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Color,  Form, Texture  
This is what catches the eye; stimulates the senses.  Playing with abstract forms captured through a camera’s lens and watching the photo change from Color to High Contrast B&W ignites different senses, changes how one sees the subject.  
This is what experiencing abstract photography is.

When photographing subjects during my walks, I find myself attracted to the same thing; granted a variety of “same things” but still the same thing. This gets old. That’s when I know I need to rethink in a more creative form.

I like to study art and will go to the library and pull out those beautiful large art books showing work across the ages. I love to go to the museums and admire the work first hand. I find that it’s the smaller works or the less famous ones that really grab my creative mind. I see many of these works doing the same thing that photography does today…capturing life. (The cats though were either really different a few hundred years ago or the artists didn’t know how to draw/paint a cat). Anyway…

I will always find old doors, windows, people, buildings, animals, etc, fascinating subjects for my work. There’s always a challenge. To take this further though, to rethink how the final piece will be or look…playing with it…letting the creative juices flow…that’s were things get exciting.

The images in the video above were taken in and around Bordeaux, France during the Winter of 2019.

MarciaGPhoto@gmail.com

www.MarciaGutierrezPhotography.com

MarciaGPhoto youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqbWPCTrqixEv8VL_y2jIig

We only spent a part of day in Périgeuex (for our first trip). After walking the Red Line Tour we ended our day walking thru the typically narrow and windy streets of the medieval city towards the Cathedral of Saint-Front.  In 1998 it was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since it is an important site for El Camino de Santiago de Compostela.  (see previous blogs on El Camino 2017)   The Cathedral is impressive, built in the shape of a Greek cross with domes—a lot of domes.  There is much to discover in this beautiful Cathedral.  One item that struck me as interesting as I first walked inside were the chandeliers.  They are beautiful but don’t seem to fit…yet… they do.  They once hung in Paris’ Notre Dame for Napoleon’s wedding.  They add an incredible elegance to the open space.  The space goes fro stone to beautiful art.  It allows the eyes, mind, and soul time to take it in.  It adds a calmness to the heart.

On the left of the entrance as one walks inside is a small chapel called Confessions.  This is where the simple wood statue of Santiago is.    

 ¡Buen Camino!

The shop above with the corner door is called Maison Tenant (now a men’s clothing store). It has an interesting entry with the door opening at an upward angle.  There is an inscription on the lintel: “Remember we all have to die one day.  He who enjoys speaking ill of those who are absent, let him know that this house is forbidden to him.  The greatest glory comes from displeasing the wicked.  This house, built in 1518 with the blessing of the Almighty.”   

Cathedral Saint-Front

Old chapel called Confessions dedicated to Santiago

Périgueux is definitely a town that needs more exploring as well as the countryside around it. We will be back!

The final trek of the Red Line took us to a public garden: Jardin des Arenes which was created over the 1st Century Amphitheater of Vesunna in 1875. 

Map of the Red Line

 The Amphitheater could seat 18,000 people and its façades were 3 times higher than the houses that surround it today.  

In the 4thCentury the Amphitheater was incorporated within the High Wall with the openings being walled up and towers built to reinforce it.  Around 1150 the Count of Périgord had his castle built here.  Today there are still signs of the Amphitheater circling the garden and play areas.  The floor of the Amphitheater lies 21 feet below (see above).  The castle was destroyed in the early 1400’s.

Unfortunately, we did not have time to explore the final point of interest: the first Cathedral of Périgueux:  Église Saint-Étienne-de-la-Cité.  We wanted to head into the city center (next post) and explore there as well as see the new Cathedral.  Périgueux is a city that we plan to return to.  Not only is there more to see but it is also close to other towns that have their own stories to tell.

Domes of Église Saint-Étienne-de-la-Cité

The Château Barrière was built in the 12th century on top of the lower part of a 4th century tower and wall.  Later a second noble man’s home was built beside it.  This wall/castle was burned down during the 1577 French Wars of Religion.  Some of the upper floors were restored, though, in the early 20th century and used by the Historical and Archeological Society of Périgord.

small6026 copysmall_wallmap6096small6119It’s a beautiful example of medieval architecture that can be enjoyed from across the railroad tracks at the Vesunna Gallo-Roman Museum and then following the Red Line and crossing a bridge one can walk around the ruins and enjoy finding both Roman and Medieval carvings.

Always a cat or two

In 1959 a Roman home, Domus de Vésone, was discovered during a construction project near the Tour de Vésone.  This home is from the 1st century A.D. and was perhaps an official palace.   The Vesunna Gallo-Roman Museum was built over it and opened in 2003.  Wooden walkways allow visitors to stroll thru what was once a grand home of ancient luxury and beautiful gardens.  Glass displays show common everyday items such as weaving tools, medical supplies, toiletries, etc.   It had a central heating system that ran hot air under the floors of the home called hypocaust and a central garden with a fountain.

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The entrance is on the left side where there is also what seems to be a rectangular pool.

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View of the central garden from above.

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View from below showing the gallery floors above.

Top: garden. Middle: dining room Bottom: looking down on the bath.

This is an excellent museum for understanding the workmanship and ingenuity of a Roman home…Yes…a rather wealthy Roman home.

Périgueux (pare-ee-go) has been an important settlement since 200 B.C. when the Gaul tribe Petrocorii established their capital, Vesunna, there along the banks of the Isle River.  The site was sacred for its spring.

When the Romans came in 16 B.C. they took over the area and created a city of their own.  Vesunna became City of the Petrocorii that over time changed into Périgueux and Périgord.  The City included a forum, basilica, amphitheater, arena, aqueduct, temples and mansions.  Since the 3rd century A.D. invasions of the Barbarians and later in 418 A.D. the Visigoths, the city was reduced to ruins.  Some of the old Roman buildings were used as supplies for new buildings while others ended up buried and almost forgotten.  From this a new city arose.  Today one can discover the glory of the past as well as enjoy a beautiful, vibrant city.

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Roman wall uncovered in a neighborhood.small6114

A wall made up of various pieces from Roman buildings.

TOUR DE VÉSONE:

Along the railroad tracks is a park where the Tour de Vésone (Tower of Vésone) can be seen.  This 2nd century Roman temple was dedicated to the goddess Tutela Vesunna, a Celtic goddess of prosperity, abundance and good fortune.  In her images she carries  a cornucopia.  For the Romans she is the goddess of luck and good fortune.

The tower is all that is left or at least revealed of a larger complex.  This tower was the Cella or heart of the temple where only the priests could enter.  The interior was once covered in marble.

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The temple of Tutela Vesunna.  The center is the tower.

 

 

The Tour de Vésone from different sides and angles.

Playing around for effects:

When I was in the Gallo-Roman Museum that is located in the same park as the Tour de Vésone there was an old etching of the Tour that showed it with different colored stripes.  So I decided to try and enhance these colors thru photoshop and filters.  Here’s what I came out with:

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1. Original photograph.

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2. Photo with saturated color.

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3. #2 converted into Black & White

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4. #2 with filters.  I used Nik Collection: Nostalgic 2

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5. Black & White version of #4

Photography is my first love.  I fought digital photography for awhile, had a difficult time wrapping my mind into it.  When I finally did I jumped in head first and have been amazed by how creative one can become.  I use a lot of layers and play with the filters that are available imagining how I want it to look until it does.  I shoot in RAW or ARW where I end up with more options to play with.  Depending on the use of my photo depends on how much I play with the effects.  For the blog I do as little as possible with effects so the photo is as natural as possible…Photo Journalism.  For my artist side there are no limits.

Note:  We arrived to Périgueux by train from Bordeaux.  Not far from the Gare (train station) there is a tour trail marked by a red line.  This will lead you to several points of interest.  Afterwards one can go up the hill to the center of the Medieval section of the town were the Cathedral Saint Front is located.  For Pilgrims there is a small chapel with a statue of Santiago.

 

Websites:

Travelfranceonline.com

Hearthfirehandworks.com

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The photos from this slide show are available as prints or a book thru www.MarciaGutierrezPhotography.com

 

Today marks a year from the day that I began walking up the Pyrenees Mountains from St Jean Pied de Port, France.  A day where the rain that fell down baptized me.  A beginning of a 60 day journey across Northern Spain ending in Muxía.

1517_3x4My journey began with an open mind to what may come my way.  I love meandering through unknown terrain (or well known terrain for that matter).  I looked forward to the culture and history that I would be experiencing; the time alone with my thoughts; the sounds that would surround me; the people that I would meet; the food, wine, colors, textures, and scents of this wonderfully diverse country—Spain.

As I write this an image comes to mind of a day I was walking through a village and a chorus of birds where singing behind a high stone wall.  All I could see were the tops of the trees over the wall.  The variety of bird song was wonderful!  Many I had never heard before…I hear it now over the low traffic noise coming through my apartment window in France…

…France.

This is where my journey, my pilgrimage, has taken me.  As my husband and I walked across Spain we talked about the next chapter in our life.   Life had seemed to take us to a dead end.   Yet at any end there are other paths to take…just which one?

I asked him what his passion was.  “Wine” was the answer.  He was already attending a 2 year program on wine at a local University.  Where to go now?

Uncertainty can be a hindrance to move forward.  The Question to ask yourself is:  “In 5 years from now how will I feel if I don’t take that jump forward and do it?”

So during our pilgrimage, his second, my first, we asked ourselves and each other The Question.  When we returned home the research and work (lots of research and work!) began for the next chapter of our lives.

We have been attending French classes since February at the Allaince Français in Chicago to help, this will be my third language; my husband’s forth.   While he is attending classes at the Bordeaux Science Agro in Vinyard and Wine Management I will be attending classes at the Allaince Français in Bordeaux and exploring and taking photos.

Who would of thunk that this shy, dyslexic, creative little girl would have the fortitude to take this jump forward in her life?  Not me…but here I am; a woman in her 60’s not allowing anything stop me from getting the most out of life.

Our apartment is located across from a church called Notra Dame and across from it is a park with a marker for El Camino de Santiago de Compostela, 1140 km.   There’s a garden design of a shell in the grass and brass shell markers embedded in the sidewalk.  We are now living along El Camino!

¡Buen Camino!

 

 

 

 

 

After El Camino de Santiago de Compostela: A Time for Reflection

Thursday, February 22, 2018

It has been almost 4 months since I walked my last day on El Camino (November 7, 2017). My husband and I spent another month in Spain visiting the cities of Sevilla, Córdoba, Toledo, and finally Madrid. We were able to walk a small bit of El Camino de Plata from were it begins in Sevilla and found the pilgrim’s office and church in Madrid where we went to our last Pilgrim’s Mass and later returned to donate our boots and a few other items for other pilgrims to use.

We are now planning our next walk: either the Ring of Kerry in Ireland, a 2 week walk that ends in Florence, Italy, or part of El Camino Frances in Southern France. When? We don’t know, soon though.

In the mean time we are walking as much as we can. It is winter so snow and chill gets in the way…here we can choose our days and weather. My toes are still numb but not hurting and my knees have recovered. I still have two small red spots on my left forearm from the bite that I got from the Biting Midge on our second day out in September (there is a repellent for those little blood suckers though). And I have replaced my bracelets; the turquoise and the shell, which I wore on my right wrist with a tattoo of a shell whose design is from a photo that I took in Santiago to help the artist create it.  Amy Porter, as always, did a wonderful job. Thank you.

What I am finding now is that I am mellower. Issues that bothered me before don’t. As a friend once told me, “It is what it is.”   There are things that one can do to make a better change in life and, well, things that one cannot. So why get hyper about it.

As a pilgrim I was looking for Balance in my life. I want to be more grounded and be able to look at something in a clear more comprehensive matter.  I believe that the mellowness that I feel in my soul is giving me this strength.

The issues in life…for me adult bullying…will always be there. Balance will help me handle it better: not allow emotions to take over and know when to walk away. As we say in Costa Rica, ¡PURA VIDA! (Pure Life or Life is Good!). At this point in my life and what I thought about and discussed with the Love of My Life on El Camino through those 631.4 miles that we cross over in Northern Spain together I have realized that I have many wonderful friends and am involved with a very creative group of people. I am ready to continue giving what I can to my community with the gifts that I have to offer.

¡El Camino IS la vida!

¡Buen Camino!

A Poem:

One day when walking thru a small village there was a pilgrim sitting on a stone bench.  Her pack at her side and her staff against it she watched us.  I found her intriguing.  Later when I was sitting and having lunch at a food truck area I saw her again.  She stood on El Camino at the foot path that led to the food area and again watched us.  I looked down for a moment to take a bite of my food and then looked up.  She was gone.  I didn’t see her on the path to the food truck nor on the Camino road that went on for quite awhile before curving down a hill.  She couldn’t have walked that fast.  It was surreal.

Pilgrim (La Peregrina)

Long hair

Shades of grey

You sit alone on a stone bench comforted by the moss that covers it.

Deep lines on face

 That once was fresh

How long has the sun, wind, rain, cold and heat touched you?

Slow walk

With staff in hand

Thick and crooked it pounds the trail with each careful step.

Shell and Gourd

 Sway to a rhythm

That beats out the ages of long ago when the ancients walked this path.

Observed by one

…You watch.

The reason long forgotten

The answer no longer important.

Fading into the horizon

…She understands.

–Marcia Gutiérrez, 2017

 

 

Mile 524.3: Lires

November 6, 2017

Today we walked along an ocean shore.

Had a late start…breakfast was not till 9 am. We headed out of Finisterre to Muxía We will be staying in Lires to shorten the distance. We headed up and up and up. The trail is marked a bit different. There are pilgrims that are heading to Muxía and others to Finisterre so there are double arrows painted on the streets using an M and F to indicate direction.

The bay was beautiful and as we headed up we entered more and more into the countryside. There are a lot of donkeys here. Only one other pilgrim passed us. We were following a long road that disappeared into the horizon when we decided to take a break and sat along a wall near a mechanic shop. My husband told me that we needed to find a sign for a small town called San Salvador. I told him that it was just behind us. There was no sign for this town that faced us as we walked but I had noticed a sign in the other direction across the street with this name on it. We backtracked and followed the road to a dirt track. It took us up through pine forests.

Sometimes the trail was wet sandy dirt and nice to walk on, other times it was full of big rocks. We walked through several small hamlets until we came upon a lumberyard. There was a yellow arrow tile on the corner of a wall that pointed in the direction that we had just come from (to Finisterre) so I continued to go straight in the opposite direction of the arrow but some men on the side of the road told me that I needed to take a turn right there.   I turned around and saw on the other corner a yellow arrow tile that pointed in the direction that I needed to go…the signage is rather tricky for those headed to Muxía.

Later in the forest we followed red arrows and red dots on rocks. The trail became rather rocky with loose stones when we came upon a marker that gave us a choice: straight through a forest or turn left to go along a beach trail.   We knew the beach trail was a kilometer longer but this was a “no brainer”…we took the beach trail. It descended down and was rough and rocky but when we came to the shore it was so worth it.

During the day we met few pilgrims: most headed to Finisterre and a few walking to Muxía. We met a young pilgrim who was deaf. He indicated that he could take our photo and we said yes. We indicated that we could also take his and he was pleased. He also wrote out on his phone asking were Lire was. We thought it was the one across the cove and showed him our map…he took a photo.   Lire is actually at the end of an estuary that was around a bend. The town is settled on a hillside and there are few ruins and many nice homes here, hórreos too…a lot. There are cormorants and herons and ducks. We saw fish swimming along the surface of the water some jumping. It is so peaceful here.

Tomorrow is our last day as we head on to Muxía.

El Camino brings one to peaceful places.

Mile 534: Muxía

November 7, 2017

Today was poetic.

I turned 61 years old today. Don’t feel 61 but then I don’t know what a 61 year old should feel. I have lost weight during this trip in spots that are hard to loose and some of my joints are creakier…but I feel good and I did something that I never thought I would. Today is our last day of this journey from France over the Pyrenees across Northern Spain and to the Atlantic Ocean.   I already look forward to our next adventure walking.

When we began our walk over El Camino Frances it rained for two days as we crossed the Pyrenees. Today it rained too. Not as hard and it didn’t sleet but it was wet and beautiful…how poetic.

We passed farmland and dairy farms, and small hamlets. We walked over soft sandy dirt and rocky roads, up and down through valleys and over hills. There is a new bridge for the pilgrims to cross. Before it was slabs of cement that pilgrims had to jump from one to the other in the water. Many bridges have been built to make the travel easier and safer for pilgrims along El Camino.

Though we could not see the ocean…the sound of the waves breaking were always in the background.

There were people we passed, few pilgrims going in our direction, many going to Finisterre. Dogs in their yards and cats everywhere (dairy country). One cat was comfortably lying in the middle of the road…in the rain. Guess it was waiting for the sun to come out. Another was sitting at a window looking miserable, the people inside ignoring it.

We finally made it to Muxía. The beaches are rocky here and beautiful, tomorrow we explore.

Yesterday when we were having lunch at the lighthouse there were three gentelmen next to us. We began a conversation with them. One asked me if our trip was all good. I told him no…El Camino is life. He agreed. Yet…in context the journey was good for it was a journey of development. Someone once told me, “What you want isn’t always what you need and what you need isn’t always what you want.”

This applies to El Camino too.

Mile 537.8: Santuario da Virxe da Barca, Muxía

November 8, 2017

Today we stood before a wild ocean of waves and stone.

It was nice to sleep in this morning. We were not in a hurry to go anywhere and didn’t have to get the suitcases packed and take down before 8 am for pick-up. No clothes to wash (will do that in Santiago.)   Our plan was to go to the Santuario da Virxe da Barca (Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Boat) were the ancients worshiped the sun and St. James saw the Virgin on a stone boat.

As we were walking up to the Sanctuary we passed the albergue and saw someone that we knew. She had started with us and the last time we saw her was in Ponferrada. She had a sore ankle so we helped her find the hospital there.   Later we met up again and it wasn’t as bad as she feared. It was so good to see her and to know that she had made it all the way to Muxía. She was waiting for a taxi with friends to go back to Santiago. She will be there for a few days so hopefully we will meet again…anyway my husband and I gave her our e-mails.

The walk was short and easy. The church was closed, the gift shop open. (Go figure.) We walked down along the rocks that line the shore and watched the waves as they hit the shore. I could have stood there forever. There are four stones of interest: Pedra do Timón (the rudder stone); Pedra da Abalar (the axis stone); Pedra dos Cadris (the sail stone); and Pedra dos Namorados (the lover’s stone). None are marked but we found the sail stone and the axis stone.

After we walked up a hill were you could see a 360-degree view of the area. I didn’t go all the way up and decided to take a side trail that led me to three large stones. Two were touching and one was not. There was a flat stone between the single one and one of the other two. I stepped on the flat stone and stretched out my arms to touch both stones. My fingers barely reached. I sent Reiki energy to the stones and I felt a serge of energy come back. I think the old church missed some of the Ancient’s sacred stones. I had felt nothing when I touched the sail stone. Now I feel a peace inside of me. I have also received what I needed from El Camino. Earth’s bones can hurt but they also can heal.

We left to have something to eat and rest. We went to a small bar where we could have some Caldo Gallego the standard soup made with the collar greens that are grown all over in home gardens. The lady gave us a plate of barnacles to eat with our drinks before we were served the soup. We had never eaten barnacles before and my husband ended up splashing himself with seawater when he tried to break the shell cover. I heard a hardy laugh from the bar and looked up. A man was having a great time watching us fail in our efforts. I looked at him and smiled and shrugged my shoulders. He came over and showed us how to break them open so we would not splash ourselves. He was very helpful and left the bar laughing.

They were quite tasty.

Later we went back to watch the sunset. The tide was up and the ocean wilder than before. Again I took a lot of photos. It was windy, cold and beautiful. As the sun set we both felt at peace and are ready for new adventures.

El Camino will always be with us.

Donde el silencio esconde algo más que palabras.”

 “Where silence means more than words.”

 

¡Buen Camino!

Good Journey!

 

Pilgrim’s Passport:

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Certification for Muxía:

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Footnote: The second day that we were in Santiago we were walking to the laundry mat and saw the young French man whose cart had broken. He had seen us crossing the street so he was standing by his table at a café waiting for us. It was so wonderful to see him. He told us that he was going to go to the albergue to find new shoes (people leave things there for others) and than he was on his way to Sevilla…walking. This is El Camino de la Plata (Silver). We too will be leaving Santiago for Sevilla in a week (by plane)  We will not meet there, his journey is another 1000 km.  I wish him well in his new journey.

His name is Uriel like the angel.

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NOTE:

The distances that we walked do not match well. I used the distance that my husband’s iphone gave us at the end of each day. Officially we walked 799 km or 496.5 miles from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela.   We took a bus once (to avoid traffic right outside of Burgos) and taxi a few times to shorten our walk because of illness, fatigue, or bad trails. This added up to 43.1 miles all together for me since I took off a day because of food poisoning (18 miles). From Santiago de Compostela to Finisterre and finially Muxía we walked. Even with a bad knee, I was able to get thru the 135 miles of our second phase of this pilgrimage. So taking the official miles to Santiago de Compostela, adding the miles to Muxía the total comes out to 631.5 miles of which I walked 588.4 miles total. This does not count the miles that we walked on our days off.

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