Tuesday, 30 November 2010

What some Lisbon avenues might look like ...

I know extensive façade refurbishing takes time, ... is expensive, etc. ... etc ...  etc , but the saddening reality is that some of our fine examples of architecture are falling to pieces ... their past glamour almost unrecognizable as their undeserved "melancholic" looks strike the passers-by ...

I was recently walking around Praça de Espanha and Gran Via in Madrid and couldn't help thinking about some of the avenues in Lisbon, particularly those with "slowly dying" buildings  along them ... and just wondered what they might look like if ... some of their "fine" architectural "skeletons" were to be taken care of ...

Monday, 29 November 2010

Turkey (final considerations) ...

The description of my Turkish mosaic circuit wouldn't be complete if I were not to consider the things I brought with me, apart from the "memories". Some of these were actually bought in the very few inbetween intervals we had along the circuit.

The books have helped complement the information I already had, as well as further expand the additional information provided locally, which for obvious reasons was not (nor could be) immediately "absorbed". 

The yellow tissue bears hand printed Hitite like designs and was bought in Cappadocia, so was the rag doll made by the women of the Soganli Köyö village and which now preciously stands out in my doll collection for being so exquisite.

The  silk embrodery, though having been bought in Alanya is from the Eastern Anatolia and so is the silk embrodered Kaftan, which was bought in the Grand Bazaar of Istambul and which I have already worn several times since then.

The leather Turkish style  shoes were bought in  the open market of Kahramanmaras and proved to be my favourite "walking" companions during part of the circuit.

The little glazed ceramics have Izmit designs on them and the little shaddow puppet reminds me of the importance Theatre and every form of Theatrical  performance plays (may play) in one's daily life.

The last and definately not least important piece is a "Syrian"  handicrafted wall tapestry, with a very naive design and some very peculiar details (the glasses on the windows are made out of plastic) was bought  in Adiyaman. 

Turkey is a country I will go back to (I just know it) ..., because it deserves to be further "explored" ... and not just for the beautiful seaside beaches, but  above all for its cultural  richness.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Poetry out in the streets (of Madrid) ...

I have always been taken by all sorts of initiatives, which try to "impart" knowledge in a creative way.

A few years ago a well known bakery in Lisbon started handing out the bread rolls in paper bags with poems printed on them and what initially sounded (and even looked) like a rather strange initiative ... was to soon get the approval of most of its customers.

I actually met  a few, who started collecting the "paperbag" poems, particularly because many of them were by unknown poets ...

During my recent stay in Madrid I realised that every Madrid subway carriage I got into had poems stuck on many of its walls, in an initiative called "Libros a la calle" (Books out in the streets).

Here is a translated extract of one of those - "El loco de la ria" by Juan Farias (1935).

"The fool had not learned how to read,
nor how to write,
but he could count up to ten; like many
others, he used his fingers as a calculator.
He could read the wind and the clouds,
the smell of the air and the ants'movements,
all of those things which are useful
not to leave the umbrella home,
because if one is prepared, one won't get wet."

One may or not be driven to read what comes next ...
I must confess I read it all there and then ... and still several times before I got off where I was supposed to.

May you like it as much as I did (... or maybe not) ...


Wednesday, 24 November 2010

"Solidarity " has no face ...

Solidarity has no face ... but here are some of the faces of those who have contributed towards the Christmas campaign in favour of the children of Calheta. We have collected quite a few clothes, shoes, school bags and toys  (four huge cardboard boxes) ... which will soon be sent to Cape Verde by ship, though  my only concern now is whether they will reach Calheta, as expected  ... and without too many delays. I will only  be fully "relieved" when Sibylle calls me back from there saying that the things have arrived.

Paula (Above).
Maria João (Left). Two cardboard boxes filled up with clothes, school bags, shoes and babies' feeding bottles (Right).

Gabriela and Anabela (Left).
Isabel and Carla Carreira getting the boxes organized (Right).

There are things I can't obviously do nor ensure on my own ... and there is always a number of unpredictable issues that can eventually happen in any sequence of events, which may not exclusively depend on those directly involved.

Today, just before having filled up the fourth box, Anabela's sister (Nélia) came around with 31 brand new cotton T-shirts, which were not used in the annual run organized by the Airports and Air Navigation Club, which decided to join in. With them a few around the neck identification ribbons.

I am extremely happy with the response and would therefore (on behalf of the children of Calheta) like to thank everyone who so enthusiastically participated in the campaign.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The unregistered Postcrossing card ...

It is quite sad to find out that some postcrossers do not bother to either register the cards we so kindly send to them, taking into account their preferences ... but also refuse to acknowledge the messages suggesting to send them another one, in case those cards may have got lost on their way to them ...

I have had my third card not registered (this time) by a Polish postcrosser I have sent a Lisbon elevator to (Elevador da Glória) on the 26th of September, together with a few "exquisite" stamps and a recipe.

While I was waiting for it to be registered (60 days) I may as well have sent another randomly sellected card to someone who might (eventually) have appreciated the effort and even felt happy to have received it ..., but what can I say ... these are the rules of a "game",  in which not everyone plays fairly ... nor is committed to.

May this card (like the previous two unregistered ones) occupy an outstanding place of its own, not in a postcrossing wall ... but in a  simple blog ...


Note: The card has been registered the same day this article was published.

The puppeteer ...

I have been watching street performers for quite a few years ... it is almost impossible not to "trip" on them in packed up  touristic squares and street corners just anywhere around the world ... and yet, what is not so common is to have some of them perform so intensely that they don't seem to be even worried about being given a few coins for their odd performing acts ... In fact, quite often, when one is just getting to appreciate what they are doing, out of the blue comes someone "asking" for money ...  and interfering with the magic moment, one had just "experienced" ... or was still "experiencing" ...

I have  already watched a few good street puppeteers, I must say, ... but none like the one I have had the privilege to watch recently in Madrid.

His facial expression was convincingly (strong) ... as convincing as the puppet's eyelids ... his body "slid" back and forth to the sound of the musical chords in a somewhat almost perfect syncronism with the moves of the  string pulled puppet ... He kept going on and on ... dancing ... moving around ... approaching children ... adults and even dogs, who gathered to watch his performance ... the one that never seemed to end ...

Was he doing it for us? ... or (maybe) for himself ? ... or merely for the art ... the performing art, we sometimes relegate to a secondary position ...  the streets ...

Whichever reason he may have been doing it for ... he was good ... really good ...

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Tourism in Portugal during the Republican era ...

A few weeks ago  ... (basically out of curiosity) I walked into one of the exhibitions being held  around Praça do Comércio to celebrate the one hundreth anniversary of the Portuguese Republic and the most amazing thing was that in a way it was like walking into a completely different world, though I identified some parts of "that world" with some of my own childhood memories (regardless of the fact that some of the pictures looked fairly old).   

The picture of this yound lady sitting on the beach of Cascais in 1921 could easily correspond to my own image in the seventies ... the look ... that "hippie" look ...

This brochure about Figueira da Foz (my hometown), dating back to 1920  refers to something I constantly heard from my early childhood through  to my adulthood period " [...] Figueira da Foz, the most beautiful beach in Portugal" ... and what's more  ... I believed in it until I moved into Lisbon many years later.

One of my biggest fears as a child, (which I have referred to before), was the forced  sea "dives"  at the mercy of the  "banheiros" (bathing attendants on the beach) in the name of  building up one's bravery ... and the truth is that looking at this photo the whole process does not "feel" that bad  ...

Having always liked guides, as a first "approach" to any city or country  before focussing on other important related issues ... I had the priviledge of having had a look at the first ever guide about Portugal in French (dating back to 1909) to be seen on the left, together with the first one by a Portuguese writer  Henrique Mendonça, who happens to have been the author of the Portuguese National anthom (to be seen below on the right).

 I have also had access to  one of the oldest guides about Sintra (Left), whose cover is quite interesting with its well known poets'quotations. 

 Having looked at some of the earliest photos of foreign tourists visiting Portugal was interesting as well. The one taken in Cais do Sodré impressed me because of  having allowed me to see how much this Square has been able to keep of its past.

"Awaiting Italian tourists to Lisbon", June 1923, Cais do Sodré (Left). "Arrival of American tourists", July 1922, Cais do Sodré (Right).

"German tourists in Lisbon", March 1925.

I was drawn to a specific document, which defined the required skills people involved in the Tourism industry  should have, so as to perform the necessary skills adequately, as well as the course objectives aiming at achieving the minimum required level. The whole document made me realise the large range of  general acquired knowledge they should have in a wide variety of subjects.

I feel some of the intervening actors in our daily life should have half of those skills ... particularly those related to the Languages and "writing" ...

Requirements and Course  content.

Christmas campaign for the children of Calheta- Cape Verde

We are still one week away from the deadline of the Christmas campaign  in favour of the children of Calheta and already I have filled up two huge cardboard boxes with clothes and toys.

Although the importance of everyone's comittment does not lie on the amount of things provided, but primarily on the gesture, I must confess I have a lot to thank my colleague Anabela Parreira for her generous and priceless contribution. To add up to the amount of toys, men's and young girls clothes (previously handed by Cristina Igreja, Ana Maria Correia and Ivanilda's "godmother" Paula respectively), she has brought in clothes for all sorts of ages, school bags and a toy truck.


Professor Hermógenes used to say that "if  ever you decide to help someone in the hope of being praised, don't do it but if you help someone for the mere satisfaction of being helpful then you are already being repaid for your gesture."

I know none of these colleagues and friends is expecting any words of thanks ... but I feel  that on behalf of those they are direct and indirectly helping, I should express them "our" gratitude.

Note: You will be further informed of the date of the shipping and any other relevant detail regarding this matter.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Cibeles statue, Madrid - Spain

In spite of its flamboyant colour, this vehicle cannot "compete" with Cibeles' chariot  behind it  ... nor can this "powered" engine win over the lion-pulled powerful strength, proudly displayed in the photograph.

This Francisco Gutiérrez' 17th century Cibeles is too imposing to allow anyone to look down on her ...  and irrespective of being the Goddess of Fertility, carrying the sceptre in one hand, she is also  holding the city key in the other, thus having become the symbol of Madrid. Roberto Michel sculpted the lions ...

The whole statue is, without any doubt, impressive ...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

"Living" characters ... "Live" statues" ...

As I was looking at some of the photos recently taken in Madrid I could not resist "pairing" them.

"The falling Angel" (Left). The relaxing Angel (Right).

The Monarch without a vice (Left). The dandy without a head (Right).

The pouring water fountain (Left).The creativity pouring "fountain" (Right).
The Retiro Gardens statue of the "Falling angel" by Ricardo Bellver (1845-1924) inspired by a passage from John Milton's Paradise lost, represents Lucifer falling from Heaven.
 The photo of the "live statue" of the angel relaxing and having a cigarrete was taken just outside the  Royal Palace.

The Plaza Mayor equestrian statue of Philip III by Gianbodogna (1529-1608) represents the king of Spain and King of Portugal and the Algarves. Philip III was considered  a "miserable monarch, whose only virtue appeared to reside in a total absence of vice". The  photo of the "live statue" of the  headless dandy was taken just outside the Royal Palace.

The "fountains" were both located in and outside the Retiro Gardens respectively.

Turkish Mosaic circuit. Days 12 and 13 (500 Kilometre distance covered)

15th October 2010
 Dinizli - Kekova - Kas

I have unfortunately not taken  any photo of Kekova, having decided to film the boat trip along the bay instead. Many of the Lycian tombs can still  be observed around this area, and according to underwater archeology there are  also several ruins of the submerged city to be viewed.

Once off shore we had the possibility of diving in the clear crystal waters for half an hour, which some of us did ... whilst the greatest majority of us (myself included) just quietly sat at the tables on the deck of the boat ... drinking, talking and admiring the surrounding landscape.

16th October 2010
Kas - Myra - Antalya

We left Kas, a pretty charming fishing village we had stayed at the night before,  and hit the road on our way to Myra. It didn't stop raining ... and once more we have had to take photos in fairly difficult settings ...  avoiding the wet and muddy puddles ... holding  the umbrella on one hand and the camera on the other ...

The Lycian rock tombs in Myra were very impressive, particularly if one takes into account the fact the carving into natural rock involves a considerable degree of architectural skills, together with the inner walls of the city being dated back to the 5th century BC.

Lycian rock-tombs in Myra (Left). Monumental relief detail from a rock tomb (Right).

Masks on the Myra marble theatre frieze (Left). The Theatre of Myra (Right).

The construction of the well preserved Roman theatre located at the foot of the steep hill cannot be dated precisely, though there seems to be evidence that the theatre, which has a sitting capacity of 11,000 was damaged during the earthquake of 141 AD, having been reconstructed through a generous donation by a wealthy  citizen od Rhodiapolis.

What can I say? ... At this moment in time I honastly don't know, all I seem to know is that this trip is coming to an end and I feel I am a lot more culturally enrichened by having been here, though I strongly feel it won't be the last time either.

We then headed to Kale to visit Saint Nicholas Church, which dates back to the 8th century, though there were renovations in the 9th century, having from the 12th century onwards become an increasingly popular place of pilgrimage. The remains of frescoes on its walls really caught my attention, though most visitors, of Russian origin were perched over Saint Nicholas tomb (whose bones were stolen and taken to Bari), throwing coins and begging for favours (he is said to be the patron saint of the Russian merchants).

Saint Nicholas church frescoes.

We still had time to walk around the village and to my surprise most shops which sold Saint Nicholas related objects belonged to Russian citizens who, according to provided information, have been moving here since the restauration of the Church was carried out by Russians.

By the end of the day we were back in Antalya, where this whole "adventure" started. Those travelling to Paris will be leaving very early in the morning and the ones flying into Nantes and Lyon airports will still have enough time to visit the centre of Antalya tomorrow morning.

I feel like those adolescents who react negatively to being forced to turn their backs onto something they are enjoying  ...  and the truth is I don't feel like saying good-bye to people like Michele, Ana, Marie Hélène or even  one or two of the couples I seem to have got along well with ... I don't feel like going back to a culturally lifeless type of working routine ... I don't ...

Monday, 15 November 2010

The value of things ... and "valuable"people ...

"O valor das coisas não está no tempo que elas duram, mas na intensidade com que elas acontecem. Por isso existem momentos inesquecíveis, coisas inexplicáveis e pessoas incomparáveis". 
Fernando Pessoa.

We don't always praise people who for some sort of reason have been (are) important or have made (are making) a difference in our lives.
According to this poem by Pessoa, the value of things does not lie on the amount of time they last but rather on the intensity with which they occur, this being the reason why there are unforgettable moments, inexplicable things and incomparable people.

Christian, whom I met during the 2001 total eclipse of the sun in Angola, has been a permanent "presence" in my life ever since and an indisputable important one.

Mia, whom I gave birth to, has "grown" into my day to day companion ... friend ... confidant ... exceeding her role as my daughter in many circumstances.

Jana, whom I worked with in many of the Eurocontrol projects was more than a simple colleague over the years ...  she was someone I was always looking forward to meeting (again ... and again ...).

Brigitte, whom I met on the beach in Luanda and who was to soon become a friend, may not even know to this day to which extent she was important for me when my daughter Faye passed away...

I want to celebrate their existence today ... and the unique role they played (and some still play) in my existence ... they were (are) all I could ask for ... they are "special".

Christian and I (Turkey 2010). 
Mia, Jana and I (Czech Republic 2007).

Brigitte and I (Angola 2006).