Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 308

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Martinshof Story - Happiness - Awareness - Black Forest walks - Camino - Dolmen Tour - Travel

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Wednesday 1 - Friday 3 Otober, 2014 (diary)

Anchoas Fritas from a bistro on La Rambla, Palma Palma de Mallorca is a chaotic place and directions to various locations are hard to find.
For the record Bus no. 1 drives all the way from the Airport to the Port where the various ferries to mainland Spain are located.
The bus route goes right through the center of town and to get to Hotel Almudaina descend at the stop at Avenue Jaime III (the hotel is located a few hundred meters down this street).

So I got to the Tramediterranea boarding point alright. The ship is quite comfortable, especially since I had booked a cabin for the 7½ hour long trip.
The so-called 4-course meal I had ordered (and paid for) beforehand online however was rather a joke. The choice of dishes was very restrictive and anything else you selected had to be paid for extra.
I ended up with a $30 meal which frankly was not worth half the money. No salt or pepper anywhere in sight. The staff in general was also bordering on unfriendly. (A claim I had read about the other carrier, and the very reason why I had selected this one).

Cruising into Barcelona harbour

Arriving in Barcelona was a breeze. The ferry moors right on the southern end of the old town, which is the main area of interest.   As arranged Yosune was waiting for me at the Terminal and guided me to my hotel, only a 10 minutes walk. With Yosune
Yosune is from Felechas, a mountain village in Asturias which I used as base for my geological field work way back in 1958.   (See my Spain stories 8 and 12)
Yosune is the granddaughter of a sister of Olivia, who still remembers my visit. She and her husband Julio (since passed away) had a small convenience store were my fellow student Hauk and I always purchased our food and wine. In 1959 I went back there and stayed with them for a week.
Plaza Reial by night Hotel Fornos is an excellent budget hotel (it has a proper bath and even a bidet in its bathrooms), located in what I consider to be the best spot in town : its entrance in a small street (Colom) which connects the magnificent Plaza Reial with La Rambla, the most famous Avenue in old Barcelona.
After checking in the hotel we proceeded immediately to the Plaza Reial where we had a drink and talked about Felechas, but then Yosune (a committed Basc I suspect) took me to her favourite Tapas Bar iRATi, only a stone throw from my hotel and great tapas!

Tapas from Bar iRATi I am not keen on big cities, but Barcelona is pleasant enough, with a mixture of ancient buildings and modern art influences. Unfortunately it is flooded with tourists, which (I feel) greatly reduces the former magnificence of La Rambla.
Plaza Reial on the other hand rises above it all. With its cafe tables filled with people, basking musicians and gymnasts abounding it remains a wonderful place to relax and absorb the mood of ancient Spain.

So besides wandering through the narrow streets with its many hidden treasures and pleasant surprises, the Plaza Reial and Bar iRATi are my main relaxation points.
Plus of course the lounge of Hotel Fornos on the 1st floor with windows looking down onto the busy La Rambla, where I sit right now as I write away on my laptop.

On top of Gaudi's Palau Güell Barcelona's most famous architect was Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926), who broke away from the traditional design and started the Art Nouveau in Cataonia.
The Güell Palace was the first great commision the young Gaudi received from his greatest benefactor and friend, the rich industrialist Eusebi Güell. After that Gaudi never looked back.
It is indeed a most unusual design, very intriate in all its apects.   The building is only a hundred meters away from Hotel Fornos and La Rambla.

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Saturday 4 & Sunday 5 October, 2014 (diary)

Dali - Jewlry Museum, Figueres Saturday morning Yosune collected me from the hotel after which we took a taxi to Barcelona Sants (railway station) where we had coffee and chatted some more about Felechas.
I am becoming very tempted to accept her invitation and come to the village in 2 years time. We shall see.
After saying goodbye I traveled to Figueres (40km south of the French border), settled in my hotel (Hotel Los Angeles) and went to the Teatre Museu Dali. The building used to be the town's theater, but when it fell on hard times Dali purchased it and displayed a large body of his work there.

It was a wonderful experience during which I took some 220 photographs. I am still in the process of selecting and preparing a number of them for display here but I have put some already online to look at.

On Sunday I visited Dali's Jewelry collection which is located in another part of the building. Many of them are small sculptures of gold and gemstones, quite amazing.
Surrealists artists like Dali and Magritte take us beyond the familiar everyday reality as we know it, and they challenge us to expand our visionary horizons.
Perhaps now more than ever before should we go down that path, as modern physics reveals that "reality" is perhaps quite different from what we assume it to be.
Modern scientists advise us not to look at our world and universe in terms of matter, space and time, but rather as series of processes connected to one another through causalities.

Lee Smolin is a scientist who is searching for a theory of quantum gravity, which combines Einstein's Special relativity theory (explaining the large) with quantum mechanics (dealing with the very smallest particles like electrons and protons).

Welcomes dinner in BegurIn his recent book Three roads to Quantum Gravity Smolin suggests that we look at the universe as if it were a sentence. A sentence is a succession of words, each word a consequence of its predecessor.
But (says Smolin) take all words of the sentence away an there is no space or time left.
From this viewpoint there is no distinct space-time entity (as I understand it they are merely expressions of causality) A most interesting thought.

On Sunday, as arranged, a taxi called for me at the Hotel and drove me to the lovely village of Begur, where, in the evening, the Walks in Spain walking group got together for a wonderful welcome dinner. It was great to meet Paul Jr. and Paul Sn. again.   Tomorrow the serious walking will commence.

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Monday 6 & Thursday 9 October, 2014 (diary)

Costa Brava, NE Spain Monday our first walking day with Walks in Spain. A strenuous walk along a number of beaches, separated by rocky outcrops we had to climb up, then down again, time after time.
The beaches here are very isolated with only a weather beaten shack here and there where a family lives out their life in paradise. Also the odd nudist beach, but I was by this time too tired to notice. Finally we started our way inland up a steep slope and then through dense woodland back to our starting point. Although the total distance was only 13 km it took us over 5 hours of non-stop walking to complete, longer than I have walked for a very long time.

Costa Brava, NE Spain The following two days were much easier to handle, although every afternoon after returning to our hotel in Begur, I had a quick shower and went straight to bed.
Day 2 was a stroll through undulating farm land an picturesque villages behind the coast. (Unfortunately my camera was palying up and I took no photos).
The third day was again along the coast but this time through some popular holiday villages along the coast. Every day after the walk we were treated to a splendid 3- course lunch at a quality restaurant which was nice.

Today we traveled by car to Girona booked into a hotel there and walked around the city. I must say Girona (located halfway between Barcelona and Figueres to the north) is a delightful place to visit and from what I have seen this past week much nicer than either Palma de Mallorca or even Barcelona.

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Friday 10 & Sunday 12 October, 2014 (diary)

Costa Brava - with Paul Sr. The last two days of walking were in the Costa Brava hinterland through an ancient volcanic area, very pleasant and a stark contrast from the first 3 days of our tour. The daily walks were not strenuous and I could easily cope with them.
In contrast to my Camino walk the group this time was much more international which enhanced the experience. Of the total of 15 participants 4 came from Australia, 4 from the UK, 2 from the USA, 3 from Canada and 2 Malaysians living at present in Oman.

We have all said our goodbyes and I write this while sitting in the train in Cerbere, a small town just across the border in France on the Mediterranean. The train will depart in about half an hour, carrying me to Collioure, a small town on the Mediterranean much favoured by Matisse and Derain for the light. Anne-Marie too spend holidays here in the past. So I look forward to the place.

I arrive at Collioure by train at about midday. The Railway station office was closed, no bus or taxi in sight, so I start walking down the street that is heading downwards. I am sure it eventually must end up down the beach somewhere. Within minutes I arrive at a square with a market just breaking up. I see a taxi who refuses to drive me as my hotel Le Mas des Citronniers is just a stone-throw away.
Lovely hotel, great welcome, excellent room (but Matisse just left :-) they tell me).

Grilled sardines a la persillade After dropping my luggage at the hotel I walk into town : I love the place !.
Anne-Marie (when your read this) whatever it was like when you visited here : it is all still there !! Sure, plenty of tourist, but the atmosphere is wonderful, and there are lots of restaurants with the most delicious seafood.
My selection of a place to lunch depends just on one single item : do they have grilled sardines on the Menu. The Restaurant L'Arcade has just that (Sardines "persillade" whatever that means).
But wait there is more : the least amount of wine you can order is half a liter (€7 only and not half bad).
And finally, finally !! I have found somewhere on a menu under the Deserts : Assiette de Fromage, cheese, 3 types including a real French Roquefort, which has a creamy after taste to it, not the horrible bity stuff you get anywhere else.   In short, Collioure has restored my appreciation of French food, much for the better!

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Monday 13 - Wednesday 15 October, 2014 (diary)

Andre Derain It struck me these past few weeks that many European countries are held hostage to their own culture.
In order to maintain the wonderful architecture and dwellings of the past, inhabitants must either endure the uncomfortable life style of centuries ago, or build new comfortable dwellings that fit in with the old style.
In Spain this has not happened very well.

On the Côte Vermeille in France on the other hand the modern buildings do blend in very well with the old, probably a combined result of greater affluence (at least financially) of the inhabitants and stricter Council regulations.

Collioure is a charming place, clean, well maintained and very much maintining the building style from its past.   Although it is most renown for the frequent visits paid there by Henri Matisse and André Derain, there are no original paintings of their work in the town. But prints of their work, depicting scenes of Collioure, are displayed at various points on some of the town walls.

Unfortunately the present art scene (if one could call it that at all) is nowhere up to that standard. All paintings, pottery and other items I did see are tourist junk, much of it in atrocious taste. However this is only a reflection of the world today and on display wherever we are.

A charming aspect of the old town are the small tiles embedded in the stone wall around the front doors of some of the homes. They presumably depict the ativities of past (or present ?) inhabitants.

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