Serendipity and Vincent Van Gogh

Dear friends and fellow colour enthusiasts!

This week a Facebook memory from 3 years popped up of the following photo of me on a European adventure Adam and I were on. Seeing it brought back the magic of this time and there was so much serendipity that I just have to share the tale with you.


First, let's start at the beginning!

Adam is a guitarist and plays in several wonderful bands. One of these is The Ruth Moody Band. Ruth had the honor of recording vocals on Mark Knopfler's (of the Dire Straights) latest albums Privateering (2012) and Tracker (2015). Their voices together are a match made in heaven and I love the element Ruth's darling vocals bring to Knopfler's music. For both the 2012 and 2015 tours, The Ruth Moody Band had the honor of opening for some European shows for Mark Knopfler! I was so fortunate to be able to come along part of the tour in 2012 and the full tour in 2015. Seriously, it was an experience of a lifetime and a memory I will treasure forever. My gratitude to Knopfler, his band, and his whole team is endless- they are truly the most wonderful, generous, down-to-earth people you could ever wish to meet.

So... that is what brought us to Europe in the summer of 2015. Here is my favourite photo I took of Knopfler playing his famous National guitar on "Romeo and Juliet"- one of our favourite songs!


The tour began in London with two shows at the Royal Albert Hall- seriously- so amazing! I had to keep pinching myself! The making of magical moments began in this wonderful old town. We visited the famous Portobello Road- where I wore the vintage silk dress that my Mum had bought on the same road in the 70's. What a wonderful full circle moment!

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After England, we headed to Southern France. As tours are unpredictable, Adam and I never really plan ahead what we do on our days off. We plan each day as it comes. We both love travelling this way and thrive off the unpredictability. That is how we found ourselves waking up one morning an hour away from Arles. The name sounded familiar... when Adam googled it we realized why- it is the town where my favourite artist Vincent Van Gogh spent a year around 1888-89. Arles was a very important time and place in Van Gogh's life as he painted some of his most famous works there. Here he met his friend the postal official Joseph Roulin (a main character in the film "Loving Vincent").

Wandering the streets of Arles was wonderful and we tried to imagine Vincent walking the same streets. We felt drawn to a little courtyard where there was a plaque detailing that this was one of the hospitals, then named Hôtel-Dieu-Saint-Espirit (built in the 16 and 17th centuries) where Vincent had stayed recovering after he cut part of his ear off. On the days where he was feeling well enough, he was able to paint and created some masterpieces including the following painting Garden in the Hospital at Arles, 1889. To stand in the very courtyard that had inspired him, and likely given him some comfort during such a challenging time, was quite a spiritual experience.

                                 *note the pond in the center and the golden arches

                                 *note the pond in the center and the golden arches

Adam and I had to laugh at ourselves- that we hadn't realized there was a tourist walk of the places that Van Gogh painted. We felt pretty impressed with ourselves that we had stumbled upon it intuitively. We wanted to see more of these places so we got the map that showed them. Another famous sight is the cafe he painted in Café Terrace at Night, 1988. This is where the next beautiful serendipitous moment unfolded- I had actually seen the very painting at Kröller-Müller Museum (photographed below) in Holland on a family visit in 2006. It was an emotional experience for me to see his works in real life for the first time. I stood as closely as allowed to them, looking at his brushstrokes- thinking how his hand and brush had created those very strokes and colours. To find myself nearly 10 years later in the very place he painted it was an incredible full circle moment. 

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To end our magical day in Arles, we drove to the sea. At breakfast we had overheard a couple talking about the wild flamingoes near by. Intrigued we asked them about it and they gave us the directions. At sunset we arrived to the area where hundreds of these darling creatures were flocking to for their nights rest. Wow, what a day! What a trip! The making of memories like this is why I love travelling so much.

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I hope you enjoyed reading about this adventure!

Please feel free to share any serendipitous travel moments you've experienced.