Monday, January 16, 2023

A Walk Through History


Another shot down Calle de Toledo, as a man walks away from Plaza Mayor in Madrid. 

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2022: Sorry, no post on this day.
2021: Sorry, no post on this day.
2020: Sorry, no post on this day.
Reflecting Miltenburg
2018: Ed And The Ladies
2017: Descansos
2016: Please Come Back!
2015: Still Life
2014: Sunset Cycling
2013: Pit Stop At Home
2012: Adding A Few More Wheels To The Big Rig
2011: Again And Again And Again
2010: Hood Ornament
2009: Eddie Out Of Control Friday
2008: My Boyfriend Simon Is Back In Town
2007: A Little Taste Of Miami Beach
2006: Ooooohhhhhh, Jabra!
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Sunday, January 15, 2023

In The Heart Of The Baroque City


Plaza Mayor is a major public square in the heart of Madrid.  It was built between 1580 and 1619 and was once the center of Old Madrid.  It was originally called the Plaza del Arrabal and was used as the main market in town.  Over the years, Plaza Mayor has hosted a multitude of events, from bullfights and soccer games to trials of the Inquisition and executions.

The statue that stands in the middle of the plaza is that of Felipe II, the King of Spain from 1598 to 1621.

This is the façade of the 
Casa de la Panadería (Bakery House).  According to the information I found online, "Casa de la Panadería, or the Bakery, was designed to house the Bakers' Guild. This organization held a lot of power, being able to control the price of grain. This gave them great political and economic power, influence, and importance."  Because they controlled the price of grain, they also controlled the price of bread, making it affordable for even the poorest of the city's citizens. If you look closely, you can see the frescoes painted on the front of the building, as mentioned in the Wikipedia link.

This is the view from Plaza Mayor looking down Calle de Toledo.  The two towers in the distance belong to Real Congregación de San Isidro de Madrid (Royal Congregation of San Isidro of Madrid), also known as the Collegiate Church of San Isidore.  Wikipedia says, "It is named after and holds the remains of the patron saint of Madrid, Isidore the Laborer, and his wife Santa María de la Cabeza. It has held the status of a Basilica church for centuries."

This is a close-up of the balconies of the apartments that look out upon Calle de Toledo.  I love the colors of the tiles, the plants, and the wrought iron against the ochre-colored building.

Looking up from the street at the warm yellow hue of the buildings against the pale blue of the sky.  Very pretty.

On this building, I loved the turquoise shutters and wrought-iron balconies against the terra cotta-colored building.  There is a lot to look at in the neighborhoods surrounding Plaza Mayor.

Another view down Calle de Toledo, with Ed standing in the foreground.  This was a very picturesque street with all the apartments, shops, and restaurants.

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Campo Wind
2021: Sorry, no post on this day.
2020: Sorry, no post on this day.
2019: Rock Solid Saint
2018: Rainforest Adventures
2017: Low Ceiling In The Desert
2016: An Original Recycler
2015: There's A Black Hole In The Desert (With Truck Parking)
2014: Strength In Numbers
2013: Woman Cannot Live On Bread Alone
2012: Why Milk Is ALWAYS At The Top Of My Shopping List
2011: Fun For Sale
2010: Dublin Is Incredibly Corny
2009: Welcome To Snowhio
2008: When Big Hair And Denim Were King
2007: Open 24 Hours
2006: Lucky One Eye
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Getting The Lay Of The Land

When Ed and I went to Paris in 2018, we did one of their Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tours.  The tour uses a double-decker bus and takes you all over the city.  They provide you with a set of ear buds that plugs into the seat back and narrates the tour (in multiple languages) as you travel through the city.  

The thing I liked about this tour in Paris was that we were able to see the entire city and all of the tourist (and non-tourist) hotspots in a way that we never would have been able to on our own in the three days we were there.  We went through neighborhoods that weren't even on our radar, got to see sites we hadn't planned on visiting, and found vantage points for photos we didn't even know existed.  And because you can hop on and hop off at any of the stops, you can get off and explore the area, then get back on when the bus comes through later in the day.  And the views from the top tier of the bus are fantastic!

So, while we were in Madrid, we did one of theirs.  It was very cold and although the bus has an open top roof, when we first got on they had the roof closed.  It wasn't crowded, likely because it's January and there aren't as many tourists that time of year.  And I'd rather it be cold than hot - I couldn't imagine doing this bus tour in the height of summer sitting on the top deck with the sun beating down on my head.  No, thank you.  You can still see everything easily, as the windows on the bus are not only big, but they open, so you can put the window down if you'd rather not take a photo through the glass.
As the day started to warm up a little, they opened the roof.  As you can see, we're in our puffy coats, so it was still cold with the wind and cold air circulating, but I prefer to think of it as "refreshing".  
I take a lot of photos of buildings (or the tops of them, at least), landmarks, people on the street, architectural elements.  And I really like how it gives me a sense of the city and how it's laid out.  Here are a few shots I took from the bus:

This is the Iglesia de la Concepción Real de Calatrava (Church of the Royal Conception of Calatrava), a Catholic Church.  The origins of this convent date back to 1623, when the nuns of the Military Order of Calatrava moved to Madrid from Almonazid de Zorita, a municipality located in the province of Guadalajara, Castile-La Mancha, Spain.  The rose window at the top center depicts the Calatrava Cross, the emblem of the Order of Calatrava.
Thsi is Julia, a 39-foot sculpture by Catalan sculptor Jaume Plensa, located in Plaza de Colón.  Plensa said the sculpture is intended to represent tenderness and silence, and that he hopes it will serve as a mirror to help recover a sense of serenity in society.
This is the Biblioteca Nacional de España (National Library of Spain).  It is a major public library, the largest in Spain, and one of the largest in the world.
These are a few street lamps along the Paseo del Prado, one of the main boulevards in Madrid.
This is the Real Basílica de San Francisco el Grande (Royal Basilica of Saint Francis the Great), a Roman Catholic Church in Central Madrid.  The Basilica’s dome is the largest in Spain and the fourth largest in Europe.
This is the Puerta de Toledo (Toledo Gate).  Construction on the gate began in 1812, but it wasn't completed until 1827.  It's built from granite and Colmenar stone and was erected to commemorate the arrival of King Ferdinand VII to Madrid.  
I recommend these bus tours to anyone who is traveling to a new city.  I think it's a great thing to do on the first day you're there, it's relaxing because you're being driven around - so maybe a good way to recover if you're experiencing jet lag - and an easy way to see a new city.  In addition to the ear buds they provide for the audio tour, they usually give you a map of the tour route so you can mark off things you want to see during your visit.  It's a wonderful way to get the lay of the land.  

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2022: Sorry, no post on this day.
2021: Sorry, no post on this day.

Friday, January 13, 2023

A Third Of The Golden Triangle


Today we visited the Museo del Prado.  According to Wikipedia, "It is widely considered to house one of the world's finest collections of European art, dating from the 12th century to the early 20th century, based on the former Spanish royal collection, and the single best collection of Spanish art.  

Founded as a museum of paintings and sculptures in 1819, it also contains important collections of other types of works. The Prado Museum is one of the most visited sites in the world and is considered one of the greatest art museums in the world. The numerous works by Francisco Goya, the single most extensively represented artist, as well as by Hieronymus Bosch, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, and Diego Velázquez, are some of the highlights of the collection.”

We saw works by all of those artists except for Bosch, and many others.

The photo above and the next three photos are the Tabletop of don Rodrigo Calderon, circa 1600.  It is made of alabaster, lapis lazuli, Africano marble, white marble, and polychrome marble.  Isn't it spectacular??

The Prado's website says about the table's supports, "The table is supported by four bronze lions, three of them commissioned by Velazquez in Italy in 1651, as were those used for the Tabletop of Philip II. The fourth lion of this table is a bronze copy made in 2004 to replace the damaged lead one made in 1837, which in turn replaced the original damaged in the fire at the Alcazar in 1734."

Look at this gorgeous detail.  
This oil painting done by El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos), is one of his earliest works painted in Spain, circa 1580.  It is called The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest.  
The painting was one of six.  From the Prado's website:  "This bust-length portrait entered the royal collections as a donation by the widow of the Duke of Arco, gentleman in-waiting, Equerry and Master of the Horse to Philip V. In his recreational estate at El Pardo, De Arco possessed a group of six portraits of gentlemen by El Greco whose provenance is now unknown. This group would come to constitute the principal holdings of portraits by the artist now in the Museo del Prado.

The present canvas is one of the earliest works by El Greco painted in Spain, and the most distinctive of the six. The sitter, who is aged around 30, is dressed according to Spanish fashion of the late 1570s, with a narrow, white ruff that reaches up behind his ears and frames his head. Standing out against his tight-fitting, black silk doublet is his right hand, resting on his breast, and the gilded hilt of his sword.

The way that the left arm is bent suggests that he is holding and presenting the sheathed weapon with his left hand, which is invisible to the viewer. The figure is outlined against a plain background of a pearly grey tone modulated by the reddish-brown of the preparatory layer beneath, which is visible on the surface. Thanks to the fact that it was displayed at an early date in the Museo del Prado, the painting became one of El Greco’s most celebrated works. The inclusion of the costly sword, the solemn and rhetorical gesture of the right hand, which is not common in secular works by the artist although fairly frequent in his religious compositions, the half-hidden medallion that he wears, and above all, the direct relationship established between sitter and viewer, have made this figure an iconic image of the Castilian and by extension the Spanish knight.

The enormous interest that the painting has aroused in art and literature explains the wide variety of resulting interpretations and identifications, although all of these focus on the sitter’s status as a quintessential Spanish aristocrat, resulting in the somewhat clichéd opinions that have accompanied the painting throughout most of the 20th century in which the sitter is seen as a knightly Christian, melancholy and austere, and a haughty representative of his class and time. At one point it was thought that the painting could be a self-portrait as the gesture of the hand was taken to be a proud statement of self-affirmation by El Greco. Specific names have been proposed for the sitter, including Miguel de Cervantes and Philip II’s secretary Antonio Pérez.

Without doubt, the most convincing suggestion has connected this figure with the Second Marquis of Montemayor, Juan de Silva y de Ribera, a contemporary of El Greco who was appointed military commander of the Alcázar in Toledo by Philip II and Chief Notary to the Crown, a position that would explain the solemn gesture of the hand, depicted in the act of taking an oath. Whatever the case, Portrait of a Gentleman with his Hand on his Breast is an excellent example of portraiture of its date, with formal parallels to be found in the type of court portrait introduced by the Habsburgs with their notably simple depictions of the sitters, represented frontally and strongly illuminated against a plain background. Comparable examples are also to be found in Italian Renaissance painting, particularly of the Venetian school, with which El Greco’s technique and composition can most aptly be associated. Such parallels include the gesture of the hand, which is a rhetorical device of great expressivity that helps to convey the sitter’s inner character and which is also to be found in other Venetian and Central European portraits. With or without these parallels, El Greco was fully able to imbue this portrait with a remarkable formal tension between the visible and the hidden."

This one is called, Octagonal Still Life with Bunches of Grapes, and was painted by Juan de Espinosa in 1646. I loved the octagon-shaped frame of this painting and the colors really appealed to me.  I'd hang this in my house.
I took a photo of this painting primarily to send to my cousin, who runs the hot air balloon company owned by her boyfriend. 

This is called Ascent of a Montgolfier Balloon in Aranjuez.  It was painted by Antonio Carnicero circa 1784.

The image shows French balloon pilot Charles Bouclé’s experiment in the gardens of the Royal Seat at Aranjuez on June 5, 1784, during the final years of Charles III’s reign. It was Spain’s first manned balloon flight and it ended in an accident, as the daring pilot was injured when he failed to successfully control the apparatus’s descent.

The Prado Museum houses a permanent collection of art featuring over 5,000 drawings, more than 2,000 works of art, 700 sculptures, and over 1,000 medals and coins.

We only went for about five hours and I only snapped a few covert (or so I thought) photos before getting caught.  These are the ones I got.  

It's definitely a must-see in the city.  Next time, we'll do the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza.  These make up the Big Three in Madrid's "Golden Triangle of Art".  

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2022: Sorry, no post on this day.
I Roll
2020: Sorry, no post on this day.
2019: Gilded Tourist Attraction
2018: Dining Up North
2017: Promoting International Cooperation
2016: Truly A Man Of Leisure
2015: Beer Run
2014: Field Two
2013: We Are A Very Rich, Blessed, Lucky, Fortunate Lot Aren't We?
2012: Passion Creates Pure Art
2011: Reflecting On The Day
2010: Crunching The Numbers
2009: Looking Grand At The Grand Canyon
2008: Overshadowing Government
2007: Miami International
2006: Did You Check The Solenoid?
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Bienvenido A España!

And we're off to Spain!

Our first trip of the year and our first time to Spain.  I think I'm going to make this a tradition - Europe on the New Year!  This is a great way to start 2023.

We flew into Madrid, will be visiting Valencia, and then flying out of Barcelona.  We took a night flight out of Arizona because we thought it would be good to sleep in the evening like we usually do.  It began, as usual, with food, food, food.  Starting at the lounge in the airport.  

Shortly after we got settled in our pods (see the photo above of the pods in front of me), they served champagne and brought around the dinner menu.
Because I ate at the lounge, I opted for the salad, cheese plate, and dessert.  Of course!  It was delicious and light enough to have before sleeping.

Little did I know I wasn't going to be doing much sleeping.  Although the lighting, as seen below, was conducive to sleeping, the temperature was not.  It was SO hot in the plane, even Ed complained - which is unusual.  And if you don't know me after almost 18 years of writing this blog, that I don't like to be hot, let me tell you - I was NOT happy.  In general, sleeping quarters should be cool.  I like it frigid, but I would have settled for cool.  We did mention it to the flight attendants and they said they adjusted the temperature, but it didn't change. 

I did get a few winks of sleep because I obviously fell off due to sheer exhaustion from being awake all day and most of the night, but I wasn't happy.  Disappointing.  But at least I was miserable in business class and not coach.  I probably would have been arrested when we landed in London if I had to spend a hot night in coach.
Before I knew it, they were coming around with the breakfast menu.
Let me just say - I'm not really a big fan of English-style sausage for breakfast.  We were on British Airways and typically the airline serves the food of the country it represents.  Which reminds me...Turkish Airlines food was delicious!

That said, it's a very nice breakfast.  Nice portion, a good way to begin the day.  After the ten-hour flight from Arizona, we would change planes at London Heathrow and then have another two and a half hours to Madrid.
The change of planes at Heathrow was a little harrowing.  We had about an hour and a half layover, but a lot of that time was sucked up by misdirection and confusion.  We haven't done a lot of foreign travel and it always takes a minute to figure out where you're supposed to go, and we'd never been through London before so relied on the British Airways people to help us with our connection.  Turned out to be a mistake not verifying the first person's information with another person to make sure we were doing the right thing.  So after being directed to a line and standing there for almost 30 minutes, only to get to the counter and be told we had to go somewhere else, we were a little frustrated. 

So we headed to the next location which was a bajillion football fields away from where we started.  I didn't think the walking was going to end.  I was hot, cranky, and unhappy about having to drag my luggage behind me.  I was cursing myself for packing so much.  Even though it was a carry-on, it was like pulling a toddler behind you with one arm.  Like, a three-year-old.  Then we had to stand in line for a shuttle that we didn't think would ever arrive, and then take that from one terminal to another.  Then walk another football field to our gate.  Look, I am always generally very happy to be doing most of the travel stuff we do, but I just don't like all the walking.  WTH?

This is the area just outside of customs in Madrid airport.  It was about 6:30 pm when we arrived but the airport was deserted.  And for a few minutes, we couldn't figure out how to get out of this area to get to the transportation area.  
We didn't check any luggage, but here's a photo of the baggage claim area.  Very modern.  Very cool.  We were finally on our way to the hotel
This is one of the streets I snapped a picture of from the taxi on our way to the hotel.  Our hotel was in the Barrio de las Letras (the Literary District), in Central Madrid, so is close to everything we wanted to see and do.  The Museo del Prado (Prado Museum) was first on our list.
As I said, this was our first time in Spain, and we were looking forward to seeing the sights, and Beating tapas, paellas, Jamón, and churros!

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2022: Sorry, no post on this day.

2021: Sorry, no post on this day.
2020: Sorry, no post on this day.
Moto Cop
2018: ¡Salud!
2017: Eddie On Ice
2016: My God, This Reminds Me Of Why I Love Adele
2015: Making Friends And Dinner Plans
2014: It's So EXHAUSTing Being Right All The Time
2013: A Marriage Of Two Loves
2012: I Love A Man Wearing A Damn Good-Looking Workboot
2011: MMXI At Full Throttle
2010: Maybe There’s A Reason Ed Never Lets Me Out Of The Truck
2009: Napolitos
2008: Pull Up A Chair
2007: The Story Of The Uppity Barista: Otherwise Known As A Texan Gittin’ Above His Raisin’
2006: Rock, Paper, Eddie
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Sunday, January 01, 2023

The Queen Of The Tulsa Skyline

In December, we went to Texas for Ed's mom's funeral.  We were there for a little over two weeks.  We visited with family and friends - some friends of his dad's that his dad hadn't seen in over 20 years.  On one of the trips, we went to Tulsa, Oklahoma to visit Ed's Uncle Davis.  He's an interesting character, very smart, an author of twelve books, and always has an upbeat outlook on everything.

So while there, we drove around and looked at some of the Art Deco buildings Tulsa is famous for.  Mostly, we just drove around so I could photograph the exteriors, but I was able to go into one of them.

At 427 South Boston Avenue in Tulsa, Oklahoma you’ll find the Philtower Building. Built in 1928, it was designed by prominent architect Edward Buehler Delk and financed by oilman Waite Phillips.

The building represents Gothic Revival architecture, has 24 floors, and is 323 feet tall. The interior of the entrance lobby is spectacular, as you can see in these photos.

From the banquettes to the elevator banks to the gorgeous ceiling!! Construction cost $2.5 million dollars. In 1928!! That would be the equivalent of $43.5 million dollars today! 

I love that mail chute.  And look at this ceiling detail.
The elevator banks have the initials WP on them, for Waite Phillips, the man who paid for the building to be constructed.
Even the elevator buttons are Art Deco-y.
I love the ornate details.  Imaging working in this building every day?  It's gorgeous. 
View looking toward the front door of the building.
More gorgeous ceiling work.
During the oil boom years, Philtower was often called the Queen of Tulsa’s Skyline.

Click HERE to see more information about the building.

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2022: Sorry, no post on this day.
2021: Sorry, no post on this day.
2020: Sorry, no post on this day.
Blue Skies Ahead
2018: Happy 2018, Y'all!
2017: 2017 Is Looking Up
2016: Good Morning, 2016!
2015: A Good Sign For 2015
2014: Good Luck And Prosperity Is On The Way
2013: As Pure As The Driven Snow
2012: Quiet On The Set
2011: I’d Rather Get A Little Taste Of Mark Ruffalo Than Eat Swiss Chard
2010: Two Very Different Ideas Of Fun
2009: Caution: New Year Ahead!
2008: Fresh Dreams. Clean Slate. High Hopes. New You.
2007: Two Thousand Seven
2006: Happy New Year!
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!