Another Place

I do like my art (especially sculptures; as proved here and here!), however I tend to get a bit freaked out by large statues (this post has some rather terrifying examples) – apparently it’s a thing (lots of people experience it – I promise!!). In particular, statues of people in / near water scare the shit out of me. I don’t know why. I’ve tried quizzing my parents but none of them seem to recall anything from my childhood that might have contributed to this fear – I’m not entirely sure I believe them, but so far they are sticking to their story!

With this in mind, I was a little apprehensive to visit Crosby Beach near Liverpool. Home to 100 ‘Iron Men’ as part of Antony Gormley’s public art work ‘Another Place’.

Spread over 2 miles of coastline, the statues stand at random points across the sand and water, submerged to different degrees depending on the tide.

Feeling brave, I wandered over to look at two of the closest figures. Close up, as they were proportionate to a ‘normal’ person, they didn’t feel so scary and it was actually interesting to see how the weather and water had affected each statue differently. Some were covered in barnacles, some were more mossy and others relatively untouched.

It was a sunny, bright day, packed with hundreds of people enjoying the uncharacteristically warm bank holiday weather. The shouts and sounds of people playing in the sand made the statues seem less freaky and more interesting.

That being said, the statues were actually more creepy from a distance, where the impact of so many still and silent figures could trigger the imagination into thinking they looked slightly closer than before……

I can imagine that if I was to visit on on a cold early morning, when the sounds are limited to the bird cries and sea, I would have a very different experience of the Iron Men.

Walking Tour of Vienna

When on a short city break, it can sometimes feel like you are trying to cram everything in. One of the best ways of seeing a lot in a short space of time is to take a walking tour.

Luckily, on our trip to Vienna, the hotel was offering a free walking tour of the city and we decided to make the most of it. When picking a tour, I like to look for ones that don’t just visit the popular tourist spots; I can do that perfectly well on my own. Instead, I like to pick tours that offer something a little different, usually places that are just off the beaten path. The free tour we joined was just the ticket as it was centred around the Jewish quarter and surrounding areas, slightly out of the main shopping areas.

We spent a couple of hours hearing tales of historical sites down the twisty streets next to the Danube. The architecture was incredible, often showing glimpses of the changes made to buildings across the years: Art Deco, Baroque and Gothic in places, splattered with an array of Roman style statues.

Stories of bar tenders who were so drunk they were mistaken for Plague victims and thrown into mass graves, visits to the places Mozart studied and incredibly ornate churches behind plain wooden doors: the tour was excellent and gave a sense of Vienna’s history.

As this tour took place on the coldest day of our trip in Vienna, we rounded off the morning with a hot drink in a toasty cafĂ©. Once we’d suitably warmed up, we were off again; this time making up our own little tour locations as we found out way back towards the Danube.

Is that a Wizard or is he just taking a selfie?

One of the most striking sights around the Diocletian’s Palace is the huge statue of, what appears to be, a giant wizard.

We found him outside the Golden Gate of the palace, towering over the walls and surrounded by onlookers and two Roman guards (actually, two dudes in fancy dress, but who’s checking?!).

Despite looking like a wizard, the statue is actually of Grgur Ninski. Playing a huge role in preserving the old Croatian language and supporting catholic practices in local languages rather than in Latin, our tour guide described him as a symbol of national pride.

She told us a further story about how the statue had moved locations a number of times, with locals protecting it from destruction before it was located in its current resting place. The way our tour guide told it, the statue had been broken down into small pieces and hidden across different locations until it was safe to reunite the statue in a safer location.

The biggest stand out feature of the statue is his huge, shiny toe! The toe has been worn smooth by thousands of visitors rubbing it for good luck or to have their wishes granted. So much so that the toe is now a completely different colour to the rest of the statue.

Although an imposing statue, it feels completely at home in its current location, watching over the palace walls.

It’s stories like this that peppered our visit to Split, learning more about the history and culture from the stories of locals – in my opinion, that’s the best way to learn.

Valley of the Kings, Egypt

It’s one of the most mysterious locations in Egypt – so many rumours surround the tombs located in the Valley of the Kings.

The final resting places of Egypt’s ruling class, on the West Bank of the Nile were designed to hold everything a Pharaoh may need in the afterlife; gold, riches, pets, furniture, were all entombed with mummified remains.

With new tombs still being discovered and additional chambers being located in existing tombs, the whole site holds an air of excitement for visitors.

Travelling to the valley, two impressive statues gaze over the route; the Colossi of Memnon. Getting out of the car in front of the two imposing statues, the sense of awe was broken by the shouts of local children drawn to us. It was an interesting contrast, ancient statues, surrounded by the laughter of small children.

Despite the constant bites from sand flies (they loved me, I must taste great!), the site was one of the best parts of my visit to Egypt. Walking into the tombs was incredible, knowing how long ago they were built and the ritual associated with the burial process – the level of dedication honouring the dead was still powerful all of those years later.

Many of the tombs were plain, however some still showed remains of painted scenes across the walls. One in particular sticks in mind, a giant illustration of the goddess Nut, stretched out with robes of stars and sky.

Have you visited Valley of the Kings? What are tour best memories?