Monday, December 30, 2013


When in Beirut (Lebanon), I had lunch at the restaurant pictured above, in which glamour met cutting-edge cuisine, that would perfectly suit this time of the year. So, I chose it to be my last post of this year.
Located on the famous Corniche, a classic of a Mediterranean city, the view over the sea was relaxing and a nice place for one's soul. 

The wide promenade seemed to have no end, giving you the opportunity to get a real feel of Beirut. It's a favourite place of locals other than tourists, specially in the weekends.


May the New Year be beyond your expectations!

~~See you in 2014~~

Thursday, December 05, 2013


Mysore Palace, in Southern India, was truly spectacular. It was built by a British architect named Henry back in 1897 after the former wooden palace burnt down for the second time. Henry loved religions and traveled to many far reaches of the earth … and this is all evident with this palace he designed. On the outside one can notice the Arab/Islamic style rounded roofs, and a Hindu style monument at the top.

The palace used to serve as the official residence of the former royal family of Mysore and also housed the royal offices.

I couldn't miss going inside the palace hall, but I could not take any pictures inside it. Cameras were not allowed. There were high ceilings with stained glassed designs. Fans, whose wings were twisted so that the air reached the ground and much much more that words can't describe.

I was told that every Sunday evening, the Palace is illuminated with no less than 1,000 bulbs. Unfortunately, my visit to Mysore happened on a weekday.
I still keep hope that some day in the future I'll make a chance to revisit it on a Sunday and then let my eyes be delighted with all the splendor of the illuminated Palace.

Thank you!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


India is a land of beautiful things and its temples are no exception to the rule. I explored a few of the hundreds that lie in and around Madurai, one of the oldest cities in India.
One of the first things that tells a foreigner that they are in India are the temples. They come in all shapes and sizes. Their silhouettes cut upwards into the skyscape; they tower over streets; their red-and-white candy cane striped walls enclose them from the chaos of everyday life. 
Madurai is dominated by the mind-blowing Sri Meenakshi Temple (photo above). The city's greatest joy is getting lost within the red and white striped walls of this place of worship.

Back in Portugal and passing by a Portuguese region not far from Oporto, I realized that its typical architecture was also characterized by red and white striped walls. The photo below shows it in a fisherman's cottage. Interesting coincidence, isn't it? 

The more I travel, the more fascinating I find it as it makes me think about the world, about my country.

Thank you!


Tuesday, November 05, 2013


Last week, I left Lisbon for a while and re-visited Amsterdam, a city where my eyes always get delighted.
One day, I found myself in a beautiful landscaped courtyard surrounded by houses. The street noise, the traffic, the rumble of the trains, the crowd - all gone. I was in a broad and peaceful courtyard and, I swear, it was like the wooden door I had stepped through, had carried me three centuries into the past. So, that was, then, the Begijnhof, an oasis of calm in the heart of the frantic city.
A brick path lined with a dozen lovely two- and three- and four-story brick houses on the left, opened on the right for about 50 yards, at which point it curved right and lost itself behind a pretty country church with a tall brick bell tower capped with slate.

.Dazed by the unexpected quietness, I started down the path. There was a bulky metal sculpture on my right and though there were other people out and about, there was still an air of respectful silence. I would have had the illusion the entire place was there to myself, otherwise. It was such a relaxing spot, such an idyllic place to be. With what I’m sure must have been a sappy sort of grin on my face, I strolled around the perimeter of the central green, soaking up the atmosphere of autumn.
The houses were beautiful, each with its little garden and its gauzy white curtains behind white-trimmed windows. Pretty fancy.
The housing and the church were very well preserved. The place was founded in 1346 for the members of a Catholic sisterhood. One of the houses was a 15th century example of a wooden construction and the others dated from 17th and 18th centuries. Lonely old single women live in the place and have special assistance.

As I had pushed open the wooden door and set foot into that oasis I had no idea at all what had been waiting for me within the walls of the Begijnhof. I liked what I visited and revisited of Amsterdam, but I liked it in that quiet oasis a lot better.

Thank you!

Monday, October 14, 2013


Plitvice Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the oldest & most beautiful national park in all of Croatia! The Plitvice Lakes contain 16 inter-locking lakes, surrounded by lush forests and is considered one of the most beautiful, natural sights in all of Europe. 
You may be wondering about the origin of such inter-locking lakes. Well, the waters flowing over the limestone and chalk have, over thousands of years, deposited travertine barriers, creating natural dams which in turn have created a series of beautiful lakes, caves and waterfalls. These geological processes continue today.
I was over there in the early days of winter when the Lakes didn't even looked like filled with water but with a fine mist super-imposed on a fairy tale backdrop.
Look at the waterfall below. Don't you find it ethereal?

The Plitvice Lakes are apparently one of the cleanest and most pristine lakes in the world. There are a lot of preservation efforts to ensure that the Lakes remain clean and that the “blue” of the lakes doesn’t fade away. For instance, swimming in the lakes is strictly prohibited.

I took many many photos but I regretted it later when I had to sort through all those photos. I felt like I couldn't do the breathtaking views of the Lakes enough justice. It was really quite stunning.

The vegetation, the rocky cliffs, the lakes along with stunning waterfalls, all blend into one seamless green-blue extravaganza that it's impossible to get tired of the beauty. 

The forests in the Park are home to bears, wolves and many rare bird species. I would have liked to have been greeted, even at a distance, by any of them but I saw none but these pretty flowers that made me pick up my camera and take a shot.

There are several scenic nearby hotels and lodging right next to the Park itself. I stayed the overnight in one of these and, though apparently they might look not very inviting when seen from outside, the ambiance was really cozy, inside.

The sun hadn't shine while it was snowing, so there was snow the next day.

Please believe me, it's definitely a must-see!

Thank you!

Monday, October 07, 2013


Credit: Google

Have you ever been afraid that a house might fall over you and squash you? I know what it looks like, but no, that house did not just fall out of the sky. It was an artistic project of the famous Austrian sculptor Erwin Wurm. His purpose was set it up especially to look like a house just falling out of the sky and landing on the Viennese Museum of Modern Art (MUMOK). You may wonder why did Wurm did it so. That was his statement against over-development.

In 2007, I had to travel to Vienna and having already read about the 'House Crash', I was very curious to see it in person. A walk away from the hotel, I was in the most compact and notorious neighbourhood of Vienna. Standing in the middle, I was surrounded by the MUMOK but... no House Crash! I was tremendously upset.

Have a nice week!
Thank you!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013


Today I am focusing on the India's spectacular marble Jain temple, seated majestically on the slope of a hill, in the village of Ranakpur, near Udiapur.  This beautiful building dates from 1432 and it's said that it took one hundred years to complete the whole structure. 
It's a stunning piece of architecture most notable for the quality and variety of its carved surface decoration. The turrets and domes of the temple are supported on over 1,444 pillars, each one with its own individual and unique carving.

The Temple, dedicated to the Lord Adinath, has entrances at the four compass points and images of the Lord facing in each direction in the central chamber. The marble sculpture of Maidevi, the mother of Adinath, on the back of an elephant, is of an amazing grandeur.  

Either seen from the outside or looking at its interior, the Temple is an architectural marvel, as delicate as finely embroidered lace, yet as imposing and complex in design as it's profoundly logical. 

If in the future, you have a chance to travel through India, I would suggest you to never miss visiting this architectural jewel.

Thank you!

Thursday, September 19, 2013


The above lake, largely free of light pollution, is the first site in the world to have been declared by both UNESCO and The World Tourism Organization as the world's first starlight tourism destination, on account of the clarity of the night sky. 
At one and half hour of drive southeast from Lisbon, this 250 km2 Reserve with a 1,200 km lakeside of about 85 km long - today's biggest artificial lake in Europe -, is surrounded by cork forests, vibrant olive groves and vineyards, now and then dotted by small medieval white towns, making the whole Alqueva Region be a wonderful destination to whoever looks for unique sensations as well as the opportunity to navigate using only the stars.

The never ending nature and the picturesque medieval castle (World Culture Heritage) of the ancient walled village of Monsaraz town (photo above)  are waiting to be discovered by you. You will feel like in the Middle Age!

Thank you!
Enjoy the weekend

Monday, September 16, 2013


The town of Vernon, in Normandy (France) offers some peculiar sights but I was caught by surprise as I saw this nice old mill, a half-timbered construction probably built in the XVI century. It lies straddling two piers of the ancient bridge over the Seine, precisely at Vernon. 

The bridge was destroyed for several times and the mill was about to fall into the Seine River when the town of Vernon decided to undertake its renewal, preserving the character and the history of the structure.

However, much before, it had belonged to an opera composer, Jean Nouguès. A few years later, Nouguès sold it to an American millionaire but after the latter's death, the town of Vernon tried to find his heirs but didn't succeed.

The old mill and its peripheral structures that were immortalised by Claude Monet, is now a symbol of Vernon. It even illustrates the postal logo of the city!

I hope such a beautiful mill will stand for another thousand years, while France and the world continues to change around it.

Thank you!

Friday, September 06, 2013


The Kingdom of Morocco has come for ten days to Sintra (a small town located not far from Lisbon) with the aim of organizing several cultural activities, ranging from traditional products and handicrafts to workshops of calligraphy, not missing a nice buffet of Moroccan food and music performances. 
All of these were held at a very symbolic site, the Moorish Castle that reminds the Muslim past of Portugal to whoever visits it. Mind you, the Castle was built during Moorish occupation, 8th to 9th centuries. It seats on the top of Sintra hill, prviding a panoramic view that spreads from the old town to the farming area till the Atlantic coast.
It seats on the top of Sintra hill, providing a panoramic view that spreads from the old town to the farming area till the Atlantic coast.

Inside the Castle, normally a bit gloomy, there was a colourful atmosphere that for a while made me get the illusion I was somewhere else in the enchanting country that Morocco is. 
The weather was very co-operative with the event and I enjoyed every moment of the time spent over there. As soon as I saw a calligrapher at a stall, I didn't hesitate to ask him to write my name in Arabic letters. Surprise of the surprises: Queen Leonor had been written in the paper! I could not help but smiling at him!
I returned back home crowned, yet not feeling the weight of the crown. Maybe it was made of paper!!!

Thank you!

Have a very enjoyable weekend!

Friday, August 30, 2013


On the second half of the 13th century the Genoeses were confined to a hill north of the Golden Horn in Constantinople named Galata, where they built up a huge tower (Galata Tower) that was the city's tallest structure at that time. 

After the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453, the tower became a prison and naval depot. During the 19th century it was a fire lookout post in order to quickly detect frequent fire outbreaks in the city’s mainly wooden houses.

In 1967, after three years of restoration, the Galata Tower reopened its doors. The present tower has been restored to the appearance it had under the reign of Mehmet II during the Ottoman Empire.

The cone-capped tower still dominates the Istanbul skyline, being one of its landmarks. 

The Genoeses traded mainly on slaves, grain and dried fruits and supplied the Christians as well as the Muslim enemy.

Thank you!

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Meandros (Meandering river) is on the west coast of Asia Minor near Miletus and Prienne, two great cities built in the 5th century BC whose street design was based on right angles system. This urban planning was created by Hipodamus of Miletus. 

The river winds along the lowlands towards the Mediterraneum. This is why people use the word meandering to mean the twisting and turning movement. 

Nearby I also visited the Greek city of Didim and the surprising Apollo temple with its big columns and a medusa with a gentle face.

Thank you!