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Archive for the ‘Pyrenees’ Category

Los Pireneos

This past weekend the entire CASB (or consooorrrtium) group took a trip to the Pyrenees to see…Romanesque churches!!!  In all seriousness, the scenery was breath-taking and some of what we learned about the romanesque (or románico in español) art and architecture was interesting (particularly the bit about the religious iconography used to signify which apostles were which since most people were illiterate).  We arrived in the Valle de Boi on Friday evening, and our drive there was one of the most stunning I’ve ever seen.  It had been raining and so the entire mountain range was covered in a dark, haunting fog (ok, I gotta make a Harry Potter reference so you can understand the visuals…) that shimmered over the lakes in the valleys.  Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of this because it was too dark and misty for them to turn out.


We spent the next day touring the Romanesque churches, which are tiny stone churches (unlike the big Gothic cathedrals) dating back to the 11-13th centuries.  The first church we visited, I believe it was called San Climente de Taüll, was very pretty with a tall bell tower.

The belltower of San Climente de Taüll

The belltower of San Climente de Taüll

Insided we saw the Romanesque artwork (most of which were reproductions as the originals have miraculously been transported to the Museo Nacional de Cataluña or MNAC).

Jesus with an alpha and omega in the background meant to signify his power "from beginning to end"

Jesus with an alpha and omega in the background meant to signify his power "from beginning to end"

I got to go up the belltower and guess what I saw?

A shepherd herding his flock down the street!

A shepherd herding his flock down the street!

(I’ll try to post the video I took so you can hear their bells ringing but I’m technologically illiterate, practically).


Here are some more photos of the region:

Who knew parts of Spain could conjure up images of Heidi in the Swiss Alps?

Who knew parts of Spain could conjure up images of Heidi in the Swiss Alps?

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A courtyard in one of the cathedrals

A courtyard in the one cathedral we visited


After several Romanesque churches, it was time for lunch.  Our program director, Juanjo, graciously gave us 5 hours of free time in “the largest town in the area with nightlife.”  It was an epic fail, but well-intentioned.  Here’s why: A) The sleepy town had very few stores or restaurants opened when we arrived at 2 pm because it was siesta time     B) My friends and I unwittingly went into a pizzeria that was not serving pizza and had an awful lunch  C) There was no semblance of nightlife and why would we want to take advantage of said-nightlife at 3 in the afternoon?  D) There was a small protest against a broken promise that the government had made to provide this town with a better highway, so our departure was delayed


So…a few friends and I basically played cards all afternoon and walked around the grocery store.

***

The next day we visited a castle on our way home, but the only disappointing thing was that you couldn’t see too much of the grounds because they’d been turned into a hotel.

The Castle in Cardona

The Castle in Cardona

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The Catalan flag is in the background

The Catalan flag is in the background

Verdict on the Pyrenees:  breathtaking scenery, pretty churches, don’t go for the nightlife (as we evidently learned while leaving our hotel the last morning…)

This weekend is the Mercé, one of the biggest festivals of the year in Barcelona, which means a 4-day weekend filled with fire, human towers, gigantic paper-machine creatures, and fire works!!

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