It may take another year before we can travel safely and go to our favorite cities, museums, cultural venues and events. When the pandemic is more “under control” with mass vaccinations worldwide, what will be on your list of faves ?
Here’s an update to plan out your dreams and see what’s coming up
Venice Turns 1600: Buon Compleanno Venezia !
Hard to believe that La Serenissima, as the former Venetian Republic was known, celebrated its 1,600th birthday on March 25, based on archeological evidence from the ancient mud and wood flats that started the multi-island maritime empire.
Venice has withstood everything imaginable—the Plague, frequent flooding, even a takeover by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1797, who looted the Republic and took home the beautiful Quadriga of cast bronze horses that once adorned the top of San Marco. The term “quarantine” comes from the word “quarantena,” a term coined in Venice for the 40-day period that sailors were sequestered in the Arsenale when they came to the Republic during the Plague. Check out the CBS news story on the birthday!
What can you plan on? The city’s anniversary extends for a full year into 2022, so a future trip will include a panoply of events. Right now, there are streaming concerts – Baroque music, Vivaldi and more – hosted at from the city’s Anglican church you can participate online. Look for events
The Ruyi Bridge (China) is Yours – Have you got the courage to cross it?
Something rare and fantastical awaits you at the Shenxianju Valley: the eye-shaped undulating Ruyi Bridge (some think it looks like a double helix) that spans the gorge – is open for walking ! It’s 100 meters long and 140 meters in height, with a 40-foot glass platform that allows you to cross from one section to another.
Do you dare to gaze down into the valley? The genius behind this design is He Yunchang, a steel structure expert at the China Metal Structure Association. You may be familiar with his other designs – the new CCTV Tower (Beijing) and the acclaimed Bird’s Nest Stadium, a major venue for the 2008 Winter Olympics. Millions have viewed the video and thousands have crossed the Ruyi Bridge in Taizhou, East China’s Zhejiang province.
Historic Heidelberg Germany Welcomes You – but not your car !
It’s a “picture-postcard” city of 160,000, known for its Baroque design, cobbled streets, and the oldest university in Germany (as well as its famed secret dueling societies)
Mayor Eckart Würzner welcomes tourists – but not your car. He wants to eliminate cars, even electric and hybrids, in favor of buses, bicycles and pedestrian power. However according to the New York Times, “residents who buy a battery-powered vehicle a bonus of up to 1,000 euros, or $1,200. They get another €1,000 if they install a charging station.”
More bicycle bridges are on the way to avoid congested areas in the Old Town, and a fleet of hydrogen-powered city buses offer transit and help reduce the city’s carbon footprint. Heidelberg isn’t alone in its ambition to conquer center-city congestion. London, Stockholm, London, Paris and Rome are also in the queue to reduce and eliminate automobiles in the central core.
But that’s not all. Heidelberg is one of just 6 European cities – including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Copenhagen – that are considered urban design innovators by C40 Cities. The city’s climate consciousness is tied to a broader scheme of urban planning that is environmentally conscious.
For a firsthand look at energy-friendly design that contrasts with the Baroque-inspired city center, check out the innovative Bahnstadt neighborhood (above) on the city’s eastern edge, built atop the former freight rail yard. Considered a “climate neutral neighborhood,” this comprehensively designed neighborhood, begun in 2009 for 5,600 people, has major corporate offices and apartments grouped around courtyards with playgrounds, shops and food stores, schools, dead-end streets, and ample bicycle paths
Restorative Tourism is on Tap in Australia
Is your idea of a vacation – or time off — doing service work and helping others, think of Australia as a place that’s ready to welcome you. After devastating wildfires last year – and the loss of more than one billion animals as well as huge swaths of their habitat, the nation-continent is proposing “restorative tourism,” That’s all hands on deck for a variety of opportunities: bird banding, monitoring wildlife, koala restoration, seed collecting. You will probably have to wait until the end of 2021 to be allowed entry. In the meantime, read about the opportunities and possible tours/trips you can take.
Tiny Trains Take You Places – No Need to Leave Home
In a more than century old factory, the trains are running ! Marklin, the maker of model trains, has experienced a decided uptick in business since the start of the pandemic. In two locations, Göppingen, Germany, southwest of Stuttgart, and Gyor, Hungary, more than 1,100 employees are engaged in creating authentic model train miniatures (down to the bells and guardrails) This is a marked change from a decade ago when the business filed for bankruptcy.
In this miniature world, where people are one inch high, you’ll find authentic replicas of original trains, some of which still ply the rails in Europe. The miniatures feature digital sound effects, expel steam, raise and lower the pantagraphs (those fixtures atop the engine and cars that connect to electricity), control acceleration with compute controls, and more. The trains come in three different scales from HO to larger LGB trains to be set up outdoors. You don’t have to travel to see this world. Check out the video and the museum.
When you can travel, a visit to Märklineum, the company’s museum will be a treat for the whole family.
It’s Worth the Wait
Two of the world’s most visited cathedrals, Notre Dame (Paris) and Sagrada Familia (Barcelona) are works in progress – but it’s worth the wait.
Notre Dame, the Gothic style masterpiece with buttressed naves, was heavily damaged in 2018 by fire—the entire roof and spires were destroyed. It’s a toxic site because the spire, and major portions of the roof –some 200 tons of lead plus gigantic beams– melted or were incinerated and toxic lead flooded the entire area. The French government claims that Notre Dame will be usable again by 2024 – a goal that travelers hope is fulfilled. See the video
Sagrada Familia is a different story, in a different state of completion. Five generations have watched the development of Antonio Gaudi’s masterwork in Barcelona, progress has been underway for decades, and is expected to be completed in 2026. Sagrada’s cornerstone was laid in 1882; Gaudi took over in 1883 and continued to apply his unique vision until his death in 1926 when his disciple took over. Enjoy the photo gallery
Just Wait ! Think of the Future
More institutions on the museum trail are shuttered for covid – and for upgrades that you will appreciate once you are free to travel widely: The Louvre, the Pompidou, the Frick, the Prado, Philadelphia Museum of Art. Here’s what you need to know:
Louvre Renovations (Paris)
It takes an army, so they say, to renovate the Louvre — an institution that is immense. What’s been underway during the pandemic is new security systems, a lot of cleaning of individual works, including the Etruscan and Italian Halls, the Salon Carre (it’s gilded!), restoration of the Egyptian wing and the Grande Galerie. The Egyptian tomb chapel of Akhethotep from 2400BC is undergoing a major restoration ! When you come back, it will be a whole new experience !
If you want a Louvre fix while you’re waiting, check out the trailer for the Netflix Lupin drama series when master thief Lupin absconds with a priceless necklace once owned by Marie Antoinette during a high-stakes auction.
The Pompidou in Paris: Strike while the iron is hot and plan your visit when lockdown ends! The gallery closes down at the end of 2023 for a 4 year period for a complete overhaul ! The work of architects Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano in 1977, the Pompidou is beloved for its daring design – an inside out approach that features pipes and building systems gaily displayed on its exterior. It’s going to have a top-to-bottom overhaul and reopen in time for its 50th Anniversary (2027)
Prado at 200: The Prado in Madrid just completed its bicentennial when covid 19 struck Spain and caused a lengthy, and now current, shutdown (no one into Madrid during Holy Week 2021). The good news: A complete reinstallation of the permanent collection for the bicentennial means you’ll be able to see the art with fresh perspective. A new permanent exhibition presents the history of the fabled museum with some 250 drawings, paintings and photographs. When reopening, plan on plenty of public health precautions (mask up, distancing)
Philadelphia: The first phase of a Frank-Gehry-designed reorganization intended to expand gallery space and improve flow at The Philadelphia Museum of Art now features a new north entrance, espresso bar, and retail; the core of the project will have to wait until – you guessed it – covid is over. Now open Friday through Monday.
Alexander Calder Sanctuary in Philadelphia: Just down Benjamin Franklin Parkway a major cultural addition being planned with a design by Herzog & DeMeuron– a sanctuary/gallery/garden to house a variety of inspiring sculptures, stabiles, mobiles and more from internationally renowned Alexander (“Sandy”) Calder, one of three generations of the artistic Calder family from Philadelphia. While you’re waiting (for 2023?) check out the voluminous Calder archive
The Marcel Breuer-designed building at 745 Madison Avenue that housed the Whitney Museum of American Art for 50 years (it’s now downtown in new digs) has had two recent reincarnations — first, a temporary home for modern art from the Metropolitan Museum; now, houses select holdings from the Frick Collection while the historic mansion undergoes renovation and a major addition.
Did you miss the 500th anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci’s death ? It was celebrated – briefly – before the various European shutdowns in 2020. If you missed the exhibitions, here’s a place that feature Leonardo’s genius as a thinker and inventor. If you happen to be in Milan, you can delve into the brilliant mind of Leonardo da Vinci at an interactive exhibit. Leonardo3 – The World of Leonardo, located at Piazza della Scala, with reproductions of his famous machines as well as manuscripts, digital restorations, and reconstructions.