Friday, December 31, 2010

Dos Abuelitas en Barceona!

Hola amigos!
Barcelona - the recap begins! I can't begin to talk about Barcelona without talking about Isabel, half of the Abuelitas (the little grandmothers), who graciously welcomed me into her home and into her life. My trip was made because of Isabel and her fantastic family, Muchos Gracias!

Isn't Isa lovely?

Barcelona is a city that likes to have a good time! Where Rome reveled in the the formality of tradition and history, Barcelona liked to try new things and take chances. It was no where more apparent than in the unique and eccentric architecture which spotted the city. Gaudi's magnum opus, the Sagrada Familia ("Holy Family") is a whimsical take on a Gothic cathedral which was begun in 1882, and still has a solid 25-30 years before it is completed.  It's breath-taking, and a little alarming - massive sculptures are molded into the outer facade of the building. But is is truly a work of creative genius. It is the work of a deeply religious and immeasurably gifted man.

they're still working on it...

this rendering of the Crucifixion welcomes you at the entrance

The inside of the Cathedral is just as magical as the outside. The ceiling is lighted and seems to soar into the heavens. A ultra unorthodox crucifix, which Jesus suspended under what looks like a canopy (representing the Father) and encircled by what look to be a vine of grapes (the Holy Spirit) adorns a non-traditional altar.

Be inspired!

Gaudi took inspiration from all kinds of things, including the natural world. He was fascinated by the geometric shapes created in nature. He designed a new kind of column for the Cathedral interior which reflected a more complex ribbing based upon the way crystals formed. Amazing! And he incorporated food structures into his towers and spires.

Underneath the crosses, you can see Gaudi's uses of nature-inspired geometric patterns

I could spend the rest of this post talking about how much I adore Gaudi! He really is a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered. And, he incorporated the city's patron saint - San Jordi y el Dragon - into his design too!

do you see the teeth?

Barcelona has other arts as well - the Picasso museum (which was a little bit of a let down because all of his famous stuff is in other galleries, BUT it does have a whole room of his Las Minjas paintings), a Dali gallery, the beautiful marina and sea side (and if you have money, you can go sailing - I didn't because I'm a poor grad student), and some very fine shops. Also - there's a chocolate museum. RAD!

This is a close-up of the log I talked about in the video. I'm still not sure if I get the point of this little fellow, but it was a really fun tradition to witness. According to Isabel, this is a Catalonian tradition and wouldn't be found in other parts of Spain. How cool is that?!

I had an incredible time in Barcelona. Isabel and her family were peaches! The city is a vibrant, enthralling place. It's the kind of place I can imagine running away to, if I ever decided to try and make it as a writer. So now you know where to look for me if I disappear with my lap-top. :)

New Year is tomorrow - it always amazes me how time flies! Be safe all of you! 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas 2010

Hello friends and family!
Christmas 2010 was an exciting adventure. For the first time in my life, I celebrate the holiday without my family. I was worried that I would be filled with homesickness, since all of my mom's family was together in Florida with my grandparents. But, my friend Amy invited me into her home and gave me a wonderful family Christmas, English style! It was so much fun - I plan on bringing back some of the traditions when I come home, especially kicking Christmas morning off with a mimosa at breakfast!

I had a great time, and am continually amazed at how gracious and loving people are. I miss my family, but found a lot of love here in England! :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rome Adventure, Part II

Hello friends!
Despite some nasty weather and a 2.5 hour travel delay, I have returned from my trip to Barcelona! But all those misadventures will be saved for another day (like tomorrow). Now, I present to you, Roman Holiday, part two. :)

Rome really is an amazing place. The Roman Forum was jaw-droppingly awesome. There were so many ruins it was nearly impossible to look at them all!

The Pantheon, under renovation

The Coliseum 

Look how awesome it is!

I think this is Titus' victory Arch at the Forum

The Temple to Antonio and Faustina

Domitian's water garden

Marda and Josh puzzle over random ruins

Trevi Fountain!

Rome is a magical place. It houses some of the world's best-preserved ruins. It boasts many of the world's best known pieces of art. It ranks among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. You could spend a lifetime and still not uncover all of the Eternal City's mysteries. No wonder people keep going back. :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rome Adventure, Part 1

Hello friends and family!
I have recently returned from an amazing 5 day holiday in Roma - the Eternal City! My trip was amazing, and I've put together the first of two videos highlighting some of my adventures.

Like I mentioned in the video, St. Peter's reaches out across the Roman skyline, peeping through rooftops and tree branches. It became a bit of a running theme in my pictures.

Approaching the Vatican...

Getting closer...

Inside the Basilica

St. Pete's at night.

In addition to lovely and awe-inspiring architecture, I also gawked at some pretty amazing art. Bernini sculptures, frescoes by Rafael and Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel are just the highlights of the Vatican Museum.

A Bernini angel

Rafael's School of Athens

Open-air opera!

And this is Piazza Novona - my front yard for 5 days!

I'll have another post soon - hopefully before I'm off to Barcelona.
Happy Trails!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Long Awaited Thanksgiving Recap

So I had a very British Thanksgiving....

An Australian, a German, an Englishman and a Welsh lady all volunteered to play Native Americans for the Thanksgiving skit...

It was a TON of fun! We didn't have mashed potatoes and gravy (they roasted the sweet potatoes, it was really good!), and there arose a debate about the word pecan. Is it PEEcan, or PeCAUN. I'm a fan of the latter, and "peecan" just sounds rude. And I'm Southern, so I win. :)

I can appreciate the irony of the Pilgrims skit, though. It was the Church of England that the Pilgrims were escaping from, and here I am living with current CoE ordinands. The Lord certainly does work in mysterious ways! But more than that, seeing the churches that stood during the English Reformation, being able to walk in the footsteps of my forefathers and foremothers in faith (and as an American) is incredible. The past is ever present. And giving thanks stretches beyond my identification as a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant in America. It's thankfulness for my God, my freedom to worship that God without fear of persecution, for my security and peace. Thanksgiving should be a time when we remember too, all those people who cannot give thanks for those freedoms, and to hear to voice of God calling us to stand as witnesses against injustice. (okay, enough preaching...)

In addition to the actual Thursday thanksgiving festivities that were hosted by Westminster, I endeavored to cook a traditional Southern-style thanksgiving meal the following Sunday. I just couldn't go without Grandma's green bean casserole, or sweet potato casserole with melted marshmallows (that threw the Brits for a loop). So I cooked, and with the wonderful help of friends, had enough food to feed about 15 people. It was delightful!

Homemade mashed potatoes!

The dinner line-up...the boys were hungry after a morning leading worship!

We has chicken instead of turkey...some sacrifices had to be made.

But all in all, everyone enjoyed it! 
For my first attempt at cooking the traditional (to my family any way) Thanksgiving meal, I think it all turned out well. Maybe I'll do it again next year. :)