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Ventana - An Enchanting Resort in BIg Sur

Summary: I love Ventana. I highly recommend visiting  and exploring the landscape at Lime Kiln and Andrew Molera State Park which I've blogged about here. Please note this is #notsponsored . Yes, that means we paid our own bill! Lots of details in the following review. including a Post Ranch vs Ventana comparison.  Can you tell there's something exciting beyond this beautiful gate? There's something special about Big Sur, a magic in the light, the presence of the Pacific, the cliffs, beaches, redwood forests and the murmur of the surf. It's one of my favorite places in California. I couldn't think of anywhere else I wanted to be to celebrate turning fifty, because it's a place where there's a sense of nature, space and light and a wide horizon. We've been to Big Sur many times and for a celebration there are two fantastic hotels vying for your attention. The exclusive, modern and very private, cliff top Post Ranch Inn and on the other side of the road the …

Neues Museum, Berlin

Wow, what a museum! We came here to see the famed Nefertiti head (housed in her own room where photographs are prohibited) and indeed she is magnificent. However,  it was the beauty and functionality of the redesigned building, combined with the variety and depth of the collection took me by surprise. Yes, here is a magnificent Egyptian collection but there are also collections from Europe and the Near East.

There is some magnificent Egyptian art including a number of decorative panels from tomb walls. The images were very reminiscent of our trip to Egypt
The collection includes quite a number of pieces from Akhenaten's reign. Akhenaten was of course the father of Tutankhamun and the husband of Nefertiti. His reign is significant for his establishment of a new religious order focused on the worship of a single god, Aten. The Aten was the sun disk and giver of life, see below. This small panel depicts the Pharaoh and his wife Nefertiti being blessed by the Aten, along with their children. This new religious order upended the established priestly hierarchy which was devoted to a multiplicity of gods in Thebes and elsewhere and Akhenaten established a new the capital in the city of Amarna.
The new city, and new monotheistic religion, also  fostered emerging forms of artistic expression and in this period you see more naturalistic paintings of the natural world (including ducks and papyrus plants) as well as strangely elongated faces in sculpture as you can see below.
This piece reminded me of a work we saw at the Nubian Museum in Aswan. 
The display includes a reconstructed tomb walls with decorations depicting everyday life which were  similar to those we saw in  the nobles' tombs
In addition to the Egyptian collection I was particularly struck by these large stone guardian figures from the central Caucasus. I was entirely unfamiliar with these kinds of statues which were beautifully displayed in a glass roofed central hall.
You can see how lovely the space is. David Chipperfield's renovation is interesting because it opens up the space but still preserved the historic character of both the building and the displays.
Here you can see some of the more traditional display cases which evoke the original museum.
In other parts of the museum they have retained the original decorative details without restoring them completely. It's extremely evocative as you can see...
In another room, the domed brick roof was completely rebuilt.
In another room Schliemann's treasures from Troy are displayed as they would have been originally, see above.
I was particularly taken by the small statues above and the Cycliadic figures below.
Berlin is filled with incredible museums and the "Museum island" is overwhelming in its depth and breadth. After our Egyptian trip the Neues Musem was a must visit for us, but this is somewhere I would happily revisit on any future trip to Berlin.
Tips: As with many of the Berlin Museums there is an excellent audio guide included in the entrance price. We used the very economical three day museum pass to get into the Neues Museum, I highly recommend this pass if you plan to see lots of museums while you are in Berlin.
There are often temporary exhibitions at the Alte Nationalgalerie  next door

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