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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Visiting Our Son’s Family

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I are back in La Jolla to visit our son, daughter-in-law & granddaughter. It is truly wonderful to be with them in person.

Our granddaughter updated us on some of the artwork she has done while we have been apart.

“Every artist was first an amateur”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Creativity takes courage”
— Henri Matisse

“Every child is an artist. ...”
— Pablo Picasso

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Heartfelt Story of Love & Friendship

Aloha Everyone,

I took the last few days off to readjust to California time. The main activity J.J. and I were engaged in was to pick up Honu from the storage facility and to clean and organize its interior. To remove the 2 months of accumulated dust required some muscle power :-)  J.J. and I also utilized the time to catch up with news about our family and friends.

Aloha -- Cathi

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Returned to California

Aloha Everyone,

Our flight was divided in two segments — from Barcelona to Paris then Paris to Los Angeles. Total time was about 14 hours. Pre departure; transfer at Charles de Gaulle (Paris); and getting through immigration added another 6 hours. Considering that J.J. and I stayed awake nearly the entire duration, we were amazed at our energy at the of the trip.

J.J. saw 4 movies (English, American, French and Chinese). I was able to watch “Viceroy’s House”. Based on events in 1947, Lord Mountbatten was appointed to serve as India's last Viceroy. The story was about the partition of India as the British withdrew.

The most challenging part of today’s travel happened at the Los Ángeles International Airport. Due to thermal inversion, as our plane began to descend, dark layers of thick fog blanketed the airport vicinity. This caused delays because visibility was nearly zero. It added three more hours before finally reaching my Mother’s home.

Aloha -- Cathi

Friday, November 24, 2017

Spain Reflection

Aloha Everyone,

October-November is one of the best time to travel.  Most of the tourists are gone. We were blessed with beautiful weather.  It rained in Toledo for a few hours, but that was heaven sent as El Greco’s favorite city appeared just as he depicted in his paintings.

A few interesting facts about restaurant dining in Spain. You pay the lowest prices at a counter. If you get table service inside, then you are charged more. Additional premium is charged if you sit on a sidewalk table. J.J. and I chose the sidewalk for lunches if there was an ambiance. For dinner, we preferred dining indoors. In our 20’s we often ate standing at counters, but the two of us have graduated from that scene :-)

Nearly 2 months have sped by and we are going back with new resolves to expand our knowledge of Spanish history, art and language.

People are the same everywhere. We met some extraordinarily helpful people who went out of their way to give us directions.  

J.J. and I encountered numerous musicians performing in parks, on streets, front of monuments, museums and underground subway routes. J.J. and I have a soft spot for musicians — young, old, and in between, accomplished or hopelessly untalented. Seeing our granddaughter and our grand nephews’ practice, we can’t just walk by. We always gave coins and smiles.

Here is our last look at Spain including one of Plaza España in Barcelona where bullfights are now prohibited. The old bullring is now reborn as a shopping mall.

¡Hasta la proxima vez, Barcelona! (Until next time)

Aloha -- Cathi

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Aloha Everyone,

We are grateful for our family, old friends and new friends, acquaintances and total strangers who have crossed our path. The have enriched our lives and enhanced our learning experiences.

Today was spent at Museu Nacional D’Art De Catalunya (National Art Museum of Catalunia). The museum is housed in the Palau National, an impressive Italian-style building resembling a castle  on Montjuïc hill. From Plaza Espanya, the building looms shadowy and imposing. Known for its impressive collection of Romanesque paintings, Catalan art, modernism and noucentisme, we spent nearly 3 hours and saw perhaps only 25% of the collection.

For those of you who are more interested in our Thanksgiving meals in Barcelona, let me start with our standard breakfast of croissant and café con leche.

Lunch being the biggest meal in Spain, we feasted on a three-course meal of olive and toast with tomato, followed by grilled vegetables and crab spread. J.J. and I shared the main course of grilled lamb dish. It was absolutely delicious.

For dinner, the two of us returned to the organic food specialty restaurant for mixed green salad for me and a calzone for J.J.

Aloha -- Cathi

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Sagrada Família (Holy Family Church)

Aloha Everyone,

Antonio Gaudi (1852-1926) is a world famous architect from Barcelona. His name “gaudy” is part of the English language to describe something that is extremely ornate. Sagrada Família is his masterpiece. It is Gaudi’s magnum opus.

Ethereal, mesmerizing, breathtaking, marvelous and inspiring are some of the adjectives I could come up with to describe this one-of-its-kind ornate Catholic Basilica. Every surface of the exterior is covered with intricate forms and designs from Gaudi’s imagination and his spirituality.

There must have been at least a couple of hundred visitors milling around yet it was easy to disregard them. J.J. and I sat at one of the stone benches located around the interior perimeter and listened to the piped music choir singing Ave Maria. The diffused colors from the stain glass windows changed as clouds covered the sunlight from time to time. The experience was heavenly.

Gaudi was so dedicated to this project that he lived onsite for 16 years and his body is buried in the crypt below. Today, construction crews are furiously working on the interior and exterior. The target date is to finish in 2026, the 100th anniversary of his death. By then, Sagrada Familia would have taken 144 years to complete.  

J.J. and I have seen Sagrada Familia 43 years ago. The possibility of being able to return in 9 years to witness the final completion of the basilica is amazing.

I believe everyone who visits Sagrada Familia is happy to be able to make a small contribution. The construction of the basilica relies solely on private donations.

Aloha -- Cathi

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Museo Picasso (Picasso Museum)

Aloha Everyone,

Pablo Picasso or simply known as Picasso was born in Málaga, Spain and died in Mougins, France. Considered among the top 10 artists/painters of all times, Picasso was trained in the classic tradition, but known for his modern cubist paintings.

The Picasso Museum has 4,251 works by the painter making it one of the most complete permanent collections of works. The museum was difficult to find. After coming out of the subway, J.J. and I followed small street signs that gave vague directions. No photography is permitted in the museum which occupies five adjoining medieval palaces. 

Picasso was an extremely prolific artist and he created about 20,000 art pieces over his lifetime. The two of us recall watching a television program several years ago. Picasso was an art genius, but also brilliant and masterful at marketing his work. He made strategic donations of his art pieces to museums and public institutions. Picasso selected his subjects carefully to expand his fame. Also, by not inundating the market with his work, Picasso was able to command premium prices compared to his competitors.

For dinner, J.J. and I walked to a nearby restaurant. The couple seated at the next table happened to be Bernat, one of the front desk staff at our hotel and his friend Christina. He was patiently helping her learn conversational English.

Aloha -- Cathi

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Ramblas

Aloha Everyone,

J.J. and I began today’s adventure from Catalonia Square. The most famous boulevard in Barcelona, Las Ramblas is a must visit in the heart of the Old City. Museums, theaters, hotels and restaurants and shops line the boulevard while the center section is designated as pedestrian only with kiosks selling from food to souvenirs. Extremely touristic scene was not to our liking. Aware of warnings about pickpockets and other undesirables who tend to prey in this area, the two of us were extra mindful of our surroundings.

With the September 13th terrorist attack still fresh in people’s minds, I believe most of us were grateful to see numerous police and Guardia Civil in uniform patrolling the area. Walking at a leisurely pace, it took us about an hour. The two of us enjoyed lunch in an Italian restaurant.  

Actually, the highlight of our walk came after Las Ramblas, when we reached the port of Barcelona. J.J. and I were impressed by the size of the Columbus Monument, Maritime Museum and other government buildings.

Aloha -- Cathi