Pula, Croatia

Day 15, Tuesday September 19, 2017

Well, it was raining all night and still raining when we got up this morning but it stopped mid morning so we decided to go check out Pula. We found a parking lot and this is what we see when we get out of our car! An incredible Roman Amphitheatre.

But…I turn around and this is what I see…

The sky is very dark but we go check out the Amphitheatre and hope we don’t get wet. We decide to walk around the amphitheatre today and go inside on a drier day when we might not have to leave because of the rain. There are some great views from the outside.

We take a walk around the central part of the old town and we see some more Roman monuments: the Temple of Augustus, The Roman Twin Gates and and the Triumphal Arch. Image 2017-09-19 at 9.06 PMBy now it is raining quite heavily so we make our way back to the car, passing this interesting looking candy shop with huge candies. The banana candies are life size!Of course as soon as we get home the sun tries to peek out, but it doesn’t mange to do so for very long and soon it is raining again.After a late lunch Bob reads and I work on my journal which, of course I am already behind on.

 

 

Our Extra Day In Amsterdam

Day 9, Wednesday, September 13, 2017

All of Holland was on a severe storm alert so that was why our flight was cancelled yesterday. I decided I was staying home today and catching up on my journal.  I love to journal when we travel but with blogging and journalling I sometimes get a bit behind. My blog has been giving me a bit of grief, some of the settings have changed, either I did it unknowingly or the site has been updated. Not sure which, but it is a nuisance, and it has been taking me much longer than it should to do each post.  I think I have sorted it out, but then a new challenge arises.  

I need good light to photograph my journal pages so I can’t do it when we get home late.  A scanner would be so much better but I can’t carry that around with me! When I can I draw on location but I also use my photos as reference when needed.

The view looking down from our third floor window into our neighbour’s yards.I worked on this page wile we waited in a cafe for our entrance time to the Van Gogh Museum.

What can I say, I just loved these little statues! 

Somehow I got this page out of order, I labeled it Saturday and then wrote Sunday’s activities on it.  White Out is handy in an art kit.

I finally got up the nerve to start sketching on the tram. This always seems intimidating to do but once I start it really isn’t so bad.  The young gentleman in the hoodie knew I was drawing him. When we got up to exit the tram I showed him the sketch and he smiled. Most people don’t really seem to mind all that much if they figure out what I am doing. I like to draw with a ballpoint pen, that way I am committed, and there is no erasing.

FC Barcelona and Life Drawing

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Bob went to see FC Barcelona play another Spanish soccer team in the Spanish Cup competition. Barcelona easily won 6-1 against this weaker team. Barcelona didn’t play its top three players but it was still exciting to be there. His ticket was in the first row of the 3rd tier near the center so there was no one in front, just the walking aisle. As this wasn’t the Championship League, the crowd was only 67,000 instead of 100,000, and because it wasn’t the Championship League the ticket was only 30 euros instead of 350 euros for this prime seat. Lots of noise and cheerings and drum beating.  Everyone (except Bob) either had a FC Barcelona cap, scarf, or jersey, and of course everyone tried to take the same bus home after the game.image

The next day we found this picture online. The spectator in the turquoise coat with the white hat, on the right side of the players uplifted hand is Bob!imageWhile Bob was at the football (soccer) game I went to a life drawing class at the same studio that I was at the first week of our holiday. This is a great group and it has a couple drawing sessions a week but this was the only one I was able to fit in. Their next meet up is the day we fly home.Image-1

I snapped these photos after life drawing.  The studio is upstairs in an interesting old building on a street near the Opera House. DSC01855

From the street all there is to see is an ordinary, graffiti covered door, that opens onto this medieval looking courtyard. I find it quite fascinating that so many Spanish doors open onto courtyards and gardens. You never know what you will see behind a door, which is why whenever I see an open doorway I try to peek inside! DSC01858This little fellow peeked out to say hello on the subway on my way home.  It is the only rodent of any kind that we have seen on this trip. I wondered if we would see any rats, but not a one.DSC01862

Walking home past one of the narrow side streets in our Sant Andreu neighbourhood.  It was late but I felt safe walking home from the metro by myself as there were still lots of little cafés and shops open.DSC01860

The Christmas lights are pretty even if there isn’t any snow.DSC01864

 

 

The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art

Tuesday, November 10

Jerez de la Frontera is the capital of Sherry production and it is also famous for its Andalusian Equestrian School. It is just a bit farther south than Doñana Park, which we visited yesterday. We purchased our tickets online and we leave early so we will arrive in lots of time for the 12:00 show.

image

We arrived early, and found parking which is always a challenge in Spanish cities, thanks to the wonderful GPS capabilities of our iPad.  It has paid for itself many times over this trip. I have no idea how we managed to travel in Australia and New Zealand without it, only relying on maps. Never again!

We watch a very good short movie about the history of the Andalusian horse and then we have time to watch some of the training in the outside riding ring while we have our lunch.

image

We have great seats, right in the first row.  I can almost reach out and touch the horses as they pass.  The show is “How the Andalusian Horses Dance”,  and it is an equestrian ballet based on traditional and cowboy methods of taming wild horses, accompanied by Spanish music and full eighteenth century costumes. I decide to behave and not sneak any photos, but I almost wish I hadn’t. These photos are from the internet .  If you would like to see more check out   http://andalusian horse show Jerez

image image image imageWe were sitting in the front row on the right side, almost in line with the dark grey horse in the photo below.  Fantastic seats! Well worth the extra 6€ For preferential seating.image

I found this short video which shows parts of the same show we saw and it is on location at the school arena in Jerez. The show was wonderful and it had enough variety for Bob, who doesn’t love all things horses quite as much as I do.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bd_nYE4c790

I did try to draw a bit during the show, but it was hard to concentrate on drawing and what was going on, and of course the horses never stood still! Here is my page of horse life drawings.

imageThe young lady sitting next to me was from Germany.  She owned a three year old Andalusian mare and she was hoping to be able to come to this school for riding lessons.  A ten day course is 2500€  and room and board is not included. Expensive, but how fantastic would that be, to ride these beautiful well trained Andalusian horses, the same ones that take part in the shows!  The lessons run for six hours a day, so you would certainly have to be fit.

After the show we walked over to one of the many wineries in Jerez, the Sandeman Bodega, for a tour and tasting. They have several resident storks, and we were lucky enough to see this fine fellow.image

image  Our guide in costume walking past some of the barrels full of Sherry.image  After three ‘very generous’ samples of sherry we played Sandeman!image

Finding washrooms is always a bit of a challenge when travelling, so we stopped at a nearby Ikea to use theirs before the trip back to Seville. It was rather strange to find that it laid out exactly like the one back home.  We felt like we were back in Edmonton!  image

Real Madrid Stadium Tour and Retiro Park

Tuesday October 13.

While Bob went to the Real Madrid Soccer stadium for a tour I went to the public library near Retiro Park to work on my journal.

Madrid soccer club was granted the name Real (meaning Royal) in the 1920’s by the King of Spain.  Tuesday was a much better day to tour the soccer stadium as there were no crowds, unlike Bob’s first try on Sunday.imageThe stadium holds over 80,000 fans.  The tour is very inter-active, with lots of video screens showing the rich history of the club.  Somewhere in this player’s montage is Bob with the European cup.  The montage is made up of photos of the day’s visitors.imageThe tour included the top view of the stadium, the pitch, the player’s benches, the locker rooms and the media room.  Lots to see in 90 minutes.  Soccer equipment has changed a liitle since the 1950’s.imageWe walked through Retiro Park before going home and saw a rather strange art exhibit at the Crystal Palace.  There were mammoth bones and a crucifix hanging from the ceiling as well as some letters and other ephemera in boxes and on the walls.  The information on the exhibit did little to explain anything. Maybe you can spot the crucifix?imageThe Crystal Palace itself is a beautiful conservatory, but unfortunately it is no longer used for plants, just art exhibits and other functions.image  I loved the reflections of the trees and the conservatory.image

This cute fellow was guarding the pond in front of the conservatory, imagewhich had trees growing right in the water. imageParks in Madrid are much like parks in Paris, with lots of hard surfaces, plantings of trees, shrubs and flowers and a bit of grass, which you usually are not allowed on.  With so many people using the parks it is the only way to maintain grassy areas.imageRetiro park has a large ‘pleasure’ lake with row boats for rent and a half moon colonnade with a large equestrian statue of Alfonso XII.  It was a bit cool today so no boat ride for us.
image  Another view of the park.imageWe exit the park here and catch the metro back to Moncloa Station to catch our bus home. Almost everywhere we look in Madrid there are beautiful buildings. It sure makes the architecture in Edmonton seem rather drab.image

It is a 35 or 40 minute bus ride home, but it is quite relaxing and Bob is enjoying the break from driving, and I am happy not to have to navigate. I am finally doing a bit of drawing on the metro and busimage

Life Drawing Class, El Rastro Market and a Bullfight!

Saturday, October 10

I finally found a life drawing class in Madrid.  It was difficult, there were no Meet Up Groups, and the schools didn’t seem to have anything, at least anything I could find.  Mind you, most of the information is in Spanish…

One minute quickies.

imageI went to Carmen La Greiga’s studio this morning. Carmen instructs and the class had a ‘Edvard Munch’ theme so our drawing assignments were related to that.  Most of the instruction was in Spanish although Carmen translated for me quite often.  Sometimes I wasn’t sure exactly what was wanted so then I just did my own thing.image  Combining three poses into one composition.image

Carmen introduced me to several of the other artists and they all made me feel very welcome. There were people from all over the world who have come to live here. Madrid is much like Paris that way, it seems to attract people.  Carmen has a lovely little studio, is an enthusiastic, knowledgeable instructor and also teaches life drawing for children, which I think is wonderful.  If you are ever in Madrid and want to draw, check out http://www.tallerlagriega.com

Bob went off on his own to explore the Real Madrid Soccer Stadium while I was at my class, but the admission lines were very long, so he came back to meet me after my class, which was actually much longer than I expected. Carmen does a very nice critique of each person’s work at the end of class and that took over an hour. Bob and I met up in a little park near the Prado, I ate a very late lunch and we decided we would head home early for a change.  Funny, we both saw this strange vehicle today, the riders peddle sideways but it goes forward, and then there were those blonde wigs? No idea what it was all about.image

On the metro I spotted this Michael Jackson wanna-be, complete with make up and a white glove tucked into his belt.  I do love the metro, such great people watching!image

Sunday October 11

El Restro is a famous Madrid flea market whose origins date back to Medieval times.  It takes place every Sunday so that is our first stop today.  The streets are teeming with people everywhere we look.  The market stretches for blocks with booths set up on both sides and sometimes even the middle of the streets.  We wander and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells and even do a little souvenir shopping of our own.image  You can have a bull fighting poster with your name as the matador printed as you wait.imageWe had lunch near the flower vendors and then headed off to Plaza Mayor, a popular gathering spot in Madrid.image

The Plaza ( which by the way is pronounced platha, there are lots of ‘th ‘sounds in Spanish, gracias is actually pronounced grathius!) is packed with people and street vendors and has interesting buildings around it, but half of them are covered with scafolding right now.  We find an information booth and we are told we need to head to the Bull Fight Arena right away if we want to get tickets.  So a quick metro ride and soon we are at Plaza de Toros and the Las Ventas Bulll Ring.  Here is a scale model of the arena.image

Yes, we are going to see a bullfight! I have mixed feelings about this but we have decided that it is something we should do at least once while we are in Spain. The tickets are very reasonable, only 12.60€ each gets us tickets in the fourth row. We were asked if we wanted first row tickets but I didn’t think I wanted to be quite that close to the action!imageBob looks up Los Novilleros, which is the event for today and Google Translate comes back with ‘chopped heifer’.  We hope that something was lost in the translation!  Soon enough the spectacle begins.  The banderilleros warm up, practicing their flourishes and moves with their capes. I am surprised that they are not red.  Turns out only the Novilleros or Matadores have red capes.imageThe Picadores enter the rings on their very large horses.  They are draft horses as they are large and strong enough to withstand the bulls’s charge.  We are  surprised to see that the horses are actually blindfolded during the bullfights.  There are definitely things I don’t like about all this.imageThere are three Novilleros fighting today, these are bullfighters that are still in training as I find out later, and they are fighting bulls who are not aggressive or fierce enough to become ‘toros’.  These bulls are three years old, not five and the young men fighting today are all 22 years old!image image

I take a lot of pictures, about three hundred! I think that helped keep me at a bit of a distance from it all.  Looking through the camera seemed to blunt the reality of what was happening in front of us.  Much of the action was in fact right in front of where we were sitting.  I am very glad we decided against the first row seats!image

There are some tough parts. There is definitely blood, and one of the bulls sank to his knees and had to be coaxed to his feet for the final few passes and the Estocada, which is a final quick sword thrust between the bull’s shoulders and through the heart.  If done correctly it results in a quick clean death.  However, remember these are matadors in training so it wasn’t always quite so quick. In that case, there is the Descabello, which is a shorter sword that is used to sever the bull’s spinal cord, which kills the bull almost instantly.image image

It is brutal, but it doesn’t last very long and I wonder how many animals suffer for just as long, or even longer at modern slaughter houses or when they are wounded when hunted?  The bulls have a very good life up to the time they enter the bull ring, and then a half hour later it is all over, or maybe I am just trying to justify the experience?

I tell Bob that something is going to happen, the air feels absolutely electric, and sure enough a minute or so later the bull tosses the matador into the air.imageHe is pinned to the ground and it takes what seems like a long time for help to arrive and distract the bull.  The pictures are  blurry but maybe that is for the best.imageAmazingly, this young man gets to his feet and continues the fight, even defiantly turning his back on the very bull that just tried to kill him!  These men are either very brave or very crazy!imageThis was the last fight of the night, the arena empties quickly and we head for home.  It was almost ten by the time we got home and have some soup before bed.  We have to find a way to avoid these late night suppers!

Prehistoric Cave Drawings at El Castillo, Las Monedas, and Altamira

Thursday, October 1

The caves are not all that easy to find.  There are not a lot of signs for some of these main tourist attractions on the roads in the towns or villages once you are off the highways.  We actually made a ‘wrong’ turn that got us close, and then we asked directions from three local women who were sitting on an old stone bench on the side of the road, cracking and eating walnuts, while they visited.  It is an uphill winding road to the caves and we arrive in time for the last tour of the day at 1:40.  That is another thing that is taking some getting used to, the hours that attractions and businesses are open.  More on that later.

We are not allowed any pictures inside the cave and there are only four of us on the tour, so no chance to ‘sneak’ a picture or two…however we are allowed to take a picture before we enter the cave from the waiting area.image

The first cave we enter is El Castillo,  or Castle Cave, named after the mountain where it is located. The cave is incredible in its own right. The following cave pictures are taken from information in the interpretive centre.imageThen there are the cave drawings! The oldest, the negative handprints are 35,000 years old! There are also many drawings of bison, horses, reindeer and abstract symbols, including lots of round red shapes whose meaning is unknown.imageHaving a guide is essential, we never would have seen most of the drawings without her.  Our guide only spoke a little English, but it was enough to explain a bit of what we were seeing and answer basic questions. We decide we need to wait until after lunch and see the Las Monedas Cave which is also open, so we have our picnic lunch in a nearby farmer’s field. We keep looking for bulls as we hear branches cracking but discover it is only the chestnuts falling from the trees. imageLas Monedas has even more spectacular rock formations than El Castillo.  The stalactites and stalagmites are incredible, and form a multitude of differently shaped spires, pillars and other shapes.  There is so much to see that my head is swivelling in all directions, which can be rather dangerous on uneven, slippery wet footing!imageOur guide for this cave, Rebecca is amazing.  Her English is very good and she has an extensive knowledge of the cave but also of archeology and history as well.  We are the only people on this tour and our scheduled 45 minute visit extends to an hour and a quarter.  We are so glad we changed our plans and decided to see this cave as well.  There are only a few charcoal drawings in this cave, near the entrance.  I did some sketching in the caves, difficult without much light and not a lot of time, but it was an awesome feeling to think I was standing making art in the same spot as a prehistoric artist stood some 35,000 years ago!

We do a little exploring of our own after our tour.image

Next stop the famous Altamira Caves.  These caves are no longer open to the public due to the damage caused by thousands of daily visitors in the 70’s, but there is an accurate reproduction called the NeoCave that we can visit and a museum. I sit on the floor looking up and I try to draw, it is pretty hard on my neck. Here is a photo of my efforts.

imageThese are two pictures I took of the NeoCave.  We are amazed at the size, brightness and number of drawings.  The NeoCave is better than not seeing them at all, but I can only imagine what it must feel like to have been able to see the actual drawings in their original setting.image image  Hand drawings from the museum display.image

We are the last people out of the museum at 8:00 and we need to drive home in the dark.  This proves to be a bit of a challenge as we hit road construction, some detours and then we miss a few of the turns so made our own detours!  Thank heavens for the iPad and its maps with GPS.  I think we would have been driving around all night without it!

Castillo de Loarre and San Juan de la Pena

On Tuesday we visited Castillo de Loarre, a beautifully preserved Romanesque church and fortress that was started in 1071, over 900 years ago!  A film called Kingdom to Heaven was filmed there, I think in 2005. This is our first view of the castle.

image These are the ornate windows in the Queen’s tower.image  We had to watch our footing in this Medieval castle.imageWe were surprised by this para glider overhead, then we saw many more of them as there was a jumping off spot on the mountain just behind castle.image

There was an amazing panoramic view of the valley below us…image and this was our view while we had a picnic lunch!imageAfter lunch we headed to the San Juan de la Pena Monastery.  On the way we pass Aguero, a little village nestled at the base of dramatic eroded stone cliffs.  We would have loved to stop and explore, but there just isn’t time. I thought three months would be so much time but there is so much to see everywhere that we have to pick and choose.

imageThe new monastery has an interpretive center built over the old ruins.  It is the modern building  to the right in the photo below. It is a huge long building with a glass floor to view the excavated ruins below.  I find it rather unnerving walking on a clear glass floor!imageimage image

Then we go below and walk through part of the excavations.  There is also another enormous building with more ruins and figures to walk through.image

We catch a bus to the old Monastery which is sheltered under a bulging rock.  It was founded  in 920 and the Holy Grail is said to have been kept here to protect it from the Muslim invaders.  There is a replica in the chapel.image image image

The cloister has beautifully carved capitals with scenes from the Bible.imageWe have a bit of time before the bus comes back to pick us up (there is no where to park near the Monastery) so I start a sketch.

image

On the way home we drive through several long tunnels that cut right through the mountains. This one was over a kilometer long!  image

So What’s Next?

It is hard to believe that it has been almost three months since I was in Paris and last posted anything.  Because I tried to cram as much as I could into the last few days in Paris I was pretty tired by the time I boarded the plane home.  Then once back home it took at least two weeks to adjust to ‘real life’.  I have to admit I missed Paris and I especially missed drawing every day, having the luxury of so much time to myself, and being able to do whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it.  Being in such an amazingly beautiful city that celebrates history and art was a wonderful experience, one that I hope I will be able to repeat someday soon.

So what’s next?  I need to find a way to incorporate a bit of my ‘Paris life’ into my life at home.  Finding balance in one’s life is a challenge many, or perhaps most people face.  I have a wonderful family and friends and I want to have time for them but I need to carve out space and time for being creative on a regular basis, time for myself.  Ideally I would be working on making art every day, or at least most days.

I started that process by attending life drawing sessions twice a week after I came home. We have a great artist organization In Edmonton called Harcourt House that offers life drawing sessions three times a week.  harcourthouse.ab.ca/  I would like to continue attending two or three times a week.  Two of the sessions are from 7:00 to 10:00 pm which is kind of late for me, but I am going to do my best.

Here are some drawings from my Harcourt House life drawing sessions.  I decided to try drawing in pen and ink to change things up a bit.   I used a fountain pen with black ink for the first three drawings.

DSC04585 A 15 minute pose,

DSC04586 and a 20 minute pose.

DSC04589

This pose was only 10 minutes which is a bit of a challenge with two models.

DSC04588This 30 minute pose was drawn with a Bic Black ball point pen, which gives a completely different mark than the fountain pen.  It is almost like drawing with a pencil, changing pressure while drawing varies the darkness and width of the line. It is great inexpensive drawing tool.  A box of 12 pens is less than three dollars.

I also want to post regularly on this blog, probably not daily, but perhaps once or twice a week.  I think it will morph into more of an art blog, with occasional travels included. I am  not sure exactly how I feel about keeping a blog, still struggling with the idea of putting myself ‘out there’ but I have had such positive feedback from so many people that it has encouraged me to continue, at least for now.

I have fallen behind responding to comments, but I will get that taken care of in the next couple of days, so take a look if you have left a comment.  I do love it when people  comment on the posts and I do my best to respond to all of them.  Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to leave their thoughts.

It is the beginning of a new year, with all the promise and possibilities that brings and you may be wondering if I made any New Year’s Resolutions?  I did – my resolution is to draw everyday.  Yesterday I was about to go to bed when I realized I had forgotten all about drawing, and on the very first day!  So at 11:30 I sat down and did a half hour of drawing but I must admit it was a real struggle.  I haven’t been drawing very much the last two months with travelling (more on that later) and it showed.  It didn’t take long to lose the facility and confidence that I was starting to feel while I was drawing daily in Paris.

Did anyone else make a New Year’s resolution?  Was it art related?

 

All the Best in 2015!

My Last Full Day In Paris

I decide to go back to the Louvre today to do some drawing but on arriving I discover that the first Sunday of the month the museum is open to everyone, so it is absolutely packed, wall to wall people!  Certainly not conducive to study and drawing so I head over to the Eugene Délacroix museum on the Left Bank instead.

On the way I stop in at Saint-Germain-Des-Prés, the oldest church in Paris.  There are marble columns inside that date from 512 AD.  The church has been repaired and enlarged over the centuries and is an example of Early Gothic and Romanesque styles. The church as I saw it today was mostly built in 1163 but it is once again in need of repairs and restorations.

DSC02558This is the view from the north west corner and the sculpture of a head in the bottom right of the picture is by Picasso.

DSC02553

The view from the front door.  This church was beautifully painted with many stained glass windows high above the church floor.

DSC02542

The pillars and columns are covered in painted designs…

DSC02536 and I also loved the pillar’s beautiful bases.
DSC02517I was surprised to see that one of the stained glass windows had a small part that opened.  It was very high up, so I have no idea how they get it opened and closed.

DSC02531

A bust and chandelier were nicely silhouetted against this window.

DSC02539

The colours are incredible.  Stained glass windows need light to show off their beauty.

DSC02533

This picture is a bit dark, these cathedrals are always quite dark inside, but it does show the windows that encircle the church.  Just around the corner from the church and down a little side street is the museum I am looking for.

DSC02581

Here is the entrance to the Musée National Eugène Dèlacroix’ which contains his home and studio.  One of the fascinating things about Paris is the way a door will open onto a courtyard or garden and offer a glimpse into a secret place.  You just have no idea what might be behind one of those big old doors.

DSC02570This is a palette that Delacroix is thought to have given to Henri Fantin-Latour who, like Délacroix prepared his painting palette with great care.

DSC02567

Dèlacroix’s studio had many of his paintings and lithograph prints and in the house there were many lithograph prints with their original stone printing plates.  He had the studio built to his specifications, with huge north windows and skylights.

DSC02575

Here is a view of the studio from its private garden. The garden has been recently restored, under the supervision of the gardeners of the Tuileries and due to the generosity of a donor named Mr. Kinoshita.  There were lists of the plants purchased and the work carried out in Délacoix’s archives so it has been faithfully restored, and is a beautiful calm oasis in a busy city.  His home is in the building on the right of the photo, it was quite large and well appointed.DSC02573A view of the garden looking from the studio.  I decide it is time to think about heading home and walk from here towards the Louvre, as I want to stop at their bookstore and a couple other shops nearby.

DSC02585

There are some sights that are very definitely Parisian.  Do you notice all the parked cars?

DSC02584

I have no idea how the drivers here manage to park in such tiny spots, or even how they manage to get out of them, but they do!  It is quite something to watch.

DSC02595

I pass some very interesting looking shops, but as it is Sunday they are all closed so I take some photos through the windows.  Too bad, or maybe good, as I am sure I would have found some fascinating item that I would have wanted to bring home.

DSC02591

All sorts of curious and interesting things.

DSC02582

This window was intriguing, especially in light of all the figure drawing I have been doing.

DSC02590

I snap a couple last photos and head home to get packed and ready for my flight home tomorrow.

DSC02596

Me and the Mona Lisa!

Here are my metro drawings from the last couple of days.imageimage