National Library of Spain

spain facade

One of the Largest Cool Libraries

This is the largest library in the country of Spain, and also one of the largest in the world. Don’t miss it when you visit Madrid.

The National Library of Spain was founded in 1712, and like the Trinity, in Dublin, it’s a patent library, which means every printer in Spain is required to donate a copy of every book they publish. Think about that for a minute . . . every single book since 1712. Needless to say, the library now has a  collection of over 26 million items, which includes 15 million books, 30,000 manuscripts, as well as music scores, newspapers, and maps. It’s the brick and mortar version of the internet!  

The National Library has been around through good times and bad. In the 1930s, during the dark days of the Spanish Civil war, the librarians were called upon to house and preserve over 500 thousand books that were confiscated from churches, palaces, and private residences. I can’t imagine this won them any popularity contests, but they didn’t have much choice. Continue reading

Paris – Sainte Chapelle’s, a Mideavil Masterpiece

Published on GoNomad

The architecture of this ancient gothic structure is astounding on its own, but when you add dazzling stained-glass windows, a violin concert, and a shimmering sunset, you’ve got the recipe for a magical evening. Read about it at GoNomad Travel.

Spectacular Libraries of Paris

Most people don’t go to Paris to see the libraries . . . but maybe they should.

mazarine-library-974899__340

The Mazarine

When you think of Paris, what comes to mind? Is it Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre  . . .  the libraries? If that last one wasn’t at the top of your list, maybe you should think again. The City of Lights is home to some of the most spectacular libraries in the world, and the fact that they’re all packed into a relatively small area makes library hopping a fun and unusual way to experience this amazing city.

For an interesting glimpse into Parisian culture and history, try touring some of these monuments to creativity and architectural genius.  Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

Bibliothèque de la Sorbonne

1200px-Salle_Saint-Jacques_(Bibliothèque_de_la_Sorbonne)

Sorbonne University maintains one of the most beautiful libraries in Paris. Located in the 5th arrondissement, the Sorbonne Library is known for its stunning architecture and elegant décor. The result is a peaceful atmosphere, the perfect place for reading and study.

Visiting hours are Monday-Friday and one Saturday per month
17 rue de la Sorbonne 75005
Check out the website here

St. Genevieve Library

Salle_de_lecture_Bibliotheque_Sainte-Genevieve_n03

This amazing space was created by French architect, Henri Labrouste.  Known for its light and airy feel, its delicate iron arches give it a French Quarter, New Orleans feel. St Geneviève is a public, and university library which inherited much of its collection from St. Genevieve Abby. The building was completed in December 1850 and opened to the public on February 4, 1851.

Location:10 Place du Panthéon,
75005 Paris, France

Continue reading

Tallin Estonia

Traveling in Tallinn, Estonia

Published on Best Single Travel
We felt like we’d stepped back in time when we toured this ancient walled city. Tallinn, Estonia – pronounced Talleen by our guide – is a place of contrasts, with a bustling city center, and an old town which recent restoration has only improved.  Our focus this day was on the cultural and historical gold mine of “Old Town”.
Continue Reading at Best Single Travel

Chicago – The Long Layover

This is the first in a series about a mother – daughter trip to Ireland. We’d dreamed of doing this for ages, and when it finally happened, we had a blast. I was held hostage in the Shannon airport, we heard some terrible jokes and great music and we made some fun new friends. Feel free to follow along!

1199px-ohare_airport_terminal_1_concourse_cChicago’s O’Hare airport is an interesting place, but not for seven hours.  My mother and I came to this conclusion ten minutes into our long layover there.  We were en-route to Shannon Ireland, and while not excited about our downtime, we were also uneasy about leaving the airport. What if we got lost or mugged, and didn’t make it back in time to catch our flight?   But the alternative of playing solitaire and wandering aimlessly for seven hours was unthinkable.  We decided to throw caution to the wind and set out for the City of Chicago.

Continue reading

Ireland – Don’t Do This

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

O.K. so obviously you don’t want to do this. But this is not a photography blog. Read on to learn about other important don’ts.

The Name Game
My mother and I recently enjoyed a long-awaited tour of  Ireland. All in all it was a delightful trip, as long as you don’t count the part where I was held hostage in the Shannon airport. I have no one to blame for this international incident but myself . . . well actually, I could blame my mother.  She’s the one who put one name on my birth certificate then called me something entirely different for the rest of my life.  As a result, I don’t think in terms of my given name, unless I’m applying for something official like a driver’s license.

This was my first mistake – putting my Christian name on my driver’s license. It seemed like the thing to do at the time but has caused me untold amounts of trouble over the years since the name on my license never matches anything else.  My second mistake was in putting my nickname on my airline tickets.

I’ve been travelling for a long time, but every now and then I really mess up.

Continue reading

Ireland – One Hundred Thousand Welcomes

May the road rise up to meet you.

 

Traveling from Chicago’s O’Hare airport to its miniature equivalent in Shannon Ireland is like stepping into another dimension. While the two airports are polar opposites – finely tuned chaos compared to small-town bustle – it’s the shift in scenery that takes your breath away. Chicago, a major metropolis of towering concrete, percolates with honking horns and harried people. Ireland, on the other hand, embodies peace and lush green beauty.

Continue reading