Winter

The City of Girona

Welcome to the lovely, medieval city of Girona, the capital of the northeastern Catalan province of Girona and a region historically inhabited by Iberians, my ancestors.

Surrounding the old town of the city is an ancient, Roman wall that once protected the area, recently reconstructed in some parts. In another part of the old town is the Girona Cathedral (the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona), restored in 1015 and redesigned around the renaissance era. Next to the Onyar river are houses reconstructed to resemble houses by the Arno river in  Florence, Italy (I like the Italian ones better. More authentic. Peh).

Though it is a very picturesque town with a lot to offer, it is more famous being one of the locations filmed for scenes in Game of Thrones, episode 10 from season 6. Look it up because I won’t. I haven’t seen it. Don’t kill me.

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El Salvador Dalí

Just an hour and half outside of Barcelona is the town of Figueres, birthplace of Salvador Dalí. And since someone was a huge fan of Dalí, of course we had to veer a little off of Barcelona and visit the town.

There in middle of the town, is an old theater, once destroyed by the Spanish Civil War and rebuilt in the 60’s as the Dalí Theatre and Museum. Considering how theatrical and dramatic Dalí can be, a theater is quite a fitting venue to display his works. I’ve been to the Van Gogh museum and I’ve been to the Picasso museum, but dang, I’ve never seen a museum as kooky as this. Unlike Picasso and Van Gogh’s museums, this guy turned practically every the structure within the museum into a work of art. From the doorways and entrances to windows and corners. It’s bizarre, just the way he liked it.

Anyway, if you live under a rock and have never heard of Dalí or just need a quick pointer, he’s the Persistence of Memory guy. Now, hanging suspended and upside down at the courtyard of the museum is a boat called “Gala’s Boat” with water drops (made of, what I didn’t know then, condoms. He’s a surrealist, go figure), symbolizing tears. Below that is a car filled with water, supposedly underwater beneath “Gala’s Boat,” called the “Car-Naval.” Get it? It’s in a theater or carnival, but it’s also a car underwater so it’s also called “Car-Naval?” Yeah, it’s Dalí . Leave me alone.

Surrounding that courtyard area are golden statuettes, modeled after the Oscar awards. He was a fan of movies and film. From what I’ve learned in this theater, he did dabble into film several times and had even collaborated with a longtime fan of his, Walt Disney. Creation of their short film “Destino” began in 1945, but wasn’t released until 2003.

One of Dalí ‘s iconic images that was often reflected in his work (besides the melted clock, the long-limbed elephant, the ants, the eyeballs, etc.) are the drawers attached to the human body. This supposedly symbolized the unconscious and the secrets that are filed within every person. It’s Freudian stuff… and stuff. Once these drawers were pointed out to me, I couldn’t stop keeping an eye for it. Another one of his iconic images was his wife and muse, Gala Dalí. If you ever see a portrait or a painting by Dalí of a woman with double pointy, half-way up hair, that’s her. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it.

From what I’ve gathered from the museum, Dalí was an eccentric and vain narcissist and damn well proud of it. I mean, his body is buried at the front stage of the theater, just underneath a huge painting of Narcissus, fer cryin’ out loud. That’s a pretty big hint. Aside from loving the limelight, he was also extremely talented in so many ways, not just in paintings, but also in sculpture, jewelry design, photography and writing.

Now, going into Barcelona, I knew I will be seeing a s*load of modern art, which I confess, I wasn’t a fan of coming in. Coming from California where often times I ran into contemporary works by young, so-called artists, I’ve grown accustomed to really bizarre artworks created by people with very minimal (if not nonexistent) artistic skills, but with a lot to say, most of which are either very obvious or just so completely out there that methinks I am an extremely shallow person who just don’t get it or they have no idea how to reach their audience. But after coming across the early works of Picasso and now seeing the quality of Dalí’s hyperrealism, I saw how developed their talents were before they delved into cubism, surrealism or whatever form of modern art they chose. They got their mad skills down, no longer needing to prove that to anyone, and decided to venture off into a more cultural, layered level. They wanted to escape from the real word, the wars and all the crazy crap that was going on in their time so they dove right into their art. That concept gave an appreciation for the strange world of modern art. Now if only their contemporaries would follow suit…

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Casa Amatller

On the street of Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona, there is a block known as Illa de la Discordia or Mansana de la Discòrdia, translating to the Block of Discord. This term was derived from the fact that on this block are four of the strangest buildings renovated by four of Barcelona’s most well known modernist architects: Gaudi, Enric Sagnier, Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch.

Now, lucky for me and pretty much all of the tourists of Barcelona, two of those buildings happened to be right next each other (yay!). Next to Casa Batlló is Casa Amatller, a pretty house refurbished by Josep Puig i Cadafalch. Unlike the quirkiness of Casa Batlló, this house was a bit more on the traditional side. The outside façade was inspired by the houses in Netherland (yay, funny looking, Dutch houses!), and the inside is more on the gothic side.

The house was once owned by Antoni Amatller, an industrialist and chocolatier. He was also a photographer and collector of Spanish art which were on display at the house. The tour consisted of only one floor of the house which was his residency. The rest of the house is currently being rented out. The lower level was a chocolate shop and café, Chocolate Amatller, dedicated to its founder.

One of the most interesting part of the house was how the water faucets were connected  to the fireplace, thus being one of the first residency in the world to have a water heater. Neat stuff, neat stuff.

Casa Batlló

When I said Gaudí‘s work is everywhere Barcelona, I mean, it is seriously everywhere. From Sagrada Familia, to random houses, to even the tiles on the sidewalks next to La Pedrera, which by the way, he also designed.

Casa Batlló is one such home that Gaudí renovated in the early 20th century. Once owned by Josep Batlló of the renowned Batlló family, Gaudí transformed the home from an unremarkable house into what it is today.

Locals called it Casa dels ossos or House of Bones for the skeletal look about it. From one perspective, yeah, you can definitely see that. But from the way I see it, I thought it had more of an aquatic feel to it. The curves and smoothness of the place reminded me of water. Even the interior walls had the patterns of water reflections.

If I can move into any house Barcelona (hahahaha… *sob), friends would say this is the house for me. It’s quirky and bright and whimsical. Kind of fits my persona. However,  between the two, I actually prefer Palau Güell. But that’s for another post. Yay.

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Bryce in Winter (pt. 2)

Yay! More Bryce pictures!

I know it doesn’t look that bad with the sun out and not too much snow, but seriously, for a girl born and raised in a tropical island and then growing up in sunny SoCal, this place is Antarctica. Not that I don’t love the cold. I LOVE the cold. However, it probably would’ve been better had I packed a little more, shall we say, properly. You see, running around in this snowy area in snowboarding boots, snowboarding gloves and snowboarding pants with a snowboarding jacket while carrying my usual freakin’ 50 lbs. (ok, maybe more like 20 lbs. But it felt like 50!) camera equipment wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world. But hey, at least I kept warm. I don’t usually go to snowy areas, so yeah, snowboarding gear was my only option.

Temperature in this area, I’d say, was around average –10°F. Plus it was windy as eff. My entire body including my face was covered like ninja.

I lived, though. Yay.

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