Tag Archives: food

Adventures in Spain


I’m off to fill my creative well with some quality time with my sweetie and adventures in Costa Brava, Spain. I invite you to come along and fill your own well with goodness along with me. After all, the next best thing to going on a trip is following along vicariously. Click on photos to view larger + captions.

Day One had us in Girona, with amazing food, gazpacho, paella, jamón and great Spanish wines. It’s a charming city with the Catalan vibe that makes this part of Spain beat. Sigh, I’m in heaven —  if I’m not, please don’t tell me!

At the Dali Museum in Figueres, Spain — just all kinds of mind trippy cool goodness. I could have spent the whole day there and then some. What a mind! What are your favorite museums throughout the world, and which are on your “bucket list”?

From the sea to wine country and back to the sea, all on a bike. Seeing the wonders of Spain at 15 mph. Yes and yes! I’m surrounded by inspiration via sights, sounds, smells.

Snapshots, glimpses and vignettes. More adventures — and creative well filling — in Northern Spain!

Biking from one seaside village to the next. Riding alongside the Pyrenees Mountains, snow-capped and majestic. Completely awe-inspiring landscapes.

Seeing the world in terms of landscapes, I sometimes forget to take photos that tell the story of a culture. Here is my effort at photos that go beyond the landscape to depict what we’re experiencing in Spain …

Today’s adventures had us biking through magical, mystical northern Spain. From the coast and in, just a bit, to Pubal. Here Dali bought and renovated a old castle for Gala, his muse and wife; this was a gift to her to have as a summer retreat. She accepted the gift under one condition: that Dali never come without written permission. He agreed, saying all life had conditions and this one reminded him of courtship, despite their having been married since 1917. And so… this is how it worked for them!

A few highlights from the Spanish countryside …

New friends and astounding views!

Curious new friends, vast open fields of poppies and wild flowers, mountains and the sea. I concur, Catalonia is definitely for me. This is a place that mixes the old with the new, plus a side of funk. From the food, to design, to the spirit of the people. Was Dali inspired by Catalonia, or has Catalonia been inspired by Dali? Either way, you feel him everywhere in this region.
Filling up my creative well. After all, it has been said that a relaxed mind is a creative mind.

Art comes in many forms! A visit to the market left me completely delighted (but perhaps without appetite) — so many colors, textures and unusual sights. And a few fur babies for good measure!

The only thing better than recharging your creative batteries through travel is doing it with your favorite person by your side. (My husband Marc, that is!)


Catalonia is winning me over in many ways. As a region it is European cool, meets old school + modern funk. Design surprises that delight, with food wine and art that matches. I’m inspired to say the least!

The Picasso museum today left me enchanted and inspired more than I can put into words — but unfortunately, no photos were allowed. Thankfully, the art of the streets here in Spain is just as inspiring, and a photo taking dream! The colors, the people, the sights, the sounds — all creatively stimulating.

Flying home with my creative well and soul full. A head swimming in inspiration. From the fantastical mind of Dali, with crazy amounts of talent, to the genius of Picasso’s early years — and throughout his career, as he continually reinvented himself. Both were so clearly influenced by Catalonia. It lends a deeper understanding of their work to see the food, wine and whimsy all over Catalonia. The surreal beauty of the countryside. The art and design of the region, which is unique and whimsical.

Ironically and predictably, all of this has me thinking of and longing for my studio. Lending inspiration to my Northern Michigan landscapes. Influenced to explore deeper, my own roots, the influence of my own region.


Florence, Day 6: Some Days Just Seem to Invite Magic



Today was one of those days.

My iPhone said it may rain. My iPhone was very, very wrong.

The sun shone its glorious face over the entire day. I met Enrico at the school at our usual  time. I asked where we might paint today; Fiesole was the answer. I’d only read about it, but what I read was inviting. Far above the city, this little town is older than Florence, founded originally by the Etruscans for its stunning view of the Tuscan valley below (which is now Florence) and its cooler temperatures.


It was a perfect place to paint. The view took my breath away — or was that just the steep hill I had climbed to get here? But first more steps, and the enchanting little Church of San Francesco. I love this country. Art matters, beauty matters. And while in general they could do a better job of keeping it all tidy, I can see them shrugging and replying, “Eh, why? It’s so beautiful and we need time to enjoy it all!”


It’s just so very refreshing to be in a place where art matters. I would never ever have to explain to an Italian the importance of art. And so here I am, surrounded by it. We spent the morning painting the view of the valley. The theme of our lesson was similar to that of the last two days: patience. Yes, yes I’m working on that. It took Michelangelo four years to complete the David. Yes, patience and art do go hand and hand here. It’s good for me. As a hyper-productive American, I feel I have to have much to show at the end of the day. You have heard something like this from every American who spends any time in Italy: “They just enjoy life more.” Hyper-productive is not what you call Italy, yet here I am, growing and learning, so maybe patience and slowing down are productive after all.

I ask this one question of any Italian whose ear I can bend, so I asked my teacher Enrico, “Where is the best food in all of Florence?” His young eyes lit up and he said, “Ah, I will show you.” He went on to explain the jolly owner who knows the source of everything in his place. All local, all delicious, all cared for by the most beaming man in Florence who owns this joint.

It’s adorable, but not an ounce of fancy here. I can’t remember everything we ate for lunch; something like a paella. A fish pasta, marinated zucchini and artichoke hearts, all selected from the deli-type counter where it was all on display. Served with a local white wine I will have to get the name of, as I’ll be back. The wine was served in a plastic cup which normally might do me in, but the great energy of this place, the taste and enjoying it all outside at the tiny little table, under an arched walkway — sigh, yes, I don’t mind. Life is good, and I’ll be back to this place. Here is a photo of it. At the end of the journey I will make a list with street names called “if you go,” for I can’t keep all this goodness to myself.


After lunch we did some more sketching, and then it was time to part ways. Enrico has been a fine teacher this week, but next week I will study another passion, art history, and have a new teacher. Thank you, dear, sweet Enrico: For such a young man, your talent  is astounding and your kindest and patience so appreciated.

Enrico had taken me to a library just beyond the Duomo with a rooftop cafe with a glorious view of the Duomo itself. I stayed on a bit to finish sketching and just be alone with my thoughts for a bit.


I decided it was time to finally have a date with the David. I have been in Florence almost a week and not yet paid my respects. So I headed to the Academia, which is open late on Friday nights and quite quiet. He’s magnificent, not a bit overrated. Five hundred years later, we still stand in awe. What a perfect way to end a most delightful week. Art, food, wine, beautiful city, gorgeous countryside. What else can I do but go home and read a good book as I drift off into dreamland…