Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

Aqueduct of Silver Water in Évora

A stretch of the Silver Water Aqueduct.

Although there is grand evidence of ancient Roman civilization in the Portuguese city of Évora - seen in the ruins of the Temple Diana - the huge aqueduct there was not built by the Romans, it was constructed by King João III in 1531-1537 to bring water into the city.  The Aqueduct of Silver Water is a prominent sight throughout Évora, as it stretches for 6 miles and is 85 feet tall at its peak.  

The most interesting thing about the aqueduct however, is the southern section where it weaves through town.  Over the centuries, houses, shops, and cafés have nuzzled themselves into and under the arches of the aqueduct.  Look at this Évora home:

It is fascinating to walk through this part of town.

Homes built right into the arches of the aqueduct.

The Silver Water Aqueduct is considered one of the greatest 16th century architectural structures on the Iberian Peninsula.

Monday, October 6, 2014

What's Wrong With This Picture?

We spotted this in Berlin.  Laughed out loud.

Upon later research I discovered TJ Maxx calls itself TK Maxx in Europe to prevent confusion with TJ Hughes, a British department store.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Berlin Wall

Berlin in 1987.

The last time I was in Berlin before this summer's trip was in 1987, before the wall came down.  I was very curious to see how much had changed and couldn't imagine being able to walk up to Checkpoint Charlie or under the Brandenburg Gate.  I hoped that there would still be a portion of the wall standing so my kids could experience what it was like.  There was:

Quite a long stretch actually, although the graffitied exterior has mostly been chiseled off by souvenir-takers.  Along this section of wall is an exhibit called Topography of Terror.  The outside exhibition was temporary, I believe, and was about the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.  We did not visit the indoor museum.

Topography of Terror outdoor exhibition.

Pieces of the wall are displayed throughout the central Berlin area.

A path of bricks with bronze markers trails through the city delineating where the wall used to be.

We spent hours in Museum Checkpoint Charlie where fascinating exhibits tell the history of the Berlin Wall and those affected by it.  My 15 year old son was amazed by the many objects, techniques, and tricks people used to escape East Berlin and spent more time reading displays, I think, than ever before in any museum.  The stories are phenomenal.

I found this section of the wall quite poignant:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Musée d'Orsay

Musée d'Orsay clock in the main hall.

Since we're not big museum-goers, the Musée d'Orsay - even though it's one of the most popular museums in Paris after the Louvre - was not on our list of sites to visit.  However, we had in our possession the very practical Paris Museum Pass, allowing us to skip long lines and get in free to many attractions, so when we walked by the Orsay and all of us needed to use the restroom, we stepped in for free.  The siren call of the gorgeous main hall interior lured us in for a peek, and before we knew it we'd spent several hours touring the collections.  The kids recognized a couple of the Renoirs and Van Goghs from art class, and my daughter loved the Degas sculpture of the 14 year old ballet dancer, because, at the time, my daughter was a 14 year old ballet dancer!

Degas's sculpture of the 14 year old ballet dancer.

The museum was originally a railway station, which is why the interior sort of looks like one.  Outside the museum is a square displaying six bronze sculptures in a row.

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