After spending two months exploring Spain, I’ve completed my first creative attempt to record that experience. We’ve been home only 10 days, and luckily, this piece was limited to 12″x12″ by the rules committee. I have many pictures from which to draw more ideas, but the work of Antonio Gaudì of Barcelona leant itself most easily to a fabric format. Here’s a peek. It is still en route to SAQA in New Mexico, but should arrive by the deadline tomorrow since it is already in Albuquerque. It is entitled “A La Gaudì” #1. Can’t wait to try more designs using his style as a guide. The online auction of pieces by international artists will begin September 18, but until then you can read about it at the SAQA website. To see my posts and view some pictures of Gaudì’s work, click here, and here, and here, and here, and here. Enjoy!
Sagrada Familia Basilica was architecturally designed and engineered by Antoni Gaudi, a devout Catholic who, never marrying, devoted his last decades to building this church. Started in 1882, the construction continues with the use of Gaudi’s plans. Gaudi was struck by a streetcar in 1926, while walking home from mass, wearing his shabby work clothes. He was taken, unidentified to the hospital as a poor man, where he remained unconscious until the following morning when he awoke and asked for last rites. The priest who came recognized him, but it was too late to help. The goal is to complete Sagrada Familia, never using government funds, by 2026, to honor what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.
Always honoring nature, the white peaks and lower peaks have baskets of fruit at the top. There is so much to look at and see, I’m sure I could return many times and still find new details.
Below The Nativity Facade faces the north. See what portions of the nativity you can see. It is not all shown.
The Crucifix is below.
Above, The Crucifix along with some of the organ pipes. There will be eight organs eventually.
Below, looking up through the columns designed to be palm trees with light coming in through small windows to make it appear to be a forest canopy.
Below, an example of the color in the stained glass windows.
Below, The Lord’s Prayer in Latin. These two panels will be the front doors of the Glory Facade. For some reason not understandable to me, people lined up here to have friends take pictures of them standing in front of these doors. I waited a long time to get an instant shot between groups of people.
We took so many photos and spent a lot of time here as the detail is phenomenal, but this gives an overview.
We taxied to El Born, near the Picasso Museum, and spent some time wandering the area. Then returned to the roof top deck, and later the lounge, at the hotel. We grabbed a quick bite at an excellent Italian Café, Reñé Café-Bar and Restaurant, an old confectionary factory started by the Reñé family in 1892 which later, in 1910, became a famous bakery in Barcelona. I found out I like carpaccio – shaved beef with a tiny amount of shaved of onion and garlic. Then we headed home on the Renfe AVE train, to the apartment in Valencia, arriving before dark. Barcelona is a wonderful city…. Put it on your bucket list!
Guéll, one of Gaudi’s benefactors, supported Gaudi in the development of a high level housing development where they hoped the up and coming Barcelonians would buy land and have them build homes. It didn’t “develop” as planned, and so it was eventually turned into an outdoor park for the local residents. One home already constructed became an elementary school and another serves as the park administration. A colorful dragon greets you as you enter. Here are some pictures.
Before leaving Valenca on Saturday morning, early, by Renfe AVE train heading to Madrid, we stopped by Ristorante La Spaghetteria for one last delicious meal!
Al and Ingrid ordered the same sauce, Boscaiola which has Tomate, nata, champiñones y funghi porcini (tomatoes, cream, and porcini mushrooms) and different noodle choices- spaghetti for Al and Tagliatelle for Ingrid. Norm ordered lasagne which he has had at least twice because it is so delicious. I would have ordered it also, but the pharamacist suggested a blander diet while I try to get past the Traveler’s Malaise from drinking the Valencian water this past week. I had the Basil Pesto sauce with tagliatelle noodles, much more flavorfully uninteresting than my usual Italian food choices, but I need to be good.
After we caught one last cab in Valencia we were at the Juoquin Sorolla Tren Estación by 7AM, and on board at 9AM. This is the only train ride where we didn’t eagerly snap pictures during the ride. I did open my eyes long enough to see beautiful, rolling, green farmland at one point and to focus the camera for this selfie, and then slept blissfully as we rolled along at 300 clicks. We did gradually climb in elevation until arriving in Madrid before 11AM and transferring by cab to the “Puerto de Toledo Hotel”, meaning the gate from Toledo. If you entered or exited Madrid through this gate long ago, you would be going to or coming from Toledo, just the the road a bit. There is actually a stonework gated arch that now has a traffic circle around it.
We spent some time at the Museo Sorollo. It is maintained in the house where Juoquin Sorollo lived and worked. We didn’t snap any photos, but did love his work. Above is a sampling from the brochure. It is worth googling his name to take a look … most of his work is quite large – 5×4 feet for example.
Norm, Al and Ingrid took a day trip to Segovia today, a walled city. I know Norm will have some good pictures to show me for a future blog.
Before coming down to the lounge area in the lobby today, I snapped the activity six floors below, not at all slowed down by a Sunday morning. In the center area by the tree, I can hear a religious service with the word Alleluia. People are formed in a circle and each takes a step in unison with the others, first right, then left, then into the circle, but all very slowly. The tune is not familiar. People stream by in that direction, and the red, roofless Hop-on, Hop-off bus rolls on by. I hope to be on it tomorrow to see some sites.
After viewing sites on Montjuíc and a rest, we are off for one of the highlights of our visit… Casa Batlló, a house he redesigned in 1904. Two prominent elements of his life may have led to his famed architectural career. First, he was rheumatic as a child, so he spent many months each year studying nature’s form and structures. He didn’t copy them, but used the principles of the structure and designs in his creative, undefinable work. Second, he came from a family of boilermakers, so he worked with structure, form and space all of his life. Outside his youth, the iron frameworks for the construction of skyscrapers were in formation. Put it all together and perhaps you begin to understand his genious. Here are a few pictures to ponder. .
We stayed in the area until nightfall so Norm could get some night shots when the house would be spotlighted. Then we walked down Passeig de Gracias to see the fountain at Centelles and …
the dual fountains at Plaça de Catalunya. They are very beautiful when lit in a variety of colors.
Thursday, May 7, 2015
Our mission today is to see some key sites on Montjuíc, a hill with a castle overlooking Barcelona, that has hosted the 1992 Olympics. We set our sights on three specific sites: Museu Najcional d’Art de Catalunya, the Jóan Miró Art Museum, and the cable car ride from the top of Montjuíc to the Barceloneta beach area. We grabbed a taxi and were off for another long and invigorating day.
The Catalan Art Museum is at an exceptional location for an eagle’s eye view, as seen in the photo above from the front entry landing.
The Catalan exhibit is exemplified by the following work that is an excellent example of the size of the works and the quality from the middle 15th century.
We spent a long time visiting the exhibits and touring the beautiful building. We rested on the uppermost deck, in the photo below, to enjoy the views, as seen in the picture below. These fountains are beautiful at night, but with preparations underway for the Spanish Gran Prix, we had no hope of getting near them after dark due to the crowds and festivities.
We then enjoyed the view from the landing at the top of the grand stairway where we could enjoy a cold drink along with the view.
We both enjoyed this beautiful knight, the emblem for the Ritter name.
The next stop is the Fundación Joán Miró. It was surprisingly crowded. Miró was a contemporary of Picasso and seemed to want to set the art world on its ear. Here is one of his works entitled “Smile of a Tear”.
Now onto the scenic cable car ride. It seems there is a cable car ride to the castle at the top of Montjuic, but there is not one from this area of Monjuic to the Barceloneta beach area. We had seen it swinging gaily over the bay, so we asked for directions and walked and walked looking for the access point. After much grinding of teeth and stomping of feet, we called a cab and returned to Hostal Grau for a rest break. Such is the life of the language challenged American tourist.
I immediately had the hotel check to see if we could get tickets for Casa Batlló later in the day, which was quickly accomplished. We rested and then took a cab to the greatest home designed by Antoni Gaudi. There will be many pictures, so I will continue that tour with the next blog.
Sunday, May 10, 2015
Doing laundry. My choice, so no complaints. We returned from Barcelona last night, so I want to get us ready for the transfer back to Madrid on Saturday. We definitely needed some down time to rest. Later in the evening we played another round of hearts. For the 4th time, Norm has won by getting exactly 100 points. Doug, is that really a legitimate rule?
Norm selected La Spaghetteria for a special Mother’s Day midday meal (around 4PM).
Al and Ingrid joined us for this special meal. Norm and I shared a deliciously fresh caprese salad, as did Al and Ingrid. He had the best lasagna he has had while on our trip, and I had the carbonara sauce on tagliatelle noodles. I’ve had it twice at this restaurant because it is so good. Al had gnocchi and Ingrid had spaghetti with basil pesto sauce. We both finished off with ice cream sundaes (helado), along with Al. Ingrid topped off her meal with a crêpe drizzled heavily with chocolate sauce. This is a very good restaurant only about four blocks from our condo which Norm and I have enjoyed three times now. Why didn’t we take pictures? Five more days until Madrid.
Monday, May 11, 2015
Norm and I had a quick breakfast of toasted croissants and jam, with orange juice, at the corner El Cafe de Camilo. I have developed a way to make my own cafe Americano con leche, so I drink it at the condo where I can have multiple cups. No free refills in Spain… Several cups of coffee a day at a cafe takes a bite out of our “dining out” budget, although we tend to order the same priced meals no matter what. Let’s say I just enjoy making my own coffee with good ground beans from the mercat!
We caught the #80 bus to El Jardi Monfort-a beautiful garden. What a peaceful place.
Then we headed for Plaça de Ayuntamiento (Government Center in down town Valencia) to check out a highly recommended restaurant, El Navarro. It passes inspection, so we ate our main meal of the day here at 4PM, the customary time. I had cheese and walnut stuffed ravioli with pumpkin sauce, and Norm had vegetable penne. My wine glass held Rioja red wine, but since Norm must limit his red wine (no white) to no more than one glass per day, along with no caffeine, he had té verde (caffeine free). The waiters always want to give me the tea, but I stand my ground! We hope to return with Al and Ingrid to order a farewell paella. The chef makes it on the spot, so we must allow 50 minutes if we order paella. Can’t wait to return to try the paella. Soon.
Barcelona, Spain – Day Two
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
After a good night’s sleep at the Hostal Grau (hotel), we stopped for a quick breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt, whole wheat croissant warmed with cheese and ham, and a cup of coffee and orange juice. We are ready to face the day which finds us off to tour La Padrera, an Antoni Gaudi apartment designed for the Mila family, thus called Casa Mila.
Gaudi has been hailed as the world’s greatest architect, and we are hoping to discover how he earned the title. We hailed a cab and were on our way. Here are some of the features of this apartment. He designed the otside of the entire building as well as the inner courts and stairs.
There are still residents, both private and commercial housed in this building.
This is one of many beautiful vases.
The design for the door is simple with an intricate border.
Below is the front window based possibly on a honeycomb design.
Norm caught a little shut eye while I rested my feet. Smart man!
After touring La Padrera, we had a snack in the adjacent café, grabbed the Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus and found two seats in the upper roofless cabin. We traveled all around Barcelona, gaining a foothold on where we were. One interesting sight was this bullring which has been converted into a shopping mall. Barcelona has outlawed bull fighting as too cruel to be a sport.
When we returned to our starting point, we grabbed the second tour bus and saw the other half of the city.
Then we hopped back on the first bus and took it to the Picasso Museum. No picture taking allowed here, so if you don’t know Picasso’s work, it’s time to google him. I especially like his work entitled “Guernica” because of the historical story it portrays. It envisions an attack on a little town in the northern Basque Country called Guernica. The Spanish dictator, Franco, gave Hitler permission to practice an aerial bombing run on this little town at the request of the Spanish Nationalists during the Spanish Revolution. The results were horribly predictable, and Picasso painted this graphic depiction of it as a war protest, but also as an historical record for the people of this village.. We have seen the painting in San Francisco, and may see it again in Madrid at the modern art museum there. This museum was interesting in that the range of Picasso’s work could be followed from his early years of representational perfection to his experimental years with abstraction and surrealism to the last years of simplicity when he presented the simple “Dove”, so familiar to many.
From the museum, we walked through the El Born section adjacent to the Barri Götic section with its Ramblas. El Born has a higher percentage of Barcelona residents than tourists, and has many quaint shops and sidewalk cafes. From there, we walked to the largest Barcelona Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. I’ll only post a couple of pictures as its style is so similar to others.
Then we stopped to eat our evening meal at a boardwalk restaurant while watching the volley ball players on the beach play a game of soccer-style volley ball. I had tempura prawns and vegetables, but neither of us can remember what Norm had. Madrid is also facing off with Barcelona in Barcelona in a very important “football” match tonight. The whole city is excited about that. The restaurant has four TV screens showing the game, and our waiter eagerly gave us play by plays. Barcelona won, but we didn’t stay to see it. We had been out and about from 8:30AM until 10:30PM, so we grabbed a cab and went back to the hotel for some shut-eye. This tourism stuff is hard work!!
Tuesday, May 5: Barcelona Day 1
We are off for five days in Barcelona, a part of this trip that I have been awaiting with great anticipation. We used all sorts of transportation today- a local Valencia city bus to get to the train station; a Renfe train for the three hour ride to the Sants Train station in Barcelona; a local Rodalies train took us so near to our hotel (for free) that we could walk there; and later in the day, after being out and about, a taxi to get us back to Hostal Grau.
Before leaving the Sants train station, we bought our timed entry passes for two Gaudi houses, La Pedrara and Palau Guéll, as well as a museum pass for entry into possibly six museums.
We settled into Hostal Grau at Remeller 28, an environmentally awarded hotel, situated in The Raval district a short walk through old, narrow, but with active and busy character, streets to The Ramblas. The Ramblas is a wide walkway through a touristy, but “interesting in its own way” part of town.
We have our first timed pass at 4PM to tour Palau Guéll so we headed down The Ramblas to find some midday food and happened across the central market place, The Boquería Mercat. We took in all the delicious choices as we walked through it, like kabobs of chocolate covered strawberries. I bet you can’t eat just one!
Fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts!
Most locals order several courses of this type of food along with seafood like octopus, squid, mussels….hmmm. We are not fond of such a wide variety of seafood as we find here, but many are.
Then, we headed off, on foot, to visit our first Antoni Gaudi site, a home he designed and built for a client. It is called Palau Guéll. The rooftop chimney covers are the best part of this site, predictive of his further works.
After the tour, we walked The Ramblas from the Plaça Catalunya to the Christopher Columbus Statue. Columbus landed here after the voyage where he discovered North America. He is highly honored here, but Barcelona faced a downturn in their economy for decades as ships detoured past the port of Barcelona on their way to the Americas.
Wednesday, April 28, 2015
We took the #90 bus from Centelles/Suaco bus stop to the stop just past La Jardin de Turìa (riverbed) Then we walked along the pathway in La Jardin until we reached the Jardi Botanic. We enjoyed the quiet, shaded, well-maintained areas. I especially enjoyed the succulents- the yuccas, prickley pears and the cacti, many of which were blooming. I’ll limit myself to posting just three pictures as I took far too many.
Then we walked through the ancient towers and wall, into the old city and met up with Al and Ingrid at Reina Plaça for a delicious mid-day meal at La Commissaria, hidden deep in the old narrow streets behind the Cathedral.
One of our host’s sons, Joel, works there. It came highly recommended by them and it didn’t disappoint. We had three starters to share: shrimp in a pop-crunchy rice coating, empenadas, and pot-sticker-like Asian dumplings. Al, Norm and I had Argentian steak and Ingrid had shark. We all found our entrees to be tasty.
We walked to back to La Reina Plaça and took the #7 bus back to the condo where we enjoyed some quiet time and a siesta. Then we headed out for a dinner of Tapas at Meua near the condo.
“Haz tu pedido en barra te lo servimos en la mesa.”
“Get your order on bar we will serve it to you at the table.”
Choose a tiny crock of potatoes with sausage (hotdog), a tiny pan of paella with black olives on top, or an open face sandwish of brie and fresh tuna. They heat it in their oven and bring it to you, but you can see what you are ordering to make your selections. It is also easy to share a few bites.
More open face sandwiches to heat or eat cold. The red meat is Iberico ham with cheese… Very favored here in Spain.
Chocolate heated on crusty bread is really quite a satisfying dessert.
Norm and Al shared a chocolate with raspberry sauce piece of cake at La Biscita, a bakery where you can watch the items being made that is across the street from the condo. Ingrid and I plan to share a piece of coconut pineapple cake soon.
Norm and I are off for a “vacation from our vacation” tomorrow. We will take the train to Alicante, a beach town about 2 hours south on the coast, and spend just one night there, possibly taking some beach or pool time to read and relax. We are also hoping the fresh sea air will clear the pollen from the fresh Valencian blossoms out of our heads.
Friday, May 1, 2015
Aaah. Today is the day we climb to the top of Castillo Santa Barbara…good thing there is an elevator! We started with a hardy European breakfast with unlimited cups of cafe Americano con leche, caliente, aparte. Love my coffee with cream, so many fewer syllables in English.
It was a short walk to the elevator, but first we had to walk through a sleek, metal tunnel, far into the rock.
The elevator whisked us to the top of the rock which is Castillo Santa Barbara. Hey! This place is going to be fun! Watch out for the knight-style archers.
Here is a gull’s eye view or the view the defenders of this fortress have had since the 6th century.
The canons were not added until the pirates or foreign attackers had artillery on their ships. It reminds me of the Marin Headlands on the far side of the Golden Gate Bridge where we used to take our fifth-sixth graders on a weeklong camping trip. That artillery was a bit more modern, but still old to them.
It’s a very special day for this young Spanish girl… Probably a first communion? Not everyone is a tourist like us.
This wall is riddled with pock marks from cannon balls, and one cannon ball remains embedded on the lower right side.
Watch out Norm! The archer has you in his sights!
I’m glad we did not have to descend via these steps.
The bullring is within our sight from up high.
Norm has made friends with this archer, but the one up high is taking aim! There is also an interesting juxtaposition between the modern digital tower and the ancient defensive tower. I think that little tower on the left is where they kept prisoners, if my Spanish translation is correct. Only thin slits for windows and nowhere to land even if you could escape and jump!
A lovely British gal offered to snap this photo overlooking Alicante harbor for us. Good thing we coordinated our outfits today. Riiigghhtt!
Time to stop for coffee and a soda. It’s getting warm up here.
We’ve loved our two days in Alicante. Soon we will board the train and take a short ride back to Valencia, our home base.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
We are on an overnight at Hotel TRYP in Alicante, Spain. We left the condo at 8:30AM and caught Bus #90 to the Juan Sorolla Train Station. Our train to Alicante arrived on time and promptly left as scheduled. We do love the public transportation available in Spain… Clean, timely and everywhere. During the two hour trip, we noticed the land become more dry and arid. This is a good sign for those like us who are hoping to escape from the pollens of the beautiful blossoms in Valencia.
When we arrived and taxied to the Hotel TRYP Alicante, we immediately noticed the ancient Castillo Santa Barbara rising above the coastal city. The beach stretches around a circle of established buildings, and all varieties of tourists were enjoying the sun, water, drinks, and foods. Notice the interesting tile design on the beach promenade.
After grabbing a quick lunch at a beach side cafe, we meandered around the Ramblas and coastal shopping areas. Las Paseo Esplanade de España is known for the unusual design of its tiled surface.
We discovered that a Medieval Merchant festival begins today through Saturday. It looks to be like a county fair of sorts, set in this medieval setting. Setup of food booths and vendors has begun, and tonight should be interesting. We plan to find a food booth that interests us for dinner this evening., and that did not take us long. Take a look!
All the time we would look up at the ancient castle and wonder if people had to climb the endless ancient steps careening up the mountainside to get to the top. Upon returning to the hotel, Norm asked the desk clerk and was told there was “a lift” or elevator we could take. We plan to do that in late morning tomorrow after the coastal fog has cleared.
Every day seems to bring so much fun! Glad you can join us!