Spring began Mar. 19, 2020, the earliest date in a century, but the weather hasn’t impressed me. Gradually, the cold is abating and I am wearing fewer layers when we go for our daily stroll. The landscape is responding, front lawns turning green, daffodils sprouting, accompanied by a few crocuses and tiny blue flowers.
We’ve discovered a nearby area called Churchill Woods that includes a number of paths through woods, a remnant patch of prairie, and trails along the east bank of the Dupage River. We’ve seen birds including woodpeckers, ducks, geese, sparrows, blackbirds, cardinals, and tons of robins, as well as a bunch of tiny birds we haven’t been able to identify. On a warm day there were seven turtles lined up on a log with their necks stretched out.
We passed a mound of debris in the water and Jonathan said it was a beaver dam. I was dubious until around the next corner we saw this:
Yes, it is indeed a beaver dam.
We plan to keep going back to see how springtime develops. Maybe we’ll see the beavers!
A car comes in handy once you decide to get out of town, as Charleston is surrounded by water, and though the beaches are beautiful, they are not close by. We’ve tried as many beaches as we could. Every one is an endless strip of white sandy beach unfurling as far as the eye can see in either direction. Much of this is illusion, as the beaches end at inlets that reach deep inland. Visiting two adjacent beaches can involve an hour’s drive or even longer. If we get tired of the view at one end of a beach, we make our way to the other end, a mile or two or three down the road.
Folly Beach is the closest beach south of Charleston. More than five miles separates Folly Beach County Park on the south from the far end of the road at the north end of the island. Halfway along is Folly Pier, a long fishing pier with a few shops and restaurants.
On the beach, we were fascinated by the evidence of nesting sea turtles. Most have hatched and wriggled their way into the water by now, but turtles nest all along the coast here. Nests are marked and monitored by the state and dedicated volunteers. This year some nests were damaged by hurricane Dorian, and the few that haven’t hatched yet may be storm casualties. We spoke to a volunteer who said there was a big uptick in the number of eggs and turtle hatchlings this year, just about 30 years after the protection program started. It takes about 30 years for a sea turtle to mature and begin to lay eggs on the beach where it was born. It looks like the efforts to protect sea turtles are just beginning to pay off. We can use some good news on the nature front.
To the south of Folly Beach is Kiawah Island, best known for its very large resort. Beyond that is Seabrook Island, then Edisto Beach.
There were a lot of shells on the beach at Edisto, and a lot of people beachcombing. We chatted with people who hunted for whelk shells after Hurricane Dorian passed through, a woman holding what looked like a wok spoon on a stick who was hunting for shark teeth, and people looking for shells, driftwood, or just looking. We were looking for beach glass, but didn’t find any. Jonathan turned up one piece this entire month. We occasionally found broken glass, but that’s a lot less interesting than nicely rounded glass pebbles. This may be a testament to the clean beaches of the region, but it gave us less to hunt for as we strolled. We decided that Edisto would be as far as we’d go from Charleston, as it took almost an hour and a half to get there. The next beaches to the south are beyond Beaufort.
On other days we drove north out of the city. Just over the bridge is the Mt. Pleasant Pier and Memorial Waterfront Park, tucked in under the dramatic harp-like spans of the Ravenel bridge. It’s a gorgeous setting with a view over Charleston. There’s fishing for those interested and a cafe and gift shop for everyone else. Paths wind through the gardens.
Beyond the park complex is Patriot’s Point, where you can visit a retired aircraft carrier. Nearby is Shem Creek park. We discovered the park accidentally, on our way somewhere else. There is a long boardwalk over fields of spartina grass, with egrets and herons. Boats are moored nearby and navigate the channel out to the ocean.
We continued on to Sullivan’s Island, another beach that extends about halfway down the length of the island, Sullivan’s Island in turn becomes Isle of Palms, with it’s own county park.
One difference we noticed between South Carolina and other places we’ve visited is that there is a lot of private beachfront. I don’t know what the law is, but gated resorts block access to large stretches of beach. You may be able to access these beaches on foot, but the walk would be a mile or more each way. Between mid-May and mid-September, the temperature can be over 80 (F.) and the humidity is often high. A long walk on the beach is not on my to-do list under those circumstances. We stuck to walks that started and ended in the county or local parks and never ran out of beach.
The next stop up the coast was Bull Island, part of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. It takes a bit more effort to visit because you take a 30 minute ferry ride to get to the island. The boat captains are also naturalists and spend the trip out describing the island habitats and species. They have a collection of materials from the island, alligator skulls, dolphin bones, shells, even pottery from long-abandoned settlements.
Since the site is a federal property, the refuge status is taken seriously and there are no amenities after you pass restrooms not far from the ferry landing. It takes nearly an hour to walk across to the beach. It was a very hot day when we were out there, 90+, and humid, while the shady path to the beach was swarming with mosquitos. By the time you get to the beach, you have only a half hour until it is time to hike back to the ferry landing, or another four hours until the later ferry. If visitors want to walk to Boneyard Beach, it’s five miles each way. On the beach there are no picnic tables, trash cans, shade, and no rest rooms. Though we brought lots of food and water, we didn’t realize there wouldn’t be places to sit and no shade at all. It would have been a better visit on a cloudier or cooler day.
There is another way to visit Bull Island that we didn’t try. Go with a group. Once or twice a month, there are events specifically designed to get people out to the area of drowned trees called Boneyard Beach at sunrise. It’s a photographer’s delight, and a chance to see the beach early in the day. The ferry leaves the landing about and hour and a half before sunrise (five am these days). At the island, a truck with bench seats takes visitors the six miles or so to Boneyard Beach, arriving in time for sunrise. Since no trip is ever perfect, visitors are back on the mainland by 8 am, having little time to enjoy the beach beyond Boneyard once the sun is up, but there’s a lot less walking than the regular visit. The dawn photo here is by a new friend, Linda Miller, photographer and fellow birder. She liked the early visit a lot and got some wonderful photos.
The beaches of South Carolina take some time to get to, and require some preparation if you plan to stay more than an hour. Sunshade or umbrella, chairs, sunscreen, bug spray, swimming gear, picnic, and lots of water. Some beaches have changing rooms and outdoor showers, but others do not. The water is not clear, but it is as warm as the Caribbean. I loved being able to walk right into the ocean and stay in as long as I wanted. Since our visit was after Labor Day and the start of the school year, none of the beaches were crowded, but there were always people out enjoying the sun, sand, and waves.
Visiting the beach in South Carolina:
Take Sunscreen, Water, and Mosquito Repellent. If you forget, you will suffer.
Leave time to get to the beach and back. Roads are single lane, there is little opportunity to pass. Relax, what’s the rush?
Charleston has extremely heavy traffic at rush hour both morning and evening. It helps if you are going against traffic. You may need an extra half hour to get anywhere if you are going the same direction as commuters.
When we arrived, I thought we might spend two weeks making our way from beach to beach around the island of Aruba. We have been happily distracted along the way. My sister Paula and her guy Wayne are with us and wanted to see the California Lighthouse at the north end of Aruba. The lighthouse is on most tours for the view out over the blue, blue water to the west and crashing waves to the east. We got a kick out of the tour vehicles that drove up. One minute there would be eight tiger-striped jeeps with whooping passengers. Next came four wheelers on balloon tires and then The Party Bus, a retired school bus with a hippy paint job. Whether they screeched to a halt or eased slowly into the parking lot, every group had their own personality.The sky was brilliant blue and the guys cutting the tops off drinking coconut were very busy. All this tourism wore us out, so we headed home to rest up by the pool.
The east side of Aruba is honeycombed with caves. Many of these are part of Arikok National Park. We stopped at Fontein Cave to see the rock art. Some of the stone is twisted in fantastic shapes. We also visited Quadiriviri cave, where an interior room with a hole to the surface is reached by walking down a dark path. A bat emerged from among those sleeping on the ceiling.
On our way out the south entrance to the park we passed the island’s wind farm, a row of turbines that catch the strong wind coming in from the east. Driving back to Savaneta we passed a number of houses with decorative painted trim. Houses range from tiny cottages, workers housing from the oil refinery days, to large walled compounds with beautifully landscaped gardens.
The hotels are a world apart in Aruba. Just north of Oranjestad is a signpost to the “low rise” hotels and beyond that, another sign to the “high-rise” hotels. These face Eagle Beach and the adjacent beaches and are the center of the Aruba tourist industry, where all-inclusive resorts, package tours, and destination weddings are held. Guests sign up for one day adventure tours, parasailing, kite surfing and other activities. When we went snorkeling at Boca Catalina, along the tourist coast, we saw all this going on just off the beach all at the same time: jet skis, kite surfers, windsurfers, parasailers, catamarans full of snorkelers, a two-masted sailboat, and a flat dredge-like boat leading a group using self-propelled devices to motor through the water in their snorkeling gear.
The cruise ship terminal is in the middle of Oranjestad and traffic slows to a halt when ships are in, up to three at a time moored and looming over the small downtown. One day on our way back from birdwatching, we saw three ships of very different sizes, from a Tradewinds vessel that holds about 200 passengers to a Fortune of the Seas that holds 4,000. We met a two men at the birdwatching site who had arrived that morning. Their ship was leaving again at 3 pm and they were trying to squeeze in some birdwatching and a trip to the beach. When I said we were only in Aruba for two weeks, they laughed at “only,” as their stop was “only” seven hours.
Oranjestad is mostly a single main street along the water, though we found interesting stops a block further inland as we searched for parking. The largest lime kiln still standing in all the Caribbean is the feature of a now-neglected park. The walls are almost two feet thick. A lot of coral was turned into lime for cement here.
Not far away in a restored colonial building is a shop called “Cosecha,” which means “harvest” in Spanish. They carry items made locally and of local materials. There were some lovely things to see and the young woman managing the shop was pleasant and able to talk about the artists.
No trip to Aruba is complete without a visit to one of the fish restaurants, and we decided to give Jonathan a break on cooking to go to the Flying Fishbone. Not only is it down the street from our house, it was part of the directions to get here. I didn’t realize that the tables in demand at the Flying Fishbone are the ones in the water. Yes, the tide comes in and surrounds the legs of the tables up about 12 inches. The restaurant provides racks to hold shoes, though part of ours was submerged–it was high tide at 8 pm. Since Aruba is very warm, even at night, sitting with my feet under water resting on the sand was not uncomfortable. The high tide tables are not the only feature, our seafood was delicious and generous. We had another meal at home of the shrimp, fish, mussels, and scallops that we carried off when we were done. We only had room to share one creme brulee among the four of us. During dinner there was a bit of disturbance at a nearby table when a crab scuttled over the diners’ feet. As we got up to leave, a circle had cleared around another table and people were peering into the water at the base of a post. A waitress told us that there is a moray eel that’s become habituated to the diners and comes out to scrounge. The diners are not used to the eel, however, and there was lots of eek-ing and peeking.
The weather was absolutely perfect. The sky was clear and bright blue and the sun shone. We walked on a path along the Water of Leith, a stream really, to get to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. The entrance was inviting. Can you believe we’re in the middle of the city?
The exhibit on Surrealism was so good that you didn’t have to have any particular interest in the topic to enjoy the art, the explanations, the description of the three particular collectors whose donations have made Edinburgh’s collections on Surrealism one of the world’s finest.
The permanent collection includes Scottish artists and other works, though we were most attracted to the sculpture on the lawn, itself sculpted into a piece of landscape art. Signs indicate that you are allowed to walk on the sculpture. There is a somewhat arty play area for kids. It’s a very welcoming museum. There’s even some sculpture by women.
Conversation with Magic Stones
by Barbara Hepworth. It looks archaeological.
Conversation with Magic Stones by Barbara Hepworth. It looks archaeological.
At the end of the day, the sun still shone, but the wind picked up and blew clouds fast across the sky, the air cooled and I could feel the cold on my cheeks. We’d had a day of all-out, full on summer, and yet I could already feel autumn in the air. Yes, there was one hot day two weeks ago–but that would make summer have lasted two days in total, if clouds and rain don’t count. That may be it for summer in Scotland.
Two days of sunny weather let us take advantage of the natural world in Edinburgh, the Royal Botanical Garden, and the Edinburgh zoo. Both have their high points. The Botanical Garden is very large and has many different gardens, though I misread Scottish Heath Garden as Scottish Heather Garden, and was mildly disappointed until I figured that out. The flowers were all in bloom, though a grounds keeper told us he thinks it is at its best in May when the rhododendrons are blooming.
There were trees with interesting shapes.
Sculpture and artwork is included in a number of places.
Jonathan wanted to play the aeolian harp, but he couldn’t quite reach the strings.
We saw a wild animal in the bushes, possibly stalking a fat pigeon.
Despite the fact that this looks like a panther, it is a cat at the botanical gardens.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stroll around the garden.
On we went to the Edinburgh Zoo.
There were many fun parts of our zoo visit. The movie celebrities were entertaining.
The Edinburgh Zoo makes it clear that it is heavily involved in research and conservation. It participates in projects in Scotland and all over the world. It also holds animals that are not commonly seen. That way it doesn’t directly compete with the very largest zoos, though they do have a giant panda. We dutifully went to look, but the female is off display because of breeding, and the male had just lumbered out of sight when we arrived. I guess it’s pandacam for us.
We did see the bald ibises that we were unable to see in Morocco, their largest remaining breeding area. They aren’t lovely, but there is a flock in Edinburgh and we could see their peculiar bald heads.
Another species we saw in Morocco has adapted well to Edinburgh, the Barbary macaque. The “wild” macaques (unconfined might be more accurate) we saw begging by the road in Morocco were obese from eating food provided by visitors.
The group in the Edinburgh zoo was livelier. This young macaque was chewing his way through a rope end. The zoo also participates in a chimpanzee project in Uganda. I even saw a Callimico monkey, from Bolivia, where my former colleague Leila Porter studies them.
There were a pair of dik-diks, each the size of a fawn, and a pudu, a Chilean species that I had never heard of before.
A local rarity is the Scottish wild cat. This animal has a tough time keeping its dignity, because it looks exactly like a tabby cat unless you look VERY very closely. I even read a conservation article that questions how many resources should be invested in saving this endangered species if it isn’t certain there are any left that aren’t part house cat.
I have to admit, the differences are slight enough that I think some DNA testing is in order.
The penguins are always fun and Edinburgh has a large colony of gentoo, rockhopper and King penguins. The penguins go for a walk every day led by keepers, but (!),
The penguin parade is run on an entirely voluntary basis. It is the penguins choice to take part, we do not encourage them with food. Unfortunately this does mean that occasionally the parade is cancelled if they do not wish to go out.” (Edinburgh zoo web site)
Gentoo and big chick
JH and his buddies
Rockhopper eyeing Jonathan’s performance
I also love all the birds. We saw the world’s largest pigeons, who strolled right out under visitors’ feet, a large stork, Chilean flamingos far from home, and scarlet ibis that you can see if you visit Trinidad (or northern South America).
The zoo property was purchased from a private owner in the early 20th century and the elaborate house is still present, right in the middle of the grounds. It’s now used as an event venue, “The Mansion.”
It is the kind of house that a child looks at and says, “I want to live in that house in the zoo.” I agree.
A good park takes planning and Holyrood Park began as a hunting preserve long before 1541 when James V enclosed the area with a wall. Though adjacent to Holyrood Palace at the east end of the Royal Mile (where the Queen was recently in residence), the former hunting grounds are now a world-class park that encompasses Arthur’s Seat, a popular walk to the highest point overlooking Edinburgh. Arthur’s Seat is the remains of the heart of a volcano, highly eroded over the years and scraped by glaciers during the ice age. There are a few low junipers and grasses. (There are also gorse bushes, but I haven’t seen any. As a reader of Winnie-the-Pooh, I must see some.) It’s the high point Holyrood Park, 650 acres now surrounded by Edinburgh and its suburbs. We took only one walk of many possible paths that include several slightly lower hills and an area of cliffs, the Salisbury Crags. There is historic significance here, too, as James Hutton, the father of modern geology, made some of the observations that led him to propose the theory of uniformitarianism from viewing the geology of the area. He concluded that the earth’s crust, the surface of the land, was formed by continuing processes over long periods of time.
At the time, this was a fundamental, crucial change in thinking, because the history of the world was still viewed as very recent, so Hutton had to brave criticism of those who believed strongly and devoutly that the world was only a few thousand year old. Unimaginably long periods of time before people existed was rarely even discussed.
Hutton recognized that erosion and deposition along with volcanic action could explain the layers seen in any geological cross-section. It changed geology from the observation of curious features to a puzzle that could be solved. Based on Hutton’s principle, any section, even any landscape, could be explained by tracing the sequence of deposition and erosion. Geologists and archaeologists still rely on the underlying significance of uniformitarianism.
Guidebooks tell you the walk to Arthur’s Seat takes 45 minutes. That figure assumes you won’t be stopping to take photos, chat, look around,or breathe. We did all those things, so it took us a bit longer, but the view was excellent, the day was perfect, cool and comfortable, and there was no rain. The upper part of the route is uneven underfoot, slick from wear and rain in places, with exposed rock waiting to trip you. We got to the top and back without any (additional) twisted ankles, but it is not a hike for everyone, despite the deceptively smooth green view from a distance.
At places, it’s surprising to remember that we are within the city. The park seems vast when you are in the center. (I dreamed of an endless green landscape afterward.) Yet the city is just over the hill in every direction.
We made it to the top where we promptly took a selfie, now posted on Facebook. What you don’t see from my bucolic photos is the number of other people on the same walk. It shows you how we edit what we see and experience.
You can have a personal stroll to Arthur’s Seat despite the hundred or so other visitors coming and going.
Lillian’s hair loved the top of Arthur’s Seat. It stood up and did a dance.
Occasionally, people ask how we will deal with illness or injury as we travel, particularly since US insurance rarely applies outside the US. Travel insurance only covers injury during travel. My macular degeneration is considered a chronic condition and therefore not covered (see amdontheroad.wordpress.com).
Jonathan sprained his ankle on one of our last days in Kjerstad (June 28). We’d already reserved 2 nights hotel in Oslo to have a day in the city. The Oslo airport is a 40 minute train ride from the city, and there is a lot of walking in a one-day visit, so we had to rethink.
We rented a car and each chose a place we wanted to see, settling on the Viking Ship museum, the stave church at the Norwegian folk museum and the Vigeland sculpture garden in Frogner Park. The Viking ships are impressive, even though the gold and other loot was long gone by the time they were excavated.
Jonathan is sad, just like the sad-eared animal.
I’ve wanted to see a stave church since I wrote a paper about them for an anthropology class in college. The oldest portion of this one dates to about 1200. It was originally built in Gol, Norway and when the city was going to tear it down in 1880, the king, Oscar II, had it saved and restored in its current location among many other structures from around Norway in the Norsk Folkemuseum.
Jonathan rested his foot in the cafe while Paula and I did a bit more walking around the Folkemuseum. The costumed people manning the stops were well informed and we chatted with the man in the stave church for a while, the the silversmith and the pottery studio. It was raining in earnest by this time, so we headed to the cafe for a few minutes before leaving.
Our final tour stop was Frogner Park to see the Vigeland sculptures. Jonathan was only able to manage a short walk, though we pulled out our binoculars to look at birds splashing about in the rain.
From there we went to an early dinner at Markveien. It was delicious (see Jonathan’s review on TripAdvisor). We headed back to the hotel, having made the best of a day that could have been much more difficult. We were happy to have the car in the morning to get us back to the airport. Our flight was not until 11:40 am, so we had plenty of time to get there and give Jonathan time to walk slowly to the gate. We successfully spent the rest of our Norwegian kronor, to the last one.
How much we learned in school! How little that was! Like most Americans, I know nothing of the history of Norway other than a general sense of it being politically neutral in general (probably confusing it with Sweden). We’ve discovered that our area was central to the German invasion and occupation of Norway, 1940-1944.
This is Ofotfjord:
The island we are on, Tjeldoya, or Oystercatcher Island, is at the mouth of Ofotfjord, the fjord that extends to the city of Narvik. Narvik’s port is ice free all year long and was built to facilitate the export of iron ore from Sweden to the rest of Europe. Norway is quite narrow and the distance from the iron-ore producing center of Kiruna, Sweden to Narvik, Norway is shorter than the distance to the nearest Swedish port, Luleå. Further, ports at the northern end of the Baltic like Luleå, are frozen much of the winter, making Narvik doubly attractive. During WWII, the invasion of Norway wasn’t confined to Narvik, but it was carried out to obtain its iron ore.
In the 1930s, both Germany and England had their eyes on Narvik, to secure the iron ore coming from Sweden, and to prevent ore from reaching the other country. In late 1939, a report passed in front of Hitler suggesting the importance of taking over Narvik and he ordered an invasion plan drawn up. This was carried out in April 1940 just before an invasion planned by the Allies, and in fact the German forces were defeated in battles on the water just off Tjeldoya (our island), and on land. However, Allied troops were evacuated from Narvik in early June when Germany invaded Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and France. Norway was occupied for four years and it sounds like the Allies ceded Norway to Germany because other battles had begun (!). (For an interesting footnote on how the evacuation of Narvik could be related to Ian Fleming’s James Bond, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Alphabet ).
Frederik, our host here in Kjerstad, left us an excellent topographic map of the island and we set out to explore and fish. One of our first stops was the end of the road on this side of the island (the coast road doesn’t completely encircle the island). We saw a sign that we later translated as “Please do not drive vehicles on the fort.” There were some lumpy, rocky formations clustered around what I assumed was a miniature visitors center. I was wrong on both counts. Tjelddoden, Oystercatcher Point, refers to the entire south end of the island, completely covered by bunkers and other features built during the occupation of Norway. The area is about one square kilometer, very large when you are on foot, and includes the ruins of bunkers, gun emplacements, and lookout posts dug into the rock of the island. There are concrete-lined trenches dug into the rock and faced with rock, and facing away from Ofotfjord are olive green barracks buildings now falling to pieces. There is a series of rooms within a hill that appears to have been the mess hall. There were about 300 soldiers stationed here. (More information at Tjeldodden.com)
Trenches in the rock
on the shore
Jimmy is in the bunker
After WWII the fort was taken over by the Norwegian armed services. It was decommissioned in 1993 and given to the municipality in 2002. It looks like some structures were dismantled or demolished and windows and entrances to the underground structures were blocked with cement before the handover to the community. Today the fort is open to visitors but otherwise unchanged. We discovered that in addition to being repurposed for visitors (see “History, Arts, and Culture…” post), some of the structures have been reopened by curious visitors with sledgehammers. The area is beautiful, a strange park with remnants of violent history all around.
So many loose ends, so little time. We took a couple more of the walks in the guidebook, “Fez from Bab to Bab.”
We passed a tassel seller.
One of the walks took us through the Jnane Sbil, a beautiful garden near the Royal Palace. This month is perfect for visiting, the orange blossoms are out, as are lilacs, roses and all kinds of flowers. The garden is carefully maintained, the gardeners have even created some new small islands within the stream that passes through the garden. We did some birdwatching, and even saw a new bird, a grey wagtail.
The gardener made his own broom. It’s like a ‘hidden picture’ on top of the woodpile.
Another day we took a route that included the official Municipal Market.We drank coffee on the roof terrace of the Palais Faraj hotel. It overlooks our neighborhood and after spotting its terrace, we decided to go for a visit. It has a lovely view over the medina, and the cookies were excellent, too.
Today we walked around the Mellah, the former Jewish neighborhood. We visited the synagogue along with an Israeli tour group. The Mellah not a large area, but some of the streets are winding.
The Ibn Danan synagogue
A portion of the Jewish cemetery viewed from the roof terrace of the synagogue.
On the way home, I noticed that our taxi driver had a dashboard cupholder for his glass of mint tea. I love it.
It was our week in Montjuic Park, where we spent one day walking from the castle along the ridge, looking at the commercial harbor. We watched a container ship back in to a slip. I was sure it would all be done electronically, after all, a person is so small that the idea of pulling a supertanker with a rope seemed impossible.
The ship backed in as neat as you please and then tossed a rope to a guy on the wharf. He dropped it over a bollard and the ship pulled against the rope to move the bow in to shore. What is that rope made of? This is a container ship we’re talking about.
Next we strolled around looking for the Botanical Garden. We had a lovely walk, but never found the garden. We did find a couple of birds, a nice change from the pigeons and Monk parakeets that have taken over most of the city.
After that, we looked up the location of the Botanical Garden and went there. It was lovely. A temporary exhibit in the Botanical Research Institute showed the personal cabinet of curiosities of the Salvador family that now belongs to the Botanical Garden. In addition to 1200 plant samples that are now part of the herbarium, some of the original painted wood cabinets and drawers survive and were on display, along with some of the original collected materials, from as early as 1714 and kept together until well into the 20th century.
Specimens like this sea turtle are part of the reason there are so few left in the wild.
The Salvador family, who owned this collection, held onto it for five generations, though there was decreasing interest after the first hundred years. Fortunately, the cabinets were left in the pharmacy building that the early generations ran and though deteriorated, it was never discarded. The collection was an important scientific venue for the entire city of Barcelona at the turn of the 19th century. The present exhibit was developed for the tercentenary (1714-2014) of the collection.
Compare this one with the cabinet of curiosities created by the Tradescant family (father and son) in England. These ‘Keeper(s) of his Majesty’s Gardens, Vines, and Silkworms’ traveled widely for their times and their cabinet made its way to Oxford and formed the nucleus of the original Ashmolean Museum.
When we were bird watching, we saw all the mounted birds shown in the Salvador’s cabinet (except the owl)–the flamingo, stork, marsh harrier and duck.
Most of the live birds have more color than the ones in the cabinet of curiosities that are more than 100 years old.There was a large flock of storks in the marsh we visited last week, but this one perched close to us and didn’t mind the photos. When I looked closely at my picture I noticed he has only one leg. He might need to stop in at the nearby wildlife rehabilitation center. Maybe he already goes there for PT.
Last but not least we visited the Archaeology Museum. Spain has a very long record of human occupation and this was well illustrated. The archaeological details throughout were largely based on sites in Catalonia. I was impressed by how much a person from this region could relate to history of the ancient past from its tremendous continuity.
The recently reopened Ethnographic Collection is near the Archaeology Museum, also in Montjuic. The exhibits were on everyday life in Spain in the past, organized by industry, interesting, but not novel. In contrast, the open storage on the ground floor was wonderful to look at. The permanent collection includes the most extensive collection of ancient glass that I’ve seen on display this side of the Corning Museum.
Montjuic is a remarkable city park when you realize that it holds the Museum of the Art of Catalonia, Miro Museum, all the places I’ve just mentioned, and the stadium and swimming facilities left over from the Olympics. Throw in a cable car, the Magic Fountain, views across both the city and the Mediterranean–it’s pretty comprehensive entertainment.