November 22, 2011

Early Riser...

On Saturday I returned home from a fabulous trip to Spain and Portugal.  I'm still jet-lagged and rising earlier than usual.

I took this picture on the Island of Madeira (Portugal).  There was a rooster and number of chickens wandering around near the bridal veil falls on the western side of the island.

This week's Texture Tuesday challenge is to combine one of Kim Klassen's textures with any photo.  I used Kim's texture "extreme grunge".

Bridal Veil Falls

November 15, 2011

Fun in Funchal

The name Funchal was given by the first settlers that landed on its shores due to the abundance of wild fennel growing there.

Early morning view from our hotel room

We did the all the usual touristy things yesterday.

Cable car ride up to Monte - built in 2000, the ride takes approximately 15 minutes.  The distance to the top is 1.5k at a height of 560m.

View from the cable car

Friends Janella and Jane on the basket toboggan sled ride.  It's about 1.2 mile ride down the streets high up in Monte.

The sleds are pushed, steered and braked by two sturdy men.  I wonder how many pairs of shoes they go through each year.  One could smell the scent of burning wood from the sled on the road. 

flower market

fish market - this is a sword fish - (the knife looks like a sword, doesn't it?)

interesting fruits and vegetables

Hand-painted tile murals are found on walls all over the city - not only in Madeira, but throughout Spain and Portugal.

We couldn't pass up the chance to taste several different types of Madeira wine.

It was a fun-filled day!

November 14, 2011

Island of Madeira, Portugal

We're now situated in Funchal, the largest city and capital of Portugal's autonomous Region of Madeira.
On September 23, 1433, the name "Llha da Madeira" (island of wood) began to appear in the first documents and maps.  The name given to the islands corresponded to the large dense forests of native laurisilva trees that populated the island during the settlement.  It's a fantastic place - I can hardly wait to get my walking shoes on and start exploring.

The weather was rainy when we arrived yesterday, but a promise of blue skies is in the forecast.

Atlantic Ocean
Fabulous coast line - our hotel is the white building in the middle of the upper lefthand corner. 

It's impossible to tell from this photo, but there is quite a steep drop down to the ocean here!

One of the many beautiful flowers growing in abundunce all over the island

November 12, 2011


Lisbon is the capital and largest as well as wealthiest city of Portugal.   The architecture is Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Baroque, Traditional Portuguese, Modern and Post Modern.

Lisbon is surrounded by seven hills.   The heart of the city is the Baixa which is organized in a grid system with many one-way streets and a network of squares filled with monuments, fountains and statuary,  built after the 1755 earthquake which leveled a big part of the medieval town. 

There are many ways to see the city - by bus, tram, trolley, Metro, funicular, elevator and on foot, of course!

Looking down from one of the seven hills to the river Tagus which runs to the Atlantic Ocean.

No. 28 Trolley


August Avenue - large pedestrian street leading towards the river

Discoveries Monument built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator.

We're looking forward to exploring more of the city today.

November 11, 2011

The Road to Lisbon...

Travel day from Seville, Spain to Lisbon, Portugal.  Along the way, we were treated to a lunch at the beautiful 800 acre horse ranch "Brito Pates".  The ranch is owned by Maria Brito Paes and her four sons.  They breed Lusitanian, English and German horses.  These are not racing horses, but more for riding, exhibition and dressage.

Ranch House

Entry to Exhibition Barn

Exhibition Barn

Pure Lusitanian Horse

Maria's youngest son on horseback

Entry to Ranch House

View of ranch land

Cork trees, among other trees, grow in great numbers along the road side to Lisbon.  I never realized that cork is from the bark of a certain kind of oak tree.  The bark is peeled away in sections from the tree and harvested every 9 years in order not to kill the tree.  I wonder who first put some cork bark in a wine bottle?

Cork Tree

The tree is painted with the number which indicates the year it was harvested - in this case 2011.  Then in 2020, the tree bark will be ready for harvesting once again.

Pile of Harvest Cork Bark

Truly a day of wondrous discoveries.  We'll be in Lisbon in time for a late dinner - this being a "civilized country", of course!

November 9, 2011


We spent most of the day touring the Old City of Seville.

Bird Man of Seville - Juanjo our tour guide and the white pigeons in the Park of Maria Luisa outside the Pavilion of Spain.

Pavilion of Spain built in 1929 for the World Expo.  It took 11 years to build.

Inner plaza of the pavilion.  A little river runs through it with a number of tiled bridges crossing over.

The Cathedral of Seville - the largest cathedral of Spain (and perhaps the world, depending on what measurements are used).  The total surface area of the building is 23,500 square meters.
1184-1198 - Seville's Main Mosque and minerat were built.  
1218 - The Mosque was consecrated as a Cathedral.  
1434-1517 - Construction work began on the gothic Cathedral.
1528-1601 - During the Renaissance, work was carried out in the Royal Chapel, the Main Sacristy, the Chapter House and its annexes.
1618-1758 - Baroque in the Cathedral, the Parish Church of El Sagrario and two minor chapels on the same side of the building.
1825-1928 - The last major works in the Cathedral; three main doors and the southwest corner.
Christopher Columbus is buried here.

Outer walls of the cathedral.

The universal cure for the common cold - chicken soup.  We enjoyed a steaming hot bowl of Picadillo soup at 3 de Oro bar.

Tonight we go to dinner and Flamenco show.

November 8, 2011


The city of Ronda, located in the province of Malaga, sits on an outcrop of rock in a basin surrounded by mountain ranges.  It is one of the oldest towns in Spain.  Scattered around the province one finds various Roman ruins.  The cultural heritage of Ronda is Arabic.  Under muslim rule, the town rose in importance as the capital of one the five cores of Al-Andalus.  The conquest of the town by the Catholic Kings in 1485 was followed by a cultural and structural reorganization. In the 18th century the most significant monuments of Ronda were build, the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge) and the Bullring.

One of the entrances to the bullring.  It is recognized as one of the oldest and most monumental bullrings. It was opened in 1785.

Statue of Hercules and Two Lions.  Legend has it Hercules visited here.

Puente Nuevo, New Bridge - built at the end of the 18th century on the river Guadalevin.  It is the real symbol of the city.  It took 42 years to build.

Panoramic view of Ronda