March 31, 2012

Zazzle is sweet!

Look what I just found when I logged in to my Zazzle account, today. Unfortunately my birthday is on February, yes I'm from the sign of Aquarius. So I'll have a lot to wait before I get  a "special gift on my birthday". By the way, do you know that I have a Signs of the Zodiac Zazzle line of products? Look!

March 29, 2012

The beautiful N.R.P Sagres!

Beautiful ship Sagres celebrates 50 years of service to the Portuguese Navy this year and 75 years of life. The ship Sagres was built in the shipyards of Blohm and Voss in Hamburg in 1937. She was baptised Albert Leo Schlageter. In 1948 Sagres entered the service of the Brazilian Navy and was named Guanabara. In 1961 it was acquired by Portugal in order to replace an old ship named Sagres. Her name comes from the Sagres Cape, the site of the world's first marine school, established by Prince Henry the Navigator in the 15th century. Its sails feature the Cross of Malta, which was emblazoned on sails of Portuguese vessels during the Age of Discovery. She first hoisted the Portuguese flag on February 8, 1962. Since then Sagres II has ensured the training of Naval Academy future officers sailors, supplementing the technical and academic knowledge taught at the Naval Academy. She made ​​more than 150 trips and sailed the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, the North Sea, Caribbean, Japan, China, Mediterranean, Arabic, Baltic, Red and Yellow. For the last 50 years at the service of Portugal and the Portuguese Navy Sagres has conducted three voyages around the world and visited 385 ports. She sailed about 600 thousand miles and is known as an Itinerant Ambassador to the service of Portugal. This ship that is a symbol of Portugal in the world. I'm so thrilled I am going to visit Sagres next Sunday!( N.R.P. stands for Navio da República Portuguesa = Portuguese Navy Ship)
Source: Portuguese Navy Site

Look how beautiful this ship is as she prepares to dock at Shanghai port. I am so excited about the chance to see it, here, at my city, sailing up the river Mondego! I really wish there's good weather! Fog can get pretty thick here sometimes!

March 28, 2012

Buarcos - a small fishermen village I'm fond of!

To those who are already bored with my postages about Oporto here's something new with a taste of Summer. Buarcos is a fishing village, or, at least it was. When I moved to Figueira da Foz in the 80's there were lots of boats like this you can see in the photo bellow and maybe bigger, the dory boats,  in the beach sand in front of this ancient XVIII century fortress wall. I remember fisherman sewing fish nets too.That's all gone. I believe some still live on the village and some live there and have bigger boats, like traineiras, that are used to fish sardines. Many dedicated to the codfish fishing  and sailed away for the high sea for months. 
Buarcos has some good fish restaurants, narrow streets and small houses, some covered in tiles. There's a nice public garden there and some cultural infrastructures too. I have to mention a curious theatre room called Trindade that was built in 1910. Inside it looks like a regular theatre with stage and galleries. But it's very small as if it was made for children. Next time I'll try to photograph it. There's also a curious folklore group here called Rancho das Cantarinhas. Women dance with heavy paper flowers decorated clay water pitchers on their heads!I'll see if I can get some good photos of it too. Women that sell fish still wear rich embroidered aprons that I would like to show you too.
Buarcos is near Serra da Boa Viagem - a small mountain. It's kind of a suburb to Figueira da Foz. I usually go to the beach there. It's just a small walk away from my house. 
Yesterday we had 26º. Sometimes we don't get that temperature in Summer days! Schools are shut for Easter break so many boys and girls were at the beach enjoying this hot Spring day. I wasn't prepared for it or I might have brought my beach towel along!

A fisherman's boat
The ancient wall. We can make a nice walk along it and watch the sea from it. We get some restaurants and bars along the way if we get hungry or thirsty!
A house covered with blue tiles.

 Watch closely the difference between my second photo and this old postcard.There was no street in front of the ancient wall. The beach sands started just bellow it back in the 50s. This I never saw but my parents still remember it. The sea moved away from the land pretty fast.
And this black and white image is a  screen shot from a movie filmed in 1929
Clearly Buarcos was a fishermen's place!

Oporto is the best place to travel in Europe!

My favourite Portuguese city has just bee chosen Best European Destination by  212.688 voters who have made their choice online.  20 selected towns were competing for the prestigious title of Best European Destination 2012. After a three weeks’ period of online voting Porto is elected the Best European Destination 2012 and wins the title ahead of 19 big european cities!Congrats to Porto, best place in the world...for me it is!Discover it and you will fall in love with this old city too!

With the variety of resources available Porto conquers all its visitors, from those who want it for its history and authenticity, to the ones who seek to explore a new, more cosmopolitan and contemporary city. Discovering Porto means discovering what makes it different : the famous Port Wine, an Historical Centre designated World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO, Museums, Enchanting parks and gardens, fashion boutiques by national and international designers...Porto gives you a bit of everything. Give it a try!

March 27, 2012

J. Brommers Zazzle Store is pure Spring magic!

Today we're having a great Spring day. Walking for a while at local city garden after lunch time has made me think of the art of Joana Brommers. No computers, just traditional media and lots of whimsical flowers and animals. Joana lives in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, but she's british. She's a fine artist and illustrator who specializes in children's and fantasy illustration. She finds her inspiration from story telling books. Music, nature and movies also transport her to other worlds. Botanical illustration is also a field she loves due to the extensive details involved. She's inspired by the old classic illustrators during the Jugendstil era. i.e. Arthur Rackham, E. Burnes, Waterhouse, Mucha and more. She always admired the fantasy/fairy art of Arthur Rackham, Beatrix Potter and modern fairy/ fantasy artists such as Brian Froud and Linda Ravenscroft. Her main mediums of use are watercolours and colored pencils, alone or mixed. It's incredible to look at Joana's work and to know that she´s a self taught artist. You can find her work at Zazzle's JBrommers or bellow. It's pure Spring magic!

 "The products that you will find here are all produced using my original illustrations and fine art paintings. You will notice that my work has a nostalgic style that reminds of the classic artists and illustrators of the late 19th Century and are full of magical creatures and detailed fauna and flora. When I paint I always have a goal in mind to bring back nostalgic memories and sense of magic, that hopefully bring a smile to anyones face." Joanna M. Bromley   

"Lamb & Bunny" Card by jbrommers
Shop for more greeting cards online at Zazzle.

March 25, 2012

Listen to Fado de Coimbra at Fado ao Centro

Last Monday I travelled to Coimbra. It's 50 km from where I live. A woman was handing out flyers and invited me to enter a new Coimbra's fado house. I was pleasantly surprised by the discovery. Fado ao Centro is a very nice place. I lived in Coimbra for several years and listen to fado several times but it never crosses my mind to hear fado of Coimbra at home. Why? What makes sense for me is to go out and see and hear fado in its own environment. Perhaps thinking of people like me, a group consisting of current or former students of Coimbra had the idea to create the Fado ao Centro, a space where people can listem to fado  right in the middle of the historic city centre and at very convenient times. Fado sessions occur during the day so even the older population  more reluctant to leave home at night can go there and enjoy it.  The room  is cozy, with a sober but welcoming decoration. In one of its walls there's a permanent exhibition on the history of fado and its interpreters, which can be visited for free. During fado sessions curtains of the windows are closed and the room plunged into darkness and that's typical of night serenades, recreating thus an intimate ambience, the ideal setting to hear the song of Coimbra. The show's at the final of the day also includes a taste of wine port.  Visit the website of Fado ao Centro where ou can listen to some fado and enjoy some photos of the performers.  

 Fado ao Centro is in the centre of the city and Tricana woman statue.
 Inside the room.
 The spot where students play and sing.
Permanent exhibition on fado's history.

It seems fado have first appeared in Lisbon and Porto, being later taken to Coimbra. Some say that fado was originated from Lundum, the music of the Brazilian slaves. Other say that students from Lisbon or from Brazil brought it to Coimbra where it gained new flavour and characteristics. Tunes sung by Provence troubadours in the Middle Ages are also pointed as a possible origin for this Portuguese typical and traditional song. Lisbon and Coimbra's fado are different. Fado of Coimbra has a lot of the student life feeling in it and men are the only ones who sing it. Coimbra's students wear a black suite and heavy black cape and that's how they sung it accompanied by classical guitar and a specially tuned Portuguese guitar. Students often sing about unrequited love or their  student life's memories. If a student boy is in love with a girl she might expect, even today, that he shows up serenading  under her window.

March 23, 2012

Foreigners impressions on Portugal

"Linda and I had Portugal on the back burner for many years. A mistake! Had we not procrastinated, this would have been a return trip. Portugal is booming. With a strong economy and funds from the EU, the transportation and telecommunications infrastructure is being upgraded at a record rate. Restoration of old and historic buildings and homes as well as new construction can be seen everywhere. Portugal is a country on the move while at the same time preserving its old-world culture, traditions and lifestyle - its heritage. Language is not a barrier. In addition to Portuguese, the younger generations speak English and at least one other language. There is always someone nearby who is more than willing to help you if you are having trouble communicating."The Travelzine
Don Freedman, a retired marketing executive, and his wife Linda, are from Canada but they really love Portugal. They documented their 9 visits to my country in a very detailed way. It's amazing how they really got to know the way we live and our culture. I think that they spent all winter at the Azores Islands. Maybe they already left the moment I am writing these lines. I found their site accidentally and asked permission to quote what they wrote about Portugal in Spring of 1997. I enjoyed reading that particular opinion. But soon  my thoughts turned into sad ones. In fact when Don and Linda visited us for the first time Portugal was kicking. Now along with Greece and Ireland the country is one of the most affected by the European sovereign debt crisis. That along with years of misgovernment by leaders that had not the capacity to invest adequately the money Don mentioned determined Portugal to lost the Euro challenge. The European leaders granted a bailout loan only after Portugal signed up huge spending cuts. As a result of that the economy is in recession for a second straight year. Unemployment rate is at 14.8%, and that's a record. Reforms will take some time to make any positive effect and I don't know how long can companies and people handle it...

But while exchanging emails with Linda we end up writing about Coimbra. This city has one of the most relevant educational institutions in Portugal and abroad.The University of Coimbra was founded by King Dinis and confirmed by Papal Bull of Nicholas IV on the 9th August 1290. It's Portugal’s oldest and largest university and one of the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world. With approximately 20,000 students, Coimbra's hosts one of the largest communities of international students in Portugal, more than 1000 a year.

I visited Coimbra this week and took some photos of the city. So you can expect several postages about this city and some of its traditions for the next days. Meanwhile take a look at these two postacards of the old university. This is Law school. I got  my Law degree there. Yes, I had the privilege to attend classes in a precious national monument! 

Two photographers were hit by the police in Lisbon


From time to time I bring some more serious matters to this blog. Yesterday Portuguese workers were on strike nationwide. My country is at crossroads and I can't see the end of it. Portugal's biggest union CGTP called for a general strike to protest against the centre-right government's labour market reforms. Portuguese are protesting against exploitation and growing impoverishment. The strike aimed the erosion of workers' rights, lower salaries and record high unemployment. People feel that austerity measures don't solve anything and that we will soon be as bad as Greece. 
In Lisbon a small group of young demonstrators clashed with police and two photographers were hit by the police who charged the group. As you may know sometimes it's difficult to protest without provocation. I read that eggs were thrown to bank buildings and persons that were near picking money from cash machines by this group. Probably policeman were hit too with anything that was at hand. But when responding the police stroke two photojournalists and now are offering silly explanations for what happened. The caption reads: Anyone can identify it as a journalist. That's what the police is saying. It's clear for me that the behaviour of  the police assaulting journalists in the full exercise of their duties constitutes a crime and a serious violation of basic personal rights of the victims. The man properly identified as a journalist and the police did not stop. He was assisted at the hospital. No so long ago policemen were protesting because they have low salaries and poor working conditions. At that time they got my solidarity. Not know. I'm shocked. This is just the beginning. I expect that we will see a lot more incidents in the near future. And I am worried. (Second image source: Reuters)

March 21, 2012

Great Psychedelic Fractal Art by Firdaus Emir at Zazzle!!

Prepare yourself to be hypnotized!! Firdaus lives down-under, right, in the far Australia. She operates from Wollongong, New South Wales. She says that she's mostly known as Webgrrl, the grrl that takes photos at psytrance events and festivals, event promotions, plus web and graphic design. For me she's kind of Zazzle's fractal goddess!! I liked fractal art before I discovered her works but I was not into it much. My opinion is that Firdaus has a special talent to master fractals. Fractals really look good on every product she creates. She has a keen eye for colour combinations and shapes. She owns several stores at Zazzle, here's just a few that you can check:
 Onlinecards      
 Paper Station    
Every Firdaus's store is a great place to find alternative and customizable products you will not find anywhere else - Invitations for all type of occasions, 3 Ring Binders, Stickers, Greeting Cards, Postcards, Flyers, Address and Shipping Labels, Personal Stationery, Notebooks, School and College essentials, accessories, cases for electronic devices and textile products. Her works are  influenced by Psychedelic Trance Music and Dance community and are truly hypnotic and fantastic!She developed a strong visual identity and all her work is very professional. All I can say is that I'm a fan!
Heart Angels Thank You Card card
Heart Angels Thank You Card by Paperstation
Shop for more greeting cards online at Zazzle.
Vintage Fractal Lace Custom Name Gift Plate plate
Vintage Fractal Lace Custom Name Gift Plate by webgrrl
View more plate designs from Zazzle.
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