Tag Archives: culture

You can have the Viking art, I’ll be over here with the stave church

Vikings are popular these days, but please don’t invite me to that party.  As far as I’m concerned, being a fan of Vikings is akin to being a fan of Isis.  Like Isis, Vikings destroyed priceless works of cultural heritage (and yeah, they killed a lot of people too).  I’m taking the side of the […]

Are we Trunk-Slammers? The dubious ethics of cultural tourism

Growing up in the rural Midwest, I lived for several years in a resort for well-off city dwellers.  (My mom had remarried and some of my stepfather’s family owned and operated the place, and for a while he worked there too.)  The resort had artificially created lakes, golf courses, a concrete castle, and hilly roads […]

Pingyao: a dozen boring museums and one magical city

Pingyao, in the Shanxi province of Northern China, combines two of my favorite things: a walled city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Normally we don’t go walking around on city walls because HOB has a fear of heights.  However, Pingyao’s wall, which was built in 1370 during the Ming Dynasty, is low with a […]

Song, sculpture and huggy-huggy trees at the Bunan tribe’s farm

  As soon as the man with the top-knot hairstyle dropped us off at the entry to the Bunan farm he took off to join in a performance.  We left our bags and followed close behind, where other members of the tribe, wearing similar embroidered outfits, began a program of traditional Bunan singing and dance. The Bunan […]

We’re all still friends in Sarajevo

In the foreground, a mosque.  In the background, the spire of a Catholic church. This is Sarajevo. Sarajevo is my favorite sort of town: buzzing with dynamic street life, culturally rich and simultaneously traditional and forward-thinking. Trams are gliding by, the traffic is not that crazy and the architecture ranges from Ottoman to Viennese.  Drool-inducing (if meat […]

Why I travel for sacred art and whether I’m religious…….or not

I adore religious art, and I travel to see it in person any chance I get.  Most of my happiest days in Europe have been spent with HOB in and around cathedrals (and the occasional mosque and synagogue.)  Of all music, I am most enthralled by masses and oratorios, and I’d much rather see art in a church […]