Jun 21, 2009

Guggenheim Bilbao's many random curves

Playing with Jeff Koon's Tulips

Arachnophiled by Louise Bourgeois's Maman

All these photos were taken by me.

A modern and contemporary art Museum, the Guggenheim was designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, and built by Ferrovial alongside the Nervion River in Bilbao. The Guggenheim is one of several museums belonging to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. It opened to the public in 1997 and is intended to resemble a ship. Indeed, the Guggenheim does look like a strange alien ship nestled in an otherwise ordinary Bilbao neighbourhood. The building's reflective titanium panels is meant to look like fish scales.

The featured exhibition until September is a retrospective of the brilliant Chinese artist, Cai Guo-Qiang - a multi-descliplined artist whose range of ideas and skill impressed me greatly. He is probably best known for his fireworks show for the Beijing Olympics. The exhibition ranges from gunpowder drawings to videos of his explosion events to site specific installations of life-size flying wolves crashing against a glass wall, a courtyard of disintegrating clay sculptures, and an ancient boat filled to spilling with broken china. It was amazing and inspiring!
I want to believe: Cai Guo-Qiang has subverted the accepted parameters of art making in our time. He draws freely from ancient mythology, military history, Taoist cosmology, extraterrestrial observations, Maoist revolutionary tactics, Buddhist philosophy, gunpowder related technology, Chinese medicine, and contemporary global conflicts. Cai’s art is a form of social energy, constantly mutable, linking what he refers to as “the seen and unseen worlds.” This retrospective presents the full spectrum of the artist’s protean, multimedia art in all its conceptual complexity. [blurb from the Guggenheim website]
This exhibition is a must see experience and was fully worth the 6 hour round trip we took to get there from San Sebastian.

Jun 20, 2009

Glimpses of the Basque coastline and fishing villages

Basque Country's sublime rugged coastline as seen along the coastal road towards Bilbao.

The charming village of Mutriku
The border town of Hondarribia. Also known Fuenterrabía in Spanish and Fontarabie in French.
A backwards Basque flag
Traditional garb.
The Sidreria in the background is a restaurant the serves cider from barrels.

All these photos were taken by me on our road trip. Yesterday I posted photos from Donostia-San Sebastian and tomorrow I'll post photos of the Guggenheim.

Jun 19, 2009

Glimpses of Donostia-San Sebastian

All these photos were taken by me last weekend when we drove up to Donostia-San Sebastian for a few days. On Saturday, we wandered the old streets, took strolls along the promenade, dipped our feet in La Concha's warm waters, sampled a variety of pintxos (the local tapas), and sipped on txcholi (the local sparkling wine). Donostia is a fetching coastal town with breath-taking vistas albeit a bit too pijo (preppy swank) for my somewhat bohemian sensibilities.

On Sunday, we drove for hours along lovely coastal roads just to visit the Guggenheim in Bilbao. So stay tuned, tomorrow's post is all about the coastal views from the road side.

Jun 11, 2009

Touba Lamp Fall

Lavapies is a hotbed for curry, boasting a large concentration of Indian restaurants lining all the major arteries. There's perhaps more curry houses here than in all of Spain combined! OK, maybe not. Certainly there's plenty of selection so it's a real treat to find other ethnic offerings, such as, the cuisine of Senegal. Lavapies has a sizable Senegalese population so it seems reasonable to expect there to be restaurants that serve the locals. I've heard of three. The one I decided to try out has many young Senegalese men loitering around front and more dudes hanging out inside.

The Touba Lamp Fall on Calle Amparo 62 is a no frills restaurant to look at. The yellow sign outside screams Restaurante Senegales so loud, it overshadows its own name. But at least there's no mistaking what type of food is served here. As you enter, the air is thick with the rich aromas of home cooking. We sat at a table in the front of the restaurant not knowing there was another section in the back.

There was a Senegalese wrestling match, called Lutte, on TV so the room quickly filled up with fans who cheered and hollered. Unfortunately, I had my back to the giant screen so missed out on most of the clash of these loin clothed titans... though I did notice my amiga's eyes bulge at their bulges.

From the smell, I expected rustic goodness and I wasn't disappointed. My friend ordered the Yassa Pollo, a dish of grilled chicken marinated with onions and lemon juice. I ordered the Thiou Ternera, a rich beef stew. Both dishes were generously served in glass bowls, which made it easy to share and came with two big plates of flattened rice accompanied by lemon wedges. Simple fare but very tasty. I felt like I was in the living room of a large Senegalese family, eating what they eat, watching what they watch on TV. Each dish on the menu was only 6 €, a bargain for the delicious portions served. Our meal ended with Attaya, a sweet Senegalese tea with mint, which was included in the price. Que rico!

The only thing lacking was the service, which was a tad on the slow side. At one point, we ordered two exotic bouy juice - the fruit of the baobab tree - but it never came. The woman probably forgot due to all the excitement of the Lutte match. Our tea also took an extremely long time to get to us. The guy behind the bar had his eyes glued to the big screen. So I'm not sure if the service we got that night is a true reflection if what goes on there or merely a consequence of the African Wresting Championship, which began in Dakar, the Senegalese capital last week. Not that it matters much. I'd happily go back there for a meal even if I have to wait for tea and go elsewhere for a glass of wine afterwards as this restaurant doesn't serve alcohol because they bow to Allah.

So the next time you're wandering around my barrio and you're not in the mood for curry, give Touba Lamp Fall a try. I'm sure you'll leave with a satisfied belly full of soul food.

Photo credit: © copyright by lilion. All rights reserved. Her work is really beautiful. Please visit her Flickr photostream. 

Jun 6, 2009

A Little Bollywood in Barrio Lavapies

The festivities kicked into gear yesterday for BollyMadrid, the 2nd weekend festival of Bollywood and Indian Culture in Madrid. And where better to host these celebrations than in the multiethnic barrio of Lavapies. 
There are markets in Plaza de la Corrala:

There are food stalls in selling all sorts of Indian goodies in Plaza de Agustin Lara and Plaza Lavapies. I recommend the food market in Plaza Lavapies because it's much bigger, has a lot more sellers and from what I tasted, the food is of better quality. Each item is 1€ so you can sample all sorts of sweet and savory Indian tidbits.
And for entertainment, there are dancing ladies and other performances in Plaza de Agustin Lara. This is also where they show bollywood films at 10 pm.

All these photos were taken by me at BollyMadrid yestersday. The only unfortunate thing is the weekend forecast for rainy weather. It could really put a damper on what would otherwise be a lively and colorful fiesta. But rain or sun, I'm definitely heading out to the plaza for some samosas!

Jun 5, 2009

A Reflection of Ferraz in Templo's Pool

This photo was taken by me after a wonderful picnic with friends in the gardens next to Templo de Debod, on Wednesday night. The street being reflected is Calle Ferraz.
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