Jerez, Spain – Horses and Sherry

Departing Seville, Spain with a population of 700,000 we boarded our Motor Coach and headed for Jerez de la Frontera with a population of 213,000 (estimates via the Internet). This was an interesting change as we travled through the smaller Spanish towns and saw more of the countryside.

Our first adventure in Jerez was a stop at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. We were greeted by a guide who explained the history and goals of the academy. This is a very exclusive school and gaining acceptance is quite competitive. Our group was taken inside a display area where horse carriages were stored and available for inspection.

One horse was tethered nearby for us to admire. Unfortunately, photography was restricted in many areas which proved disappointing. I was hoping to gather a couple of snapshots of horses being trained in the indoor stadium, but this was not permitted.

The guide begrudgingly allowed a few quick photographs of the tack room.



Pictures of the rein training outdoors were allowed.



The saving grace of this stop were the beautiful buildings and grounds. As we were waiting to walk toward the arena, an upward glance revealed an interesting and somewhat surprising sight.



Storks nest in many of the high towers, ridges and chimneys afforded them in and around town. As a matter of fact, we found that storks are an object of pride in Spain (and Portugal) and are encouraged to nest. At one time most of the birds migrated to Africa during the winter months and returned for the warmer seasons, but nowadays less and less of the birds migrate.



It appears that the availability of higher quality water in the wetlands combined with availability of “junk food” has become attractive to the White Storks that now become year-round residents.

You can find more information about the storks in Spain and Portugal HERE and HERE.

I must say that the exhibition hall and arena at the school was quite attractive.







The administration building and headquarters was equally impressive with its old-style elegance.



The area outside the administration building had a very picturesque fountain that added to the splendor of the estate.



After our stop at the Equestrian School, we walked to The House of Sandeman Jerez – producers of fine sherries and port. The traditional Andalusian garb includes a cape and large-brimmed black hat ala Zoro.



I wasn’t too interested in the distillation and preparation of sherry since red wines are about as much as I have on occasion. Our guide, however, did an excellent job of explaining the processes involved and the nuances between the various sherries produced. Of more interest to me was the history and building itself.



Yes indeed, there were barrels upon barrels of sherry being aged as we walked through the distillery (if that is the correct term).



I didn’t understand it all, but the markings on the outside of the the wooden barrels contained important production codes. Naturally, there was a “tasting” with chips and small sandwiches.



These stops did not make my top ten list although I found them somewhat interesting primarily for the few photographic opportunities available.

The Sandeman Sherry Bodega has an excellent website with amusing videos and information. If you enjoy sherry, I think you will appreciate this LINK – click on “OUR STORIES.”

 
Next stop…Gibraltar!


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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

Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

Seville, Spain – First Impressions

Seville, Spain – The Alcazar

Seville, Spain – Around Town (Sights along the streets)

Seville, Spain – The Old and the New

 

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



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 – 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 Evora

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 – 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 Event 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



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



Photography: My Shot — Aged Doorway – Sintra, Portugal


An Old Historic Doorway in Sintra, Portugal

If you have done much traveling of any kind, you might have seen posters, T-shirts or other artwork that depicts interesting doorways of a particular city. Perhaps they were doorways of Boston, doorways of Georgetown or doorways of San Francisco, etc.

I am a sucker for old or unique doorways. The picture above is of a doorway we came across in Sintra, Portugal in the vicinity of the National Palace of Sintra. This doorway is reminiscent of a bygone ancient era. The wood is old, cracked, discolored and partially rotted. The metalwork is well-used and rusted, but still attractive in design. The doorway exudes character!

The craftsmanship is enhanced by the cementwork frame and the ornamental details increase the beauty of the entranceway. Onlookers quickly come to understand that this building has been an eyewitness to history.

 

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Metadata

File Name: DSC_2646.NEF
Capture time: 11:18 AM
Capture date: May 10, 2018
Exposure: 1/60 sec @ f/9
Focal Length: 18mm
ISO: 180
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 – 2018 – JBRish.com



Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Traveling in a foreign country is definitely peculiar because we generally find ourselves out of our comfort zone. If there is a language difference and a number of significant cultural differences, this can be even more pronounced. After a single day in Portugal however, we felt more or less at ease.

One of the first things we do when we arrive at our hotel in a foreign area, is to secure a business card with the name and address of the establishment. If we then get lost, we are only a taxi ride away and we can just show the card to the cab driver. We took two cabs during our stay in Lisbon and both experiences were positive. Interestingly, as we learned, the customary tip for taxi drivers in Portugal is to round up to the next highest Euro. At the time we visited, the Euro was about $1.21 USD (+/-) which means the largest tip would be $1.21. Of course, tourists can tip more if they like.

Lisbon is a hilly city. It is known as the City of Seven Hills so be prepared to walk uphill sooner or later or to hail a taxi.



As you can see the street above was a bit steep as we headed toward the Jardim Botânico da Universidade de Lisboa (The University of Lisbon Botanical Garden).

We walk and then we walk some more when we visit new countries or regions. We love to walk around town and get a good sense of the city or area we are visiting. Like most major cities, there were McDonald’s restaurants in Lisbon. As you will note in the center of the shot below, the golden arches are rather muted. No large red background here. We stepped inside to note the differences between American McDonald’s and those in Portugal and while we did not purchase anything, it was interesting to note that they served coffee in ceramic coffee cups for patrons who had their coffee in the restaurant.



Again we were walking downhill which we know from our hiking will be an uphill on the return trip.

We have visited many gardens in our travels and I have to comment that this particular garden is not what I would call a display garden. It appeared to be more of a research garden. There were few dramatic landscape areas and only a scattering of flowers at the time we visited. We were a bit disappointed, but found some sections of interest. The tree below had an amazing display of air roots.



The garden had resident cats probably serving as mousers. This tabby on the roof was spotted in several areas and had a friend or sibling that was remarkably similar.



On the walk back to our hotel, we encountered this happy drainpipe festooned with a floral array. I had to return the smile as I took the picture.



Pictured below is another interesting trash/recycle bin we encountered.



Street vendors made a variety of commodities available especially huge strawberries and the fruit dealers seemed to be popular with the commuters.



The main thoroughfare in Lisbon is the Avenida da Liberdade (Liberty Avenue). It is a very wide street with pedestrian walkways separating the lanes of traffic. The walkways are paved with an intricate design that we were led to believe were copyrighted and used just for the city of Lisbon. There were special work crews adept in repairing the swaths of walkways and maintaining the integrity of the artwork.

These pieces of intricate artwork were created with the use of limestones referred to as calçada Portuguesa (Portuguese pavement). The cobblestones are made into small squares and placed to create a design in black and white. Care should be taken when it is raining as these tend to be a bit slick when wet.

The “Avenue” is a great place to walk and window shop. There are also nice areas with water features, plants and restful benches. It is worthy of a stroll if you have time.



Our home base in Lisbon was near the Marquis de Pombal neighborhood which seemed to be a more or less central location relative to areas we were interested in investigating. It was a nice, but long-ish walk to Rossio Square, the Tejo River and shopping areas.

A Statue of Marquis De Pombal, the Portuguese Prime Minister from 1750 to 1777, is one of the highlights in this area of the city.



As you can see, the statue is in the middle of a large rotary which can be very busy at times, but there were plenty of traffic lights and ample opportunities to cross the roadways.

Here is a more picturesque shot of the statue. This is a popular stop for tourist buses because of its central location and proximity to the Edward VII Park (more about the park in a following 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

 

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 – 2018 – JBRish.com



Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Breaking away from our routine of traveling to national parks in the United States, we decided to journey overseas with a noted tour company to see a part of the world in which we have been interested for a long time. So off it was to Portugal and Spain.


Map of Portugal with Lisbon noted

Map Via

We arrived in Lisbon relatively early in the day. After we checked in at our hotel, we were anxious to get out and about to visit some of the sights we researched. High on the list was the Alfama district in Lisbon.

One of Alfama’s distinctions is that it is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon. It is located along the Tejo river and is very picturesque. The concierge at the hotel explained that we needed to take a taxi to the tram stop and then take the number 28 to Alfama.


Tram #28 headed to Alfama

The #28 tram’s route traverses the city’s center thus making it a very busy mode of transportation as tourists use this to arrive at many of Lisbon’s popular attractions. It is less expensive than a tour bus, but there is no guide to point out the sights. We had to be careful as there were two different #28 trams. We determined we needed the one with the destination noted as Prazeres.

You can read more about it HERE

This popular tram usually operates from 7AM until 11PM daily. Check out the current schedules to be sure.

NOTE – Pickpockets often frequent this tram so be careful and keep your valuables close. We had no problems at all (besides the usual language barrier).

Little did we understand that the tram was going to drop us off quite a distance from the main section of Alfama and that we also needed to board a small van to take us to Alfama’s central location; no extra charge. Streets are so narrow in places that cars cannot navigate them. Bicycles and smaller motorized transports are plentiful on these narrow side streets.

As we were walking to board the jitney, we passed a trash can that was quite unique. We didn’t realize that this was customary in Portugal and Spain. Trash/recycle receptacles are sometimes painted and serve as a work of contemporary art. The city sponsors some to the container art. Apparently a number of other European cities have adopted this colorful method of camouflaging these streetside bins.


Art covered trash=recycle bins

We managed to find our way to the small van and disembarked near the Miradouro das Portas do Sol (Viewpoint of the Doors of the Sun) which is a large terraced area with an elevated point of view looking over Alfama. The first thing visitors are going to notice is the famous red roofs. This is Alfama’s trademark!


Landmark red roofs of Alfama seen from Miradouro das Portas do Sol

In the picture above, the river is barely visible, but some of the prominent buildings can be clearly seen. The large building in the upper left (with the two towers) is the Church or Monastery of São Vicente de Fora which Wikipedia translates as “Monastery of St. Vincent .” Just off to the the right of the Monastery is the dome of the National Pantheon.

Saint Vincent is Lisbon’s patron saint and a statue to honor him stands as a sentinel at the Portas del Sol close to where most visitors will arrive at one point or another during their explorations. There are several vendors and street merchants at this location trying to capitalize on the crowds that often gather in this area.


Statue of Lisbon's patron saint, Saint Vincent

Here is another photograph of Alfama taken from the Miradouro de Santa Luzia which is another great viewing area. The Tejo river is located along the horizon. More central with a single tower visible is the iglesia de Santo Estevao (Church of St. Stephen).


Another view of the port of Alfama seen from Miradouro de Santa Luzia

As we began to make our way through the old streets of Alfama on the way to the Thieve’s Market, we passed by ancient structures. Here is a crossover near the Campo de Santa Clara (market square).


crossover near the Campo de Santa Clara (market square)

The Thieves Market is similar to flea markets around the world. It is only open on Tuesday and Saturdays in the square near the Panteão Nacional and São Vicente de Fora dating back to the late 1880’s.


Vendors at the Thieves Market in Alfama

There was a large variety of goods for sale including books, crafts and other typical flea market wares.


Wheelbarrow with dishes for sale

Read more about our Alfama excursions HERE!

 

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 – 2018 – JBRish.com



Hue wouldn’t believe my Fuji X T-2 Mishap

“Experience is a good teacher, but she sends in terrific bills.”   —   Minna Antrim

My adventure with the Fuji X T-2 started almost a year ago. I use the word adventure deliberately because that has been my experience. I have read two books about how to set up and use the X T-2, but like much technology, all the books in the world often cannot prevent the unpredictable from happening.

What I am about to explain is not technically the fault of the camera and I have to admit that all errors of the sort I am about to explain are clearly on the shoulders of the user; ME. I am merely writing this article so that perhaps others can avoid the frustration and/or disappointment that such occurrences can cause.

OK, by now you are probably wondering “What happened already!”

I recently returned from a trip to Portugal and Spain and of course I could not wait to download my photos to my computer once I got home. Imagine my surprise when all the JPEGs I shot with the X T-2 had a strong magenta cast to them. I was amazed since I had just used the camera prior to the trip without any problems. I couldn’t figure out what went wrong.

Here is what the JPEGS looked like once imported into Lightroom:



I don’t do much international travel. Usually I am headed for landscapes in and around national parks or similar venues in the United States. When I do that, I often take a computer with me and each evening I download and review the files to double check that all is working as anticipated. I can then see if there is dirt on the lens or sensors and whether the settings are basically correct.

Since I would be with a group on this trip and I was concerned about securing a computer when it was not with me and traveling light, I decided to leave the computer at home.

There was another aspect that should have been a clue to me, but I didn’t pay enough attention to it. I was “lulled” into a sense of security.

Let me explain: When looking through the viewfinder (EVF), there was a color cast to the live view image. I ignored it under the assumption that I had inadvertently adjusted the live view setting and that the pictures would not be affected. In the X T-2 references, I read about adjusting the EVF Color so I thought (my bad again!) that I had adjusted the EVF color inadvertently. This was a clue that I should have investigated further.

What “lulled” me into this mindset was the knowledge that the white balance was set to AUTO so how bad could it be? When I would quickly look at the LCD, it wasn’t that obvious to me that there was a color shift.

So imagine my surprise or disbelief when I arrived home and downloaded the pictures and saw that every JPEG had this rather overwhelming magenta color. I was truly puzzled. Trying to correct the JPEGs in Lightroom was very difficult, but what saved me in this instance was shooting RAW plus JPEG. The RAW files, although the finder images showed the same cast, were rendered perfectly once developed in LR.

I tried searching on the Internet and through two books and the owner’s manual to see what the problem might have been. I was like a sailor lost at sea. I really didn’t know what I didn’t know. Thank goodness Fuji has an excellent support team. I called them and within five minutes I had the answer to my problem and learned how to avoid it in the future.

APPARENTLY one of my settings was accidentally changed so that the white balance, although set to AUTO, was manually altered to change the hue of the light when a photo was captured. Like much advanced technology, the X T-2 provides a multitude of choices and with choices comes the possibility of more user errors or “accidental” system changes.

This is what I learned after my call to the support center:



The right selector button (see arrow above) surrounding the rear menu botton is set to change white balance hue by default. There is no lock on this button so when removing the camera from the camera bag, pressing that function button launches an option to change the white balance default color. If not noticed the user can be into the indavertent change for two or three unintended presses before taking the next shot. If it happens when the camera is being placed into the bag and being turned off, it may go unnoticed.

Here is my Tenba bag with my cameras in it.



A closer look shows the arrow pointing to the area of the X T-2 where the selector button in question would be directly on the top side (see arrow below).



You can imagine how it was possible or perhaps probable that the selector button would be pressed when grabbing the camera to take it out of the bag for shooting which I did several times a day.

The technician at Fuji recommended that I change that partuclar function button to provide playback (a safe choice) which would remove that potential problem from my shooting workflow. Of course I also rebalanced the hue to the neutral position while I was making that change.

This was my fault for not knowing what options these buttons controlled and what pressing them can do. You can bet that I will be checking them all before my next shoot! Would it be better perhaps for these buttons to be undefined by default and allow the users to program them as they see fit once the camera arrives at their door?

Takeaways:

The Good:

I was shooting RAW plus JPEG which saved the pictures for me this time. I lost the ability to rely on the JPEGs for color reference, etc., but that was only a small price to pay (IMO) compared to what could have been.

I had a second camera with which I was much more familiar and I took “near duplicates” of the important shots so I had many more pictures to cover myself if the Fuji pics fell short. This goes back to my analog days of doing some professional gigs where I always had multiple cameras “just in case!”

The Bad:

I should have…

Spent more time and care assessing the photos via the LCD to check for color balance, sharpness, etc.

Understood the purpose of the function buttons before going out into the field. Interesting that I have been using it for several months and haven’t had this problem before.

Checked both cards in playback mode from time-to-time before getting home just to check on things.

Given more importance to taking my laptop with me. Perhaps this would have been the wiser thing, but I am still not certain about this one.

 

Overall, this was not a disaster and I did capture some nice shots. To paraphrase and borrow from an Oprah Winfrey quote:

“I am a photographer in process. I’m just trying like everybody else. I try to take every conflict, every experience, and learn from it. Life and photography is never dull.”

 
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 – 2018 – JBRish.com