Public Art In Bilbao Makes The City One Big Art Museum

Part of the revitalization of Bilbao includes beautiful architecture, wide public spaces, infrastructure and art for the masses. You’ll be walking through the park and you’ll come across some abstract art. You’ll drive underneath a bridge and see a large mural. My favorite that I came across is a video wall projected onto a warehouse space.

The public art creates a sense of pride for the locals and the community. For visitors, it makes unique memories on their stay. I certainly took notice and asked my guide about the meaning and origin.

Here’s one to take note: Ramón Rubial Cavia statue outside of the Guggenheim. The Spanish socialist leader was arrested for his revolutionary activities during the Spanish Civil War. Rubial spent 21 years in prison. From Wikipedia: Rubial was released on 23 August 1956 and started to reorganize the PSOE and UGT in the Basque Country and in Spain working underground. President of the PSOE since 1976, he was elected senator for Biscay in the first democratic elections of 1977. He was the Second Vicepresident of the Spanish Senate.  On 7 February 1978 Rubial was elected President of the General Basque Council, which prepared the Basque Country for the return to autonomous government.

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He lived for 93 years. The street nearby the museum bares his name.

The statue is called The Honorable Gate (aka Gate to Glory) by Casto Solano — “It is a realistic full figure sculpture in bronze, advancing with his hands in his pockets towards the Gate of the Honourable, a large iron block which enlarges the perspective of the politician with its great interior hole.”

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Stanley Beer Yard in Johannesburg Satisfies Your Craft Beer and Kebab Needs

Don’t let the picture fool you, there was a rager happening behind me.

As you’ll find in Johannesburg, many of the small neighborhoods have been transformed by arts complexes. Similar to Neighbourgoods Market for Braamfontein or Arts on Main for Maboneng, the 44 Stanley multi-purpose complex have given no energy to the Milpark area.

Located off the M1 highway, 44 Stanley was once dilapidated industrial buildings. Now it’s shops, galleries, restaurants, cafes and one super-fun beer garden.

Stanley Beer Yard has an upscale hunting lodge interior with mismatched couches, vintage maps and advertising and stag heads adoring the walls. On the outside, it’s rows and rows of long benches with hanging umbrellas providing shelter from the elements. Thursday night is DJ night, which was interesting. Todd Rundgren into Kendrick Lamar, sure, why not? The Sunday I was there, the front room was rented out for a lesbian engagement party. This is going to be my name for my indie rock band, Lesbian Engagement Party.

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Food wise it’s basic, but tasty. You got grilled meats, cheese, veggies, snacks and sweets. I had the chicken kebabs and it was damn fine.

But you are there for the local beer, so local that you can drink their own house-brewed lager. It’s the largest tap selection I came across in Johannesburg, with an accompany wine list for you oenophiles. Here’s what I had the two nights I visited:

  • Press Club Stout by The Standeaven Brewery
  • Whistling Weasel by Nottingham Road Brewing Company
  • No 2 – Original Red Lager by BrewHogs
  • Moose Oatmeal Stout by Three Stags Brewery (TSB)
  • Two Okes Stout by Two Okes Brewery

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Metropol Parasol in Sevilla Will Make You Think Honeycomb Cereal

For a city that’s steeped in tradition and old world values, the Metropol Parasol sticks out. Centrally located in La Encarnación square, it’s a straight walk north for ten minutes from the Catedral de Sevilla. The biggest claim for this piece of modern architecture is that  it’s the biggest wooden structure in the world.

The wavey wooden structures will make you think of Honeycomb Cereal, but the locals think of them as more of a mushroom shape. It also kind of reminds me of soundwaves. In any event, it’s the natural forms contrasting against the urban landscape which makes an odd, yet interesting addition to the city.

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German architecture firm J. Mayer H. designed it to breathe new energy into the area.  Local authorities don’t mind the added attention from tourists, even though it set the city back 90 million euros.

If anything, it’s worth a stroll in, around and up top. My suggestion is go in the morning and drop by Virgin Coffee nearby for a cafe con leche so you sit and stare at the weirdness of it.

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Get Your Ass On A Plane Because It’s The Cheapest In Three Years

If there’s ever a time to say, “Thanks, Obama!” it’s now. The flight fare app Hopper.com, which uses data driven research to let users know when to get low airfares, estimates that this winter will see a new three-year low in domestic travel. The average round-trip flight in the U.S. will cost $210.

Pass by a gas station and you can fill in the blanks on why airfare is so cheap. Fuel is bitch-ass cheap. It’s more expensive to fill up your tank will milk than gasoline. Fuel is at a 10-year low at $1.01 a gallon.

The bad news is that that flight you were hoping would be empty and that you can have a whole row by yourself will probably be full. I would suggest going to your happy place for five hours on the cross-country flight.

In terms of where to go to get that big price drop this month, it’s Honolulu where you can see a 20% decline. Go west my friend.

Case in point, when I went to San Diego last year from Newark. It was $301 round trip in January. I gather it would less a year letter.

It’s another reason why you should travel in the off-seasons of the Winter and Fall. I just never understand going to a warm destination in the summertime. For some, travel can be escape from your daily lives or weather situation.

What better time then going to the opposite climate from the rest of your friends. One of the best parts of traveling is rubbing it in your friends face how sunny and warm it is where you are while they are freezing their ass off.

The Tilework at Sevilla’s Alcazar Makes Great Desktop Wallpaper

Yes, only I will travel 4,000 miles to a foreign land, look at the mind-blowingly beautiful tilework of a 500-year old palace and think, “Hmmmm, this would make a great wallpaper for my laptop.”

The Alcazar in Sevilla is such a place to fulfill your computer or mobile wallpaper fantasies. Sure you can find some photos in Google Imagine Search, but there’s a certain satisfaction in taking the photo yourself.

As you know if you paid attention in your ancient European history classes, Southern Spain was under Muslim rule. The influence from Middle Eastern architecture and the Alhambra in nearby Granada is seen throughout the palace. The geometric patterns in the tilework is indicative of that style.

Feel free to right click or double-click these high-res photos to pimp out your desktop, laptop or mobile.

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I Sent Postcards From Sevilla in October and They Still Haven’t Been Delivered

In our instant gratification digital age, there’s a nostalgic, romantic quality about sending a postcard. As somebody who loves vintage design and showing off to my friends that I’m in a foreign land while they are stuck at work, I decided to send some postcards.

I bought the postcards based on the recipient’s taste like car racing, architecture, art, animals, sports and castles. Most souvenir shop will carry postcard stamps for a Euro or you can ask your hotel to delivered them for you.

yellow-post-box-plaza-de-santa-cruz-seville-spainAfter writing something sarcastic and witty in my horrible penmanship, I applied the stamp and sent them to London, Germany and back home to New Jersey when I was in Sevilla. That was in mid-October.

It’s now almost mid-January and they haven’t gotten to any of those places. I even sent one to myself. Unless the mail box I put the cards in was actually a rubbish bin, I think something is a wrong here.

I don’t know whom to blame, the Spanish post office or the U.S. In a time where the postal service is loosing billions of tax payer dollars, you’d think they’d make a bit of effort to mail a piece of cardboard.

Is it that hard? They can just throw it in with rest of the crap going to America, Germany and England.  Then, those countries to take it from there.

The question remains, will the postcards make it to their destinations. Will they…

a) Get delivered this month

b) Get delivered in February or March

d) Get delivered in the spring

e) Get delivered in the summer

f) Never get delivered

Give it a try next time you travel and see if they get delivered in a timely matter.