Te Dejo Madrid

Te dejo Madrid
con tus avenidas amplias
tus edificios y palacios resplandecientes

Te dejo Madrid
con tus mil sabores
patatas bravas y albóndigas
queso manchego y aceite de oliva arbequina
escaparates luciendo la pata negra
cenando a media noche
las calles repletas de gente

Te dejo Madrid
con tus tesoros nacionales
el Prado con "Las Meninas" de Velázquez
las imágenes de la guerra en el "Guernica" de Picasso
"Muchacha en la Ventana" de Dalí
la poesía de Lorca

Te dejo Madrid
por las calles sinuosas del Rastro
las antigüedades del mercado de sellas y monedas
la pasión del flamenco
y con un brindis a Don Ernesto bajo la sombra
de los árboles que rodean la Plaza Santa Ana

Te dejo Madrid
pero tu no me dejas a mi

(Título prestado de la canción “Te Dejo Madrid” de Shakira).

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I leave you Madrid
with your wide boulevards
and your resplendent buildings and palaces

I leave you Madrid
with your thousand flavors
spicy fried potates and meatballs
manchego cheese and olive oil
black hoofs on display in shop windows
dining at midnite
the streets bursting with people

I leave you Madrid
with your national treasures
“Las Meninas” by Velázquez at the Prado
the images of war in Picasso’s “Guernica”
Dalí's “Woman at the Window”
Lorca’s poetry

I leave you Madrid
through the circuitous streets of the Rastro
the antiquities at the stamp and coin market
the passion of flamenco
and a toast to Hemingway beneath the shade
of the trees that surround Plaza Santa Ana

I leave you Madrid
but you do not leave me

(Title borrowed from the song “Te Dejo Madrid” by Shakira).

Mantón Bordado

When I travel, I always try to bring back something that will remind me of the place I visited. Something a little more meaningful than a key chain but not too excessive (and that will fit in my luggage).

I brought back this mantón bordado (embroidered shawl) from Madrid. They told me it was hand embroidered (although I have some doubts). Nonetheless, the vibrant flowers and flirtatious tassels remind me of Spain.

I also picked up this set of toallas bordadas (embroidered towels) with a crocheted border. I like their simplicity and elegance.

Here are a few other images captured on the streets of Madrid.

This 20 ton bronze statue of a bear under a strawberry tree (el oso y el madroño) is located at the Puerta del Sol. The symbol of the bear (which apparently used to roam in the forests outside the city) and the strawberry tree are emblematic of Madrid.

A shop window with traditional flamenco dresses.

I couldn’t help but snap a photo of this storefront. Why can’t we all just get along?!

Los Petrificados (the petrified ones), one of many street performers in Madrid. At first glance, I thought it was a statue until someone dropped a coin in a box in front of them. The woman’s eyes moved and the man looked up while he poured the water.

I have other pictures to share. Hasta la próxima. (Until next time).

A Visit to Medieval Maastricht

The Saint Servatius Basilica located in Vrijthof, Maastricht's city square. It is flanked by St. John's Church (with the red spire).
Market Square where you can find City Hall. The bronze statue is of Jan Pieter Minckeleers, a Dutch scientist who invented gas lighting. The statue has an eternal flame.
An ancient guard tower on the east bank of the Meuse River.
View across the Meuse River.
13th Century Helpoort or "Hell's Gate," remains of the city's medieval fortifications.
Look-out tower along the medieval walls.
View from within the city's fortified walls.
Maastricht's cobblestoned streets.
Bread and cheese shop.
Homes with narrow watery alleyways from the Jeker River which runs through town.
Water wheel.
Outdoor cafes along the ruins of the medieval walls.

Arabia

Art deco style covered dish from the Arabia porcelain factory, established in Finland in the 1870s. Throughout the last century, Arabia porcelain has been the traditional dinnerware in Finnish homes and has been passed on as family heirlooms. Delicate Arabia porcelain can be found in museums although today’s tableware is made for the modern family and is oven, microwave and dishwasher safe. This piece is one of the items still made by hand at the factory in Helsinki. The clay is hand-poured into molds from the mid-1900s that were recently discovered in storage. Each piece is hand-glazed to give it this vintage look.

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Out and About in Helsinki

It’s no wonder that Helsinki was chosen as the most livable city in 2011 by Monocle’s annual Quality of Life survey. After spending just a few days there, I was ready to pack up and move. There are several reasons why I loved Helsinki. It’s a walkable city. We walked everywhere. There are wide open sidewalks and pedestrian walkways between buildings. Everything seemed to run smoothly, including the public rail system. It’s unpretentious. The skyline is modest with only a couple of recognizable rooftops on the horizon, including the immaculate white walls and green domes of the Helsinki Cathedral. Everyone was nice. Period.

I loved the emphasis on good design. Walking along the boutiques and workshops in the Design District was inspiring, if not humbling. Everywhere there was an appreciation for all things handcrafted. I even liked the weather. Granted, we were not there in the peak of winter, but it was certainly cold by Texas standards. Nonetheless, I found the cold refreshing and walking around in only 6 hours of sunlight was interesting. Here are my memories of Helsinki.

Helsinki Cathedral in the evening.
Along the harbor next to the Baltic Sea before sunrise.
At Kauppatori Market Square. The sign says it all.
Fruits and veggies inside the old market hall. You could also find fresh salmon steaks, herring and reindeer at the fresh meat stalls.
A Finnish breakfast - grilled salmon, fried herring, salty rice cake, cheese and fresh bread.
Sun's coming up. Time is about 10:30 am.
Hand knit items inside.
The Uspenski Cathedral is an Eastern Orthodox church that sits on a hilltop overlooking the city.
The golden spires of the Uspenski Cathedral.
View of the Helsinki Cathedral around noon time. This is the brightest it got during the day.
Detail from the Pohjola Insurance building, designed by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen between 1899-1901. The motifs on the stone facade are of Nordic nature and mythology. Note to Texans: The Gulf Building in downtown Houston is designed after Saarinen’s 2nd place entry in the Chicago Tribune Tower competition.
Building across Hotel Kamp. Aarikka has a storefront in this building. Aarikka mostly designs jewelry and decorative items all of which are created in Finland.

Dusseldorf in Black and White

On the last leg of our trip to Germany, after visiting the knitting needle factory and the yarn atelier, we spent time at the Christmas Markets in Dusseldorf. The evening was cool and the sky a bit overcast but the lights from all the vendor stalls filled the night.

Dusseldorf 2011
Dusseldorf Town Hall in Altstadt (old town).
Dusseldorf 2011
Engelchenmarkt (little angels market) on Heinrich-Heine-Platz.
Dusseldorf 2011
Merry Christmas.
Dusseldorf 2011
Candy booth at the Sternchenmarkt (little star market).
Dusseldorf 2011
Johanneskirche (St. John's Church).
Dusseldorf 2011
Rooftop.
Dusseldorf 2011
Residential street along the Rhine.

Glaswerk

Treasured souvenirs from Cologne – hand blown glass ornaments. The glass ornaments are made in Germany by brothers; Rolf Schrade specializes in ornaments, Rainer Schrade designs jewelry. Here is a link to the Glaswerk Galerie blog. Watch this video to see Rolf at his craft.

Glass Ornaments