Sunday, April 26, 2015

Burgos: Not just another pretty church


Ken and I start our 11-day trip to Spain with an overnight stop in Burgos (pop. 180,000). This historic capital of Castile, and the current capital of the province of Burgos, is located in north central Spain.

Ken, left, at Plaza Santa María in Burgos, Spain

Statue in Burgos, Spain

After checking in, and miraculously finding free parking on the street in front of the hotel, we head across the puente Santa María and pass through the the Renaissance archway built for the first entrance of Emperor Charles V in the 14th century. 

We stop for a much-needed refreshment (cerveza for Ken, vino tinto for me.) The plaza in which we sit is dominated by the massive Catedral de Burgos. With just a little arm twisting, I convince Ken to tour the cathedral after we check out the rest of the old city.

Fountain in Plaza Mayor, Burgos, Spain 

Building façade in Burgos, Spain

Doorway in Burgos, Spain

Somebody, left, still reads newspapers.

The incredibly detailed audio tour of the cathedral is rivaled only by the ornate, over-the-top architectural details of the church itself. It is Gothic on steroids. Commissioned by Costa del Sol Emperor Ferdinand III, construction started in 1221 and was completed in 1567. 

Catedral de Burgos

Nuns in Plaza Santa María, Burgos, Spain

Ornate, ¿sí?

If my jaw weren't in the way, I could take better notes, but alas these pictures of the cathedral's interior must speak for themselves.

Golden altar in Burgos Cathedral


Interior detail in Burgos Cathedral

Vehicle of some sort in Burgos Cathedral

Altar in Burgos Cathedral

Ceiling in Burgos Cathedral

Contemporary statue in Burgos Cathedral


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Quelque chose cette semaine (Something this week) part 1

In which I share a short snippet each week throughout 2015


WEEK #13 (26 mars-1 avril)

Joyeux poisson d'avril! Like in the U.S., this is a day of jokes in France. One of the many French language blogs to which I subscribe suggested several blagues to use today, such as telling people, "J'ai apprs le français en un mois" (I learned French in one month), or "Vous avez gagné un billet gratuit" (You won a free ticket). I think I will just stick some paper fishes on the backs of unsuspecting children instead. 

The clocks finally sprung forward on Sunday, so we took advantage of a mid-morning matinee in Marmande and saw "Birdman." No line, and we had our choice of seats.




WEEK #12 (19-25 mars)

A sign of spring in this part of France: the bright yellow mimosa flower, pictured here in ma salle à manger.




WEEK #11 (12-18 mars)

We received a private tour of artist Tomaž Furlan's exhibition "Wear Series" at the Musée d'art contemporain in Rochechouart. Furlan's industrial-like sculptures/machines are incongruous and crazy ... in a good way.

With the help of our guide, Ken tries out a
steel tipping platform, designed by artist Tomaž Furlan

WEEK #10 (5-11 mars)

I celebrate the springlike weather of this past week with two pictures of a nest of red bugs in our garden. (I call it a nest, but it's more like a million bugs nestled in some fencing). Some around here call them Ladybugs, but I think they may be Striped Shield Bugs (graphosoma lineatum). In any case, they are kind of cute and harmless ... and are said to taste much better than their cousin, the Green Stinkbug, but that's for the birds to decide.


WEEK #9 (26 fevrier-4 mars)

Sandy and I are treated to a private magic show at a Mexican restaurant while on une petite visite à Paris.

Rien dans ma manche de chemise!

WEEK #8 (19-25 fevrier)

In honor of the many plowed and ready-to-plant fields in our neck of the campagne, something this week is a photogenic piece of matériel agricole ancienne, passed on a recent promenade.


WEEK #7 (12-18 fevrier)

Ken and I stopped over on our way back from taking friends to the airport in Limoges. We stayed at a lovely B&B near the village of Sorges in the northern Dordogne. This fountain is in Brantôme, a village some have compared to Venice.

A fountain in Brantôme

WEEK #6 (5-11 fevrier)

J'ai eu un rhume cette semaine (I've had a cold this week), so I haven't gotten out much. Therefore, I'm cheating and posting a photo from the previous week. 

My train ride to Marseille was five hours long, and since I had used the restroom in Agen before I left, and since les toilettes à bord des trains can be kind of skanky, I waited until I reached my destination. Imagine my surprise when I found the toilets -- THE TOILETS! -- were on strike at the Marseille train station. This was all the more alarming because I had to wait another hour and a half for my sister to arrive on the TGV from Paris. (And yes, I could have left the station and looked for a restaurant or even gone to our hotel, but as I was alone in a big city with a somewhat menacing reputation (the city, not me), So, I timidly stayed put, crossed my legs, and chided myself for ignoring my own advice: When you have a chance to go, go!

A grève situation: The toilettes were on strike
at the Marseille train station.

WEEK #5 (29 janvier-4 fevrier)

Here's a teaser of upcoming blog posts on Away to Live. My sister and I met in Marseille, France's second-largest city, and one neither of us had visited. 

Notre-Dame de la Garde as seen from Marseille's port.  

WEEK #4 (22-28 janvier)

Last weekend was the Foire de Saint-Paul in Lauzun, an annual celebration of ... well ... Saint Paul. I couldn't find anyone who could explain why we honor this particular saint in this particular place. The day included children decorating cupcakes (made by yours truly) and ended with un bon chanteur Français at our favorite local restaurant.
French girl named Cassandra draped in an American flag
scarf decorating an American-style cupcake as part of a
very French foire.

WEEK #3 (15-21 janvier)

A highlight of the third week of the year was a visit to the atelier de l'artiste (studio) of painter/sculptor Armando Bergallo. My friend Viviane, an art teacher, invited four of her students (et moi) to visit Bergallo in his spectacular converted barn in Lalandusse. The brilliant Uruguay-born artist will be the subject of a future blog post. 

Painting by Armando Bergallo with brushes and paints
in the foreground

WEEK #2 (8-14 janvier)

It has been a devastating week here in France with the assassinations at Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris and the subsequent hostage and killing dramas. We needed a little getaway on Saturday and went to Sarlat for la fête de la truffe. The weather was drizzly, and the truffles were odoriferous, but we enjoyed revisiting one of the towns Ken and I stayed in the first time we visited France together several years ago.

"Le Badaud" ("The Onlooker") by sculptor Gérard Auliac sits in
Place de la Liberté in Sarlat. He is holding a "Je Suis Charlie" sign.


WEEK #1 (1-7 janvier)

Ken and I help nos amis jeunes préférés (our favorite young friends) learn to ride their bikes: cadeaux du père Noël. (So, I already have stretched the rule about one picture per week, but how could I choose just one?)

Within minutes, Aliénor is nearly ready for the Tour de France.

Tristan, too, is riding! Regardez devant!