The Czech Republic: Prague:

My time in Prague was brief, and the weather wet and witheringly (for me) cold. I remember massive pig knuckles, sausage, cabbage, and beer. Lots of really good beer. A chamber music concert by excellent musicians in a decaying unheated ballroom (made me feel a bit like Miss Haversham, but the ratchet strapping holding some of the columns up and the folding metal chairs lent an air of the present). Oh, and there was a castle:

Prague Castle

Germany: Berlin:

So much very good art, but of course Museum Island. The Neue with the Nefertiti bust alone is not to be missed:

Museum Island

And **with advance reservations** the view of the city (especially at sunset) from the Reichstag is spectacular:

Deutscher Bundestag

And this moving memorial:

Neue Wache

Great Britain: London:

(Besides the oh-so-obvious National Gallery, V&A, crown jewels, etc. which if you are going to London you surely don’t need me to tell you to see) please do not miss Sir John Soane’s house:

Sir John Soane’s Museum

(also, going to the Waitrose and seeing all the various unrefrigerated eggs on the shelves ranging from quail at the top to goose at the bottom is oddly artistic in and of itself).

France: Paris:

Laduree  occupies a storefront on the Champs-Elysees that is architecturally every bit as much an over the top confection as their famous sweets. Try not to drool:


Southern Italy:

Pompeii is a must if only for sheer magnitude, but Herculaneum is far better preserved than Pompeii. Insofar as Greek ruins go, do not miss Paestum. Whatever else you do, eat yourself into a stupor. Italian food is perhaps the best in the world!

Parco Archeologico di Paestum


Where all the real goodies from Pompeii are:

Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli

The exquisite Sansevero chapel (beware, there are two separate lines, one to buy tickets, the other for entrance):

Sansevero Chapel Museum

The Netherlands: Amsterdam:

(Quite aside from raw herring at the Jordaan market on Saturdays…and umpteen different salty licorices…and chocolate…and cheese…oh, but I digress, this is about Art…)

Stedelijk Museum

Van Gogh Museum

Rijks Museum


Madrid: Walk this city, get good and lost, marvel at all the spectacular sculptures and architecture. To belabor the obvious: the Reina Sofia and the Prado (buy a two day pass for this one, you’ll need it). For the Prado one does best to plan ahead and buy tickets online. And when you’ve had your fill (and then some) of Christian iconography, take a well-deserved break and head across the street to the Thyssen for an excellent, modern collection, then stroll through the royal gardens for some fresh air and one of the largest Bonsai collections in the world.

Museo Nacional Thyssen Bornemisza

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia

Museo del Prado

Real Jardin Botanico

If you travel by train or bus, as I did, from Madrid to Barcelona, you may have a chance to stop in Valencia for a few hours or a day. The most memorable sites there were the austere Valencia cathedral, containing one of the reputed holy chalices, and the magnificent north train station.

Estacio del Nord (Valencia)

Chapel of the Holy Chalice


Gaudi’s architecture is everywhere:

Antoni Gaudi

Sagrada Familia

Be sure to ticket ahead of time for the Picasso museum. I waltzed right in on a rainy morning, while the line for tickets at the door looked to be taking the better part of an hour:

Museu Picasso

Altar of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
random building, Madrid