Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Enchanted April - Part One

There is a movie from the nineties about a group of English women who are run almost to the ground by their gloomy lives.  But when one of them sees an advertisement in the newspaper for an Italian villa, she decides to leave darkness behind and head for warmth and sunshine, and she finds three others to share expenses. Their lives are changed by the soft beauty of the place.  My husband and I recently returned from a short cruise on Holland America's Eurodam that began in Barcelona, Spain, and covered much of the Italian Riviera, including Castle Brown in Portofino, the setting for the film Enchanted April.  I cannot resist sharing some of my photographs from the trip.

My dear husband is of the opinion that one should spend all his or her time actually looking at scenery, people, artwork.  But ever since I was old enough to hold a Brownie camera I have loved taking pictures.  On a cruise like ours that zips from place to place in a whirlwind, I find that my photos allow me to slow down and savor what I saw, remember it, think about it.  Dream about returning. I love my photos.

We arrived in Barcelona a couple days early so that any delays would not jeopardize our embarking on the ship on time, and also to rest a little and sight see. This photo was taken in our hotel room, the Hotel Indigo.  Immediately I could see that in this city style is important.  There is color, pattern, design, everywhere.  This graphic suggests the organic forms of the architect Antoni Gaudi, whose buildings are the epitome of Catalan Modernism style.

                           La Predrera, a Barcelona apartment building designed by Gaudi.

        La Sagrada Familia cathedral, also designed by Gaudi, and still under construction.

Gaudi designed all sorts of elaborate, almost surreal looking buildings, but our time was short. And certainly there is pattern and beautiful design everywhere - from the sidewalks under foot, to public sculpture to tile work and mosaics in building old and new.

 The old Cathedral of Barcelona, which is beautiful inside and out, and is surrounded by public art.

                Book art, spotted in a shop window in the old Gothic Quarter of Barcelona.

This is the old bull ring of Barcelona, with magnificent tile work all round.  Bull fighting has been banned in Catalonia, so now this structure has been converted into a shopping mall.

Barcelona has lots and lots of graffiti, but the city seems to have embraced it as public art, and many of the walls and metal security doors that secure shops are spray painted.  I saw this "Bye Bye Barcelona" image in several places and wondered about it.  It turns out this is an ad for a documentary available on YouTube with the same name about how tourism is changing the city.  Not everyone is happy about the thousands of foreign tourists who visit every year.

And it isn't just the shops, museums or architecture that is appealing here.  The city seems well planned, with wide streets, parks, fountains, bicycle and scooter lanes, and a tram system. 

There seems to be plenty of green spaces, park benches, places to take walks with family or dogs. The men in the lower photo were playing  an enthusiastic game of Bocce Ball in a park.

We saw as much as our jet lagged selves could in about a day and a half, both on foot and on an open topped bus tour, but playing tourist is hungry and thirsty work.  Luckily the city is filled with shops that sell small plates of food to be shared called tapas.  This is an example of one of our explorations of tapas. We could eat something different every day for years and never try everything that is available.  So little time, so many tapas...

This is only a little taste of what we saw in Barcelona.  Later I'll share some photos from Italy.