Hike to Torre de Estellella

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Some people call them torres, which is Spanish for tower. Some people call them the watchtowers. But the real cool people in the know, call them atalayas. I will call them watchtowers…. even though I’m still cool. 🙂 At least I think I am and that’s half the battle, right?

A loooong time ago, Mallorca had a bit of a pirate problem. Who didn’t in the years 1200 – 1600s? Seriously. Especially with the famous Redbeard pirate (aka Hayreddin Barbarossa) hayreddin barbarossa and his brothers. In 1530 Barbarossa captured the castle of Cabrera and set up camp there to use as his base. They would storm towns in Mallorca and if you were lucky they would only steal your possessions and burn your home. Not so lucky, they were killed or taken as slaves. Due to the constant menace of pirate attacks a series of lookout and defense towers were built across the island.

There were 84 towers built in the 16th century on the island but only about 50 them still exist today. Some are in good to great condition and some are deteriorating rapidly. The majority of them were built without foundations, the towers generally had between two and four levels and can be square, rectangular or circular in shape. The entrance was several meters above land and was reached by a rope ladder.

Joan Binimelis from Manacor designed a simple communication system of smoke signals during the day and fires at night. With it, neighboring watchtowers could be alerted, and the information was passed from tower to tower to the Almudaina in Palma.

I see these watchtowers all around Mallorca and while I knew they existed to warn villagers, towns, etc of pirate attacks I love learning even more about how they worked and when they were built. You can usually check out most of them. Some you can enter but most are closed up and you can just walk around it. Kinda like the one I like to hike to in S’Estanyol. I wrote about my hike to the lighthouse here but you can extend that and hike about 20-25 minutes more and get to the Torre de Estellella. It’s a non-strenuous walk along the coastline and the end site is worth it. Think of the history! The pirates! The people watching for those silly pirates! Arrggghh.

Here is how to get there:

S’Estanyol is a small town in the southeast of Mallorca, to arrive you would follow the MA-6015 to the end (arriving at S’Estanyol) and turn right. Park at the end of the road, after the S’Estanyol Club Nautico and get ready for your hike. Walk along the beach and you can either stay on the coastline or walk on a path through the pine trees. They smell so good! Follow the FAR signs. FAR is lighthouse in Catalan (faro in spanish). Just keep following that and soon you will arrive at the rocky coast where you will find this beautiful lighthouse.

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We always like to stop here for a beer. A picnic is a wonderful idea too. To continue onto the watchtower just keep along the water walking away from S’Estanyol and towards Cala Pi. The path will curve to the right and soon you will have the watchtower in sight.

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And the view towards the sea ain’t too shabby either.

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If these walls could talk. I would love to hear the stories!

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And there you have it. If you are in my neck of the woods please stop by Torre de Estellella. We would love to see you. Don’t forget the camera and some sunscreen! See ya there.

Taliesin West ~ Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the biggest names in architecture. I had only seen pictures of his marvels, but when I was in Phoenix my Mom and I went to his winter residence (and school) – Taliesin West in Scottsdale, AZ. Of course he doesn’t live there anymore, Wright died in 1959, but it continues today as the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, an accredited school. It was built and maintained entirely by Wright and his apprentices, making it the most personal of his creations.

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Taliesin is in Spring Green, WI and was his summer residence. He built it for his lover Mamah Borthwick, in part to shield her from aggressive reporters and the negative public sentiment surrounding their non-married status. Both had left their spouses and children in order to live together and were the subject of relentless public censure. In 1914, while Wright was working in Chicago a male servant hired from Barbados set fire and murdered seven people with an axe. One of those being Mamah and her two children. I could continue on but this post is not about Taliesin, it’s about Taliesin West.

With everything that Frank Lloyd Wright designed, he believed in designing structures that were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture. Not to overtake but to become one with it. I love this idea.

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Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship (his apprentices) began to “trek” to Arizona each winter in 1933. In 1937 Wright purchased the plot of desert land that would soon become Taliesin West. He paid $3.50 an acre on a southern slope of the McDowell Range, believing this to be the perfect spot to build: a residence, a business, and a place to learn.

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Drafting Room at Taliesin West

I am in love with this red door of the drafting room.

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He wanted Taliesin West to connect with the desert, the structure’s walls are made of local desert rocks, stacked within wood forms and filled with concrete. Natural light was used as much as possible with windows but no glass, only an open space for birds to fly through and sunlight to beam its rays throughout the rooms. Light beige canvas was used for the roofing and could be rolled up or down depending on the day.

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For Wright everything he did was intentional. He was fascinated with the petroglyphs found on the Taliesin West property, the clasped hands of the American Indian symbol of friendship. This is often referred to as the running arrow; however, Mr. Wright preferred to call it the whirling arrow. Found in many places around the property but seen here on a rock and near the water fountain at Taliesin West.

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Wright enjoyed entertaining. Almost every Saturday he would invite people over for cocktails, dinner, maybe a movie or a dance production. They would start in the Garden Room, one of the most popular rooms at Taliesin West. Here you have a long bench but also Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous butterfly chairs.

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Every year upon his return to Taliesin West he would walk around with making changes and shouting orders to his apprentices. Taliesin West was a continuing project for Wright, always changing things with new ideas and improving the space with different concepts. Throughout the years he added to the dining room and one brilliant addition was the cabaret theatre with six-sides in an irregular hexagonal shape, it provides its occupants a “95% acoustic perfection”. Someone in the very back can hear even the slightest whisper from the stage.

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Piano space cut into stone in cabaret theatre

And speaking of the stage, his apprentices would learn more than just architecture. The Taliesin Fellowship were taught to learn all aspects of life, integrating not only architecture and construction, but also farming, gardening, and cooking, the study of nature, art, music, and dance. He would have parties almost every Saturday and half of his apprentices would cook and the other half would serve and clean up. Or if he wanted a special dance or music set for his guests, the apprentices would learn the dance or the song and perform.

I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Taliesin West and would recommend it to anyone, especially if you love architecture. There are many different types of tours, we did the Insight Tour which lasted about an hour and a half. Ticket prices are $34 for advanced purchase but if you are an Arizona resident you get 50% off, so don’t forget to mention that if you are! Enjoy and I would love to hear about your favorites of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Taliesin West. 12621 N Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ. 480.627.5378

 

 

Top 5 Things To Do In Palma, Mallorca

So many people ask me about things I would recommend doing/seeing in Palma de Mallorca when they are visiting the island. So, why not give a blog post to that topic. Just for y’all, my favorite peeps.

It was a difficult list. Palma has so much to offer – art galleries, museums, shopping, great bars, hidden back alleys where you stumble upon something new every single time. I could spend a whole week just exploring those narrow side streets.

In no particular order because they all rock.

1.Pilar y Joan Miró Foundation

First up, the Pilar y Joan Miró Foundation. If you are an art lover, you can’t miss this. You actually walk through the studios Joan Miró worked in through 1956 until his death in 1983. The collection of works by Joan Miró includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints. You can see how and where he worked at the two studios (Son Boter and Sert Studio), both of these have been included in the Bienes de Interés Cultural architectural heritage list.

One of my favorite Miro sculptures in Palma ~ FEMME

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Joan Miró – Femme

2. La Seu

Next, the Cathedral – La Seu. This majestic, architectural masterpiece took from 1230 – 1601 to build. It has a gorgeous, gothic, rose glass window which is one of the largest in the world. And if you are into Gaudí, he later designed the columns and the controversial Crown of Thorns that hangs over the altar. It is situated next to the Parc de la Mar which is also a lovely place to hang out, look at the sea and have a glass of wine.

A visit begins through the museum entrance and there is a small entrance fee.

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La Seu in Palma, the Cathedral that took almost 400 years to build. Gorgeous!

 

3. Passeig Des Born

Enough architecture and art for you? Alright, how about some shopping. Did some of your ears pop up? Palma has great stores – from Louis Vuitton to Caroline Herrera to Hugo Boss. And they are all in one of my favorite spots in Palma, Passeig des Born. Come here to this tree-lined promenade with boutiques, cafes, shops and beautiful fountains at each end. You can always find a street performer or two to keep you entertained, if you are needing that.

Walk up to Jaime III and if you turn left you will find Es Corte Ingles (Palma’s big department store), Mango and other shops. Turn right and you can head to Placa Major, where pretty much in every direction are more and more shops. If you have been dying for a Starbucks, one has been recently established at the Placa Cort.

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4. Ca’n Joan De S’aigo

Time for a break after all that sight seeing and shopping. Stop at one of the oldest chocolatiers in Europe, founded in 1700. So much deliciousness under one roof. It’s almost a sin. Pastries, cakes, ice-cream, cava and the popular Mallorcan ensaimada. My favorite is the one with apricots. They have two locations but the Calle Can Sanc has the mosaic from the original building. Bon Profit!

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5. Palma Old Town Bike Tour and Tapas

Did someone say bike riding and tapas? I’m in. This is a super fun bike tour to see the top sights of Palma ~ La Seu Cathedral, the Royal Palace of La Almudaina, ride down the Rambla of Palma and discover the nightlife center of La Lonja. Finish your excursion with tapas at the Illenc restaurant.

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I hope you enjoyed the list. I would love to hear about your favorite must-sees in Palma. Thanks for stopping by this beautiful city!

Workspace Inspiration

Easter is coming up and I will have a free week to concentrate on life outside of the regular j-o-b, take a break and put my focus elsewhere.

And what exactly may I be focusing on?

Ah, so glad you asked. I also work on writing, creating designs for clothing, caps, mugs, etc., and just my general business of having 104 other things on my plate that I am thinking about doing, creating, trying. And for this, I need a nice office space in my home.

So that is what I will be doing in a few weeks. Making a space that helps get my creative juices flowing. I like a large desk with things that inspire me. But not TOO many things. Just the right amount. Tricky, no?

Here are some ideas I’ve found that I like…. or my dream home office:

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Patti Smith drew my eye on this workspace. She is the coolest rock star evah. I like this workspace, it’s a lot what mine will end up – a bit messy, a little chaotic but still with flair – the cool chair with a fur (fake please), some inspiration on the walls, a plant or two, headphones and some storage with books and bags. I always strive for clean lines and simplicity BUT let’s be real folks. This is me! And I will never be able to keep my space completely free and clear.

But a girl can still dream.

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Like this space. Good Lord, that is one organized office!! I bow down. It is very nice, so very tai chi. I love the shelves.

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Such organization! HOW DO THEY DO IT!? And there is that fur on the chair again. Is that the latest cool thing in your workspace? For me only if it’s like sheep or something that didn’t have to die to be made.

All that white is so comforting. Ahhh, breathe, create, focus.

I like it.

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This is a bit of a mixture of the first and the next two. I wish my room had a big window, I love that so much about this room. Plus the plants. Plants I can do! Making a huge window in my room, not so much.

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I need some kind of inspiration board on my wall. Something where I can pin pictures or ideas or what not. I love the glass of light pink roses on the desk.

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Another idea for an inspiration “board”.

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I really REALLY love this inspiration area. The huge frame where you can pin or paint or write whatever things make you feel happy, creative, ready to work! And I already have that screen saver on my computer – so one thing already checked off the list!

Well, I will give an update to how I changed my workspace in a few weeks. So don’t forget to come back and check it out.

How about your workspaces? At your home or at your office? What inspires you?

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La Tour Eiffel

The Eiffel Tower is an iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris.  It was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair,  it has become both a global and cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower is the tallest structure in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world; 7.1 million people ascended it in 2011. The tower received its 250 millionth visitor in 2010.

The tower stands 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-story building. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to assume the title of the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930. Because of the addition of the antenna atop the Eiffel Tower in 1957, it is now taller than the Chrysler Building by 17 feet (5.2 m).

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The tower has three levels for visitors. The third level observatory’s upper platform is at 279.11 m (915.7 ft) the highest accessible to the public in the EU. Tickets can be purchased to ascend, by stairs or lift (that means elevator to all you non British speaking folks), to the first and second levels. The walk from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. Although there are stairs to the third and highest level, these are usually closed to the public and it is usually accessible only by lift.

The line for the elevators was too long for our liking so we bought a ticket to walk the stairs. I can’t remember how much it was but no more than 10 euros. And the climb began! Up and round and up and round we went. Finally we made it to the first level! It was much higher than I thought it would be. Like everyone else, we snapped some pics.

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You can see Sacré-Coeur in the background

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And a lovely picture of us! I have this new habit of sticking my tongue under my teeth for some reason. But aren’t we adorable!?

We decided to keep going. Up to the second level. Yeah, we’re cool like that. That was about another 300 steps and we were getting high! As in elevation, my friends. I am usually fine with heights but I was getting a little dizzy and trying not to look down. Possibly it was being more claustrophobic with the people climbing the stairs up and down alongside me but the stomach was starting to do some flip-flops here and there. We arrived at the second level and took a quick walk around. Snapped some more pics …

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.I took this one leaning back as far as I could. After that, vertigo kicked in and we had to GO! On the walk back down 600+ steps, Jeannette joked that we should start telling everyone, “Sorry, it’s closed.” I laughed the entire way down. Miss my Jeannie!

So there you have it. Maybe next time we will go to the top but maybe I will chicken out. Or maybe we will just hang out at the restaurant for hours and have several beers – will that make vertigo better or worse? Whatever the fact, time for you to climb the TOWER.

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EPRT II Stralsund, Germany

Old warehouse in the Stralsund harbor. You can see Rügen Island in the distance.

The next day we drove about six hours from Wesel to Stralsund, Germany. One of the main reasons for our road trip to the north of Germany and over to Poland was for my Mom’s family tree research. She has been really into this for many years and has made amazing strides in finding out so much of her and my ancestral background. Go MOM!

So, Stralsund. Stralsund is a Hanseatic town in northern Germany. During its history, it had to defend its independence against Lübeck (Germany), Denmark, Holland and Sweden. In the Thirty Years’ War, General Wallenstein vowed that he would take the town even if it was chained to heaven – but he failed. Subsequently, Lower Pomerania stayed under Swedish rule for 200 years until 1815, when it became Prussian. Despite its turbulent history, 811 protected buildings survived in the old town, among them some truly remarkable examples of architecture.

The town’s largest church, St. Mary’s (Marienkirche), which was built in 1383 – 1473, with an octagonal tower for seeing great views of Stralsund.

I thought this Milchbar (Milk Bar) building was super cool. I took about a bizillion pics of it.

As I mentioned above, my Mom is trying to find out more about our family tree. She has traced my Great x5 Grandparents to a tiny village called Müggenhall – we drove through it and it was one street, maximum 20 very old homes. But we went to the next town over and we were able to meet with the minister (Der Pfarrer) in the town of Franzburg. He gave us many books to look through but we couldn’t find anything that had information with the names that Mom was looking for. Nonetheless, I think Der Pfarrer was happy with Mom’s 50 Euro contribution for giving up an hour of his time to dig out these old books for us to look at.

Besides going to Müggenhall we also went to a small village about 45 minutes from Müggenhall where my Great x5 Grandparents went to work as servants at an estate. It was bigger than Müggenhall and the homes were more cared for, obviously a village with more money. We scoured the graveyard for Schulzs and actually found a few. This one was my favorite, though a bit strange because it was so small and on top of another cross. Was it a child?

And my obsession with graveyards continues…. with a new post! There was a large home with a farm and more that quite possibly could have been where my great great great great great (whew!) grandparents worked. Here was my favorite building from there, love the thatched roof!! Maybe my Gx5GP (please tell me you get that) slaved away in there making cheese or washing laundry or sneaking away for a nap.

Looks like a perfect place for a snooze. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

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EPRT II Day One/Two

The EPRT II (European Parent Road Trip Part II) started off with us flying into Düsseldorf. Me, flying in from Mallorca, and my parents flying Phoenix – Chicago – Warsaw – Düsseldorf. Wasn’t sure about that whole extra stop for them until I looked at where dad bought his tickets – CheapO Air. Yup, that’s my Dad! Love him!

I had booked us a night at the Düsseldorf hotel Stage 47. We had the Maisonette Suite which was a lovely two-story room for the price of 170 euros. My roll away bed was about the skinniest thing you have ever seen but since I am skinny, we worked it out. A nice dinner at a Thai restaurant just down the street and then it was time to hit the sack.

The next day we headed towards Wesel, Germany. Felix’s parents have a gorgeous townhouse in the middle of the city. During World War II,as a strategic depot, Wesel became a target of Allied bombing. On the 16, 17 and 19 February 1945, the town was attacked with impact and air-burst bombs, which destroyed 97% of the city. Felix’s parents home is one of the few that survived. It is at least five stories tall with an incredible huge wooden staircase that runs through the middle of it. And his mom is such a great decorator she has made the entire place, including the backyard to the most sweetest, most comfortable home you would ever want to live in.

So, after kisses of hello, a glass of rosé champagne and a piece of strawberry cake we headed off towards Xanten.

Xanten is the only German  town whose name begins with an X. The history of Xanten goes back to the Romans, who founded the settlement of Colonia Ulpia Traiana in 15 BC. That is a reeeeeeaallly long time ago. But by 275 it was mostly destroyed by Germanic tribes. But nowadays it has been rebuilt within the Archäologischer Park to see how the town might have been. The Nühlens (Felix’s parents) said the park is an all day thing so we only went to the Römer Museum. And it had so much to see and you get (for a small fee) your own handset which tells about each area in museum, it works as a listening device but also has videos reenacting moments from that reeeaaallllyy long time ago.

Among the exhibits on display are the remains of a Roman boat, suspended from the ceiling at a height of 12 metres. Further highlights are a stunning, large mural and the oldest and best preserved Roman cannon yet discovered. Spanish oil amphorae, silver tableware, pottery and a considerable collection of Roman army weapons and equipment are also on display.

The parents at the Römer Museum in Xanten, Germany

After the museum we saw the cobblestone streets and the church in Xanten – all so very lovely. And then we headed towards the town of Kevelaer, Germany. The clouds were menacing and there was thunder in the distance but we were able to see the Chapel of the Candles and the Chapel of Grace. Two very beautiful and different things!

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The Chapel of Grace is a very small but very richly decorated hexagonal building built in 1654. Hundreds of people come to pray at the chapel every day. Even the Pope has been there! The story about the building is interesting and unusual. I am only going to give the overview but if you are dying for more, go here for the full story.

A traveling salesman, Hendrik Busman in 1641 prayed at his usual spot where he heard a mysterious voice that said, “Build me a chapel on this spot”, which he then heard three other times on this same spot. By the way, all sites that I have read about this story claim he was a very sober man for those days. Which makes me laugh, did all drunks have the same voice echoing in their heads? Anyways, soon after Busman’s wife had a dream of a postcard offered for sale to her by two soldiers. She told her husband and he made he go find the card and buy it. That card is still there today. It was such a tiny place I never realized the importance of it until now.

And only a few steps away was the Chapel of Candles which you have hopefully already seen on my last post. Felix’s dad thought there were too many candles. But Felix’s mom and I disagreed. They were beautiful! They are kind of like shoes, you can never have too many.

Stay tuned for Stralsund and Rügen Island!

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