/34/ The Book Palace

The second I saw a photo of the St Gallen library online, I knew I had to go there. A relatively small room, it is nevertheless a feast for the eyes: exquisitely crafted out of organic curves of polished wood, and stamped with the UNESCO seal of approval, this baroque library is really more of a palace for books. It is a place where the learned could  study their craft in the presence of true craftsmanship, where physical beauty embraces metaphysics, it is a shrine to knowledge. Also, it’s really pretty. You’re not allowed to take photos, so I bought postcards and took photos of those instead.
When I stepped inside, it felt unreal. Like meeting a celebrity who you admire, or seeing a band live whose album you have listened to on endless repeat. I wasn’t in there long enough to take it all in, and when I was there it was filled with tourists (I guess I was one, but I’m not sure we were all there for the same reason). IMG_0156
My basking was rushed and instead of listening to the tour guide, I gaped at the ceiling and the woodwork.  It was absolutely worth the nine-hour (oh yes) return train journey. Baroque isn’t really my style, but there’s something magical about this library and I’m so happy I went.
It actually happens quite often that I’ll become fixated on something when I’m travelling – I used to think that this was just another negative symptom of my obsessive nature, but a stranger taught me something today (don’t they always?) when he told me that it’s actually a great way to travel. You have a goal, and with that purpose in mind, your travelling becomes more focussed and thereby everything you see becomes more vibrant – you’re on your way to somewhere, full of anticipation, and that’s far more exciting than going on a ticking-off-the-tourist-sites round trip.

Other places like that for me are a lighthouse in Nina in Estonia (aesthetically fascinating in a very different way); Lake Inari in Finland; Svaneti in Georgia; the lavender fields of Hokkaido, Japan; the Serra da Leba Pass in Angola; the Amazonian Manaus; and Socotra/سقطرى‎. Take five minutes and get googling.

1 Comment

  1. I had to google Nina, never heard of it before – what makes you want to go there? It looks pretty grim to me. Also why Lake Inari? Gosh what an odd mix of places. But then I want to go to the Door to Hell in Turkmenistan so maybe I can't talk…


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