I feel like so many of my travel stories have involved art museums in some way.
On my first solo trip in Europe, I planned my itinerary around art museums alone: I wanted to see the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, the new Magritte Museum that had just opened in Brussels, and the Leopold Museum and Natural History Museum in Vienna. You can maybe see why I couldn’t convince anyone to come along with me — don’t I sound like I was so fun and wild?
On a family trip through Italy, I broke off from the tour group for an afternoon in Venice and got very lost finding my way to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum (which ended up being awesome once I actually found it, highly recommend). It was also one of the hottest days I had ever experienced, even to this day. I was sweating so much that I literally had to stop and take breaks in the shade with 1 euro scoops of gelato along the way — a more delicious solution than pouring bottled water over my head, as many other tourists were doing.
I studied art on the French Riviera for a summer and my memories of that place are so tied up in all of the beautiful museums and art we saw during those two months — the seaside castle that housed a Picasso museum, the bright pink mansion built by an art-loving socialite, Matisse’s tiny chapel — totally designed and painted by the artist — on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Just art museums and pretty views, French food at midnight, afternoon parties on the beach, losing my shoe in the ocean, more art museums and pretty views, all day, every day, for two months.
In Faro, Portugal, I made a new friend in the hostel — she overhead me asking the owner for directions to an art museum in the middle of town and she asked if she could tag along (she was also an art history nerd). We strolled through the museum courtyard together on that sunny afternoon, swapping stories about art history classes and plans for all the European art museums we each still wanted to visit. Our conversation lasted well into the evening, well into a couple hours of sangria by the beach, and through a few scattered emails for months after that.
I am so lucky to have seen in person so much of the European art that I have grown up loving. Even though I’ve really toned it down with the art museum visits in the past couple of years, I still feel like a kid in a candy store when I step inside one.