Exploring Pula and the Amphitheatre

Day 16, Wednesday. September 20, 2017

Today was cloudy, but thankfully we didn’t have any rain.  It certainly makes a big difference in our enjoyment of the day and our walk about. This post will be a bit picture heavy, there are just so many interesting things to show you.

Pula’s old buildings are either very dilapidated looking and/or they have been colourfully painted. Here are a few of the streets we walked today.There are a few more people out and about today now that the rain has stopped.Loved these balconies with all the pots of plants. I think a gardener lives here!This is the biggest ship we have ever seen. it was way more than a block long and it is simply enormous!
We went into the Temple of Augustus, only 10 Kuna each, or $2.00 Canadian.  These huge feet were my favourite exhibit inside. They were incredibly detailed. That is my foot in black at the bottom of the picture to give an idea of their size.More narrow streets…
and interesting balconies. You must look up in these cities or you miss so much.Here are some interesting fishing boats. We noticed that they all had lots of lights for attracting the fish at night. We thought that this was illegal, but I guess it isn’t here?

We sat for a while in St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, enjoying the quiet simplicity of this cathedral. It is so different from all the very ornate churches we saw in Spain and Portugal on our last trip.I thought that the church’s Madonna was particularly beautiful This seems to be the church’s bell tower, but I am not certain about that. It is right in front of the church.Next stop is the Roman Amphitheatre that we walked around yesterday. It is the sixth largest amphitheater in the world. It held up to 20,000 spectators and was built in the 1st Century AD., so it is over 2,000 years old! Gladiatorial games were banished in the beginning of the 5th Century and after that it was neglected and gradually fell into ruin.Today this arena is used for festivals and performances in the summer months.Seems we were into ‘selfies’ today!Note the remains of an arched entrance in the foreground.There were rooms and chambers around the arena, some were used to hold wild beasts, and I am not sure what the others were used for. This animation video give a better idea of what the arena and the area around it looked like when it was intact.  The very beginning of the video looks fuzzy but it quickly gets better. Underneath the Amphitheater is a display about making olive oil with many ancient amphoras.Guess what I thought these look like?As we were leaving we saw a pair of lions guarding the entrance into the arena.Here is an artist’s print of the Arena as it is today.We found some more interesting streets to wander, and stopped for some tea and nourishment. All this sightseeing is hard work! We seem to walk between 13,000 to 16,000 steps each day according to my Fitbit. Just a few more steps than I usually walk at home.We climbed up to the Marine Museum but elected to walk around it rather than go inside.  There were some great views of the city and the Amphitheater..As we headed back to our car we were treated to the sights and smells of a little flower marketIt still seems bizarre to me that we can walk down a city street and there it is, a 2,000 year old Roman Amphitheater!

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

 

Saint-Séverin and Shakespeare And Company

I had a good flight home, and now, the first of the promised posts of my last couple days in Paris.

I had a very nice meal at a little cafe on the left bank overlooking the Quai Montebello which is part of the road which runs along the Seine, and I had a great view of Notre Dame just across the river.  After a leisurely second pot of tea I walked along the Seine down to Pont Neuf to take a few more pictures of Notre Dame in the late afternoon sun.  I am still marvelling at the fact that I was standing on the top of the tower closest to the river.

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The road along both sides of the Seine is the home of the used book sellers. Their iconic green boxes can be seen in many paintings of Paris, especially those of the Impressionist period.   There are 900 boxes along the Seine, three kilometres of used and antique books, old magazines, manuscripts, postcards, as well as stamps, souvenirs, magnets, posters, painting reproductions and even locks for lovers to put on the Pont Neuf.

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I don’t think they should be allowed to sell locks, as the poor bridges in this area are becoming overburdened with all the locks tourists have attached to them. Lovers write their names on a lock, attach it onto the bridge and throw the key into the Seine River.   These locks are removed periodically in an attempt to prevent damage to the bridges but I saw several sections that had boards placed over areas of railing which had collapsed under the weight of thousands of locks. I don’t suppose that all the keys thrown into the river can be good for it either.DSC02277I wander along the streets looking for Shakespeare and Company, but have a hard time locating it.  Along the way I so see lots of other interesting places though.DSC02287

Another interesting art store, but it is closed so I have to be content looking through the windows.

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An interesting mix of automobiles, motorcycles, scooters and bicycles.  The guy looking back had just got honked at and one of the motorcyclists was yelling at him. I think maybe he cut someone off.  He is riding a velib bicycle, one of 20,000 bicycles you can use in Paris, after buying a daily or weekly pass, for 1.7 euros or 8 euros respectively.  The first 30 minutes of each ride are free, so you can ride, exchange your bike for another and keep doing this as often as you want.

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Another beautiful Paris building and one of the many Paris policeman directing traffic.  They love to blow their whistles, and do so very often and repeatedly

DSC02300This plaque is on a primary school wall.  It is in memory of young students who were taken by the Nazis to the death camps. I found the dried flower tucked into the ring below the plaque very touching.

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I find it interesting how the old churches are surrounded by other buildings and shops. This is Sainte-Séverin.  It is very dark inside and it has beautiful ancient and modern stained windows.

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There are a set of seven stained glass windows inspired by the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church.  These two are the Wedding (with yellow tones) and the Confirmation (with red tones) designed by an artist named Jean René Bazaine in 1970.

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A view of some of the ancient windows.

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More windows and the incredible ceiling arches, and then I looked up!

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It is impossible to capture the  grandeur of these cathedrals in a photo.

DSC02334This pillar is the Twisted pillar, very unusual and quite famous.  This church was built  in the early 14th Century, and chapels along the outer aisle were added in1520.  It is one of the oldest churches on the Left Bank, and is still used for services today.

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A  mass was just starting in one of the chapels along the outer aisles while I was visiting. Because it was so dark in the church it was a bit difficult to take pictures.  This one is a bit blurry but gives an idea of the little side chapels that were completed in 1520.

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For some reason the lights on the pillars are green, which gave the place a strange eerie sort of glow.  The guy in the bottom right corner with a ladder was replacing burned out lights.

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This church is badly in need of restoration, it is very old and it shows its age.

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I am still looking for Shakespeare and Company, and pass by a little park and which contains the oldest tree in Paris.  The park it is in is closed but I do get to see this 413 year old tree from the sidewalk.  It has a cement support to help hold it up and was planted in 1601.  I think it is quite amazing that we know when and by whom a tree this old was planted.

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Success at last!  I figure out why I had such a hard time fining this place: it is right along the main road!  I thought it was a couple of blocks in so I was looking in the wrong place entirely.  Bob and I visited here last time we were in Paris and thought it was a pretty fascinating place.  It has an interesting history as it started out as a private collection of books.  Much too long a story to get into here but do look it up if you are at all curious, it is a very curious and intriguing tale.

DSC02345You are welcome to use this old typewriter or just sit and read in this room.  It has a collection of books that are not for sale, only for reading.DSC02349

There are several beds in this bookstore, including the upper bunk bed behind the curtain here.  People are still allowed to spend the night in the bookstore.  Really, do go read about all this!

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The bookstore is a maze of rooms and hallways, on two levels.

DSC02357Here is a view of the store.  Sometimes if I wait a bit I am able to take photos without list of people, but no luck here.  This is a very busy place.  It is getting late so I head for home, walk back to the Cité Metro station which is on the other end of the same island as Notre Dame.DSC02362

The cathedral is quite beautiful all lit up at night.

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Cité is one of the art Nouveau stations designed by Hector Guimard.

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This is a picture of some of the rail lines of the Dare du Nord taken form the Metro on the way home.  Do you see me?

This is a long post, but I did promise lots of pictures!

Gargoyles and Chimeras

Today was the day to climb to the top of Notre Dame!  It is 400 steps to the top and another 400 to get down, and it was worth each and every step! While I was waiting in line, for an hour, I took some pictures of gargoyles from the ground.

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I need to warn you, there will be a lot of pictures in today’s post, and I am only going to do the first part of the day, or this would be ridiculously long.

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The climb up wasn’t too bad as it was broken half way at a shop where you buy tickets.  Soon I am 46 meters above the ground and face to face with my first Chimera.  These are ornamental sculptures which are depictions of monsters or mythical beings.  This Stryga, or bird of the night, is one of the most famous of Notre Dames chimeras.  Interestingly the stone these carvings are made from is full of sea shells!  You can see Sacre Coeur in the distance.

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You probably aren’t supposed to pet them, but I just had to!

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The view from up here is quite spectacular.  I am in the area between the two towers.

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And there are more chimeras and gargoyles everywhere I look!

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There were windows that were too high to look into, but I held the camera up to the glass and this is what was inside.

image After another 150 steps I am at the top of the south tower of Notre Dame and the view is even more incredible from this height, 69 meters above the ground.  Here is a different view of Notre Dame’s famous flying buttresses.

imageimageIt is easy to understand how densely populated Paris is when you see all the buildings so close together from up here. The population density of Paris ranges from a low of 8,000 people per square kilometre, in areas near Notre Dame, for example, to a density of 42,000 people per square kilometre in the area where my apartment is and other arrondissements in the north and north west of Paris.  I can barely fathom 42,000 people living in a square kilometre!

imageimageThere are sculptures everywhere I look. Dragons on this steeple,

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and more gargoyles high on this tower.

image I manage to stay up on the top of the South tower while three or four groups come up, they allow a group every ten minutes or so, but eventually we all get chased off so the next group can arrive, so I head down the 400 stairs to the bottom.  On arriving at ground level I look up, and surprise!  More gargoyles!

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I was on the walkway between the two towers, and on the top of the south tower.  If you look closely you can see people in these two pictures.

imageimageThe average visit is 50 minutes, I am up here for over two hours!  It was an amazing experience!

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.

Guess Who is Going to the Ballet?

Nothing really went according to plan today.  I went to the Opera Garnier first, as I wanted to do a self guided tour of the building.  It is supposed to be amazing.

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When I got there, I noticed a message board saying that the auditorium was not available for viewing, so I decided I would have to try to come back another day.  Then I started thinking, decided there must be a performance and went to the ticket booth to see if there were any seats left.  I got a seat for tomorrow night to see the Ballet! It is a Harold Lander, Wlliam Forsythe production. (If there are any ballet aficionados out there).  Here is the blurb if you are interested. 

“Etudes transposes a dance class to the stage. Conceived by Harald Lander who was a choreographer, ballet master and director of the Opera’s Ballet School, this ballet can be seen as a manifesto of classical technique, of its purity, rigour and exactingness. In contrast, two works by William Forsythe, created especially for the Company, shed new light on this academic heritage, deconstructing and reconstructing its vocabulary. In Pas./parts and Woundwork, the choreographer shakes up the codes and boundaries, pushes back the limits and accelerates the pace. Three fundamental works from the repertoire that interact with each other, contributing to the study of the history of a technique which continues to evolve both as an intellectual discipline and as a living art form.”

I purchased  a mid-priced ticket, 77€ and my seat has a railing in front of it, so hopefully I will have a good view.  That accomplished I decided to head over to L’Orangerie  to have a look at Monet’s paintings but on checking the time I realized I would only have an hour or so inside before it closed and I didn’t want to feel rushed, so decided to take the metro to Notre Dame and maybe climb the tower.

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I stop to listen to this fellow and do a quick sketch.  When I showed it to him he was very pleased, he thanked me several times and asked if he could take a photo of the drawing.

Soon I arrive at. Notre Dame. The square in front of it is jam packed with tourists, including me!

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Notre Dame in the setting sun.  Well, the line up for the climb up to the towers was very long and it had been cut off for the day.  Maybe not a bad thing as I am fighting a cold that started yesterday and it is over 400 steps to the top!

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I love gargoyles!  Part of the reason why I want to do the tower climb, is so I can get a closer view of these curious sculptures.  I wander through the gardens behind the Cathedral, take a couple of pictures and decide to go inside.

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There was a bit of a line but it moved quite quickly, and soon I was gazing at the magnificent pillars, arches and stained glass windows.  A mass was just starting so I decided to stay for that.  A lot of it was sung by a young woman with the most amazing voice.  At first I thought it was a young boy singing, but when ‘he’ walked by I realized that it was a young woman.  I only understood a little bit of the service, but it really didn’t matter.  Sitting quietly in this place of worship during a service was a very special and beautiful way to experience Notre Dame.  I did a couple quick sketches in Notre Dame but I was quite far away, so…

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By the time the service was over I decided I needed to go home, which turned out to be a bit of an adventure.  I found the entrance to the Metro without too much problem but after only a couple of stations, there was an announcement and everyone got up and off the train, which then reversed and left the station!  I had no idea why this happened but managed to catch the words Barbes Rochechouart in the announcement, which is the name of the station I transfer at to get home.  Turns out there was a suspicious package so the line was shut down.  I figure out an alternative route and after two very packed trains I am home.  I am hoping for a bit better rest tonight, as I have a four hour drawing class tomorrow and then have just enough time to come home, eat, change and go to the Ballet!