Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Photo Summary of Our June 2013 Trip

During the semiannual closedown of the temple, June 9-24, 2013, Scott and Beverly traveled through eastern and central Spain, through southern France, and through Andorra. This blog post is only a brief summary of only some of the outstanding sights that we visited.

On the first day we flew to Palma de Mallorca, the principal city of the island of Mallorca (Majorca in English), and later traveled around the island.

This the Bellver Castle, located near our hotel in Palma de Mallorca. It is a Gothic style castle built in the 14th century and is one of the few circular castles in Europe:

 We enjoyed a day at the beach of Formentor, which had crystal-clear Mediterranean water:

Near Formentor is the stunning northeastern coastline of Mallorca and we had this view from the Colomer lookout:

On the northwest side of Mallorca is Porto Cristo, famous for the Coves del Drach (Caves of the Dragon), purported to have the largest subterranean lake in the world:

While in Palma Mallorca, we joined Sisters Wirthlin and Haglund at the Plaza Espanyola for dinner. Sister Haglund is our daughter's sister-in-law:

After Mallorca, we flew to Barcelona, Spain. Here is a view of Barcelona as the flog rolled in from the sea:

While in Barcelona, we visited many museums, including the Museu Nacional d'Arte de Catalunya, located in this National Palace, a huge, Italian-style building built in 1929:

Barcelona is famous for its "modernist" architecture and the many buildings designed by the most famous of the modernists, Antoni Gaudí. This is a closeup of one of his designs, the Batlló House:

Another Gaudí design is Parc Güell (Güell Park), with its famous multicolored salamander (shown here with Scott):

The most famous Gaudí work, and one of the most famous architectural masterpieces in the world is the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family), a UNESCO World Heritage Site (even though it is still under construction):

One of the most impressive modernist buildings in Barcelona is Palau de la Música Catalana, a concert hall designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner. This photo shows the famous chandelier in the main concert hall:

We rented a car and drove from Barcelona to southern France. Our first visit there was Pont du Gard, an ancient (first-century A.D.) Roman aqueduct bridge that crosses the Gardon River in Vers-Pont-du-Gard near Nîmes, France:

The reflection of the aqueduct in the water appears almost like a French impressionist painting:

Also in Nîmes is the Maison Carrée (Square House), a small Roman temple dedicated to the sons of Agrippa. It was built in 19 BC and is one of the best-preserved Roman temples anywhere in the world:

The Arènes de Nîmes, an elliptical Roman amphitheater, of the 1st or 2nd century AD, is the best-preserved Roman arena in France. Scott and Beverly pose for a picture in the outer ring of the ancient building:

A view of the exterior of the Arènes de Nîmes:

In southern France we also visited Carcassonne, with its famous Cité de Carcassonne, a medieval fortified architectural group of buildings located on a hill above the banks of the Aude river:

Scott and Beverly at the Cité de Carcassonne:

We then traveled back toward Spain, going through the French Pyrenees mountains. The lower valleys of the mountains are filled with farmlands:

This photo shows the winding road that we took up into the higher Pyrenees:

The high Pyrenees in the tiny country of Andorra:

 Beverly at a viewpoint in the Pyrenees:

We left France and drove through the spectacular Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park in Spain:

We drove from the Pyreneses on the northern border of Spain to the more centrally located city of Zaragoza, and visited (among other things) the Aljafería Palace, a fortified medieval Islamic castle built during the second half of the 11th century in the Moorish principality of Zaragoza of Al-Andalus.

A view of the fountain in the Plaza del Pilar in the city center of Zaragoza, with the leaning tower (yes, it actually leans) of a cathedral in the background:

The last major city we visited on our trip was Bilbao, with its world-famous Guggenheim Museum:

A view of the Guggenheim on the bank of the Nervion River:

These few photos fail to show the amazing experiences we had, the marvelous sights we visited, and the awesome museums we saw during our two week trip. (These 27 photos are only about 0.5% of the pictures we took!) It was truly a memorable experience.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Madrid MTC Missionaries Sing on July 28, 2013

Every Sunday evening, the Madrid MTC missionaries sing hymns on the steps leading to the Madrid Temple. Here are some photos and a video of their singing "Called to Serve" on July 28, 2013.

The missionaries of the MTC, under the direction of Elder Bruce Sullivan and accompanied by Sister Vivienne Sullivan, with President Jay Sitterud (MTC president) recording a movie with his iPad:

A closer-up photo showing the sister missionaries and Sister Sullivan at the keyboard:

The entire MTC missionary group with the Madrid Temple in the background:

This is Elder Stephen Ward, who was injured in the terrible train wreck in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, four days earlier. Elder Ward was sent here to the MTC to recuperate from his injuries:

This is a closeup of some of the missionaries. Elder Elder Ben Adamson is in the middle. His grandfather married Scott's mother after Scott's father passed away, so Ben is almost like family. Sister Sitterud is to the far right in this picture:

Here is a video of the missionaries singing "Called to Serve":

We enjoy listening to the MTC missionaries sing and we love meeting them when they come to the Madrid Temple each week.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Altarpiece at the El Paular Monastery (The Life of Jesus Christ)

Earlier this week we visited the Monasterio de Santa María de El Paular, a functioning 14th-century Benedictine monastery in the town of Rascafría, about 90 minutes north of Madrid at the base of the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains.

Guadarama mountains near Rascafría:

The monastery  where eight monks currently reside:

Beverly with Elder Joe and Sister Jean Riggs, who are employment missionaries in Madrid (Joe was a missionary with Scott in the Andes Mission nearly 50 years ago):

Father Martin, a Benedictine monk and our charming guide, with Beverly:

One of the highlights of the monastery was the altarpiece in the main chapel. It consisted of high-relief sculptures (of colored alabaster) that depicted the birth and death of Jesus:

Here are closeup photos of 14 of the 16 panels.

The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces that she will be the mother of Jesus:

Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth:

The birth of Elizabeth's son John, known as John the Baptist:

The birth of Jesus:

The Three Kings visit the baby Jesus:

 Jesus is presented to the high priest:

John baptizes Jesus. (Note: The altarpiece depicts the Catholic manner of baptism---by sprinkling---rather than by immersion.):

The Last Supper:

The Romans take Jesus into custody: 

Jesus carries the cross to Calgary:

Jesus is crucified:

Jesus is taken down from the cross:

Jesus is resurrected and comes forth from the tomb:

The resurrection of the dead at the time of Christ's resurrection:

We were glad the Riggs invited us to go on an excursion with them and that we visited this amazing monastery.