Archive for March, 2007

The birth of a research assistant

I had been planning to go to Girona to collect some documentation for a long time now but couldn’t figure out the best time to go. As usual, the decision was made for me when I found out that a famous Spanish historian would be giving a public lecture in Girona on Thursday night. Perfect, I thought. We’ll go to Girona, I can do research during the day while Alan wanders around, catch the lecture at night and we could spend the night. With that in mind we set out on Thursday morning.

I found a very nice two-star Pensión near the cathedral. Pensión Bellmirall is in a 14th-century house on a nice side street. We were very pleased with our room:

Room 2 at Bellmirall

After checking in, we set out to the Archivo Diocesano de Girona, where I had to collect some documents. Alan didn’t really feel like wandering the sights on his own so he volunteered to take pictures of the documents I needed. Since this was the first time he handled 14th-century documents, he was in constant awe. I’m always telling him about the neat books and documents I see people working with at the archives here in Barcelona and he was pleased to have the opportunity to handle some of these himself.

Register of Letters from the bishop Opening the books

This one still had its original cover:

Pink cover for an account book

Every once in a while we would find little drafts and notes stuck inside the books:


I was very pleased at the two archives I needed to visit. The people at both the Archivo Diocesano and the municipal archives were very friendly and nice. There was no red tape to speak of – no one demanded an introduction, reference letters and the like – and I was allowed to bring anything in the room. Very low profile. Both archives are also up to date with their use of technology and are working hard to digitize their documents.

After the work at the archives was done, we went out for lunch and took the afternoon off to explore the city a bit. The old town of Girona is beautiful and considered one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. The city is also considered the best place to live in Spain. We had been there before and you can see some pictures here and here.

I really enjoyed our time there, maybe I’ll make the Jewish community of Girona my second project… That way we could spend a year there 😉

Despite feeling guilty for abandoning my main research here in Barcelona for a few days, the trip was successful and we can home with a few hundred pictures of documents that I can use for my thesis… And Alan has been named my official research assistant 😉 Go here for Alan’s take on his new job. Now, if only I could teach him paleaography….

March 17, 2007 at 2:06 pm 5 comments

Amazing food in Girona

Of course, after all that researching we needed to eat! I was determined to have a good eating experience and after a bit of research, I decided to have lunch at Mimolet, a new restaurant about a block away from the cathedral in a tiny side street. Call it gourmet Catalan at its best. It’s not cheap but for a restaurant of its class I didn’t find it terribly expensive either. A three-course lunch menu is 14.75 euros (at night an 8-course degustation menu runs at 40 euros, which is not bad at all). The meal was well worth it. We set right beside the cheese counter and all my efforts to live dairy-free went up in smoke and I had the five cheese taster for a first course. All I can tell you is wow, it was great.

How could I resist all those wonderfully smelly cheese??

Cheese at Mimolet

As a main course I had grilled dorade, a tasty white fish from the Mediterranean, served with some nice grilled vegetables. The fish was done to perfection – cooked only until it reached opacity. Alan had Arroz con sepia, which is a rice cooked with a kind of calamari. We both had coconut sorbet with ginger as dessert, served rolled in a nice bit of crepe. I liked the meal so much that I would love to go back one day to have the tasting menu…

At night we went to the Creperie Bretonne for some highly-recommened crepes. Although the crepes were all perfectly done and I discovered a new-found love for dessert crepes, which were never my thing, the neat thing about this place was the decor. They had a bus – that’s right, a bus – inside the restaurant! The bus was hollowed out and the waiters used it as the salad counter:

Bus Bus 2

All in all, a very successful eating holiday 😉

Mimolet is on C/Pou Rodó, 12 tel 972 20 21 24

Creperie Bretonne is C/ Cort Reial, 14 tel. 972 218 120


Update: There’s a Creperie Bretonne in Barcelona as well! It’s located under the big golden fish at the Passeig Maritim. And this one also has a bus inside:

Creperie Barcelona

Photo from Creperie Bretonne’s website.

March 17, 2007 at 2:06 pm 2 comments

Where Have I Been

I have been neglecting my blog since our move. Partly because of adjusting to a new environment and partly because I was more involved in Flickr. I’m back because I have something to write about.

Alex and I went to Girona. Alex had some research to do there and since there was going to be a talk about “Convivencia of Jews, Muslims and Christians in the Middle Ages” on Thursday we decided this was the time to go. We had planned to do separate things when we were there. In other words, I was going to go exploring while Alex would be in the archives doing her research. Those plans changed when we got there and I was going to become ………


We checked into our 14th century hotel (see Alex’s blog) and headed off to the archives. My role was to take digital photos of the documents Alex needed. This was exciting. I was actually going to be touching books and documents from the 14th century. Notes written in 1386. I found this to be amazing.

This was just one of many books we handled. Here are some others.

Most of the books had very plain covers and Alex told me that they used older documents to bind the newer ones. Here’s one with a notarial document dating from 1314 and used to bind documents from 1391.

As we looked for the particular entries that Alex was interested in we came across little pieces of paper (from the same period) with writing on them. They were little reminder notes and, in some instances, drafts of the documents. I found that to be amazing, 700 year old reminder notes.

It wasn’t all work and no play. Although the light was way to flat for photos (the old town is very monochromatic and even in the best of light, it’s hard to get good photos) I managed to get some good ones of the stairways in the archive buildings.

and …..

While wandering around the city we found another Subirach dedicated to the Cathedral of Girona.

The interesting thing about his work are the little details you discover. They are found on his other works too. Do you recognize this one from a previous post ? For more on Subirachs go here.

Alex had found some great places to eat (as only Alex can) and you’ll have to visit her blog for more details. Suffice to say that they were great, especially Mimolet.

After eating lunch, we walked the walls of the old city. Parts of the wall are from Roman times and they are in very good condition. There are ruins covering many centuries and it’s quite a feeling to wander through and around them. At the end of the wall, we walked over to the other side of the river. Alex wanted to find where the talk would be held. After we found it, I went back to our hotel and she went to the talk. We met up after for dinner.

To see more photos of Girona, go here in my blog.

We left Girona on Friday and got home around 5:00. At 9:00 we went out to Francisca’s for a Chilean dinner. I’m really sorry I didn’t bring my camera because Laura and Carmen danced some traditional Spanish dances. Laura also gave a demonstration of castanets. Really cool stuff and we had a great evening.

We left there around 1:30 and beleive me, I was tired. All in all, a great few days.

March 17, 2007 at 12:06 pm 2 comments


wow! On International Women’s Day this blog got 213 visits!! Alan was all jealous of my new-found popularity – he’s been spending more time on flickr recently and neglecting his blog a bit – I am, after all, the person who was recognized on the street by someone who saw my picture here.

I just wanted to thank everybody who came by and tell them not to feel shy – comments don’t have to be in English, they can be in Portuguese, French, Catalan, Spanish or Latin 😉 Welcome to the blog!!

March 10, 2007 at 4:36 pm 8 comments


I came across this quote on Denise’s blog and I really enjoyed it –

Não entendo. Isso é tão vasto que ultrapassa qualquer entender. Entender é sempre limitado. Mas não entender pode não ter fronteiras. Sinto que sou muito mais completa quando não entendo. Não entender, do modo como falo, é um dom. Não entender, mas não como um simples de espírito. O bom é ser inteligente e não entender. É uma benção estranha, como ter loucura sem ser doida. É um desinteresse manso, é uma doçura de burrice. Só que de vez em quando vem a inquietação: quero entender um pouco. Não demais: mas pelo menos entender que não entendo.

Clarice Lispector

March 8, 2007 at 8:32 pm 3 comments

We Are All Photographers Now

Last week I found a post about an art project in Lausanne, Switzerland. The exhibition is titled “We Are All Photographers Now” and it’s being held at the musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne. The exhibition is about the rapid mutation of amateur photography in the digital age and displays photos from around the world. Anyone can submit an entry via their web site which is here.

When an entry is submitted, you receive an email from the museum containing the following message…….

Thank you for uploading your picture. You are the xxxxth contributor to upload a photo to our servers! It will be shown in the galleries of the Musée de l’Elysée during the exhibition “All photographers now”.
Once the exhibition starts, we will photograph all the images. If yours is being shown, you will receive an e-mail with a picture showing how your image was exhibited.

In my case I was the 18,161th contributor.

As I understand it, they will randomly choose 100 photographs a week. These pictures will then be printed and shown as such for a full week before being replaced by the selection from the following week, and be subsequently archived in the permanent collection of the Musée de l’Elysée. All other photos will be selected at some point and will be displayed using projection or other means.

I sent two photos last week and today I received an email containing the following message…….

Your image was shown in the Musee de l’Elysee’s exhibit ‘We are all photographers now!’ in the last few days. Enclosed you will find an installation view of your image that shows it in the wall.

The visitors to the exhibit are fascinated by all the different photographs that are being shown from participants like you from all over the world. Thank you again for participating and please feel free to upload more images to the site

Here’s the image I submitted …..

and here is the installation photo ………….

I know it’s a random selection process but hey, I’m still proud of it being there.

March 5, 2007 at 2:38 pm 3 comments

This is your chance!

After participating in a similar “game” on Denise´s blog, I was tagged by Fernanda, from A Comentarista, to do it here. Basically, you ask me anything you want and as long as it isn´t too personal I answer here.  Is there anything about me you want to know and never had the occasion to ask?

Who would like to start? 😉

March 1, 2007 at 4:29 pm 40 comments

March 2007

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