Picasso Museum, Frederick Maré Museum

I know I am terribly slow finishing these last few posts from our trip but finally, I am going to get it done. Thanks for hanging in and being patient.

Sunday, December 6, 21015

We only have four days left until we leave for home and there is still so much we haven’t seen. It is difficult to believe we have been travelling for almost three months and now it is almost over.  Today we are going to visit the Picasso Museum and the Frederic Maré Museum.  They are both free today as it is the first Sunday of the month.

On the way to the Picasso Museum we pass the MEAM (European Museum of Modern Art) where we saw the Odd Nerdrum Exhibit way back in September. All the streets in this area are very narrow and I am glad Bob seems to know where we are going, because I certainly don’t!FullSizeRender

The Picasso Museum is always busy and today we need to line up and wait to get in but the line moved fairly quickly and we were entertained by this very talented group of musicians while we waited.FullSizeRender

There are no photos allowed inside the museum and they are very strict, so I have no pictures of what we saw, but here is a link to the museum collection if you want to see some of the work on display. FullSizeRender

FullSizeRenderThe Picasso museum is located in five large town houses or palaces. The original palaces date from the 13th-15th centuries, and the buildings have undergone major restorations. The museum is quite ornate and has many interesting architectural details and courtyards. We spent several hours here, there is so much to see; there are 4,251 works in the permanent collection!

On our way to the next museum we stop to visit the Santa Maria Del Mar.FullSizeRender

This church was damaged by fire in 1936 and we can still see soot on the walls and ceilings, and the damage that the fire did to its columns.  FullSizeRender FullSizeRender

The columns are spaced 43 feet apart, the widest of any Gothic Church in Europe. This church was built in just 55 years, from 1329 to 1384 and it is the only surviving church in the Catalan Gothic style.  The interior is quite beautiful, and full of light even though it is not ornately decorated like so many of the churches that we have seen.FullSizeRender FullSizeRender

We climb some old stone steps and there is a great view from the second floor behind the altar looking towards the front doors and beautiful stained glass windows.
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Next stop, the Frederic Maré Museum.  We had a very brief visit to this museum in September but it was closing so we had to dash through the little bit of it that we saw. It was a fascinating place and we wanted to return for a more leisurely visit.  There is a lovely secluded courtyard right outside this museum so we stop for a much needed rest and a rather late lunch.

This quote from the museum’s site explains this rather curious museum, and a virtual reality tour gives a better idea of our visit to this fascinating museum.

“The Museu Frederic Marès is a unique collecting museum that preserves the collections assembled by its founder, sculptor Frederic Marès (1893-1991), which came to form part of the patrimony of the city of Barcelona through his donation in 1946. Two years later, this museum was inaugurated in a part of the old Royal Palace of the Counts of Barcelona in the heart of the Gothic Quarter. Its original Verger or courtyard garden, still remains intact.

Frederic Marès turned sculpture into something beyond his artistic calling. Throughout his lifetime he amassed an extensive Hispanic sculpture collection which ranged from the ancient world until the 19th century, in which religious polychromed carvings predominated. This now makes up the most uniform section of the museum. Marès also donated part of his own sculptural oeuvre, which is on display in his Library-study.

The Collector’s Cabinet is the home to a display of tens of thousands of objects that make up a vast collection of collections that documents past lifestyles and customs, mainly from the 19th century. There you can find amusing, unique items like fans, pipes, clocks, jewellery, photographs, toys, keys, pharmacy bottles and reliquaries, all presented in an intimate atmosphere evoking Marès private universe.”

Here are some of my pictures of this incredible collection.FullSizeRender

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There was an old picture of the Liceu Opera House, where we will see an opera tomorrow.FullSizeRender

We make our way back to the Barcelona Cathedral to get a picture.  Last time we were there, a large tent and stage ere erected in front of it which made picture taking difficult.  Today there is a Market in the square in front of the Cathedral, so there are balloons in my photo and lots of people everywhere.  FullSizeRenderFullSizeRenderThere were Christmas tree vendors, and several families were buying their trees,FullSizeRender

and there were rows and rows of stalls selling nativity scene figurines and crèches of all styles, sizes and shapes.Image-1

We leave this busy street and catch the metro back to our neighbourhood and our narrow, quiet street.FullSizeRender

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Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Friday, December 4, 2015

Bob isn’t sure he wants to visit yet another church but I insist that we visit Antoni Guadi’s Sagrada Familia. This basilica is so huge it is really difficult to get a good photo.  These photos are from the Wikipedia information of the Sagrada Familia. This is the Passion Façade…800px-Barcelona_Temple_Expiatori_de_la_Sagrada_Fam_lia_(2050445207)…and here is the Nativity Façade. We purchased our tickets yesterday so we won’t have to wait in line, but we arrive a bit early so we walk around the exterior of the Cathedral until it is time for our entry.  I must warn you that I took 458 photos today!!  I am doing my best to only pick a few for today’s post but it is a difficult job.  The first stone was laid for this church in 1882 and it is scheduled to be completed in 2026!  Construction is now funded by the tourists who come to visit.1280px-Sagfampassion

Here are only a few of the sculptural details we saw as we walked around the church.Image-1There is so much history and information about this amazing church. This Sagrada Familia site has lots of information. The ‘History and Architecture’ and ‘The Basilica’ sections are presented in a simple format with lots of great pictures. The ‘Symbolic Visit’ in the Basilica Section gives great close up photos of the façade with brief descriptions and be sure to check out what the Sagrada Familia will look like when it is finally finished.

We arrived late morning, entering through the Passion Facade and the sun was shining through the green, blue and purple stained glass windows on the East side of the Church.  Our first view inside the Sagrada Familia was breathtaking. FullSizeRender

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We had booked a time to climb up the Nativity Tower so that was our first priority. There is an elevator up to the top of the tower which gave wonderful views of some of the other towers… Image-1

…and the City of Barcelona. When Gaudi was asked why he lavished so much care on the tops of the spires, where they are not easily seen, he answered: ‘The angels will see them.’Image-1

We had a choice of taking the elevator or the stone staircase down. So, of course we chose the staircase! At first the stairs spiral around the open centre of the tower but then they change into a narrow spiral staircase of 370 stone steps!Image-1

We find a place outside to eat our lunch and then visit the museum in the basement before continuing our visit inside the church.  This was an excellent decision as we learned so much about the construction and history of this incredible building. There were many working models ranging from small to very large.  Can you spot me in the reflection?Image-1

Models continue to be built and used daily as the church is still under construction. There were people on the scaffolding working on this one earlier.FullSizeRender_4Back upstairs and the sun has now moved around to the west side and it spills into the church in a riot of colour.  These photos have not been colour enhanced, and they do not even begin to compare with actually standing in the church and being bathed in a rainbow of colour.FullSizeRender_4FullSizeRender_5The pillars are meant to look like trees in a forest and the light to appear like dappled sunlight, but it is so much more than just that.FullSizeRender FullSizeRender_5

Looking up, there is so much to see here wherever we look.FullSizeRender_4

This view looks down the main aisle to the altar.  FullSizeRender_3 FullSizeRender_2

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The ceiling is not to be believed, and..Image-1

the doors are incredible too.  These are the Nativity Façade doors…Image-1

and the Passion Façade doors.Image-1We spent the entire day here, only leaving once it was starting to get dark outside.  I wanted to see the church with its inside lights on, but it was not nearly as spectacular as it was with the sun streaming through the stained glass windows.  I feel a bit sorry for all the people who are only now entering the church for their visit.  Although it is still very beautiful, they will never know what they have missed. Compare these photos with similar ones taken when the sun is shining. FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender

This model of the Sagrada Familia shows the finished views from all sides.  It is scheduled to be completed in 2026 and we would love to be able to return to Barcelona to see it in all its splendour. Who knows?Image-1

If you didn’t see this on the Sagrada Familia link provided earlier, you really must take a couple minutes to watch this video to see a computer simulation of the Sagrada Familia when all its towers are completed in 2026. It is phenomenal!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valencia

Friday, November 27, 2015

Our apartment in Valencia is a short metro ride from the old part of town.  We bought four tickets to get us into town and home again.  However when it came time to go home our tickets weren’t working. Turns out we purchased four tickets that had to be used all at the same time so the other two were no longer valid.  It cost us over € 9 for two one way tickets because we had also chosen too many zones.  We bought two tickets to get home for only €3, however we later discovered that we could purchase ten tickets for €7.20, only €.72 a ride!

First stop today is the Mercado Central, a market held in a huge iron, glass, and tile Art Nouveau building. The meat and fish aisles are always interesting, so different from our stores back home.Image-1

Hams are a big seller in Spain and I still find it strange to see them hanging in shops.  No refrigeration seems to be needed, and take a look at the prices, up to €149 a kilogram!Image-1

We bought some fruit for a snack and then headed towards the Valencia Cathedral.  Yes, another cathedral!FullSizeRender

Some refreshments and a rest in this lovely plaza and we are ready to check out the cathedral. FullSizeRender_2

After skirting past the gypsy women begging on the streets and the church steps we enter yet another magnificent cathedral. Originally built in 1262, it has been added to throughout the centuries and it now has three entrances. The one we chose gave us this view of the cathedral as we walked through the doors.FullSizeRender

The day light just before the altar comes from this beautiful octagonal dome.FullSizeRender_3

There is another gorgeous dome over the Chapel of St. Joseph, which is one of twenty eight smaller chapels located in this cathedral. Most of them are incredibly ornate with lots of gold and jewels and carvings. Although these magnificent cathedrals are truly awe inspiring, we wonder about all the money that has been spent building them and we are also quite aware of the church’s role through out history.  So many horrors have been perpetrated in the name of religion. It is a strange sort of paradox.FullSizeRenderThe high altarpiece and the frescoes are amazing.  We sit for quite some time just in contemplation.  This is Bob’s favourite altar of all that we have seen so far. The frescoes of musical angels on the dome above the altar were only discovered in 2004 during some restoration work.  They had been covered by a wooden ceiling and no one knew they were even there.   Click here if you want to read more.

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Here is another view of the main aisle and one of the side aisles with the smaller chapels.FullSizeRender

These life size statues of the Apostles are from one of the entrances to the cathedral.  They have been replaced by copies and the originals are now kept inside the cathedral museum for safe keeping, but it was closed for renovations so they were displayed in an alcove.FullSizeRender_5An intricately carved altarpiece, built in the 16th Century holds the Holy Chalice, which is said to be the chalice Christ drank from at the Last Supper.FullSizeRender_3

And here is the Holy Chalice, aka the Holy Grail.  There is more information about the history of the cup here.  We were told that there is more scientific investigation currently taking place to prove that this is indeed the cup that Christ used at the Last Supper.FullSizeRender_4

We climb 207 steps to get to the top of the Torre Del Micalet. Construction of this bell tower started in 1381 and it is one of the most important landmarks in Valencia.image

Here is El Micalet, cast in 1539, and weighing 11,000 kilograms.  Shortly after this photo the bell chimed the hour.  It was very loud!  All cathedral bells have names, and this cathedral has 14 bells ranging in size from 11,000 kg to 260 kg.FullSizeRender

We spend quite some time up here, admiring the view, and enjoying the sunshine. The octagonal tower on the roof in the center of the picture is the outside of the white dome above the altar and the dark domes are above the side chapels.FullSizeRender_5The two curved buildings just visible on the skyline on the far right hand side of the picture are part of the City of Arts and Sciences Complex. We are going there tomorrow.FullSizeRender_2

Now we need to descend the 207 spiral stairs that we climbed to get to the top of the tower. We have certainly done our share of stair climbing this trip.FullSizeRender_3

Valencia has a ‘dragon house’ so of course we have to find it.  I’m not sure what I was expecting but I was a bit disappointed to only find one small dragon sculpture over the doorway and two pillars with a little dragon on the bottom of each of them. In case you didn’t know, I love dragons.image

Bob finally gets to try the seafood paella he wasn’t able to have on his birthday.  image

We make our way back to the Cathedral for a concert. Bob thought we would be way too early but when we arrived about forty five minutes before the concert it was already packed. We managed to find seats in the side aisle near the altar, which was actually behind the stage, but there were TV screens so we got to see most of it.  We both enjoyed the performance even though we weren’t exactly sure what it was all about. A young boy sang several songs and it seemed to have something to do with Christmas.image

The Christmas lights were on after the concert.  It still seems strange to see Christmas decorations without any snow.image

Cartagena, Spain

Wednesday, November 24, 2015

Cartagena was founded in 223 B.C. and was conquered by the Romans in 209 B.C.  It is just a half hour south of where we are staying.

The Ayuntamiento, or Town Hall of Cartagena is a beautiful marble building on the main street.DSC01301

The Naval Museum nearby was free and an interesting place to visit.  Both of us were impressed with the scale model ships, especially this huge one of an 18th century ship from the Royal Armada.
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This huge anchor was just begging to have its picture taken.DSC01395

The Zulo Sculpture by Victor Ochao is a very powerful memorial to victims of terrorism.  It is over 16 feet tall and weighs over two tons.  Very impressive.DSC01393We sat and had lunch on this bench overlooking the harbour before we continued exploring the city…DSC01411

but not before I took a moment for this photo. FullSizeRender

Part of the afternoon was spent exploring the Museum of the Roman Theatre of Cartagena.  The museum’s entrance is in a building near the Town Hall and is connected by a tunnel to this Roman theatre built in the 1st Century by Emperor Augustus.

Click here to see a video and virtual reality tour of the Theatre and Museum, as well as more information about the archaeological excavation of the theatre.FullSizeRender_2An aerial view shows where the theatre is located in relation to the theatre and gives a good indication of just how large it is.  The tunnel went from the building at the bottom of the picture, under the ruins of the Old Cathedral of Santa María la Vieja  into the theatre.FullSizeRender_4This photo showed what the theatre looked like before excavations were started in 1988.  The arched doorway of the Old Cathedral is visible in the before and after excavation photos. A lot of buildings were built over the seating area of the theatre and all of these were removed as excavations continued.FullSizeRender

FullSizeRender_4FullSizeRender_2There are a lot of buildings near the theatre that are under re-construction. It seems that the old façades are being kept but we aren’t sure what will be built behind them.Image-1

Conception Castle is a 12th Century fortress on top of the highest of the five hills in Cartagena. This fortress has been a Roman Temple, a Muslim Citadel , a medieval castle and during the Civil War it held the sirens that warned the city’s population of bombings. We climbed the hill to the Castle and were rewarded with amazing panoramic views of Cartagena,DSC01376 the port…FullSizeRender_3

and the old bull fighting arena. We had parked our car way down there!FullSizeRender_3A young man from the Philippines asked us to take his photo and then he took this one for us, as well as several more of us for himself as a ‘souvenir’. I thought I took lots of pictures but he sure had me beat!  FullSizeRender_5

One of the exhibits inside the fortress were several dioramas with these little animated computer generated figures that walked and interacted with each other.  I found them quite fascinating.FullSizeRender_2

On our way back to the car we pass this building which incorporated a very old building and a very new building.FullSizeRender_2  We saw some interesting graffiti, FullSizeRenderthis statue of of Cristóbal Colón, which is Spanish for Christopher Columbus,FullSizeRender_4and a rather clever sign for a coffee shop.FullSizeRender_3

Granada Cathedral and Alcaiceria Market

We are back home and although we had a good flight home it was still 24 hours from the time we got up until we arrived home. It is going to take a while to get back on Alberta time. I have fallen behind on my blogging but I am going to continue posting until I have it completed. Thank you for following along with us so far and I hope you will enjoy the rest of our trip.

Saturday, November 21

We spend another day in Granada, as we want to visit the Cathedral and the Alcaiceria, which is a reconstruction of the Moorish Market that burned down in 1843. This market is a maze of narrow streets and colourful shops that are absolutely crammed full of merchandise. We purchase a few souvenirs and Bob has a few laughs at my rather pathetic attempts at bargaining.

IMG_2488The Cathedral is right beside the market so that is our next stop.  Upon entering the front door this is the what we see.FullSizeRender  Here is a closer view of the magnificent dome over the altar.  FullSizeRender_3This cathedral has a very ornate very large organ. FullSizeRender_4I spotted this stand with several huge medieval books but it was in a roped off area so I couldn’t get any closer to get a good look.FullSizeRenderA bit further on down one of the side aisles I was thrilled to find a display of these ancient books. They were behind glass but I was able to get a much better look at them.FullSizeRender_4The lighting wasn’t the best, but there were several cabinets with books inside. While I was absorbed in studying the calligraphy and painted images, the lights in the cabinets shut off and it was too dark to see them anymore.  I had no idea why the lights shut off and although we returned a couple of times to check if the lights had been turned back on I was out of luck. I am glad that I at least had the opportunity to see what I had.
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We have seen similar skull and crossbones in almost every cathedral we have visited. They are on tombstones embedded in the cathedral floors.FullSizeRender_2The pillars and ceiling are quite ornate and the space they enclose is immense.  Notice how small the people are.
FullSizeRender_3This is a view of the back side of the Cathedral, seems I didn’t take one of the front. If you want to know a bit more about the Cathedral check out this link.  http://www.thousandwonders.net/Granada+Cathedral  It also has some nice pictures.DSC01159There is a suggested walk through the Albaicin, on the hillside opposite the Alhambra so we head out to explore it.  The beginning of the walk was quite nice.FullSizeRender_3I quite liked this ‘Granada’, or pomegranate, on the front of one of the buildings we passed on our walk.FullSizeRender_2We do find this lovely little garden and one other garden attached to a little museum along the way.  In the museum garden there are several orange trees loaded with ripe oranges, and we ‘borrow’ one to eat later.FullSizeRender

We spent a fair amount of time checking our map and trying to figure out which way to go. The route was not well-marked and we had to backtrack more than once. It was a long walk up lots of steep roads and really for what we saw we weren’t sure it was worth the effort and time, but at least we got some exercise.FullSizeRender_2

This is a view of the Alhambra from a viewpoint on a terrace by some restaurants near the end of our walk.FullSizeRender_4

On the way back to the bus we pass this building with its ‘street art’ and bricked up windows.  We saw so many apartments and buildings like this, empty and/or abandoned, right beside occupied buildings and shops. I sure wouldn’t want to be living in an apartment next to an abandoned empty building.  FullSizeRender

Seville Cathedral and La Giralda

Friday November 6

The Seville Cathedral is the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world, the third largest Church in the world and has the largest, richest alter in the world! The sculpture in the courtyard is the bronze weathervane (giraldillo) portraying Faith that used to be on top of the tower, and from which the tower gets its name.  A replica replaces it on top of the tower.imageJust inside the door is an arial picture of the Cathedral which gives an idea of its immense size, and we are going to visit all of it!
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This link has some great pictures and easy to read information on the Cathedral.  Take a look, I think it is quite interesting (and it saves me lots of writing!)    http://www.sacred-destinations.com/spain/seville-cathedral

We enter the Cathedral and simply stand in awe.  It is hard to describe the feeling we have being in such a place.  The light is wonderful as there are three rows of stained glass windows, and the sun streams in casting jewels of colour over the immense stone columns. Interestingly I think that black and white photos capture the feeling of being in the Cathedral better than coloured photos.

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The organ here is enormous, perhaps the biggest we have seen and there are two parts to it, across from each other in the choir. These two pictures show the organ from the left and the right, this set up means that the pipes are visible on the front and back of each part of the organ.

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Here is one of the many beautiful stained glass windows.  I believe this one was from 1479.

imageThe Chapter House dome is elliptical and was built in the 1500’s.  It is perhaps the first elliptical dome ever built and I thought it was particularly beautiful.imageI read that the cathedral has 80 chapels, in which 500 masses were said daily in 1896. The altar is quite unbelievable.  It is carved in wood, covered in gold, and is 20 meters tall with 45 carved, polychromed biblical scenes.

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Christopher Columbus has a tomb here although other places also claim to have his remains. DNA testing is being carried out to determine if it is indeed Christopher Columbus who is interred here.

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Next we climb La Giralda, the belltower, which has 35 ramps which are wide enough so that two guards on horseback were able to climb to the top of the tower.  This link has more info on the Tower if you are interested

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/spain/seville-giralda

The views from the belltower make the climb very worthwhile. I have decided I like Belltowers very much.image image imageAfter our visit we make our way back to the tram to take us home.  The ice cream is displayed very attractively, we decide we will have to try some tomorrow.  I found a place that has sorbet, all natural ingredients, and no milk!imageOne last view of the tower.  The top level with the bells is where we stood.image

 

Sintra, Portugal, Day 2

Sunday, October 25

Our second day in Sintra starts out rainy but it is supposed to clear up by early afternoon. We catch the bus near the palace we visited yesterday and head up the steepest, narrowest road we have probably ever been on.  The bus had to stop and back up three times to navigate the hairpin turns.  We were standing in the front of the bus so had a view of the road ahead, which, by the way, soon lost the center line and became a one way road as it was too narrow for traffic in both directions.

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A pretty little fountain on the walk through the park on the way to the Palace of Pena image  It was very misty so we couldn’t see very far but it was pretty.imageSoon we get our first glimpse of the Palace of Pena. This palace was one of the last residences of the Portuguese Royal Family. It is a fairy tale castle with Moorish and Manueline influences and is one of the finest example of Romantic Era architecture in Portugal. This link has more information about the palace and the park that surrounds it if you are interested.   https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pena_National_Palace#image

We enter through this grand gate.image

The next gateway is just as spectacular. Love it!imageThe Cloister is part of the original 16th century Monastery that was built into the present Palace.  It is decorated with Hispanic-Arabic tiles from 1520.image  The dining room has a sculpted ceiling and tiled walls…imageand here is one of the first bathrooms in the Palace. image

I am in the bedroom of King Ferdinand II.image and both of us in the Billiard room.image The kitchen is huge and has the original pots, pans and ovens.image  Next we explore the outside of the Palace.image image image imageThe weather hasn’t improved all that much but we decide to hike up to the Cruz Alta, where there is a carved stone cross.  This is the highest point in the Sintra Hills.imageThe walk up to the cross was lovely.  The park around the castle covers 85 hectares with several historic gardens and many buildings and grottos.image imageOn the way down from the cross we take this little crooked very winding path which eventually takes us to the Valley of the Lakes but not without some detours along the way.image

The view from one of the paths.  That village way in the distance actually had sunshine.image image image imageThe Valley of the Lakes has a castle tower for a duck house. We didn’t see many ducks, but we did see this beautiful black swan.image  The leaves are falling and they are huge!image

We still want to see the Moorish Castle so we hike over there and have about an hour and a half before it closes. This castle was built between the 8th and 9th century by the Moors to defend the local territory and the Maritime access to Lisbon. There was a bit of blue sky but it quickly disappears, along with the supposedly fantastic views from the walls and towers.  On a clear day it is possible to see the Atlantic Ocean, but we are barely able to see the castle! image

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In some places along the castle walls the walkways are not much more than 18″ wide, and there are no railings!image imageWe finally admit defeat even though we have only seen a very small part of this ancient castle. We are cold and wet and can’t see much of anything so we decide to hurry back to the bus stop and try to catch an earlier bus and train home.  We get there just in time and we manage to get a seat for the ride, which takes us all the way to the train station. I am happy not to walk that long curving road from the station up to the Sintra Palace where we caught the bus this morning.imageimageThe Sintra Station is the only train station we have seen that isn’t coverd in graffiti. It has been a good day, but also a long cold, wet day and I am glad to be heading home.image

 

Lisbon

Wednesday, October 22

Lisbon is the capital of Portugal, with a population of three million people. It is one of the oldest cities in Western Europe, predating Paris, London and Rome by centuries.  I didn’t know any of that before our visit.  Although we spend the better part of the day in Lisbon, we barely scratched the surface of the area we visited.

A twenty minute train ride into Lisbon places leaves us a short walk from the plaza in front of the Arco da Rua Augusta. This arch symbolizes Lisbon reborn from the ashes of the devastating 1775 earthquake.image

Lisbon is known for its cobblestone paving with black and white patterns.  The origins of these cobblestone pavements date back to that 1755 earthquake. During Lisbon’s reconstruction, the earthquake’s debris was used to make these cobblestone streets and sidewalks. They are beautiful legacy from a terrible event.image

We were lucky enough to see some men working on a sidewalk. They were able to chip a stone in their hand to exactly the right size and shape that was needed. The man in the first photo was whistling happily as he worked, although i think it must be very hard on the body.image

The first thing on our agenda was to get a Sim card for our iPad. The Information lady said we could find a shop a few blocks up the hill, right behind the new elevator building. We never did find that, but we found a big mall and got a SIM card there. By this time we needed lunch, so we check out the mall’s food court. Bob got a huge plate with five kinds of meat, fried beans, rice, french fries, salad and a deep fried banana all for 4.65€, about $6.70 Canadian, and I eat my packed lunch. It is just too difficult finding food that I can eat, especially when I understand so little Portuguese or Spanish.  It is easier and less stressful to pack my own meals.image

Next on the agenda was finding an art store to see if they could help me locate some life drawing venues.  No luck there, but I did buy a few new drawing pencils. They sent me to the nearby Fine Art College, and after waiting some time, a lady there informed me that they did not have any drawing sessions for non students.  If I had wanted to rent a studio to do printmaking it would have been fine, but nothing for drawing and they did not know of any life drawing places in the city.  Remember this is a city of three million people!  I couldn’t find anything on the intenet either, so I decided to quit trying.

We did walk by the Santa Justa Lift, also called Carmo Lift, which is an elevator in the historical city of Lisbon, that connects the lower streets of the Baixa neighbourhood with the higher neighbourhood beside it.
imageIt is 45 meters high, and after a short wait we ride to the top for great panoramic views of the city. The panoramic views from the platform at the top of the elevator were spectacular.image  imageimageThis one is for Pat, looking down from the the top platform, only 150 feet or so…imagebut the crazy thing is that Lisbon is so incredibly hilly that on the other side of the viewing platform we are almost at ground level! If you look closely you can see people sitting on the patio just below where we are standing.image

I thought this was interesting.  If you need to add toilets just run the pipes on the outside of the building.  This sure wouldn’t work back home when it reaches -30°C!image

We take a quick free tour through a military museum about the Revolution in 1974 that put an end to the dictatorship that ruled Portugal for 48 years, then walked back down towards the old Jewish part of the town.  We visit the Sé Cathedral, which is the oldest Cathedral in Lisbon, its construction began in 1147, and it has survived many earthquakes.image image imageThese vestments are from the 18th Century. I thought they were particularly beautiful.imageI have such a difficult time with people begging.  Some of them appear to be in such desperate condition that it is hard not to give them some money, yet we are told not to do this as it only encourages more begging… This woman on the steps of the Cathedral wasn’t having much luck when we went into the church but when we came out she had changed into this posture and more people were stopping to put money in her container. Is it easier to give to someone who doesn’t make eye contact with you?image

In the old Jewish part of town we walk down a street of tiny stores that sell buttons, and a bit of ribbon.  I wonder how so many stores selling only buttons can survive?image

Many of the houses here are completely tiled.  We decide not to walk any further as it is very hilly and we are should think about catching the train home.image

Walking home from the train I stop to take this picture and a lady on a motorcycle stops to tell me that she keeps forgetting to bring her camera to take a picture of these white birds, first in Portuguese and then in quite good English.  Bob counted almost thirty birds in this tree.image

 

Toledo to Merida

Saturday, October 17

We are on our way to Toledo this morning, and then on to Merida where we have our next apartment.  Yesterday we stayed home for a bit of rest and to pack and get ready for today.  This view is from the cafeteria on the top floor of the public library in Toledo.imageWe literally travelled in circles looking for a library of ancient manuscripts and books. The Information center sent us to the library, but it was the public library and they told us that what we wanted was likely closed but that we could go see, so we went there, but where they sent us wasn’t the right place.  A second information lady gave us different information. We found out it was in the Alcázar museum, so we went there, only they told us we needed to go back to the library and that the collection was a special room there.  The same library that sent us elsewhere!  Only problem was that it closed at 2:00 and it is now ten to two!  We give up, deciding that we just weren’t meant to see these manuscripts.  Too bad, I would really have enjoyed the chance to at least have a look at them. One of the stops on our way to find the elusive manuscripts overlooks a winding road and the hills on the edge of town.imageWe did find this statue of Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote’s La Mancha.imageThe streets are very narrow and Toledo is a very hilly town.  We seem to be either climbing up or down steps and streets. Once again, we are out and about when a lot of the shops and businesses are closed. This 2:00 to 5:00 lunch hour just doesn’t work for us.  We are usually home by 8:00, and it seems everyone else is just starting to think about their evening’s meal and entertainment.imageWe take a tea break and have this great view of the Toledo Cathedral, but neither of us really feel like going inside, instead we sit in the sun and watch the people in the square.  Great people watching!image

There are lots of knives and swords for sale here, apparently they are made locally. I have a friend who makes beautiful knives and thought he might like seeing these.image imageThere is lots more to see in Toledo but we are tired and need to get on the road to Merida to meet our next host at 8:00.  We drive in pouring rain for the last couple of hours and it continues to come down in buckets when we arrive in Merida, but we meet Ana, our host, and we love our new apartment.image

We have been very pleased with all of our Airbnb apartments so far.  Let’s hope our luck lasts.  I love seeing all the apartments and it is so nice having a kitchen.  We are making most of our meals as that works so much better with my dietary restrictions.imageimage

Santillana Del Mar, Burgos Cathedral and Segovia

I am going to try to catch up on my blog a bit, but it will be a long post because I have such a hard time only picking a few pictures.

Saturday, Oct. 3

We visited the village of Santillana Del Mar, which is said to be one of the prettiest villages in Spain.  The town grew around a monastery, La Colegiata, which we visit, after a walk through the streets and some more tapas at one of the local bars. Bob also tried a glass of local cider which the bartender poured, holding the bottle about three feet above the glass.  Very impressive!

La Colegiatas
Several beautiful big old books, but I am only able to view these from a distance…
image  This church has beautiful capitals in its cloister that are amazingly well preserved.imageSunday is a quiet day, figuring out the next part of our trip, packing and tidying our apartment.

Monday, October 5th we are on the road early and head south to Burgos.  The drive takes us through some very interesting, constantly changing countryside. It is very windy and cloudy but no rain to speak of.image image imageWe find parking easily in Burgos, which is a surprise, and head off to the Cathedral.  7€ each to visit and that includes an audioguide, which is very helpful.  It is one of the biggest Cathedrals we have visited yet, and incredibly ornate, with lots of paintings, sculptures, vestments and furniture.  There is way too much to absorb, every where we looked there was something else that was absolutely incredible. image  This is without doubt the most ornate ceiling in the cathedral!imageOn the lower level there is a scale model of the cathedral with reflections on the case from the stained glass windows of the cloister.image  The windows into the cloister.imageWe must always remember to look up when in cathedrals.      image image

We arrive at our next Airbnb after a long day of driving and settle in for the next four days in a very comfortable apartment about 45 minutes outside Madrid.

Tuesday, October 6

Segovia is our destination today.  It is about an hour from our apartment, but the drive goes quickly as the scenery is constantly changing. We want to see Segovia’s cathedral, which is the last great Gothic cathedral to be built, dating from 1525.  Take note of the cathedral tower, because we climb it!

image  This cathedral has beautiful stained glass windows…image  which cast their colours onto the interior when the sun was shining.image

We climb the 185 steps, which are 25 cm high on a 70cm wide staircase to reach the bells in the tower.image  The views are amazing.image imageimage image

After the climb up there is the climb down.  I have to admit my legs were feeling a bit tired by the time we reached the bottom.  The other main attraction is Segovia is the Aquaduct that was built in the first century AD by the Romans and was still in use until the late 19th Century.  It is stunning, and we spend a fair bit of time admiring this amazing feat of engineering. It was made without mortar, just rocks piled on top of each other over 2000 years ago!  It is hard to describe just how incredible the Aquaduct is, so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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The sun is setting as we head off for home.image