Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Guggenheim Bilbao

I have visited the Guggenheims in New York and Venice, Berlin is tentatively planned for this April, so just the Guggenheim Bilbao remained for my Goog Grand Slam. While it may have been cold, visiting in January meant an almost empty gallery. Lovely. But definitely the first time I have felt that the building was far more impressive than the collection itself. The Matter of Time by Richard Serra was very cool, but beyond that I was blown away just by wandering through and around Gehry's structure. The rest of my Guggenheim photos are up on Flickr.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Back From Bilbao

A wonderful weekend in Bilbao. But cold, even for Northern Spain at this time of year. A dusting of snow, but much sangria and fine Spanish wine was drunk to compensate for this burst of winter. The point of the trip (a break from the thesis aside) was to visit the Guggenheim en route to my Guggenheim Grand Slam. More on this later.

But I also really enjoyed a morning wandering the Casco Veijo - the Old City. The Catedral de Santiago dates from the 13th century and is surrounded by meandering streets and the buildings are dotted with hanging flower baskets and pretty balconies. The Mercado de la Ribera is the largest covered market in Spain and we watched fish being scaled and peppers being dried among the crowds of Saturday shoppers. (Photograph of the Mercado along the bank of the River Nervion above.)

In addition to the Guggenheim, we also checked out the Museo de Bellas Artes, which houses a good collection of Spanish artists from the 12th to 20th centuries. Modern Bilbao was just as interesting as the older part of the city. Every metro station has a unique entrance - these worms dotted the city streets. And Bilbao is certainly a dog friendly city. In fact, I have never seen so many dogs in one place in my life - perros everywhere.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thwarted Again

So my Aussie Open predictions didn't hold up. Do I get half-points for my picks getting to the semi-finals? (You've really got to feel for Roddick, don't you? This photo just says it all.)

Another boring Federer win, but the final between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova should be fantastic. Maria knows she can win, Serena has a score to settle and both players have a lot to prove. I'll be in Bilbao this weekend, so unless the hotel has some kind of international sports channel, it's going to be yet another year of missing the final. But both travel related, so I shouldn't complain.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Aussie Open Predictions v.2

I will be a little late getting to the library this morning as I'm still at home watching Murray vs. Nadal live. (BBC is finally showing some tennis.) It is also the second week of the Open, which means that it's time for my winner predictions. Same rules apply: I always wait for the second week of the slam and I don't choose Federer for the men's draw, because that is getting a bit boring.

Last year I chose Tommy Haas, who is again having a good tournament, but I'm going to choose Andy Roddick to win it. He beat Federer finally at the Kooyong Classic a couple of weeks ago and sometimes I think all this guy needs is a little more confidence.

But it's the women's draw that is the fascinating side of the tournament so far this year. Sharapova looks great, but Serena Williams has a much easier side of the draw now that Mauresmo has been knocked out. But, if Kim Clijsters can get by Hingis in the next round, I think she's going to take it. It's her last year on the tour and she seems, subsequently, to be playing with a relaxed, confident stride. So Clijsters and Roddick - let's hope I'm better than the 0 for 2 of last year.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Downward Dog & Giant Cat

A friend scored some tickets to the private viewing of the London Art Fair last night. After several glasses of cheap chardonnay and three hours of intensive art viewing, I was absolutely exhausted. The fair was held in the very neat Business Design Centre in Islington - a huge building that resembles an old train station (arched celings and wide spaces) but is, in fact, the old Royal Argicultural Hall. The amount of art being displayed was overwhelming - a lot of it great, and a lot of it tiresome in only the way contemporary art can manage.

Tonight I began my Christmas present to myself - a new yoga course. My body, which has been in hibernation mode recently, feels stretched and beautifully tired. And I know that yoga is supposed to be all non-judgemental blah blah, but the fact that the instructor was fixing the poses of people around me, and NOT mine, makes me feel super good about myself.

And want to see a photograph that looks like an optical illusion but actually isn't? Meet Oreo - the twenty plus pound cat who has moved into my friends' house.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Late Night Art & Chelsea FC

My first full week back in London has been busy. Catching up with folks, trying to resume work, and sleeping. Jetlag from flying east is such a bitch. Some highlights: seeing the David Hockney exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery again. But this time at 11:30pm as the NPG had a one-off evening of remaining open until midnight. They should do this all the time - one is much more receptive to art after a good dinner and several cocktails.

And yesterday I attended my very first Chelsea match. Huge crowd, a big 4-0 win, but in my heart I will remain a Fulham supporter. I have recently become a Fulham season ticket holder - go Badgers!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

From Prada to Prayer

Check it out - I joined the YouTube revolution. I shot this wee video in the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai. The call to prayer...in a mall.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Stocking Up

As I pack to return home to the UK, I must include my favourite food stuffs not available there. None of these are daily food items that I cannot live without, but are basically comfort food items for those gloomy days when work is tough and I don't feel like cooking and need a little bit of O Canada.

Quaker Quick Oatmeal, for example, and brown sugar to go with it. You'd think you could find brown sugar in the UK, but it's refined and thus tastes weird. Kraft Dinner and Zoodles and cinnamon sugar. Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie Mix and Chewy Granola Bars and Kraft Smooth Peanut Butter. And thanks to this blog post, I received a whole whack of O'Henry bars for Christmas from various friends.