Gaudy and breathtaking – La Sagrada Familia & Park Guell

Antonio Gaudi holds a special place in the heart of Barcelona. It seems one cannot go anywhere without running in to a building he had something to do with. I have to imagine everyone has their own opinion on his taste in architecture and design. It is where the word Gaudy came from I suppose! My impressions on his work changed regularly. First, in the plane reading a travel guide looking at one seemingly hideous building after another.

Then I saw it in person. La Sagrada Familia, the church being built to Gaudi’s design long after his death. Work began on the church in 1882 with Gaudi taking it over in 1883. He died in 1926 with only 25% of his work completed. Work has continued ever since with final completion slated for 2026, one hundred years after Gaudi’s death.

The building truly doesn’t make sense. But you can’t take your eyes off of it. The designs are light years ahead of its time yet gothic because Gaudi felt like mixing the styles. Art nouveau yet old and historic and ultimately Godly.  If not for the scaffolding everywhere it would be hard to pinpoint when it was built.  Is it old?  Is it new?  Did an alien build it and drop it in the middle of Barcelona?

In trance you walk around the building with not one corner, doorway, or window the same. It’s mesmerizing and starting to win you over just in its sheer size, grandure, and eclectic style. The statues built in to the facade are breathtaking and alive and full of heartbreaking emotion. They look as though they come alive at night and fulfill the role they were carved to play.  It is pure entertainment just to look at the outside facade of this epic building.

Then you walk in. So many churches in Europe have lovely stained glass. Well Gaudi made the inside of the church alive with rainbow color! Everywhere you look you can’t take your eyes off of the glass. It seems impossible to illuminate such a large space with glowing vibrant rainbow colors.

The ceiling and columns look like ornate trees. A spectacular organ sits at ready in one end of the building.

There are many breathtaking buildings and architectural wonders both new and ancient in the world. But there is nothing quite like La Sagrada Familia. It is a one of a kind living masterpiece. And it won over my heart and mind no matter how hard I tried to hate it.

This UNESCO world heritage site is slated for completion in 2026, the one hundred year anniversary of Gaudi’s death.

Gaudí’s Sagrada Família To Reach Another Milestone  (Click on the below link which includes a very quick ten second video on the future steps of the construction of the church.  It is very interesting.)




















Park Guell

Remember back in the day when you would buy a tape from your favorite band and there was a secret song at the end?  Well, if you liked La Sagrada Familia there is more!

Also in Barcelona, not too far from the epic La Sagrada Familia church, is Park Guell, another architectural exercise for your imagination.  Originally built as an early single home development this park appears to be enjoyed by millions of locals and tourists alike.  (Apparently, they only sold one of the plots probably because the ideas were too strange and ahead of their time for the real people of the time.)

This place looks like it should have been built for a Dr. Suess movie.  But, again it wins you over for its unusualness and its view of the city.

One of the striking features of this park is its mosaics.  Everything is brightly accessorized with mosaics.üell


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Windows and Doors

France is an amazing place and surely you will hear more on the subject from me in the future.  But, as a photographer, it was a joy to take photos of things normally mundane like doors and windows.  The history and age on some of these doors was so interesting.  The design on others was fascinating and at times breathtaking.

Below is a door from Mont Saint Michel that was gorgeous in its simplicity and bold color.

This red and black door was also from Mont St. Michel.  I love that it is aged and dirty.  The metalwork on it is lovely.
This door is spectacular and just a standard site in Paris.  I can only imagine what is on the other side of this door.
This is probably cheating but this is of course a spectacular window at the Notre Dame.
This, my friends, is a Troglodyte cave being re-purposed as a storage shed.  There is literally no better place in the entire world to store your wine and your shovels than in this very spot.  (This is probably one of my favorite photos from all of France.)
This lovely blue window was around the corner from the above cave door.  I love the color and the large molding and the aged wall around it.
This knocker is dainty and sweet and scary all in one.
Below is another troglodyte cave again.  France is full of them many of which were originally used for security from threats and are now used to live in, work out of, used for storage, and even in some cases as B&Bs.
Well, depending on what you believe this is certainly one kind of door.  It just doesn’t lead to a traditional home.  This is a dolmen, found commonly in the united kingdom.  I found this one in the middle of some farms in France and had to show Eric.

This little heart door was sweet and of course needed to be added to my collection.
This is an example of a troglodyte cave turned very fancy home.  Nearby was one that had been a bakery and another that was a B&B.  In this area it was very common for people to live in these for thousands of years.  The French felt the need to continue using the caves in what seems like ingenious ways.  Some only had hatch doors and reminded me of people living off the grid with no power or running water and others, like this one, seemed modern and interesting.

One more troglodyte cave door.  I just couldn’t get enough of these finally thinking it probably wasn’t much different than our ancestors digging caves or digging basements in order to keep their food cool.  But, in some cases these caves were created long before modern times.  Another blog post about those caves another day…

The Little Mermaid before Disney

A beautiful statue resides in Copenhagen, Denmark depicting The Little Mermaid. This statue was erected in 1913 to honor Denmark’s crowning author Hans Christian Andersen who wrote The Little Mermaid. She sits on a rock overlooking a lovely stretch of the sea and makes for a pleasant stop on your stroll.

I just read that there are multiple copies of the mermaid statue throughout the world even one in Solvang, California. Sadly, I am also surprised to read that she has been defaced and decapitated numerous times yet always restored to her former glory. She even once wore a Burqa! Who would have thought she would have had such an interesting life?!

Something isn’t quite right about this place

I recall sauntering down a street in Paris attempting to take in all the sites and beauty the city has to offer. Paris is arguably one of the most beautiful cities in the world yet it is also obscure and unusual and interesting in a quirky sort of way. I am afraid the quirky side of Paris probably doesn’t get enough credit. I love this photo and love this building. If you walk by too fast you will never notice. But, if you stop and look at it a little closer you will see everything is crooked. I just love it. I think this business has a ton of personality and I am glad it stopped me in my tracks.

If you look close you can see my reflection in the window and Eric attempting to be patient with my obsessive photo taking…


Waterfalls and Banana Slugs

Banana slugs are bright colored and weird and snotty and awesome. Well…with one exception. When you decide to go on a Russian Gulch ( fern canyon/waterfall hike a little late in the day on a short winter day without a flashlight. It appears that b.slugs, we are friends we can call them that, like to come out at night in massive quantities. Their seemingly bright colors are totally impossible to see in the dark. For about the last 45 minutes of our walk we were white knuckling the fact every single step we took might squash one of these unseen glorious creatures. As someone who doesn’t even particularly care to squash spiders you can imagine my dismay. I checked my shoes at the car and they weren’t slimed! I’ll take that as all the evidence I need to prove no slugs were harmed in the making of this post. At least that’s what I am telling myself.






Heartburn and Cool Cars

Every year Rocklin has a charity event called Hot Chili and Cool Cars. Officials shut down Pacific street to make way for chili booths and streets full of vendors and show cars.

I have never attended a chili cook off before and certainly never one in this heat! Nevertheless we tasted multiple cup fulls of chili finally dropping a ballot for our favorite one. After it’s all said and done chili won’t sound good to me again until winter I think.

With eye fulls of cool and interesting cars and a free snow cone we were done for the day. People watching was good as always with my favorite person accessorizing her outfit with a live lizard riding her buzom. To each there own!

And if you want my advice when the chili guy warns you that his chili is hot he isn’t kidding!


Random Coffee and Crepes from Tarragona, Spain

One of the best parts of travelling is the food. One of the most hilarious parts of travelling is the butchering of the local language while ordering that delicious food. Boy, I can tell you how to order coffee the way I like it in about 9 different languages. And, once the sun peaks past the halfway mark I can also tell you how to order that cup without caffeine! (de café!)

It cracks me up that friends always enjoy my photos of food the best. Well friends, I offer you this little photo bite out of popular demand. These little pretties were taken in Tarragona, Spain (once home to my good friend Sue/Frank Kocher in her vivid and romantic youth). One day I will post photos of the city but for now you can taste the coffee and smell the crepes.



Flower Power – Mendocino Botanical Garden

I really enjoy camping up on the coast above Mendocino and Fort Bragg. One of my favorite things to do in the late summer early fall is to visit the Fort Bragg Botanical Gardens because the Dahlias are in bloom! The entire grounds are magnificent but the Dahlias are my favorite. I didn’t even know what a Dahlia was until about five years ago. Now I am obsessed with them even attempting to grow them in my own backyard. (Incidentally, Sacramento heat and my lack of a green thumb make them slightly less spectacular that Mendocino cool air and sunshine but I grow them nonetheless.)

I love photographing them. It gives me a reason to obsess over them even well after I am gone. I get to go through hundreds of photos choosing some of my favorites for light editing. I took these photos a few years ago but they are still some of my favorites. The vivid colors and strange shapes make them so interesting and alive to me.

On one visit to the gardens you can see that a lovely Hummingbird stopped by for a glamour shot. He hovered for me long enough for me to snap some shots over a bouquet of flowers.
















Scottish Independence – A noble heart can know no ease without freedom

With a historic vote expected on September 18th for or against Scottish Independence I pulled out some old photo albums. I was fortunate enough to travel to Scotland in 2000 with a friend Karon and her Mom. (It is amazing to think that was 14 years ago.  It feels like just yesterday.) We visited the energetic, witty, and altogether amazing Gladys, Karon’s Scottish grandmother who resides in Edinburgh.

Scotland has fought a series of wars of Independence eventually uniting their government with England in the 1700’s. Many a life was lost fighting for and against this sort of a union. It is amazing to see that it will all come down to a simple vote with, hopefully, no further bloodshed.

I am not here to tell my personal opinion on the matter because surely it “dossna” matter. However, a series of photos from Melrose Abbey seem interesting and appropriate. This Abbey shaped like a crucifix has a modern burial marker for what is believed to be Robert The Bruce’s heart. It is thought that his heart was returned here from a crusade in the 1300’s and eventually reburied on the grounds. I was taken by the small and lovely marker that states “A noble hart may have nane ease gif freedom failye.” The all knowing internet tells me this roughly translates to “A noble heart can know no ease without freedom.”

I hope Scotland eases it collective heart with or without freedom, whatever they choose on September 18th.,_2014

Robert the Bruce’s Burial marker

Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey

My happy place…part one – Garden of Eden Botanical garden in Maui, Hana Highway

I truly have many happy places sprinkled all over the world. But. the Garden of Eden Botanical garden in Maui was certainly a special one. . Traveling down the Hana Highway we decided to make an unplanned stop here because I have an affinity for botanical gardens. Well it was here that I took some of my favorite photos! (Don’t get too excited those photos will come another day…) The main photo here has always been one of my favorite views! It seems to have everything to make just about anyone feel at peace.