Posts filed under ‘Churches’

Another Day, Another Beach

After sharing Jenn’s adventure we all decided we needed some down time. Jean really wanted to visit Sitges and Alex and I had never been so………..

Bright and early Saturday morning we headed down to the train station at Pg de Gracia. We met Kaiko and Francesca there and off we all went. It’s only a 40 minute train ride in air conditioned comfort. As usual, we ended up chatting with a catalin woman on the train and as usual were all captured by her stories. We arrived in Sitges and headed directly to the beach. This photo was taken from the point at one end and looks across the beach.

We left our towels and umbrellas (yes, I only sit on a beach under a beach umbrella) and headed over to a restaurant that Jean had seen. Heading down the steps I had to capture las chicas. Kaiko, from Japan, Francesca from Italy and Alex from Canada via Brazil. Our common language is spanish and it’s just too funny to hear us talking. I’m the least fluent of the three so I usually end up making up the story as I go along.

After eating we went back to the beach for the rest of the day. Kaiko had to leave at 5:30 because her boyfriend finished work at 6:30n and they were heading off yo a movie. The rest of us stayed put until around 7:30 when we decided to walk around the town.

Jean and Francesca in a medieval street

One of the narrow streets of Sitges with a walkway from the palace to another museum. The town is beautiful and so clean.

Gordon and Alex in front of the palace.

Walking in from the sea and meandering through the streets we looked back at the cathedral.

We finally reached the train station but decided we needed to have a clara before leaving. There were so many trains back to Barcelona that we took our time and caught the train that passed by when we were finished.

We arrived home at around 9:30, tired but smiling after an almost perfect day.

July 30, 2006 at 12:35 pm 2 comments

Tibidabo – From the latin Tibi (To you) and Dabo (I shall give)

Alex and I took the city bus up to the top of Tibidabo, the top of a mountain here in Barcelona. We hadn’t been up there yet so we dicided to give it a try. It was above 30 C and we though it might be cooler up there. It was. A nice cool and steady breeze kept the body temperature down but you really had to be careful with the sun. The Bus took us part of the way. We had to transfer to a streetcar to bring us up to the base.

Once you arrived at the base, you had to take a funicular to the top. Of course there was always the option of walking all the way to the top from where the city bus let you off. We chose the lazy way. The funicular was the easy way up.

Once up there, we found the church and went inside to explore. It was small compared to the cathedrals we had been visiting but it was also very ornate………..

and very colorful……..

Also up there were carnival rides. We didn’t go on any of them but they were pretty spctacular in the sense of the view.

One of the rides was a real aircraft from 1930. I don’t know if it was really the prop that moved the aircraft but it was definitely pushing some serious air. They even had to reverse the prop when going with the wind. I think it seated about 12 people.

All in all in was a pretty interesting day. We ended up walking all the way home since it was downhill and the area on the way home looked interesting.

June 30, 2006 at 7:34 pm 3 comments

Toledo, Spain (Part 2)

After visiting the cathedral we went looking for a place to get some food. That’s when we found La Tabernita, a small tavern-like place that the locals visited. We met the owners but you’ll have to read Alex’s log for that story. When we finished eating we started to walk downhill towards one of the city gates. Approaching the gate was like a maze. This was a military installation and the reason for the maze-like approach was to prevent enemy troops from attacking straight on.

It was evening by the time we started back and as we headed towards the hotel we came across workers setting up a stage and sound system in the square behind the cathedral. We found out that there was going to be a fashion show starting at 10:00. We came back to watch and it was amazing. I had never been to a real fashion show before and was impressed.

Show MCs

Apparently, the MCs were well know television personalities and it showed. The way they presented and anounced made me feel I was watching a movie. Once the models started coming, loud, high energy music filled the square.

This was clearly a high end fashion show we stumbled upon. I was sitting there, looking around, feeling the music and couldn’t help thinking that this was totally surreal. The cathedral tower was lit up and eye catching but took a second seat to what was happening in front of me.

In between model appearances was high end entertainment. A company of flamenco dancers had us completely captivated. I didn’t realize how sensuous flemenco dancing was, and so fluid. I had to pinch myself uite a few times that night.

The show ended well after midnight and we left in a bit of a daze. I could never put down in words what it was like. Sitting in a medieval square, surrounded by buildings from the 16th century and earlier and having this spectacular show of sound and light and movement was simply awesome. We walked back to our hotel with only the street lamps to light our way.

The next day we visited the old Jewish quarter. Alex’s studies are all about the coexistence of christians, muslims and jews so it was a must to visit the old synagogues, mosques and churches. You’ll have to read her blog to get more details. The mosques and synagogues were converted to churches when the original worshippers were forced out of Spain. Here’s a photo of a synagogue converted to a church. The roof beams in this building are over 800 yrs old.

We visited many places that day and saw many beautiful things. Here are some photos of building details in the many sites we saw. The first photo is the ceiling in a hall around the cloisters of a monastery. It’s all wood and the different patterns are created with inlaid wood. This ceiling is around 500 yrs old.

The next photo shows one of the supporting marble arches.

This next photo is of one of the many gargoyles that surround the cloisters. It was refurbished in 1888 and the detail is gorgeous. Every one of the 20 or so gargoyles was different.

I guess I’m going to have a part 3. There’s still a few stories to tell and this entry is getting big. Here’s some general photos that I think are interesting.

Some Toledo ironwork

Toledo Ironwork

View of the surrounding country from one of the old towers.

View of the cathedral from a narrow street (shot by Alex)

A couple of cousins ………

And finally, more Toledo ironwork …….

Until next time……………..

June 15, 2006 at 8:48 am Leave a comment

Toledo, Spain (Part 1)

We took the train to Toledo, which is 70 kms from Madrid. The trip took 30 minutes so we had to be traveling at least 200 kph at some points along the way.

It was interesting to see how the station handled passengers. It’s just like at the airport. There’s security to go through for ticket holders and once inside, there are gates that correspond to different trains heading to different destinations. You present your ticket to the gate agent and pass through the gates. I found it interesting that the two modes of transportation had evolved to similar boarding methods. The train interiors were very comfortable and colorful.

Sure enough, in 30 minutes we arrive in Toledo. The train station itself was built over 100 years ago but it looked like it had been built yesterday. The platforms themselves were new but the building and it’s interior were nothing short of amazing. It was built in mudejar design. The picture doesn’t capture the intricate details and the amazing woodwork and inlays.

Toledo Train station

We caught a city bus since we didn’t know how far or more accurately, how high, the hotel was. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia, giving a brief history of Toledo.

Toledo was originally a Roman Empire outpost ( end of the 2nd century BC though its Celtiberian past could put it 2 centuries before that ) under the name Toletum. It later served as the capital city of Visigothic Spain, beginning with Liuvigild (Leovigild), and was the capital until the Moors conquered Iberia in the 8th century. Under the Caliphate of Cordoba, Toledo enjoyed a golden age. This extensive period is known as La Convivencia, i.e. the Co-existence of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Under Arab rule, Toledo was called Tulaytulah (Arabic طليطلة, academically transliterated Ṭulayṭulah).On May 25, 1085 Alfonso VI of Castile took Toledo and established direct personal control over the Moorish city from which he had been exacting tribute. This was the first concrete step taken by the combined kingdom of Leon-Castile in the Reconquista by Christian forces.Toledo was famed for its production of steel and especially of swords and the city is still a center for the manufacture of knives and other steel implements. When Philip II moved the royal court from Toledo to Madrid in 1561, the old city went into a slow decline from which it never recovered.
Toledo’s Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.
In 1986 the UNESCO declared Toledo a World Heritage Site.

We arrived at our hotel (Hotel Santa Isabell, a 14th century noble house) and dropped off our bags. We headed uphill toward Alcazar but when we got there we were told it was closed until 2008 for renovations. We were only slightly disappointed as the city had so much to offer.


The cathedral was right around the corner so we decided to take a tour. It’s really a weird feeling when you realize that you’re in a building that was built over 700 years ago and some parts of the foundation are over 1000 years old. They still had tools that were used in the construction (at some point) and an example of a wagon used to carry building materials.

medieval wagon

Inside were many paintings by el Greco and this cathedral is one of the christian churches with the wealthiest collection of artworks in the WORLD. Move over Rome.

We started wandering the streets and found too many things that were interesting. Almost overwhelming, we felt like little kids who didn’t know what chocolate to choose. The streets are very narrow and you have to find a doorway to tuck into when a car goes by.

city street

We have to watch the futbol game because Brazil is playing Croatia and being married to a Brasilian, well, we have priorities.

I’ll continue tomorrow with Toledo, Part 2

June 13, 2006 at 8:52 pm 1 comment

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