Travel and Where Inspiration Comes From

It’s been a week now since we got back from our trip to Vienna and Budapest, and I’m finally caught-up enough with everything to take the time to write about it and share some of my favorite photos from that trip.

Travel is our “hobby”; we don’t spend any money on each other during the holidays or during the year, instead we “explore the world” together. Those experiences are far more precious and memorable than any material gift! We are also veteran “thrifty” travelers and love to go off-season to both avoid crowds and get great deals. So November in Austria and Hungary was cold… but fortunately we dodged snow storms on either end of the 10 days we were there, and had cloudy or partly sunny days most of the time. We traveled light and efficient with just one backpack each, prepared with cold weather gear, so we were able to do a lot of outdoor touring even with temps at freezing some days.

Both cities had superb museums of all kinds, and we spent a lot of time in the big art museums. I saw more of my favorite landscape painter Canaletto, and more Dutch painters, hooray! I have to say that Budapest was far more fascinating than Vienna, and as we had 6 nights there we really got to know it pretty well, for tourists. What a strange and compelling mix of brand-new and old, especially in the architecture, all framed by the gorgeous Danube. We went all over the city via their great metro and street trams. We spent most of a day in the National History museum learning about Hungary’s turbulent past. Speaking of their past, here is a photo of one of the most quirky places to see in Budapest, the Sculpture Park:

After the communist gov’t left in the 1990’s someone got the idea to gather up many of the large sculptures from the communist era, and put them in a park out in the middle of a field in the suburbs. (Instead of the trash heap of history as is mostly done with such things.)

Vienna was in full holiday season by the time we left, and all over the city they had these Christmas markets:

This incredible space is in the main lobby of the Vienna Art Museum:

Here is a great shot my little under-$200 point-and-shoot digital camera took of the the Danube at night and Budapest’s famous chain bridge (even the moon peeked out for the moment):

And lastly… Paul and I have this running travel joke, where, because I am not adventurous at all when it comes to food — basically a terrible food coward with the tastes of a child — I end up eating a lot at McDonald’s when we are overseas. I hate to admit it, but it’s true. They are like food oases for me! (And, cheeseburger is cheeseburger in ANY language!) So, in every city we visit I must have a photo taken of me at the most out-of-place location to find a McD’s. (And it is astonishing how many places they show up, where you’d really rather not see them, like in front of the Pantheon in Rome.) Or, one that sort of represents the city it is in. So, here I am in my fast-food shame, at one of the many McDonald’s in Budapest, easily the most “classy” one:

It was built into the original restaurant in Budapest’s most beautiful old train station, which was designed by the same person who designed Paris’ Eiffel tower.

On where inspiration and ideas come from:
I can’t recommend enough taking a vacation… one that completely removes you physically and mentally from your “normal” everyday life. I had a EUREKA! moment for a sculpture at 3 a.m. lying awake in our hotel in Budapest. (Regardless of various recommended remedies/regimens to try, I always suffer insomnia from jetlag while overseas, which takes about 5 days to go away, ugh! And then just when your body clock resets, it’s time to go home!!)

This is not the first time this has happened to me while traveling. Perhaps it was the days we had spent looking at art in the museums and classically-inspired architecture on the streets, or just the complete forgetting of all the day-to-day cares.

(And then there was the frustration of being away and I couldn’t rush down to the studio and work while inspired!)

Anyway, I came back all inspired and with my artist-self practically sizzling. I’m not ready to talk about the new sculpture yet, because it is a very challenging idea to execute. I’m still thinking how to go about it. If I can pull it off, it will be an interesting new direction to explore (and a TOTALLY insanely great piece for ceramics finishing)!

P.S.: It is not a horse, though it is equine-related!