Parc Güell ~ Barcelona

The first time I visited Barcelona, I was twenty-one years old with a mission to see as much of Europe as I could. I had bought a month long eurorail train ticket and was trying to visit as many European countries as humanly possible with not much money. Back then I only spent one day in Barcelona and it was a mix of seeing the Olympic Park at Montjuic Mountain (which I found a little boring) and checking out the Picasso Museum (amazing).

But the next time (and the next time and the next time) I returned to Barcelona I had a plan. I knew what I wanted to see, which was pretty much everything created by Gaudí – Parc Güell, La Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera and Casa Battló. And all of these are so remarkable and beautiful that I must focus on each, one at a time. And first up is Parc Güell.

A little history for you – in 1890, the industrialist Eusebi Güell hired Antoni Gaudí to design the park which was originally planned to be a garden city with villas high above Barcelona in an area called Bare Mountain. It was inspired by the English garden city movement and its intent was to exploit the fresh air and enjoy expansive views of the city and the coast. There were sixty triangular lots available for luxury houses but nobody was interested. Only two homes were built on the land (neither by Gaudí), with Gaudí buying one of them and living there from 1906 to 1926, it is now the Gaudí House Museum.

By 1903 the two entrance pavilions had been constructed, as well as the main flight of steps, the shelter for horse-drawn carriages, the outer enclosure, the viaducts and part of the great esplanade, together with the water evacuation system.

The Dragon Stairway:


The great entrance leads to the Hypostyle room, which was designed to be the market for the estate. It is made up of 86 striated columns inspired in the Doric order. The outermost ones slope in an undulating movement clearly contrary to the rules of classical composition, while reinforcing a perception of their structural role.


Inside the room the absence of columns in some sections creates spaces that simulate three naves, like a great church. The ceiling is formed of small domes constructed using the traditional technique of clay bricks decorated with original tile-shard mosaics made by Josep M. Jujol, one of Gaudí’s assistants.


My favorite area (and I think most people’s favorite) is the Greek Theatre but it has more recently been rechristened as Plaça de la Natura (Nature Square). Its original name was due to the fact that it was planned for staging large open-air shows that could be watched from the surrounding terraces. Although Gaudí always respected the lie of the land, this large square is artificial. Part of it is dug into the rock, while the other part is held up on top of the Hypostyle room. The focal point is the long bench in the form of a sea serpent and the views are breathtaking. The curves of the serpent bench form a number of enclaves, creating a more social atmosphere.

This bench is world famous, even Salvador Dalí called the bench once the precursor of surrealism. And he has sat there!



I mean seriously, check out the view.


On the eastern side of the Greek Theatre square there is an original iron door which leads to where there used to be the gardens of Casa Larrard, the former mansion that Güell adopted as his own house, but which has been a school since 1931. The route, which runs at a level higher than that of the house, passes through a pine grove with the portico backing onto a retaining wall made from unworked stone. The portico adopts the shape of a great wave atop slanting columns, with a double colonnade that acts as a buttress. It is one of the finest examples of the organic architecture upheld by Gaudí.


While the park is completely enchanting with all of its, let’s just say “stunningness”, my favorites are always the gorgeous mosaic tiles. Which a lot of were planned and designed not by Gaudí but by his often overlooked colaberator, Josep M. Jujol.




And the best mosaic of them all, the dragon which guards the entrance to Park Güell – El Drac. A conduit running inside the Hypostyle toom collects the rainwater that filters down from the square, sending it to an underground tank, which uses the dragon’s mouth as its overflow. Genius, I tell you.


There is a large area of the park that is open free to the public. But all of these areas to visit mentioned above you need to buy a ticket, adults are 7.50€ and children are 5.25€. I would advise to buy tickets online to bypass the long line that sometimes happens with the beautiful park.

I would love to hear about your experience at Parc Güell if you go or if you have been before. I find this such a magical place that it always draws me to it every time I am in the fabulous city of Barcelona.



Starck Sailing Yacht A

Check it out y’all. The NEW Starck Sailing Yacht A is in the Balearics.

And it’s AH-MAH-ZING.

Last year I spied the Starck Motor Yacht A off the coast of Es Trenc. Which cost him a cool $313 million. Look at this baby. My pic, taken from Sa Rapita port.


And now his new one, Sailing Yacht A was spotted off the coast of Formentera. The largest and most controversial of all of Starck’s designs, Sailing Yacht A was the Frenchman’s second creation for Andrey Melnichenko. She underwent sea trials in the Mediterranean last year, and the 142.81 metre Nobiskrug yacht was handed over to her owner Andrey Melnichenko in February.

This mammoth of a yacht which set Melnichenko back $450 million, set sail from the German Navy Yard in Kiel a few months ago. It has eight decks with a helicopter pad and an underwater observation deck hidden in the bow. The three 300ft masts are taller than Big Ben.

Quite an impressive sight to behold.

super yacht a

I hope to be seeing it soon! And I will definitely be posting that here if I do.

Do you think I can be invited on for a tour? Maybe fly the helicopter? Serve drinks to the famous peeps?


Fritz’s Jazz Bar – NOLA

Hello there.

Just sitting here in Phoenix, AZ sweating my face off in lovely 100° weather, trying to recover from my weekend in New Orleans. We pretty much hit every spot to be hit so keep tuned. But wanted to share this video of Mike Fulton & John Royen from Fritzel’s Jazz Club on Bourbon St. It’s always a favorite place of mine for some most excellent jazz.

You know what I say – Turn it up!

Carrie Fisher (1956 – 2016)

What is happening this year? So many of my favorite celeb peeps are dropping out. But this latest was a stab to my heart. Carrie Fisher was a true icon to me. As Princess Leia, she showed us that girls can be strong and sexy and smart. She was a bad ass and DID rule the galaxy. I tried to rock those braids many times but never rocked them like her.

She may have been the first feminist leader for me. She certainly was the first (for me) to wear and rule the white pantsuit. HRC would do that much later.


Later, she would be a mental health advocate. She didn’t hide the fact that she was bi-polar. And could be funny about it too. She gave her dueling dispositions the nicknames Roy (“the wild ride of a mood,” she said) and Pam (“who stands on the shore and sobs”). She channeled her struggles with depression and substance abuse into fiercely comic works – “Postcards From the Edge” (one of my favorite Meryl Streep movies), “Wishful Drinking,” and her latest “The Princess Diarist“. I haven’t read them but they are all now on my wish list to read.


She was witty and brilliant, ready with a sharp comment to an inane remark. One of my favorites, when someone criticized in the latest “Star Wars” series that she hadn’t aged well; she responded with the quote below and this beauty, “Men don’t age better than women. They’re just allowed to age.” I LOVE this woman.


Ms. Fisher, you will be sorely missed. Keep on shining as our bright star in that galaxy you ruled so well. I will be buying this shirt soon and will be rocking those braids for Halloween next year. And I will leave you with another great one from her on her death.

“I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”

RIP Carrie Fisher. May the force be with you.

Good Ole Saint Nicholas

German postcard. Image from St. Nicholas Center,

Saint Nicholas, the one we have come to know and love as Jolly Ole Saint Nick, aka SANTA. But how much do you really know about him?

Today, December 6th, is Saint Nicholas Day. A holiday celebrated in most of the European countries. Children will set out shoes with coins, hoping for a small present or Dutch children will put carrots and hay in shoes, again waiting for a gift. For me, the Christmas season starts on this day: the children’s eyes getting large with seeing a present in their shoe, the excitement of the month, the parent’s giddiness in showing surprise that St. Nick was there. Even though in the U.S.A we don’t celebrate St. Nicholas, we are still hanging the wreath on the front door, starting to put up the tree, deciding what color lights this year – blue or red, maybe white. I remember being super duper good throughout the month of December so I would get all that I wished for from Santa. Please, the Barbie Dream House!

Our beloved Santa is a mythical figure. What? Say it isn’t so! Sorry for any spoilers I just gave away. Pssst, the tooth fairy ain’t real either. But I love to see my nephew’s or my student’s faces light up when they talk about either of them. By the way, the tooth fairy in Spain is a mouse. Hehe.

But THE Saint Nicholas was a real to goodness, live person who, as legend has it, performed amazing miracles and his legendary habit of secret gift-giving gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus. He was born a looooong time ago, in the year 270 AD and died on this date (Dec 6th) in 343 AD.

Some of these miracles you might ask? The main one happened when he was quite young. He was on a pilgrimage to the birthplace of Christianity – the Holy Land and set sail on an Egyptian ship. During the night he had a vivid dream of a terrible storm that would put them all at risk. He warned the sailors of this storm but also said not to worry, for “God will protect them.” Within minutes the sky grew dark and the waves high and strong, the sailors were extremely frightened. One sailor climbed the mast to secure the ropes so the mast wouldn’t crash onto the deck. As he was coming down, he slipped and fell to his death. Nicholas began to pray over him and as he did the storm began to ease. The fallen sailor soon awoke without pain and the ship finished its journey.

Astonishing, no?

The dowry for the three virgins (Gentile da Fabriano, c. 1425, Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome).

Another tells a story of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man’s daughters, without a dowry, would be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.

There are more miracles, saving people from famine, sparing the lives of the innocently accused, one with him saving a child even after Nicholas had died. Also, bringing three children (sometimes the stories say it was three students, some three clerks) back to life after an evil inn keeper murdered them to sell as pork pies. Kinda reminds me of the Sweeney Todd musical.

Whatever the case he is the patron saint for many – sailors, merchants, children, voyagers, repentant thieves, pawn-brokers, students and even marriageable maidens. So all you marriageable maidens out there, fly your Saint Nicholas flag high!! 🙂

And that, is the true story of Saint Nick. Now where are my shoes?


Gone Country


I am only a little excited about a movie coming out. You mix movies with country music and Gwyneth Paltrow (LOVE) and you got a winner. COUNTRY STRONG with tagline, It Doesn’t Matter Where You’ve Been, As Long As You Come Back Strong. This is gonna be another one of my complete head-over-heels favorites that I buy and watch over and over and over

and over.

I haven’t been this excited for a movie about a singer since George Strait in Pure Country. I cry my eyes out when Harley gets the tickets to Dusty’s show, but she doesn’t know that Dusty is really Dusty. And then he comes out on stage and sings a personal solo to Harley. J.W. is brimming with tears as Grandma Ivy just smiles at nods at her grandson. If you don’t have a tear in your eye, your heart is made of stone.

Here is Kelly Canter  Gwyneth Paltrow singing Country Strong at the CMAs. And don’t forget, that is Oklahoma native and legend Vince Gill singing with her.

G-L-O-R-I-A !!

Last night, at 22h, I saw the legendary Patti Smith perform in front of hundreds at the gardens of the Palau Comtes d’Aiamans in Lloseta, Mallorca. Thank you Patti, or Ms. Smith. The night will stay etched in my memory always.

“Because the night belongs to lovers Because the night belongs to us”

This is a picture of the world’s smallest beer.

Patti and band.

Patti. Impressive.