The Towers of San Gimignano

After several days of Renaissance splendor in Florence, we decided to venture beyond the city and explore a bit of rural Tuscany. Yay! Setting out by local bus, we made our way from village to village through a patchwork landscape of colorful vineyards and ancient olive groves. We had timed our trip perfectly to witness locals out in the fields harvesting olives.

As we approached our destination, we caught a glimpse of the impressive skyline through the fall foliage. Like a medieval Manhattan, San Gimignano with its ancient towers and fortifications is the clear superstar of central Tuscany Continue…

Florence

Florence. What can a blogger say that hasn’t been said countless times in the last millennium? Cultural mecca, epicenter of the Renaissance, food extravaganza, fashion center, art and architecture overload – if you can’t find something to love about Florence, there’s something wrong with you.

The city is simply overwhelming. Before you even step out of the train, you spot Florence’s insanely monumental Gothic Duomo towering above the surrounding buildings. The phenomenal black and white banded walls dwarf crowds of visitors. Every tourist eye is fixed on its remarkably intricate polychrome marble facade. It’s hard to comprehend what someone Continue…

Keith Haring’s Pisa Mural ‘Tuttomondo’

Keith Haring's Pisa mural "Tuttomondo"

When you come to Italy, you expect to see tons of murals – but you don’t really expect them to be by American artists. So we were quite surprised to discover the multi-story Keith Haring Tuttomondo mural on the side of the Church of Sant’Antonio just north of the Pisa train station. It’s somewhat ironic that the last public mural of the openly gay artist and prominent AIDS activist was painted on the side of a Catholic church. The work titled Tuttomondo, which means “All-world”, was completed just eight months before Haring died of AIDS-related complications on February 16, 1990.

Berlin Street Art

The picture above WAS one of my favorite pieces of street art in Berlin. Not long ago, I entered the small back alley near Hackescher Markt where it was located and discovered – much to my shock and disappointment – that this stunning full-wall mural had been painted over. Uggghhhh.

Interestingly, I find myself wondering whether it was the artist himself or a competitor who painted over this not-so-little masterpiece. In its place, a sprawling comic-like commentary on the street art tour groups which regularly visit (shown in last picture in the pictorial below). Hmmm, act of aggression or social commentary – who knows? But the loss of the beautiful painting did emphasize the ephemeral nature of Berlin’s street art. Ever since, we’ve become a little obsessed with photographing the works that we find scattered around the city. Definitely expect more street art collections to come.

Check out more Berlin street art here.

Spiral Staircase

There’s something magical about this spiral staircase in the Hackesche Höfe. Every time I walk by it, I find myself stopping and staring up into it. It’s like Art Nouveau meets Chinese calligraphy. The more I look at its curious curves, the more I love it… and Berlin. In fact, the heart of this city, which is undoubtedly the artistic epicenter of skewed chic, really is in these hidden, side-street details.

ContemporaryNomad.com 3.0

We’re movin’ on up… to a wider format. As you’ve probably noticed, we are widening our site and making some subtle improvements. We will be testing the new template over the next few days. If anyone notices any problems, please let us know in the comment section Continue…

Berlin is Burning at 775

Berlin was on fire last night – literally. The city put on one of the truly oddest celebrations ever to commemorate its 775th year. And by odd, I mean fun-dangerous-bizarre-edgy-Berlin odd.

Street theater group Titanick entertained and confused with their rather uninterpretable performances. One mummy-like figure wrapped a tree in bandages while a Dr. Seuss-esque figure played a silent horn. A mutant alien baby climbed a bamboo scaffolding. A zombie with a scythe communed with a giant sunflower while a monster victrola played opera. OK.

But to me, the night was all about La Compagnie Carabosse. Alternately referred to as “fire alchemists” or “fire poets,” The group draped the center of Berlin with hundreds of pots of flaming, gurgling, boiling Continue…

Interview with LashWorldTour.com

Fellow travel blogger and friend Lash at LashWorldTour.com has a fascinating interview up on her site this week… an interview with us! (Sorry people, modesty is not a virtue in travel blogging.) In the interview, we discuss a range of topics from getting jaded when you travel long-term to psychological damage related to karaoke to my fetish for city walls. Check out the interview on her site, and also take a look around at some of the great content she has as well.

Berlin Festival of Lights

The Berlin Festival of Lights 2012 just ended last night and, as you can see in our pictorial, it was absolutely mind-blowing. The event was crawling with visitors and photographers scouring the city for colorful light art, dancing laser animations, and full-facade video projections that turn Berlin into “the place to be” in Europe in late October. It’s an amazing concept to encourage visitors to explore and interact with Berlin’s unique architectural heritage – and we absolutely loved it!

Our Top YouTube Videos

1. Quest for the Perfect Beach
Our quest to find the perfect beach in Goa, India is now our top viewed movie. Thankfully. Finally, there’s a little love to go with all the hate we get for the next video.

2. First Class Travel on the Rajdhani Express
Our review of the Rajdhani Express is the video Indians love to hate. Because of the reaction to this video, we gave up our idea of doing a video review series of each class within the complicated Indian rail system. We also learned to shut our mouths and just play funky background music. 😉

3. Asiatic Lions of Sasan Gir
This was an especially up-close encounter with the rare Asiatic lions of Sasan Gir National Park in India. These are some of the rarest cats on the planet – and they walked right under our noses.

Continue…