Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Valencia’s Turia river was prone to flooding and after a particularly damaging flood in 1957 that destroyed many buildings and caused numerous deaths it was decided to divert the river to the outskirts of town.  The old river bed through the centre of Valencia was developed as a nine kilometre sunken park, called the ‘Garden of the Turia’, complete with paths, ponds, fountains, playgrounds, climbing walls, gardens, trees, cafés and cultural buildings. This photo is from Google Images. I thought this was a brilliant idea.-2730

We walked from the Old Town along this riverbed park all the way to the City of Arts and Sciences.

“The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia is one of the largest scientific and cultural complexes in Europe. It is made up of impressive buildings such as the Hemisfèric and Oceanogràfic, and stands out because of its avant-garde architecture, designed by renowned architects Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela.

The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia is situated in a two-kilometre-long area on the old Turia River bed. It is made up of six large elements: the Hemisfèric (IMAX Cinema and digital films) the Umbracle (landscaped vantage point), the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum (an innovative interactive science centre), the Oceanogràfic (Europe’s largest aquarium with over 500 marine species), the Reina Sofía Palace of the Arts (dedicated to opera), and the Ágora (a multipurpose space in which concerts and many activities take place).The different centres here organise conferences, exhibitions, projections, guided tours and workshops related to science, technology, nature and art, designed to stimulate curiosity and learning with different types of audiences.~www.spain.info

We decide not to visit any of the exhibits as we simply don’t have enough time to visit six buildings full of exhibits and activities. So, wander with us as we explore…and if you want, there is even more information here.FullSizeRender_2 FullSizeRender_5 FullSizeRender FullSizeRender_3 FullSizeRender_4

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Spanish cities are very densely populated as you can see from all these high rise apartments right beside the park. If you live in a Spanish city, you will most likely be living in an apartment! FullSizeRender_2

FullSizeRenderHere are a few photos of Turia Park taken on our walk back to the metro station near Old Town Valencia.  FullSizeRender_3

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Under one of the many bridges that carry traffic and pedestrians over the park we looked up and noticed these fantastic water spouts! Image-1

Another bridge had pedestrian walkways on each side of the roadway, bordered by these colourful flowers.FullSizeRender_3

Parque Gulliver is the most amazing playground I have ever seen.  I found this arial view here.  I do need to find out how to properly credit photographs I ‘borrow’ from the internet.

Moda Lisboa|Estoril 30

Moda Lisboa|Estoril 30

Image-1Gulliver Park is an enormous playground with slides, ramps, caves and stairs based on the novel Gulliver’s Travels. I could not resist joining in on the fun but I was unable to convince Bob to join me. I found it quite interesting that there are no fences or railings anywhere on this giant sculpture of Gulliver even though there were many places where it would have been quite easy to fall from quite a height. I don’t think this playground would be allowed back home. If you Google ‘Valencia Gulliver Playground Images’ there are lots of more interesting photos.FullSizeRender FullSizeRender_3The washrooms beside this playground had the cutest signs we on the doors to the facilities.Image-1Just as the sun is setting we arrive back at our apartment complex.FullSizeRender_2

The Pueblo Blanco of Ronda

Friday, November 13

It is our grandson’s seventh birthday today!  I do miss not being home to celebrate it with him.

I forgot to mention the surprise we had yesterday morning.  We were still in bed, with our balcony door open to enjoy the ocean breezes and the view, when we were shocked to see workmen standing on our balcony!  Remember, we are in a penthouse apartment on the seventh floor!  Turns out they are painting the building.  There was a bit of paint smell yesterday but we thought they would be finished and we could put up with it for one day. Well, today we discover they are putting up more scaffolding, for more painting….

imageWe contact the owner to see what is going on and plan a day trip to Ronda.  The apartment is very nice otherwise.imageRonda is one of the Pueblos Blanco, or White Villages that is located about an hour from our Airbnb apartment in Algeciras.   The white villages are fortified hilltop towns and villages that are whitewashed in the Moorish tradition. Ronda sits on a massive rocky cliff and it straddles a deep limestone gorge.  Because it was so heavily fortified and difficult to attack it was one of the last Moorish towns to fall to the Christians in 1485. It is still hard to realize that all this was happening before Columbus even set sail to discover the Americas! There is just so much history here.imageRonda’s bullring is one of the oldest and most important bullrings in Spain, built in 1785.  The dream of every matador is to fight here at Ronda.image

We sit and have our lunch near the bullring, overlooking this valley below the town.image

Then we wander along the cliff top and stop at a view point to take a few photos.
imageA bit further along at another viewpoint I am a bit horrified to realize we were standing on a balcony like affair hanging out over the gorge.  Look closely and you will see this liitle balcony. It doesn’t look very sturdy to me!imageThe Puente Neuvo, or the New Bridge, was built in the 18th Century, and connects the newer part of town to the oldest area of town.  We walk across it, and of course stop for even more photos. It is an amazing bridge, 120 meters above the river below.

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There is a stone staircase of 231 steps down to the river in the Gorge.  I was trying to convince Bob that we should walk down but once we saw this sign we changed our minds.imageInstead we walk through the old town, popping in and out of the shops to see what we might discover and then head out to find the Puente Viego, or the Old Bridge which was built in 1616.  Today it is a pedestrian bridge and I stop to sit on “The Moor’s Armchair” right in the crook of the hairpin turn on the road to the bridge.

imageThis Old Bridge spans the same gorge as the New Bridge, just in a different place. imageAfter crossing the bridge we head up a path towards some terraced viewing platforms and garden areas.imageAnother view of the Old Bridge and the country side beyond the town, and the terraced gardens.imageThis is the New Bridge from the terraced gardens below. Notice the white houses tucked into the cliffs in the shadow of the bridge.imageWe wander through more of the Old Town, and I marvel at some of the places we find cars parked.imageOn the drive home the air is very misty and there is this great example of arial perspective. Check out this link if you aren’t sure what arial perspective is all about. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerial_perspective
imageMy camera has been giving me problems this entire trip.  There is dust inside it that causes the spot visible in the sky in this picture and sometimes the settings just start jumping around and changing all on their own! One time it started taking every picture in triplicate! I am hoping it will keep working until the end of this trip.  Any suggestions for a good camera?  I think I will need to buy myself one for Christmas when I get home.

Lisbon to the Algarves in Southern Portugal

Monday, October 26

Finding an osteopath when we are on holidays is always a bit of a challenge.  I locate one not far from us and go for a treatment this morning.  Afterwards I have a quiet time at our apartment and Bob goes into Lisbon. He went for a ferry ride to the other side of the river in Lisbon and back again on a boat like the one in the picture.imageThen he takes the famous, crowded #28 tram ride to the Castle San Jorge which is high on a hill over the old city.

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On the way home he stops for some groceries and then manges to get on an express train which tales him right past his stop.  After missing the next two trains, due to some confusion over which one he should be taking, he finally arrives home wet, cold, and an hour late.

Tuesday October 27

We set the alarm and get up early because I want to go watch the the training session at the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art. These Lusitano horses have been used for equestrian art and bullfighting for centuries but were at risk of dying out.  The stud farm was revitalized in 1942 to revive the breeding and training of these beautiful horses.  We watched the training session for about an hour and a half. I was entranced and wished that we could have seen one of their performances, but the timing for that didn’t work out.

imageThere are up to nine horses in the ring at a time, and the riders change horses over the hour and a half.imageimageThey were teaching this horse to do the Capriole, where the horse rises into the air and forcefully stretches out his back legs.  It was very impressive.image

Now we are on our way to the Algarves where we have our next apartment in a town called Portimâo. We drive under this old looking bridge but have no information about it. imageThen we drive over the 13 kilometer long Vasco de Gama bridge as we leave Lisbon. It is probably one of the longest bridge we have travelled on.imageOne of my ‘driving ‘pictures of a garden right beside the main road just after we get off the bridge.  One of the interesting things about both Spain and Portugal is the mixed use of land.  It is common to see houses right next to apartments, industrial or commercial areas, and derelict buildings next to very well kept ones.  I find it rather fascinating, but I don’t think I would like to live somewhere with this sort of planning, or maybe it is no planning?imageWe are soon driving on roads that travel through farms of cork trees.  These trees have their cork harvested once they are 25 years old.  The cork is stripped from the trunks every nine years and the trees can live up to 300 years!  Over half of the world’s cork production comes from Portugal and Spain.image

Here’s a close up of the cork and the stripped trunk. Quite fascinating.imageThe roads here are very pretty and we enjoy the drive, stopping near here for our lunch.image

We meet our host, and his two children, at our Portimâo Airbnb apartment at 6:00.  It doesn’t take us long to decide to extend our stay here from four nights to a full week. It is a lovely apartment on the 11th floor of a new apartment building and the price is certainly right, only $35 Canadian a night!

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Iugula! Verbera! Missus!

Monday, October 19

We are still in Merda and we are going to visit ten Roman Ruins today if we follow Bob’s schedule!

Today’s title is from one of the plaques from the Amphitheatre yesterday.  Bob wanted me to use it for the title yesterday but I forgot so here it is today. It is what the crowds would shout at the Amphitheatre when the gladiators were fighting.  Kill him!  Beat him!  Pardon him! These were not easy times…

#1 The Mithreó House, a rather grand Roman residence that has mosaics, wall paintings, three patios, garden rooms, family rooms, commercial and industrial rooms and hot baths.  It is located outside under a protective roof.image

#2 The Aquaduct of San Lázaro image#3 The Aquaduct of Los Milagros ( I think). There is some confusion over the name of this one.  Bob thinks he can hold it all up!imageimage

#4 The Circus, or Racecourse, which was a kilometer around the track, and they ran around this seven times during the course of a race!  We walked the track and out through the gates that the charioteers would have entered.  The Circus held 30,000 spectators who would often spend the entire day from morning to dusk watching the races.

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#5 Excavations at Santa Eulalia Church.  These excavations are beneath the church and have the remains of four different times: Roman Houses, 3rd century, a Christian necropolis, 4th century, which contains a mausoleum for Saint Eulalia, a martyred child saint, a basilica dedicated to Saint Eulalia, 5th to 9th centuries, and the present day church from 1230 until now.  imageimage#6 As we are walking we come across the ruins of a Roman hospital and pilgrim’s hostel, built on the remains of the site of an earlier necropolis.  There are ruins everywhere in this city!image#7 Next stop is the Temple of Diana, which was built in 1 BC, and later had a palace built inside of it, which can be seen at the back of the temple.image #8 Plaza de Espana is next, and time for a much deserved rest and some tea and cookies.image

#9 Trajano’s Arch which is 15 meters high and was once covered in marble. Part of it is now lower than the road that runs through it. The right hand pillar has an area around the column that goes down to the original base of the arch.
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#10 The Citadel and Conventual, which is a Moorish fortress in 835 and later a convent in 1229.imageimageIt has a really neat underground cistern that we walk down this tunnel to visit, complete with goldfish.image

Bob is sure he can pick up one of these cannonballs.  What do you think?
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#11 The Roman bridge over the Guadiana River which was built 2,000 years ago was still in use in the 19th century and became a pedestrian only bridge in 1993.image

#12 The Morería Archaelogical Area is 12,000 square meters of ruins that had several modern building constructed over them in1980 in a way that allows visitors to still walk around the ruins.  It is quite something to see. Look closely, one of the pictures has me somewhere in it.image image

Whew!!  I can’t believe we managed to see all this, and it didn’t even rain on us.  Somehow we saw twelve different places, not the original ten Bob had planned for us!  It was a busy day but a very interesting one.

Pamplona, the El Camino de Santiago, San Sebastian Beach, and Guernica

We walk four kilometers of the  El Camino de Santiago ( a pilgrimage walk) on Thursday in Pamplona. I thought I would like to do a long walk like this, but after talking to some of the people on the walk I have changed my mind.  Much of the walk is on city streets or along the shoulders of roads, and the shelters are communal rooms with bunk beds very close to one another so lots of snoring and night-time noises.  Not for me, thank you.imageThis is the Bridge of La Magdalena, a medieval bridge that millions of pilgrims have used to cross the River Arga on the way to Pamplona through the ‘Gateway of France’ which still has a working drawbridge.                   image

The drawbridge is now only used once a year on January 5th, when three Wise Men on camels enter the Old City of Pamplona.image

We follow the route of The Running of the Bulls, which takes place during the summer, all the way to the bullring.  It is easy to imagine how crazy, chaotic and dangerous this event is. The streets are very narrow and there is nowhere to hide from the many very angry, very large stampeding bulls!
imageThere is an eleven meter long sculpture called ‘Monument to the Bull Run’ by a Spanish Sculptor that faces the bullring.  It is quite impressive and gives some idea of what this event might look like.image

We rest for a while in the Plaza Del Castillo, with a view of the colorful buildings of Pamplona before getting something to eat and heading back to our hotel. We take a local bus that takes us almost to the door of our hotel.  Nice, I am tired today.imageWednesday morning we drive to the beach at San Sebastian, which is one of the popular resorts in Northern Spain.  It is not for us.  We prefer the more natural beaches, with fewer apartments and hotels.  It is cloudy when we arrive but it warms up and the sun comes out.  We have been very lucky with the weather, and had our first rain last night along with a very loud thunderstorm.

image  I stick my fingers in the Atlantic Ocean which we have now seen from Florida, South Africa and Spain.imageWe are off to Guernica, a small town that was bombed by Germany in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. It was the world’s first saturation bombing raid and the destruction this bombing caused inspired Pablo Picasso’s famous painting, Guernica.  We first visit Guernica’s Parliament building, which has an enormous modern stained glass ceiling covering what used to be a courtyard.  It depicts the Oak of Guernica. Basque leaders met in democratic assembly under this tree for centuries.  There is a 300 year old petrified oak tree in the garden outside here which is symbolic of the ancient roots of the Basque people.imageWe find the tiled life sized mural of Guernica, the original paining is now in Madrid.imageThere are several large sculptures in the Peace Park adjacent to the Parliament building and the oak tree, including this one by Henry Moore.image  We had our first tapas in Guernica, an easy economical way to sample a variety of local foods.imagePerhaps the nicest part of the day was arriving at our Airbnb apartment in Gama.  Our host Gemma met us nearby and we followed her to the loveliest little apartment. We have stayed at several Airbnb accomodations and this is the nicest one yet.  We decide to extend our stay here to five nights.  It is relaxing to stay put for a while and this is such a nice place to do that.  Here are photos of our home for the next five days.image image image

Une Belle Journée

When I was looking for an apartment in Paris I corresponded with a lady who lives in Paris. We made arrangements to meet and today was the day.  We met by the Académie de la grande Chaumiére at 11:00 and we spent the day together.  Anne-Francoise showed me her neighbourhood, and some of her favourite secret places.  We had a wonderful time together, and walked from eleven till six o’clock, with only three stops: for tea at the Jardin de Luxembourg, lunch at a sidewalk  restaurant beside a little square,

imageand then sorbet at the famous Berthillon Ice Cream Store.  We sat in their gorgeous little tea room and had the most delicious sorbet, I chose raspberry and peach and they were both delicious.

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We saw so many beautiful buildings and places and it was very interesting as Anne-Francoise was able to tell me all about them.  She is very knowledgeable about the history of Paris so I had my very own tour guide!  I tried to speak French as much as I could and she spoke English as much as she could and it was just fine.  We got along so well and we like many of the same things, so we had lots to talk about.

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This is the back of a fountain by the Palais du Luxembourg, and the next picture is the front.  I remember seeing this fountain when Bob and I were in Paris, but had no idea there was a back side to it as well. This is one of the many ‘secret places’ I was able to visit today.

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We strolled through an interesting flower market with lots of beautiful plants, flowers and garden accessories, and saw store that only sold orchids, big beautiful orchids of every colour and shape.

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We crossed the Seine several times and I took pictures of some of the many interesting bridges in Paris.

image imageThis view is looking towards the newer business area to the East.

We dashed across the middle of the street on one of the bridges so I could take this photo of Notre Dame.  I really think it is most interesting from this angle, as the flying buttresses that support the walls are visible.

imageWe walked mostly in the 4th, 5th and 6 th arrondissements, and we walked a lot, so I am very tired tonight, but a good tired.  I think maybe speaking and trying to understand so much French was a bit tiring too, but we managed to communicate quite well.

This is the St. Etiénne du Mont Church, du Mont means on a hill.   It is not vey big but is very ornate inside.  I never tire of these beautiful places of worship.  They are all so amazing.  This church took about 150 years to build!  Just imagine…..

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I thought this picture might give some idea of how popular motorcycles are here in Paris.  These were parked near the Pantheon, alongside yet another big beautiful building.

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I should have been taking notes so that I could remember the names of the buildings, I am afraid they all seem to have disappeared from my head tonight.   I thought this apartment was particularly pretty with all its matching window boxes.

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All too soon it was time to say good bye to my new friend.  It was a bit hard to do.  We had such a good time, and I don’t know when we will have another chance to spend time together.  Strange how it is possible to just meet someone yet it felt like we were friends right from our first greeting.

There is so much more I could write but I really need to get to bed.  Tomorrow will likely be my last time drawing at the Académie and I do not want to be too tired.  My days in Paris are fast coming to an end.  I fly home on Monday.

Balzac and Beautiful Buildings

I went to the noon drawing session at the Académie and then decided I needed to come home afterwards for a bit of rest.  The weekend was busy and I have had a couple of restless nights so I didn’t have much energy today.  Here’s a 15 minute pose,  3 x5 minutes poses, and then a twenty minute one.

imageYet another great model.

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I am still feeling my way with the watercolour gestures, some work better than others, I think I’ll keep at it for a  bit longer.  I am working in a A4 sketchbook which is about 8 1/2″ x 11 1/2″, so the drawings I am posting are done on that size paper.imageWhat a treat, a new model every day. Tomorrow I plan on staying for both sessions as there is supposed to be a male model at 3:00.  So I will take it easy tonight, get organized for tomorrow, and hopefully get a better night’s sleep.

Here are photos of few buildings along the way to the Eiffel Tower. I love the tops of these buildings, they look so intriguing.  I wish I was able to see what the insides of the apartments up there look like.

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There was an outdoor exhibit of children’s art alongside a park, near the studio where I was drawing.

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This is a view of the Seine River from the Pont Alexander III beside the Eiffel Tower.  I do want to take a boat ride on the river before I go home.  I think I better start making a list, as I know I am going to run out of time.

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And then there is this very famous statue of Balzac by Rodin.  It is on the median beside the Vavin Metro station, which is the metro station I use to get to the Académie de la Grande Chaumière.  I passed it several times and didn’t even see it until a couple of days ago.

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One last photo.

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Did you spot the artist?  I always notice them but wonder how many other people do?

 

Cezanne, Degas, Picasso and Trudy

So what do we all have in common?  We buy our art supplies at Senneliers, the oldest art supply store in Paris!  It was founded in 1887: Cezanne bought his oils here, Picasso liked their grey pastels, and Degas was one of the first clients for their 700 colour range of pastels. I resisted buying any more pastels (I do have a rather extensive collection…) but I wanted to buy a sketchbook for life drawing sessions here in Paris.   I ended up buying three instead of just one.  What was I to do?  They were all nice and I couldn’t make up my mind.

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The display and storage counters are original and have a lovely patina of age.  The store isn’t all that large, but it is steeped in history and packed with beautiful art supplies. This wall of dry pigment is stunning and so are these luscious giant soft pastels, but check out the price, almost $20 each!

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imageBesides spending money on art supplies, I saved lots of money at the Louvre. With my permanent teacher’s certificate I was able to purchase a yearly pass for only 35€.  The entrance fee is 15€ and I intend to visit often, so this is really quite a bargain.  I wasn’t sure that the agent was going to accept my Certificate, but after a little discussion, in French, he decided it was OK.  One of the best things about this pass is that I don’t have to wait in line to get into the Louvre.  There is a special entrance for pass holders.  This morning when I arrived the line up to get inside was wrapped around the pyramid all the way to the reflecting pond in the front of this picture and was three or four people wide.   Once inside it is necessary to line up again to buy a ticket.  I was able to go in another entrance to buy the pass, so I didn’t even need to line up today either.  Yay!

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I wandered around inside the Louvre for an hour or so and started to feel very tired and had a little cough and sore throat starting so I decided to head home early and get a bit of rest. Walking to the metro I found several streets that seem to be all Art Galleries, one after the other.  I will have to return another day.

I crossed the Seine on the Pont Neuf,  the bridge with the love locks (lovers attach a lock with their names on it onto the bridge and throw the key in the Seine).  This is being discouraged as it pollutes the Seiene and puts a strain on the bridge structure due to the weight of all the locks.  They are removed periodically, and today there were not as many as I have seen in some pictures.  Then I saw one of the things I don’t like much about Paris, a man relieving himself in plain sight on the bridge!  Not all the puddles here are from dogs…

imagePerhaps a few pictures of my apartment will give you a idea of the size of the average Paris apartments.  Mine is 12′ x10′ with a 6′ x 3.5′ kitchen nook.  It also has a little bathroom with a 2′ x3 ‘ shower that is actually quite generous by Parisian standards, for a total of about 170’ square feet. I saw an advertisement today for a similar looking apartment that was 23 square meters, or about 240 square feet for sale for 240,000€ or about $336,000 Canadian!  Remember this is also not in the heart of Paris, but in the 10th arrondissment.

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