Scenic Salzburg in Pictures

Mirabelle Flowers

View From Hohensalzburg Castle

View From Hohensalzburg Castle

On the train to Salzburg

Zurich to Innsbruck


Innsbruck Valley

Hellbrunn Schloss gardens

Hellbrunn Lake

Mirabelle Garden (where the movie ‘Sound of Music’ was recorded)

Mirabelle Gardens

Mirabelle Statue

Mirabelle View Sound of Music

Mirabelle Flowers

Salzburg town, viewed from Hohensalzburg Castle

Salzburg Town

Salzburg Valley

Salzburg Hills - Austria


Why Do We Travel?

Palace of Versailles, Paris, France

When you look at travel photos posted by friends on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or Pinterest, everything looks so beautiful, joyous and fun.

Reality doesn’t quite work that way.  In fact, travel travails often have you wondering why you even bother to leave home!


Where’s Your Sistine Chapel?

Vatican Museum

“Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one can form no appreciable idea of what one man is capable of achieving.” – Johann Wolfgang Goethe, 23 August 1787

The highlight of our tour of the Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museum) in Rome, Italy, was a visit to the fabled Sistine Chapel, the sacred sanctum sanctorum where a Papal conclave meets to elect a new head of the Roman Catholic church.

Sistine Chapel ceiling

We were first given a brief lecture by our guide, who highlighted all the features we shouldn’t miss during the visit, and then we trooped into the museum.

The intricately carved statues, tiled mosaic floors and richly colored murals that spanned entire walls and ceilings were just a build-up to the crescendo… 

Sistine Chapel floor

Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.

This “masterpiece without precedent” was to change the course of Western art!  The respected painter completed nine ceiling panels over four years, between 1508 and 1512… and then returned for another six years (1535-1541) to paint ‘The Last Judgment’.

(Photography is not permitted inside the chapel, so I haven’t got any pictures to share – though you’d see them if you tapped into my brain, where they are stored in all their technicolor glory!)

Sistine Chapel entry

As one stares in awe and amazement at the paintings on the Sistine Chapel’s roof, it’s difficult to not imagine (and admire) the unparalleled talent combined with incredible effort and determination that made it possible.

Sistine Chapel Vatican Museum

What’s less well known is how much self-doubt and introspection were behind its creation.

At first, Michelangelo was intimidated by the scale of the project.  You see, he thought of himself as a sculptor, not a painter – and wanted to turn down the commission.  He even suspected his enemies of thrusting it upon him, so they could watch him fail!

But he decided to go ahead with it.

Michelangelo fresco

The challenge brought out the best in this gifted artist.

He demanded creative freedom over the content of his paintings.  He even re-designed the scaffolding on which he stood for long hours to reach up to the ceiling.

Then, he got to work.

For five long years, he painstakingly created his masterpiece.

By the end, Michelangelo had painted over FIVE THOUSAND square feet of frescoes!  Amazing, huh?

And then… 

He bested this effort with ‘The Last Judgment’, a painting that depicts the second coming of Christ, and was highly controversial at the time for depicting naked figures.


Awe inspiring.

And also a clarion call to each of us – to wake up to our own unlimited potential.

“Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one can form no appreciable idea of what one man is capable of achieving.”

Some of us don’t even know what our talents are – because we don’t dare to go after our dreams.

Or we don’t persist, stick with it long enough, or work hard to make those dreams real.

Or we don’t truly believe, deep inside our hearts, that they will ever come true.

Our talents and gifts lie unused inside us.

Just think about it.

Michelangelo could have refused to take on the Pope’s commission to decorate the Sistine Chapel.

He might have done a quick rush-job – and just painted something ordinary and simple.

He must have hesitated and feared not being good enough, despite his prior fame and accomplishments as an artist.

Yet he took on the challenge.  

Spent five long, hard years, standing high above the ground on a ladder or scaffolding, creating his masterpieces.

And one man’s daring and persistence in chasing his dream has left the art world infinitely richer, with a stunning, sensational creation that almost TWENTY THOUSAND people visit – every single day…


What will YOUR “Sistine Chapel” look like?

When will YOU start working on it?

(Or have you already begun?)

Musei Vaticani

P.S. – It’s interesting how Michelangelo portrayed his fierce critic, Biagio de Cesena, with donkey ears as the guardian of hell in The Last Judgment!

Michelangelo’s own self-portrait finds itself on the flayed skin of St.Bartholomew, a reflection of his own tortured faith. Those must have been hard times, and that these geniuses let their artistic talent shine through them is doubly astonishing!


Santa Maria Maggiore – In Pictures

Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, Italy

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is one of the oldest churches in Rome built in 440 AD by Pope Sixtus III.  

It was one of four great pilgrimage churches in Rome, and is a mind-boggling awe-inspiring monument.

Inside, mosaics from the 5th century narrate 36 scenes from the Old Testament, and the wood ceiling is gilded with the first gold brought from the New World.

Santa Maria Maggiore mosaics

Bernini in Santa Maria Maggiore

Gianlorenzo Bernini’s tomb

Santa Maria Maggiore

The Cappella Sforza (Sforza Chapel), designed by Michelangelo, is a feast for the eyes as it soars in perfect symmetry into the heights, drawing your attention to delightful artistic masterpieces at every level.

Santa Maria Maggiore - Sforza Chapel

Santa Maria Maggiore – Sforza Chapel

Santa Maria Maggiore - Sforza Chapel

Which one of these awe-inspiring sections of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is your favorite?


Being Steeped In History

Colosseum Rome Italy

Human lifetimes are usually limited to a century.

My grandpa was born, lived and died within the same century.  My father’s life spanned two.  My daughter might be lucky enough to see three, if she’s a centenarian.

But, by and large, our minds have trouble fathoming time spans longer than one hundred years.

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