own souvenirs to display our trip.

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At one point I thought I might buy a print for each country from some of the sellers on Etsy. Thinking about how that could really add up too, I decided to try my own hand at making some small maps to display. I bought some acetate, watercolors, paint brushes, and watercolor paper and then went to work with all of that plus the supplies I already had (Sharpies, a pencil, and a blade to cut the acetate). I printed out small maps of each country which I then traced on to the acetate with Sharpie. Then I used the blade to cut out my own stencils which I saved for future use. I traced the countries on to watercolor paper with pencil. I then went over the pencil with Sharpie and applied watercolor in a variety of colors. Finally, I used Sharpie to label each country. Right now each piece is mounted with an adhesive material (which shouldn’t destroy the paper) to our apartment wall until I get around to buying materials to frame each.

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I loved making my own reminders of our trip. It was a very reflective experience as I took the time to consider each country and our memories of that place while I was making each piece. I also used these as an opportunity to surprise Matt with the art for our anniversary and first apartment together. In the future we plan on saving our maps and doing something with those. Matt came up with the idea after we got home. Creating our own souvenirs with maps would also be a great option as Matt and I really used our maps; the maps became our own as we drew routes on them, marked important locations, wrote down useful information, and folded them in odd ways. Retrospectively, those could have been some of the best souvenirs would could have kept but we are pretty happy with our current alternative.

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Lisbon: A Few Photos

Art in a Mall (Unfortunately I was unable to find the artist's name near the piece but it looks awesome so I had to share it.)

Art in a Mall (Unfortunately I was unable to find the artist’s name near the piece but it looks awesome so I had to share it.)

Ruins at Excavation Site at the Castle of S. Jorge

Ruins at Excavation Site at the Castle of S. Jorge

Trees in Courtyard of the Castle of S. Jorge

Trees in Courtyard of the Castle of S. Jorge

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Like these photos? Check out more on my Flickr photostream.

Barcelona: A Few Photos

Balconies, Casa Batllo by Gaudi, Barcelona

Balconies, Casa Batllo by Gaudi, Barcelona

Roof of La Pedrera by Gaudi and a Piece of Skyline

Roof of La Pedrera by Gaudi and a Piece of Skyline

Light through Stained Glass, Sagrada Familia by Gaudi

Light through Stained Glass, Sagrada Familia by Gaudi

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Like these photos? Check out more on my Flickr photostream.

Mind Blowing Architecture: Hundertwasser in Vienna

While Matt and I visited Vienna, we made sure to check out the Hundertwasserhaus and the Kunst Haus Wien. The Hundertwasserhaus is an apartment complex that Friedensreich Hundertwasser designed. People still live in the building. Hundertwasser is an architect that favors having humans connect with nature even in the city. Undulating floors provide your feet an experience that you have never felt before; Hundertwasser describes it as a symphony for your feet and I couldn’t agree more. Tree tenants populate the building in order to promote cleaner air, quiet, and bring nature into the city. You can’t go in the interior of the Hundertwasserhaus but you can visit the outside. It’s interesting and definitely worth your time. Plus, it is very, very close to Kunst Haus Wien. Hundertwasser designed this museum that houses an extensive collection of his works on paper. The museum is a piece of art in itself. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take pictures of his work but I was able to photograph some of the interior, specifically the museum cafe. If you use the museum cafe you’ll get an opportunity to sit and soak in Hundertwasser’s architecture a bit more while enjoying some typical food from Vienna.

 

Entrance to Tian Bistro in Kunst Haus Wien

                                                                       Entrance to Tian Bistro in Kunst Haus Wien                                                                          (It’s a bit difficult to see but the floor isn’t flat.)

 

Although I tried to get as many photos as possible, it was difficult to get much at all because of the museum’s policies. If you’re ever in Vienna, take the time to stop at both the Hundertwasserhaus and the Kunst Haus Wien. Both are experiences that should not be missed. In the meantime, read a few quotes from Hundertwasser to get an idea of his thought process.

Entrance to Hundertwasserhaus, Vienna

Entrance to Hundertwasserhaus, Vienna

 

“The straight line leads to the downfall of humanity.”

 

“You are a guest of nature – behave.”

 

“We must at last put a stop to having people move into their quarters like chickens and rabbits into their coops.”

 

“Today we live in a chaos of straight lines, in a jungle of straight lines. If you do not believe this, take the trouble to count the straight lines which surround you. Then you will understand for you will never finish counting.”

View of Hundertwasserhaus from the Street, Vienna

                                                               View of Hundertwasserhaus from the Street, Vienna                                                                  (Notice the tree tenants that are growing out of the building.)

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Note One: The featured image for this piece is a look at Kunst Haus Wien’s facade details.


Note Two: I found the above quotes on Brainy Quote, Good Reads, and IZ Quotes.

Cool Art at the East Side Gallery, Berlin Wall

The East Side Gallery hosts over a hundred paintings by international artists. The paintings have been directly applied to a portion of the Berlin Wall. These massive murals are both interesting and eye-catching. If you ever find yourself in Berlin, check out this monument. I think that it is a great use for remnants of the Berlin Wall. Here are some pieces you might find interesting:

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Go Underground in Poland: Facts about the Wieliczka Salt Mine

A twenty minute drive from Krakow will take you to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. This site is on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. It’s a pretty cool place. I’ve always been partial to seeing underground sites and caves (you can thank my grandfather for that one) so this place was just my cup of tea. Matt absolutely loved the salt mine. It was his first underground tour as well. I think just about anyone would find it fun. Well, except for if you don’t like being underground. Here’s a few facts about the Wieliczka Salt Mine that you might find interesting.

Everything is Made of Salt: Barring the wooden supports, everything is salt. Go ahead! Lick the walls. Or touch the wall and then lick your hand. The salt gets rid of bacteria too so you’re good to go. On the tour you will get the opportunity to taste water that is partial brine and full brine. A delicacy!

There’s Some Cool Art Down There: All of the sculptures are made of salt and done by miners who have worked there.

Copernicus Sculpture, Wieliczka Salt Mine

Copernicus Sculpture, Wieliczka Salt Mine

You Can Have a Wedding There: There’s a huge salt chapel in the mine and you can get married there. It’s quite beautiful and definitely unique. The gorgeous chandeliers are even made of salt.

Salt Petrifies Wood: Take a look at the older wooden support beams. They kind of look like salt, right? They’ve been petrified by salt over time.

Salty Wall, Wieliczka Salt Mine

Salty Wall, Wieliczka Salt Mine

You Can’t Drown In the Lakes: There’s so much salt in the lakes found in the mine that you can’t drown in them. You just float to the surface. Scuba divers tried to reach the bottom of one of the lakes and had to use quite a bit of additional weight to touch it. The only recorded death in water in the mine is a group of drunk men who got trapped under their boat that they overturned.

Miners Work There to Save the Town from Destruction: The mine isn’t used as much anymore for actually mining salt. The miners who work there now do a lot of preventative work to make sure that the mine doesn’t collapse and that visitors can enjoy the site. If the mine goes down, the whole city of Wieliczka goes down as it sits directly on top of the mine.

Cathedral, Wieliczka Salt Mine

Cathedral, Wieliczka Salt Mine

Follow the White: If you visit the mine, you’ll notice that some of the walls are painted white. This helped the miners find the exits in the dark as the white would reflect the light better.

Ride a Fun Cage to the Surface: To reach the bottom of the mine, you take fifty-four flights down by foot but you get to ride up in an elevator. It’s the weirdest elevator you’ve probably ever seen with multiple cages stacked on top of each other. Each cage fits eight people tightly and you zoom up to the surface.

Detail of Salt Chandelier, Cathedral, Wieliczka Salt Mine

Detail of Salt Chandelier, Cathedral, Wieliczka Salt Mine

Feeling Sick? Stay a Bit Longer: There’s a sanitarium in the mine. People with health problems can stay in the mine as the air in the mine is known to improve health. Actually, anyone can stay there. You just need to pay for a room.

Horses Used to Live Down There: In the past the miners used horses down in the mines. The horses never came back up once they were brought down because it was such a stressful experience to get them down there in the first place. The horses in the mine were extremely well taken care of by the miners because they needed them to get their work done efficiently. You can see an old stable when you go on your tour.