A museum is not just about the art.
During our visit to Barcelona, we took the optional trip to Montserrat (meaning serrated)- a multipeak mountain range that is the site of a Benedictine Abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat, which houses the Virgin of Montserrat. The mountain is located approximately 50 km northwest of Barcelona. We took the tour bus, though it can also be reached via cable or the Montserrat Rack Railway.
A functioning monastery with over 70 monks in residence, it was founded in the 11th century and rebuilt between the 19th and 20th centuries.
We were in absolute awe of the magnificent church facade, the dome, the sculptures, and beautiful biblical scenes. It is the home of one of the oldest boy choirs in Europe (from perhaps the 14th century) consisting of thirty boys who live in the monastery.
Btw, the gelato (tiramisu flavor in particular) is fabulous. It was a short visit, wish I could have stayed longer.
If you are in Spain don’t miss visiting Seville, the capital of Andalusia, a city with many charms. The highlight of this city is a walking tour of the Jewish quarter, a lovely labyrinth of narrow streets bordered by beautifully upkept houses, and charming shops that one can spend hours exploring. A highlight of this tour is a visit to the Casa de Pilatos that is a stunning blend of Mudejar (moorish) and Renaissance architecture unique to Spain. Get transported to another era as you walk through the grounds, beautiful courtyards and gardens. You will never want to leave.
It’s about nurturing memories.
I love every aspect of the process. The idea, the planning, the anticipation, the getting there, the realization you are there. The sound of unfamiliar tongues, the excitement, the anxious confusion–Where to go, What to do? The myriad choices and lack of time. Always the lack of time. The flavor of the food, the hubbub on the streets, so on and so forth.
But what I like the best are the wistful recollections once I get back.
Were you surprised by the crowds on the Paris streets?
Yes! And that they smoked. All of them!
And they were all so smartly dressed. Just like we’d heard and read.
And remember the guy with the mustache while we were waiting in line to get into Notre Dame?
It felt surreal like I was watching a movie or something. He was a handsome dude. I couldn’t stop staring. He must’ve felt embarrassed.
Doubt it. It looked like he was enjoying the attention.
And Notre Dame– what an awe inspiring experience! Climbing the spiral staircase was a test of stamina, both mental and physical.
Rodin was something else though. That guy is… ahem!
I lost count on how many Caprese sandwiches we ate in Italy. So many I almost got sick. But the cappuccino and gelato! Couldn’t get enough. But then we had to buy the water! Can you believe it?
Yeah, but then we got to climb the tower in Pisa.
I was trying to keep a straight face while looking at David and the other sculptures at the Uffizi.
The Belgian waffles tasted so good. Because it wasn’t a DIY
Do you remember the seagull scavenging for ice cream?
And the not so scenic drive to Palomar but the Hale Telescope was awesome!
We chose to take a guided tour to Canyonlands National Park- a sunset tour, promising the best views. Let me state at the offset that even though most places can be seen on your own, I personally prefer guided tours because I feel you can get the most in the least amount of time plus you are saved all the legwork.
We had to drive to the pick up point at the junction of HWY 128 and US 191 about 14 miles from the lodge. The scenic route is through a canyon along the Colorado and well worth the extra drive.Continue reading
Where to: Moab, Utah- Gateway to Arches and Canyonlands National Park
Travelling from: Denver, Colorado.
Tip: Avoid summer months.
It is a long road trip, one of the longest I have taken- over 6 hours, more with stops. It is the only way given the lack of accessible airports. Fortunately, the drive promised to be worthwhile and scenic- through various landscapes, initially through the Rockies then desert . It started to rain when we started in the morning. The forecast promised it’d be light followed by clear skies later in the day. Rain turned to sleet as we wound through the mountains on 1 70. It was nerve wracking and fun at the same time as the drivers wouldn’t slow down hitting 80 mph, and higher on the steep grades and sharp bends surrounded by snow capped peaks passing through the Eisenhower tunnel- the longest at 1.7m and highest point in the interstate system.Continue reading
Long winding roads, verdent mountains, dotted blue skies, fresh chill in the air, and yes– The Choo! Choo! train.
“Bye, bye Choo choo train!” says a mother to her toddler as they descended the train. The nostalgia and the romance of the steam engine is unique. It brings an immediate smile all faces and a faraway look in those of us who have experienced traveling long distances in them. The sharp sound of the whistle and the smoke plume billowing over the length of the train has a plaintive ring to it– as if seeking for a lost era.
The Duomo, as Florence’s cathedral is fondly called, sports the largest masonry dome in the world. It sits across the Baptistry- the oldest religious site in Florence. Florence is a city in central Italy and the capital of Tuscany region.
The construction of the cathedral was begun by Arnolfo di Cambio at the end of the13th century, while the dome was added in the 15th century. It was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1146). Unlike designers and builders nowadays, Brunelleschi did not go to architecture school, rather he was trained to become a goldsmith. But thanks to the Renaissance, which encouraged and patronized art of all kinds, he became interested in architecture, and worked to enhance his knowledge and skills. He designed and invented an array of sophisticated hoists and tools in order to bring his ambitious design to fruition. It is even more astonishing to note that the cathedral dome is entirely self-supporting. It is actually made of two domes. An inner dome made of sandstone and marble and outer dome made of brick and mortar. A copper clad, two ton stone ball that sits on top of the dome provided the finishing touch in 1469. It was built by Verucchio and his students, among whom happened to be the incomparable Leonardo Da Vinci.
To see this and many other wonders visit Florence or Firenze, Italy- the cradle of Renaissance.
I’m not old, I think. Not yet. But I’m getting there. Everyone is getting there. Maybe I’m a little ahead in the line because I’m thinking about it. About getting old.
Am I sad? Not really. Maybe, just a little disappointed. Because I really didn’t have much of a youth. Because I spent most of it preparing for the future– for getting old.
I don’t think I’m old because I’m still a productive member of society. People still seek my opinion and try to take it seriously (I hope). My opinion still counts for something. I’m not just someone to be tolerated. But then what is ‘old’? It is a state of mind. Because there are people who are old in their youth and others who are young when they are old.
I think I’m at the best time of my life. There is still a skip in my step and I’m not preoccupied with the condition of my joints. I still get excited to see new things, experience new places.
I don’t have any regrets. I’ve dealt with them all. In fact, I’ve dealt with them so well I don’t even recall what they were. My desires are limited to traveling, reading, assimilating new ideas, and perhaps guiding others to live a better, more informed life. I’ve reconciled with my ambitions and disappointments.
But a day will come when I won’t matter any more; my opinions will be just that–opinions. So, I’m collecting keepsakes. Little memories– that’ll keep me company and help me pass the time. It could be anything– like the flavor of something delicious– from a long time ago–that perhaps I’d never get the chance to taste again. It could be a bird call; a chance conversation with a stranger; timeless streets through which I walked and walked but wasn’t afraid of getting lost because I had wonderful company. It could be the brilliant blue of the sky, the soothing silence of the forest, the dust on my shoes as I embarked eagerly on a different trail.
I hope that time will be short. I hope I won’t become bitter. I hope when you think of me it’ll be with a smile.
It’s a Sunday. Not just any day. A day of so-called rest or restlessness. Let’s take a trip downtown. The weather is chilly, the sky is grey. The streets are deserted. Parking in the Whole Foods garage will cost you unless you spend $10 on groceries. Two boxes of cereal and some lemonade- $11 and change; not bad at all. Pick up some coffee at Starbucks (there is still no sitting inside) then wander along the streets.
The trees are finally springing leaves- makes for a nice contrast against the blue of the building across.
Walk through the Union Station which happens to the center of action to 17th street. A man wearing a purple cape slips into an alley covered with striking graffiti. Oxford Hotel, the oldest in Denver- had no clue.
Now back to the parking garage. Money well spent.