Porto: Avenida dos Aliados

Avenida dos Aliados, Porto (1)

The forecast showed 23C but it felt MUCH warmer than that today. I had some errands in Porto, so I left the backlog of computer work behind and headed off to the centre. I brought my camera for a few clicks while I was in Praça da Liberdade (the boulders are still there), and let the vitamin D sink in. At some point I’d really like to go to the upper part of City Hall to shoot the square from above, like in this photo.

Praça da Liberdade looks empty in these photos, but it was lunchtime and the patios off the square, out of the frame, were filled with the lunch crowds. I imagine this week’s been quieter, anyway, with lots of people taking time off for the Easter break with their kids.

Tomorrow we head off to Penela, the family’s home village, to unplug for Easter weekend (there’s no internet at the house). I’ll take lots of photos, try not to eat too much, and see for the first time how the village observes Easter.

Boa Páscoa!

Avenida dos Aliados, Porto (2)

Avenida dos Aliados, Porto (3)

Avenida dos Aliados, Porto (4)

Avenida dos Aliados, Porto (5)

Avenida dos Aliados, Porto (6)

April 17, 2014
Album: Portugal Spring 2014

Downtime Is For The Birds

Mister Hugh (RIP) glaring at the internet

Mister Hugh (RIP) glaring at the internet

… not the cats.

My websites and email accounts were down for 11.5 hours! Apologies to anyone trying to reach us — we are frustrated with Bluehost’s downtime, especially since we are not on a shared server, and will be shopping around for remedies/replacement and something really tasty and crunchy to gnaw for a while.

Easter Food… ?

Restaurante Itália (Coimbra, Portugal)

our bit-of-everything dessert at Restaurante Itália in Coimbra last Saturday

“Is there Easter food?”
“Should I be baking something for this weekend?”
“Should I be cooking something for this weekend?”
“Could you give me a crash course on what happens at Easter?”

My poor husband. That’s what he gets for marrying a non-Catholic — a whole lot of questions. We’ve been through this before, though, the same thing happened at Christmas. Then at Christmas I heard some comments about Easter having more food, or at least a different set of food. I’m about to find out this weekend, when we join the rest of the family at the home village of Penela da Beira for the annual Easter traditions.

It’s not that I am completely ignorant about Catholicism, I just don’t consider reading about something on par with experiencing it firsthand, and I’ve not experienced a Catholic Easter firsthand. I’ve photographed my share of Catholic weddings, but I don’t expect it to be the same as what takes place at Easter. It reminds me of when my Taiwanese friend told me about going to small-town Saskatchewan in the dead of winter (sorry) for a funeral and wearing a borrowed ski suit… that happened to be neon. I wonder if I will be just as visible and lost, or if I should just hang back and behave like a journalist (the big lens makes that part easy).

Anyway, about the food. Paulo says the flurry of baking/cooking activity of Christmas is toned down for Easter, and much of the food is purchased rather than made at home. I won’t expect it to look like that dessert plate up there, but I have one day of image-searching around the web before we push off, to see what we might buy before leaving.

April 12, 2014
Album: Central Portugal Camping Trip

Central Portugal: Scenery From Foz d’Égua

Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (10)

This is a placeholder for text I would add if I weren’t suffering from a bout of mild food poisoning after dinner :( (For some reason, it’s only me, not Paulo.) *

In the meantime, photos of the tiny village we hiked to from Piódão yesterday and links to some information about the suspension bridge and the area.

This village, Foz d’Égua, has just a handful of houses, but its particular location is a choice one along a river. Some information from the Geocaching.com: (scroll down to the bottom for English, although I suspect this is copy/pasted from Google Translate, anyway):

The village of Foz d’Égua belongs to the parish of Piódão and shares with it the mystical beauty of the Açor Sierra. The village is characterized by its rural aspect, with its typical houses of shale and slate, surrounded by nature in its purest state, rich in fauna and flora which here find their natural habitat. For many years, these villages and community lived isolated and remote. For several years, however, on top of this mountain road use to pass the Real Road connecting Coimbra to Covilhã.

Its origin is very remote, confirmed by the five dozen paintings of the Neolithic and Bronze Age discovered in the area of the village of Chãs D’Égua, which are regarded by experts as just the “tip of the veil” of a much larger and rich patrimony. In fact, it is thought that the actual place name of Chãos D’Égua came from Roman occupation, around here they created the mare to be tied in cars, sports and combat. Foz d’Égua is located in a country beach of great beauty, the meeting point of the stream of Piódão with the stream of Chãs, which run towards the river Alvoco few miles below, in Vide.

You will notice in some of these photos that there’s been some modernization — the bridges look quite recent, the houses have modern features, the precision of the stonework looks rather 21st century. From what I understand, there’s been a restoration movement in the schist villages of this region, which I’ll speak more of when I get around to posting about Piódão. For now, here’s the Aldeias do Xisto (Schist Villages) website in Portuguese, and the Tourism of Central Portugal website, with highlights of the schist villages in English.

Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (1)

Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (2)

Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (3)

Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (4)

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Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (8)

Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (9)

Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (11)

Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (12)

Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (13)

Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (14)

Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (15)

Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (16)

Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (17)

Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (18)

Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (19)

Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (20)

Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (21)

Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (22)

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Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal (29)

April 13, 2014
Album: Central Portugal Camping Trip

* [OK, feeling better now... don't worry, no graphic details from me, it was over quickly. But it's an odd feeling afterwards, once the offending food is banished. First of all, I don't want to smell fish for a while. Also I wonder how I managed to poison myself with my own cooking. Paulo's fine, and we ate the same thing!]

Preview: From Coimbra to Piódão in Central Portugal

Coimbra, Portugal

Coimbra

After arriving home late and downloading nearly 500 photos from our first camping weekend of this year, it will be a challenge to try and whittle them down to a short preview. Here goes!

goats exercising right-of-way, Central Portugal

road-crossing goats exercising right-of-way, somewhere between Góis and Arganil

Arganil, Central Portugal

Arganil

cyclists from Clube de Montanhismo da Guarda at the campground where we stayed in Arganil, Central Portugal

cyclists from Clube de Montanhismo da Guarda at the campground where we stayed in Arganil

Poço da Cesta, Central Portugal

above Poço da Cesta, where we whiled away part of Sunday afternoon

schist village of Piódão, Central Portugal

schist village of Piódão

wooden suspension bridge at Foz d’Égua, Central Portugal

wooden suspension bridge at Foz d’Égua

Sunday mass, Igreja Matriz do Piódão

Sunday mass, Igreja Matriz do Piódão

Album: Central Portugal Camping Trip (April 12-13, 2014)