Sunday, June 30, 2013

Guimarães, Portugal

Whilst walking along the narrow streets of Guimarães (Pronounced Gi-mar-esh) I came across this private courtyard that I found rather enchanting

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Castelo Rodrigo

The tiny hilltop town of Castelo Rodrigo is a fantastic place - and if one is not on a tour or very well acquainted with the region it would be very easy to miss, which would be a shame.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Along the Douro

This is a fairly typical scene along the Douro river; miles and miles of rolling hills all if it planted with with vines.

Canon G15 raw file capture edited in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


I like the repetitive pattern and the bright colours of this facade in the Alfalma district of Lisbon.  I take a lot of straight on photos that sometimes need a bit of straightening in Photoshop to eliminate the 'keystone' effect.  I think this is rooted in my architectural drawing training where building elevations are routinely drawn in two dimensions on flat paper.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sintra, Portugal

Lots of images taken with the iPhone Hipstamatic on our journey.  This is how it rendered this old cracked plaster inside an ancient residence in Sintra.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Salamanca University

This repetitive scallop shell motif  is used to great effect on this sandstone wall at Salamanca University.  Each shell is about 20cm across.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rabelo on the Douro

Prior to the construction of five dams on the Douro the port producers brought their product down the river via Rabelo, purpose built vessels unique in the world.  Now a days they are used for ferrying tourists about and the occasional charter, but the big event of the year comes on June 24 (today coincidentally) when the Rabelos participate in an annual race to mark St. Johns Day.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Salamanca, Spain

The University of Salamanca was founded in 1134.   It is the oldest university in Spain and the third oldest in Europe.  They have this unusual custom where bulls blood was used as ink to mark the sandstone walls indicating important events and the names of famous students and academics.   The custom continues in the modern era only blood has been replaced with a look-a-like product.  This really cool font is everywhere throughout the university.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Quinta do Seixo

The black caped and sombrero wearing silhouette is the trademark of Sandeman who produce port wine at their Quinta do Seixo along the Duoro.  Quinta means estate, and Seixo (pronounced Say-je-o) means pebble or rock.

Many of the big port producers are headquartered in the United Kingdom owing to the fact that the Brits have long been big fans of red wine.  However theyy were often at war with the French - their main supplier of vin rouge.  Supplies of French wine had a tendency to dwindle during these quarrelsome periods so alternatives needed to be found.  Portuguese wine did not travel well so a method was devised to stop the fermentation process earlier which resulted in a sweeter and heavier wine that traveled well to the UK.  And so was born Port, with many familiar Anglophone family names appearing on bottles world wide.  Taylors Fladgate, Graham and Offley come to mind; Sandeman is owned by Scots.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Douro Water Reflections

Here's the latest addition to my series of water reflection photographs; taken in the later afternoon along Douro.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Iberian Doorways

As we toured along there were often times when I'd fall back from the group to photograph one thing or another.  The downside to a tour, if you're looking hard to find one, is that your'e on a schedule so there often isn't time to reflect and consider photographic prospects - but that can be a good thing at the same time as you kind of have to get on with things.  There was one other traveler who was hanging back as well - she was photographing laundry hanging outside on lines and railings.  'I have photographs of laundry from all over the world' she informed me.  'For me', I replied, 'It's doors; I have loads of photographs of doors and doorways.'  To each his own.

This photo was taken with the iPhone Hipstamatic.  It almost looks like a photo taken at night with some supplemental lighting.  In fact it was mid afternoon on an overcast day.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Jamon Iberico

Jamon Iberico (Iberian Ham) is made from black footed pigs.  It is primarily a Spanish produce but the Portuguese had their variant as well called Presunto Iberico.  The process and taste are similar to Italian prosciutto or serrano ham.  This photo was taken in a small shop in Salamanca, Spain.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Vila Nova de Gaia

Most people would logically conclude that port takes it name from the city of Porto which is kind of correct, although all of the port producers have their facilities across the river in the city of Vila Nova de Gaia.  Ferreira has a very large facility here and before going to Portugal I had never noticed their product at home, until last night when I found one of their ruby ports at Superstore of all places.

Monday, June 17, 2013


Port, by law, can only come from the Douro region of Portugal.  It's available at a wide variety of price points and when you get to the mid range varieties the product is quite spectacular.  Older vintage port can easily get to the 2000 Euro price range.  At one point in our journey we were standing alongside casks that contained 125 year old product.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Favaios Bread

Traditional Favaios bread is hand made on wood fired ovens.  It is quite superb, particularly when washed down with a little moscatel.  My father in law said 'I could make a lunch out of that'.  Nuff said.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lunch in Portugal

When you're on an all inclusive cruise all your meals are covered, but you can opt out if you want which is what we did one day.  We stopped in to this little restaurant where we were the loan English speaking guests.  The Owner spoke little English so we ordered lunch through his daughter.  We wanted to eat what everyone else was having but we weren't altogether sure what these mysterious dishes were exactly.  They made us a pretty great offer though, if we didn't like it we would not have to pay.  We liked it very much and paid our tab - which was absurdly inexpensive given the amount of food we had - with enthusiasm.

Friday, June 14, 2013

King Joao III of Portugal

This monument to King John III (1521-1557) stands in the courtyard at Coimbra University in central Portugal.  During his reign Portugal established trading relations with the Orient.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The iPhone in Portugal

The iPhone hipstamatic has many settings and variables to tinker with including some great black and white combinations.  I knew it would not hold detail in the shaded areas of this scene but that was the whole idea.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Porto, Portugal

Portugal has it's economics woes to be sure and there are lots of structures that are a bit under maintained all over.  But life goes on and home is home it seems.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Locks on Douro

The trip along the Douro involves passing through 5 locks the highest of which is 35 metres.  They are extremely efficient in operation, the whole process takes about 45 minutes and your on your way.

This photo was taken with the iPhone using the hipstamatic app which finds the smallest amount of colour in the scene and does magical things to it.  To the eye this scene is grey concrete and monochromatic steel, but that's not how the hipstamatic sees it at all.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monument to the Discoveries, Lisbon

I have visited the monument to the Discoveries in Lisbon twice and both times I took loads of photographs.  It is one of the most stunning monuments I've ever seen; styled loosely to look like the bow of a ship, the  figures on either side are those representing many famous and historically important discoverers and those how supported their endeavours.  From right to left here are Henry the Navigator (Explored Europe and established maritime trade with other continents), Ferdinand the Saint (brother to Henry the Navigator), Joao Goncalves Zarco (settled the Madeira Islands), Pero de Alenquer (Explorer of the African coast), Gil Easnes (Explorer of the African coast and the Canary Islands), Pedro Nunes (mathematician and technical innovator in the field of navigation), Pero Escobar (Vasco da Gama's pilot and crew member during the discovery of Brazil) and Jacome of Majorca (cartographer).

Raw file capture with Canon G15; edited in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CS5.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Porto, Portugal

During some roadwork upgrades in Porto crews came across evidence of buried Roman roadways and related infrastructure.  Safe to say there will be some delays because of this I think.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Coimbra University, Portugal

The black cape is the symbol of Coimbra University and to some extent the rest of Portugal too.  Sandeman, producers of port, feature a black caped man with sombrero as their logo.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Combria University, Portugal

When I took this photo I imagined it as a sepia tone image so here it is.  Taken at Combria University, about half way between Lisbon and Porto.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Home Sweet Home

The most startling aspect of this photo is the satellite dish in the upper left.  What do you think the chances are of there being a working television in this ramshackle place?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Painted Portuguese Tile

Painted tiles are everywhere in Portugal.  The Portuguese explorers were enchanted by the blue and white tiles they came across in China and introduced this to there fellow countryman upon their return.  Every now and then there will be a special series of tiles similar to the one shown in today's post.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Alfalma District, Lisbon

The Alfalma district of Portugal is a colourful place as demonstrated in this simple composition.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Belem, Portugal

I like the way the tower at Belem looks with this miniature version in the frame.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Douro, Portugal

The hills the Douro river are lined with vineyards - loads of them.  There's a variety of wine grown here, but port gets the lions share of the fanfare.  To be called port it must be grown within the defined region below 700 metres above sea level.  After that it's all up to the producer.

Mateus, Portugal

I had an Internet access issue yesterday so you're getting two posts today, thie lone gardener does all the topiary at the Palace of Mateus.