July 14, 2013
where I stayed during the last week of May ? During the two hours flight from Geneva to this ancient and picturesque town, I had a look at this map and thought I would share it with you. The many flight lines all seem to converge to one particular spot in the South of Europe. A small country on the Atlantic coast from where several navigators left for maritime discoveries : Africa, America, Brazil, India, Macao (China). Great explorers like Magellan, Vasco de Gama, Zarco amongst many others.Our destination was Porto – or Oporto – in the Northern part of Portugal, an old city we had been planning to visit for a long time. Spring was much more advanced than in Switzerland, the touristic Season had not fully started yet, temperatures were pleasant. Our timing was good, it truly was the most enjoyable vacation.
Porto and surroundings offer so much to a new visitor that it would be impossible to tell you about all its various aspects. Let me just show you in a few posts the pictures of some of the places that touched me for a reason or another. This is the first post of a few others showing you different glimpses of Porto, the Douro river and Coimbra, a town in the South of Porto.
After landing in Porto and leaving our luggage in a small hotel in the center of the city, my husband and I walked to the upper town. The view was stunning. A labyrinth of houses of all sizes and colours, huddled together and decorated with the famous Portuguese “azulejos” (painted blue tiles). The red tiled roofs added a touch of colour in those dark and narrow alleys as they glistened in the sunset.Seagulls were everywhere, “A winged squadron flying over us, happy pigeons travelling all over the world, messengers of memory, going over the washing lines in the alleys, huts, grocery shops, sleeping dogs in the sun, red flowers growing in the rust…” (Alberto Nessi)Porto is a harbour city. Sometimes here and there an ancient building in Art Nouveau style looked to me like a towering ship from other times coming out of the haze of history.Contrasting styles of architecture add to this city’s charm. Richly decorated mansions, shops or cafés have grown side by side with other houses, more simple, that line narrow paved alleys. There were not too many visitors at this time of the year but these lanes can be quite crowded when all shops and restaurants are open, especially in the evening or early morning. This is where Porto’s life is felt at best.This most unusual and beautiful hall is part of the central railway station of Porto, Sao Bento. Impressive “azulejos” and sculptures cover the walls and ceilings. This beautiful building dating from 1916 is well worth visiting even if one does not travel by train. Which we actually did when going for a visit to another city, Coimbra. More about that later !For now as the sun goes down over the city, let’s just stop for a while on the top of a hill overlooking the Barreido district and others, less luxurious, which lead to the river. Will we meet there later ?…
October 28, 2011
Karma’s photo hunt for this month is about photographing idioms. If you feel like participating – you may do so until October 31st – then get ready to take pictures and share 3 photos, or more if you wish so. Karma also posted a link of a great list of idioms to help us. Interesting and fun ! Please go to her site for more information :
Here is my contribution :
I am not so sure if this was meant to be a life-size dummy or a dress stand. It stook quietly in a room of a small castle near Geneva.
“Ancient times, ancient customs”
Nino was not so guilty but very impatient with me gardening on the other side of the fence. “Woooooo”…
Three mushrooms – good or bad I do not know – standing in line in the forest. The fourth one was either watching them or rebelling…
No broth in this old cauldron but it fitted perfectly the idiom I chose.
Those graphics may look pretty but…
A fabric with small chickens and ducks I knew I would use some day. Not exactly for an idiom though !
Thanks Karma for this great photo hunt. It was interesting and sometimes funny to see the French and English translations of the same proverb.
il faut casser le noyau pour avoir l’amande
no pain, no gain; one has to break some eggs to make an omelet (lit.: one must crack the shell to get the almond)
il faut tourner sept fois sa langue dans sa bouche avant de parler
you should count to ten before you say anything (lit.: you should turn your tongue seven times in your month before speaking)
il ne faut pas vendre la peau de l’ours avant de l’avoir tué
don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched (lit.: do not sell the skin of a bear before you kill it)
quand les poules auront des dents
never; never in a month of Sundays; when pigs fly (lit.: when hens have teeth)
Good luck with your choice of idioms and pictures !
Have a pleasant weekend.
June 21, 2011
Rain is falling today as it did last night and part of the day yesterday. A light and persistent rain. During the night I woke up and listened for a while to the heavy drops on the roof. A stormy weather but a cosy feeling inside the house. In the morning a shy and scarce sun lit up the sky for a short while; raindrops, swept by the wind, looked like tiny pearls, colourful beads, like the jewels I had seen once in an artisan´s workshop.Somewhere under those ancient arcades a door opens into a small art studio. Two artists work there, an artisan jeweller and a potter. They each have their own workshop and share a bigger room for exhibitions. I visited this picturesque old town on a rainy day, like today, and thought why not have a look inside ?
As I pushed the door and went inside, stones and pearls were glittering inside showcases. Precious gems that I was reminded of as I saw the brilliant raindrops today. Bracelets, earrings, pendants, rings of different designs and shades.
In the jeweller’s workshop a necklace, as glittering as a river, was set on a bed of pebbles. The necklace was catching the sunrays and colours reflecting in the window. A beautiful piece of art created with silver and labradorite.
I liked the green pendant with the embedded white flower, as if floating in a jade pond. Each jewel seemed to have a life of its own, one given to them by the artisan.Are you sometimes dreaming of faraway shores ? I suggest you go and visit Deanna, a great artist from New Zealand. Her jewelry is inspired by the shores and beautiful nature on her island. http://www.deanna.co.nz
Is it raining in your part of the world ? Here is a child´s poem that will surely keep you smiling
“If I were raindrops…
I would fall and give kisses
To the world.
Give coolness to the poor.
Cool others who are hot.
And I love it when you are happy!
When it´s cloudy
I have fun
And yes, you know…
I am coming.”
June 7, 2011
A wonderful carousel of images ! This is what my camera, a Sony Cybershot DSC-W5 has offered me for almost six years. Now it is tired of this kaleidoscope of pictures from here, there and further. We were a good team, I think, always close, ready to point and shoot. Sadly it is no longer so. My camera is beyond repair and will rest now.
Until I get a new one I will post pictures from the past months and years. During a recent Spring cleaning, I was happily surprised to see how many pictures deserved to be brought to light. Sony did a good job indeed ! I look forward to sharing with you some of my earlier pictures.
As I was walking along the Yarra River in Melbourne, this ancient carousel was waiting to turn and turn with the music during a big festival. Its decorative panels looked like alpine landscapes. Maybe they were painted by a European artist longing for home ?
A poem for you. Can you remember the music of your carousel, wherever it was ? I remember the accordion, lots of it !
I saw a carousel which went through the sky
With its beautiful horses, its planes and nacelles
And thousands of children of all colours,
Thousands of children laughing happily.
Turn, turn, carousel,
All around the world and show to everyone
That happy children have all the same light in their eyes.
May 24, 2011
Scott Thomas Photography’s challenge for this month is about “Your hometown history”.
My hometown is in another state but surely a “hometown” is also the place one feels good in : my close family lives here as well as some very dear friends. I have enjoyed practising many activities over the years since my family and I decided to settle down in this town. I love the area we live in now almost as much as the one I was born in. My hometown then would be Fribourg in the French speaking part of Switzerland. Halfway between Berne, our capital and the picturesque area near the Lake of Geneva, not far from my “real” hometown in the Alps.
As for history… this subject has been very much part of my life thanks to my paternal grandfather, Ulysse, who was a self-taught historian. A long while ago, I wrote a post about him :
This is the old part of Fribourg on a rather grey day. The medieval town was was built in 1157 along a river. The Sarine river borders two areas in my country: the French and the German parts. Fribourg (town/canton) is one of the 26 cantons/states of the Swiss Confederation. Almost one third of his 30000 inhabitants are students. Several academies, high schools and a bilingual university attract many young people from here and abroad.
This medieval town used to be surrounded by ramparts. Most of those walls were destructed over the centuries. A few of them remain and have been restored as well as one heavy wooden gate that would close the town at night.
A colourful old house that used to be a military arsenal. Nowadays people seem to be more peaceful in town and the arsenal became “Arsen’Alt”. The large painted house is meant to bring people together in the Alt district. It promotes local community life for all those wishing so: kindergarten, various courses, craftwork, cultural activities, meetings, movies, birthday parties, etc… An inter-generation leisure complex.
By chance I happened to be in the old town when a photography exhibition took place on a square. It was all about the people who lived and are living now in this part of our town. Maybe one of these two ladies recognized herself or someone she knew on a picture ?
Pictures from today and yesterday; remembering history in a district that used to be a deprived area inhabited by large families coming from the country in search of a job in town. Years later many of those same families left their old houses that had become run-down for apartment houses in the upper part of the town. Ancient houses have been restored and are now sought-after… Times are changing.
Just an old pub about one of my idols ;) “Elvis et moi”. The owner must have the complete collection of The King’s LP’s ! A real fan and a charming lady. Pity the pub was closed as I took this picture.
Many museums are worth visiting in Fribourg. A favourite of mine is the Gutenberg Museum. A whole post would be necessary to show you its wonders. I will write more about it some time. For now let’s meet the writer and the bookbinder…
… as well as two Turkish musicians who were practising folk music in a garden outside the museum: “Our landlady does not allow us to play in the apartment !”. They were preparing for a traditional celebration with members of their community, an important one in our city.
Are you tired after the visit ? Then why not take a break on the lawn or on this stone (molasse) bridge. From there you will be able to have another look at the old city, like in the first picture. Fribourg or Freiburg in German is a town of bridges over the river. Bridges over cultures, languages and times. Bridges that join rather than divide. It is a small town you may well enjoy visiting if you are around someday.
Thanks Scott for allowing me to use pictures of various “times”. I loved this theme too.
February 1, 2011
Some days are more eventful than others. A little while ago, as I opened the frosted mailbox in the garden, a long and white envelope with foreign stamps was waiting for me. It contained a dear friend’s letter together with a copy of this drawing.
“There’s part of the sun in an apple,
There’s part of the moon in a rose,
There’s part of the flaming Pleiades
In every leaf that grows”
by Augustus Bamburger
On the same day but later in the afternoon I enjoyed reading a great blog that another friend, Gerry, had just started posting : “The Gently Used Ideas Store” !
This particular post drew my attention to the correspondence between the drawing and Gerry’s theme in this post : mythology. The mention of the Pleiades in the poem was both strange and welcome.
In French, we often use the word “pleiade” to describe a group of renowned persons, like “a pleiade of artists or writers, etc…”
Gerry’s prompt about mythology made me reflect on who the Pleiades really were. So, I looked on my bookshelves for a particular book that was just waiting to be read… Have you ever heard that a book does not exist or live until someone reads it ? It seems so true to me.
I finally found this book, here it is : a “Small Mythology Dictionary”, very nicely illustrated too.
The Pleiades were the seven daughters of Atlas and Pleione, daughter of Ocean and Tethys. They were Artemis´companions. One day, as the hunter Orion pursued them and their mother, they implored the gods to save them. They were transformed into doves and then placed in the sky as a constellation. In fact, the Pleiades are only a cluster of six stars in the sky because one of the stars hides itself… Some pretend it is Merope; she was the only one of the seven sisters whose lover was mortal.
The names of the Pleiades were Alcyone, Celaneo, Electre, Maya, Merope, Sterope, Taygete.
In my small mythology dictionary, there was no mention of the Pleiades but a page was dedicated to Atlas, their powerful father, son of a Titan, one of those gods who ruled the world before the Olympian gods. Atlas and the Titans were overcome by Zeus and the Olympian gods during a terrible battle. The Pleiades´father was condemned to carry forever the heavens on his shoulders and all the weight of the world.
This is the story of a Winter day that started in a freezing and foggy morning. It ended in the sky, a dark but starry sky where I looked for a constellation of seven sisters pursued by Orion…
Thanks to Gerry and the inspiration I found in her daysprompt
November 12, 2010
Walking through the streets of my town and looking up to its roofs makes me forget to look down and it happens sometimes that I twist my ankles. I keep telling myself “be careful today !” and yet I do it again. Painful !How could you resist taking a picture of those three old chimneys dancing on a roof ?Or being attracted by the close encounter of the moon with the sun ? Or even as you walk you might witness a strange meeting in the sky ?
Now, if you could look down on some of those streets I walk on, you may understand better what I mean…
You may have to look in all directions if you feel like participating in Scott Thomas Photography’s challenge though. And it is well worth taking part in his November assignment : Fall 2010. For all information, please click here : http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/assignment-10-autumn-2010/
October 21, 2010
A large, very large city (15 mio inhabitants) spread over two continents, Europe and Asia, linked together by two bridges and whose symbol is the tulip. A city whose name varied over time and civilisations : Byzantium under the Greek settlers, and Constantinople as the new Eastern capital of the Roman Empire. Did you guess where I had the great pleasure of spending four short days recently ? Yes, right In Istanbul, Turkey, just 3 1/2 hours away from Geneva (by plane). But what a change of scenery and way of life !
Describing and picturing all I saw in this short time is not really easy. I took many photos of the main touristic sites we visited. A morning cruise on the Bosphorus, gardens and palaces visited during a rainstorm that looked and felt more like a deluge, a Byzantine underground Cistern, the famous Bazars, the seagulls that were everywhere and as big as ducks, ancient Ottoman quartiers and their wooden houses, small sesame breads sold in the streets which never tasted as good as when eaten under the pouring rain, the bridges and their busy lanes (day and night) that we crossed by bus, and so much more… There are a lot of blogs and sites about this prestigious historical city – named “European Capital of Culture for 2010″ – that will inform you much better than I would about the incredible and precious treasures of Istanbul. Personaly, I chose to share with you some images that may tell you how I felt about Istanbul, its contrasts, the traces of its historical past and its ever-present beauty.
A mosaic in blue shades like the magnificent domes of the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet I mosque) and the Hagia Sophia Museum (formerly a Basilica, then a Mosque and now and museum.
The breathtaking shades of Hagia Sophia’s stained glass windows, a soft inner light that no words can tell. I felt an indescribable feeling of serenity (in spite of the crowd); I could well imagine the fervour shared inside the same basilica/mosque over the centuries by so many believers.
Deserted benches in a luxuriant vegetation.Group in blue…It was a great day for street vendors We were offered blue plastic raincoats and umbrellas. ‘brellas,’ brellas ! was the rather joyous cry people heard all day long in the saturated streets. And of course, we were only too happy to buy an umbrella on such a wet day !
When rain was just too much to put up with, the Grand Bazar and the Spice Bazar (also called Egyptian Bazar) would welcome you. A feast for the eyes and, in some shops, a delight for your sense of smell. Imagine carpets, shawls, embroidered boots, jewels, spices, soaps, leather goods, glasses, ceramics, coffee, those very special herbal teas and the sweet Turkish delights Just anything you can think of.Walking in Istanbul’s ancient Ottoman areas is a totally different experience and well worth it.
Away from the crowds and the most visited sites, small wooden houses huddle together along uneven streets where people live and work. Another vision of old Istanbul, its craftmen and shopkeepers, small stores and cafés where tourists are rare.
Fruits, veges or other food are often sold in the streets. Tempting, delicious.
As the evening comes, a muezzin calls for another prayer. The sky darkens before rain starts falling again. Will the remaining golden patches of sun between the clouds announce a sunny day in the morning ?
Yes, indeed ! The sky has cleared up and a sunrise over the Bosphorus was one of my favourite moments in Istanbul. Pastel shades over the straight for boats which are coming back slowly to the fishing market early morning. A view I never tired of.
Thank you for accompanying me for this short visit through the ancient part of the city. I thought I would focus on the historical part of Istanbul although the modern area is quite another story and well worth seeing too.
Below are a few links of interest for those of you who would like knowing more about Istanbul.
October 1, 2010
Back from a visit to Italy, in the Piemonte area which is not far away from the South of Switzerland; it was a long drive though, the winding and steep roads went through mountain passes and narrow valleys. Photos will follow when I will be back from another trip to a completely different and unexpected destination Until later and enjoy these first weeks of October which I hope will be mild and colourful. Fall is definitely on its way…
August 16, 2010
This post is my contribution to the new photography challenge assigned by Scott Thomas, http://stphoto.wordpress.com; its theme is related to Travel Photography. On the following link you will find the necessary information if you want to join us. Everyone is welcome ! Photos are to be posted until September 8, 2010.
For me, Hauterive is not a faraway place to travel to, 15kms at the most from my home near Fribourg, Switzerland (South of Berne). More than a travel in the usual sense of the word, I would call it an “inner journey”. As soon as you leave the main road leading to the Abbey of Hauterive, you enter a small domain where peace, silence and nature help you slowing down. You don´t even realize it but the way you walk down the path leading to the Abbey is definitely more slow.
I did not meet many people as I strolled under the forest archway. It was a weekday; on Sundays the monastery welcomes many visitors coming to the 10am mass celebrated by the Cistercian monks in the Abbey founded in 1138.The community of Hauterive is a haven of peace. Whenever I need some quietness or just a little time for myself , I love to go and sit in the garden in front of the Abbey. Parts of this garden are closed to the public and reserved to the monks. Pilgrims on their long way to St- Jacques de Compostelle in Spain may stop there for the night.Between light and shade, some benches welcome people who come there for a pause in their day. Some – for their own particular reasons at a period of their life – can stay for a longer time at the Abbey and live with the monks according to their rhythm and spirit. I cannot speak for them but personally I always feel a great inner peace as I stay there, outside or inside the church, also when walking along the river.
This is a view of the Abbey (at the back) and the farm (in front). The monks´s monastic life is essential (“ora et labora” – pray, work and also fraternal life). The monks also cultivate a certain form of relationship with the exterior world. Over the centuries they have valorised agricultural land so that they can sell their various products which bring the necessary revenues for their subsistence.Silence is appreciated in the areas where the monks are praying, meditating.
Hauterive Abbey (which means “high banks”) is located near a river, the Sarine. It flows quietly; people like to come and spend the day at the edge of the water. I saw fishermen trying to catch trouts. Cistercian monasteries were often built near a river in rather secluded areas. Maybe they used rivers as a way of transportation for their goods to be sold in the towns nearby ? It was often done so in the Middle Age when roads were unsafe.
To reach the Abbey you can either walk down a peaceful forest path or use those old wooden stairs. They have been restored of course and if they could talk, they would tell of all the people and the countless steps up and down over the centuries. The walls are original with an occasional patch of new cement and paint here and there. No straight lines for them but slight curves, a sort of imbalance as if they carried the weight of time and events.Let´s enter the Abbey itself through the main porch decorated by a fresco. I visited Hauterive several times over the years; for this photo assignement I came on a sunny morning which soon turned out to be a rainy one. The colours would have normally been much brighter.
I never took any pictures inside the Abbey but the monk I asked about it said it was all right. Those are the stained glass windows on the South side of the church, their bright colours subdued under the cloudy sky. The “rosace” (rose window) is very striking.
Rose windows are particularly characteristic of Gothic architecture and may be seen in all the major Gothic Cathedrals of Northern France. Their origins are much earlier and rose windows may be seen in various forms throughout the Medieval period (Wikipedia).
There were very few people inside the Abbey. I sat for while on the chair on the left. On Sundays and special celebrations the nave and the lateral aisles are all taken up. The monks are reunited behind the choir-screen for the celebration. Their Gregorian chant fills the Abbey. Moments of spirituality and sharing. I feel like saying a sharing beyond all religions, a sheer spirituality that the site inspires and transcends. The monks´chant is bringing life to the ancient walls.Leaving the Abbey by the quiet forest path, I was surprised by a bird flying right in front of me ! I still don´t know how I managed to take a picture. But here it is, a graceful bird dashing to the purple flower bush. A lovely ending of my travel with you. I hope you enjoyed this quiet journey near Fribourg, Switzerland. Thanks to Scott for another interesting photography challenge.
For more information on the Abbey of Hauterive, here is a link to its site. An English translation is available too.