Paris, France - (map)
I hate to use such a silly expression, but there is no other way to describe the Thalys high speed train...
It hauls ass.
But what would you expect out of a train that makes the Brussels to Paris trip in a short 1:20 and whose operational speed reaches 300 kph (188 mph)?
I catch myself using the word "flight" instead of "ride", but "flight" is more fitting than a word that holds you to the ground.
The Thalys' tracks banked like a racecourse and tilted me hard around corners - sometimes with the same jerky motion of a roller coaster. I crested hills fast enough to feel the same fall in my stomach that I would get from zipping over a small rise too fast in my car. I passed highway traffic so quickly that it appeared to be standing still.
The effect reminded me of the last few minutes before landing... bank right, bank left, quick rise, quick fall, then small jerky movements followed by periods of smooth flight. All the while, your destination seems so close that the expectation of arrival never leaves the back of your mind.
Paris, France - (map)
I find myself increasingly bored by the realism of classical art. What is to be gained by painting a scene perfectly when these days, a photo would do a better job?
I like art that punches me in the gut, that makes me love, hate, feel joy, be afraid, or gives me a sense of wonder about the world I live in. I find that classical art falls down in this respect. Where is the emotion? Look an enormous battle scene and you won't see the anguish of real death on the painted faces, but the anguish of studio models holding their poses for 10 hours straight.
So with that said, the Museum of Modern Art in the Centre Georges Pompidou sent me straight to heaven. What a collection! Klee, Kandinsky, Picasso, Caldor, Chagall, Corbusier, Dali, Miro, Ernst, Matisse, Warhol, Man Ray, Brassai, and so many other wonderful lesser-knowns.
Finally, a collection with soul.
I floated through the museum, breathing inspiration and energy from the work around me. My mind was awash with creativity - ideas shooting at me from all directions while my hand struggled to keep notes. I felt at peace with the world and lost myself for the day, completely throwing away all the plans I'd made for the afternoon.
That is what real art is all about.