Dallas Texas

dallas-texasThis pin was a gift from Robert Wilson. I believe the first time I was in Dallas was in November 1963 when I interviewed Atlantic Richfield for a position. It was shortly after the Kennedy assassination. I walked down to the Dealey Plaza from my hotel. I could see figures standing in the shadows, observing all who came near. I suppose they were looking for “persons of interest.” It is still pop culture to consider this a conspiracy.

Dallas is a major city in the state of Texas and is the largest urban center of the fourth most populous metropolitan area in the United States. The city proper ranks ninth in the U.S. and third in Texas after Houston and San Antonio. The city’s prominence arose from its historical importance as a center for the oil and cotton industries, and its position along numerous railroad lines. The bulk of the city is in Dallas County, of which it is the county seat; however, sections of the city are located in Collin, Denton, Kaufman, and Rockwall counties. According to the 2010 United States Census, the city had a population of 1,197,816.

Located in North Texas, Dallas is the main core of the largest metropolitan area in the South and the largest inland metropolitan area in the United States that lacks any navigable link to the sea. Dallas and nearby Fort Worth were developed due to the construction of major railroad lines through the area allowing access to cotton, cattle, and later oil in North and East Texas. The construction of the Interstate Highway System reinforced Dallas’ prominence as a transportation hub with four major interstate highways converging in the city, and a fifth interstate loop around it. Dallas developed as a strong industrial and financial center, and a major inland port, due to the convergence of major railroad lines, interstate highways, and the construction of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, one of the largest and busiest airports in the world.

Location: 9-B3

Sardinia Italy

sardinia-italyI got this flag in Sardinia, Italy in January 2016. The traditional flag of Sardegna (dated from the end of the 14th century) is the white one with the red cross and the four moors heads. As such it was used by ships sailing from island harbors when Sardinia was part of the Kingdom of Sardinia. When in 1802 (and until 1814) the Kingdom was reduced to the island itself, the Savoias replaced the Savoia cross in the canton of the naval ensign of the kingdom with the Sardinia ensign.

The Four Moor’s Head

The Moors’ heads appeared originally in Aragonese and Catalan coats, and banners-of-arms in several places throughout their Mediterranean domains (Aragon, Corsica, Sardinia etc.). They intended to represent Moorish kings defeated and/or captured in combat (no actual persons and in no real number) and hence the Catalan and Aragonese participation in the Reconquest. In Medieval heraldry they were simply blazoned as “moors’ heads” (or more frequently “blackamoors’ heads” in English heraldry) and it was irrelevant where was the “tortil” (a headband , not a blindfold) placed or even whether it appeared at all.

Location: 25-B3

I Love Texas

Indeed, there is much to love about Texas. Robert Wilson gave me this pin.

There is much NOT to love as well. Texas can be a hateful state. Its history books distort history and report an ideological view. Texas government leaders have tried, and try earnestly to destroy the public school system, and replace it with what I consider to be madrassas, where everything is taught from an ultra-conservative, biased, biblical interpretative point of view. I did not say from a Bible point of view. To me, these folks (such as Tom Delay) want to teach ideology.

Not only that, Texas has been so gerrymandered that there is no hope of electing anyone but a Republican. Only in the general election does a Democrat have a possibility, and in 2016 that is probably not going to be realized.

Texas is a land of rivers, mountains, and a lot of very, very good people. It also has an almost Nazi group of people who want to control minds from a narrow ideological view.

Location: 9-B2

Costa Rica Macaw

macawThis pin is from the Hard Rock Cafe in Costa Rica is in San José. They advertise:

“At our cafe in San José, you’ll enjoy a classic Hard Rock experience with a little taste of Costa Rica. The capital of Costa Rica, San José is located in the middle of the Central Valley area, which is surrounded by lush, majestic mountains. You can see these beauties from any seat in our cafe, especially those near our 360-degree stage that “imitates” the surrounding area to offer a perfect view of the outside.

For even better views of the mountains around our cafe, venture outside to our two large terraces, which feature fire pits for cool, windy nights. We also have an exclusive VIP room that can be used for corporate meetings and social celebrations with up to 60 people.”

The macaw shown on this pin is holding a pair of drum sticks. A palm is in the back ground. The notation, “2nd 2015” denotes the second anniversary of the Hard Rock Café San José in 2015.

The macaw is the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao). It can be seen in Carara National Park, Corcovado National Park, and Palo Verde National Park. It lives high in the trees of lowland deciduous or tropical evergreen forest that are solid or patchy.

This brilliantly colored, medium-sized macaw is the only macaw found on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, and it rarely flies on the Caribbean side, where the Great Green Macaw lives. Macaws are the largest parrots in the Americas, and the Scarlet Macaw is distinct both in color and shape. This bird cannot be confused with any other in Costa Rica: its tail feathers are long and pointed, and its wings short for its large body. It has a large powerful bill for cracking tough seed coats and nuts. Bright red feathers cover the back, head, and lower tail feathers; bold blue spreads across the wings and lower back, with large strips of bold yellow above them. The conspicuous facial skin is pinkish white, and the bill ivory and black. Both sexes of these birds have adult plumage from a young age.

Location: 10-F3

Kon-Tiki Image

kon-tiki-imageObtained this in Oslo, Norway, May 13, 2015, at the Kon Tiki Museum. This pin shows the image of Kon Tiki

Location: 25-B2

Viking Boat Museum (4)

vikingskipsmusetObtained this in Oslo, Norway, May 13, 2015, at the Viking Ship Museum. This pin has the inscription in Norwegian “Viking Boat Museum.

Location: 25-A4

Antoni Gaudí

temploI visited Barcelona in January, 2016. Among the most striking things in Barcelona is the architecture of Antoni Gaudí. He disdained straight lines, and thus impressed a style in Barcelona that is unmistakeable.

Barcelona is a well-known destination for travelers who wish to have a good mix of fun and culture in a modern setting. Knitted in this unmistakable urban fabric you will some unusual and well-known buildings of a single architect named Antoni Gaudí. His unique approach to the Art Nouveau movement generated some of the most creative buildings you will see in this Spanish region known as Cataluña. The pin shown was obtained at The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família.

Genius inspires genius. The Art Nouveau style is evident everywhere. So is the desire to experiment. The building seen at the left is almost an optical illusion. What appears to be two buildings of different styles is really three buildings. The central building is the narrowest building in Barcelona, and the narrowest building I’ve ever seen.

Even if you don’t know anything about architecture or Gaudí, when you walk the streets of Barcelona you will intuitively be able to identify a Gaudí building –they are unmistakable. So, if you’re interested in experiencing an unusual Barcelona, you should take a look at 10 of the most important buildings designed by Gaudí:

narrow-house

  1. Casa Vicens

This is Gaudí’s first important building. Built between 1883 and 1888, Casa Vicens is an imaginative residential project made for a wealthy family that owned a ceramic factory. This is clearly reflected in the “trencadis” façade that contains a significant variety of ceramic decorations. You can also see some Islamic architecture influences in its façade and some of its rooms.

  1. La Pedrera

This is one of Gaudí’s main residential buildings and one of the most imaginative houses in the history of architecture. This building is more sculpture than a building. The façade is a varied and harmonious mass of undulating stone that, along with its forged iron balconies, explores the irregularities of the natural world. UNESCO recognized this building as World Heritage in 1984.

  1. Parc Güell

Parc Güell was built between 1900 and 1914 and today is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. This is a garden complex that houses a series of dynamically designed buildings, including Gaudí’s house. Most buildings have the “trencadis” (surfaces covered with irregular ceramic pieces) that is characteristic of Gaudí and Art Nouveau. The colonnaded hall and the terrace with serpentine shapes are the most famous places in this park. This park is the perfect place to take a peaceful stroll while enjoying nature and looking at Gaudí’s artwork.

  1. Palau Güell

This is the palace residence of the Güell family. The exterior shows a sober façade that doesn’t resemble other projects made by Gaudí. On the other hand, the interior and the roof make up for the lack of “Gaudiesque” elements in the façade. The central living room has an unusual parabolic dome, and the lounge ceiling is perforated by circles that, under the daylight, give the ceiling a planetarium appearance. The roof counts with chimneys and conical vents resembling fir trees.

  1. Colonia Güell

Gaudí designed this irregular oval church and crypt in 1898 and finished its construction in 1914. The interior of the crypt has five aisles: a central one and two more at each side. The original Gaudí columns with various forms are present inside and outside. The windows jut out over the walls, and in the upper part of the door a ceramic composition show the four cardinal virtues. The crypt is built in basaltic stone bricks with mosaics that give an archaic appearance. The construction techniques used here laid the foundation of the techniques employed in La Sagrada Familia.

  1. El Drac de Gaudí at Finca Güell

Finca Güell is a significant property of one of Gaudí’s biggest client, Eusebi Güell i Bacigalupi, the count of Güell. But what’s interesting is not so much the complex, is its entrance iron gate. The complex is composed of two buildings linked by a common monumental cast iron gate adorned with Art Nouveau vegetal fantasies and a medallion with the “G” of Güell. The most astonishing feature is its unusual big iron dragon manufactured by the locksmith’s Vallet i Piquer.

  1. Casa Batlló

Casa Batlló is the result of a total restoration in 1904 of an old conventional house built in 1877. Gaudí used for it the typical constructive elements of the Modernisme (Catalan Art Nouveau) that include ceramics, stone, and forged iron. Even though it was highly criticized by the city during construction due to its radical design that broke all the bylaws of the city, in 1906 the Barcelona City Council awarded it the recognition of being one of the three best buildings of the year.

  1. Casa Calvet

Casa Calvet was built between 1898 and 1900 for the Calvets, a family of textile industrialists. This is Gaudi’s most conventional work. The stone facade reflects Baroque influences, along with its bay windows, sculptural decoration, and interior decorations. The shape of the balconies can be seen as a forerunner to shapes used at Casa Batlló, where Gaudí turned much more to the inspiration of nature. The roof is topped with two pediments, each supporting a wrought iron cross. They are surrounded by various pieces of stone ornamentation and crowned with statues of San Genis and Saint Peter – Calvets saints.

  1. La Sagrada Familia

This is the most famous of Gaudí’s works. This church has been in construction since 1892, and it’s not expected to be finished until 2030. The church presents an excellent depiction of the relationship between man, nature, and religion through its architecture and façade sculptures. Climbing one of its towers will give you a unique view of Barcelona. Take the audio tour, is very informative and it’s well worth it. Also, due to its popularity, long queues are to be expected, so you can skip the line by going with any of these tours.

  1. Cascada Fountain at Park de la Ciutadella

The Cascada was designed by Josep Fontseré in 1881, specifically for the universal exhibition in 1888, with young Gaudí as an assistant. The inspiration for the Cascada was the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy. It is located in Barcelona’s most famous park – Park de la Ciutadella.

As you can see, Gaudí’s architecture is full of unusual and unexpected characteristics that are not seen in other buildings, let alone other cities in the world. It’s no surprise why this architect’s works make great sightseeing destinations that without any doubt will create an impression on you.

AT SEA

I left Rome in early January and sailed around the Mediterranean. My final stop was Barcelona. All during this time I was running online courses for Angelo State University. To prove I was at work, I am including this picture of me in my stateroom.

Location: 25-E1

I visited Barcelona in January, 2016. Among the most striking things in Barcelona is the architecture of Antoni Gaudí. He disdained straight lines, and thus impressed a style in Barcelona that is unmistakeable.

Barcelona is a well-known destination for travelers who wish to have a good mix of fun and culture in a modern setting. Knitted in this unmistakable urban fabric you will some unusual and well-known buildings of a single architect named Antoni Gaudí. His unique approach to the Art Nouveau movement generated some of the most creative buildings you will see in this Spanish region known as Cataluña. The pin shown was obtained at The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família.

Genius inspires genius. The Art Nouveau style is evident everywhere. So is the desire to experiment. The building seen at the left is almost an optical illusion. What appears to be two buildings of different styles is really three buildings. The central building is the narrowest building in Barcelona, and the narrowest building I’ve ever seen.

Even if you don’t know anything about architecture or Gaudí, when you walk the streets of Barcelona you will intuitively be able to identify a Gaudí building –they are unmistakable. So, if you’re interested in experiencing an unusual Barcelona, you should take a look at 10 of the most important buildings designed by Gaudí:

  1. Casa Vicens

This is Gaudí’s first important building. Built between 1883 and 1888, Casa Vicens is an imaginative residential project made for a wealthy family that owned a ceramic factory. This is clearly reflected in the “trencadis” façade that contains a significant variety of ceramic decorations. You can also see some Islamic architecture influences in its façade and some of its rooms.

  1. La Pedrera

This is one of Gaudí’s main residential buildings and one of the most imaginative houses in the history of architecture. This building is more sculpture than a building. The façade is a varied and harmonious mass of undulating stone that, along with its forged iron balconies, explores the irregularities of the natural world. UNESCO recognized this building as World Heritage in 1984.

  1. Parc Güell

Parc Güell was built between 1900 and 1914 and today is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. This is a garden complex that houses a series of dynamically designed buildings, including Gaudí’s house. Most buildings have the “trencadis” (surfaces covered with irregular ceramic pieces) that is characteristic of Gaudí and Art Nouveau. The colonnaded hall and the terrace with serpentine shapes are the most famous places in this park. This park is the perfect place to take a peaceful stroll while enjoying nature and looking at Gaudí’s artwork.

  1. Palau Güell

This is the palace residence of the Güell family. The exterior shows a sober façade that doesn’t resemble other projects made by Gaudí. On the other hand, the interior and the roof make up for the lack of “Gaudiesque” elements in the façade. The central living room has an unusual parabolic dome, and the lounge ceiling is perforated by circles that, under the daylight, give the ceiling a planetarium appearance. The roof counts with chimneys and conical vents resembling fir trees.

  1. Colonia Güell

Gaudí designed this irregular oval church and crypt in 1898 and finished its construction in 1914. The interior of the crypt has five aisles: a central one and two more at each side. The original Gaudí columns with various forms are present inside and outside. The windows jut out over the walls, and in the upper part of the door a ceramic composition show the four cardinal virtues. The crypt is built in basaltic stone bricks with mosaics that give an archaic appearance. The construction techniques used here laid the foundation of the techniques employed in La Sagrada Familia.

  1. El Drac de Gaudí at Finca Güell

Finca Güell is a significant property of one of Gaudí’s biggest client, Eusebi Güell i Bacigalupi, the count of Güell. But what’s interesting is not so much the complex, is its entrance iron gate. The complex is composed of two buildings linked by a common monumental cast iron gate adorned with Art Nouveau vegetal fantasies and a medallion with the “G” of Güell. The most astonishing feature is its unusual big iron dragon manufactured by the locksmith’s Vallet i Piquer.

  1. Casa Batlló

Casa Batlló is the result of a total restoration in 1904 of an old conventional house built in 1877. Gaudí used for it the typical constructive elements of the Modernisme (Catalan Art Nouveau) that include ceramics, stone, and forged iron. Even though it was highly criticized by the city during construction due to its radical design that broke all the bylaws of the city, in 1906 the Barcelona City Council awarded it the recognition of being one of the three best buildings of the year.

  1. Casa Calvet

Casa Calvet was built between 1898 and 1900 for the Calvets, a family of textile industrialists. This is Gaudi’s most conventional work. The stone facade reflects Baroque influences, along with its bay windows, sculptural decoration, and interior decorations. The shape of the balconies can be seen as a forerunner to shapes used at Casa Batlló, where Gaudí turned much more to the inspiration of nature. The roof is topped with two pediments, each supporting a wrought iron cross. They are surrounded by various pieces of stone ornamentation and crowned with statues of San Genis and Saint Peter – Calvets saints.

  1. La Sagrada Familia

This is the most famous of Gaudí’s works. This church has been in construction since 1892, and it’s not expected to be finished until 2030. The church presents an excellent depiction of the relationship between man, nature, and religion through its architecture and façade sculptures. Climbing one of its towers will give you a unique view of Barcelona. Take the audio tour, is very informative and it’s well worth it. Also, due to its popularity, long queues are to be expected, so you can skip the line by going with any of these tours.

  1. Cascada Fountain at Park de la Ciutadella

The Cascada was designed by Josep Fontseré in 1881, specifically for the universal exhibition in 1888, with young Gaudí as an assistant. The inspiration for the Cascada was the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy. It is located in Barcelona’s most famous park – Park de la Ciutadella.

As you can see, Gaudí’s architecture is full of unusual and unexpected characteristics that are not seen in other buildings, let alone other cities in the world. It’s no surprise why this architect’s works make great sightseeing destinations that without any doubt will create an impression on you.

AT SEA

working-at-seaI left Rome in early January and sailed around the Mediterranean. My final stop was Barcelona. All during this time I was running online courses for Angelo State University. To prove I was at work, I am including this picture of me in my stateroom.

Location: 25-E1

Sagrada Familia

gaudi-temple-barcelonaI got this pin in Barcelona at the Sagrada Famlia in January 2016.

The stunning La Sagrada Família is a must-see for any tourist passing through Barcelona. The towering, still-under-construction basilica is beloved architect Antoni Gaudí’s most celebrated work. The building of this ornamental wonder began in 1882 and is currently ongoing. Though it is the most visited monument in Spain, welcoming more than three million visitors each year, La Sagrada Família is still very much a place of worship—so much so that Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the church in 2010. The Temple holds Sunday mass once every couple of months, and there are special visiting hours for The Chapel of the Holy Sacrament and Penitence, which is reserved for prayer.

Whether you visit La Sagrada Família to take in its intricate and fascinating design, or as part of a holy pilgrimage, it is truly a wonder to behold. Below are 9 things you might not have heard about Spain’s ultimate attraction.

  1. The first completed facade is titled The Birth of Christ and within this facade are three portals: “The Portal of Hope,” “The Portal of Mercy,” and “The Portal of Faith.” The faces on “The Portal of Mercy” are actually sculpted from the death masks of diseased Barcelona citizens, as well as builders of La Sagrada Família—it was Gaudí’s way of paying tribute to these people.
  2. La Sagrada Família will take longer to complete than the Egyptian pyramids. It started in 1882 and is hoped to be completed in 2026 (the centennial of Gaudí’s death), though it might not be finished until as late as 2040. The Great Pyramid, by comparison, only took 20 years.
  3. The project was first commissioned for Francisco Del Vilar by the Spiritual Association of Devotees of Saint Joseph. He built the crypt, but after creative disagreements he dropped the site and it was passed over to Gaudí.
  4. Gaudí disliked straight lines and angles because they don’t often appear naturally. Instead, he based his design on the swirling curves of nature.
  5. There is endless natural symbolism within La Sagrada Família. The interior structure is supported by large pillars that look like trees. One pillar has a turtle at its base, and another a tortoise in order to show the balance between land and sea.
  6. Gaudí didn’t just use the natural world for inspiration; he used it to develop architectural techniques. Gaudí analyzed plants, animals, and geothermal formations to see how they naturally supported shapes and weight. The orbit of the stars was used to design the helicoidal columns.
  7. Gaudí believed that no man-made object should be constructed higher than the work of God. Therefore, La Sagrada Família, when completed, will tower at 170 meters (560 ft), which was intended to be one meter less than Barcelona’s highest point, Montjuïc hill.
  8. In 1936, a group of anarchists and revolutionaries set fire to the crypt and destroyed the workshop which contained all of the plans and models—thankfully a scarce few were saved.
  9. The holy place was built to be seen from all points of the city. It has glass mosaics at its highest points, which when reflected by sun or moonlight act as beacons to guide seafarers home.

Location: 25-D1

Spain’s Coat of Arms

spain-coatI got this pin at the Hard Rock Cafe in Barcelona in January 2016. It shows the central part of Spain’s coat of arms. The full coat of arms is shown below the description that follows. The pillars and banner that go on each side of the coat of arms are not included on this pin.

The current coat of arms of Spain, although it has its roots centuries ago, was approved by law in 1981. The coat of arms appears in the flag of Spain.

The Spanish coat of arms symbolizes the country, the old kingdoms of Spain, the Royal Crown, the Imperial Crown, the Constitutional monarchy, the Spanish national motto: Plus Ultra, and the Pillars of Hercules with the Spanish geographic situation. The Monarch, the heir to the throne and some institutions like the Senate, the Council of State or the General Council of the Judiciary have their own arms.

The blazon of the Spanish coat of arms is follows:

Quarterly, first quarter Gules a triple-towered castle Or masoned Sable and ajoure Azure (for Castile); second quarter Argent a lion rampant Purpure crowned Or, langued and armed Gules (for León); third quarter Or, four pallets Gules (for the former Crown of Aragon), fourth quarter Gules a cross, saltire and orle of chains linked together Or, a centre point Vert (for Navarre); enté en point a pomegranate proper seeded Gules, supported, sculpted and leafed in two leaves Vert (for Granada); overall an escutcheon Azure bordure Gules, three fleurs-de-lys Or (for the regnant House of Bourbon-Anjou); for a Crest, a circlet Or, jewellespain-coat-of-armsd with eight breeches of bear or oyster plant leaves, five shown, with pearls on points Or inserted and above which rise arches decorated with pearls and surmounted by a monde Azure with its equator, its upper half-meridian and a latin cross Or, the crown capped Gules (the Spanish royal crown); for Supporters, two columns Argent with capital and base Or, standing on five waves Azure and Argent, surmounted dexter by an imperial crown and sinister the Spanish royal crown, the columns surrounded by a ribbon Gules charged with the Motto ‘Plus Ultra’ written Or (the Pillars of Hercules).

Location: 25-C1

Barcelona, Spain (2)

barcelona-spain-3Another pin from the Hard Rock Cafe in Barcelona. I am NO fan of rock music, but I love the atmosphere of Hard Rock Cafes around the world. My hotel was not far from the Plaça de Catalunya (Catalan language) meaning in English “Catalonia Square”; sometimes referred to as Plaza de Cataluña, its Spanish name. The Square is a large square in central Barcelona that is generally considered to be both its city center and the place where the old city and the 19th century-built city meet.

Some of the city’s most important streets and avenues meet at Plaça Catalunya. The plaza occupies an area of about 50,000 square meters. It is especially known for itsplaca-de-catalunya fountains and statues, its proximity to some of Barcelona’s most popular attractions, and for the flocks of pigeons that gather in the center. January weather was not bad and the tourist population seems to be very small compared to the favorite tourist months.

Location: 25-B1