Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Enchanted Forest

Close to Coimbra, there is a place known as "the enchanted forest”: the Mata do Buçaco that surprises us immediately.

Its origin dates back to the sixth century, when a community of Benedictine monks stops in the valley; the land then passing into the hands of the Bishop of Coimbra, which, in the early seventeenth ceded it to the Discalced Carmelites, who built the monastery in 1628 .

Currently there are only the church, whose facade has three arches, the interior has a unique nave, the plant, latin cross, and the cloister, surrounded by the hotel.

The monks, in their eagerness to get a place for meditation and prayer, decided to build a stone wall of 5750 meters in length that defines the forest, and continue with the planting of exotic tree species, from the Portuguese colonies.

Today, we can see more than seven hundred species of trees, in an area of 400 hectares. Unique species, which require travel around the world to contemplate: Himalayan firs, Australian acacia, Japanese camphor, Brazilian araucaria, Caucasus cedar, eucalyptus from Tasmania, Pennsylvania ash, ginkgo biloba, Asian palm, Mexican pine, redwood, and American white cedar ... Along with native trees and plant them in Europe: cork, oak, beech, mastic, olive, elm, oak and yew.

Friday, April 9, 2010

La Purisima Mission State Historic Park

Missions left an indelible mark in California. This is reflected both in the presence of physical remains, as many places names.

His memory and importance become apparent as we travel the state, we find fully restored old missions, ruins or neighborhoods such as in San Francisco, called, precisely, Mission, reminding that even today stands there.

California's climate helps to the conservation of buildings, not its turbulent history, marked by numerous conflicts, which led to the virtual destruction of a large number of missions.

Today, however, are increasingly those that are restored, more or less correct, because have become a powerful tourist attraction.

In this post we will write about a Mission, not as famous as the Carmel Mission, or San Luis Obispo, but much larger and more authentic: La Purisima Mission.

La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, the time not only stops, but back, to 1820, thanks to restoration work carried out which have given the appearance that the mission had at that time.

Founded in 1787, is the eleventh of twenty-one missions established in California. La Purisima is part of the original "Camino Real".

Spanish missionaries opened the way for the late eighteenth century, from San Diego to Sonoma.

The first mission was founded by Fray Junipero Serra in 1769, thus establishing the characteristics of a type of adobe construction that exists today on farms and neo-colonial estates.

Visiting these 21 missions that connects the road is one way to meet California.

La Purisima is a magnificent place, and a key factor for its development was the presence of a water course, which enabled him to become a settlement of considerable size, being necessary to employ at least two and half hours to traverse it completely, without take account of the museum visit, the time to invest in photography, or dedicated to food.

The feeling of authenticity we have from the start, as it will retain most of the buildings and restoration materials have been incorporated rescued from the ruins of the Mission as well as others from the area.

They even restored the aqueduct and water system.

It has also enabled a picnic area and a number of roads over 25 miles, which runs around to the delight of hikers. These roads also can travel on horseback.

If we choose any of these forms of access, we must beware of rattlesnakes, which are protected species, and have their home there. It is advice that I give from my own experience.

Once inside the premises of the mission, looking out the different rooms becomes a journey through time, as they are very well stocked, both of furniture as objects of everyday life.

The visit is pleasant and sheltered from the heat, which invited to do so without haste, stopping at the rooms, and, for many people is a reunion with lots of objects from his childhood.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Colors of the Night

This is the provocative title of the exhibition dedicated to Van Gogh who made us travel to Amsterdam.

"I often think the night is much more vivid and rich in colors that day."

Vincent Van Gogh.

How not to get excited about the work of the Dutchman, who moved in just ten years in the study of light and art more than all his contemporaries!.

The exhibition is a trip in itself, begins in 1880 and we can follow the evolution of Van Gogh through the poems he read, the epistolary relationship he had with his brother Theo, his admiration for Millet, Breton ... the country life, and the difficulties of the lower social classes that reflecting one and again in sketches prior to "The Potato Eaters."

At first Van Gogh wanted to be preacher, and came to give away all his possessions to those who had nothing.

His whole life is on the brink,
his extreme sensitivity always leads him to the limit.

The time that passes in Paris is the emergence of light, color, Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas in his drawings; the Impressionists admired Japanese prints (we saw several works of Hiroshige).

Vincent test pointillism of Seurat, "painting of the imagination "of Gauguin, the mix of light and shade of Rembrandt ...

Only ten years in the life of a man, until 1890, when Vincent decides to stop being a burden to his family and commits suicide, but we could be a lifetime watching his work.

All his work is a homage to the painters and artists he admires, he is obsessed with the colors of light, also with a night light.

Being able to see on this trip "Starry Night" the famous work exhibited at the MoMa, next to "Country road in Provence by night" from the Kröller-Muller Museum in Otterlo, and "Starry Night over the Rhone" , from the Orsay Museum, is something we will never forget.

The moon, the night light, the stars that Vincent compared with points on a world map show the work of a dreamer, ahead of his time.

This has been the excuse for our trip to the city of canals, which The Pea Green Project has squeezed the most.

We have tested the White Beer on the terrace with a splendid light; one of the best apple pies in the city, Villa Zeezicht, and the delights of the Pancake Bakery.

We have allowed ourselves to see with handsome Netherlands in another starry night, this time close up the Westerkerk in a local fashion: the Werck, and we have come a significant number of the more than 1,200 bridges that owns this town.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Winter in Lisbon by Antonio Muñoz Molina

- "But a musician knows that the past does not exist ... Those who paint or write merely to accumulate past on his shoulders, words or pictures. A musician is always in a vacuum. The music ceases to exist just at the moment finished touch. It is the pure present. "

Antonio Muñoz Molina, The Winter in Lisbon

I think, as I read this book on the feelings that invaded our hearts at Dizzy's Club of New York. In the mythical Broadway, at the height of Columbus Circle, Lincoln Center offers the best jazz.

The legendary saxophonist Lee Konitz, accompanied by Peter Bernstein, Ray Drummond and Matt Wilson, among others; the "Dizzy's Cosmopolitan" with vanilla's rum made, filling the cups; the surprise to find that a tiny Asian woman do sound like that on the sax; a dimly lit room; the audience delivered, the skyscrapers in the background of the scene, the impression must be dreaming, that we are not really there.

Jazz, bourbon, smoke, the femme fatale, and three not-real cities but imagined, Madrid, San Sebastian, Lisbon, are the background of this novel, black cinema in words.

The work was brought to the screen, and was attended by the trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, as you can see in this excellent blog post of "Jazz, that noise."

"They played just him and Billy Swann: the lack of bass and drums gave his music, his loneliness in the narrow stage of Lady Bird, a stripped and abstract quality, like a Cubist drawing solved only with a pencil."

This is a predictable novel, full of topics, where I discover the strokes of the future Molina; descriptions that, years later, dazzle in "Windows of Manhattan"; towns and ghost characters. I entered in the book longing for the white Lisbon and find myself on the night of Hopper's paintings.

Monday, March 29, 2010

On the banks of the Bosphorus II

"The evening wraps Beylerbé Palace. A cold dampness rising from the Bosphorus and the shadows invade the living room of the Sultana Valida. Instinctively, women have to whisper.

On tiptoe, the slaves
make their way to light the candles of green glass chandeliers that, placed in the four corners of the room, looks like large leafy trees."

Kenizé Mourad "On behalf of the dead princess"

The golden age of Ottoman civilization is being held within the walls of Topkapi Palace, where even seems hear the bustle of the court of the sultans and sultanas, the illuminators to illuminate his work busily, the rustle of silk on the bodies ; the smells ..., attached to the wood, soil, ointments, oils, perfumes of the slaves and ladies of the palace, the refining and even cruelty are living in their lobbies and corridors.

All these feelings that fascinated Europeans of the tim
e, also invade us and fascinate us centuries later.

Inside the palace there is a place that often, and making a big mistake, is seen in haste, if not omitted, although its walls is more than any other place where time seems to stand still: the Harem.

Created as a simple set of wooden pavilions at the time of Suleiman and his beloved Roxanne, today is a labyrinth of courtyards, rooms, corridors, bathrooms, bedrooms and dungeons, which brings together the essence of Topkapi.

A large part of the harem is decorated with beautiful Iznik pottery and along its corridors, sometimes in darkness, their salons, where light filters through skylights and blinds, it is inevitable to try to imagine what the lives of their inhabitants.

A self-contained world with its own leaders and outcasts, intrigues and conspiracies, simple stories too, of those that only trying to survive.

A place where hopes were born and died every day, sacrifice for the benefit of the family who stayed behind made it more bearable the confinement in that prison of gold. A world organized to the point where each person had their role to be played until the end.

For us, that we visit, things are quite different; within the harem we're fascinated at the extravagance of rich decoration, the Turkish baroque and rococo, and is without doubt an essential place of the visit, not and Topkapi Palace, but of the Istanbul.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Livraria Lello & Irmao

The books were our first travel fellows, in fact, started traveling with them, reading their pages, imagining that we were the protagonists, feeling like the author himself, the magic of words.

Perhaps that is why, in our travels we always look "real" spaces in which to dwell for a moment, surrounded by books written in other languages and read by people of different cultures, but all united in a common quest, which is simply , knowledge sharing, knowing glances and even surprised to find who does not expect foreigners in such places, buildings constructed to hold treasures of literature, or simply bookstores.

At 144, Rua das Carmelitas, Porto, Portugal, is one of those places. A place full of history, memories, stories, great moments, authors, readers, curious, and especially books.

The Livraria Lello & Irmao is a building built speci
fically for library, and was inaugurated on January 13, 1906. His style, neo Gothic, makes it, for many the most beautiful bookstore in the world.

In its magnificent facade, on both sides of the large center window we see two figures representing Art and Science, which is already a declaration of intentions, and remind us that both concepts are not opposites but complementary. Too bad the curriculum developers have forgotten.

The interior decoration, made in wood, leaves you amazed from the start. The staircase is undoubtedly the most prominent feature, since the entire layout of the room leads to it. Decor is amazing, the red color of its steps, and at least to us, their small size, because the pictures make it appear much larger. In this sense, it resembles the Staircase of the Laurentian Library, by Michelangelo.

Since the pillars of the hall, the great names of Portuguese literature are looking us, Eça de Queiroz, Camilo Castelo Branco, Antero de Quental, Tomás Ribeiro, Teófilo Braga and Guerra Junqueiro.

Already in the upper deck, we admire the central window, the chandeliers, staircase, and the comings and goings of customers; smell the coffee, we sat down and time becomes more human, forgetting the rush.

Probably, today the impact for its appearance on the big screen, his character will be distorted somewhat. However, if Porto is your fate now, seek, stop and enjoy what it is: a magnificent library.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Shoshone Point

Surely there will be few, or perhaps any other trails in the Grand Canyon with an effort-outcome relationship as magnificent as the path that leads to Shoshone Point.

Tours of the Grand Canyon, is in fact the National Park itself is organized and is divided into two zones, the South Rim and North Rim.

The first is the best known of the two, most tourist operations,
and the most conditioning.

All the South Rim is full of View Points, which are truly spectacular, require no effort, except for being able to find parking at times of bigger audiences and raise and lower the car.

Then there are the trails, marked trails running through the park, and that this time yes they require both physical and psychological preparation, with an amazing exception: Shoshone Point.

It is a journey of about two miles, with an estimated duration of 40 to 60 minutes, with virtually no gap, so its score is, rightly, easy path.

Most of the view points along the South Rim, offered a similar view, and do not allow calm and quiet look of the immensity of the Grand Canyon. This tour, makes it possible, and is an excellent observation point for planning several trips much more demanding, as the Grand View.

This little path that does not even appear in many guidebooks, it is not signposted at the entrance.

We start from Grand Canyon Village, the Desert View Drive, we must stop the vehicle and internally by a unmarked path, being necessary to get a guide where you see this path, and request information at the places provided for it in the park.

We use the excellent guide, Hiking Grand Canyon, (which we'll talk soon in our blog Lost Hiking), b
y Ron Adkison, published by Falcon, and we had no problems in finding the path.

After a walk among the pines, and suddenly you arrive at the brink, and that, by itself, is leave you breathless.

Walking parallel to the building came to Shoshone Point, and there we find it incredible to have these views with so little e
ffort, especially after having done the difficult Tanner Trail.

The sunset is surely the magical time to enjoy the Shoshone Point, you can sit on the edge of the cliff, watching the Colorado river-something not usually get elsewhere, and as the light changes the landscape, highlighting ways and colors.

Before you show the South Rim at its best, the Hance Rapids, the Tapeats, the Desert View Watchtower, and even the Marble Platform and the Echo Cliffs.

Closer to see the bulk of the Vishnu Temple, we can fix Powell Plateau, Cape Royal and Point Sublime, with Wotans Trone.Also observed Horseshoe Mesa, Sinking Ship, Coronado Butte ...

Many roads running through the Grand Canyon are tough, rugged, mostly without water, and loneliness is sometimes overwhelming.

It is a wonderful experience.