Su Gologone

Aren’t we all thinking cozy sweaters and hot drinks right now?  I know, me too.  Except that every now and then my mind drifts back to Su Gologone.  I’m sure it has everything to do with how fabulous our time was there–I can’t get it out of my mind.  And, it was the last time I felt truly unwound.  Since we’ve been back late August, it has been home sweet chaos.

I’ve stayed in some posh places, sleek rooms, all the boutiquey trappings; but Su Gologone possesses a quirkiness that appealed to my sensibilities.  It was like staying at your artsy aunt’s compound, which is overrun with beautiful flowers planted all willy-nilly, tended to but hardly defined as manicured.  Rustic, simple, colorful, kittens and dogs roaming about–and just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, there was the tinkling of bells on the grazing sheep nearby.

Su Gologne is located in Oliena surrounded by the limestone mountains of Sardinia.  It is just rub-your-eyes stunning and romantic.

Wandering the hotel is like navigating a maze.  Corridor leads to corridor leads to stairway and a split and a turn.  Just ask my husband how many times I got lost.

But here, getting lost is a delightful turn of events.  More to discover and what else do I have to do today?

Original art and folk costumes line the hallways…just like your eccentric aunt’s house.

Sweet little nooks and crannies tucked themselves here and there.

There is even an outdoor little piggie roaster that fires up each day.  Poor little guys…

Su Gologone was by far my favorite hotel of the trip.  It was the perfect balance of remote mountain locale but close enough to the beach for an easy excursion.  The scenic drives on our explorations were definitely gasp-worthy.  I just need one more day there…

 

First Baptist | Huntsville, AL

We had just arrived in Huntsville, Alabama, for a photo session with Erin Cobb.  I saw it piercing the sky above buildings and trees, some kind of ominous castle spire, as I pulled into the hotel parking lot.  From my vantage point, I couldn’t decipher the cross on top or any building attached to it.  That left only one thing to do.  “C’mon, kids, let’s go exploring.”

I turned the car onto Governors Drive, discovered mosaic and steeple, and felt that rush of excitement that only a building like this can summon in me.  Quickened heartbeat, manic speech, wide eyes–the whole shebang.

Oh, so nice to meet you, First Baptist Church of Huntsville, Alabama.  I immediately emailed Erin to let her know that I had found an alternate site for the kids photos, and then I kept circling the building and block until my kids begged me to stop.

The next morning I stood with Erin in front of the building, swearing my undying love, when she leaned toward me and said, “They call it the ‘Eggbeater Jesus.'”

Now that you mention it, yeah, I can see that.  But eggbeater or not, this massive mosaic impresses with over 14 million tiny tiles, all hand or tweezer set.  From top to bottom, the figure of Jesus stands 43 feet tall.  The First Baptist Church website details more about the symbolism of this mosaic.

And when you have an “Eggbeater Jesus,” you must also have a “God Rocket.”  That imposing tower I saw over the trees is the 229-foot steeple covered in a zinc alloy–pretty fitting in Space City.  Within this steeple is a 48 bell carillon.  (source: First Baptist Church)

I was so curious about the sanctuary, that after our photos, I had to ring the office to see if they would let us in to check it out.   A church office worker kindly showed us around, and when I asked her what a Southern town like Huntsville thinks about the design of the church she said, “People call it all kinds of things.”

“Like Eggbeater Jesus!?” my 8-year-old son proclaimed.  Oh, my.

She thankfully ignored his comment and led us down a hall lined with paintings of the previous church buildings, all of them more traditional than the last.  I asked her again, “This church is such a departure from these–were the church members at the time not opposed to such a modern structure.”  She shrugged, “No–we’re in space city, and there were so many rocket scientists in the congregation then that they thought it was great.”  

She finally led me into the sanctuary.  It was beautiful, with two walls of stained glass that didn’t disappoint; in fact, I think I gasped.  You can take a virtual tour of the sanctuary.

[photo: First Baptist Church]

I was so grateful for the chance to peek inside and the tour.

The mosaic mural designed by the Gordon Smith of Fort Worth, Texas, took 7 years to complete–from 1966-1973.

Making the trip Huntsville was definitely worth it for my beautiful Erin Cobb photographs–but I would have made the trip just for this church, also.  I am a sucker for everything about it–and the fact that it reminds me of shopping at Sanger Harris as a girl, well, that is just a nice bonus of nostalgia.

[photo: Erin Cobb]

I’ll think of you, First Baptist, every time I look at the fun photos of my children.

Sagrada Família

The plane I boarded in May flew over the dark Atlantic while I slept.  My bags contained all the trappings for a romantic trip abroad:  heels, dresses, a new bikini…and plenty of mommy guilt.  I left the kids at home in good hands, flew into Barcelona alone, caught a taxi, took an elevator up to the 8th floor, and knocked on a hotel room door.  The door swung open, and there he was.  “You made it!”

He, my lover, that boy I fell in love with almost 17 years ago, had left days before to tour London and Edinburgh.  And now we were finally together on this much-awaited trip.  I had only slept a bit on the plane that night, but I was still anxious to hit the road and see Barcelona.  We were only in town for a few days before we would leave for the island of Mallorca so we had prioritized what we wanted to see.  I was so excited to experience Antoni Gaudí’s church, La Sagrada Família.

The church remains unfinished, after decades of construction.  Gaudí’s architectural vocabulary is otherworldly, cartoonish, joyful, and modern.  But I wasn’t prepared.

After passing through those massive chiseled doors, I stood transfixed–absolutely arrested.  And then the tears came.

And not just a watery eye but tight mouth, furrowed brow, bury my face crying.

Weeping, because my eyes could not look fast enough.  Turning and turning in one spot with my head uplifted, I could not believe my eyes.  Looking frantically because I knew I would have to eventually leave and continue our day, I desperately tried to file the beauty away.

The beauty, the beauty, the light and beauty.  Then the mommy guilt vanished, and I realized I was meant to be there.

As I stood there among the other tourists and my concerned husband (“Are you okay?”), I reveled in the beauty and yet mourned it.  Actually, I didn’t know what was happening to me.  All I know, it was a moment of man created in the image of God, of God the Creator–of my conception of art and design and beauty and creativity being derivatives of Holy.  Somehow under this stone forest canopy, I felt profound wonder.  And I realized I need more wonder in my life.

I finally regained my composure and resigned myself to the fact that my naked vulnerability would be captured in the background of scores of tourist photos, me crying like a baby.  We made our way to the basement, where I excused myself to a bathroom stall to sob again.  Wonder.  I was reminded of a quote from Donald Miller I had read on my friend Erin’s blog:

I want to tell you something about me that you may see as weakness.  I need wonder.  I know that death is coming.  I smell it in the wind, read it in the paper, watch it on television, and see on the faces of the old.  I need wonder to explain what is going to happen to me, what is going to happen to us when this thing is done, when our shift is over and our kids kids are still on the earth listening to their crazy rap music.  I need something mysterious to happen after I die.  I need to be somewhere else after I die, somewhere with God, somewhere that wouldn’t make any sense if it were explained to me right now.

At the end of the day, when I am lying in bed and I know that chances of any of our theology being exactly right are a million to one, I need to know that God has things figured out, that if my math is wrong we are still going to be okay.  And wonder is that feeling we get when we let go of our silly answers, our mapped out rules that we want God to follow.  I don’t think there is any better worship than wonder.   Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz.

We collected ourselves and then ventured to Parc Güell and Casa Batlló.  Yes, of course, I love mosaic.

The day resumed as normal for us–silly jokes, hand holding, and vegetable paella…with my tear-stained makeup as evidence of my brush with wonder.

Ca’s Curial | Mallorca, Spain

Another Europe post.  I promise I’m almost done and then NO MAS.  But I wanted to share Ca’s Curial, an agroturismo destination in Soller, Mallorca.

It’s picturesque, no?

The hotel is located just beyond downtown Soller, in a mountain valley, surrounded by a citrus grove.

And when you have a citrus grove, you have fresh OJ for breakfast, lunch, and din-din.  Breakfast on the patio was my favorite.

The grounds were beautiful.  Lemons, oranges, stone pathways lined with rosemary.

I was Señora Optimism with my wide brim hat and swimsuit on, ready to sit by the pretty pool.  But the clouds decided to rain on my parade.  Oh well, I got a few good pages read in my book before the first raindrops fell.

The room was comfy and clean and the perfect place to listen to rain through the open windows and drift off to sleep.  Naps…my decadent vacation treat!

Everyone at Ca’s Curial was very friendly and accommodating.  They whipped up a vegan dinner for me one evening when seafood was on the menu.  And, the day before we were to check out, I asked for the whereabouts of a local laundromat, and they offered to take our dirty laundry to wash for us.  They delivered our clothes the next morning, fresh and clean!

We definitely wished we had booked more days here and less at our other destinations.  We’re kinda obsessed with Mallorca now and can’t get back there fast enough!