A Travellerspoint blog

Didn´t end with a whimper, but with a cough....

It occurred to me that the journal for this trip wasn´t finished. These are the circumstances that ended the trip... ¨ This might be the first time you heard someone say ´oh no, not another two more days in Paris´. Someone discovered yesterday that the flight to Paris he thought was on the 30th is actually booked for today the 28th. An extra two nights accommodation is now sorted. The thing is that the temperature in Paris this week is a high of 4 degrees and a low of minus 3 degrees. I will just have to shiver in Paris until my flight back starts on Saturday. The joys of travel.¨....(Facebook entry from Utrera)

¨ Well as you know I got stuck in Paris for a couple of extra nights. My flight landed at Beauvais, which is about 80kms north of Paris, and I decided to make Beauvais my base until Wednesday when I am booked into a flat in Paris. Even though it was minus 2 or 3 degrees for most of today I had a lovely 3 hour wander around the town. A cheap and filling Chinese buffet for lunch then a look at the town square and the Cathedral which has been here for about 900 years.¨ (Facebook entry from Beauvais)

Because I had booked accommodation in a hurry (without checking the small print), I ended up in a room close to the airport at Beauvais, where I stayed for 2 nights. However, the small print I forgot to check was that I was unable to use the kitchen where I was staying, and that I had to vacate the house between the hours of 9 and 5 while the owner was at work. This was a difficult situation to be in because the temperatures in Beauvais for those two days wavered between minus 6 and minus 2.,and I didn´t have many warm clothes to wear. I survived by walking all around Beauvais and finding the only warm place there, which was a covered shopping mall where I spent most of the long day. I had very few euros left and managed to find a cheap chinese buffet where I had a good meal one day and the Dominos Pizza outlet where I ate the night I arrived. After a long day waiting at Beauvais station to catch a train to Paris ( my morning train had broken down and the line was blocked until 3pm) it was a relief to get to my booked apartment in Paris where the really kind host shared a bottle of wine and made dinner for me the night I arrived. It was still freezing in Paris and I started to develop a very sore throat and a cough so all I did for my last two days in Europe was rest up while my cough got worse and I started to get feverish and feel really sick. I got to the Charles de Gaulle Airport for the flight back to Auckland and the next 2 days were like a bad dream. I was feverish and constantly coughing on the planes and the 17 hour layover at the hotel in Beijing was a nightmare because I wasn´t able to eat anything and struggled to sleep. Arrived back in Auckland looking and feeling like the walking dead. Spent two days with my daughter Sandi coughing, no appetite and so weak I was unable to spend much time out of bed, then another dreamlike 8 hour coachtrip back to Napier. I haven´t experienced being so sick for many years. After a couple of days at home I went to the doctors hoping to get something to help me recover but was told that it was just a bad cough caused by a virus that would take another week or so before it had run its course. I was told to take disprin for the fever and rest until I felt better. I eventually recovered, but the couple of weeks which ended the trip seemed to sour the whole trip for me. and I was glad to see the end of what had been a really tough 2016.....

Beauvais town square

Beauvais town square


Local heroine

Local heroine


Too cold to ride at minus 3 degrees

Too cold to ride at minus 3 degrees


Beauvais Cathedral side view

Beauvais Cathedral side view


front view

front view


doors

doors


museum

museum


cold cold wind

cold cold wind

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in France Comments (0)

My last days in Lisbon....

On my last day in Lisbon I took a bus into the city and stopped at a couple of places which looked interesting. The lookout terrace above the city was a beautiful place to visit in it´s own right, so the fog which limited the views of the city didn´t matter. From there I carried on to the Main plaza of Lisbon on the banks of the river Tagus. This square was rebuilt in the 1760s after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami completely destroyed the Royal palace which was previously on the site. The Plaza and Public buildings which enclose it are on a massive scale and must have impressed the hell out of any visitors to Lisbon who docked there in the 18th and 19th centuries. Finally I came away from Lisbon amazed at the proliferation of beautifully painted tiles which can be seen everywhere. They are so common that examples of the art, which in many countries would be seen as treasures to preserve and maintain, are looking sadly neglected. To the point I almost wanted to go back with a scrubbing brush and give them a good cleanup. It is something I have seen in most of the places I have stayed in Europe and possibly reflects the reality that you cannot look after everything, especially if you are surrounded by many many centuries of wonderful buildings and artifacts and things. For many, just the day to day struggle to find food shelter and warmth for self and family are an all consuming focus of time, energy and resources. Maintaining things sometimes under those circumstances is not such a high priority. I have just re-read what I have written and realise it sounds like another Sunday sermon. I have to stop doing blogs on Sundays. Amen

One of Lisbon´s lookout points

One of Lisbon´s lookout points


is the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara

is the Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara


a beautifully landscaped terrace

a beautifully landscaped terrace


on top of one of the Lisbon hills

on top of one of the Lisbon hills


with views over part of the city

with views over part of the city


which this morning is a little foggy

which this morning is a little foggy


home to busts of Greek heroes like Ulysses

home to busts of Greek heroes like Ulysses


on the waterfront past the statue of the cockerel

on the waterfront past the statue of the cockerel


is one of the largest public plazas in Europe

is one of the largest public plazas in Europe


Lisbon´s Praca de Comercio

Lisbon´s Praca de Comercio


with it´s central statue of King Jose 1

with it´s central statue of King Jose 1


and magnificent Augusta Street Arch

and magnificent Augusta Street Arch


built to commemorate the rebuilding of Lisbon

built to commemorate the rebuilding of Lisbon


after the massive earthquake of 1755

after the massive earthquake of 1755


gallery shows the scale of the buildings

gallery shows the scale of the buildings


looking back to the Plaza through the Arch

looking back to the Plaza through the Arch


on the side of local suburban shops

on the side of local suburban shops


are these wonderful examples of

are these wonderful examples of


Portuguese Azulejo

Portuguese Azulejo


which is painted glazed tilework

which is painted glazed tilework


Seen everywhere on the outside of buildings

Seen everywhere on the outside of buildings


and even used

and even used


to cover the concrete pillars

to cover the concrete pillars


on motorway overpasses

on motorway overpasses


close to the Lisbon Zoo

close to the Lisbon Zoo


Just up the road

Just up the road


from where I am staying

from where I am staying


possibly 10,000 people walk or drive past

possibly 10,000 people walk or drive past


every day, without noticing them.

every day, without noticing them.


sadly neglected fountain on mainstreet of Sintra.

sadly neglected fountain on mainstreet of Sintra.

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Pena ....what a Palace....

The town of Sintra is an interesting place with a history that goes back to before history as we know it existed. It´s attraction has always been the climate which accommodates a wealth of hunting, fishing, agriculture and vineyards. This comes about because the hills all around Sintra, and their proximity to the atlantic ocean, create a micro-climate that is cooler and wetter than the capital city of Lisbon, which is only 28 kms to the east. During the Middle ages the area around Sintra was favoured by the Portuguese Royal family and the wealthy nobles of Lisbon as a cooler summer retreat from the oppressive heat of the city. Owing to the fertility of the land in the area, many convents and monasteries also constructed residences, estates and vineyards around Sintra. In 1511 King Manuel 1st ordered that a monastery be constructed on the highest peak. This was named the monastery of Our Lady of the Rock (Nossa Senhora da Pena). Unfortunately during the 1755 major Lisbon earthquake the monastery was reduced to ruins and it lay untouched for decades. That was until King Ferdinand 11 bought the lands around Pena in 1838 and decided to build a Summer Palace around the ruins of the monastery. He employed a German architect to help him design and build the Palace as it stands today. Its most striking feature upon completion in 1854 was the bright colours used. The old palace above the monastery was painted a bright shade of pink and the brand new wing a yellowish ochre. The Palace was used by Portuguese Royalty until the Republican Revolution of 1910 and was where the last queen of Portugal (Queen Amelia) spent her last nights before leaving the country in exile. The Palace then became a museum, and although the interior furnishings remained the same, the outside colours faded away and for many years the Pena Palace was just a plain grey colour. In 1994 it was decided to repaint the Palace in it´s original colours and it soon became the biggest tourist attraction in Portugal. I am so pleased that I decided at the last minute to spend the few extra euros and go to see this amazing Palace. It will remain, alongside the village of Oia on Santorini, as one of the most enduring memories of this years travels.....

the township of Sintra is built on the hillside

the township of Sintra is built on the hillside


then climbs up 500m to the peaks

then climbs up 500m to the peaks


upon which sits the Pena Palace

upon which sits the Pena Palace


Built in the 1840s

Built in the 1840s


by order of King Ferdinand 11

by order of King Ferdinand 11


inspired by Castles on the banks of the Rhine

inspired by Castles on the banks of the Rhine


first entrance to the courtyard

first entrance to the courtyard


then through a second gate

then through a second gate


which leads into the palace itself

which leads into the palace itself


and camera heaven

and camera heaven


fabulous buildings

fabulous buildings


decorated with exotic mythical creatures

decorated with exotic mythical creatures


and gargoyles

and gargoyles


terraces

terraces


and battlements

and battlements


with views

with views


all the way to the Atlantic coast

all the way to the Atlantic coast


entry into the living quarters

entry into the living quarters


the royal dining room

the royal dining room


is a small intimate space

is a small intimate space


ornate vaulted ceilings throughout

ornate vaulted ceilings throughout


a variety of small drawing rooms

a variety of small drawing rooms


and the main hall with enormous chandeliers

and the main hall with enormous chandeliers


and a dozen large seating areas

and a dozen large seating areas


with their own special candelabras

with their own special candelabras


part of the kitchen area

part of the kitchen area


must have had a few kitchen staff

must have had a few kitchen staff


the small chapel

the small chapel


with its mahogany choirstalls

with its mahogany choirstalls


view from the Queens terrace

view from the Queens terrace


which overlooks most of the Palace

which overlooks most of the Palace


elements of Moorish design

elements of Moorish design


Looking back on the way out

Looking back on the way out


after an amazing 3 hour visit

after an amazing 3 hour visit

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

The Mystical Quinta da Regaleira...

I did not know anything about this place before I visited the grounds of the Regaleira Palace and grounds in Sintra. If I had known that it was built at the turn of the 20th century by a Brazilian Coffee Millionaire using an Italian Opera-set designer to reflect his interest in the occult teachings from the Tarot, Masonry, alchemy, the Knights Templar and the Rosicrucians, I might have spent much longer here than I did. The designer Luigi Manini created a romantic palace and chapel set on a luxurious hillside woodland park which features grottos, lakes, fountains, towers and a series of underground tunnels and passageways. Of course it is built on a hillside, which requires following steep paths to the summit and down again. I didn´t mind too much since around every corner was a new mysterious construction to admire and explore. After climbing up one tower to check out the scenery I decided to pull out a torch and go exploring the tunnels. These twisted and turned until I arrived at the Initiation well ( not a well but a spiral staircase down deep underground where Masonic and other Initiation Ceremonies were reportedly held on nights of the full moon. From the bottom you could look up and see light entering at the top of the inverted well. The tunnels then lead to the waterfall lake and across stepping stones into a woodland grotto. Further along the path were large fountains and caves (one of which held a statue of Leda and a swan). It was quite an idyllic woodland in the daytime, but at nighttime who knows what spirits, nymphs and satyrs roamed along the paths. (It had that feeling about it) The Palace and Chapel were both smallish buildings but were adorned with all kinds of spires and symbolic masonry. Even the masonry benches dotted around the estate were masterpieces of over the top gothic and renaissance decorative exuberance. I spent 3 hours wandering around Regaleira and left to grab a bite to eat before heading to check out a much larger Palace called Pena....

One of the guardians

One of the guardians


along the walk of the guardians

along the walk of the guardians


which lead the way

which lead the way


to the Palace of Regaleira

to the Palace of Regaleira


a gothic masterpiece

a gothic masterpiece


with spires to prove it

with spires to prove it


The Tower on the pathway

The Tower on the pathway


with views of the woods

with views of the woods


and the Terrace of the Celestial Worlds

and the Terrace of the Celestial Worlds


Guardians of a different kind

Guardians of a different kind


topped by a small viewing tower

topped by a small viewing tower


and this doorway into the underground tunnels

and this doorway into the underground tunnels


which lead eventually to the Initiation well

which lead eventually to the Initiation well


it gets darker

it gets darker


as you descend the spiral to the bottom

as you descend the spiral to the bottom


where tunnels lead to this waterfall grotto

where tunnels lead to this waterfall grotto


and stepping stones to escape the tunnels

and stepping stones to escape the tunnels


before climbing up past the small waterfall

before climbing up past the small waterfall


to the pathway out of the woods

to the pathway out of the woods


past the fountain of abundance

past the fountain of abundance


a closer view

a closer view


urns carrying diabolic symbology

urns carrying diabolic symbology


line all the pathways

line all the pathways


along with very old trees

along with very old trees


in Leda´s Cave

in Leda´s Cave


The greenhouse

The greenhouse


From when the Palace was a hunting Lodge

From when the Palace was a hunting Lodge


The Chapel Spire

The Chapel Spire


and the roof of the Chapel

and the roof of the Chapel


the Chapel from a distance

the Chapel from a distance


above the chapel entrance

above the chapel entrance


another view

another view


a ´simple´ bench seat

a ´simple´ bench seat


close up of seat

close up of seat


and on the other side

and on the other side


inside the palace

inside the palace


the walls are covered in  beautiful frescoes

the walls are covered in beautiful frescoes


the fireplace in the dining room

the fireplace in the dining room


and a photo of how it looked

and a photo of how it looked


another fresco

another fresco


and another

and another


leaving the Palace grounds

leaving the Palace grounds


over the bridge to the lower gate

over the bridge to the lower gate

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Belem´s Magical Modern Art Museum

On a wet and cloudy day in Lisbon I went to my happy place. The Museu Colecao Berardo is one of Lisbon´s best modern and contemporary art museums, with world class facilities and artworks. I only scratched the surface of their offerings with this small selection. It is true that one person´s trash is another person´s treasure, but in this place even the trash was treasure...

built in 1495  the Jeronimos Monastery

built in 1495 the Jeronimos Monastery


is now home to a couple of museums

is now home to a couple of museums


and is opposite some lovely formal gardens

and is opposite some lovely formal gardens


but the Modern Art Museum has a Henry Moore

but the Modern Art Museum has a Henry Moore


and is small but perfectly formed

and is small but perfectly formed


and overlooks delightful courtyards

and overlooks delightful courtyards


perhaps he holds a slightly simplistic viewpoint.

perhaps he holds a slightly simplistic viewpoint.


He didn´t mention the pretty shapes and colours.

He didn´t mention the pretty shapes and colours.


Portuguese #1

Portuguese #1


#2

#2


#3

#3


#4 In the arms of Morpheus

#4 In the arms of Morpheus


#5

#5


#6

#6


a very large canvas

a very large canvas


it makes you wonder

it makes you wonder


travel mistake #17

travel mistake #17


museum stairwell from a higher floor

museum stairwell from a higher floor


sorry mister, it slipped.

sorry mister, it slipped.


speaking of dogs

speaking of dogs


who let them out

who let them out


This one needs a haircut

This one needs a haircut


big and beautiful

big and beautiful


so is this

so is this


Eve

Eve


Interesting artworks

Interesting artworks


WTF is a plane doing here ?

WTF is a plane doing here ?


seen as sky from below and ground from above...

seen as sky from below and ground from above...


Men in Black

Men in Black


Sesame Street..

Sesame Street..


I don´t look like that, do I ?

I don´t look like that, do I ?


Adam

Adam


who´s got a big head?

who´s got a big head?


a perfect Mondrian

a perfect Mondrian


Andy Warhol does Julie

Andy Warhol does Julie


Egypt antiquities anyone

Egypt antiquities anyone


a priceless perfect 14th century Chinese cup..

a priceless perfect 14th century Chinese cup..


a very stylish Nudes with Unicorn...

a very stylish Nudes with Unicorn...

Posted by astrix7 17:00 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

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