Ten ThousandVisions




Posts from October, 2008

The following posts…

October 16th, 2008

… are from our honeymoon, Violet and I.

I wrote the entries in a word document but not all at once. The tense changes terribly throughout and it is poorly edited. But i posted it here because it is like the raw footage. There are gems of insight. And some mud of grammar here and there. So enjoy! I’ll post some pictures sooner than later but life has us busy, as it chomps at our heels and it joyful to have us back in the normal flow of things. It was a summer of big projects, lots of planning, serious commitments and too much packing and unpacking. As we sort out all the piece that are left, and put things back in order we are so grateful for all the people we met, interacted with, played with, laughed with, and shared stories with along these journeys. I’ll be posting some stuff about McLightenment sooner than later…

Barcelona, Amsterdam, NYC, and, at last, home

October 16th, 2008

We slept deeply and packed our things in the morning, purchased a few more bottles of wine and checked out of the hotel after breakfast and a walk and drove up up up out of town and then down down down back into the flat landscape of Catalonia. Violet was tired of driving. It had seemed inefficient to have me drive, since I didn’t drive stick and it would take a while to learn and we couldn’t get to where we were going as quickly. “Are we there yet?” she asked.

We tried to go check out Colonia Guell outside of Barcelona- a chapel that Gaudi designed. It was unfortunately closed but we could admire it’s seemingly random curves from afar. So we had lunch and then were on the road, into Barcelona, as I did my best to navigate, and got to the parking garage outside of Jami’s place without much consequence. There were crowds of people and, when we got up to her fifth floor apartment, she was excited to have us back. There was some kind of festival going on, that had been going on for a few days and there was music tonight,  fireworks, who knows what. So we quickly cleaned up, grabbed a few things an headed out with her towards the harbor where we would see a performance of some sort of circus thing.

We met up with her friends Rachel and Diana there and then quickly got sidetracked by the rows of tents offering wine-tasting. We love tasting wine! But we miss the performance. We decide we are all hungry and take off for tapas at a crowded little place and eat a huge selection of dishes, with two other fellows joining us as we drink more wine from little glasses, laughing, talking, enjoying. We head to Dianas place where we get a wonderful view of the city rooftops from her rooftop apartment, the cathedral next door with it’s stained glass windows lit up, the distant fireworks going off signaling the beginning of the fireworks show. Like little kids we gather ourselves up and  head to the harbor again to see the fireworks show that is being put on by Uruguay. It huge. It’s loud. It’s fireworks and it seems fitting for our last night. We wander home through the darkened streets to a bed that welcomes us.

The next morning, with too little sleep, we are up early, pack up our things quickly, trying to pack our five bottles of wine as carefully as possible and then are on our way to the airport, returning the car, picking up our tickets, standing in a line, getting on a plane to Amsterdam, being served breakfast and getting off plane. We have a six hour layover so we grab our things and get on a train to the Van Gogh museum. Seems everyone in Amsterdam speaks pretty good English. The Van Gogh museum is a wonderful treat with it’s several hundred Van Gogh’s – his signature gloppy brushstrokes, thick in consistency, little over painting but… so right each time. We purchase a poster and some postcards on our way out, try to get into the Rijk Museum nearby but find we have no more time, with we had more time for the rest of the city and then are on our way back to the airport.
The plane ride is pleasant enough… dinner… wine… movies… land in JFK, get a hotel with the most comfortable bed yet, some Italian delivery dinner, a night sleep… on the plane to San Diego, are reminded what American airlines are like (Jet Blue) – with their meager snacks and $5 movies per person(!) and finally arrive home in San Diego. And that is when the Honeymoon is over.
But good things like this… they last a long long time… new adventures… new projects… inspirations… unfolding…

Port Ligat and the sea

October 16th, 2008

When we are complete with Dali, it is onwards and upwards out of the city. I found on the map the Monastery of Santa Maria, located high up in the mountains between Figueres and Cadaques. The road takes us up into the blue sky and with the windows down, the sun shining majestically and the world stretching out before us with welcoming arms, it feels like a return into the light; Dali was sort of a dark fellow. We stop at an old stone dolmen, a burial arrangement of stones that is, what?, ten thousand years old? Ancient!

We come around a bend, through a couple of roundabouts and into the access road to the Monastery. The first stones of the Monastery were laid in the 6th century – 1500 years ago! – later it was built up in the 10th and 11th centuries and went through various times of abundance and poverty, expanding itself as was fit. The tall stone towers, the vast echoing chapel with it’s filigreed columns sculpted by hands centuries old with golden light cast into it from the afternoon sun was an inspiration. Ancient remnants of frescos still on the walls in some places, other little corners and nuances… it was a gorgeous and inspiring experience, right down to the flan and cappuccinos we  had on the terrace overlooking the Mediterranean below.

At last we got back into our little Naranjazul and made our way back down the mountain towards Cadaques. After a shower and a snack, we prepared to go have dinner. A nice restaurant, wine, fish in a delicious sauce, a walk along the waters edge, a softly lit evening…
The next day, after rising and having croissants and café con leche on the sun porch of the hotel we wandered through the little art market taking place in the town square then took a picnic lunch over the hill to the Dali house-now-museum in Port Ligat, a fifteen minute walk away. We were fortunate to be able to get a couple of tickets for a tour since they have to be bought in advance and were inspired by his imagination – the house slowly built over time, fishing shacks converted to house, office, connected with strange passageways and nuances around every corner…. We took our lunch later along a steep Cliffside of shale and then walked around the bay for a while til our hopes of finding the beach were dashed and Violet got quieter and quieter, a bad sign. So we walked back to town where we decided we’d just drive to a beach but we fell asleep for a while instead. I get up after a while and go for a walk. I don’t remember where.

Later I return, wake Violet for dinner, get ready and leave her to get ready while I go and sit at a tapas bar on the water, draw in my sketchbook,  drink an espresso and try not to get tired of waiting for Violet to get ready. The sky grows dusty blue and pink as the sun sets behind us and people show up, taking tables around me, eating, drinking. It is nice to not be rushed by impatient American waiters and instead have a waiter who is ok with letting me sit and draw at my table on the edge of the beach. The table next to me is a French family  of five, with two children maybe 8 and 9 and a little one in a stroller; reminds me of my family on vacation. The children are bouncing off the walls and finally go down to the water to check stones into the sea. It seems at that point like the parents breath a sigh of relief.  Eventually, Violet joins me and we walk off into the evening, finding a warmly lit Moroccan restaurant where we eat some truly delicious food, have more wine and wander home, our bellies full, our minds at ease, and loving each other and the world. This is our second to last night. The next night would find us back in Barcelona and then, come morning, on a plane home. We tried not to think about it.

Cadaques and Dali

October 16th, 2008

The road snakes down the mountainside, hugging it tight as the drop off down below cascades into layer upon layer of terraces made from the slate stone that makes up the bedrock of the Spanish landscape planted with rows of olive trees, dotting a pale olive green landscape with their gnarled branches and tufting leaves. We pull into the center of town, find a little hotel – Hotel Residencia – and I go inside while Violet parks the car. The hotel is bedecked inside with old Dali prints, books, gold and velvets with a cheeky mannerism – a homage to Dali, Picasso, Miro. I am given a room on the 3rd floor with a terrace looking out on the bay. I bring our things up through the hallways lined with Dali prints and find our room to have a sweet sort of charm, little fridge, Dali lithograph over the bed and a view of the bay with the noisy street below.  I open a bottle of wine – a reserva from La Rioja and it’s smooth and soft in my mouth, ten years old and delicious.  I sit and enjoy it on the little balcony, in the sun,  watching the boats bob in the turquoise blue sea while the sun pats me upon the head.

Violet arrives and we rest for a while then clean up and go for a walk. The tourists trickle out (we never feel so much like the tourist we see…) and we sit at a café, have a cappuccino and draw for a while. Violet keeps a travel journal and I like to draw out in my own sketchbook various impressions that are left on me from landscapes, architecture, people, concepts – from the Spanish Gothic cathedrals to the Gaudi mosaics to the steep craggy peaks of the Pyrenees – all of leaves an impression upon my own visual language and lines and every time I go somewhere, I’m left with a new set of symbols, a few new curves and concepts. After our evening café we walk along the edge of the waves that gently lap the  shoreline, find some dinner at an Italian restaurant and then head to bed in order to get a fresh and semi-early start in the morning for the Dali museum.

I awaken before Violet, as usually happens, and go for a walk, sit at a Café, watch the sunrise, take pictures, notes, breathe for a while and then return to wake Violet who is already up. We shower, dress and are out the door on our way to Figueres. Up over the mountains again, down into the little so-so town of Figueres, Dali’s childhood home. You can see why he left it for Cadaques. It felt a bit like why I left Milford, CT for Vermont and then California. Cadaques is a lovely little town with a soft yet craggy character while Figueres is old, dirty and has a hard love sort of energy. The museum-theater with it’s bread loaf sculptures dotting the red exterior and giant eggs along the upper walls,  is, well, an interesting exploration…

I don’t think I can do it justice with my words. It is beyond expectations and, at the same time, less than we had hoped. Strange coin operated spectacles, the famous Mae West room, the massive bronze statue of some sort of goddess standing with arms outstretched given to Dali by Ernst Fuchs that sits atop an old, what, Mercedes? Rolls Royce? …inside of which houses a greenhouse with mannequins and plastic plants. The gorgeous paintings inside, feeling tragic and comic, exalting and irreverent, masturbatory and unifying… Some paintings defy our imagination and take our breath away, some make us… wonder…. The massive ceiling mural enthralls me the most with it’s ten thousand Dalinian elements, it’s lines that beget lines and angels that become angels, all of it an epic orchestration of color and form and symbol. Soon the crowds are overwhelming, Violet is experiencing low blood sugar levels and we need to leave.

After a quick snack outside at a café, we go into the Dali Jewels exhibit where we are treated to the dimly lit corridor of cases enclosing the most exquisite jeweled sculptures made to Dali’s specifications – the golden heart with it’s ruby blood beating, a golden bird-legged elephant with a massive tourmaline(?) atop it, all number of gemstone encrusted beauties and a massive painting- The Apotheosis of the Dollar which is like a reward to get to see, having not been treated to very many large  scale hallucinatory artworks in the museum. It takes our breath away. With every one of his paintings, if you sit with it long enough and let your eyes relax and let the whole thing take meaning, you begin to see what he was seeing and, rarely, are you disappointed. With his freakish sculptures… well… that is another story.

Red Wine and Cadaques

October 16th, 2008

Laguardia, a small village on top of a hill is, notably, in the middle of the area. It is surrounded on all sides by long sloping valleys of vineyards and bodegas, with some towering cliffs and mountains climbing, granite grey dappled in green, behind it. We wander into the town, parking the car in one of it’s surrounding parking areas because there are no cars allowed in the town. It is almost siesta time we have a chance to buy a few bottle of wine at a little wine shop, sold to us by an excited Italian girl. The town clock rings two and three little figures dressed in white come out of it and do a dance called the “passacalla”, a local traditional dance. It’s a strangely humorous occasion, at least to those of us on the outside. We head into a crowded and somewhat smoky little café peopled by older local folks talking and laughing and drinking wine, have some lunch of tortilla, some wine and head out again. At this point we are heading for Cadaques, on the Mediterranean coast north of Barcelona. It’s a long drive and Violet is going for it – I don’t drive manual! She’s been at it the whole time! God Bless her!

But it gets late and the wine makes us sleepy so we stop in Lleina which seems to have filled it’s twisting streets with dozens of shops and not a restaurant in sight! Finally we have some super tasty Italian food, poke around a bit and end up in bed sleeping soundly. In the morning, after cafes and a walk, we get out of there and drive drive drive – 140 km/h – to Cadaques.
A few noteworthy things while we drive:

  • There are very few police on the roads, if any at all.
  • Everyone uses their blinker (almost) and the people who are driving slower always drive in the slower lane!
  • We see very few fat/overweight people anywhere. It is refreshing and feels… healthy!
  • A culture that drinks the small café con leche over the ginormous grande with a ton of sugar and cream lives longer healthier lives. Old people don’t look as old and unhealthy.
  • We like Spain. A lot. It seems to like us too.
  • If McCain wins the election is says a lot about where this country is going. And i think i’ll be going to Spain.

Passing north. I do my best to navigate. North. Past Barcelona, the exit for Montserrat, and we can see the serrated mountain tops in the distance, a pale grey blue ridgeline cutting up against the sky with swaths of valley and towns in between. North past fields of sunflowers, their bright golden heads leaning forwards with the weight of a thousand seeds in spiraling sequences and little villages and towns with their little bars and lamp posts, each with a cathedral towering upwards, some with cathedrals that seem larger than the towns, built on hill tops with the town trickling away below them, trying to get as close to the heavens as possible, sometimes missing the heaven that is under their feet. North past Figueres where well return later to visit the Dali museum… then we head East, towards the mountains with the Mediterranean on the other side. We climb up over rocky ridgelines with hills cascading down below that are lined with terraces hundreds of years old, dotted with old olive trees, dry prickly oaks and scrub golden in the sun. The terraces line the curves accentuating the arcing rolling mountain sides. Miles of terracing, from top to bottom of mountains into the little valleys where ancient stone houses farm the same land they’ve been farming for a thousand years through wars and peaces, famines and fortunes…

We crest the last hillside, make our way into Port de la Selva and get lost for a while in the maze of narrow stone streets as we try to find the road to Cadaques – the minute you get into it you feel like a rat in a maze- where’d the mountains go? Where’s the exit to this thing? Every wall looks the same, did we pass that old wooden door already? What the hell? Directions from a couple little old ladies out for a walk, thy converse in Spanish quickly about the best way to get out of here and, it seems from their intonations and facial expressions, it’s not an easy verbal map to give. With their directions in mind we are quickly on our way out, passing again into the mountains til we see the sea again and, down below the little white-walled red-roofed town of Cadaques. The sea winks.

Port of San Sebastian and Modern Art

October 16th, 2008

The next morning after breakfast we pack our things and make our way back down the mountains and through the vast golden farmlands towards San Sebastian, a seaside city near the border of France. However, on the way we stopped in a Sos del Rey Catolico in search of the Castle, Crypt and Cathedral but it was hard to find – we wandered too long through the little winding narrow cobblestone streets with their little balconies and archways, big old stone doors and monuments that have been there since before anyone alive there now can remember. We popped into a little store, bought some wine and cheese and finally found the  Castle, but it was closed cause it was Monday so we wandered for a bit through the ruined remains that we could and then found our way through the giant archway gate and drove back down to the highway from the little hilltop town, passing other fortified outposts, ancient crumbling stone houses, cows grazing, mountains of harvested hay and headed to San Sebastian, trying to get there before dark.

It took us circling the town four or five times before we got the right route in to park and found a little pension to spend the night with dark hardwood floors, stone walls and a spot in the little old town district. We rested for a bit and then went for a walk through the stone streets, eating tapas from plates and mountained plates of dozens of flavors, drinking a glass of wine here, a glass of wine there, writing and drawing in our journals and taking pictures of archways, people talking and laughing in a dozen different languages, enjoying the French/Spanish Romanesque architecture of cupolas and sculpted wrought iron, stone leaf cornices and arcing triomph, walking on the beach under the moonlight along the curving arc of the San Sebastian port, flanked on either side by towering hills with lights climbing up their sides, playing along the sand, dipping our toes into the other side of the Atlantic… The next morning after a decent nights sleep I head out early to a beautiful sunrise over the bay, a café con leche at a Café, write some, draw some, check out the massive gothic cathedral with it’s tiny little embellishments- so much of this that I see is reflected in Gaudi’s architecture but more nuanced, natural and inspired from within rather than drawing simply on tradition and religious structure. I go back to wake Violet  and she is up already. We shower and pack up and head outside. There are some kids fighting in the street while people look on – their sounds echo off of the stone walls, apartment buildings, streets- everything is stone, there is very little grass or trees, only in designated area. We buy some fruits and vegetables from a little market and go have breakfast. Soon we are in the car and on our way to France.

We cross the border, have a heated conversation with a gas station attendant who speaks no English or Spanish and feels I should speak French and we decide that we liked Spain better so we turn around and head to Bilbao along the coast, passing little inlets and coves, stopping for lunch at an overlook with the ocean far below crashing into the cliffs and then we zoom onwards past little towns and villages til we get to Bilbao, finding the Guggenheim without a terrible amount of difficulty. The Guggenheim is a building out of some kind of avant-garde dream of the future, if the future were draped steel, aluminum and glass to form a building that is more impressive than the art it houses. And the art it houses is… different. Avant-garde. Thought provoking. Adequately provoked in thought, we split for another lunch of bread, cheese, ham and tomatoes and then head towards Vitoria where we hear there is also an art museum that supposedly houses a better collection of Modern Art than the Guggenheim, which happened to have that entire section temporarily closed.

The night in Vitoria is at a mediocre hotel around the corner from the Artium, the museum we want to go to. We have a delicious menu del dia at a nearby restaurant, drinking a tasty wine and are up reasonably early. The bed sucks. Every bed we sleep on seems to sort of suck. Even cheap motels in the states usually have decent beds. What’s up with that? Well, the Artium isn’t open for another hour so I leave Violet to her writing and I go for a walk up through town, find some interesting murals on the sides of buildings and then head back to Violet. We check out the Artium and find some strange and more thought provoking artwork. Unfortunately, their main Modern Art collection is also temporarily closed. So, foiled again, we make our way into the Rioja region where the best red wines of Spain are produced.

Pyranee Mountains and Valleys

October 16th, 2008

Driving takes us northwards, into the mountains where we find ourselves passing into what seems like a gateway into the mountains in the form of mammoth curving red rock formations that end with a punctuation of a little white walled red terracotta roofed town, along a river rushing below. We stop to take pictures, of ourselves, of the rocks and river and trees. Driving further takes us up past cows grazing, sheep grazing, more mountains, into the trees and, as the sun sets, the shadows of the mountains grow until they tower over us, looming in the dark. We make our way towards Jaca a little mountain town in the direction of our destination but at an intersection we change course and head deeper into the mountain valleys passing through littler and littler towns until we arrive in Hecho where we stop to eat in the little village of grey stone, flowers, ancient streets twisting and turning, balconies. In the brightly lit restaurant/bar, half a dozen older men come in all at once from the drizzly mountain night. They stand around the bar, in front of our table and each quickly has a glass of wine, talks loudly and with much gusto and then leaves with the same sort of bluster. Our wine and potatoes and cheese are much quieter. When we are finish we get in the car in the cold wet dark nifhr and head north towards the dot-on-a-map village of Sirensa and finally, onwards further to the little Hotel Uson, but they are full for the night (Sunday) and we must turn around and make our way back to Hecho where we get a bare little room in a stone and wood hotel. Hotel is a loose term: it’s a pleasant enough little place on a corner with rooms, a restaurant… but whenever I think of “hotel” I am doomed to mental images of Motel 6’s and Best Westerns… they are never ever like that. They are almost always cute, pleasant and homey.

In the morning, I go for a walk. The sun is rising, bathing the stone walled village in golden light. In a hillside field, one square of grass amongst others, with little stone barns, low stone walls and verdantly green grass, sheep graze in this place that place hasn’t changed for thousand years ago, save for the cars and the electrical lines. A dog sidles up beside me and follows me around town, keeping me company, showing me his hood, nice dog. When Violet awakens we have breakfast of, once again, croissants, ham, orange juice and café con leche, take a walk through town then head back to Hotel Uson with it’s quaint wood and stone farm house look, powered by solar and water and beautifully situated on a hill side looking towards the stone cathedrals of mountains that rise up out of the forests. We are given a room this time and leave our things and exploring.

Rounding the curves and bends of the twisting road into the mountains grants an eternally replenished view, a new vista and another eye-poppingly beautiful scene. We drive until our little car can’t handle the road any longer and then we get out and walk down into a valley surrounded by towering peaks of the Pyrenees while around us the gentle clanging of the dozen distant cowbells around the heifer’s necks sounds like soft wind chimes. We explore the valley, the flowers and waterfall, approach rather skeptical cows and then have some lunch on the hillside of ham and apples and bread and cheese. We take to leave and head back to a trail that goes up into the forest where we had stopped a bit earlier to check out the thistles and the view. The trail takes us up into the wet woods past numerous mushrooms in all shapes and colors, tall firs with patterned bark, the wind through the branches softly weaving together their shadows, the sound of the river rushing, Violet with her tall wizard- like walking stick, us climbing higher til it seems we can’t go much further. At last, with the air cooling, a possible rain storm on the horizon and Violet tired of climbing, we turn around and head back down where we hop in the car and stay on the edge of the gathering clouds. Back in the Hotel we shower and enjoy the mountain air feeling of the little place. We drink hot chocolate and write and draw in our journals in the sun room and then, later, eat a delicious dinner, have some wine and retire to our bedroom where we sleep deeply.

Montserrat, A Castle and on to the Pyranees

October 16th, 2008

Upon awakening, I rise and dress quietly and go for a hike, telling Violet I’ll meet her for breakfast downstairs. The main plaza is empty and vastly quiet in the morning light coming through the archways and pillars, casting long arcing shadows and igniting the towering bulbous shaped rocks that loomed overhead. I find a trail that winds up into the mountains and half-run/half-walk up the long winding trail of rocks and stairs, the rocks worn smooth underfoot, stopping now and again to take a picture, catch a breath or feel the great open winds that rush through me in the morning air- the chill of the earths breath mixed with the warmth of the morning sun. I crest ridge and find myself on a wide sloping rock face overlooking the valleys below and looking up towards the towering chimney like peaks of Montserrat. I breath. I sit. I relax into the earth, warmed by the sun and cooled by the breeze over my perspiration. But I am to meet Violet for breakfast and don’t want to keep her waiting so, with a good-bye to the peaks up there, I run down the stairs, glancing down at the picturesque scene of the monastery below me, with it’s bell tower and church of reddish stone illuminated in gold by the sun.

After a breakfast of coffee, croissants, Serrano ham, cheeses and fruits we go for a walk around the wide open empty square and then wander into the main cathedral itself, adorned in grey stone gothic curves and archways of white marble, through the main cathedral plaza and then into the vast open expanse of golden arches and pillars that is the cathedral. We file in line up past golden mosaics and into the little room housing the famed Black Madonna with Child (supposedly carved by St. Luke in 50 AD, rumor has it…), get a view from the nave of the church, up behind the altar and then chill in the little insanely ornate chapel behind the statue. Leaving there we stop into the art museum and are presented with a wide selection of Catalonian artists including Dali, Picasso, Rusiñol, Degas, El Greco, amongst others. We hang out for a while longer til throngs of tourists made the entire situation a little unbearable, so we pack our things into our little Citroen that we have named Narajazul (Blue Orange) and get on our way northeastwards towards the Pyrenees, stopping briefly at the market that has set up for some goat cheese, honey and fig pate.

Half way along on the highway we decide to stop through Zaragoza to check out the Basilica and the Arab/Moorish castle, the latter of which we never found. Word from the wise: Zaragoza, in fact, most cities, are a pain the ass to get into and out of. The Basilica itself is, basically, huge – columns 20’ square, massive vaulted ceilings with distant frescoes, insanely huge. And the chapel within the chapel.. and the other frescoes and the- anyways, says Violet, if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all, they are all so alike and, besides, it’s hard to not think about the death and insanity that came with all of this – the Spanish inquisition, the gold melted from the Aztecs and Mayans to built these altars… Sigh. Well, anyhow, we walk outside in the sunshine of the giant public plaza, kids running after pigeons, a large squadron of folks all dressed in suits, little cafes lining it serving café con leche, tapas, pizza, gelato and we make our way out of town passing through a plaza framed by various iterations of the metahedron star thing.

We leave there, on our way into the Pyrenees but part way there, I see a few dots on the map signifying the Loarre Castle, built in the 11th and 12th centuries – Long time ago! Old ruins! Cool! We arrive as the afternoon sun cast it in gold and it is windy, a little cold, and we try to make it quick cause we still have a long drive ahead of us. The castle walls tower over head and we play – running up stairs and under crumbling archways trying to get a better view and wondering what could have been what and imagining this place when it was in use. As we are about to leave we hear instruments tuning and find, in the barren grey stone chapel, soft illumination and a 6 or 7 piece string ensemble practicing and taking advantage of the stone acoustics. Their sounds are warming and haunting at the same time and breath life into a structure that seems to otherwise be a shell of a former world.

Barcelona, Gaudi y Mas –> Montserrat

October 16th, 2008

In the Barcelona airport our connection meets us: she is a friend of a friend who will be providing us with a place to stay and a few pointerswhile in the city. She is holding a sign reading “Michael and Violet” in a big heart. Cute! With our bags in tow we ride a train through the uninspiring outskirts of the city (like most cities…) into the heart of it – the “Born” district where she lives: a crowded area of tapas and bars and cafes and shops and narrow rock paved streets and elegant cast iron lamps, gorgeously sculpted cornices and building facades lined with curving spiraling wrought iron balconies and lovely old embellishments. One building has 12’ tall griffins guarding it’s rooftop while another is curling, twisting leaves framing faces of gods. But who can pay much attention? We collapse into bed and sleep til ten pm and I have dreams of days and nights passing, the sun rising and falling. When we awaken, we go and eat dinner and Jami takes us for a walk. We have delicious gelato and admire the city, loving the energy. She leaves us to wander and we return to go to bed by one, crashing on the sugar.

Awakening in the morning takes a while and we spend the day with a visit to Sagrada Familia – Gaudi’s church masterpiece that towers with it’s archways and peaks that look like drip sand castles or rivulets of wax and inside of each rivulet is another masterpiece, another heavenly doorway, strange creature or beautiful saint giving praise and all of it built upon foundations of natural rhythms- architecture built on the geometry of nature. Park Guell is another masterpiece of organic design but this time snaking and winding it’s way through oaks and olive trees and succulents with whirlpool like columns and mosaic work that blows our minds. The next day we visit his two apartment buildings- Casa Basllo with it’s underwater/art nouveau style that is beyond anything we’ve seen before and La Pedrera, an elegant piece of curves and parabolas and a rooftop that is like being on another planet. In between it all are tapas, cafes, park benches, shops, subway stations, gelato and taxi cabs. It’s fun and noisy and full of people and things to look at and ancient architecture with layers of centuries of styles, compounding upon and referencing each other, communicating over decades and lineages… Later in the evening, while searching for the perfect paella and then watching the lightening from the shore, we get caught in a sudden downpour and, running across the sand, we make our way, soaked and wishing for the umbrella in our luggage, to a nearby awning. The rain vanishes as suddenly as it had appeared and we walk home laughing.

The next morning, it is time to go and we get our things packed, a tad later in the day than planned, and take a train the long way to the airport where we pick up a rental car, drive back in a spiraling direction to the apartment (which means we pass it from several directions a few times), pack up our things and drive northeastwards, out of town. Searching for a place to spend the night, I hit upon Montserrat in the guide book. We head there and arrived in the dark, high up in the mountains, to a quiet hotel surrounded by dark watchful shadows of monolithic stone. I get a tasty dinner of prawns, mussels and chicken in a delicious brown sauce along with a Crianza tempranillo wine from the restaurant in the hotel and bring it up to our room where we eat, drank and fall to sleep.


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