My first ever trip to London, I had my first ever panic attack, blacked out in the middle of Harrods, and spent most of my 48 hours in town sleeping it all off in my hotel room. Still, I managed to go out for a few hours on my last day and visit the V&A with my mom and grandma. It was a magical experience, and it became one I've recreated every trip to London since.
The V&A is a vast and amazing place. I've visited it six or seven times now, and I'm sure there are still corners I have yet to discover. One thing I saw for the first time on my last trip, when A and I returned a few hours before heading to the airport, was it's library. We went on a Sunday so it was closed, but I spend a few minutes peering in from the glass doors, wishing I could go in...
The Courtauld Gallery is one of those places that I've been dying to visit for most of my life. My mom went to a Courtauld exhibit at the MET in the 80s, and I've consequently been surrounded by framed posters from it for most of my life. Manet's "Banks of the Seine at Argenteuil" has played a particularly important role, hanging in my room for years. Its blue shades instantly evoke calm and childhood happiness, and I've always wanted to see it in person.
A and I put our Saturday morning in London aside to visit the Courtauld with Angela, another Coven Morgana friend. We took our time going through the different floors of the gallery, and it truly proved to be the museum of my dreams. Small, exquisitely curated, heavy on Impressionism, and set in a beautiful building. I think I enjoyed Somerset House almost (almost!) as much as the art.
That being said, "Banks of the Seine at Argenteuil" did not disappoint, and the experience proved to be just as surreal as I'd imagined. My poster is bigger than the painting itself (coming to that realization as I stood in front of it was a very #American moment), but the vibrancy of the colors and movement of the brushstrokes come across so incredibly on canvas that I'm sorry that I didn't stand in front of it for longer. It's such a beautiful, peaceful painting.
So many of the paintings in the collection caught my attention, and I even found myself admiring an early Picasso. (I am, historically, not very fond of Picasso.) I can't wait to go back on future trips and give more time to the paintings I didn't have time to dwell over.
By far the best thing blogging has brought me over the past few years is my incredible group of friends. Many of these started as individual friendships, but more and more have them have come together over the past two years to form what we first jokingly referred to and then embraced as Coven Morgana. We don't practice witchcraft but support one another, provide morale, and share positivity, aesthetic, and cake recipes. It's brilliant and international, and while most of us live in different places, from the West Coast of the States to Western Europe, some of us still manage to meet up in England from time to time.
We were lucky enough to have such a meeting with Amy, Abby, and Amy V. Norris when A and I were in London a few weeks ago. We went to the British Library, to the Wallace Collection, had coffee and cake, and stocked up on books at my favorite Persephone Books. And then we went to the V&A and ended up drinking a bottle of wine in the café instead of browsing the Undressed exhibition. As you do when an international aesthetic coven meets up in London.
It was an altogether amazing day, and I look forward to the day every one of us can meet up and have fun together.
The day after we got back from Zürich, A and I headed to Fribourg to visit his grandparents. They invited us to stay with them and show us around their city an entire year ago, so needless to say, our trip was a bit overdue... but with A spending last autumn in York, the general craziness of the spring and the summer travels, finding a time that worked for everyone was harder than it probably should have been. I'm so glad we finally managed though because the trip was lovely and getting to know his grandparents a bit better was wonderful. I've really appreciated seeing more of A's family over the past few weeks. He comes from such a well-adjusted, loving, and engaging family that it's not only gratifying to see where he gets certain qualities but also quite honestly comforting to see that such families exist.
I had meetings for most of the day in Geneva the day we went out to Fribourg, so we didn't arrive until dinner time, but we got up and headed out to explore the city the next morning with A's grandmother. Below are some of the photos I took during our walk:
On our last afternoon in Zürich, Rory and A and I met up with A's aunt, uncle, and cousin at the Kunsthaus. After spending three days mostly surrounded by medieval and early modern visual culture, I was ready to see more modern art and wander around looking at pieces I actually recognized. Of course, we ended up taking more time in the medieval rooms anyway, but I still got some time with Van Gogh and Monet, so all was okay.
The end of summer this year seems to be all about A taking me to his favorite local museums. He took me to his favorites in Lausanne (in early August), the Landesmuseum and the Kunsthaus in Zurich (this weekend), and the Musées d'Art et d'Histoire in Neuchâtel (two-ish weeks ago) and in Fribourg (yesterday!). I'll get to all of them with time, but today I'm going to share pictures from Neuchâtel.
A's been talking about an incredible room at the museum in Neuchâtel basically since our second date last year. He visited the museum with his grandparents the day after our first date and has been promising that I'll love it ever since. The pictures he posted on Instagram don't really give away how truly amazing it is, so I was honestly a bit skeptical — Pre-Raphaelite painting aside, we don't tend to be passionate about the same kind of art. Thankfully, I was wrong about this.
A and I went to a museum on our second date, and museums have played an important role in our dating life since then. We've been to quite a few over the last year, in London, Paris, York, and Geneva, and we like to set days apart every now and then to explore others. A few Sundays ago, we decided to spend the day in Lausanne so A could show me some of his childhood favorites. We went to the Palais de Rumine, which houses quite a few small museums, and then made our way down to Ouchy after lunch to go to the Musée Olympique (and to have amazing gelato). Here are a few of our photos...
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I'm Olivia, a twenty-six year old grad student studying in Switzerland. This is where I share my thoughts on the academic journey, culture, travels, baking, and my daily life abroad. Read More.