ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Thursday, April 5, 2018

A Day in Montserrat

Montserrat is a multi-peaked rocky range of mountains about 45 km northwest of Barcelona. We booked a small group tour on-line to make the trip easier. Situated there is the Benedictine Monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat. The Monastery is built on the site where a statue of a black virgin was discovered in the 12th century.

It's a pretty dramatic landscape! 

The funicular took us to the top of the mountain for a little hike.

We had a chance to view the Monastery, although our tickets did not include getting up close to the black virgin. You can see a photo of her from a distance in my photo below. To get up close to her there is a photo here on Wikipedia. Pilgrims make their way there to seek blessing and healing from the virgin.

A cable car took us down to the village where we found our bus to take us back to Barcelona.

I did not look down during this trip!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

More Gaudi & Packing Again

I spent Easter weekend visiting my father and sister in Waterloo, and now I'm packing to hit the road again. Sunday I am leaving for Vancouver and spending several days next week with the Fraser Valley Quilters' Guild in Delta/Surrey, British Columbia. I've worked in a few days of vacation too. I understand the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. I hope to find out where the best places to view them are and capture some photos.

Part of getting ready is lining up my artist pencils and sharpening them. It is good colour therapy. I'm also bringing Caran d'Ache Neocolor 2 Water Soluble Wax Pastels, InkTense Pencils, and Tsukineko Inks, for two days of Surface Design fun.

In addition, I am teaching a one-day class of "In Full Bloom". I've dyed and packed all the kits. They sure do add weight in my suitcases.

Here's keeping my fingers crossed that everything fits into two check-in bags that are each under 50 lbs.

Of course there are quilts in those bags too because I'm giving two lectures, one for their morning meeting and one for their evening meeting.

In the mean time, I thought I'd share just a few more photos of inspiration from Barcelona.

On our way to take a tour to Montserrat (more on that tomorrow), we accidentally got to visit two more buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi, the architect who designed the Sagrada Familia that I spoke of in my last post.

Even the benches along this street are Gaudi inspired.

La Padrero is an apartment block that Gaudi designed , that was constructed between 1906 - 1912.  

Apparently there is not a single right angle on this building. It is designed in that wonderful curvacious style of his.

A bit further down this street you come to Casa Batllo, considered another of Gaudi's masterpieces. Both La Padrera (above) and Casa Batllo have received UNESCO World Heritage site designations. The area that contains both these buildings (on Passeo de Gracia St.) is a location where Barcelona's most important families set up home in the early 1900's.

Joseph Batllo granted full creative freedom to Gaudi in his redesigning of this building.

Unfortunately we did not have an opportunity to view the insides of these buildings because we ran out of time. There is just so much to see in Barcelona.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Basilica de la Sagrada Familia

Tonight's post is about my absolute favorite site of those I saw in Barcelona. I had heard many acquaintances and friends rave about the amazing architectural gem that is Antoni Gaudi's Basilica de la Sagrada Familia (Basilica of the Sacred Family). I had to see it for myself. I've visited a good number of old churches and basilicas and while all have their own beauty, nothing can quite compare to this one. You will see why shortly. The Basilica was started in 1882, with Gaudi taking over as architect in 1883. Gaudi worked on this project for 43 years. During the last 12 years of his life, he worked on it exclusively. It was only partially completed in 1926 when Gaudi died.
This is the sight as you approach, just like the many photos I have seen. You can see that work is still taking place. It is funded by tourist dollars. This is probably the most popular tourist attraction in Barcelona. Even in March, there are a lot of tourists inside. I would not want to be there in July or August. We purchased advance tickets on-line before our trip.

Around the front and entry are depictions of popular biblical stories.

This one depicts the slaughter of the innocents.

I had no idea how amazing the inside would be. We stepped into a theatre of colour and light. My photos do not do it justice. I had made the decision to only carry my Smart phone, to relieve the stress of my DSLR camera on my shoulders. For most of the trip that worked fine, but I can't help but wish that I had carried a better camera that day.

Gaudi is widely considered one of the greatest architects of all time. He studied the natural environment and took inspiration from it.

The Basilica is designed to mimic a forest, with the branching columns representing the trees. It is built to look like light shining through a forest. Is this why I responded so positively to it?

This feature was especially evident as the afternoon sun shone through the western side, creating a canopy of light.

After a couple of hours inside, we headed outside to access the Passion Tower.

The on-line tickets I had purchased included the experience of ascending the Passion Tower, one of the bell tours. The elevator takes you up, to a level where you can see the view of Barcelona. I was really enamored of the view of trees and their shadows in a park below.

Only when we were on the elevator to head to the top did I learn that the only way down was via a descent of 400 stairs. The stairs are designed to mimic the interior of a gigantic snail.
Let me just say that it was a bit of a claustrophobic and a dizzying experience! We took our time. It was definitely worth it.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Taking the Subway in Barcelona

A few days into our week in Barcelona we had to travel a bit further afield, further than I could comfortably walk. We had advance tickets to see the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, a truly outstanding and awe-inspiring architectural marvel by Antoni Gaudi. That visit warrants a blog post of its own. In the mean time, I will talk about how we got there. These two country bumpkins learned to take the subway. The greater Ottawa area, that we live in, has a population of about 934,000 so we do not have a subway and rely on our cars. The subway in Barcelona is efficient, fast, clean, modern, and relatively easy to maneuvre. It is an excellent and inexpensive way to get around. Besides that, the local people were always friendly and helpful when we looked like we didn't know what we were doing.

There were even dogs on the subway (as well as in restaurants and literally everywhere in Barcelona).

Very close to the subway station where we exited to visit the Sagrada Familia, we encountered another market. This one was far less touristy.

In my next post I will share an amazing experience of colour and light