72 yesterday afternoon. 40s this morning, but sunny. 9:30 a.m. – snowing. Give it time!
I don’t care what the issue is – every time an idiot says something like “Senators representing 75% of the population voted in favor of Bill X, but the senators representing 25% of the population blocked it,” I want to reach for an 8th grade civics textbook and belabor the commentator about the head and shoulders. Repeat after me – the House is Representative – the Senate is the brake on mob rule. All praise to the Founders!
Law should be slow and deliberate – exactly the opposite, say, of Andrew Cuomo’s recent gun extravaganza, passed in the first quarter hour of a new session of the New York State Assembly and already suspended even before the New York courts get a chance to strike it down.
. . . but the jet lag seems worse this time. And goodness knows I was TIRED by the time I got to Madrid.
Yesterday I moved all my photos from the iPad to the laptop. There are about 1500 of them, before I purge duplicates and decided between almost-duplicate views. I sorted the 700 photos from Egypt (just think how many more there would be if the Egyptian Museum allowed cameras!) into folders by city and some subfolders by type (Coptic, Medieval Islamic, Modern City, Street Life, etc). Today I’ll make a pass at Spain. I actually made the city folders as part of the workflow of getting them off the iPad using ImageCapture. I really should buy something better for the iPad so I can start adding metadata right there. The included Pictures app is really pretty feeble.
Last night I woke up often from 2:30 on and kept returning to a dream set in Havana. I have no idea why. Cuba is not really on my radar for travel. But at least I made it to 6:05!
Whew! Newark was awful – but what’s new? Best of the day – I was in a 3-person row from Madrid to Newark…I had the aisle, no one in the middle seat, woman who slept the WHOLE time at the window. I had to get up for her once. Such luxury! And it was 70 today in Geneva, I’m told . . . .
I’m having connectivity issues – maybe slow WiFi?
Madrid is beautiful in a very different way from Sevilla or Barcelona – lots of granite. The 17th and 18th Century buildings are hard and undecorated – distinguished but not beautiful. The 19th Century was exuberant, especially the turn to the 20th.
The Prado is too much for anyone. I’ll have to come back.
But on that note, I’m leaving this morning and will sleep in my own bed tonight!
Yesterday I took a day trip – about 40 minutes each way – to Cordoba.
Cordoba was the capital of Roman Spain, and one of the bigger cities in the western empire. There’s not a lot left of it to see, but the archeological museum was full of good stuff.
More important for looking was the Cathedral, formerly the Great Mosque. I have been teaching this in Art 101 every year since I started, and now I have it much better integrated! in my mind!
Not that I’ve been saying anything WRONG – but I have never been as clear about the disposition of parts as I would like. And I see why! I’ll try to find a plan to upload – but the essential story is that the mosque was built in stages over several hundred years and then the Christian cathedral was inserted more or less in the center of the building.
There have been so many restoratoin campaigns the photos have always been hard to sort out – so seeing it was really satisfying. I spent a long time wandering around, then made a disciplined front to back visit, then wandered some more.
The folks who run it provide explanatory brochures in the usual langauges – Spanish, French, English, German, Dutch, Japanese, and Chinese. But they also provide Arabic – and there were a number of obviously Muslim (though not clearly Arab) visitors yesterday. I’d love to see the text compared to the English.
In the English brochure, they make the point fairly firmly, though not in an ugly way, that Yes, the Castilians turned this mosque into a church, but the Umayyads had destroyed a previously existing church on the side (though it was not the cathedral of the city) and systematically reused columns from previous buildings to signify their conquest.
I’ve read about Andalucian nostalgia among Arabs, especially in North Africa. Really now – with the exception of the Kingdom of Granada, most of Spain was under Muslim control for a shorter time than it has been in Christian hands since – and it was Christian before. Look on the map to see how far south Cordoba is – and be reminded that the Castilians conquered it in 1236.
The Alcazar Palace is really something – I think it would be very comfortable in the summer time, for Seville!
I remember the tilework from an old PBS show, “Connections.” I can’t think of the presenter’s name, but it was a history of science across time kind of thing – made an impression on me!
Luckily, Sevilla is pretty flat. I’m tiring here in the home stretch (starting to figure out my move to Madrid and thence home). I spent some time today in the Museo de Bellas Artes sitting in front of Murillos and Zubarans (Murillo’s not as bad as I thought he was and Zubuaran is better even than I thought before seeing so many paintings live). I wasn’t just contemplating art – I was resting.
The picture here is a view of the cathedral room from the top of the Giralda tower (see previous post), the churches bell tower and originally the minaret for the mosque the cathedral replaced. Interesting – the great mosque was only about 50 years old before Fernando III conquered the city in 1248.
The right side of the photo shows an interesting phenomenon – the vaults of the gothic cathedral are exposed. That is, no one ever put a giant wooden superstructure and roof with its associated lead sheating over the vaults – so the walls and buttresses can be a lot thinner. .You canget away with that in Sevilla because it doesn’t rain much or snow at all – northern Europe can’t do this with a vaulted roof. They need the waterproofing and the protection from the weight.
[Have I mentioned that my iPad is not consistently the easiest thing to write posts on? Once I've saved a draft or a post and go back into it to edit or add I often am unable to insert a cursor where I want or even add anything! Most annoying! I'm using the WordPress web application on Safari for iOS, by the way.]
So the trains in Spain run mainly through the plains. But that’s because most of Spain seems to be a plain!
Google map Barcelona to Seville and see how far it is – we ran east for about an hour then turned South in a big diagonal across the country. Top speed was around 155 miles per hour – 250 km per hour. I know that because the onboard television showed a progress map the way many flights do! I was a little surprised there wasn’t onboard WiFi, but maybe that’s because I was in Turistica class.I
I slept some (trains and planes always do that to me – and I was tired!) but I mainly looked. Of course we didn’t pass through any towns – that’s one of the ways high speedd rail works. Only Seville’s station was anywhere close to the city center – eventhe departure from Barcelona was from a newish station out beyond Eixamplein an area with a a lot of office towers.
I did see lots of pretty countryside, and it was pretty. Lots of farming and ranching. LOTS of olive trees. Miles of them.
So I got into Seville and checked into a lovely little studio apartment with a view of the GGiralda tower of the cathedral. I could have gone to mass as late as 8 pm (I didn’t know anyone but college chaplains did that), but I settled for 6. It wasn’t in the Cathedrall proper, but in a chapel bigger than most American cathedrals. Really awful lighting, though, I’ll go back today for piictures (and to climb the tower!).
I still have photos to post from Barcelona (I still have photos from Egypt!), but I’m in Sevilla now!
I took a 6 hour fast train from Barcelona at 8:30 a.m. (hence the off posting – I was up way too early to catch the train and then there wasn’t wifi aboard).
Well, the reconstructed Barcelona Pavilion. The original was a temporary construction to serve as the German Pavilion for an International Exhibition and was taken down in 1930. Barcelona recreated it in the 1980s. It’s a beautiful building – Modernism before Less became a Bore.
. . . but I liked the Doric columns supporting the pavilion! Click to seem my other photos on Flickr.
Gaudi was better than he looks in print – but I’m afraid there’s still something dangerously whimsical (in a shallow way) about Barcelona Modernisme. On the other hand, a very smart woman of my acquaintance studies the material, so I need to look harder.