Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

Merida, Spain is approximately two hundred miles southwest of Madrid and only a 3.5 hour ride from Lisbon. Tours of both Portugal and Spain often stop at this UNESCO World Heritage site to gaze upon the well-preserved ruins and monuments dating back to a time prior to the Christian era.

What makes Merida special among other cities on the Iberian peninsula is that it was one of the ancient Roman Empire’s most important cities and as such is home to numerous ruins. There are apparently more Roman monuments in Merida than any other Spanish municipality.

Just a short walk from the visitors center, the ruins become visible.

Distant view of the Ancient Roman Ruins of Merida, Spain

As we walked closer to the ancient structures, there were signs of the modern city which envelops this unique part of history (notice the rooftops and tower rising above the rim of the ancient walls in the background).


A closer view of the Ancient Roman Ruins of Merida, Spain

On the way to a central area, our guide pointed to a series of horizontal rocks (below) strategically placed in the middle of the “road.” Notice that there are three large structures that elevate well-above the surface. These served the purpose of our modern day speed bumps. Ancient vehicles would have to navigate these hindrances by slowing down to keep the wheels on each side of the middle obstacle.


Ancient Roman Speed Bumps

One of the two main attractions is the amphitheater. Visitor access is through the entry arch.


Archway leading to the amphitheater.

This is a view of one side of the circular area which is not fully restored.


Part of the  amphitheater partially restored

Perhaps this a better view from a bit farther away. The partially restored amphitheater shows the contrast between how it probably looked during the Roman Empire and how it was discovered; a then and now comparison.


A better view of the restored and unrestored amphitheater


Another view of the  amphitheater ruins

As depicted in many Hollywood films, this structure was used for gladiatorial combat. One can imagine the combatants walking through the entrance tunnels knowing what was facing them at the other end.


Gladiator tunnel leading to the activity circle of the amphitheater


Tourists walking through Gladiator tunnel leading to the activity circle of the amphitheater


 Opening of one of the tunnels leading to the activity circle of the amphitheater

With large crowds shouting for the victory of their favorite gladiator, the throngs needed a place to take care of their biological needs. A latrine area is pictured below.


latrine for attendees

As we walked through the restoration project, we noted some stones had a large “R” chiseled onto their face. The guide explained that the “R” signified that this was not an original stone, but a reproduction.


Restoration stone, not original

There were many original stones that have survived the centuries.


Many old original stones remain

Leaving the gladiator ring, we headed to the theater which is still used for summer productions.


Distant view of the theater nearby

Amid the scaffolding notice the statues between the columns. These are beautiful works of art representing this historic period.


A closer view of the theater, scaffolding and statues

Let’s take a closer look at some of these statues


Closer view of some of the statues


Closer view of some of the statues


Closer view of some of the statues

Some had names of their likeness (Tiberio Claudio Nero and Druso El Mayor)…..


Closer view of some of the statues

and Cayo Julio Cesar Agusto


Closer view of some of the statues

Walking through these old and almost unfathomable ruins, one cannot help being awestruck by the history and craftsmanship represented by these stone structures.


Beautiful ancient stonework

See a brief video of the Theater.

The areas immediately surrounding the ruins have been modernized with gardens, paths and water features. Rather than detract, they frame the Roman creations.


Light pink and purple flowers among the ruins


Gardens enhance the surrounding area

The importance of the UNESCO World Heritage site does note escape visitors as there are reminders throughout the town. This was a view from the front window of our bus. Notice the replica of a Roman column ruin at the center of the traffic circle.


Traffic circle with replica of a Roman column in the center

As with many magnificent finds such as this, there is often a yin and a yang. As the town plans for modern buildings, additional ruins are often uncovered. In many instances, construction must then stop and assessments made. This often delays, or in the worst case, cancels any renovations or building. As we can imagine, this must be very frustrating to current residents of Merida wanting to upgrade their properties.


Modern reconstruction delayed or canceled because of finding ruins

On the way out of town, we passed another impressive sight, a portion of the Acueducto de los Milagros (Miraculous Aqueduct). Only a small portion of the aqueduct bridge stands today. Many of the granite blocks were taken to be used on other structures before the aqueduct was a protected legacy.


Acueducto de los Milagros

Storks are fond of nesting atop tall structures and being an ancient, historical piece of history does not concern them. The White Stork is given protected status in Spain and many towns make sure they are cared for because they are of interest to tourists.


Storks nesting atop the Miraculous Aqueduct

Of course after such an excursion, we needed to stop for lunch. This is the Parador de Merida.


Parador de Merida - a fine lunch or dinner stop

The ride through the countryside to our next stop, Seville, was charming and picturesque.


Countryside on the way to Seville

Even the requisite rest stop provided intersting sights such as large pig legs and other meats offered for sale. One sign is for Paleta Ibérica Bellota, acorn-fed free range pigs. Interestingly enough hams from front and rear legs are differentiated: paleta is ham from the front leg while jamon would be from the rear leg. One famous producer is Fermin in Salamanca, Spain. (read more HERE)


Hams for sale at a highway rest stop

Learn more about The Roman Theatre of Mérida HERE

 

Next stop, Seville


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

Portugal – Historic Evora


As noted in my previous post about Evora, the town is quaint with typical Portuguese trappings such as the red-orange tile roofs, tiled walls, etc. It is the typical mix of the very old, the old and the new.


Historic Evora with tile roofs

Most towns in Europe, and Portugal is no exception, have a major square. This is the somewhat understated square in the center of Evora.


Evora's town square

It was another beautiful day enjoyed by all. Small balconies open on to the square to allow even the smallest apartments to have a view of what is taking place below.


A dog sitting on a small balcony

This unusual storefront is an example of the old style mixed with modern accents. Notice the contemporary wooden door and the security system in the upper-left.


A shop with a mix of the old and the new

The drain pictured below was part of the ancient aquifer system…


A pipe from the ancient aquifer

and this water box was part of the Silver Water aqueduct storage facilities.


Ancient water storage facility

Narrow side streets in the old part of town where support beams cross the alleyways to help stabilize the walls of the buildings had many twists and turns.


A side alley

Once again we see tiles used as artistic accents outside this ceramic and craft shop. The name of the shop, Artesanato Beijinho, translates to Handicrafts Kiss.


A craft shop with tiles and ceramics

Little did I know prior to this trip that Portugal produces nearly half of the world’s supply of cork. Apparently those countries in and around the western Mediterranean have ideal conditions for the cork oak (Quercus suber L.) When considering countries that have the ability to grow this tree, it is said that: “…Portugal, rightly occupies the foremost position. It has 500 factories, which employ about 20,000 workers…” and “Cork is the most important of Portuguese exports and alone represents about 16 percent of the total foreign income derived from trade.**”

** The cork industry in Portugal

At one stop, our guide showed us a piece of the bark from this tree as she explained role Evora plays in this prolific Portuguese industry.


cork tree bark

Here she demonstrates the thickness of the bark and how corks are punched from their casing. We were able to find many items made from cork including hats and pocket books.


How corks are punched out of the bark

Evora is also home of fabulous ruins of The Roman Temple. Read more about the Temple by clicking HERE. Our guide had a pictorial representation of how the original temple appeared when complete.


Ancient Roman ruins


Picture of the completed ruins as they were

Évora’s cathedral (Sé Catedral de Évora) has architecture influenced by the Moors and thus resembles a fortress. The Christians who later inhabited this area, made their own modifications to the structure. This is touted as the largest medieval cathedral in the country. While it’s main facade can be seen from far away, I particularly liked this side view from a nearby courtyard.


A side view of Evora's Cathedral

The main chapel contained an ornate altar constructed and trimmed in the Baroque style and is one reason why it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.


Main chapel of Evora's Cathedral

Perhaps one of the most curious artistic touches is the statue of a pregnant Virgin Mary.


statue of a pregnant Virgin Mary

Before leaving, we had a pleasant and very worthy lunch at the historic Pousada Convento de Evora – Hotel Loios.


sitting room of the Pousada Convento de Evora – Hotel Loios

Even the sign for the men’s restroom had a creative, artistic touch!


Men's room sign of the Pousada Convento de Evora – Hotel Loios

Our last stop in Evora this day was at another historic hotel and spa, the Convento do Espinheiro, developed from an 1834 monastery. We occupied one of the older heritage rooms which was crafted from monk’s quarters and exuded old world charm.


 the Convento do Espinheiro

As one might anticipate, there were areas of the old monastery that were preserved as unique and beautiful examples of religious architecture. The Church of Our Lady of Espinheiro is open to guests and they are encouraged to visit and admire the various artworks.


Church of Our Lady of Espinheiro

Also worthy and unique was the Restaurante Divinus with vaulted ceilings in the dining area. It was quite romantic and offered excellent cuisine.


 Restaurante Divinus with vaulted ceilings


 Restaurante Divinus with vaulted ceilings

There is much to explore both inside and out. The sitting room below was laden with antiques and had cozy seating areas!


sitting room with antiques

There was a special resident we were pleased to find as we explored the hotel grounds.


resident cat

As devotees of gardens and plants, we were also delighted to pay homage to an olive tree that was more than one thousand years old.


Very old olive tree

Before settling in and preparing for dinner, we walked to the front of the hotel and crossed the small village road opposite to take a distant glance at Evora from afar.


Evora from afar

Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Evora was established by the Romans and had its halcyon days during the 17th century when the Portuguese royalty became residents. It is noted for the white building facades as well as the popular wrought iron and tile accents.


The city of Ever

One of the major tourist attractions is the Royal Church of St. Francis which, from the exterior, is similar to dozens of other churches one might encounter throughout Portugal. It is located within easy walking distance of the main square.


Royal Church of St. Francis

The building has arched arcades that open to an interior courtyard.


Royal Church of St. Francis - Arcade

Naturally, the church has beautifully detailed altars with ornate artwork.


Royal Church of St. Francis - beautiful altar

What distinguishes the Royal Church of St. Francis from almost every other church in the world is that it houses one of the most famous sights in Evora – the famous Capela dos Ossos (Bones Chapel) dating back to the 1500s.


wall of the Bones Chapel

“The Chapel’s story is a familiar one. By the 16th century, there were as many as 43 cemeteries in and around Évora that were taking up valuable land. Not wanting to condemn the souls of the people buried there, the monks decided to build the Chapel and relocate the bones.” – https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/portugals-chapel-bones


closer look at the skeletons of the Bones Chapel

Rather than trying to create a macabre setting, the monks thought they were paying homage to Evora’s deceased and hoped this would provide a place of tranquility and meditation. Bones were chosen to add decorations to the architectural elements of the chapel.


Skulls embedded in the arch of a support column

Here is a close up of one of the support columns. Note the partial skull, second from the bottom of the frame. This may have been damaged accidentally, but bones have been intentionally removed as collector items and visitors are now restricted from getting too close to the walls.


More skeletal remains in a support column

A very poignant display was of the Pompei-like presentation of the bodies below which, at one time, were hanging from the walls by a ropes as complete desiccated specimens until one fell. Now they rest peacefully in a glass coffins.


a desiccated adult body

There are stories associated with these bodies and you can read about them at the Ancient Origins website.


a desiccated child's body

One can only imagine how many bones are located within this structure and the time and patience it took to construct this edifice.


Another wall of bones

As one leaves the chapel to visit the main sanctuary, a somewhat morbid signs harkens to those leaving:


Inscription - We bones in here wait for yours to join us.

“We bones in here wait for yours to join us.”

 
More things to see and do in Evora in the next Portugal and Spain post!


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2018 – JBRish.com



Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop



Portugal – Lisbon Sardine Store

Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.” — Lawrence Block

One of the most enjoyable aspects of traveling to different places, especially other countries, is the opportunity to stumble upon unplanned, yet very interesting sights. As we made our way down the “avenue” in Lisbon near Rossio Square, my eye was caught by a bevy of beautiful lights and colorful signs.


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At first it was very mysterious and hard to comprehend. The store had a good number of people milling around and the walls were full of colorful items that seemed like dated placards.


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As we walked deeper Disney-like, we realized what we were seeing. Can you tell by this section of the wall? Look closely at the right-hand side of the rectangular, dated boxes.


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It was an oasis of sardines in gift cans with dates on them. Of course we quickly realized that the dates were not the dates that those particular fish were packaged in their fanciful tins, but years representing birth dates. These were gifts of Portugues sardines in festive and colorful packages.


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This was quite unique and a bit of research has revealed that there are a few of these stores in the Lisbon area.


013_sardine_can

Picture courtesy of Mundo Fantastico da Sardinha Portuguesa

You can learn more about this unique gift shop by clicking the link: Mundo Fantastico da Sardinha Portuguesa

The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” — G. K. Chesterton


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2018 – JBRish.com



Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Near the end of our stay in Lisbon, we learned that the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz situated on top of a hill overlooking the King Edward Park and the Marques de Pombal square, had a rooftop viewing area. We had to walk through the gym/spa to get there, but were graciously welcomed to take our time to look around the observation deck. Our eyes were quickly drawn to a colorful Mariner’s Compass which seemed to house a mechanical device. In a communication from the hotel’s Concierge Office, this is their explanation:

The piece pictured is the Rosa dos Ventos – A wind rose. It indicates “the North” The design is decorative over what was initially the Hotel’s access to the shopping galleries below.


Rosa dos Ventos – A wind rose

As a way to orient viewers, this is a view of the statue of the Marques de Pombal mentioned in several prior posts. To the right is the Avenida da Liberdade where we would soon be heading. There are a number of banks in this area with popular ATMs. The centrally located buildings and popularity of the streets convinced us to use the Santander Bank ATM. There is always a need for caution when using these conveniences wherever they are located. We experienced no problems during our entire trip.


Marques de Pombal statue

Below is an “aerial view” of Alfama, the hilly area, which is the oldest district in Lisbon. It is well-juxtaposed against the modern buildings in the foreground giving readers an idea of how the old mixes with the contemporary side of Lisbon.


Alfama from the air

After several photographs and ample admiration of the wonderful rooftop views, we exited the hotel and headed toward Avenida da Liberdade boulevard. The 90-meter wide boulevard has parklike walkways bordered on one side by automobile traffic and contemporary luxury stores such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Gucci, etc. on the opposing side. The sidewalks themselves host the familiar decorative cobblestone patterns.


cobblestone decorative pattern

A meandering garden and canal adds a point of interest to those who stroll along. Nearby benches were occupied by those who wanted to relax, take time for a snack or perhaps foster more romantic intentions.


garden and canal along the Avenue

The “avenue” brings tourists to the Rossio Square area sometimes referred to as Pedro IV Square. This square has been a historical meeting place for citizens of Lisbon during political or cultural events. Now tourists mix with the residents to take advantage of the nearby popular attractions, stores and festive atmosphere.


Rossio Square

One of the more curious attractions was the The Elevador de Santa Justa originally designed to help residents make a connection from the lower streets with the elevated Carmo Square. This was one method used in several different areas of Lisbon to deal with the hilly terrain. The Elevador has also become a popular tourist attraction. Interestingly enough, it can accommodate twenty people as it ascends, but only fifteen on the return trip. This device has an intersting history. You can read more about it at the link below.

Elevador de Santa Justa


Elevador de Santa Justa

Starbucks Coffee has become a nearly universal sight wherever one travels and this particular Starbucks stands apart from most because of its beautiful location in the historic Rossio Train Station which connects the capital city to Sintra; less than an hour away. The architecture was impressive and provided quite a contrast to the green and white signs. Note the ornate word “Central” above the arch in the foreground. This was originally named “The Central Station.”

Learn more about the Rossio Train Station


Rossio Train Station


Map of our Walk

Map courtesy of Google Maps; numbers added by JBRish.com

To review our walk, I have placed markers on the map above:

      1 – The King Edward VII Park. The Four Seasons Hotel Ritz was just northwest of the park.
      2 – The Marques de Pombal square
      3 – The Avenida da Liberdade sometimes just called Avenida (the Avenue)
      4 – Approximate location of Rossio Square
      5 – The Elevador de Santa Justa

NOTE – The water on the southern part of the map is the Tejo river which has many interesting places to explore. There was a music festival near the Praca do Comercio and it was blocked off at the time of our walk.

This was our last day in Lisbon and while we did not get to see everything on our list, we certainly gained an appreciation for the city and what it has to offer both residents and visitors.


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2018 – JBRish.com



Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

During our brief explorations in Lisbon, we stayed in the southern part of the city very near the Parque Eduardo VII (Edward VII Park). This is the largest park in the city and serves as a hub for many activities. It is well situated to the north of the Praca do Marques de Pombal (square) and the major Avenida da Liberdade with its inviting promenades. The park was named after King Edward VII of the United Kingdom to commemorate his 1902 visit to Portugal.

A large flag of Portugal flies proudly at the northern end of the park which is a very good place to start a walk.


large Portuguese flag

Here is a brief orientation via the photograph below… Just to the right of the flag (east) is a fountain. On either side of the large grassy area are walkways lined with trees. The large grey-roofed building on the left (west) contains three greenhouses which, unfortunately, were closed when we hiked through the park. The park was being readied for a large book fair.


aerial view of the King Edward VII Park

This is a closeup of the founatain which two dogs couldn’t resist as we watched them frolick in the cool waters.


Fountain at the north of the Edward VII park


dogs playing in the King Edward VII fountain

This is one of the tree-lined pedestrian boulevards that run north/south through the park. Like nearly every metropolitan park, there were groups of people enjoying the surroundings for a variety of activities. A number of people found the shaded benches a pleasnt place to read or visit with friends.


tree-lined, cobblestone walk of the Edward VII park

There were a couple of people who were tempted to take a nap on the grassy fields punctuated with maze-like manicured shrubs.


people napping along the grassy strip of the Edward VII park

The statue of the Marques de Pombal was clearly visible from the northern vantage points.


distant view of Alfama district and the Marques de Pombal statue from the Edward VII park

In the photograph below, the hilly area to the left is the Alfama district with the Tejo River in the background. The treed area south of the statue is the Avenida da Liberdade.


Closer southern view from the Edward VII park

The beautiful building below resembles a church, but is actually the Carlos Lopes Sports Pavilion located on the eastern boundary of the park nicely framed by the trees.


Carlos Lopes Sports Pavilion

As we left the park and headed farther south, I stopped to snap another photograph of the statue of the Marques de Pombal since other attempts were taken during less favorable conditions.


Marques de Pombal statue

We then began our stroll along the very cosmopolitan and attracitve Avenida da Liberdade


…To Be Continued.

 

Learn More:

Edward VII Park

Parque Eduardo VII

Marquis of Pombal Square


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2018 – JBRish.com



Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais


Map courtesy of Maps of the World

We did not have an opportunity to visit any bathing beaches in Lisbon, but it isn’t far from the fishing town of Cascais which was one of the stops on our tour and which does have nice beaches. In addition Cascais has delightful parks, interesting buildings and chic retail shops in the center of the town.

The drive from Lisbon took us past beautiful scenery as the bus headed toward the coastal city. I was impressed almost as much by what this small city didn’t have as by what it did offer. Unlike some of the popular beaches in the United states like Coney Island in New York, Wildwood in New Jersey and Santa Monica in California, Cascais seems to say: “Take me for what I am and enjoy what nature has provided.” As far as I could tell, there were no beach front roller coasters or other such seaside amusements.

Any city proud of what is has to offer will showcase itself to visitors upon entry. Cascais greets guests with a robust floral display and coat of arms at the entrance to the town.


The bus dropped us at the edge of town just a short walk to the waterfront. The welcoming streets were lined with flowers and palm trees. To the right of the walkway were a host of restaurants.


There were several parks in town being visited by mothers with strollers, those seeking a bench for relaxing and tourists like us.


We came to a beautiful carousel in Jardim Visconde da Luz (Viscount Garden of Light) with this young fellow looking on perhaps wishing he was riding one of the horses. We also noted that there were convenience stations nearby for those who needed them.


As we stood and watched, this boy (below) looked at us with a sense of curiosity and on a subsequent revolution returned a wave of hello.


The streets nicely decorated with a cobblestone pattern. The hardscape waves tie in nicely with the waterfront theme. It may be a bit hard to stare at the pattern for any length of time as the wavy lines seem to create motion.


This was the main beach area we were able to visit as our time in Cascais was limited. The houses off to the right had some lovely mansions as well as the Fortaleza da Cidadela (fortress) almost at the tip of the land jutting into the water.





Surfers can find ample wave action at Guincho beach just 6km north-west of town.

Paddle boarding was one of the favorite activities in this area. Here are some of he paddlers heading out to a deeper section of the bay.


Once in deeper waters, the group was paddling along among the small fishing craft.


After a bit more of a stroll around town, we had to head back to Lisbon for further exploration there. One of the most interesting historical structures in Lisbon is the remnants of the Águas Livres Aqueduct serving as a testament to the Portuguese engineering prowess of the 18th century.

Prior to the aqueduct, Lisbon lacked a source of water large enough to serve the entire community so they constructed over 50 kilometers of canals and aqueducts. There are reportedly 109 stone arches that support the elevated water system. I believe the picture below is from the section along the highway which crosses the Alcantara Valley. This photograph was captured from inside the bus as we passed and really does not do it justice.


You can read more about the Águas Livres Aqueduct and watch a video at the link – THE AQUEDUCT OF ÁGUAS LIVRES

I find it interesting how the modern city “grew up” around these ancient structures.

While we had just a brief stop in Casacais, there is much more to experience. The web page below describes the 15 Best Things To Do in Cascais, Portugal. (Unfortunately, my experience was that this page has a series of very annoying pop-ups.)


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2018 – JBRish.com



Photography: My Shot — Swirling Pine Needles


Pine Needles Swirling in the Stream

After hiking for more than a week in Yellowstone National Park, we moved on to Red Lodge, Montana to continue our adventure. We decided to explore a course along the Silver Run Plateau, Trail #102, Loop #3 just outside of town.

The first part of the loop was quite rocky with boulders and large rocks buried in and around the path. The return half of the hike, however brought us nearer to the river which had much better footing and more intersting views. Along the way, we passed a feeder stream that had a very slow, but consistent flow. A large number of pine needles were “caught” in a side channel and they were swirling around in a somewhat circular motion as the water worked its way around some rocks and debris.

The pattern was very appealing and I found that watching the movement was similar to playing with a kaleidoscope.

 

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Metadata

File Name: DSC_3958.NEF
Capture time: 11:18 AM
Capture date: Sept. 17, 2018
Exposure: 1/100 sec @ f/11
Focal Length: 55mm
ISO: 100
Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: 18.0 – 55.02mm f/3.5-5.6
Edited in Lightroom & Photoshop

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See more photography posts HERE and visit Jeff’s Instagram site HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2018 – JBRish.com



Yellowstone and Bear Country



I recently returned from more than a week of hiking in Yellowstone National Park and all I can say is WOW! We hiked over seventy miles, but enjoyed every hard-earned inch. We are so lucky to live in a country that has such natural beauty in abundance.

Whenever I explain to other people that I hiked in Yellowstone one of the first topics to be raised is bears. Yes, Yellowstone has bears and by reading all the literature, posted warnings and sales pitches for bear spray one would think they were lurking around every corner. I am not making light of visiting areas in bear country. It needs to be a real concern and we did take it seriously, but not everyone sees the bears of Yellowstone when they visit the park.

My wife and I both had bear bells to make noise as we walked so we didn’t startle any bears in the vicinity. One thing worse than an unintended encounter with a bear is to startle a bear unexpectedly and have them feel threatened. Wearing bear bells sometimes brought snarky comments like: “I thought you were Santa Claus.” My retort would be: “Not Santa Claus, but no bear claws!”


Yes, Yellowstone has two types of bears. Grizzlies are more agrgessive than Black bears. – Picture courtesy of naturalunseenhazards.wordpress.com

All the hype does make one a bit paranoid, but I am not sure that is a bad thing. According to the National Park Service, over 100 million people have visited Yellowstone since 1980. During that time 38 people were injured by grizzly bears.

Here is an interesting breakdown according to their website Bear-Inflicted Human Injuries & Fatalities in Yellowstone

Type of Recreational Activity: Risk of Grizzly Bear Attack

  • Remain in developed areas, roadsides, and boardwalks: 1 in 25.1 million visits
  • Camp in roadside campgrounds: 1 in 22.8 million overnight stays
  • Camp in the backcountry: 1 in 1.4 million overnight stays
  • Travel in the backcountry: 1 in 232,000 person travel days
  • All park activities combined: 1 in 2.7 million visits

Also noted is that only eight people have been killed by bears in Yellowstone since 1872. To keep things in perspective, the website reminds visitors that more people have died from drowning, burns, etc.

We had two grizzly bear encounters in and near Yellowstone National Park. We were hiking along one of the paths around Ice Lake in Yellowstone returning to the parking area. Three hikers were hiking towards us and as they passed, they explained that a mother grizzly crossed in front of them with two adolescent cubs and they were going to hike around the lake to get back to their car. This was a significant, lengthy detour part of which was uphill along the roadway.



Picture courtesy of National Park Service

All the literature I read indicated that the chances of being attacked in a group of three or more was only two percent. I suggested to the group that we continue heading back toward the parking lot and risk a bear encounter since we were a larger group and had several canisters of bear spray between us.



Picture courtesy of National Park Service

We walked quickly, but deliberately toward the area near the road where the bears were spotted. We noted their tracks along the path. Apparently they didn’t like the debris in the wooded area any more than we did and they were walking along the relatively clear hiking path.

About one quarter mile from our cars, the three bears (not those three) were spotted about 300 feet ahead of us. The mother bear (very large!) stood up on her hind legs and spread her arms wide in an “it was this big” fashion. I estimate that she stood at least nine feet tall at that point. One of the rather large cubs also stood in the same fashion while the other remained on all fours looking our way. The bears were only there for a half-minute or so when they scampered into the woods.

It was very exciting indeed, but we were glad that we did not have a more intimate bear encounter. We made it to the cars without further ado. My only regret was that the action happened so fast I couldn’t get a picture.

Our second sighting a few days later was of a grizzly with three cubs along the Beartooth Highway near Beartooth Lake. We noticed a group of people along the side of the road, a certain giveaway that something interesting was happening, and we pulled over.

Sure enough, there was a group of three Grizzly bears about 450 feet downhill munching on a carcass that I assume was that of an elk. The speculation was that this was a mother with her cubs, but the bears all looked to be similarly sized…so who knows? The bears were more interested in eating than in what we were doing and since we were a lineup of more than a dozen people standing quite a bit away uphill, it was not a tense encounter.

Bears are large and they look fat, but don’t ever think you can outrun one and don’t for one minute think climbing up a tree is going to help. Read the placards above to see how to survive a bear encounter.

I am an enthusiastic amateur photographer. I enjoy wildlife, but I don’t have an expensive wildlife kit. The closest I come is my Canon SX50HS bridge camera that has a telephoto lens of approximately 600mm of reach. This isn’t the highest quality camera or lens, but I think you can get an idea of what we saw at the bear buffet along the Beartooth Highway.


group of grizzly bears


lone grizzly bear


two grizzlies bears


lone grizzly bear with carcass



After leaving Yellowstone, we stayed in Red Lodge, Montana one night and did some hiking along the Silver Run Plateau, Trail # 102, Loop #3 in the Custer Gallatin National Forest.

There were warnings there as well.



There’s a reason for all these signs. One shouldn’t be afraid, but it is important to take precautions and be aware. They refer to it as being “Bear Aware” and they aren’t kidding.

Yellowstone even uses celebrities to help impress the importance of bear safety upon visitors.



We now have bear encounter memories that will last forever and we are very happy that they turned out the way they did.

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2018 – JBRish.com



Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

When traveling with a tour company, one thing to be expected is early morning departure times as a matter of the daily routine. The goal is to see as many sights as possible and when appropriate, leave time for independent exploration.

We were up early for breakfast and departure on May 10, 2018 when we left Lisbon, Portugal for Sintra. The morning was cloudy with scattered showers as the group disembarked the bus and walked to the center of town. The streets are very narrow and large vehicles cannot stay in the central area.


A gloomy morning in Sintra

A gloomy morning in Sintra


The main attraction for our group was the very well preserved National Palace of Sintra which dates back a thousand years or more. It is mentioned in many historical documents and fell under Portuguese rule in 1147 when the city was conquered by King Alfonso Henriques.

Like many of the old and ancient buildings in Portugal and Spain, there have been alterations and changes throughout its history as new residents took occupancy much like contemporary renovations for those who purchase a legacy house. After all, doesn’t everyone want the latest and greatest?


The National Palace in Sintra

The National Palace in Sintra


The Sala dos Cisnes (Swan Room) generally used for grand receptions, banquets, etc. is one of the largest rooms in the palace. Of special interest is the painted ceiling which is composed of 27 octagonal sections each containing a white swan and from which the moniker of the room is derived. Looking closely at the paintings, tourists will note that each of the birds is different than the others and wears a gilded collar perhaps indicating the privilege of wealth.


Sala dos Cisnes - Swan Room

While walking through the rooms at the National Palace, we also noted the nearby beautiful and colorful mountainside …


beautiful and colorful mountainside


beautiful and colorful mountainside

and exterior views.


exterior views

Portugal has been known for its Hispanic-Moorish tile work and there were abundant displays of this tile artistry throughout the building. Some depicted courtly events and hunting scenes.


tile work

Here is a closeup of one panel.


tile panel closeup

We cannot judge this art form by standards we have today because technologies and techniques are much different. The difficulty of working with tiles to create a scene is that the tiles don’t always meet in the most appropriate and best-fitting manner. The tour guide pointed out how the seam-lines in the section below somewhat mar the face of the woman in the panel.


example of a misaligned tile picture

There were many kinds of beauty to be viewed in the National Palace. Some of them were more subtle while others were quite opulent. The Coats of Arms Room (Sala dos Brasões) is said to be located at the highest point in the palace. The center section of the ceiling pictured below shows eight panels each of which contains one of eight coats of arms of Portuguese royalty. The gilded artwork was quite impressive


gilded ceiling in the Coats of Arms Room - Sala dos Brasões

The Palatine Chapel (below) captures visitors eyes immediately upon entrance as the offset square fresco pattern of white doves with olive branches resting on a light, reddish-brown background draw the eyes to the chapel’s altar.


Palatine Chapel with doves

The architectural artwork in the palace had numerous unique elements. Manueline Hall was obviously a very formal room with a sizable chandelier. Archived pictures show that a large table is often placed in the middle of the carpeted floor area although absent during our visit. What impressed me almost as much was the amazing stonework rope design around the entranceway.


stonework arch of the Manueline Hall

Another example of the tile work in the palace is shown below. The corn (on top) is used to symblolize success and prosperity. It may be hard to visualize, but sections of the tiles are created in relief, i.e. three-dimensional.


three dimensional corn tile work

Seeing the various rooms and learning about their history was interesting, but I was also drawn to look out a number of windows to view the colorful and aged courtyards with their planters, staircases and interesting designs.


outside courtyard with planters

One of the last areas visited in the Palace was the large kitchen which was restored in 2016.


the Palace kitchen

You may have noticed the huge coat of arms above the main archway leading into the kitchen.


Kitchen Coat of Arms

The kitchen was tiled in a manner that might be considered more traditional according to today’s standards and was the main focus of the 2016 renovation as the older tiles were not adhering well to the underlying masonry. Everything was large in scale. Notice the size of the pots.


kitchen tiles and large pots

When cooking large amounts of food to serve hundreds of guests with the tools available at the time, there must have been a tremendous amount of heat in the kitchen and thus there are two massive chimneys 33 metres in height. The photograph below was taken looking upward through one of them.


large chimneys in the kitchen

By the time the tour of the National Palace ended, the weather had changed for the better as indicated in the picture of one of the kitchen chimneys from across the street.


large kitchen chimney from across the street

The National Palace was not the only point of interest in Sintra. The town itself beckons tourists to explore. Even the doorways exude an aura of Portuguese history.


old, rugged doorway

The beautiful plantings outside and colorful displays in windows of the shops were very inviting. The streets were paved with traditional cobblestones similar to those used in Lisbon proper.


narrow street in Sintra


colorful merchant display

Here is a typical stairway in the central district of Sintra.


streetside stairway

Along the side were large planters with specimen plants.


specimen planters along the stairway

Geraniums were a favorite and festooned a number of walls along the pedestrian byways.


geraniums on the wall

Wherever one travels in the world, there are street vendors and performers. This gentleman had a cart and as I watched him unload, it became apparent that he had a conquistador-type costume with him.


Don Quixote street performer

He began to apply a dark brown skin tone and adorn the accoutrements of a Don Quixote outfit perhaps with the idea that tourists would stop by to take pictures with him and pay a fee for the privilege. Unfortunately, we were called to leave before the transformation was complete.


Don Quixote street performer


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2018 – JBRish.com