The World of Lichens

We’ve been very lucky most of this winter with above-normal temps and only three substantial snowfalls. Winter, however, is no longer messing around. Temperatures for the past week have been downright frigid. Today was the first day that temperatures warmed up enough for me to venture out of the house and take some neighbourhood photos.

Decaying Post

I’m trying to think outside the box to get more creative shots, considering that I’ve been walking the same area for almost a year. This first shot (above) is of a post that has started to decay in an interesting pattern. It’s the only post that has done this along this fence.

Rosette Lichens

Rosette Lichens

I went back to that fence where I found all those lichens growing on it. I wanted to spend more time getting photos of the different types of lichen growing on the old logs. I’m sure I got some strange looks from passersby. They were probably wondering what could be so interesting on a fence. Little do they know just how interesting that fence is.

Star Rosette Lichen

Star Rosette Lichen

I love the variety of lichens that are growing on this fence. I could spend hours photographing them. Unfortunately, temperatures were dropping quickly, so it was time to head home. 

A Squirrel with Attitude

Today I was feeling on the lazy side so I decided to take my camera out for a walk in my neighbourhood. There is a creek near my home that I like to explore when I don’t have the time or energy to drive somewhere else. Even in such a small area I can find many things to photograph if I take the time to look them.

Autumn Path

Autumn Path

In the above photograph I wanted to only have a small area in focus – the yellow leaves of the tree. To get this effect I shot this at ƒ2.8 to get the shallow depth of field.

Crossing over to the other side of the creek I heard a very upset resident. Looking around I found a black squirrel high up in a tree scolding me for disturbing whatever it may have been up to.

Getting the Eye

Getting the Eye

It was not too impressed that I had entered its territory. I’m sure it was happy when I moved on. Just down from the squirrel I found a bush with these pretty pink buds. It’s late in the season but there is still life ready to burst open. I have no idea what kind of plant this is but its nice to find different colours than the normal fall colours one expects to see.

Pink Bud

Pink Bud

As I reached the turn off to head home I spotted some red maple leaves. I liked that they were not the perfect specimens but rather had some character to them.

Red Leaves

Red Leaves

Wandering around my neighbourhood reminds me that you can do photography just about anywhere if you open your mind to be creative. Sometimes focusing in on a small area that you can revisit over and over again allows you to find more things to photograph.

Pink Street & The Ruins

There is a place in Lisbon called Pink Street. It is quite literally a pink street. It’s a place where the late-night party goers party the night away. I decided to forego the party and see what it’s like early in the morning. It was quiet when I arrived with only 2 people shuffling down the street during my hour here. The street, a little on the sticky side, had the remnants of last night’s big party littered here and there.

After the Party Goers Leave

After the Party Goers Leave

Pink Street is very short so after taking a few photos from different angles I made my way back to the apartment for some breakfast. Since it was still early morning I had to wait for the next place to open up before I could visit. My final stop for this trip was to the Igreja do Carmo. One of my first adventures in LIsbon was the light show at the Carmo. Check out the light show in the Carmo here.

Carmo Convent

Carmo Convent

The Carmo is imposing during the day with its tall columns reaching up to the roof that is long gone, although a little less mystical in appearance than my visit Here at night. Opposite the entrance into the Carmo is the entrance to the Museu Arqueologico do Carmo or the Carmo Archaeological Museum. 

Museu do Carmo

Museu do Carmo

Inside the museum exhibits from pre-historic through to the Middle ages of Lisbon’s history are kept in a few small rooms. There is a beautiful light coming in through the tall windows giving the rooms a peaceful feeling as I walked the small rooms. 

The Library

The Library

The next room over featured a library with some models in the centre to the room. The library windows went so far up I could barely fit them in so I had to take a few shots to stitch them together so you could see them all. It was a very imposing room.

Carvings on Sarcophagus

Carvings on Sarcophagus

In one of the last rooms I found a few more sarcophagi. This one, pictured above, drew my attention with its intricate carvings of people holding objects. Not sure what they all have but I love their facial expressions, At the ones that still have their heads…lol

And with this final stop on my trip here to Lisbon I am sad to leave but I know that one day I will be back to visit her again one day soon to discover more of her treasures.

Adeus to lovely Portugal. 

The Summer Homes of Sintra: Part 3

My final destination in Sintra was Quinta da Regaliera, a very interesting estate just outside the historic center of Sintra. As you walk uphill (yup that’s right, uphill – again) to the entrance you pass the grand 5-story gothic palace, giving a glimpse of what might lie in the grounds themselves.

Quinta da Regaleira

Quinta da Regaleira

Antonio Augusto Carvalho Monterio, an eccentric millionaire, was the brainchild behind this particular estate. The grounds are riddled with secret passage and tunnels along with occult symbols and religious references. 

I started slow with this water fountain. The strange fish acts as the spout for the water to flow into the two-tiered bowls.

Water Fountain

Water Fountain

The grounds themselves are a challenge to navigate as they twist and turn and head off into unexpected directions or dead ends. Needless to say, I definitely walked the same paths a couple of times if not more.

The one place I was looking most forward to was the Initiatic Well. My friend, Jason told me all about it, which is why I choose Quinta da Regaleira as my final destination of the day. The well did not disappoint. Entering from the top I walked down the ten stories to the bottom where it opens up to the tunnels. There is a second smaller well on the property. The wells were used for ceremonial purposes that included Tarot initiation rites. The tunnels connect the wells to one another, in addition to various caves and other monuments located around the park.

Initiatic Well

Initiatic Well

Part of the cave system on the property is the Laybrinthic Grotto. For these tunnels, you will need a light source in order to get around because once you leave the cave opening there are no lights to guide you as there are in the tunnels near the Initiatic Well.

Labyrinthic Grotto

Labyrinthic Grotto

There is so much here in Quinta da Regaliera to see that you should plan to spend a few hours here if you can. I spent most of my time here at this estate more than the other two (Pena Palace and Moorish Castle) and I wish I had more time and energy. If I get a chance to get back I will be coming here first.

The Summer Home of Sintra: Moorish Castle

A short hike (downhill – luckily) from Pena Palace and Park is the Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle). Even though I walked downhill to the castle you’ll notice in the photo below that it definitely looks more uphill than down. And if you look at the final image from the previous post you will notice that technically the castle is downhill from Pena. They just don’t tell you that it sits on another peak so you have to walk down and then back up to get to its entrance. Still its a great view from the trail as you look up at those castle walls. (Hey, I’m storming a castle…lol)

Moorish Castle

Moorish Castle

I’m convinced that the grounds and walls of the Moorish Castle are a form of torture with all the ups and downs and then ups again. This is not a place for the weak. I’m also lucky that the temps today dipped from 30ºC + to only about 22ºC. I don’t think I would have made it. Or if I did I would have been done for the rest of the day. Below is the view from one side of the castle walls to the other. What did I tell you? Ups and downs. Like a damn roller coaster except you have to walk. 

From One Wall to Another

From One Wall to Another

A little history: the castle was built in the 8th and 9th centuries and was conquered in 1147 by Alfonso Henriques. It fell to ruin after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake but eventually it’s restoration, by King Ferdinand II, began in the 19th century and continued into the 20th century. Today It is classified as a National Monument, part of the Sintra Cultural Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Stone Walls

Stone Walls

The castle walls are quite narrow. You could easily knock someone off. Which would not be so pleasant as you would fall a couple stories down onto hard rock. And that’s the good scenario because falling out of the castle would be a far steeper drop to your death. 

When you exit from the castle you have a choice to either go back out to the main road to pick up the bus or if you take a path to the left you can exit the grounds and walk straight back (downhill) into the historical centre of Sintra. I took the path leading straight into town, away from the tourist buses. This also allowed me to see some of the back streets of the town.

HIdden Door

HIdden Door

At the bottom of the hill I found this doorway. I have a weird fascination with doors, particularly old ones. It’s like they want to tell a story. I wish I spoke door.

Continuing the walk into town (more downhill btw) I tried to figure out my way to Quinta da Regaleira. In the end I had to stop in at the information centre to ask where the heck I was and how to get to Quinta da Regaleira. (I ended up buying a map.) Seems I would need to walk a little further out of the historic centre and most likely uphill. *sigh