October 16, 2007

How I spent my time on Monday:

A bit of it was spent making a couple of the following:

And the rest was spent protecting myself from the cuteness oozing from doggy:

The End

October 13, 2007

October 12 of 12

October is Cooper's birthday month. He will be four years old on the 20th. I decided to let him show you a day in his life for this month's 12 of 12. The rules for the photos are over at Chad's site. Head on over to check out what everyone else in the world was doing today. Enjoy!

10:56 - Sotogrande, Spain

This morning I spent some time with Dad since he was home on holiday. I did my usual first position pose: paw on the leg to show ownership. I've gotta make sure he knows who is in charge!

11:34 - Sotogrande, Spain

Since Dad was home today instead of off wherever it is he goes all the day long, I was very hopeful that we would get to play...

11:35 - Sotogrande, Spain

...but unfortunately, he had other plans. Woe is me.

12:32 - Sotogrande, Spain

YAY! My favorite time of day: walking time. I wear my halt collar and Dad and I inspect the neighborhood together while Mom runs.

13:33 - Sotogrande, Spain

Ahhhh - water. There's no better way to end a walk. I like to drink copious amounts of water to ensure that I get to go back outside as soon as possible.

13:34 - Sotogrande, Spain

I carefully select a couple of tiles to lie down upon while I cool off.

14:18 - Sotogrande, Spain

Mom brought out the blue blanket after her shower and we snuggled for a little while. She thinks that blanket is hers, but I'm telling you - if she leaves it out, I am totally taking over.

15:54 - Sotogrande, Spain

Walks always wear me out. I napped until Mom took this photograph. Silly woman and her camera...I'll never understand those humans.

16:14 - Sotogrande, Spain

Dad was poking that small black box thing all day. By now, I was really trying to make him feel bad - check out the pouty-face made in his direction. Again, woe is me.

16:15 - Sotogrande, Spain

Someone a whole building over dared to ring someone else's doorbell. I am the master of protection (especially from something so awful as a doorbell), so I immediately ran to the front door to inspect.

16:16 - Sotogrande, Spain

No one was at the door, so I ran through the apartment to the patio and searched my yard for the intruder...to no avail.

16:16 - Sotogrande, Spain
Bonus Photo: Orange

Here is my blanket. It is warm and snuggly, so I love it.

17:06 - Sotogrande, Spain

At last!!! Shoe success! Dad played with me while he was working out. Hooray!

There's a day in the life of Cooper AKA chompy-lones. Hope you enjoyed it!
Hasta pronto,
~ CC

October 3, 2007

This post is for Kathy S.


Have you seen this?!?

~photo from bakersedge.com~

As soon as I came across it, I thought of you!!

Imagine how your life in Spain would have been different with this lovely pan...no more mushy middles, no more crispy sides - just perfectly baked all around brownies!

Perhaps you should put the Baker's Edge Brownie Pan on your list for Christmas...you know, to make up for all of the Spanish stuff SlyKat stole took home with her...

Here are the details.

October 2, 2007

Morning in Park Güell

Our third day in Barcelona was a very short one. We had a plane to catch early that afternoon, so we got up and going rather early. Where were we headed?



This Park was assigned to Gaudí by his faithful patron, Eusebi Güell. It was meant to be a private urban development in the style of the English gardens that were popular at the time. Today, Park Güell is a short metro ride followed by a fifteen minute walk away from the center of Barcelona. Back in Gaudí's day, it was a much longer trip.

The distance from the city center caused the project to fail. Plots were meant to be purchased by individuals who would then hire an architect to build their estate. Unfortunately, only two of sixty-two parcels were sold. Luckily for us, Gaudí was able to finish his work on the public areas despite the lack of interest.

The entrance is flanked by two small buildings. The one on the right would have served as the porter's lodge:

The one on the left was designed to be the area's administration center:

Both evoke memories of the Gingerbread House from the Brothers Grimm fairy tale Hansel and Gretel.

We walked from this entrance towards the stairway immediately in front of us. This set of stairs leads to the Hipóstila Room, which is full of columns. On the way, we passed what is probably the most commonly known symbol of the park today, the lizard fountain:

At the top of the stairs is the Hipóstila Room, commonly referred to as the Hall of 100 Columns (although there are in fact only eighty-six of them). Each column is supposedly slightly different and each was designed to carry water through a central pipe to a reservoir below. In this way the Hall serves as drainage assistance to the plaza it supports above.

Where there are no columns in the hall, round ceramic collages are present as false keystones within the vaults of the ceiling. These were created by Joseph Maria Jujol, one of Gaudí's preferred disciples who used ceramics and other unused materials in his creations.

In the areas to the left and right of the Hall of Columns, there exist some examples of common natural occurences (waves, caves, trees, etc) that are made out of rocks. This is where we could really see how Gaudí architecturalized nature in Park Güell.

An Ocean Wave:

A Cave:

Up above the plaza: Palm Trees:
(I love how he emphasized his rocky palm trees by planting real ones directly above them.)

Perhaps the most fabulous part of the park - and I could be wrong since we didn't see the whole thing, nor did we go into the Gaudí house or any other building - is the plaza with its serpentine seating.

The collages on the seats were also done by Joseph Maria Jujol and they are fantastic. The park is definitely a place for people of all ages. If we ever make it back to Barcelona, we will spend the good part of a day here exploring the place. How could we not, when the plaza is so inviting?

Hasta pronto,
~ CC

An Evening in Barcelona

I love desserts. We hardly ever have them because we try to be healthy. Okay, Señor CC truly rarely eats them (and if he does it is fruit or sorbet), and I take advantage of our travels to try new ones whenever I can.

Therefore, I just had to have churros con chocolate while in Barcelona. We attempted to find an appropriate restaurant, known for their chocolates and desserts, our first evening in Barcelona, but no such luck. We also attempted to go see the Font Màgica, but due to a Home Depot type home construction show going on, access was denied.

Fast-forward to Sunday evening. We had strolled La Rambla, the main pedestrian artery of the city, a couple of times during our trip and found it interesting. There were all kinds of street performers - people with marionettes, usually skeletons, dancing to music as well as guys dance-performing with a ladder - as well as flower stalls, and some excellent people-watching. While on one of these walks we noticed a sign that said churros con chocolate. Do these people know what tourists want? of course they do!

The place is called Cafè de L'Òpera, and the building has been in its current locations since the 18th century. The business has changed a couple of times, but now it serves churros con chocolate, which was what I wanted.

Just so that we are clear, the chocolate that comes to you is not anything like the hot chocolate from home. Oh, no. This chocolate is simply melted chocolate ready for you eat. It is thick and yummy. So thick, in fact, that your spoon can rest on top of it:

Churros are actually a breakfast food for los españoles. It is basically fried dough in what reminds me of the shape of play-doh when you use the fun factory. It is a very thick and heavy meal and it definitely sticks to your bones. I was only able to eat half of them because we had eaten dinner only a short while ago.

We then took the metro back to the Font Màgica, and this time we were successful! The home show was over and done with, so people were able to walk freely up to the fountain. There is a show that lasts about twenty minutes. It begins on the half-hour and comes complete with music, lights, and (of course) water.

The fountain is huge and the water can shoot up about 100 feet into the air. We were pretty far away from the fountain; I imagine that the people who get up close and personal with it get a little wet. The fountain changes shapes frequently and there were multiple color combinations. It was spectacular and a great way to end our last evening in Barcelona.

Hasta pronto,
~ CC

Sagrada Família

Once Señor CC and I had heard enough from the marathon length audio guide at La Pedrera, we hopped on the metro and headed over to La Sagrada Família.

This building has been under construction since 1883, and Gaudí spent the last forty-three years of his life working on it. He spent his last twelve years working exclusively on this project; he even moved to live within the structure itself, as he had with other projects, to focus all of his time and energy on his passion.

Aside from the sheer size of Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, the main reason it has taken so long to complete is the resolve of the founding group, The Association of Devout Followers of St. Joseph, that the church be funded solely on donations. Due to this resolve, construction has come to a complete halt multiple times throughout the years. Gaudí even assisted with fund-raising activities when he was alive. What this means for visitors is that the entirety of your entrance fee is used to complete the building.

Upon entering, visitors see the Passion Facade of the temple as well as the current construction efforts on the naves:

Perhaps the most shocking thing about the Passion facade is the sculptures. The facade was designed by Gaudí, but work was not begun on it until 1954. Unfortunately, during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the church was the victim of a fire that destroyed practically all papers, drawings, and models that Gaudí had kept in his workshop on the premises. The job of designing the sculptures was left to J. M. Subirachs, and many complain that they are not in the same vein as Gaudí's work. People appear to either love them or hate them; his design is certainly a controversial one. Then again, Gaudí is a tough act to follow, and I imagine that imitating his work and falling short could draw even more criticism.

Visitors enter the structure through the Passion Facade doors; from here you can wait in line for an elevator that takes you up into the bell towers (we didn't opt for that as the lines were rather long and we were tired) or you can walk into the main area of the church. It is here where the sheer height of the building interior leaves you in awe.

Each of the columns within the church remind one of a tree with its sturdy trunk that splits into branches and ends with leaves. Gaudí said that the naves and vaults "will be like a forests". These columns provide support, which once again means that the outer walls are free for windows. This allows the church to be naturally lit from sunshine - not a very common thing amongst the old cathedrals and churches in Europe.

It is quite impossible to capture the sheer magnitude of the building in photos or words. One fact that I find a good basis upon which to measure the size of the place is that the choir, centrally located within the sanctuary as it is in most cathedrals, will one day hold 1,500 singers. That's a lot of seats, and that is only where the choir will sit. I imagine that when the temple is finally finished, there will be many thousands of people within its walls and that it still won't feel utterly cramped. It is huge.

The path through the construction leads everyone out to the Nativity facade. This is the side Gaudí completed. There is a striking difference between the sculptures of the Passion facade and those of the Nativity. The amount of detail is amazing; it is impossible to truly 'see' everything.

The four towers seen in the above photo are only four of what will one day be eighteen. One tower, covering the apse, will represent the virgin Mary. There will be four on each facade (twelve total) to represent the disciples. A little taller than those will be four to represent the evangelists. These four will surround the tallest tower (170 m) that will represent Jesus.

The Nativity facade is covered with sculptures representing the life of Christ. There are three vestibules: Faith, Hope and Charity. The Hope vestibule, shown above, contains sculptures of the betrothal of Mary and Joseph, the flight to Egypt, and the slaughter of the innocents, amongst other things. The Faith vestibule contains sculptures of the visitation, Jesus amongst the priests at the temple and Jesus as a carpenter. The central vestibule shows the birth of Christ below the star from the east with the epiphany. This area includes angels announcing the birth with trumpets as well as the three wise men bearing gifts:

I have only covered the building in this post. There is an excellent museum in the church as well. This museum shows some of the (barely visible) drawings of Gaudí's that remained despite the fire...although I admit that there isn't a lot of detail visible on what is left. There is an excellent upside-down model of the temple complete with the little weighted bags that show where structural reinforcement is needed (for more on that, read about Casa Milà). There are a couple of places where one can view the current work on elements of the building, etc. It is fascinating.

Our favorite city that we have visited thus far is Barcelona, and among all of the wonderful places there to see, our favorites were those created by Gaudí. I cannot describe to you, though obviously I have tried, how amazing his creations are. If ever you have the opportunity to visit Barcelona, please do so, and make it a priority to visit and tour as many Gaudí buildings as possible. I cannot imagine that anyone would be disappointed.

Hasta pronto,
~ CC


Lots to tell, not enough time to tell it all...

First things first - that power cord problem? Oh, yeah - it still exists. I am sure that Karen knows how I feel, since she lost her modem for a while. Yes, I purchased a "compatible" AC Power adapter from PC City here in Spain. And while it was excellent at allowing my computer to run on AC power, it failed miserably in the act of recharging my computer's battery. Back to the store it went.

Remember that dinner get-together we were supposed to attend? Well, that was a no-go...for us at least. I am sure all of you who live here and read this are wondering why I went on and on about those brownies and then didn't deliver. Señor CC had to work. All. Night. Again. So the brownies were tossed into the trash where they spent some quality time with my social life.

I am almost done with Barcelona posts. There are so many of them, I know, but we really loved visiting the city, so I've got to write about it. After that is Ireland and then, of course, I now have photos, etc. from Milan, Italy. We spent most of last week there. Señor CC had to go for meetings and he took me along. There were a couple of other wives there, so I made up an itinerary and we had fun together. I think if I can manage to post about those two cities I will be caught up on the travels...except for Austria of course...

Things I did yesterday:
Cleaned apartment
Grocery shopping
Topped up the gas tank
Picked up Doggy from kennel
Washed said Doggy - boy was he STINKY!
Booked hotel for Paris (more difficult than it sounds...there are sooooo many hotels)
Called credit company (it was blocking my hotel booking, silly goose)
Planned dinner (but then didn't cook it because Señor CC didn't leave office until about 9pm)
Picked up Señor CC from work

It was a busy day. Today? I am hoping to finish up Barcelona and get started on the photos from Ireland. Then...I might scrapbook...or maybe I'll play some Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus (yes, M&M, I started over last night and beat the CRABS in no time). Also, I shall run at some point. The weather, it is cool and cloudy today, and that should make for some great running.

HEY! If any of you actually read to the end of this...assuming anyone even reads this thing at all, I want to know what you want to read about. Granted, I will be writing about places I have visited...but what other stuff do you want to read about? I feel like I don't write about anything else, so ideas/desires would be greatly appreciated. Leave your contributions in the comments!! Thanks.

Hasta pronto,
~ CC