Tag: Sculpture

Pau, Birthplace of King Henry IV

Pau, Birthplace of King Henry IV

Pau, France – July 14,2011

We arrived in Pau at about 11:00 this morning.  After a neighbor from the apartment above the one we rented checked us in, Leslie and I walked across the street to the small grocery.  The place we are staying in an apartment.  We rented it from the owner for three nights.  Since it is an apartment it has a full kitchen.  So, for lunch, we bought a frozen pizza.  For dinner, we bought some pork.  Leslie will bake that in the oven with some potatoes. For tomorrow morning, the kids have milk and cereal.  Leslie and I bought some quiche Lorraine.  By far, these will be the least expensive meals for this entire trip!

Right next door to our apartment building is the Continental Hotel.  The Continental Hotel is one of the venues used by those with the Tour de France for Stage 13.  While Leslie and I were out, we saw two of the official tour vehicles there.  They were delivery vans, full of luggage.  This afternoon I would like to try to find where the start for the race tomorrow is located.  I assume there will be Tour items for sale there.  If not, then certainly there will be some stuff for sale at the finish in Lourdes.

A support van for the race.
One of the officials’ vehicles.
We stayed in the six-story apartment building with a mid-century style.

After settling into the apartment, we walked to the area where the stage will start tomorrow, the Palace Beaumont.  There were no souvenir stands.  From there we walked along the Boulevard des Pyrenees to the church of Saint Martin.

Palacio Beaumont, the starting point for Stage 13.
Detail of one of the French television trucks.
A beautiful building along the race route.
Le Tour de France this way!!
The Hotel de Ville.
Interior of St. Martin Church.
A stained glass rosette in St. Martin Church.
The altar in the church.
A statue of Joseph and Jesus.
The tower of the church.
Some very old housing units.
A water fountain near the Chateau de Pau Musee.

After taking a quick look inside the church, we walked a little farther west to the Chateau de Pau Musee National.  Born at the chateau on December 13, 1553, Henry IV, became King of France, on June 9, 1572.  A fanatic assassinated Henry IV on May 14, 1610, in Paris.

We decided to take a tour.  Unfortunately, it was a guided tour in French.  Fortunately, they did provide us with a “cheat sheet” in English to allow us to follow along.  We did see some very beautiful and interesting things during our tour.

I thought the tour was fascinating and well-paced.  I am not certain my family shared my assessment.

The entrance to the Chateau de Pau Musee.
A bust of Henry IV. He was born at the Chateau.
A tapestry in the dining room for 100 guests.
Our tour group in the dining room for 100 guests.
Detail of one of the tapestries in the dining room.
Detail of another tapestry.
Detail of yet another tapestry.
A view of Pau from one of the Chateau’s parapets.
The waiting and reception room.
A vase in the waiting and reception room.
A tapestry in the waiting and reception room.  The statue is of Henry IV as a child.
A mantle clock in the waiting and reception room.
The family drawing-room. A game chest is in the foreground.
Detail of the painting, The Assassination of Henry IV, by Housez, 1860.
Detail of the bedchamber fireplace.
The royal bedchamber.
The view to the outside through the hand-rolled glass.
Detail of The marriage of Flora and Zephyr, a tapestry in the Bourbon study.
The tortoiseshell cradle of Henry IV.
A clock in the bedchamber.
Detail of the cradle of Henry IV.
The bed in the bedchamber.
A view of the cradle and the fireplace.
A bedchamber with multiple tapestries.
Detail of a painting in the bedchamber.
Detail of the painting, The Court of Henry (1848-1856).
A sculpture of Henry IV.
A courtyard of the chateau.

Leaving the Chateau, we stopped across the street at one of the souvenir shops to pick up some trinkets, then it was back to the apartment.

Along the way, we passed through Place Georges Clemenceau.  It is a very large plaza with several water fountains.  We all enjoyed looking at the fountains.

The view across the street from the chateau.
The tower of St. Martin Church.
A water fountain near our apartment.
Dancing water.
San Sebastián

San Sebastián

San Sebastián, Spain – July 11, 2011

We departed Pozuelo and made it here today at about 13:00. It is strikingly beautiful. We are staying in the Hotel Mercure Monte lgueldo in rooms 120 and 121.

The main entrance to our hotel.

On the drive here, in the last 80 or 90 kilometers (50 or 56 miles), we went through 21 tunnels. It was like tunnel-rama! After checking-in, we went to our room and unpacked. The hotel is on a high point. Somewhere I read that it is 765 feet above the bay. So from our rooms, we have a commanding view of the Bay of Biscay, Concha Bay, the town, and old town. There is a small island, Santa Clara, that helps separate the two bays.

The tower Monte Igeldo near our hotel.
Ondarreta Beach as seen from our hotel vantage point.
A lighthouse just below our hotel, warning vessels in the Bay of Biscay of approaching land.
A panoramic view of the approach from the Bay of Biscay to Concha Bay. The old city of San Sebastian overlooks the east side of Concha Bay.

When we finished unpacking we took the funicular (cable car) from the hotel down to Ondarreta Beach. We walked to the beach and sat on a bench for a while. From there we walked inland a couple of blocks to find an ATM. After I got some cash, we walked back to a small restaurant on the beach. We sat there and had a drink; Hillary had a rosé, Leslie and I had red wine, and Tyler had a beer. From there we walked down and sat on the beach. Tyler and Hillary immediately set to making sandcastles. Leslie and I just sat there and watched. We ultimately took our shoes and socks off and waded in the ocean. It was cool, but not cold. We went along the beach until we came to a ramp from the beach up to the sidewalk. We went up there, rinsed our feet and put our shoes and socks back on. Then we walked back to the funicular and went back to our hotel. There, Leslie and I sat on our balcony with a glass of wine, looking at the bay. Very relaxing!

Thing 1 and Thing 2 riding the funicular from the hotel down to the beach.
About halfway down, we passed another funicular car going up to the hotel.
A bus in front of the funicular building near the beach.
My traveling companions at Ondarreta Beach.
The kids walking along the beach. The Bay of Biscay begins just beyond that upper breakwater.
Tyler and Hillary on the esplanade beside the beach.
Santa Clara Island is just across Concha Bay from the beach.
Portable changing stations at the edge of the beach.
A bright red vehicle for a local driver training school.
A typical residential scene near the beach.
Changing stations waiting for the next user.
The son and the mama.
Tyler demonstrating how to quaff a beer.
The view west from Ondarreta Beach. Our hotel and the tower are at the top of the mountain.
Who, us??!!
Putting his engineering skills to the test.
The view from Ondarreta Beach to the east and the old town area.
The sign for the funicular. The tower and a small portion of the hotel can be seen at the top.
An advertisement at the lower end of the funicular.
Back at the top, a partial view of our steed.
It is difficult to tell in this view, but the grade of the tracks is quite steep.
A view of Concha Bay.
Santa Clara Island helps protect Concha Bay.
Hillary and Tyler enjoying the water ride at the Monte Igueldo Amusement Park by our hotel.
The water wheel powering the water ride.
The eastern entrance from the Bay of Biscay to Concha Bay.
The historic tower.

For dinner, we went to a restaurant that was recommended by the hotel staff, la Rampa (The Ramp). The name derives from its proximity to the marina boat ramp.  It was next to the aquarium, near the old town area. We all had a salad as a starter. For the main course, Hillary, Tyler and I had sole. Leslie had Hake. It was a very good meal. It came to 170€ (US$207), including the six Euro tip we left. To go with dinner, we ordered a bottle of Campellares Rioja Tempranillo. It was wonderful. Even Tyler had a glass!

The smile preceding dinner.
Tyler watching a trailer with sculling boats pass by the restaurant.
Our hotel atop the mountain at dusk.
The view toward Concha Beach at dusk.
La Rampa Restaurant at the green awnings at dusk.
Tyler standing by the canon at the entrance to the aquarium.
The wonderful detail of the door to the aquarium.
A small boat approaching the wharf near the aquarium.
Another boat entering safe waters just under the Spanish flag.
Another portion of the marina at dusk.
The marina is packed with boats.
Kaimingaintxo Plaza at dusk.
The view along Calle Mayor toward the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Choir.
The view from our hotel in San Sebastian at night.

After getting up on the first morning, we went to the dining room to have a cup of coffee. By about 09:00 we called for a cab to take us to the Cathedral, Catedral Buen Pastor. Before we went inside we stopped at a cafe so the kids could get a little something to eat. When they were done we went into the Cathedral. The Cathedral was built in 1897. It was very dark and very plain inside.

Sunrise over the eastern end of the Bay of Biscay.
The Good Shepherd of San Sebastián Cathedral.
A rosette of stained glass inside the cathedral.
A statue of Mary and Jesus in the cathedral.
A depiction of the Holy Family.

When we left the Cathedral we made our way to Getaria Street and began our walk to the old town, Parte Vieja. As we walked along we went into several shops. We stopped at Plaza de la Constitucion. There were numbers painted above every window looking onto the plaza. My understanding is that the windows were sold in years past to watch bullfights in the plaza.

A weaving supply store.
A group of youngsters walking along the street.
This man may be rich! …or it may just be the sign…
A bicyclist passing by a very, very small vehicle.
Another group of kids walking along the street.
If Tyler was able to get inside this vehicle, I am not sure we would have ever been able to get him out!
Apparently, not all trees are skinny.
A unique flowering tree.
Another flowering tree in a flower bed.
A relaxing water feature.
Plaza de la Constitucion.
Detail of the buildings around Plaza de la Constitucion.

Leaving the plaza, we walked another block or so to San Vicente Church. It is a Gothic-style church that dates from the 16th century. It was much more ornate than the Cathedral.

A model of the St. Vincent Church.
The altar in St. Vincent’s.
Artwork in the church.
A depiction of the Holy Family.
Stained glass in the church.
A depiction of Jesus during the passion.
The main entrance to the church.
An empty water fountain near the church.
Children playing at the plaza in front of the San Telmo Museum.

From there we began to make our way toward the aquarium. Along the way, we stopped at the Church of Santa Maria. Of the three churches we saw that morning, this one was by far the most beautiful. The church dated from the 18th century.

What a Trip!!
Ornate work above the main entrance to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Choir.
The main aisle in the basilica.
A side chapel.
Detail of the chapel.
Another side chapel.

When we came out, we worked our way to the aquarium. It was just ok. It was certainly nothing compared to the aquarium we went to last year when we were in Valencia, Spain.

The view along Calle Mayor toward Good Shepherd of San Sebastián Cathedral.
A selection of mopeds near the stairs.
A fishing boat at the wharf.
A ship model in the aquarium.
Sculling uniforms on display in the aquarium.
Surely Nemo is here!
Dory is on the hunt for Nemo.
A couple of eels.
A small apartment near the aquarium and la Rampa.

Leaving the aquarium, we walked all the way back to the shopping center called Centro Commercial la Bretxa. We went there because there was a McDonald’s. By the time we got there, we were all beat. We ordered our meal, took it outside, and sat along the street. We were all incredibly hungry due to all of the walking we did that morning. The real coincidence of our trip was our taxi driver. At the end of our walk, we stood at the taxi stand, waiting for a taxi. When we got in, much to our surprise, it was the same driver that had taken us to the Cathedral earlier that morning.

When we got back to the hotel, the kids went up to their room. Leslie and I sat on the terrace and, you guessed it, had a glass of wine! After our drink, we went upstairs, laid down and fell fast asleep.  The next morning we would drive into France.

Cloudy morning over San Sebastian.
Salamanca with Hillary & Becca

Salamanca with Hillary & Becca

Salamanca, Spain – July 9, 2011

Today we decided to visit Salamanca. It was a very enjoyable trip. It is about 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of our home.  It took us about two hours to get there. We arrived around 09:15 and parked very near the first-century Roman Bridge (Puente Romano), on the street called San Gregorio.  From there we walked toward the Cathedral along Calle Tentenecio.

The first-century Roman bridge in Salamanca, Spain.
The remnant of a wild boar carved out of stone.  It dates from the 13th century.
Let the hike begin!
A stone crucifix at the Puerta del Rio.  It is known as Cruz de los Ajusticiados, the Cross of the Executed.  According to popular tradition, the heads of those executed were hung from the crucifix.  A local newspaper debunked that story, stating the cross is simply one from a 14th century church.
The National Historical Archive building.
A man walking toward the side of the cathedral.
The main façade of the cathedral.
Detail of a portion of the façade of the cathedral.
A man entering the cathedral.

Even though the cathedral was open we did not go in because after two hours on the road we were all looking for a restroom. Now, 09:15 in Spain is like 07:15 in the United States, very little is open. I thought for sure we would find a little coffee shop open.  That would have met all of our needs. Not so much! Everything was closed.  We made our way to the Casa de las Conchas. As we were taking a few photos, I noticed the building actually housed the public library. We went inside and were able to use the restrooms.

The Casa de las Conchas (Shell House).
Three men standing near the entrance to the public library at the Casa de las Conchas.
Carved detail on the Casa de las Conchas.
Another side of the Casa de las Conchas with the church of the University of Salamanca in the background.
Stone carving detail in the public library.
A memorial to the beloved Francisco de Salinas (1513 – 1590).

When we emerged we stumbled across a pastry shop. We bought some coffee and pastries and walked back to the small plaza in front of the Casa de las Conchas. After consuming that, we found a little gift store where we bought some t-shirts and a book on Salamanca.

From there we walked back to the cathedral to go inside. It was quite large and impressive; however, it is not as big as the cathedral in Toledo.  Regardless, we all thought it was very nice.

Construction of the “New Cathedral” began in 1513.  The completion did not occur until 1733!  After viewing the detail throughout the cathedral, one understands why it took so long to build.

The north side of the cathedral.
The trascoro of the cathedral.
The very ornately decorated Dorada Chapel.
A statue of Mary and Jesus catching the morning sun.
The main altar.
An ornate ambo used for proclaiming the gospel.
The main cupola of the cathedral.
Detail of the cupola.
The choir area behind the metal gate.
Detail of the choir area.
People gathering at the Chapel of St. Joseph.
The Chapel of the Virgin of the Truth.
A rack of prayer candles.
A depiction of the Holy Family.
A large painting in the cathedral.
A side hall of the cathedral. The woman is rounding a column toward the choir. She provides a scale of the immensity of the cathedral.  The ceiling must be some 60 feet above her, enough for a six-story building.
The pipe organ in the cathedral.
A tomb along the side of the cathedral.

When we departed the cathedral, we decided to walk to the University of Salamanca.  We based that decision on the advice of the shop keeper we patronized earlier.  He told us the façade of the university had a carved skull with a toad on top.  We would enjoy good luck if we could find the skull.  We discovered when we arrived that the façade is very ornately carved.  None of us could spot the skull.  Finally, a person nearby pointed out the skull.  We all had our aha moment when we finally saw the skull.  I am not sure how the assistance we received may have effected the luck we were to have received…

A typical street in Salamanca.
Patio de las Escuelas (schoolyard) complete with a statue commemorating Fray Luis de Leon.
The façade of the University of Salamanca dates from 1218.
Detail of the façade.
The façade is famous for the skull with the toad on its top. One can see the said skull at the upper left.
Another view of the skull and toad.
The sign for Faith Street.
One of the many cupolas throughout the city.
This likeness of the skull and toad was in one of the many tourist shops. The t-shirt at the lower left reads “before death everything was simple.”

From the university, we walked back to the north along Rua Mayor. We stopped at one of the cafes at about noon, sat down, had a glass of wine, some patatas bravas and watched the people walk by.

A fairy on the wall…
Another view of Casa de las Conchas.
A family walking by the tourist information building.
This seemed an odd juxtaposition of signs.

At the conclusion of our break, we walked about a block to the east to the street called San Pablo. We did that because I wanted to see the Torre de Clavero. After taking a few photographs there we continued our trek to Plaza Mayor. We walked around the perimeter of the plaza and departed, heading south along Calle Melendez.

A memorial marking 400 years since Christopher Columbus discovered America.
Torre del Clavero (Clavero Tower).
Torre del Clavero (Clavero Tower).
The façade of Palacio de la Salina dates from 1538.
Detail of the façade.
Plaza Mayor.
Typical medallions around the plaza.
Another view of Plaza Mayor.

Just after leaving the plaza, there were several artisans with tables set up. Hillary spotted one that braided leather into peoples’ hair. She had to have one!  When that was finally done we made our way back to the car and drove home.

Balloons for sale in front of Iglesia San Martin (St. Martin Church).
A woman preparing leather strips to braid into Hillary’s hair.
Hillary’s braiding beginning.
Hillary held the various beads for use in her hair.
The braid ended up being very long.
A dog wandering around the area.
Hillary and Becca standing by a statue of St. Martha.
AMO/Barcelona Quarterly Trip

AMO/Barcelona Quarterly Trip

Barcelona, Spain – June 15, 2011

Tyler and I made our way to the Atocha Train Station in Madrid.  There, we met my Area Management Officer (AMO) and her husband.  As part of her trip to the Madrid embassy, we needed to visit the consulate in Barcelona, therefore the train trip.

Tyler at the Atocha Train Station in Madrid.
View of the Atocha Train Station from the overlook near security.

The high-speed train from Madrid to Barcelona was wonderful as always.  This day the train was non-stop, so we got there in about two and one-half hours.  That sure beats the times I have driven there with my friend Ron.  Those trips are usually six or six and one-half hours one way.

We arrived in Barcelona at about 17:30. At the hotel, Tyler said this is his favorite city, even though we had not yet been there two hours!

Tyler thought the Le Meridien is the best hotel in which he has ever stayed.  He thought it was amazing that there were a television and a telephone in the bathroom!

My AMO, Angela, and her husband enjoying an afternoon coffee.
Chillin’ in the room.

For dinner, the four of us decided to go to a restaurant that overlooks the marina, La Gavina (The Seagull).  Supposedly they are known for their paella.  We shared two different types of paella.  I am not a real fan of paella; however, the paella there was very good.

On our way to and from the restaurant, we walked by the Joan Miro sculpture by the marina.  I think it is a fascinating piece of art.

Joan Miro sculpture near the marina.
An arch near the marina and La Gavina.
Many pedestrians passing between the restaurant and the marina.
The La Gavina Restaurant was very busy.
After a wonderful dinner at La Gavina.
Some of those sitting on the wall are selling the items on the fabric.
A larger boat docked at the marina.
People sitting on the wall by the marina, across from La Gavina.
Detail of the Miro sculpture.
The bicycles seem to go on forever.
A couple walking past rental bicycles. The Miro sculpture is in the background.
Another sculpture near the Miro.
A statue on La Rambla.
Oh, the sights one sees after the sun goes down!
A window display at a store near our hotel.

On the first full day in Barcelona, Angela and I had work to do at the consulate.  While I was on the grounds of the consulate, I could not help but admire the water fountain and some 1920s-era murals.

For lunch, we took out one of the Locally Employed Staff, Josefina.  She suggested Moncho’s on Travessera de Gracia.  The three of us shared three different dishes; croquetas, calamari, and a salad.  It was a delicious meal.

Detail of the water fountain at the U.S. Consulate.
Detail of another mural on the U.S. Consulate in Barcelona.
Detail of a mural on the U. S. Consulate in Barcelona.
The bar at Moncho’s. The jamon serrano seems to go on and on…

When I returned to the hotel late that afternoon, Tyler and I decided to walk around the area near the hotel.

Initially, we walked north on La Rambla to Plaza Catalunya.  It so happened that there were many protesters occupying the plaza.  There were tents, tarps, and ramshackle living areas.  We were both surprised that many of the protesters had staked out camping spots in the trees.  I am not exactly sure what the protests were for, but there did not seem to be anything happening when we walked through the plaza.

The other thing that was odd that afternoon were the pigeons.  There were hundreds of them in the plaza.  Many others had noticed that, so there were a lot of people in the plaza taking photos of the pigeons.

A mirror at the base of a sculpture in our hotel.
Some of the volumes on the shelves.
Inside a music store on La Rambla.
The pigeons seemed to be everywhere in Plaza Catalunya that day. Some of the tents in the background were for the protesters.
A sculpture in the water fountain at Plaza Catalunya.
A small boy running through some of the pigeons.
A multitude of pigeons in Plaza Catalunya.
A woman posing with the pigeons.
The blue tarp is a makeshift sleeping area too. A pigeon flew through the frame just as the shutter opened.
Detail of the treehouse.
A house in the tree for some of the protesters at Plaza Catalunya.
Some people on the benches in and among the signs. The meaning is unclear, but this sign reads something about, “the police don’t let artists work that sand sculptures to thieves.”
One of the protest signs in Plaza Catalunya.
A memorial in Plaza Catalunya.
An El Corte Ingles store across the street from Plaza Catalunya.
The start of La Rambla, looking south from Plaza Catalunya.
Shopping on La Rambla.
A typical pastry store on one of the sidestreets.
More concert posters in the music store. The caption on the television reads, “because you need something to keep it fun.”
A Pink Floyd poster in the music store.
Inside a music store.
The Beatles or KISS??
A bicyclist on a sidestreet.
A small market on one of the sidestreets. Please note a banana costs 1.75€ (US$2.14) and one orange costs 0.75€ (US$0.92)!
A fairytale?
Stockings and leggings for sale.
A musical instrument store.
Sign for a second-hand clothing store.
Stickers on a mirror-finish window on a sidestreet.
A small guitar Tyler bought for his sister.

Tyler returned to the hotel and I continued on to a nearby church, the Parrish of the Mother of God of Bethlehem.  There were some beautiful sights in the church.

A side aisle in the Parrish of the Mother of God of Bethlehem.
A statue of Mary and Jesus.
A statue of Jesus.
Detail of the Holy Family on display in the Parrish of the Mother of God of Bethlehem.
Detail of the ceiling.
Several of the prayer candles.
The tabernacle is below the painting of the last supper. The Latin above reads, “Let us adore forever the most Holy Sacrament.”
A woman contemplating the crucifix.
The front of the Parrish of the Mother of God of Bethlehem.
Prayer candles below a crucifix. The Latin reads, “For God so loved the world.”

For dinner that night, the four of us went to El Asador de Aranda.  It is in a unique building.  Its architecture sort of has a Moorish influence.  The restaurant specializes in lamb; however, both Tyler and I had steak instead.  It was good.  I would go back.

Lighted globes in the lobby of our hotel.
A home across the street from the restaurant.
A view of the restaurant when we arrived.
View of the restaurant as we departed.
The lamb emblem of the restaurant, Asador de Aranda.
More of the taxi light show.
The view from our taxi from dinner to the hotel.

The following day, Angela and I went with consulate personnel to view a newly leased apartment.  While we were out, I spotted a very ornately decorated but abandoned building, the Rotonda Hotel.  I had to take a few photographs.

The ornate but abandoned Rotonda Hotel.
The ornate dome.
The abandoned Rotonda Hotel.

We had some time to kill after we checked out of the hotel.  We walked a couple of blocks south on La Rambla to get a coffee.  On the way, we saw the St. Joseph Market.  We went through there and looked around a bit too.  After the coffee, it was back to the train station and on to Madrid.

Another fruit and vegetable stand.
A woman making a purchase at a fruit and vegetable stand.
Tyler looking at the fresh fish stand in the market.
Another fishmonger.
One of the fishmongers at the St. Joseph Market.
A seafood-stand in the market.
One of the entrances to St. Joseph Market.
A meat stall at the market. One can see the price of some of the hams is 139€ (US$170).
The beautifully decorated storefront dates from 1820.
An advertisement for ice cream on one of the outdoor tables.
The old pharmacy building is now a sweets shop.
A statue of Mary in an old pharmacy building.