Musing with Max

Musing with Max

June 30, 2013

La Espana-parte dos 1/2-Bilbao-The Guggenheim

I have always been fascinated by architecture. I guess its in the genes, my father was a draftsman, my brother is an electrical engineer and I actually studied architecture for a year until the stupid bug bit me and I moved on to something else which wasn't halfway as interesting. I am lucky to live practically in New York City where the architecture can give you whiplash and the town where I live has such diverse and beautiful homes that taking a walk with Max is never a chore. I am not particularly enamored of one specific form of architecture, I do adore just about anything Frank Lloyd Wright ever designed and the same goes for Antoni Gaudi, but other than that I'm pretty open minded for the exception of 1970's office buildings. So the first time I saw a photo of Frank Gehry's design for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao my first thought was "Good God what an ugly stupid looking structure!" It looks like a bunch of tin cans set askew. I could never understand how people (and people in the know) went on and on and on about what masterpiece this abomination was. However, being an art buff one of my first thoughts when we decided to visit Bilbao was, "I'm going to the Guggenheim". And I must admit I was quite anxious to see the building. It was within walking distance from our hotel on the other side of the river. The river curves a bit so we couldn't see it until we came around a bend and all of a sudden there it was.

But first, and to my absolute delight, we had to cross this really gorgeous Santiago Calatrava footbridge

which just made me jump for joy because he's one of my favorites too.
As we walked up to it I just kept staring, first of all its massive and has a lot of outdoor space for sculpture

In addition to its permanent collection, which includes, Jeff Koons' whimsical "puppy"

and "tulips"

which gave me occasion to get a little artistic myself, and an amazing series of sculptures by Richard Serra which I did not photograph since I follow instructions and they ask you not to photograph the art inside the building (but you can see it here ), the featured exhibition "Art in War-France 1938-1947" was interesting but a tad depressing. We did get to see Picasso's "Marie-Therese leaning" which Frank has in his office. But the real work of art is the building.

just about everything in it pales in comparison

inside and out

it is an absolute masterpiece.

I stand corrected.

June 26, 2013

La Espana-parte dos-Bilbao-Pais Vasco

Spain is divided into a number of provinces or regions, all of which are vastly different in culture, climate, traditions...While Spanish or "Castellano" is the official language of Spain and it's territories some autonomous regions, which is how they are referred to, have their own individual languages as well. At the Northeast corner of Spain lies the autonomous region know as "Pais Vasco" or Basque Country which borders France (that part of France also considered Basque Country) and the tiny little country of Andorra nestled in the Pyrenees mountains. To the North it is bordered by the beautiful Cantabrian Sea and the Bay of Biscay. The Basques have their own language, "euskara", which sounds absolutely nothing like Spanish...or French for that matter...and every word seems to have a k in it. Pais Vasco is best known in modern history by some sad unsavory incidents. During the Spanish civil war which took place from 1936-1939, the future dictator Generalisimo Francisco Franco decided to obliterate all things in Spain that were not strictly Spanish including regional languages spoken in certain provinces along with their traditions and quite possibly their people. In 1937 he ordered the city of Gernika to be bombed therefore killing over 1600 civilians, in turn outlawing their language and the teaching of it in schools amongst other things. Which led Pablo Picasso to paint what is probably his best known and harrowing painting "Guernica". When Franco died in 1975 after 36 years in power and democracy returned to the country, it was eventually returned to the Basque people. Euskara is taught in schools today and spoken freely. Luckily for me they also speak Spanish.

So, a five hour train ride north from Madrid brought us to the very beautiful city of Bilbao,

which, frankly, knocked me off my feet. I always thought of Bilbao as some industrial smoky place...wrong!

It is a stunner. We stayed in the old city or "Casco Viejo" with cobblestone streets and endless alleys

and plazas

and cathedrals

and the "Ria Nervon" running through it

and the pure childlike joy of finding out what blogging is all about!

As we all know we connect with people from everywhere in the world in our little blog community. Imagine the experience of actually meeting! When I emailed Alicia that we would be visiting Bilbao she didn't hesitate in suggesting we meet. It turns out that our hotel was right next door to where she studies

at this library. And that's where we met one morning and went for some breakfast and she proceeded to give us a little morning tour, where we climbed some steep beautiful old steps to stare at these balcony boxes

then were treated to an elevator ride so that we could see this magnificent view

which she sees every single day. After two short hours we went our separate ways. I, much richer for having met a friend at another corner of the world.

She suggested we go here, where we took the Metro

Las Arenas-Areeta, which has this funky suspension bridge

that transports people and cars back and forth in this contraption

to a pretty little town named Portugalete

where the river meets the ocean.
There will be a parte dos 1/2.

June 24, 2013

Flores en la Casa

Everybody in Spain seems to have a least the places I visited...and the balconies are gloriously decorated with an abundance of flowers. Nothing fancy, for the most part they seem to use good old reliable geraniums, red, white and a lot of pink

and sometimes other colors

or other flowers for quite the show

or petunias

or something altogether different
Makes me wish I had a balcony...or I was still in Spain.

Now I'm just going to link on over to Jane's to see what everyone has in their house.