Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Jewish Museum

Berlin everywhere exhibits all too chilling reminders of its violent past - from the haphazard reminders of its circuitous wall as you wander around the city only to run into another non-descript sign indicating its erstwhile location - to the pock marked walls of old government buildings still bearing the scars of the russian and ultimately american advances to the most awful of all the newish Jewish Museum. Andrea and I went for the grandeur of Daniel Libskind's architectural triumph though were each shaken by the experience. The scale of this historical experience seems too vast to really take in. The architecture of the building itself adds to this disorientation with its slanting walls, crooked flooring and labyrinthine passage ways. On occasion it really does seem like there's no way out of the structure!

On to Berlin

So on to Berlin for more wonderful adventures - here are some pix from our first couple of days in Berlin as Adam and Dell the most magnificent tour guides one could hope for introduced us to this incredible city. The gods were certainly smiling on us as we discovered that the most excellent Bill Callahan was playing in town. This man channels "blood on the tracks" dylan like nobodies business!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Finally Park Guell - Berlin next Time!

Ok Some More Gaudi

On our last day in Barcelona we visited Park Guell which is simply to beautiful to describe so thank god for the small mercies of digital cameras and mac laptops dear comrades! The fact that one old man late in his life was given essentially free rein to exhaust his imagination in solid form on someone else's platinum amex must have been wish fulfillment on a scale rarely seen before or since. Still the results speak for themselves!

More Gaudi

Gaudi, Gaudi, Gaudi, Oi, Oi, Oi

Ok so visiting Barcelona means that one necessarily comes to learn more about the architect Antoni Gaudi than one ever thought useful in this dear life - but by jove the man sure was prolific! We visiting his famous apartment complex Casa Mila, the Sagrada Familia naturally enough and the real highlight Park Guell. Here are some of the better pix...

Elvira and Ayla

Really the most wonderful thing about the trip to Barcelona was the opportunity to spend time with quite possibly the most vivacious, most lovely of all two years olds in all the known universe. Young Ayla, a beautiful gift provided to the rest of us by the equally lovely Elvira and Carl, is truly a joy to behold. Her favourite trick is breathing bye-bye as she blows you a kiss - I swear the child has more charm than Obama himself!

The View Really Was That Awesome

Up behind the former royal residence are a series of linked gardens and paths weaving back and forth around Mont Juic all the way to the former Olympic stadium - we only found out about the stadium the next day sadly. Still these gardens kept us very occupied for the entire afternoon.

Monuments and Public Art

Blessed with more than its fair share of twentieth century superstars, Barcelona is an suitably impressive place for art hunting and hanging out pondering Miro's fascination with primitivism (see I read the catalogue too!). With the Miro museum nestled within the hills of Mont Juic and with truly "now I need 4 eyes and a second prefrontal-cortex to take this in" views one really can't be blamed for ducking out of the conference early to go spend time with one's lovely wife.

Bars and Galleries and Cute little Turkish Girls

The quarter we stayed in was very happily jam packed with galleries and never ending alley ways - perfect for getting lost and then getting found again. At the end of "La Ramblas", Barcelona's justly famous promenade lies a suitably ancient a phallic tribute to Christopher Columbus who for having the audacity to go searching for a more auspicious route to India only to find that nowhere place North America was granted the enormous privilege of having a truly grandiose column erected in his honour (tee hee). Not sure what the Lions signify though I suppose if they were god enough for Nelson then Columbus ought to have his four lions as well.

Finally Updates!!

Ok, ok, ok, so this has taken me longer than I anticipated! Naturally I've come back to a mountain of work and let's just say that Andrea's relentless demands for chocolate ice cream and foot massages has kept my remaining moments happily occupied! Ahhh returning to our most recent adventures in Barcelona, Berlin and Amsterdam let me recap said adventures with some happy pix. Barcelona, as evidently anyone who has ever visited agrees, is one of the most beautiful of European cities. With its winding, baroque gothic quarter, replete with narrow alleys, off-beat stores, too-cool for Ohio bars and cafes and more hipsters than the lion's gate end of third beach on a Friday in August this place was awesome. Oh yes and that dumb conference thing that interrupted most of my days there was ok too.