Credits roll…

When it comes to productivity I’m , without doubt, the equivalent of a highly unmotivated turtle with the memory span of a goldfish.
It took me 3 monthes to finish the drawings and posts for a 4 week trip.
Now what? 
To be honest mo clue yet. For now just the last of the street sketches from Spain will have to do.

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The Barcelona pavilion by Mies van der Rohe

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Casa batllo by Anthony Gaudi’

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Guggenheim Bilbao by Frank O. Gehry

When it comes to productivity I’m , without doubt, the equivalent of a highly unmotivated turtle with the memory span of a goldfish.
It took me 3 monthes to finish the drawings and posts for a 4 week trip.
Now what? 
To be honest mo clue yet. For now just the last of the street sketches from Spain will have to do.

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The Barcelona pavilion by Mies van der Rohe

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Casa batllo by Anthony Gaudi’

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Guggenheim Bilbao by Frank O. Gehry

Málaga: adventures of the unlucky pragmatic

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I AM ACCIDENT PRONE…and it does get fairly entertaining at times.
But first, Malaga.
If you’re someone who prefers an urban life but can’t get the idea of living by the beach, I have great news for you.  What I loved most about Malaga was exactly that very elaborate balance between a city life, a laid back coastal life, a very vivid but not overwhelming night life and a  striking  mix of contemporary and historical context (which to be fair is common in many European cities). As I mentioned in an older post I found Ibiza exhausting: too loud, too many parties, too much fare.  Here I had the chance to stroll the streets have a drink walk into a club dance for a bit  go home without the silly  feeling that I’m the only one going to bed at this time.
Then there was the  food ..oh the food. Freshly out of the water seafood with a bit of sea salt beats the most fancy culinary creations in my book.

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As I mentioned  am accident prone with just a dash of clumsy (somehow dancers are always a bit clumsy once they step out of the dance floor). The funnies part of this all is that I do not believe in luck and subsequently the lack of it, yet somehow I find myself in the most ridiculous situations.
To be fair I did pretty well on our way up to the fortress. No slipping , no falling, no breaking and all this on steep ramps paved with sleek slippery stones. If you knew me any better you’d be surprised at the  fact that out of the three of us I was the only one who wasn’t accidentally performing a figure skating routine. Watching them Sirtaki their way to the top was fairly entertaining, unfortunately Karma  proved she isn’t a very nice lady after all.
We sat down on a stone bench under the shade of a fig tree to catch a breath after the long climb in 40°C . As a result I ended up buying a new dress a few hours later. The only piece of clothing I got during the whole euro trip.

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Oh Canada

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     Canadians are  nice… is it true? Is it a vast generalization, just a stereotype, or some strange contagious behavioral pattern?
     I was not born in Canada I moved here 9 years ago. Having lived and visited quite a few places so far I have to say there is truth in most stereotypical portrayals. Yes we have big busy cities, and people preoccupied with problems, rushing from point a to point B, we also have winters that will keep you stressed for 6 months, yet The number of “sorries” per conversation is uncanny.  I’ve winters people apologize to walls they walk in to. It doesn’t get more stereotypical than that.
     I was a permanent resident since the day I moved here (all the rights of a citizen minus voting). Got my citizenship last year…did the oath, walked up to the clerk sign the papers, dropped the pen, apologized wanted to proceed with the signing process, but was interrupting by the clerk laughing  “You’re already  Canadian and  you haven’t  even signed the  papers yet” . I thought that was the most funny Canadian moment in my life…until…

    Until this incident in Barcelona. I cannot think of anything that will beat that in the future.

And while we’re talking about nice, this made the news yesterday.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/11/05/tim-hortons-break-in-nova-scotia_n_8479236.html?ncid=fcbklnkcahpmg00000001

Barcelona=Gaudi and Gaudi = Barcelona?

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     I love clean sharp lines, contrast and materiality sans ornament. So guess what? Art nouveau is not precisely my thing. As much as I appreciate the aesthetic in architecture and interiors, I can only do so when it’s present rare in small portions.
    Gaudi’s presence in Barcelona is anything but rare and small, however I found  it to be fascinating, magical and almost unreal. It overwhelms your senses with color, shape, texture and a solid undertone of wtf. And since the vast majority of his work is located in Barcelona it becomes diffivult to saparate one from the other.
Which is a shame, to be honest, because as amazing as Gaudi’s creations are, Barcelona has a lot more to offer.
     I do not intend to list all the architectural landmarks of this city. A quick googke search will give you a list including Pelix by Frank Gehry.
     What i found almost painful was the fact that La Sagrada familia had a 3 hour line up, while the Barcelona pavilion by Mies van der Rohe , a marvel and a game changer in the history of modern architecture, had less then 10 visitors. Thee hype is everythimg, sadly, even if the object does deserve the hype around it.

Guggenheim Bilbao deserves a separate post!

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Whether you’re interested in architecture or not Guggenheim Bilbao is a sight to behold.
I’m not implying that  you’ll love it, in fact, chances are you’ll hate it (ironically many architects do hate the works of Gehry). What I can promise you is it will not leave you indifferent. Even if modern architecture isn’t really your cup of tea, the shear scale, shape and materiality of the museum will leave you overwhelmed and a bit puzzled.
To me it was something more than just a fancy landmark by a starchitect we all love to hate. It was a paradigm shift in my perception of what architecture can be and what can it look like beyond my comfort zone. You see, getting into architecture I didn’t know much about it. I admired buildings for their historical value. The ability to build history was something amazing to me (egoistic, I know). Understanding all other layers that come with it took time, a lot of time.
So here you have me, one step away from it and scared to approach, because just like any other treasure, the museum had a guard in the form of a terrifying, humongous spider. Maman: a  beautiful and surprising dedication to the sculptor’s deceased mother and a terrifying trigger to my severe arachnophobia. I spent the  next few hours  wondering around, in circles of different diameter, taking hundreds of pictures most of which in the end looked practically the same to anyone but me.
In the context of Bilbao, Guggenheim is something bigger than a grand scale project. It was the first domino in a chain reaction that turned the industrial city into an architectural marvel that embraces very contemporary structures right next to the local historical ones. Where else in a formerly industrial city of less than 400000 you can find buildings by Calatrava, Frank Gehry, Norman Foster and many many others next to each other.  I don’t know for sure what the socioeconomic outcomes of the architectural revolution  were, but knowing for fact that the city has experienced major growth in the last 15 leads me to think the two phenomenons have to share a common denominator.

Bilbao: too many reasons to fall in love

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I’ve heard incredible things about the Madrid, Barcelona and the whole south of Spain: where to go, what to see, what to eat mixed with emotional odes to the beauty , the beaches, the weather. But I’ve never heard anyone say much about the north.  My guess is it’s not frequented by the same amount of tourists. What a pity.
When I mentioned planning to visit Bilbao to a Spanish friend of mine he just shrugged and asked why would I go there. At that point in time “Guggenheim!” was my only answer. As you can see, I didn’t know much about it then.

The North is as amazing as it is underrated. One thing I regret is not spending enough time in the Basque country. But that gives me a reason to go back so I don’t complain.
We had put Bilbao on our list mostly for the sake of the Guggenheim Museum and the Zubizuri (two architectural designers  travelling and structures by Frank Gehry and Calatrava in one small city : you do the math).

Bilbao gave me way too many reasons to fall in love…

1)  The nature …  The uncomfortable long bus ride from Bordeaux was well worth it just because of the alluring slide show of cliffs and green mountains flying by us for the whole  duration of our 5 hour trip.

2) The people were absolutely amazing, warm , cheerful, seemingly careless(let’s be honest no one mature enough can be totally careless).

3) The food is incredible. Basque people love food as a result even the simplest dishes I tried in Bilbao were mouthwatering. A seemingly simple plate of cured ham paired with txacoli and I’m in heaven.
Pinxtos are a different chapter on their own. Think tapas but more elaborate, perfected to the level of tiny culinary marvels. I think I could easily live on those and those only. ohh, and don’t get me started on the portions and a amount of food a dinner or lunch entitles.
4) The city itself is charming. A friend form Bilbao told me it used to be mostly industrial and started taking an urban turn only about 15 years ago, which is hard to imagine. It’s a small city with just the right energy level: lively but not busy. You can walk all of it in a day: a very busy day. The contrast between the gorgeous old Spanish fascades and the very bold contemporary structures is magical. Take a note I didn’t even get to the Guggenheim and the Zubizuri  yet. That’s a story for a different post