Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Conclusion: Back 'Mid the Groves and Copses of Lynnhurst at Rollingwood

Though the tug of travel will pull me forth once again, I have been enjoying the gentle gravity of my country squire life at Lynnhurst. Never does it feel so good to sit still after one has been moving, and moving, for weeks on end. After several days of falling asleep by 8pm, I have finally returned to a feeling of normalcy. And despite a week of Indian Summer, with its hot, humid weather, fall is finally upon us, as I write this brief conclusion to the MTBBB blog. Within this world of trees and leaves and lawns, of bountiful dinners, of wonderful walks through the woods, of my lovely wife and our yet unborn daughter, there is peace for me and mine.

So until next time...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Work & Play Bilbao / Return to USA

On Wednesday, I worked, and took it easy with a few pintxos and glasses of rioja at the iruna, just across the park.

Feeling better than I had all week, I woke kind of early on Thursday, and set about packing up to return home. Work was rewarding, as usual, particularly in a few quiet moments shared with revered artworks. Lunch at a nearby vegetarian was a modest, simple, and stabilizing affair. Being outside and crossing the streets reminded us that the wind had turned cooler. As work wound down, there was talk of having beers, which led to 5 or so with the handlers, and other museum folks. Finally beers led to dinner in the Casco Viejo, which led to wine, which led to dancing, which led to everyone being silly and making a fool of themselves…

I hardly slept that night—not really at all—before packing my suitcase for the last time, gathering my belongings, and riding quickly through a foggy pre-dawn morning to the Bilbao airport. Waiting for the Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt was painful. My head was beginning to pound from alcohol, sleeplessness, and sinus pressure! Woah was me. I was hurting. The flight to Frankfurt hurt, as did walking long distances through the Frankfurt airport in search of my connecting gate. Fat German men rode bicycles through the airport terminal. I got invasively searched, and made it to my gate with plenty of time to spare.

The flight from Frankfurt got better with time…the pain in my head and sinuses seemed to abate as I caught up on sleep—albeit in 20-30 minute spurts—drank water, and ate more and more food throughout the day. After what seems an interminable trip, during which I watched Big Lebowski nearly in its entirety (again), I arrived at Dulles, and within 30 min, was riding in a taxi cab bound for Lynnhurst.

Once home, I struggled to stay awake until Sandy arrived at 5:30…I had to walk around, shower, etc to stay conscious. We had Vace pizza, and by 7:30, I was asleep on the couch…zzz.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Arrival Bilbao / First Free Day

Bilbao was blurry upon arrival. The art was delivered, and we were delivered to our Hotel, the Husa Hotel de Jardines Albia. Adjacent to a nice park, and near the river and several cafes. Two of us walked around a few city blocks the first evening—after a four hour nap—and found the Café Iruna, for a first round of pintxos (tapas in this part of Spain), and beers. Made a relatively early night of it.

On Tuesday, I walked, with glee, to the Casco Viejo, or Old City. Its labyrinth streets kept me wandering in slight circles for an hour or so. Then hunger set in, so I set about finding the Plaza Nueva, home to two bars known for their pintxos—the Victor Montes and the Bar Bilbao. At the first, I had two pintxos—anchovies over roasted tomatoes on a slice of bread, and another with seafood salad, and one san Miguel beer. I then walked across the corner of the square to sample the fare at Bar Bilbao. After a few similar pintxos, I ordered their specialty Calamares Fritos, which were fresh, simple and excellent…dressed only with freshly squeezed lemon…crispy, tasty and great with beer.

Sated, I left to wander back through the streets of Casco Viejo, and returned for a short siesta in my hotel room. Afterwards, I ventured out into the downtown of the city, along the main shopping boulevard with its big department stores, until I came to the Plaza Muyor, and hung a left on the Ercilla, a pedestrian shopping street that was home to the Camper store where I picked up some zapatos. I continued to wonder, buying a used copy of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, and through a park, and by the Bilbao Museum of Art, and back eventually to my hotel. That evening, another courier and I returned to the Bar Bilbao for more beer and pintxos.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Paris to Bilbao

We watched The Royal Tenenbaums, and then everyone dipped out. I devised a way to lay out on the van’s floor, so made myself a little pillow from one of my overstuffed bags, and stretched my legs. Slept on and off throughout the night. At 6:30 am, we were still in France, when we stopped at a rather nice convenient store for a quick break. I was starving so I managed to gather a fresh baguette (yes, just baked at said convenient store), some sliced cheese, a yogurt drink called YOP, and a water. We stood outside the store, scarfing down bits of bread and cheese then returned to our cramped positions in the van. By morning, we had entered the foggy and craggy hills of northern spain, and soon passed San Sebastian en route to Bilbao.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Paris Day 2 -- Louvre / Musee d’Orsay

Following a leisurely breakfast at our hotel, we again traveled by subway into the city center to visit the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay. We walked through Tuileries Garden in heading toward the museum’s central plaza crowned, as it is, with a futuristic glass plated pyramid. Once inside, we headed straight past the Venus de Milo toward the Italian Renaissance paintings, saw the Giottos and then the Mona Lisa and Veronese’s massive Feast at Cana. We then took in the Carravagio’s and some of Goya’s drawings, then headed into the Grand hall of large scale 19th century French paintings—Delacroix, Delaroche, and, of course, Gericault’s masterpiece Raft of the Medusa. It was all breathtaking. We then stood in a square gallery I thought had been the site of Samuel F. B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre, but alas, I was mistaken. We marched through the great hall of David’s Oath of the Horatii and Rape of the Sabine Women before quickly breezing (unfortunately) through the Dutch galleries and the 18th century French paintings of Watteau, Fragonard, Chardin, et al. Chardin’s monkey paintings always get me!

We left the Louvre and headed across the river to the Musee d’Orsay. But first, we took a detour to the Boulevard St. Germain, where we lunched on salads and monsieur croques (open faced grilled cheese sandwiches) and $12 glasses of Kronenbourg beer at the café known as Deux Magots. All was delicious and the weather was delightful. Sated, we entered the museum, a converted train station, that houses the Louvre’s collection of nineteenth and early twentieth century paintings and sculpture. Though the large Courbet paintings were not on view, Manet’s Dejuener sur la Herbe more than satisfied. Also enjoyed seeing paintings by Fantin-Latour (Homage to Delacroix), Bonnard, and…oh I can’t think of what else…

From there we walked along the Seine, on the river front, and through a tree lined park, toward the Royal Palais and the Champs Elysses and caught a quick glimpse of the Arc d’Triomphe. It was all glorious, and despite the trouble I had getting into the Metro (the gate messed up as I was entering and essentially took my ticket without allowing me to enter), we made it back to the hotel in plenty of time to shower, pack, and dine on some local Turkish cuisine before getting back into the van for an overnight jaunt to Bilbao.

(something I learned during the trip was that it was possible to include more than five pics per post)