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!