BARCELONA HARBOUR

We want to take you on a pictorial journey around Barcelona in our next few posts, and we decided to kick off with some of the terrific views that you get if you find your way to the ramparts of Montjuïc Castle. You have two choices to get there – by bus (either the 55 or 15o) or if you want  something far more memorable, then use the funicular Montjuïc Cable Car.

 

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View from Montjuïc Castle to the docks and the cruise ship terminal.

 

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Container Harbour.

 

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The famous Transbordador Aeri del Port cable car (the tower in the center left) and the now just as famous La Vela Hotel on the right.

 

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Ariel shot of the Marina at Port Vell with the bridge to the aquarium and the cable car. A lovely area for a walkabout. A trip around the port on one of the boats that leave from the quay at bottom right of the photo is well worth taking time out for.

 

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No wonder Barcelona is so popular, there are spectacular views everywhere and so much to see. Here looking down to Port Vell again.

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KUSAMA EXHIBITION

On Saturday 16/4/2016 we visited the Henie Onstad Art Center‘s exhibition featuring the work of the 87 year old Japanese artist and and writer Yayoi Kusama.

 

Kusama is a pioneer in the world of avant-garde and in 2015 was rated as one of the top ten living artists in the world. On several
occasions she has broken records for the highest price paid for the work of a female artist.

In 1973 she checked herself in as a mentally ill patient at the Seiwa Hospital in Tokyo and has been living their ever since. She produces new works from her studio which is just a short distance away from the hospital.

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour around the exhibition – it was colourful, inspirational, and tickled all the senses. You leave knowing that you have been close to a very unique woman who was at the very heart of conceptual art with roots in minimalism, surrealism and pop art. She appears to have been incredibly prolific and was a great influence to people like Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg. Such a shame she has to battle with her demons when she is so
incredibly talented. Like everyone else who visited, we will not forget her.

 

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You can be forgiven for thinking this is the artist in person – almost scary the amazing detail in her lifesize replica!

 

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Giant canvases.

 

 

 

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One, two, three jump and take the shot. Kusama liked to cover
herself in polka dots and become part of the canvas and we thought that was a good idea so this is Aurora’s tribute.

 

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Does this make you think of Munch’s – The Scream?  There were a few visitors having a laugh as we took this shot but it turned out pretty well I think.

 

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Wonder what these two art lovers are making of this exhibit 🙂

 

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Colour everywhere!

 

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Infinity Mirror rooms; which typically involve a cube shaped room being clad with mirrors, water on the floor and flickering lights. This glass cube from her mirror series was just over 2 meters high and I guess around 175 m broad with two peek holes in each side. It was great fun, and everyone that managed to  get their face in front of the holes appeared many times over in the final photo.

 

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Every phallic shape was hand sewn by the artist and fixed onto the exhibits.

 

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Me behind the lens this time, and Aurora, no surprise was very
appropriately dressed for the shot – fun photo, and I think Kusama
would approve.

 

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Another of Kusama’s themes – the giant gourd!

 

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Polka dots – Kusama’s signature that brings out the child in you. There were many younger visitors who were obviously loving the bright colours in every room.

 

The last room before the exit. It was a pure white space at the
opening but everyone gets their own polka dot to place at will… and
just look at the result so far!

 

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Playing a Polka on a polka dot piano!

 

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Encased behind glass in all her polka dot glory a brilliant cast of
Kasuma – so lifelike you wouldn’t have blinked if she’d suddenly walked out.

 

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We loved this world class art exhibition that
just made you want to jump for joy!

Henie Onstad Art Center

Sonja Henie was a gifted Norwegian figure skater who won Gold in three Olympics. She also won ten World Championships and six
European Championships in a row. (1927-1936 and 1931-1936). At the height of her career she also become one of Hollywood’s highest paid actresses and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She and her third husband Niels Onstad a shipping magnate shared a love of art and their collection helped fund the Henie Onstad Art Center.

The Center lies close to Sandvika on the outskirts of Oslo and opened in 1968. It blends beautifully into the woody hillside above the fjord and apart from visits to the exhibitions, it is also a popular area for both jogging and walking.

St. GILES’ CATHEDRAL

This very beautiful cathedral is one of the most important landmarks to be found on The Royal Mile. With free entry, you just have to go in and marvel at the details. There are donation boxes inside if you wish to support it’s continuing restoration, and there is a small fee of £2 to obtain a sticker allowing you to photograph. We saw that many just ignore the request, either regarding a mobile as something other than a camera, or just simply doing what some say Scot’s are famous for – being tight fisted with their money!

 

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The mother of the Scottish church and Presbyterianism. It dates back to the 11th century and has been remodelled many times.

 

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My shot of Aurora standing almost dead center in the cathedral

 

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A wonderful photo from Aurora of this incredibly beautiful ceiling at it’s artistic best.

 

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You will find details that have survived from the late medieval period (1385-1560), in the Cathedral including  many carvings, tombs and memorials.non-religious carvings. Some of the oldest heraldic carvings from the 15th century can be seen in the Albany Aisle.

 

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Plenty of very impressive stained glass windows to see.

 

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The Reiger organ installed in 1992.

 

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The East Window dates back from 1874.

 

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The Great West Window was installed in 1985.  It’s the work of the Icelandic artist Leifur Breidfjörd. It is semi-abstract in style, and is a celebration of themes from the poet Robert Burns.

 

THE POMPIDOU CENTER – colourful Paris

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Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris.

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The Pompidou Center. An interesting building with a fun elevator trip to the upper floors. Be truthful though, would you want it in your back garden? Not so sure – but it certainly has a quirky and fun functionality that reflects the diversity of the artworks on display. Well worth a visit, and there are many interesting shops and other galleries in the area

 

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Suddenly reminded of airport check in or passport control here at the entrance 😉

 

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I think the area in front of the center could look so much better with some kind of makeover, it was all a bit scruffy to be honest. Just cleaning the graffiti off the pipes would have helped. Watch out for con artists – they were wandering about with official looking hand held charity pads with loads of signatures on them. There were two girls playing deaf and dumb on our day but we caught them out when they were taking a break from ripping people off.

 

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Looking down from the top floor.

 

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The first work to greet us – a photo doesn’t do it justice it was
fascinating to interact with.

 

Just two works here, and hardly a reflection of the Center – if you love art or just want to be inspired, amazed or witness something unique you have to visit.

 

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Yes of course – Pablo Picasso!

 

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Henri Matisse – Decorative figure on Ornamental Background. They don’t get more colourful than him – he was brilliant!

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The iconic ” Jeune fille en vert” or Girl in Green with Gloves by Tamara de Lempicka just draws you closer, and seeing it in the
Center was a highlight – it’s brilliant and has been a source of
inspiration to so many. Painted in 1929 and quintessentially Art Deco.

 

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Aurora making an entrance! We travelled everywhere on the
excellent Metro and due to a few days with pollution we didn’t
pay a single euro.

 

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More colour – French old-fashioned style carousel with stairs – wonderful!

 

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More colour – this time on the Pont des Arts – sadly all gone now
including ours somewhere slap bang in the middle of this photo.

 

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Final photo, and I am unable to put a name to this fabulous building – can anyone help me out – thanks!

PARIS – Walkabout.

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Hardly needs an introduction – The cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris). Perhaps the finest example of French Gothic architecture. It has some of the worlds most famous
gargoyles that allow rainwater to run off the building. If what looks like a gargoyle doesn’t have a spout but is purely decorative, then it’s called a grotesque.

 

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The oldest public clock in Paris and what a beauty! you’ll find it in the center of Paris on the Isle de la Cité. It was built into the tower by Henri le Vic, a clever German engineer who arrived in Paris in 1370.

 

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View up the wonderful River Seine.

 

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For me a big disappointment. With all it’s history and film
immortalization, it looks like every owner had taken something away
and then modernized in the cheapest finishes they could find – sorry Paris! Having said that we didn’t get inside – that is hopefully more spectacular.

 

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Shame you have to go to cities like Paris to find these wonderful markets where you can touch, smell and taste before you buy – no plastic, nappy filled trays here!

 

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Colourful in Paris too! Not sure if she knew she would appear in our blog, but thanks to her for brightening up the day with this terrific costume.

 

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In the Latin quarter. It’s certainly not the pizza Aurora’s heading
towards – it’s the coffee house on the left and it’s selection of
pastries.

 

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Cosy by day…..

 

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Cosy by night – love the Vespa!

 

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Multinational Paris!

 

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A beautiful Wisteria or Golden Rain in the Trocadero Park.

 

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Who doesn’t just love a “patisserie.

 

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We were lucky enough to have this patisserie close to our flat. There were queues every morning, but it was a mouthwatering pleasure to stand in line.

 

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This baker had a sense of humor and he didn’t have to worry about making too many – they were putting smile on everyones faces and of course we tourists loved them, both to eat and photograph 😉

MONTMARTRE

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Montmartre, the area surrounding a 130 meter hill, is famous for it’s rich heritage. From 1872 to 1914 it was the bohemian home and workplace of many famous artists and composers. I’ll probably get slated for saying this, but a blog needs to be honest, and if you are expecting to wander around and see the kind of work Renoir, Degas, Matisse or Picasso were creating here, then you will be very
disappointed.

Most of the stuff being churned out there is by multicultural artists aiming solely at the tourist market, and it is unfortunately reflected in the quality and subject matter of their work. On that day anyway I can honestly say I didn’t see a single canvas I would have bought.

 

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We had a good laugh at a certain “Monsieur” who certainly looked the part but we could see he wasn’t painting at any easel – just out to impress the Mademoiselle’s I think. On another note – e cigarettes were quite the thing around here 🙂

 

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We had a very good meal here at Le Cadet de Gascogne, an excellent lamb shank pictured below. It was cosy inside and despite it’s
location it didn’t have a touristy feel about it which was very
refreshing. Great place to sit outside with a coffee and watch the
world go by.

 

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Lamb Shank with ratatouille – the cold beer wasn’t bad either!

 

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Crowning the hill is the Basilique of the Sacré Cœur offering
spectacular views from it’s popular steps. Today it is a symbol of
remembrance to the 58.000 who lost their lives in the
Franco-Prussian war. It houses the nineteen-ton Savoyarde bell
(one of the world’s heaviest).

 

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Beautiful interior shot by Aurora.

 

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View from the steps – to the right out of the picture is a cable car  (Funiculaire de Montmarte) that takes you to the street below. The cable car fee is included in regular Paris Metro tickets and passes.

 

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We were lucky enough to hear this guy playing that day – he was brilliant, and a pleasure to listen to – he certainly earned the euros we gave him!