LIGHTS EXTRAVAGANZA

LIGHTS EXTRAVAGANZA

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Crowds fill the streets in front of retailer windows in New York City as the stores vie for viewers of their Christmas displays. Macy’s started the tradition in 1883 when it debuted an animated shop window. This was followed by stores in other states across the country, but we’re only talking New York City here. This tradition is also in lobby’s of major hotels and office buildings: the Palace, the Harley, the St. Moritz and the Park Lane hotels and the Park Avenue Plaza and Gulf and Western office buildings.

Rockefeller ice skating

Rockefeller ice skating

We strayed up and down, round the town, all the way to Rockefeller plaza . . . and wouldn’t you know it, right across the way was the most spectacular lights extravaganza  in the city, on the facade of Saks 5th Avenue.

The famous tree at Rockefeller Plaza

The famous tree at Rockefeller Plaza

Click here: Saks Fifth Avenue Christmas Light Show 2015

ABOUT SAKS FIFTH AVENUE

For years, it’s been rumored that a Yeti lives on the roof of Saks Fifth Avenue, making snowflakes during the holiday season. He’s inspired Yeti trackers around the world. He’s reportedly been spotted by security cameras. Now, he’s a holiday superstar, with a starring role in Saks Fifth Avenue’s windows and light show, a plush toy ($55) and a furry book by Stephan Bucher ($25).

Saks decor

Saks decor

And just in case you didn’t know Saks Fifth Avenue, it’s one of the world’s pre-eminent specialty retailers, renowned for its superlative American and international designer collections, its expertly edited assortment of handbags, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics and gifts, and the first-rate fashion expertise and exemplary client service of its Associates. As part of the Hudson’s Bay Company brand portfolio, Saks operates 41 full-line stores in 20 states, five international licensed stores, 72 Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH stores and saks.com, the company’s online store.

Do you have a favorite something about the holidays?

Rockefeller Plaza

Rockefeller Plaza

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LISBON FOR THE DAY

LISBON FOR THE DAY

Oops! Latest in clothes dryers right in the middle of Lisbon, with a beautiful backdrop facade of azulejos. The azulejo (tile) is the most typical and widely used form of decoration in Portugal since the middle ages.

Lisbon, the capital and largest city of Portugal is one of the oldest cities in the world, according to Wikipedia.

The Rossio central square

We saved running around the city until our last day. Mistake. Who could have predicted that my stomach would bubble and gurgle? There are pills for that condition. I took a couple and by the time Lili picked us up, I was able to take the tour sitting down.

Lisbon trolley car

Lili and Gigi are  family, she is Gigi’s sister and she babysat my kids ions ago in New Jersey. She drove the city. Here’s what we saw.

Who remembers trolley cars? They were in Brooklyn, (I rode those), New York City, Philadelphia,  and other American cities. There they were, moving about on the rails, filled with people.

Amoreiras Shopping Center

A typical city with people shopping, talking, walking, lovers everywhere hand-in-hand, and the scents, the wonderful scents and aromas of a busy city, the sweet-sticky-scents of bakeries and cafes ricocheted in the air.

Lisbon has some of the largest shopping malls in Europe. Armazens do Chiado is the most central, Colombo is the largest, and Amoreiras is the oldest, updated to post-modern. They all house well-known international retailers such as Zara and fast food restaurants such as, yes, McDonald’s. They’re ideal for some shopping on a rainy day in the city. It broke my heart, we did not have time to shop. I made up for it in the airport. Well, sort of. The airport shops cannot replace shopping in Lisbon.

Castle of São Jorge

Lili took us to the top of the city where we could see the Castle of São Jorge, the highest point of the city. This place reminded me of a waterfront park in San Francisco, where you find the young people playing instruments, singing, resting, lovers and the interested.

Top of the city. Lili and Gail on the right.

Aquaduct

On the morning of our departure, I took photos from our Marriott Hotel and got a foggy shot of the famous aquaduct. An obvious nod to the ancient Roman influence in Portugal, this massive 18th century aquaduct once delivered water to the entire city from the Mãe d’Água reservoir. Covering a span of some 18 km, about 11 miles, the aquaduct is no longer in use but still serves as an iconic feat of Portuguese engineering on display in the city.

According to the Tenth addition, AAA Europe Travel Book,In an early 19th century dispatch, the Duke of Wellington said “There is something very extraordinary in the nature of the people of the Peninsula, The most loyal and best-disposed . . .” It has not changed.

Donna Emilia (Gigi and Lili’s mother) We were her guests in Sao Martinho.

The heart of Portugal is the people. They are warm, friendly and accommodating. Here’s one of the best, the mother of our hosts.

Red sunshades of cafes in Ribeira Square, Porto

Do you like wine, do you like coffee? Those are serious beverages in Portugal. Next week, cafe’s of Portugal.

CURLS AND FURLS OF THE 19TH CENTURY

CURLS AND FURLS OF THE 19TH CENTURY

Sagrada Familia Church, Barcelona, Spain

Antonio Gaudi died under the wheels of a tram and was to be buried in an unknown grave. Yet, he is known for his Barcelona Gaudi Architecture – Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Milà, Casa Batlló in Barcelona. He was an enthusiast of the nineteenth century popular style of Art Nouveau, a style celebrating art for art’s sake. A style that did not relate to any designs of the past. The style was an invention of a new kind of ornament based on the asymmetrical flowing lines of plant forms.  Gaudi impressed the architectural community with his wild, vehement and whimsical forms of the curls  and furls of the style. The stone and iron used in his work were bent and warped creating surfaces of great complexity that flow like molten lava. He used outlandish, original, colored mosaics and toyed with ideas in architecture, both interior and exterior, that bring visitors and tourists to Barcelona by the millions.

Unless you have been there, you cannot possibly imagine the overwhelming pomposity, grandeur, and fantasy of this church. I have traveled the world over, from the USA to England,  Portugal,  Mexico,  Spain,  Bangladesh,  Africa, and to other countries. I have seen churches, I have studied churches, I have painted churches . . .  and to clarify before you have a chance to verify, the churches I painted were on canvas. Never have I seen, explored, or experienced any like Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. His work has been described as “melted butter.” The towers here, in the above image, with the rippling contours of the stone facade make it look as though Sagrada Familia is melting in the sun.

Façade

The holy figures of stone imbedded into the fascia are unbelievable. From afar, the details blur some. This image shows the details. The church began its life in 1882. From 1883 Gaudi worked on the architecture until his death. He left a legacy of information. The church, in the lower level, has models, architectural drawings, and yards and yards and yards of information to continue building to completion. And so it goes. There are always cranes on site. Always workers on site, always lines of onlookers on site. The church is open to the public everyday all year except for Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Death

Gaudí’s funeral (12 June 1926)

On 7 June 1926, Gaudí was taking his daily walk to the Sant Felip Neri church for his habitual prayer and confession. While walking along the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes between Girona and Bailén streets, he was struck by a passing tram and lost consciousness.[48] Assumed to be a beggar because of his lack of identity documents and shabby clothing, the unconscious Gaudí did not receive immediate aid. Eventually a police officer transported him in a taxi to the Santa Creu Hospital, where he received rudimentary care.[49] By the time that the chaplain of the Sagrada Família, Mosén Gil Parés, recognised him on the following day, Gaudí’s condition had deteriorated too severely to benefit from additional treatment. Gaudí died on 10 June 1926 at the age of 73 and was buried two days later. A large crowd gathered to bid farewell to him in the chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the crypt of the Sagrada Família.

Mosaics section

Gaudi is dead, long live Gaudi.

Roof architecture at Casa Batllo

The towers of Sagrada Familia can be seen from almost everywhere in Barcelona.  Buildings . . .architecture, set the tone, the culture, for a town, a city, a country.  Architecture is a live, breathing, functioning sculpture.  You cannot hold it in your hand, but you can become part of it. You can love it, hate it, tolerate it, but like it or not, architecture sets the pace by which you live and survive.

Are you familiar with the architecture surrounding you? Are you aware that architecture is public art?

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