Sunday, January 25, 2015

January 26, 2015 -- Girona, Spain

Today will be my last full day in Spain until the summer. Tomorrow I start my way back north with the first stay-over in Montpelier, France.

The euro is dropping in value daily, which means that every time I use my US credit card to pay for something, I get a better exchange rate. It was valued at $1.18 when I started the trip, and this morning it is just above $1.11. It's bound to drop farther during the course of the day as the exchange markets react to yesterday's Greek elections.

Yesterday was a day of touring museums, thanks to a young Italian lady named Anna who is a receptionist here at the hostel where I am staying. She gave me a wristband that gets me into Girona’s museums for free. Here is what Anna looks like. By the way, the ugly guy beside her is me.

Anna from Italy with your blog author
Anna has made everyone’s stay here a pleasure. She talks in a lively manner to everyone, always has a smile on her face, and laughs at every little mishap. I don't know how many languages she speaks, but I noted Italian, English, Spanish, Catalán, and a bit of French. She may speak more.

I did get inside Sant Feilu Basilica today. It appears that it closes for a few hours around midday, and that’s when I showed up yesterday. Following is a picture toward the altar in the main chapel. I didn’t use a flash out of respect, so the picture is a bit dark.

Inside the Basilica of Sant Feilu
Right above the Basilica on the hillside sits the cathedral, which I also visited. I could only photograph the outside, because in the entranceway was a sign prohibiting cameras, dogs, booze, and at least a dozen other items that I don’t remember. I was tempted to break the rule and take a snapshot anyway, because the inside of the cathedral is a delight for the eye, but that nasty little voice inside me that’s always spoiling my fun told me not to.

The cathedral in Girona
As I was inside, yesterday being Sunday, mass was being held in one of the side chapels and piped over a sound system throughout the church.  I peeped in, and there were hardly any worshippers. I believe the mass was being conducted in Catalán, because I didn’t understand a word. I would have understood had the mass been conducted in Spanish.

Another interesting place in the same area are the Arab baths, which were apparently neglected for centuries after the Arabs were driven from Spain but are now a museum. The picture below is of the main room, which was crowded with tourists. There were also other smaller chambers.

The Arab Baths at Girona
The Archeological Museum held, among other items, a collections of antique machines once used in printing. I recognize the machine on the left as a Linotype, used for setting type in the days before laser printers and copy machines. When I was in high school in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, one of the programs offered was printing, and I remember seeing a student seated at the Linotype typing away. Above him there were motors running and belts whirring. Every time he typed a letter on the keyboard, a piece of type bearing the same letter would fall down a chute and land in the proper place in the line of type (hence the machine’s name). When an entire line had been typed, it would be cast in metal as one piece.

The Girona Archeological Museum has a large collection of old printing equipment
I graduated from high school (barely) in 1960, and I remember that Linotype machines were used for years afterward, so they must have still been around until the early 1970s.

I cannot resist including a picture of an old vacuum tube radio. In the 1950s, when I was in my early teens, I had a radio of about this vintage in my room. It was already out of date by then, which is why I got to keep it. I connected a long-wire antenna to it and used to listen at night to stations as far away as Chicago. It was that radio and a crystal radio set that I built that got me started in my first career working in electronics.

The large vertical tube-shaped objects are what we used to call condensers, although the more-common name today is capacitor. Today, of course, the circuitry to do the same function as this radio receiver can be placed on a very small microchip.

The innards of an old vacuum-tube radio receiver.

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