Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Parc Guell, Antonio Gaudi

This is a highlight of the trip.  Again, highlighting Gaudi genius.  So fascinating to see.  The famous gecko is around the middle of the stairs there, behind the fountain.  It was crowded when I was there, a weekend and late in the day.  Still, this is the most crowded area, and it wasn't too much.

I did the museum of his house, mid park.  It's small but worth it to get out of the crowd, and see how he lived.  It's really moving.
Mr famous gecko.

Seems like Disney was likely inspired here.
So radical, and beautiful.  Changes every idea you had for wall, corner, ceiling.
Storyteller, fortune teller, jeweler, dreamer.  Sean Penn?
Mosaic tiles and sculptures in the ceiling.
Gaudi designed some fantastic furniture.  Look at this lively piece.  Something Brick Monkey would love.

Museu Nacional D'Art de Catalunya or The National Art Museum of Catalunya

This is Jesus on the cross from about 1,000 years ago I think.  This piece is about 3 feet tall, and I'm only capturing what's shown, but look at the detail and sophistication of this painted carving.  I feel woefully inadequate knowing the history of this piece or most everything in the museum.  I'm quite fascinated with it all, and hoping my art history family can help fill me in.

I don't know who this is, but it helps explain what's happening in the restoration. See the painting in the archway?  This was removed from a church archway, and relocated to the museum to preserve it.

This is from a church from about 1100 or so.  You can see the mural sections that were removed and moved to the museum on the left, an absolutely amazing process.  The wood statues are amazing in there beauty and detail.  Did I say amazing again?  I can't help it!  I'm not a big museum fan, but loved everything about this one, and (amazingly) it was so uncrowded.

You can see the Catalan Romanesque carvings in setting here.  I believe these were on stakes of some sort in the period, and were used in church processions and other church related theater, which apparently was common in medieval times.
Here is another example of alter and murals.
Lively stone carvings of birds here.

 Jesus telling his apostles to peace out a thousand years ago.  Church was cool back then.
I don't know this artist, but so beautiful.  I think these are modernist era.  Salvador Dali and Picasso paintings in this part of the museum.  The whole exhibit is 1,000 years of Catalonia art.

Another, I am not sure who painted.
By Salvador Dali.  Maybe his father?  They had some Picasso too, but did not allow photos.
Here is a Gaudi piece of furniture.  He was the first to add ergonomics, and always lots of details.  Did you know that's where we get gaudy?
This one reminds me of Kirsty.
Last one.  A glimpse of the view.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Welcome to Barcelona, Park de Montjuic

To catch your attention, this is the MNAC.  The exhibit highlighted is 1,000 years of art.  Wow.

This is Piscines Picornell sports center, home of the 1992 Summer Olympics.  This area is up on a hill, overlooking vast parts of the city.  That said, it's still not that popular of an area it seems.  It's winter.  Apparently there is work going on in the outdoor pool.  The other pool behind where I am standing is not in commission either.  I'm guessing the other pool is some sort of warm up area.  A few features I noticed here, aside from not having water;  The pool is DEEP, compared to what I'm used to.  It has infinity edges to cut waves.  Well, the perspective gives you an idea of what 50 meters looks like.

Although the outdoor pools were shut down, there is also an olympic pool indoors, shown here, with a view to the extraordinary MNAC, or Museu Nacional D'Art de Catalunya.  The sports center's an impressive center, and is in no way an attraction to tourists.  There is virtually nothing that says 1992 Olympics anywhere.  I was hoping to set a souvenir with the center name or olympic rings or something.  Nada.  They did have a swim shop, and I ended up getting a Catalunya cap, since Barcelona is the center for Catalunyans.  Spain, as I am learning, is comprised of several people, the Catalunyans being one, who would even like to be considered their own nation.

I've got to be careful visiting pools like this, or I won't want to go home.  I would say it's 8 feet deep or so, infinity edges, a ledge to stand on in the water, viewing level below water, and this vantage point is from a cafe overlooking the pool.  Shown, I would guess is around half the length, so maybe 30 lanes or so.  The far side are 2nd story windows of some of the workout rooms, and so on.  Yes, I did actually felt faster in the pool.  I ended up getting 3,000 meters, which felt absolutely great in so many ways.

Jib Jab with Tim
A few things.  As I said, this isn't a major attraction (strange yet fortunate!).  The downside is, there's very little on the web in English on schedules, logistics, etc.  I spent way too much time trying to figure it out, and finally just grabbed suit and goggles, and headed over.  For the next person, here's what I've found so far:

Open: 6:45am to 11:30pm.  
Cost:  About 5 Euros
What to bring: towel, shampoo/soap, lock for locker
Good news:  If you forget any of the above, you can purchase it there during certain times:
Turbo Store in the lobby:  10am - 1:30pm and 5 - 8 pm
Finding it:  This was a little complicated, but let's keep it simple.  Either get directions to the MNAC, and it's right behind it.  Follow the huge communications tower shown.  It's just in front of it.  To it's left is the main Olympic stadium, which I saw only from a distance.  There's other olympic venues around, not sure about the rest.
Metro:  Take the red line to Espana or Espania.  It's a big city circle area, and at the top of the hill you see the massive MNAC, and it's just behind.

The communications tower behind.  To give you perspective, it's about 100+ meters tall.  Really the most interesting communications towers I've ever seen.  The pool center is that on the right.  I know.  It doesn't look like much from this angle.

Sorry about the awkward angle!  Here's the only Olympic anything I saw.  The torch bearer and pedestal is about 20 feet tall, but sort of hidden along a path.

 This museum is absolutely huge, and a hint of my next post.  Suffice it to say, it's worth a visit.

Why Barcelona you ask?  It's where Mobile World Congress is hosted.  Some 50,000 - 60,000 attendees.

Sometimes it's hard to show size in photos.  This a a great example.  These two towers are about 5-6 stories tall.  In the extreme right lower corner you see the MNAC, a picture of it in the red access sign.

Last highlight for tonight.  Seems like a nothing picture.  Look again.  Two guys, headphones, video games.  Nice lamb cap on one, haircut on the other.  Elder women sitting next to them.  Photographer in the reflection.  This is the Metro.  Runs like clockwork.  Super efficient, very inexpensive.  Okay, final note.  Guy on left has tats on his hands.  See?  Love Hope across his knuckles.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Clear Lake in Summer by Emil Welton

Emil Welton

Clear Lake in Summer

Arriving at my cousins’ house on a hot June afternoon,
Grateful to stretch our legs after the long drive.
Our cousins rush out the door and slam into us to give us hugs.
The lake’s smooth surface is broken by our bodies splashing into it
After hurling ourselves off of the pier.
Summer has begun.

The wind combs our hair as we zip down the street,
Veering around corners and weaving back and forth on our bikes
As playing cards rattle between the spokes.
We ride a loop around the town
And race back at top speed.
Riding back through the square,

We park our bikes on the nearest rack
And leave our race for another day since the wafting aromas distracted us.
We order malted chocolate milkshakes
At the shop on the corner.
We sip our shakes, put the dollar on the counter,
And ride home for the day.

Sailing lessons start on the lake the next day.
We gather our things and are sailing in under an hour of lessons.
Skimming peacefully over the water,
We look out over the gigantic lake and can just make out the other bank.
The time comes to sail back to the pier for the day,
So we swing around the boat as they taught us to and glide silently back.

The days fly by quickly and soon it is time for the parade on July fourth.
Crowds line the streets for the big day, anticipating all the beautiful floats
And the hail of candy falling from the sky.
Our float is a small go-kart with CLtel, my uncle’s company’s name, on the side.
With us on our bikes trailing the float, we get loud cheers from the crowds
As we toss candy to feed the masses.

Later in the evening, we gather at the end of the pier
To watch the famous lakeside firework display of Clear Lake.
A few test fireworks are launched, and then the show begins.
The fireworks explode over the lake as bright pinwheels offire.
We kids do our own tiny show afterwards,
But it does not compare to the amazing display we have just seen.

Jib Jab with Tim
This poem is the work of my nephew, Emil, above left in blue.  His cousin Chris in front of him in green.  We joined up with my siblings and their kids in Clear Lake for the 4th of July.  Thanks for the guest post, Emil!  You are a talented writer.  More on the Clear Lake trip.

Bozeman, Montana

John's a family friend, and a high school buddy I haven't talked with in say 25 years.  That said, I'm so glad I called.  The weekend unfolded like we'd been doing stuff together all that time.  John made elk tacos for us and his family, and we spent the nite on our way heading home.  I think he said he took his son on his first hunting trip when he got the elk.  Turn's out his older son is going to school at my alma mater, Santa Clara University.  I'm looking forward to having John and Janet over when they're in town visiting, and hopefully have Anderson over soon too.

 John's giving me a tour, while we do a couple 'chores'.
Like feeding the chickens our leftovers from last night.  We had some eggs from these guys for breakfast.  A blue, white and brown egg, for example.  Delicious.
All told, I think there were 7-8 barns or so.  This is the biggie and oldie.
We had to feed the horses.
Did we feed the dogs?  Love the dogs.  I forget their names.  There's also untold number of cats in the barn.  Did I mention the apple orchard in the backyard?  I think John said 26 trees.
Love the barn.
Thanks for the nice time!
John gave me a nice tour around Bozeman.  This is where he went to college.  Montana State.  A really nice campus, some old, and new buildings.  Apparently their media program is well funded and notable.  It's a beautiful setting, next to Bozeman, which is also got an attractive downtown.

Not many airports as nice as Bozeman.  Not much of a crowd either.

Bye Bozeman!  Thanks for the nice time!

Jib Jab with Tim
What a trip!  I am so fortunate to have the friends I do.  I can't stop thinking how so much of what's most memorable in my life is because of my friends.  My best bud, Mike invited me on this trip, while I was on a trip, to China.  As you can imagine, there were some complications.  Easily, there were 10 or 20 times I thought, okay, I can't do this.  Okay, this isn't going to work.  Okay, I tried, and it's too much.  Too hard.  Too complicated.  Too, too, too.  Joyce, thanks for taking the too much out of the flights!  Mike, thanks for being flexible with me, and John, thanks for skiing with us, and sharing your hospitality!