Monday 30 October 2017

Monday Mural - Electrical Boxes II

More of Porto's electrical boxes on Rua das Flores (Flowers street) in Portugal.
These two have been painted with faces.

For other murals from across the world follow this link:

Thursday 26 October 2017

Portugal - Cascais

Cascais Beaches

For the next couple of days I stayed in Cascais spending time with my parents and sister.
One morning we took my sister's dog and drove the car 9km to Guincho beach, just outside Cascais and walked on the wooden walkways over the protected dunes of the Sintra-Cascais natural park.  Guincho beach is popular with surfers as it's always windy. Here were also shot some scenes for the 1969 James Bond film - "On Her Majesty's Secret Service".

At the start of the walkways is the Duna da Cresmina Interpretation Center and behind it there's a cafe, with 180 degree views of the beaches. When we returned from our walk we sat down and drank a juice before returning home.

Towards the end of the day, when it wasn't so hot, my husband, daughter and I went to the main beach of Cascais - Praia da Conceição, just across from the town's centre. There was someone building a sand sculpture in one corner, and just outside the beach there was a huge sculpture of a red hand. Called "Middle Way" by Romanian artist Bogdan Rata, and is part of the project "Monuments in movement".

Main beach in Cascais and views from the beach

Hand Sculpture and sand sculptures at Cascais beach
Cascais Town Hall

Cascais - the town and monuments

After dinner the whole family returned to Cascais to go an have an ice-cream at the popular Santinis, and to have a wander around the town center. 

Cascais Town Hall, Statue of the writer Luis de Camoes 

On Friday 8th September , two of the Doctors (plus a husband) that I work with in the medical clinic in Perth, arrived to spend 1 week in Lisbon. On the Saturday I met them at the railways station in Cascais and played "tour guide" for the day.

On the main street we enjoyed watching a busker dressed & painted in black from head to toe "pretending to sing" John Lennon songs. He was actually quite good and his money pot was filled to the brim.

The bay of Cascais, interesting architecture, the John Lennon busker, the Drs with Cascais bay in the background

We went into the Cascais Citadel, in Avenida Dom Carlos I,  a fortification built between the 15th and 17th centuries to defend the Cascais coastline and protect against attacks in Lisbon. The Citadel was the first area in Portugal to have outside street lighting installed in 1878.

Cascais Citadel walls and statue of a Infantry soldier from the Napoleonic wars
In 1870 King Luis I terminated the military occupation of the fort and converted it into a lavish summer palace, where the Royal family would spend their holidays.  He died at the fort in 1889.

The Royals choice of summer residence was crucial to the development of Cascais into a cosmopolitan tourist resort, as many important families and cultured people started establishing themselves here. 
Since the establishment of the Republic in 1910, it has served as the summer residence of the President of the Republic.

In 2012, a 5 star hotel Hotel with 126 rooms opened within it's walls - the Pestana Cidadela Cascais or Pousada Cascais with views over the Cascais Marina. There's a courtyard restaurant, bookshop, gallery, chapel and event spaces. There's also open art galeries and studios so that artists can work in front of the visitors. 

You can also visit the Citadel Palace, which was restored in 2011, and managed by the Museum of the Republic Presidency, they have guided tours in English too.
We didn't get to visit it as the tour would start about 1h later and our time was limited.

The Hotel, Art precinct, entry inside the fort, statue of Diogo de Meneses (26th Governor of India 1576/78)

On the way to Marechal Carmona Park we stopped at the Book fair just across from the park. Attendance was low, could have been because it had just opened that day, or because it had changed venues. We bought some English books that were being sold with discount. The book stands were interesting, with the back of them looking like book spines.
A parade of "VW Beetles" drove by, but I only managed to take a couple of photos. 

Book Fair in Cascais and VW Beetles parade

Marechal Carmona Park is a real treat in the historic centre of Cascais - spacious lawns, a lake, kids library, and ducks, peacocks and chickens roam around the park. Within the park you can find the Palace of the Counts of Castro Guimaraes, and the tiny Chapel of Saint Sebastian.

Marechal Carmona Park - lake, beautiful azulejos (tiles), peacock and chickens

San Sebastian chapel

The Saint Sebastian chapel opposite the Condes de Castro Guimaraes museum dates from the 17th century, 200 years before the Museum's construction. It's maintained by the Dominican priests who hold English mass on Sundays. Other religious services are held here and it's a popular venue for weddings and baptisms. In fact the day we visited there was a wedding being held there.

The Condes de Castro Guimaraes Museum built in the early 19th century comes complete with turrets and Arabic cloister with a fountain in the middle, and the interior is decorated with 17th century Indo-Portuguese cabinets, oriental carpets and 350 year old azulejos.
Once again we didn't visit inside (I was there last year), but it was near closing time.

The Museum and the main door into the cloister with fountain in the center

Some of the old tiles at the museum
Coming out on the Avenida Humberto II da Italia (Avenue of King Humberto II of Italy), we cross the road to take photos of the Santa Marta Lighthouse opened in 1868 and the lovely old mansions next to it.
This little bay is used by swimmers and sunbathers who lie on the rocks below the Santa Marta Esplanade (cafe).

King Umberto II was the last King of Italy, having gone into exile to Cascais in 1946 when the Republic was installed in Italy. He lived in Cascais for 37 years and was never allowed back in Italy. He died in  Geneva, Switzerland in 1983.

Santa Marta lightouse and bathers and Marina on the left, Museum Condes Castro Guimaraes (left)

You can get a fabulous 360 degree view of the area above through this google maps link.

And there was so much more to show them, but it was 5pm and I had to call my brother in law to come and pick us up at this location and take us to my sister's apartment where we were holding a get-together with friends at around 5,30. 
Luckily the rest of the family put things together for me, and my husband picked up a cake and Portuguese savoury specialities - prawn patties, samosas and meat patties that we had ordered from a friend's restaurant.

Image result for rissoes e chamussas
Photo from net - prawn patties, samosas and meat patties

Once again we had a wonderful night of celebration of friendship with the last guests leaving close to midnight. 

And you might enjoy this nice ballad about the "Bay of Cascais" sung by a band no longer in existence - Delfins - the drummer Jorge Quadros is my cousin.

Next post - the magical town of Sintra

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Portugal - Cascais - the first week

Having arrived in Cascais from the northern city of Braga at around 7pm on Friday 1st September, we just had time to drop our luggage at my parent's house, refresh ourselves and shortly after my sister and brother in law picked us up. 

Plateau Disco

We drove to Lisbon to meet up with a cousin and a couple of friends for dinner. After dinner the group of over 50's decided it would be a great idea to go to a disco!
I don't think I had been to a disco since...I can't even remember when, but this I was told was a disco for oldies with music from the 70's and 80's.

White Night at Plateau Disco

We certainly had a great night at Discoteca Plateau - they were also celebrating "white night" that weekend, and most people were dressed in white (not us), the music was great and we all danced along to Abba, Freddie Mercury, Boney M, Madonna, Elton John among others. You might not believe it but we left the disco at 3AM!!

Mercado da Vila Cascais (Village Market)
On the Saturday we had dinner at the Cascais MarketThe Municipal market in the heart of Cascais was reconverted in 2012, and apart from selling fish, vegetables, fruit and flowers from 8am to 2pm, there are now a lot of open-air restaurants and others under cover.   There are also shops selling crafts, drinks, health foods by weight, and every month the market hosts monthly themed markets presenting from chocolates to wine, sardines, cheese, chestnuts, etc.  We had a drink in the open air area while we waited for a table to become available in an upstairs restaurant, where we had "Tapas style" food (snacks) at Páteo do Petisco.
Cascais Market - dinner & drinks

On Sunday we met up with my brother in law's parents for lunch at Dom Pedro restaurant in Ericeira.  
Ericeira, a fishing town about 35km northwest of Lisbon or 40km from Cascais, is probably best know to surfing professionals for it's surfing beaches, and is now also very popular with tourists as a holiday place.
From one of Ericeira's beaches the last reigning monarch - Manuel II, and his mother, Queen Amelia (the widow of Carlos I) and others left the country into exile to England on the 5th of October 1910, when the monarchy was deposed by a coup, and the Portuguese Republic was established. 
Tiles in Restaurant Dom Carlos, Statue of Dom Carlos and restaurant and dining room buffet boat
The restaurant named in honour of the penultimate King of Portugal - Carlos I (The Diplomat) who reigned from 1889 until his assassination in Lisbon, on the 1st February 1908 at the age of 55. 
The restaurant had a beautiful buffet set out on a wooden boat with plenty of food from starters to desserts, and everything was great.
After lunch we drove to the beach area and the views were fantastic - to one side the Hotel Vila Gale, which is perched on top of the waves, with the village behind, and to the left the beach which is reached by a long walkway.
                           Beaches and Vila Gale Hotel with village behind it

Ericeira beach down below

Azenhas do Mar

On the way back to Cascais we drove to another magical seaside village - Azenhas do Mar about 20kms south of Ericeira. Between the mountain and the Atlantic Ocean, this small town with white houses perched on the cliff has amazing views, protected beach and a sea water pool, and is quite popular with tourists year round.
The name means "Water mills" and you can see one of the old ones on the photo below.

Azenhas do Mar - the village, one of the water mills

We parked our car at the bottom of the village, and climbed the hundreds of steps to get the best view of the village. When we came down we ordered an ice-cream at the beach bar and sat down to enjoy the view and the sunshine.
The building by the sea pool has a restaurant on the first floor, and the bar is at beach level. They had live music too, giving the area a real beachy vibe.

The beach and the bar

On on the road to Cascais we drove past these beautiful beach areas.

Guincho Fort Hotel in the distance

Birthday celebrations

And then it was time to celebrate my son's and my husband's birthdays, on the 4th and 5th of September respectively.
We had two family dinners - a Chinese take away one night and a home cooked dinner the other night, topped with puddings and birthday cake of course.

My son, daughter in law and baby would fly back to Australia the following day, so the family was getting smaller again...

Birthday celebrations - daughter in law, my mom, daughter, my dad, husband, my sister and Brother in law and my son.         C
hocolate Mousse, birthday cake, more birthday cake and milk Caramel pudding

Next time we'll be visiting Cascais and Lisbon. Hope you enjoyed the awesome scenic beaches I showed above.

Monday 23 October 2017

Monday Mural - Under the Sea

Painted in July 2016 for the Muraliza Cascais project, by Portuguese artist and illustrator Kruella D'Enfer, born in Tondela, 1988, this bright and delightful mural was painted at Travessa dos Bivaldes 41, in the suburb of Torre, Cascais (Portugal).

For other murals from around the world please follow this link.


Wednesday 18 October 2017

Portugal - Leaving Porto V

And the day arrived that we had to leave Porto. After packing our bags we relaxed for a short while on the terrace watching the trials for that weekend's Red Bull Air Race World championship, which was taking place that weekend of the 2nd and 3rd September.

Red Bull Air Race World championship

I had first seen these races over the Swan River when we arrived in Perth in 2007.
The event was held here in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010, but there were safety concerns when a race plane crashed into the Swan River in 2010 and there were no more races here.

The previous days we had seen things being installed in the middle of the Douro river, control towers coming up, etc, etc, so it was actually exciting to finally see some action.

My husband was thrilled he could see the first training session taking place that Friday, and sad I hadn't actually booked the apartment for the weekend....but I had no idea the race was taking place then. 

The Arrabida Bridge, and a place going through those inflatable towers 

Photo taken from our bedroom on the first floor with my husband, daughter and partner on the terrace watching the races
After a short while it was really time to say goodbye to Porto and the wonderful time we had there, and we headed to the city of Braga, about 50km North to meet up with a friend from the time when we lived in South Africa.

Our Porto apartment was just around the corner at the bottom of this road


When we arrived I contacted my friend and arranged to meet in the city centre to have lunch and to catch up on each other's lives.

The town was all decked out in white - flags, balloons, window decor - as "White Night festival" was being held that weekend too.
White Night festival
Braga - old monuments & modern solar panel tree

Me, my friend C, my daughter, my friend's husband M and my husband

After lunch it was time to have a coffee and cake at a pastry shop, and with so many choices it was difficult to choose just one! I went with the delicious "white bean cake".

Plenty of cakes, cheeses and Quince marmelade

And it was again time to leave and drive to Cascais (30km from Lisbon), where my family lives, and where we would stay for the next 15 days.

PS: Don't know if you heard about the terrible fires that affected the center and north of Portugal on Sunday and Monday (15th & 16th Oct) - The city of Braga (at top) was affected, but also the city of Leiria, where we had our first family and friends lunch was surrounded by fire. The town where we used to live in the center of Portugal (Carregal do Sal, between Viseu and Coimbra) and surrounding villages were also badly affected. From family and friends that live there I heard that about 70% of the forested area around it has been burned, some people lost their houses, many lost their crops, farm animals and there were 4 lives lost. In total 36 people died that weekend.
I also heard that "Quinta da Lontra" where we stayed with our family when attending our grandson's christening and our daughter's engagement, was surrounded by fire, but they managed to avoid being burned down..
I have contacted the owners Toby and Nina and they are ok, but safe but sad that everything around them has burned. They had also provided accommodation to neighbours who had lost everything. How wonderful of them!

You can read about Leiria and Quinta da Lontra, the christening and my daughter's engagement party via these links:        

Monday 16 October 2017

Monday Mural - Black or White

This mural painted on the building across from where my parents live, was my favourite of about 14 or so murals I came across in Cascais, Portugal. This was certainly my favourite. 

Painted by Moksha - "Black or White" can be found in Rua Maria Auxiliadora, Cascais.

For other murals from around the world check this link:

Thursday 12 October 2017

Portugal - Porto IV

On the 1st of September (2017) we drove to the Douro wine region of Pinhão, 126km east of Porto.

Through winding roads next to slopes covered with grape vines we reached the picturesque town of 
Pinhão, on the banks of the Douro River.

It's a peaceful country town, but due to it's location it is essential to the transport of Port wine and a starting point for those who are exploring the Douro valley by boat.

It's also known for having one of the prettiest train stations in Portugal and also has a railway bridge that was designed by Gustave Eiffel himself in the 19th century.

The Douro landscapes are easily identified by the slopes which were built in the 1970's in a way that made it possible to plant terraced vineyards, with each terrace surrounded by shale walls. The area has been classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 2001.

Pinhão Train Station

The very pretty train station, which was inaugurated in 1937 is famous for the 24 gorgeous panels of blue and white tiles (azulejos) depicting scenes from the harvesting of the grapes and daily life in rural areas.

Pinhao Train station, terraced vineyards

Tiled panels at Station

We parked our car near the station, took photos, asked for recommendations for a restaurant to go for lunch and then walked down to the river's edge.

Views of river from restaurant

We had lunch at Veladouro restaurant across the river beach - it was packed and service was slow, the food was reasonable, fish was fresh, but son in law's steak was quite tough.

After lunch we drove uphill to Quinta do Seixo (Sandeman estate) to join a Port wine tour.

The 19th century bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel

View of village of Pinhao as we climbed to Sandeman estate, bridge designed by Eiffel (top left)

Quinta do Seixo (Sandeman Estate)

Sandeman, is a brand of Port wines founded in 1790 by the Englishman George Sandeman. The logo features a caped man - Don - wearing a Portuguese student's black cape and a wide Spanish hat.
The company remained a family business until it was bought out by the drinks company Seagram in 1970, which was then sold to Sogrape in 2001. 
A descendant of the original Sandeman - George Thomas David Sandeman is a member of the board of Sogrape Vinhos (wines).

The tour was guided by the Sandeman Don who explained the production process and the characteristics which make the Douro region so unique.
After the tour you can taste some Port wines  while enjoying the panoramic view of the valley and river. 
Magnificent views!

A boat tour on the Douro

The train going past next to the Douro River

I just can't explain how beautiful the region is, and I don't think the photos convey that beauty and tranquility! 
You can also take a train from Porto to this area and travel through some of the most beautiful scenery of Northern Portugal.

And then it was time to drive back to Porto and prepare for dinner with our friends G & J who live there, the same ones with whom my daughter and I had coffee the previous day.

While everyone got ready I took some photos from our Airbnb terrace of the preparations going on in the Douro river for the Red Bull Air Race Championship that would be held there on the weekend (2nd & 3rd September).  How exciting!

Dinner at Dona Porto/ Drinks at Hard Rock
And guess what?  Our friends asked us to meet them at Dona Porto Restaurant (Rua Campo dos Mártires da Pátria 64) where they eat frequently. 
It was just a short walk for us, and the name sounded familiar, but it was only when we arrived there that we realized it was the same restaurant where we had our first lunch the day after our arrival in Porto.  
Great food and once again I admired the decor and all the art they had on the walls, and even got an idea for a canvas with Portuguese tiles (azulejos) ... (see below)

The canvas with photos of azulejos and other that was my inspiration for my piece

Dona Porto restaurant

After dinner we walked around the area to go and have a drink, but the places my friends knew were full even though it was a Thursday.
We finally settled on the Hard Rock Cafe at Rua do Almada, just off Avenida dos Aliados (Allied Avenue) and sat outside. I had a Port Tonic (port wine & tonic water) - just one of the new cocktails made with Port Wine. It was nice, refreshing and not too alcoholic.

And it was after midnight when returned home. The next day we would be leaving Porto.
                                                *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

PS: My work of art inspired by the picture I saw hanging at Dona Porto Restaurant, made by gluing printed photos of tiles to a canvas, chosen from the dozens of pictures of azulejos (tiles) I took in Porto and Lisbon.