Special places and moments

September 12, 2013

To say “goodbye” to Portugal and close this series of posts about my journey to Porto and surroundings, I would like to share with you some special moments, places, tastes, memories of here and there during a short and eventful week last May.

Azulejos. The beautiful blue and white painted tiles inside houses, on the facades of churches, on  walls like here in a  hall  of Coimbra’s ancient university.Coimbra, azulejos

Vende se. For sale. An empty house full of memories of people. A house whose inhabitants may have left for various reasons.  Lack of buyers for selling  it to ? No means to repair it ? Moving to another city in search of a job ? Emigrating further away in Europe, the Americas, Africa ? One sees many such abandoned houses or closed down shops during these critical times for the Portuguese economy.

Porto, abandonned house

Art Nouveau style. A striking contrast. A lot of buildings of the early 20th century in Art Nouveau style, are still  visible in Porto. This ancient coffee house has been closed but its prestigious façade and decoration remain. A memory of times  gone.
Porto, A Brasileira

Brazilian hot chocolate, probably the best I ever drank (and this is a Swiss telling you this 😉 Believe me, this creamy, tasty, full-flavored beverage is worth the detour.

Porto, chocolate

Pastelleria (bakery), cakes, pastries and sweets are renowned in Portugal. You find bakeries everywhere offering an abundant choice of delicious sweets. Here in a street of Coimbra at the end of a folk festival.Coimbra, cakes

Stamps. I like writing and choosing nice stamps for my postcards or letters. In a little village along the Douro river, a very nice young lady at the local Post Office  went out of her way to choose all kinds of different stamps for me. In doing so she also loved practising her French, which I really appreciated. People’s kindness and friendliness were constant during my stay in Portugal.Portugal, stamps

Shops and windows. Some shops still have this old or vintage look that one hardly ever sees any longer in my country. Simply delightful ! I could have photographed so many of them !Porto, shop

Flowers. When and where you least expect them, they come at you through a gate, over an old wall, along a street. Bundles of colourful “flores“, highlighting any old stones.

Coimbra's roses

Churches  are numerous in Portugal, of all styles and epochs, simple or heavily decorated, often with azulejos. I chose to show this Porto skyline with you. No overpowering churches but present and beautiful, barely outlined in the setting sun. Porto, skyline 2Thank you for having followed me during the Summer across my journey to Portuguese cities, gardens, river and other places I felt like sharing with you. I really appreciated your visits and comments.

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Coimbra

August 28, 2013

Coimbra, the ancient city situated on a hill by the river Mondego, South West of Porto. An urban center best known for its university (1537), one of the oldest in Europe but also for its monuments, churches, museums, parks and intense cultural life centered around the university. A town of contrasts between the ancient upper city  on the hill and the low city, more modern and commercial by  the river. Coimbra, jardin intérieurCoimbra’s small cloisters, hidden gems, shadowed and secluded gardens where it feels so good to sit and enjoy a peaceful moment.

Coimbra, roofs and terracesCoimbra’s red roofs and terraces, houses of all ages and architecture, blending in harmoniously below the majestic and famous university’s ancient buildings.

Coimbra, lessiveCoimbra’s narrow paved streets, trying to catch a few sunrays on a laundry day.

Coimbra, uni, 2Coimbra’s University entrance door, students in the traditional black robes; they were our guides to visit old classrooms and halls where students have been studying for centuries.

Uni Coimbra, 1The Via Latina, a long walk along the University center building where students were meant to speak in Latin only, so we were told.

Coimbra, fado concertCoimbra’s well-known cabaret “Fado ao Centro” where we sat waiting for musicians  (all students) to perform their songs  (fado) of hope, love, longing, sadness about emigrating. Songs of protest and rebellion in troubled times too.

Coimbra, folk groupCoimbra on a Saturday morning when folk groups from all over the province came into town to sell their products and crafts, pausing to sing for the visitors.

Coimbra, hibiscusCoimbra, Santa Clara quartier, away from the busy city, the prestigious monuments and buildings. A little house on the hill, shutters closed to keep away the midday sun, a deserted terrace illuminated by a flamboyant bush of hibiscus.

Greenness in the city

August 14, 2013

Another day in Portugal. After the city of Porto, its harbour and the Douro river, how about spending some time in a luxuriant park of Porto and in Coimbra’s Botanical Garden ? It was founded in 1772 and is part of its very ancient University. More about the beautiful city of Coimbra later on.Coimbra, jardin botaniqueWon’t you come into the garden, I would like my roses to see you.” Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816) said to his future wife Elizabeth inferring that she was more beautiful.

Coimbra, meditation
I sit in my garden, gazing upon a beauty that cannot gaze upon itself.  And I find sufficient purpose for my day.  ~Robert Brault.

Coimbra, tons roses
In the garden I tend to drop my thoughts here and there.  To the flowers I whisper the secrets I keep and the hopes I breathe.  I know they are there to eavesdrop for the angels.  ~Dodinsky

Coimbra, fleur jauneThe temple bell stops but I still hear the sound coming out of the flowers.  ~Basho

Coimbra, serresThe mystery of a glasshouse… What kind of world is growing  under its roof, brilliant patchwork of glass tiles ? What universe shall we discover as we open the door ?

Porto, jardin des plantesGive me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed.  ~Walt Whitman

Porto, eucalypts
Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw.  ~Henry David Thoreau

Coimbra, oiseaux du paradisBread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul.  ~The Koran

Porto, olivier

Even when seen from near, the olive shows
A hue of far away. Perhaps for this
The dove brought olive back, a tree which grows
Unearthly pale, which ever dims and dries,
And whose great thirst, exceeding all excess,
Teaches the South it is not paradise.
Richard Wilbur
Walking in a botanical is always a deep pleasure for me. Looking at Nature in so many different forms is enchanting for the eyes and the soul. Gardeners have been working in the same alleys for centuries, students from the nearby University have observed, studied and written about the life  of plants – often a secret for a visitor.  I walked and sat in a garden in Portugal. Yet much of the  world  was present around me. A palm tree  from New Mexico was standing  beside a mighty eucalyptus from Australia, its strong, unmistakable scent reminding me of the Australian bush. A Chinese bush was blooming along a colorful  rose garden from Southern countries. The olive tree – last picture – was the “ancestor” in the garden : if I remember well it came from Israel and was about 1000 years old.

My garden is my favorite teacher.  ~Betsy Cañas Garmon,www.wildthymecreative.com