EST. 2009

April 22, 2014

That Heart of Glass

LATTICED SHADOWS SOFTENED AND SHARPENED as the light dimmed and shone from outside. The ground glowed white like a pool of ice, punctuated by tall, slim columns dwarfing aimless visitors walking about. The Buen Retiro Park's Palacio de Cristal was empty on the day I visited; a shell of glass and iron built for the purpose of showcasing its contents, but its splendor nonetheless proves it a showcase in itself.

Erected in 1887 for exhibiting flora from the Philippine islands, the Palacio de Cristal del Retiro was the first non-industrial building in Spain to make use of iron and glass. Designed by architect Ricardo Velázquez Bosco, who took inspiration from London's Crystal Palace, the cupola-crowned metal structure is covered entirely in glass panels, save for a portico overlooking an artificial lake. Its floor plan takes the shape of a three-armed Greek cross, while its cross-section resembles that of a basilica's, with a tall, thin central body flanked by two lower, lateral naves. On the outside, mallards and griffins populate ceramic-tiled spandrels and bases, while cast-iron lion and angel heads spout rainwater away from the building.

Though originally built as a greenhouse, the structure was turned over to the Ministry of Culture after the 1887 exhibit. Co-run by the Museo Reina Sofía, the Parque del Buen Retiro's beautiful heart of glass has since been dedicated to housing temporary exhibits including Kimsooja's spectacularly prismic To Breathe - A Mirror Woman and Pierre Huyghe's La saison de fêtes, whose installation of plant species touches on the venue's original purpose.

Between exhibits, the bare structure houses a whir of footsteps, murmurs and dust particles floating in the light. There's plenty of space for those random, reflective thoughts, contained no less within fabulously reflective surfaces.

Palacio de Cristal del Retiro, Madrid. Photos by Lady San Pedro and a random tourist who took my photo.

April 14, 2014

Those Lapins and Liévres

AS EASTER MAKES ITS WAY INTO our midsections with bunny-themed confections, I give special prominence to the ancient symbol of fertility with a treat that won't result in muffin tops or toothaches. R. and L. Lambry's Les animaux tels qu'ils sont offer a charming step-by-step guide to illustrating over 60 different animals, including the rabbit and the hare, presented with appropriate, though normally overlooked, distinction.

Often confused as one and the same, les lapins differ from les liévres in their choice of habitat and in the way they are born. Whereas rabbits mainly live underground, hares live above ground in flattened nests called "forms". Without the security of a burrow, hares come into the world able to fend for themselves with good hair and vision, while rabbits are born hairless and blind. The two also differ in physique, with hares being larger in build, endowed with longer ears and hind legs.

Not exempt from this generalization is the Easter Bunny, commonly perceived to be a rabbit. With origins in pagan Germany, the Osterhase or "Easter Hare" traces back to the goddess Ēostre, said in legend to have been carried by hares.

Introductory pages from Les animaux tels qu'ils sont:

Bunny species aside, Les animaux tels qu'ils sont from Agence Eureka's Flickr stream is a golden egg of a resource that not only instructs in drawing but also pairs its illustrations with lovely, loopy cursive. Should you find yourself without Easter holiday plans, the nearly-100-page drawing guide makes a worthwhile alternative to egg-decorating.

Unfortunately, no amount of drawing can distract me from those chocolate bunnies. Chocolate hares anyone?

Les animaux tels qu'ils sont by R. and L. Lambry. Images from Patricia M. (Pillpat) of Agence Eureka,

April 7, 2014

Those Meriendas de Montserrat

IN THE SPRING OF LAST YEAR, we hosted three lovely girls from Madrid, who were visiting Barcelona to see the architecture. Angélica and Mónica were flatmates and Architecture students. Giulia, who also took up Architecture, wasn't a flatmate but was nonetheless indispensable to the sisterhood.

From Madrid, the girls came bearing rosquillos, home-baked and hand-carried across the peninsula. It turns out that the three are avid cooks and bakers, preparing treats for tea and dinner parties they would hold back in their flat. Number 16, Calle Montserrat provided the setting for such get-togethers; a tradition begun by Mónica, who was not only the first to live there, but also lived there the longest.

Four years saw the tradition grow in attendance, as well as grow beloved by the girls and their guests. But as student life came to an end, so did its traditions. With Giulia having graduated, Angélica on Erasmus and Mónica now finishing her studies, the girls no longer occupy the unit at Montserrat, each finding themselves in a new flat, new city or country. Before parting and departing however, they made sure to keep the memory of Montserrat alive with a tribute video depicting one last merienda there.

The Spanish equivalent of an afternoon snack, a merienda is typically had late in the day, in between the country's infamously long, late lunches, and even later dinners. Las meriendas de Montserrat documents a charming slice of student life, of lovely characters making delightful use of scarce free time, and of meriendas prepared and shared in good company.

Sweet. Sublime.

Las meriendas de Montserrat by Andrea Dorantes Otero, Fran Avilés and Mónica García Koewandhono,


LadyLikes is a lifestyle and culture blog by Lady San Pedro, a writer and designer from Manila, currently living in Barcelona. Text and images on this site are property of the blog author, or of their respective proprietors noted at the end of each post.

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