Monday 30 April 2018

Monday Mural - The fox

Entitled "Half fox", this is another fabulous mural from the Portuguese artist Bordalo II, real name Artur Bordalo, who uses junk and recycled stuff to build his murals and call attention to the waste, pollution and the effects of non-recyclable materials on the planet.
At the same time he also calls attention to the plight of endangered and abandoned animals with some of his "Big Trash Animals" artworks.
This work can be found in an abandoned building at Avenida 24 Julho, Belem in Lisbon, not far from the Mercado da Ribeira (a food and produce market).

If you like murals or have a mural you'd like to post, this meme is for you; just follow the Linky steps below.   Be sure to link back to this blog and visit your fellow posters.  Looking forward to your mural finds this week.  Thanks.

On the last post I mentioned we had driven to Lisbon, and on the way there I spotted a mural that I knew was a Bordalo II piece. As we were in a hurry and couldn't stop,  I took note of the area so that on our return we would stop there to take photos. And this is what I saw when we drove by, hardly had time to point my camera...

And check out the details of the stuff he uses.

Here's another one of his murals in Lisbon that I posted in November last year -

Friday 27 April 2018

Cascais & Lisbon - From ancient history to a modern pastry - Day 6 and 7

On Tuesday 3rd April, we went to my sister's house to pick up my 2 year old great-nephew from San Francisco, so we could take him to the park.
My niece had to go to the hairdresser, my sister and my younger niece (the bride) had to pick up the wedding dress and do some other wedding related chores.
Little M grabs his little scooter every time anyone mentions going to the park, so we installed his car seat in our rental car, put his scooter in the boot and off we went to the park.  Just outside the centre of Cascais is Marechal Carmona Park , a great area with a lake, cafe, kid's playground, chickens, ducks and peacocks roaming around free.

We started on the swings, then the slides, but we had been at the park for probably 20 minutes when it started to drizzle.
The forecast had been for rain the whole day so we decided to return home to little M's great disappointment.

Marechal Carmona Park in Cascais - kids area, the lake, running after the ducks, chicken, and M with his scooter. The plastic ball has featured in Perth in Sculptures by the Sea , Perth in 2014.

After a short rest at my parents house where they were staying, my younger sister and nephew (who had arrived from South Africa that morning), and my parents showed up so we could all have lunch together at middle sister's house. A noisy affair as usual with 10 people around the table exchanging their latest news.

After lunch a few of us got into two cars and went to Cascais Shopping for clothes shopping - my husband needed a suit as he's lost weight and didn't have anything suitable to wear for the wedding, and my nephew needed a jacket too. We ladies were there to give our opinion 😉

On our return to my sister's we helped her with dinner and soon enough my brother in law  arrived from work and joined the crowd for another noisy meal. The bridal couple joined us much later after we had finished dinner.

From right - my parents, me, my middle sister, her husband and my husband at back, the tall one is married to San Francisco niece in front of me, on left my nephew and younger sister from South Africa and my daughter in the middle front.

On Wednesday 4th April, my daughter Karina had to meet with someone in Lisbon, so my husband and I, Karina and my younger sister and nephew drove to Lisbon. While Karina attended to her business we walked to the nearby Basilica da Estrela (Estrela Basilica), a former Carmelite convent.
Built by order of Queen Mary I of Portugal, when she gave birth to her first son (Jose, Prince of Brazil), construction started in 1779 and was finished in 1790 two years after the death of the prince at the age of 27 with smallpox.

Located on a hill, the church has a giant dome and is visible from many parts of Lisbon. It is built in the baroque, neoclassical style with twin bell towers, lots of statues of saints on the facade and walls and floors covered in grey, pink and yellow marble in geometric patterns.

The tomb of Queen Mary I is on the right transept and behind it is a cork and terracotta nativity scene with more than 500 figurines. Unfortunately shortly after we arrived we were ushered to the back of the church as a church service was about to start, so we didn't get to see the nativity scene or the tomb.
Estrela Basilica 
Estrela Basilica
Across the street the Jardim da Estrela (Estrela Gardens) is a lovely neighbourhood park with plenty of seats, greenery and mature trees, a pond with ducks, a wrought iron bandstand where music is played in Summer, statues and a nice cafe. Inaugurated in 1852, the park covers 4,6  hectares, and is opened from 7am to midnight every day of the week.
One end of the route of the famous yellow Tram nr. 28 that a lot of tourists ride goes past the Gardens and the Basilica.

There goes Tram 28

After a stroll around the park that was full of grandparents with grandkids, we were feeling a bit cold so we went into the coffee shop for a warm drink while we awaited for my daughter to let us know when she was ready.

Estrela Garden - statues, mature trees, pond with ducks, bandstand and Coffee shop
I've never visited it, but on the northern side of the park next to the English Church of St George is the English cemetery where British nationals have been buried for a couple of centuries. You can read the story here.

When my daughter was ready we joined her down the road and went for lunch at a nearby restaurant that catered for the workers of the area. Service by a grumpy overworked waiter was quick, food was average and cheap. 

I'd heard of an artisanal factory - Fabrica do Pastel de Feijao (white bean tart Factory) - where award winning "bean tarts" were made, and because it's one of my favourite Portuguese pastries I convinced my husband to drive us there for dessert and coffee.

Situated near the National Pantheon,  we spent a lot of time driving around the area, getting lost in the narrow one way streets, until we eventually found parking and walked to this tiny bakery to savour a pastry.
At first when I saw the pastries I was disappointed, because those weren't the bean tarts I was expecting - the normal bean tarts at pastry shops are round, these were rectangular. 

These handmade tarts were reinvented by a pastry chef, using similar ingredients - white beans, almonds and eggs (no flour) - the pastry was nice and crunchy, the filling moister than the original ones, although a bit too sweet for me, but overall they were beautifully crafted.
If you visit Lisbon you might want to give them a try - Fabrica do Pastel de Feijao, Rua dos Remédios 33 (in the Alfama area).

The traditional white bean tart (left) and the reinvented bean tart (Pastel de Feijao)
Buildings in the area or on the way to the Bean pastry factory (2nd photo middle right is the Pantheon)
Pastry and coffee done and we went back to the car to our next destination - Museu Nacional dos Coches (The National Coach Museum) at Avenida da India, in the Belem district.
Situated in a new architect designed purpose built building since 2015, the Coach Museum is one of Lisbon's most visited museums housing one of the finest collections of historical carriages in the world.
Originally created in 1905 by the last Portuguese monarch - Queen Amelia of Orléans, to house an extensive and impressive collection of carriages that belonged to the Portuguese Royal family and nobility from the 16th to the 19th centuries.

The National Coach Museum building (bottom) and view from inside to the MAAT museum across the road and in the far end the 25th of April bridge
Paintings, coats for arms and adornments on coach doors
Massive wooden gilded works of art adorned some of the fancier carriages
Postal coach, smaller coaches and kids coaches
It took us about 2 hours to visit the Museum and then we got back in the car and drove to the other side of the busy road to the  Torre de Belem (Tower of Belem) and Padrao dos Descobrimentos (Discoveries Monument).

The Discoveries Monument (top left) and 25th of April bridge,  the Belem Tower (right)  copy of a hydroplane from 1922 used to cross the Atlantic ocean

The Tower of Belem is a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. Commissioned by King John II as part of a defence system at the mouth of the Tagus river in the 16th century in the Portuguese Manueline style with a 30mt, four storey tower. 
On another post I'll show you more details of the Discoveries Monument that we saw close up when we returned to Lisbon on another day to visit the MAAT museum, that brick building that could be seen across the road from the window of the Coach Museum.

And after our full day we returned to Cascais and the family got together at our parent's house for another noisy dinner.

Our route in Lisbon - from the Basilica (central point) to the Bean tart factory to the right and back to the left to the Coach Museum, the Tower of Belem and the Discoveries Monument
And on Monday I'll show you a fabulous mural I spotted while in the car on the way to Lisbon.
Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Meeting another blogger, Goodbye Amsterdam and Hello Lisbon - Day 4 and 5

On Easter Sunday after lunch with my daughter Karina and fiance Thomas we arranged to meet up for afternoon coffee with another blogger - Sandra from (which means: Christmas nativity with view to the canal).
Sandra is Portuguese and has been living with her husband in Almere near Amsterdam for a few years, and I've been following her blog for a couple of years too.

We drove to Almere and parked in a parking lot next to a shopping in the city centre and the couple met us there shortly. We walked to a nearby coffee shop - Café op 2.
After coffee Sandra and J showed us around the town centre and then they invited us to their place to continue the conversation.
We had a lovely afternoon, our husband's had a lively conversation going, when we realized  it was getting dark and it was time to go, but first we walked to the lake near their house for a photo.

Art around Almere
Almere streets and architecture
A lake in Almere near Sandra's house where we went to take a photo before leaving

After dinner we packed up our suitcase as we were leaving Amsterdam the following day in the late afternoon. 
On Monday, 2nd of April we packed the boot of the small hire car with all our suitcases and drove to Den Haag to have lunch at the house of a South African couple who are friends of Karina and Thomas.  We had already met them the last time we were in Amsterdam when they also lived there, but recently they bought a house in Den Haag about 60kms away.

On the way we saw some quirky life-sized white animals on top of a building just outside Amsterdam, lots of windmills and windfarms.

On the road - a modern bridge, animals on top of a building, windmills, my daughter's building model in the foyer of the building.
After a delicious lunch, M presented us with a beautiful chocolate Easter cake that looked exactly like one on the cover of a magazine she showed us. She loves baking and is always trying to perfect her craft. 

The other guests at the lunch, a young Portuguese couple who work Karina,and who had just arrived from a holiday in New Zealand announced that they had gotten engaged while hiking in NZ and would be getting married soon. M volunteered to bake their wedding cake, and I'm sure they get a beautiful cake for their special day.

Amazing chocolate Easter cake,  the little pug that M and S have that travels everywhere with them
Unfortunately by 3,30pm we had to leave and drive about 40km the airport as our flight departed at 5,50pm. Karina was also flying with us to Portugal, but Thomas stayed behind and would return home by train later in the day and would join us in Portugal on Friday evening.
After check-in, and because Karina is a frequent flyer due to her work trips I was able to join her for a quick snack in the frequent flyer lounge while my poor husband stayed outside, but only one guest allowed :)
We flew Transavia, a Dutch low cost airline, and even though the seats had been pre-booked they put the 3 of us in different rows, a bit strange... but I sat by the window just as I like, so all good.
At Schipol airport
Three hours later we arrived in Lisbon, at 8pm local time. While my daughter and I waited for our checked luggage my husband sorted out a rental car. 

Arriving in Lisbon
When ready we bought a Vodafone Sim card for €15 that would give us free calls  and internet usage during our stay. We then met up with my husband in the parking garage and drove the 30km to Cascais, where my family live and where we had rented an Airbnb apartment for the 4 of us, which by chance was just 500mt down the road from my sister.

On the way we called the family - both my Mom and my sister were waiting to feed us a late dinner, but we settled on going to my sister first as she had collected our apartment's keys earlier in the day. It was already close to 11pm when we popped into my parents place to give them a hug before going to our place to sleep.  Late, but in Portugal most people go to bed quite late and I know my parents are night owls too...

Our beautiful Airbnb apartment in Cascais

Early the following morning my younger sister and nephew would be arriving from South Africa and the family would be almost complete to celebrate my niece's wedding later in the week.

Monday 23 April 2018

Monday Mural - Ostenburg, Amsterdam

This is the mural I spotted from the kitchen window of my daughter's 18th floor apartment building in Zeeburg, Amsterdam.
Located at the back of a warehouse in the Ostenburgereiland (Ostenburg Island) next to the dark glass INIT building where 3 newspaper companies are located.

The Ostenburg island was built in the 17th century by the Dutch East India Company to establish shipyards and warehouses. These no longer exist in the area that is now undergoing redevelopment as a residential area.

The 65 x 22mt mural shows the connection of the area to the shipyard industry on one side and the construction business on the other side of the mural.
On the net I discovered it was painted in December 2017 by ASA artists: Beazarility, SjemBakkus, Sket185, & Chinny Bond.

And this is the view I had of the mural from my daughter's apartment.

In the distance next to the INIT building
And a close up of the mural 

On my previous post about our visit to the Keukenhof Tulip gardens I mentioned the Lloyd Hotel and the mural on the side of the building about the emigrants that used to reside here from 1921 to 1936.
Here it is in more detail.

A Youtube video I found about the painting of the Oostenburg Mural.

If you like murals or have a mural you'd like to post, this meme is for you; just follow the Linky steps below.  Once you start looking you find murals everywhere.  
Be sure to link back to this blog and visit your fellow posters.  Looking forward to your mural finds posted this week.  Thanks.

Friday 20 April 2018

Amsterdam - Keukenhof Gardens - Day 3

After a late breakfast on Saturday 31st March, our daughter and both of us drove to Lisse, about 45 min. away to go and see the Keukenhof Tulip Gardens.

This year the gardens opened on the 22nd March and will close on the 13th May.
On the drive my daughter commented that the fields on the way weren't covered in tulips like they usually were at this time of the year, but Spring had been a lot colder than usual.

This year's theme is "Romance in flowers", and in this 32 hectares of land 7 million bulbs of 800 varieties of tulips are planted, flower shows, inspirational gardens and unique art are on show. This year 100 pieces of sculpture by various artists were exhibited through the gardens.

Entrance fee for adults is €18.00 but €17.00 online, plus you avoid the queues. Parking which can also be bought online costs €6.00, and you need to present your ticket when exiting the huge parking area.

Keukenhof was designed in 1857 as an ornamental garden for the Keukenhof Castle, and since 1950 millions of tulips have flowered in that romantic garden.
The blooming season will conclude with Romance - a classical music festival amid the park's tulips.

If you don't have a car, you can still visit the gardens by taking Bus 397 (Connexxion) from Amsterdam city centre to Schiphol airport and then transfer to the Keukenhof express bus 858.

Romantic gardens - a bride and groom were taking photos (poor bride must have been freezing with her sleeveless dress), and 3 men riding by on antique wooden bikes were invited to the photo shoot.
My daughter and I, my husband and I, bride and groom on a photo shoot
The Romantic Garden area
Near the windmill there was an area where the old way of doing things was in exhibition - the metal worker with his old tools, ladies doing their washing by hand on wooden tubs, herring being dried, wooden bikes and a stand full of antique appliances.
The ladies drying the herring were also going around the area and letting people try herring - quite nice actually.
Showing the old professions
Some of the beautiful sculptures around the park were quite interesting,  I saw some were for sale with a hefty price tag...

A few of the sculptures around the gardens
At the Beatrix Pavilion, the orchids were breathtaking, beautifully displayed too around red clad mannequins, or heart shaped displays. Some had colours and shapes I had never seen on an orchid...

Beautiful orchids

And more beautiful orchids

At the Queen Juliana Pavilion we can see how the tulips that originated from the mountains between China and Turkey are now cultivated in Holland since 1593 when a Sultan gave some tulips to a Dutch ambassador. These plants are used to snowy cold winters and dry hot summers.
Today 300,000 bulbs cost a whopping 67,000 euros or 90,000 US$ and 62% of bulbs are grown in Holland.

The last pavilion we visited was the Orange Nassau Pavilion, where the flowers and romance came together in amazing displays - be it at wedding table displays, a horse and carriage, around a quirky red caravan, etc, each more beautiful that the other!

Looking for love? - Say it with flowers
After over 4 hours of walking around Keukenhof we left the gardens and drove back home.
After a late lunch at home my husband and I decided to go for a little walk around the area to check out the two red bridges that we could see from my daughter's 18th floor apartment windows at the Eastern Docklands area.

The two bright red bridges completed in 2000 connect the Borneo and Sporenburg peninsulas.  One is a low bridge ideal for handicapped people and the other is a 12 metre tall bridge that allows pleasure boats to cross under, but is climbed over via various levels of steps and has been nicknamed the python bridge.  We thought the different levels should have a different colour stripe on the edge, because they were made with the same wood and not well distinguished while walking across.

View from my daughter's apt of the two red bridges that cross that link the canal over the Borneo and Sporenburg peninsulas.

Crossing the two bridges on foot

 Across from the second bridge, the tall one, was a statue called "Fragment from a living room, reduced to 88%" by artist Mark Manders in 2001.
Consisting of 2 people standing on a table who appear identical, but have slight differences in posture and facial expression - I couldn't really detect differences though...

Statues on a table, the last red bridge in the distance and how people living in small units brighten the pavement with pot plants

Upon our return we joined our daughter and partner in a coffee shop just a few minutes away, across from the Lloyd Hotel, at Oostelijke Handelskade 34, Zeeburg in the Eastern Docklands.
The lovely Lloyd Hotel "art-deco" building completed in 1921 for Royal Holland Lloyd (KHL) cost eight times more than originally estimated, contributing to KHL going bankrupt in 1936, when the City of Amsterdam bought the building.
From 1921 to 1936 it housed travelling immigrants (mainly Eastern European Jews) as per the mural painted on the side.
From 1938 it was used as shelter for Jewish refugees from Germany and during World War II it was used as a detention centre, later functioning as an adult prison and from 1963 to 1989 it was a juvenile detention centre.
Because the building had fallen into decline, in 1996 a competition was held to decide what the building should be used for. Suzanne Oxennar, a curator and Otto Nan, an art historian, presented a design for a hotel and cultural embassy of culture in Amsterdam.
After an extensive restoration the building has served as an hotel since 2004 and has been considered a national monument since 2001. I wonder if I could have gone inside to check out the building?

The lovely Lloyd Hotel and Cultural Embassy 

The canal behind my daughter's apartment building (bottom middle) and views to the city with former Shell building in the distance (middle left)
The area where my daughter lives - the two red bridges highlighted to the left, my daughter's apt on the corner by the big bridge from bottom island, on the other corner with a purple dot is the tram station, and across the rails with a blue cross is where I found the mural I'll be posting on Monday. Amsterdam central station on the right bottom corner.(from google maps)

And after coffee I went to photograph a mural that I had spotted from the apartment ... and none of the apartment residents had noticed it, lol.  I had to hurry before it started to get dark.  And you'll see that on Monday.

Have a lovely weekend, ours is going to be extra wet, apparently 1 month's worth of rain is due to fall in two days!!