Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The nightshade family

This fruit is called physalis and the fruit belongs to the nightshade family, that fact was the most interesting thing I found out about them. Once you know they are related to tomatoes, the similarity is obvious but they are fragrant, like perfume.
I was out at dinner with friends, and one of these were sitting atop her ice-cream.  What followed was a discussion in Swedish that I couldn't follow, as they tried to figure out the English word for the fruit.
Then I saw them in my local grocery store, for some reason, (nonsensically as so few food items are) I decided the fruit was local.
It is strange and wonderful to find a fruit I have never seen before.
Well, until my mind wanders into all the information that has been the topic of so much news with regards to globalization, and its impact on food production.
This made me think about Tasmania versus Sweden.  Tasmania smugly can exist on food produced on the island, with tropical foods (like physalis) coming from Queensland.  But Sweden would be sadly lacking in variety if the country could not import foods.  Of all the fruits and vegetables in our store, only the potatoes and strawberries had been grown in Sweden.  
What comprises a moral stance in one country can not often be applied to another country.  Why am I bothering to think about all this?  Probably because Zok's idea to have a road trip through Scotland was booked during the high season, of a record breaking year for tourism in that country.
I spent three days, and contacted over forty places to find us five places to sleep and none of the places were even in my top twenty choices.
I would say the say to see Scotland is to pick an area, book a cute cabin/lighthouse/farmstead for an entire week and explore from there.
Also most take bookings from Saturday to Saturday so you might want to factor that in.  We will be doing some back tracking on our driving, but all of the scenery on the web seems so pretty that I don't think this will be a problem.
I also am lamenting all my cute, good, hiking clothing I have amassed- in Tasmania.  None of which is here.
Of course when I get a photo of Nessie, I will be so rich that I can just buy whatever clothing I want.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Toledo...Spain...not Ohio


 Zok and I took a train to Toledo - about 40 minutes away.  The city was once the capitol of Spain- until 1561 (or so I read).
The city had all the same charms of a city this old; traditions such as mosaic tiles, ornate churches (synagogs, mosques...) famous residents (El Greco, the Visigoths), beautiful stonework, skulls, and a few gargoyles.
But the city was also muy, MUY, caliente without the refuge of large shaded lanes or fancy modern air conditioning that have saved me in Madrid.
Sombra Por Favor!


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Other parts of El Retiro park.

At the end of it all- we had a 'frozen' beer (the heat here stays around 36c). 

The Palacio de Velazquez had interactive pieces by a Brazilian artist named Cildo Meireles- the fake sea is made from 17,000 books with photos all of sea water.                                

                   The crystal palace, now has temporary art exhibits, but I was more interested in the building itself, and wishing that it still housed exotic hothouse flowers.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

"...I need no stars to guide me...I need no sun to shine..."


After lunch and a couple of hours at the Prado I conned Zok into taking me to the gardens of El Retiro.

There is a man made lake with rowboats that can be rented by the hour. I knew that Zok had been a coxwan for a rowing team, but somehow I didn't think he would be such an expert rower. I felt pretty smug as we darted around the lake from Roman columns to grand square, past the Sphinx and over to watch the rather large fish leap from the water.

All the statues, buildings and sculpted gardens seem strange until I read that the park was only for royalty, used throughout the 17 th, century, open to the public in 1868.
The largest monument on the lake is 'Monument to Alfonso XII'.
But the lake was just the beginning of our adventure.

Friday, July 5, 2013

"...stubborn beauty, stubborn beauty, Oh, very well, then..."

A perk of being in Paris for an entire week was I had time to do some exploring, not as much as I might have...but still enough.
The iconic Metro stations were a mystery I wanted to learn about.
I found out there were two (!) left of '├ędicules' style (that's francypants for glass roofed)- of the 141 stations designed by Hector Guimard between 1900-1912, there are 86 left.  Mostly they are the style of cast iron brin de muguet or spig of the lily of the valley- usually with orange or red lights in the center of the flowers.

The photos here are from Porte Dauphine station-and the only true original left as the other ├ędicules station is Abbessess but that one was moved from Hotel de Ville in the 1970s.

As I continually read in the museums, Art Deco is about emulating or alluding to nature.  I think this is my attraction.  This 'idea' of nature in such a dense cityscape.

Here are examples of two others

 Here is the station now at Abbessess

Thursday, July 4, 2013

"It's Paris, the Eiffel Tower, the sexiest building left..."

That tower it sure does get around.

(I would like to add here that while Teddy and Coco lounged about, drinking wine, Teddy told Coco "It is all so wonderful the oohing and ahhhing"  Coco thought "Ah the punters" and then as the lights started to sparkle she had the loudest exclamation for miles.)

"...if the girl can never get's she gonna be found..."

Bats and rats in a tourist trap-

There was litter, smelly streets, drunks, arguments by drunks and otherwise...
Crowds, humid heat, sudden showers.
All this is true but I will choose to remember all the hours of conversation avec mon ami Theodore.
The best sort of conversation, easy, familiar- with laughter and understanding.
I will remember that my friend Nanou went out of her way just to have dinner and to chat into the late night hour.
I will omit any possibly more torrid details.
Because Paris is that large of an experience that one can fit and omit so much content yet still have rich remains.