Tag Archives: architecture

Hospitality Part 2, Barcelona (or, You Can’t Get Too Much of a Good Thing)

My husband and son accompanied me and Sherry to Barcelona. My friend Sherry is a beach girl; she lived a large portion of her life in Southern California, but she’s been landlocked in recent years. I thought she would really enjoy Barcelona and the Mediterranean, and I loved Barcelona so much I wanted to revisit it and share it with her.

Roadtrip!!

Roadtrip!!

I made sure our hotel had easy access to the beach.

Dirty window, but that is definitely the sea.

Dirty window, but that is definitely the sea.

 

And to the right...

And to the right…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And we made sure to have at least one seafood dinner on the beach. The size of my prawns was SHOCKING. Honestly, I couldn’t eat them alone. Sherry had to crack them open for me; I was just too grossed out.

Each of these things are as big as my hand. Look at those eyes looking at me!

Each of these things are as big as my hand. Look at those eyes looking at me!

Then we toured the most-visited site in Spain, the Sagrada Familia, designed by famous architect Antoni Gaudi. Oh my! It really was different than any other cathedral I have visited.

Our tour guide explained in both English AND Spanish, which was a nice exercise for Theo's beginning Spanish.

Our tour guide explained in both English AND Spanish, which was a nice exercise for Theo’s beginning Spanish.

Click through to follow us on our tour… Continue reading

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Albi and Adding Another Art Museum

Our last tourist trip this summer was to Albi, this time a daytrip date without Theodore. It was a really lovely city, and as clean as anything in Switzerland. It is also home to the Toulouse-Lautrec museum, so I have another to add to my collection. I was quite surprised at how much of his work was on, essentially, cardboard panels. Much like my sound-suppression paintings at the apartment, only studies for great artworks. Or not even studies! Starving artist isn’t always a cliché.

At the entrance to the Toulouse-Lautrec museum.

At the entrance to the Toulouse-Lautrec museum.

Coming up on Albi's centre ville.

Coming up on Albi’s centre ville.

The cathedral here is supposed to be the largest brick cathedral in France. Apparently most are made of stone.

cathedral plaza

cathedral stairs

Stoney going in.

cathedralstatues

Ornate stonework.

It may also be the gaudiest interior in France, although my sample size is rather small still.

It may also be the gaudiest interior in France, although my sample size is rather small still.

Impressive organ.

Impressive organ.

Albi’s cathedral and T-L’s museum were next to the Bishop’s home (actually, I think the museum was in the bishop’s home), and you could tour his garden. It was a little marvel.

The other side of the city in the distance.

People lining the walkway.

We considered a river boat tour, but I chickened out at the last minute.

We considered a river boat tour, but I chickened out at the last minute.

We were actually there on a holiday weekend, so there were some shops closed in spite of its touristy nature. One was the bookstore pictured, which I would totally have LOVED to see! We did manage, for dinner, an interesting wood-fire cooked pizza, in which the mushrooms were served large and entire. The pizza shop was right across from the carousel. Fun date!

The evening's entertainment.

The evening’s entertainment.

bookshop

Sad moment.

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A Swiss Castle

Thun, Switzerland, lies south of the capitol, Bern, on the northernmost tip of Lake Thun. The day we drove through was lovely and warm (although Theo’s jacket makes it seem otherwise). My destination was the castle, so different from the one in Carcassone. We found public parking and began the hike through town.

Yes, more bears.

Yes, more bears.

Well,  I say hike. Really, more of a climb. The castle, as I should have realized if I had given it a moment of thought, is on the high ground. Steps abounded.

Plenty more where these came from.

Plenty more where these came from.

Stoney takes a break from the climb at the base of the castle wall.

Stoney takes a break from the climb at the base of the castle wall.

It's a good spot to pause, because we get to look back on this view.

It’s a good spot to pause, because we get to look back on this view.

I don’t know if you can get a good sense of the hill here, but there is more to come.

Moving on. Isn't it lovely, all white and gleaming?

Moving on. Isn’t it lovely, all white and gleaming?

There was a lot under reconstruction. Everywhere we went thus far in Switzerland had been under reconstruction. For that matter, so had Italy. I guess when your monuments are as old as these, they take a fair amount of constant upkeep. More of Thun’s castle follows…

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The Oldest Basilica in Toulouse

Although we’ve been here nearly a year, we still haven’t seen a lot of the local sites. So on a recent date night, Stoney and I toured the Basilica of St. Sernin right here in Toulouse. I’ve seen quite a few basilicas at this point, so I was wondering if I would find much “new.” Well, yes…

the mix of stone and “pink” brick

the multi-tiered bell tower

the soaring barrel-vaulted ceiling, in a very old basilica

the upper gallery

Looking toward the bell tower.

Looking toward the bell tower.

Following Stoney inside. This basilica began as a Romanesque church.

Following Stoney inside. This basilica began as a Romanesque church; its construction spanned five centuries.

This thing is huge for such an early church. It even has a second-floor gallery--the first I remember seeing.

This thing is huge for such an early church. It even has a second-floor gallery–the first I remember seeing.

The organ is quite imposing.

The organ is quite imposing.

There are concerts here on occasion, and I have hopes of attending one. I am very curious what the acoustics are in here. It made for a lovely date, and a cool escape from warm weather.

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Iconic Venice: Bridges and Canals

This post, let’s take a tour of what makes Venice, Venice. I have photos of St. Mark’s Square for a later post, and the interesting details found all over the island, but after all, without the canals and bridges, Venice is just another Italian port city. (Well, OK, probably not, since it was the hub of trade between east and west for centuries, but I don’t claim to be an expert!)

You’ve already seen two of the bridges that caught my eye in my last post, but the most famous Venetian bridge is the Rialto. It is lined with shops for your canal-crossing shopping convenience; however, here I have to say I prefer the Ponte Veccio in Florence. The Rialto is not only smaller, it’s just not as lovely. It does seem more affordable, though.

The Pont Rialto, surrounded by tourist kitsch.

The Pont Rialto, surrounded by tourist kitsch.

Metal bridges like these are more rare. Isn't that light extraordinary? I am no photographer, but even I could capture some of the magic of this light!

Metal bridges like these are more rare. Isn’t that light extraordinary? I am no photographer, but even I could capture some of the magic of this light!

One thing you can be sure of in Venice: climbing stairs. The bridges are omnipresent, and give you glimpses of colorful, helter skelter worlds just around curves and corners. They raise your perspective. You climb up, watching your feet, one hand on a stone rail, and then you look up and left or right and stop, involuntarily. The sight literally arrests you. Every bridge seems to become an invitation to a panorama view, where you turn and gaze and drink it in.

The bridges here come in all shapes and sizes.

The bridges here come in all shapes and sizes.

The view from up here is wondrous.

The view from up here is wondrous.

Some perspectives are up close and personal.

Some perspectives are up close and personal.

Some bridges were covered in these…

This is a REALLY bad practice. These are supposed to represent the committment of two lovers, but mostly they just corrode these antique ironworks and ruin the bridges. Don't do it!

This is a REALLY bad practice. These are supposed to represent the commitment of two lovers, but mostly they just corrode these antique ironworks and ruin the bridges. Don’t do it!

Calling me to come explore!

Calling me to come explore!

Venice is just as magical at night!

Venice is just as magical at night! Bad photo, but I couldn’t resist sharing all the sparkle.

So, does it show that I enjoyed Venice a little more than Florence? I love it when I surprise myself. I am also gathering up posts about eating in Venice, and finding the details in Venice, not to mention St. Mark’s Square. And the island of Murano will blow your mind! Or it did for me, anyway. So family and friends, just know that even though you couldn’t join me, I thought of you all constantly, and have looked forward to sharing with you virtually what I wished I could have experienced with you in reality!

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The Basilica di Santa Maria Novella

The first great basilica in Florence was Santa Maria Novella. It was finished in the 1300s. We visited this our last day, and it was inspiring. And just another reminder, that many of the photos I post can be clicked on to open individually, allowing you to click again to enlarge parts. This is how I found the paintings of the apostles and saints in each small arch above the entrance at the Byzantine church in my previous post. It’s like a “Where’s Waldo” for architecture!

The front of the basilica. The back is apparently what you see from the train station.

The front of the basilica. The back is apparently what you see from the train station.

These churches all seem to have a courtyard of some sort. I think they are beautiful.

These churches all seem to have a courtyard of some sort. I think they are beautiful.

The Italian courtyards have design elements as intricate as any inside the building. The window beside Stoney lead to the Spanish Chapel.

The Italian courtyards have design elements as intricate as any inside the building. The window beside Stoney lead to the Spanish Chapel.

A close-up of the columns.

A close-up of the columns.

The frescoes in this section are quite damaged; to be expected, I guess, in an area exposed to the elements.

The frescoes in this section are quite damaged; to be expected, I guess, in an area exposed to the elements.

See inside the chapel and basilica here

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The Barcelona Cathedral

There are really only a few buildings in the heart of Barcelona that can be truly said to command the city, but the Barcelona Cathedral is one of them.

The very impressive front facade of the medieval Barcelona Cathedral.

The very impressive front facade of the medieval Barcelona Cathedral.

The exterior alone is a marvel. It was built over a span of the 13th through 15th centuries, with most of the outer front facade being more recent.

These are a few of the apostles along the front face.

These are a few of the apostles along the front face. Also note the dress code posted for those who wish to tour the cathedral.

the amazing details up close.

the amazing details up close.

Only Theo and I went in the Cathedral. It was pretty funny, because they don’t start charging until you turn 13, and the lady at the payment window asked (told) Theo how old he was, as he began telling her he was 13…”How old are you? You are 12, aren’t you? Right? You are 12, I am sure. Just nod…” She wouldn’t hear of anything else. Inside would have been well worth tickets for us both.

inside the Cathedral here

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