Thanks for the Wonders

You will recall me bewailing my lack of knowledge of architecture. And indeed, musing wistfully that there was only one person who could possibly help me compile a list of the world’s true wonders.

And, finally, if you were awake for that end of the post, you might remember me observing that writing about places – travel writing, for want of a better word – needs its corsets off to be really, truly liberating.

And the last seven days have been armchair travelling to surpass all expectations.

Not just because MTM – architect and partner of author Andra Watkins, with whose blog MTM’s wonders have been shared  –  has, true to form, chosen places which surprise and delight.

But rather, because the prism through which he sees is tinted by passion for his art, and a communicator’s zeal, and sometimes pure, well-grounded infatuation.

What. A. Journey.

“I was born a Badger,”, he wrote on Monday, “but burrowing was never a fit for me. Though my professional education began in my home state of Wisconsin, it was Chicago that provided my architectural baptism. Chicago was America’s incubator for Modernism, a vibrant laboratory of aesthetic asceticism and structural innovation.”

We learnt about a new kind of duel: the battle for the horizon, and the John Hancock Center which basks in its fishnet stockings on Chicago’s skyline.

Already, the corsets were off.

And we met ethereal Dawn, naked in a pool in Barcelona, surrounded by the minimalist lines of the exquisite Barcelona Pavilion.

The assault on the skies, the cathedral they took risk after risk to build ever higher, Beauvais, was followed by the Vernesque Parisian library, the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, which is covered in the names of history’s greatest thinkers and held up by pillars of iron.

MTM glanced affably back at the gaggle of cybertourists following before holding up an umbrella (guides do that here, do they do that there?) and plunging towards the comfortable purpose-built sophistication of the Maison De Verre and its beautiful library.

And so, nodding to some of the great gardens and their use of stone we arrived to gawp at the timelines of the National Museum of Roman Art in Merida, Spain, a seemingly effortless marriage of Roman and Modern architecture across the ages. And finally,  like all great guides, MTM ended with a flourish at the great dome of the Pantheon.

For those of us who have been here for the whole ride: it’s been a blast.

To MTM, and to Andra, who have both shared so generously: thank you is not a big enough expression.

But thank you, anyway.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to liaise with the travel agents.


25 thoughts on “Thanks for the Wonders

  1. If we’re all bitten by the travel bug . . . we shall hold the three of you responsible. 😉

    I expect a surge in the budgeted allotment for “Travel” by many of Andra’s and your readers.

  2. It really was a delightful journey, Kate. I definitely learned a great deal about specific destinations and architectural wonders, but in the day-to-day my simple awareness of space and description of space was broadened, and for that, I’m always grateful. Lovely collaboration between MTM and Andra, and your hand as an educator was in it, too! Debra

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