Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I've just had a relaxing week staying with friends in Portugal

From Seville I caught a bus to Faro in the Algave where Pedro1 picked me up and drove me to his place in Vilamoura, a small village about 20 minutes from Faro. I stayed there three days and he took me for a drive all along the south coast to the south western most tip of Europe and into Faro for a few hours for a squizz.

The old town of Faro, within the old city walls, is really tiny - just a few streets really. And it has a strange old cathedral that looks like its unfinished on the belltower

faro cathedral


faro wall

faro harbour flatness

Nicely rested I then caught the train 300 odd kms north to Lisbon where I went to catch up with Claudia and Pedro2 with whom I had a great time with in Myanmar last year.

Lisbon turned out to be a great spot. It has great deal of art, culture, history and cakes!

rua augusta lisbon


railway entrance

decorative double horshoe arch

view from the quay to the castle


terry and claudia outside the famous ginjinha bar lisbon

lisbon panorama

Near to central Lisbon is an historical satellite suburb called Belem. Not only does it have a terrific monastery and archaeology museum, a tremendous art gallery, early 16th century limestone tower and huge late 50's monument to Discovery but the very best pastéis de nata (portuguese tarts) at the cafe Pastéis de Belém.

monastery jeronimos

monument to discovery

belem tower

jeronimos doorway

after the rain

I spent a couple of hours in the amazing Berardo Museum which has over 4,000 works of modern and contemporary art and I was VERY pleased to find a Franz Kline (my favourite painter) in the collection!

a kool kline

terry in lisbon

pedro2 and terry

lisbon recycling bin

Another remarkable museum in Lisbon is the Gulbenkian collection. It belonged to an Armenian tycoon and most of the collection adorned his Paris house around the early part of the 20th century. It has some wonderful Roman and Persian antiquities and a healthy smattering of 20th Century modernists.

egyptian stele

unusual frontal portrait on a roman coin

miniature ivory carving

madonna and child

bust of moliere by caffieri

bruno cherier by jb carpeaux

victor hugo by rodin

There was also a beautiful room full of some of the best Lalique glass and jewellery I've ever seen:

pedro2 and terry beachside lunch

About 25 kms north west of Lisbon is a hilltop town of Sintra. We spent a few hours here on a sunny Sunday.

sintra palace


moorish fort sintra

chimneys sintra

the only place to have travesseiros and queijadas (they're cakes - what else would they be?!!)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

italica - it's next to helvetica.

An unexpected break in the forecasted overcast weather meant I moved forward the planned visit to Italica, a Roman town complex about nine kilometres outside of Seville, to this afternoon.

Italica is renowned for being the birthplace of both emperors Hadrian (he of the wall) and Trajan (he of the column) as well as having a collection of wonderful mosaics in situ and the ruins of the third largest amphitheatre in the Roman world.

What is also quite interesting about the amphitheatre is that its seating capacity was more than three times the estimated towns population, which perhaps should have been renamed Overcapitalisatia.

building with hypercaust (underfloor heating system)

amphitheatre and arena pit

arena pit

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I only arrived in Seville a few hours ago but I like to hit the ground running. This was aided by the fact that the train from Cordoba had me at my hotel in the centre of Seville by 11am and I couldn't check in until 2pm. So I stored my backpack and set off.

I was delighted to see, from the local bus from the train station, the Seville Parasol - an architectural 'whimsy' that I had previously seen on several architecture blogs I follow. It is far more effective than the photos suggest. Here are 5 different pix:

(*panorama - click to enlarge)

After a quick look ( it is minutes from my hotel so plenty of time to see it again) I walked to the central bus station and pre purchased my bus to Faro in Portugal my next stop. Then, as I passed by the Museum of Fine Arts, I headed in for a gander. The building is spectacular and the art....well, there are an awful lot of dark, gloomy and repetitive paintings of Jesus et al plus a myriad of martyred men dying in inventive and gruesome ways. It pays not to dwell.


museum ceiling

a rather fetching ceramic tile!

trompe l'oeil painting

Then I strolled past Sevilles vast cathedral. Now I have been in just about every major city cathedral across Europe as well as other parts of the world and never ben charged an entry fee. Here in Spain it costs! Perhaps falling parishioner numbers means the collection plate is lacking these days - but over 10 bucks was a bit steep - plus there was a serpentine queue which made up my mind to give it a miss. I can guess THAT book from its cover.

(*panorama - click to enlarge)

interesting corner building

i liked how this building slumped in the middle

a beautiful wrought iron gate onto a classic spanish interior

elaborate door

So it's been a busy few hours - and I still have 3 days to go!