Sunday, July 11, 2010

Trip Reflections: Tour de France in Barcelona (a year ago)

A year ago today I was watching the Tour de France in person, in Barcelona. Yeah! It was very exciting! This is me on July 9th last year, waiting for the tour to arrive. I got there early so that I could get a spot right next to the barricade.
It was WET WET WAIT so I took refuge in a little bar and had tapas and beer while I waited.
This shot gives you a sense of the locale where I was, as well as just how wet it was....

This guy's idea of rain gear scares me a little... I hope he poked holes for breathing!
A local newswoman files her story about the TDF's impending arrival in Barcelona. Not sure if she was speaking Spanish or Catalan. Note the shoes.
This was my favourite pre-race moment. This Robert Plant look alike wandered into the crowd, still drunk from the night before, with a bottle of wine in his hand. He was really very harmless, was having a good time chatting up the waiting crowd, but they eventually moved him away, as he really was a hazard to himself; he kept walking into the road. BTW, it was only some time afterwards, when telling someone this story, that I realized he was probably on his way home from Pamplona and the Running of the Bulls, as it was running at the same time, and they all wear white.
These cyclists initially cause a stir of excitement, but I guess they are test riders of some sort, out to check the course.
One is kept plenty entertained for a good hour before the arrival of the first riders with all the floats..... including horses! It was one of those floats that I got my red polka dot hat from (does that make me a queen of the mountains?)
Beer. Or something along those lines.
Finally, the Tour Director's car. That means the riders are close behind.
Here come the sprinters!!! I was on the other side of town from where the finish line was, so this would have been the teams setting up their lead-out men....
The excitement of a rider up close! Look at the faces of the crowd.
This poor fellow had a bike problem right in front of us. He got great encouragement from the crowd when he was finally able to get going again.
It's quite something to see the riders and cars and motorcycles all up close, all so close to one another.
These were the last two riders of the day, still getting an enthusiastic cheer from the crowd. Note the rain gear on the riders.... you don't often see that.
After all the excitement, I wandered by the arch and they had all these stationary bikes set up. I think it was a Livestrong event, where people rode these, while the race was going on, to raise money. Strange, but true.
This is the little bar I slipped into on my way home.... ah, the pleasures of a beer and a loo! And there I sat, planning my return in the morning to see the riders off....
On July 10th last year, once off the Barcelona metro in the morning, I got my fav breakfast: a bikini!!!! And there wasn't even rain.
Fortunately, the rain held off, and didn't have to wait too long until the Race Director's car went by the other way....
And in a flash, the peleton went by!
Really, if you blinked, you might really miss it! As this was the start of the day's racing, all the riders were by in a matter of minutes that you coulld count on one hand. Don't know why that surprised me, but it did! As you can see, they are already picking up speed.
This fellow was bringing up the rear...
Managed to get a few good pics of local watchers before the riders got there.... Click to enlarge this one... I guess no one was getting their prosthetics on time that morning!
Loved seeing these ladies out watching the excitement below...

The Tour de France really was one of my trip highlights... I can't believe how lucky I was that they went through Barcelona when I was there! I am a pretty big fan, and generally have a sleep deprived month watching coverage at 4 or 5 am at home - which I am doing this week. In Barcelona I didn't easily find English footage, so I was more distant from the specifics of the race last year.... but being up close and personal definitely made up for that.

I can't believe I never posted all this a year ago, but it says a lot for just how 'busy' I was and just how many experiences haven't made it to this blog yet!

It's nice to have these memories as I am watching the race this year ;-)

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Emily Carr, close to home


This is my favourite Emily Carr painting, it is in the collection at the Vancouver Art Gallery.


First thing this morning I was listening to CBC Radio 1's morning show in Victoria and they interviewed the curator at the Victoria Art Gallery about the new On the Edge of Nowhere permanent Emily Carr exhibition that opened this week. This is exciting news. The gallery used to have a small number of their Carr's in a rotating exhibit at the back of the building, but they listened to feedback: 3/4 of everyone entering the gallery asked, "where are the Emily Carr's?" So... they created a new space, by the front door of the gallery, and dedicated it to Carr's work. The gallery's entire collection - 42 pieces - is on display, spanning from her very early works to those at the end of her life. There is also a space for works on loan from other galleries - they are pleased with what's on loan to them right now, as apparently there aren't a lot of Carr's totem pole works in the permanent collection.



The story of On the Edge of Nowhere phrase was shared. This phrase is known to be attributed to Emily Carr, but most people think it means that she was a loner, when in fact she was just the opposite. She was a great networker in the Canadian art world. The phrase came from when she was turned down a major gallery - perhaps Canada's National Gallery ? - and she said something about "they wouldn't exhibit works from a woman living on the edge of nowhere"... lol



Anyways, after the interview, they had a pair of tickets available. All you had to do was email in the 2 countries where Emily Carr had studies. The good news is that they covered this in the interview. I knew she had studied in the US (I remember reading about her earliest studies in San Francisco), but I had forgotten she had studied in Paris as well. The good news about the Victoria morning show, over the Vancouver morning show, is that you have less competition for prizes! Just to help me out, I said that if I won, I'd take my 88 year old mom, who is a huge Emily Carr fan.... and it worked! We won the passes.



I told mom this morning, and she was equally excited.



Just now, evening, we were chatting about Emily Carr, and she mentions, as an aside, that she knew Emily Carr's sisters. Whoa, stop the presses! I did not know this!!! I love when we have time to have long chats, and something like this just comes out, by accident.

Now it was my turn to be excited.

It turns out that she not only knew the sisters, but she had actually met Emily Carr. Sweet!! Mom says she didn't "know" Emily, but she had met her. There was somewhere in Vancouver where Emily would take an old truck and paint, and people could walk by and see what she was doing, and talk to her.



She knew the sisters. When we spoke, she said there were 2 or 3 sisters, and at least one of them was a teacher.



She also said she knew another artist (or knew of?) who ended up with an Emily Carr painting on the ceiling of her house. I'm not sure if this was in Vancouver or Victoria...



Anyways, how cool it was to just find this out. I'm interested to find out if my sister knew about this. Maybe I knew it once and I forgot.... but maybe it just never came out before. I'll be sure to give her lots of time to talk about Emily Carr and will see what else we can stir up in her memory...

Friday, July 02, 2010

Canada Day in Sidney

Mom decorated for Canada Day ;-)
Friendly mountie and friends down at Sidney harbour.
They have this really crazy event in Sidney on Canada Day: teams spend about 4 hours building boats using only plywood, duct tape, plastic and such. Then they float them. Or try. Lots don't float, but some do. This year's winner was from Denmark. Here are pics of some of the teams carrying their boats away afterwards:
And now for some other memorable - or not so memorable - moments from the day... These girls are sporting cute Canada Day gear:
This little guy was excited and fascinated to be able to look right into a police car. "Hey dad," he said, "this is where they put the bad guys!"
There were a few more pics but blogger ate them, and these were the best.
We actually had a pretty lazy day, got up at noon, and spent most of the day eyeing the grey sky warily.... then got out for a bit.
It was nice to be home in Canada for July 1st this year. Last year I was in Barcelona... it was weird to not see red and white all around me then.
On a related note, it occured to me that I could possibly mirror my Europe trip of last year for 7 months here, now, by spending the next 7 months writing about my trip and sorting my pictures and journals and things I picked up. Would give me a focus on how to tackle all that. I gave myself a taste today by opening up my stuff from Spain, which I haven't seen since getting home. The coolest were my journals. I wrote a lot during the first bit of my trip, so it's great to be able to see my reactions those first few weeks... Anyways, it's an idea. Potentially a good one.