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Tim Foolery

Home » 2012 » October (Page 2)

Monthly Archives: October 2012

Travel Inspiration Photo #4

What inspires you to travel?  A photo from a friend or a news/magazine article often inspires me to research a new destination — or to plan a trip.  A travel blogger took this photo as he was landing in this highly populated City.

Do you know where was this photo taken? Does this photo make you want to pack a bag and take a trip? How do you get inspired?

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Olympics & More: Montserrat

Montserrat was our destination after we visited the Mies Pavilion in Barcelona. We hopped the train just a few feet from the Pavilion and headed northwest to Monistrol de Montserrat.  The suburb train trip took approximately an hour and the train was packed.  There are two ways to get to the top of the mountain once you get to Montserrat – either take the funicular or the cable car.  We opted for the cable car only because it is much faster.
The real reason to visit this area is because of the Monastery. Built over 4,000 feet above the valley floor this Monastery was home to one of the first printing presses, which is still operating.  Many of Spain’s great painters have work on display at the museum and basilica including Pablo Picasso and El Greco.
A major pilgrim site, Monistrol de Montserrat also houses the Black Madonna, or Virgin of Montserrat.  It is thought by some pilgrims that this Madonna was carved in Jerusalem in the early years of Christianity – but research shows that it was probably created in the 12th century. We didn’t wait in the enormously long line to walk up to the Virgin. We aren’t Catholic and weren’t there on a pilgrimage. Although I did stand in the line for about 15 minutes while MS took off to see what I was actually in line for. We often visit locations like this — no point in both of us doing to research THEN getting in the line.

The Black Virgin – full camera zoom

The trip back from Montserrat was rough. It was very hot in the valley and since the trains back to Barcelona are limited (leaving every hour) they are very full. We had to stand (not a big deal), but the train was as full as a subway train during rush hour.  Plus the air conditioning on the train wasn’t sufficient — we were dripping.

If you are spending a few days in Barcelona I would recommend visiting this great little mountain town. It allows you to get out of the City and in the summer you’ll love the temperature change at this altitude.

Have you been to visit the Black Virgin?  When you have a choice of a cable car or a funicular, what would you choose?  How do you beat the summer heat in Barcelona?

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Olympics & More: Mies in Barcelona?

Mies van der Rohe is my favorite 20th Century architect and being in Chicago I get to see a ton of great Mies buildings (like the IBM Building, IIT Campus, 860-880 Lake Shore Drive, Promontory Apartments, Commonwealth Promenade, etc).  I don’t think of Mies van der Rohe when I think of Barcelona and architecture but one of my favorite spaces in Barcelona was designed by this cigar smoking German.
Mies designed a the German pavilion for the International Exposition in Barcelona in 1929. This building was designed to host the opening of the German portion of the exhibition.  The building has large plate glass windows that help blur the lines between the indoor and the outside.
The building was designed to be an open, flowing space – blending the inside with the surrounding environment. It succeeds masterfully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most famous item to come from International Exposition in Barcelona?  A lovely chair, designed by Mies himself — the Barcelona Chair. This was the one piece of furniture designed to be placed in the German Pavilion.  I love this chair.

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The stunning Barcelona Chair

When you think of Barcelona and Architecture, who do you think of? Mies or Gaudi?  Do you prefer the ornate work of Gaudi or the sleek modern design of Mies?

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O’Hare 5K on the Runway – Totally Worth It

I headed to the airport Saturday morning, but I didn’t have a flight to catch — I was going to the first O’Hare 5K on the Runway.  I usually run 3-5 races each year, but since my accident in February, this was my first race.  I didn’t even run. I walked with two friends.  
The real point of this race for me was to take advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity to walk the runway at one of the nations busiest airports.  Since United sponsored this event, I was expecting their 787 Dreamliner to make an appearance. It did not. I will admit, I was a little disappointed.  United did bring a beautiful 747 out for us.  It always surprises me how big these planes are.

Did you do this race? If so, are you a local Chicagoan, or did you fly in for this event?  Have you done a runway run at a different airport?

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Olympics & More: Gaudi’s Barcelona

I love #architecture.  When one thinks of architecture and Barcelona you probably think of Antoni Gaudi.  Probably his most famous work is the Catalan Modernist Catholic Church – La Sagrada Familia. I first saw this church in person one cold rainy day in March of 1996 – spring break of my Junior year in High School.  I knew nothing of architecture (but I knew what I liked — and I didn’t like this).  This trip in 1996 was my first travel abroad experience and I was really focused on Renaissance art and architecture.

Much work has been done on La Sagrada Familia since my first visit, but much more is required to complete, what would be Gaudi’s crowning achievement.

Just a few blocks from La Sagrada Familia is what was built as a private residence, Casa Mila. Built in the early 1900s for a married couple whose fortune came from the Americas (well, her first husband made the fortune, but after his death, her second husband help spend it).

The rooftop allowed for beautiful views of the surrounding area.  Despite being in the middle of a bustling City on a very busy road, the private outdoor spaces were surprisingly quiet and relaxing (except for the dozens of tourists walking around the space).

One of Gaudi’s more grand plans was a housing development (think of it as subdivision with very nice homes).  Unfortunately this project really didn’t take off. Two homes were built (ironically, neither designed by Gaudi), but not enough to make this community viable.  Barcelona then converted this space on top of the hill into a City Park.  It is arid with limited vegetation but is high above the (what use to be the factory smoke polluted) City and the sea breeze cools off the park in the balmy summer months.

Mike enjoying a rest in the Park
Are you a fan of Gaudi?  What is your favorite work of his?  Do you think Sagrada Familia will ever be complete?

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