Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008

Carousing Constantinople

There were so many Istanbul highlights. Walking into the Hagia Sofia was one of those oh-my-god-I-can't-believe-I'm-getting-to-do-this moments. I hadn't expected it to be so huge, and two levels, and the mosaics so bright and well-preserved. The photograph above is of the Deësis (Entreaty) mosaic.

After having a Turkish coffee outside of Sophia to absorb what we'd just seen, we headed off to the Grand Bazaar. Market, jewelry, bags, haggling....and over four square kilometres of it? I was in heaven. We stopped in the middle of the afternoon to fortify ourselves with some kebaps and then continued shopping. (And went back the next day as well.) Best line shouted at us from a stall: "Hey, Spice Girls! I have carpet for your dowry right here!"

Our last day in Istanbul, we walked through the Spice Bazaar (henna!), buying some nuts and tea along the way, before having lunch on the Galata Bridge linking the continents of Europe and Asia. Below is a photograph of Golden Horn, taken from the bridge.

Last highlight: an early evening in a traditional Hamam. Think being naked and sweating it out on a large marble slab plus a very large and naked Turkish woman with a loofah mitt and bucket of water. Yowza!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

First Look at Istanbul

I flew to Istanbul with a friend, landing late afternoon. After taking a cab to the hotel (the kind of amazing Four Seasons, which is a renovated neoclassic Turkish prison), unpacking and decompressing in the lobby bar, we ventured out to find a recommended seafood restaurant. Just steps out of the hotel, in the now dark city, we stumbled upon the Blue Mosque. The gorgeousity of the sight in front of me was so great, I think it made my hand shake - resulting in this photograph. Which is now my favourite from the entire trip.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Teatre-Museu Dalí

While in Barcelona, my parents and I headed to the tiny town of Figueres for the day. The reason for this excursion was to visit the Teatre-Museu Dalí, a kind of pilgrimage for the three of us, considering the importance that Dali has had to our lives. It has been something we've been talking about doing for such a long time, and it certainly did not disappoint. Just walking up to the museum was an impressive sight, with the giant egg-like structures dotting the roof of the building.

The museum is in Dali's hometown and is constructed around the theatre that he attended as a child, which is also the same building he held his very first exhibition in. It was largely destroyed during the Spanish Civil War, but in 1960, Dali and the mayor of Figueres got together and decided to make it a museum in dedication to the town's most famous son. It's typical egocentric Dali, I suppose, but standing there in this gorgeous building, it was obvious that so much thought went into how Dali wanted the theatre to be transformed and his work to be viewed. When you set aside the commercialism of Dali's work, I think that he's actually a difficult artist to fully appreciate. The photograph below is of the central room of the building, where the stage was in the original theatre. Consider the detail about it as dictated by the book about Teatre-Museu Dalí:

"Overlooking the stage, the massive backdrop produced in oil that Dali designed for the ballet Labyrinth, based on the myth of Theseus and Ariadne, which premiered in the Metropolitan Opera House in New York on the 8th of October 1941. This space reveals the most scenographic aspect of Dali: with the enormous composition, where a bust appears with an opening in the breast, from behind which emerges a phantasmagoric landscape with Böcklinian cypress trees from The Isle of the Dead. The rocks, sinking into the sea, are a reference to the scenery of Cap de Creus, which the artist repeatedly turned to in his work. In front, on the stage itself, is an extremely discretely placed tombstone, reminding us that this is where the artist is buried, in the radial centre of his own Theatre-Museum." There are a couple of other photographs of the museum in my Barcelona Flickr set.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Gaudied Out in Barcelona

It was my first time in Barcelona and I was dying to see all of the Gaudi architecture scattered throughout the city. It certainly didn't disappoint. Casa Batlló was my absolute favourite (photograph above) but the outside sculpture of Sagrada Família was a close second.

I was remarking to a friend who asked after my trip that, like Paris, it seems that Barcelona is the kind of city you have to visit a half dozen times to really experience the true feel of it. And I was slitghly surprised that it didn't seem quite as Spanish to me as did Bilbao or Madrid. Thus, I'm already looking forward to my next visit back: photographs here.