Andrea J Larson: Linderhof Palace - Home to Ludwig’s Dreams

Tucked away from view behind the deep green, fir-laden forests at the foot of the Bavarian Alps sits Linderhof Castle, the little known home to King Ludwig’s elaborate dreams of beauty, art and anonymity.

Upon entering, one immediately recognizes the same splendor of Ludwig’s larger palaces, the gold and stucco, the putty angels and Meissner chandeliers. But this one is special: Linderhof Castle exudes a level of intimacy unmatched in Kind Ludwig’s other grandiose constructions. The real difference to the better-known postcard-worthy palaces, of course, is that this comfy castle was actually his home for many years. It was here where Ludwig found solitude. It was here where he found time to dream. Big.

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Andrea J Larson: Florence - Home to Heroes

Florence is frequently hailed as the epitome of a Renaissance city, a cultural gem from the middle ages, the birthplace of the original Renaissance man. And manly it is.

While the name “Florence” reminds one more of a soft-spoken maiden than a gray-haired scholar, the term is actually derived from florens, meaning “prosperous” and “flourishing”, which in the case of the Italian city, not only applied to its economic heyday in the middle ages, but also to its male inhabitants and their academic ambitions. Renaissance humanism of the time encouraged the idea that people ought to embrace all knowledge available to them and amass and develop their abilities to the fullest extent. Not all classes (or genders for that matter) were able to advance in their artistic, intellectual, physical and social abilities to such extent, but thankfully some gifted men took the idea to heart, not only prospered but also flourished, and became, what is now known as the original Renaissance men.

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Andrea J Larson: Pacific Palisades - “The perfect LA wedding”

As most culture-thirsty travelers would confess, the greater LA area is most certainly not on anybody’s go-to-list. From the endless traffic inching through shabby downtown neighborhoods, compressed by lingering and listless smog, veiling this less-than-picturesque city in a muggy cloud of Bla. Even the Hollywood sign – this phallic symbol of cinematic achievement – only appears miniscule in the hazy distance. Nothing, it seems, would entice the cultural treasure seeker, to pursue this city to satisfy their educational curiosity – nothing, but a wedding invitation to the Pacific Palisades.

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Andrea J Larson: Venice – half fairy tale, half tourist trap

Venice, the city once declared by The New York Times as “undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man”, sits somewhat precariously on top of exactly 117 small islands in the northern Mediterranean sea, connected only through numerous canals and bridges, quite many bridges indeed.                

One may argue about Venice being the most beautiful city ever built, but one certainly cannot dispute that Venice is unlike any other city built by man: Upon arriving at the outskirts of Venice by car or by train, the only means of transportation are on water or by foot. Water busses, water taxis, even water ambulances can be seen cruising up and down busy canals. Everywhere else people are walking – no bikes, no joggers, no vespas, just walkers, rubbing shoulders along narrow alleys and over wide and tiny bridges, quite many bridges indeed.

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Andrea J Larson: Murnau - Where Kandinsky lost his form

An hour-long train ride going south from Munich Hauptbahnhof, one slowly approaches the picturesque little town of Murnau, nestled in between lakes, moors and the Bavarian Alps. Murnau is not any old Bavarian town, though. Traditional stucco buildings barely hide what the bright and colorful facades cannot:  it is here, where Wassily Kandinsky moved traditional art into the modern, abstract era.

 

As it frequently happens, a visionary needs a muse and a strong shoulder to help him through his ups and downs. Therefore, any story about Kandinsky’s leap into abstract art would be incomplete without mentioning Gabriele Münter.

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Andrea J Larson: San Francisco - Gate to Gold and Gangsters

One of the most beloved cities in the United States, San Francisco still lures travellers from around the world with its iconic row house charm, steep hills and trolley rides, and most of all its historic reputation as the golden destination for Western Frontiers.

Only the truest of adventurers or the lowliest of creatures, it seems, would have taken on the treacherous westward journey to pursue unlikely riches. But the magnetic charm of San Francisco defies such logic. Unlike success stories from the East Coast, based on hard labor and steadfast persistence, San Francisco’s tales of fortune allow for second chances and a portion of luck along the way. Here, they not only want money, they want freedom, too. If New York embodied the classic American Dream, San Francisco offered the Dream with extras.

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