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Photo finish

sunny 27 °C
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Avi here. Writing from a sunny beach in Corsica. We left the land of tinned sardines and Fado a couple of days ago to arrive at a place without ornate rococo churches (or much interesting architecture at all, actually) but with calm Mediterranean waters, not crashing Atlantic surf like last week. You get what you get, and I'm not complaining.

In an earlier blog I pointed out that there are two outcomes of travelling with Avril and her camera. One is that I spend more time composing my own iPhone shots. The other is that I might as well take pictures of Avril taking pictures. Photo stalking. So here is my accompaniment to Avril's blog about our time in Portugal – some visual record of her gathering of impressions.

When I last gave you a set of Avril as photo creator/creation, we were approaching the city of Tomar. I have no shots of her taking photos of the old synagogue (interesting, but not particularly photo-worthy), but we spent a lot of time in the city's main attraction – the old fortress and the monastery which was also HQ for the Knights Templar back when Catholics weren't shy about demonstrating their loving God by means of the sword. So lots of stone battlements, carved pillars, tiled walls, ornate altars, etc.


From Tomar we moved to Coimbra. A university town filled with huge groupings of black-caped senior students leading t-shirted freshman students in street marches, musical chants and general initiation rites. Actually, these mass student chant-ins at public parks have been a mainstay of our time here, whether in Lisbon or Porto or elsewhere, but Coimbra is the county's main university town so they were everywhere. Yet, despite their public ubiquity, the whole thing has some secret society air and we were actually requested not to photograph the very public events.

Which means my photos are of some lesser quirky locations in Coimbra:


But from an observation deck in an old university building (originally built as a palace on the highest point in the city) you can get a nice view of the town and its river:


Getting out of town, and driving some crazy narrow hairpins into the hills, one comes upon villages built hundreds of years ago (and now being restored) made entirely out of the local schist rock:


Then it was north, into the wine country of the Douro Valley. Actually, pretty much all of Portugal is wine country, and you can buy a 750ml bottle of red or white on grocery store shelves for two euros. Or for more. Or for much more. But the Douro is also the source of port wine (named for the city of Porto and – your useless fun fact of the day – source of the country's name). You can tour the Douro by car or by boat or by train – we did the first two:


I actually have some much better shots of the terraced vineyards, but I was leaning over the rail so no Avril in those.

A stop in Amarante, where the requisite grand cathedral sported a grand organ. Speaking of sporting organs, there was also some curious pastry in that town that I took pictures of (and Avril didn't) and shared with you in an earlier blog post. I think Avril preferred the balanced approach at a bakery we passed in Porto that also had baked and decorated vulvas in the window. Sorry, no photos of that one.

Then to Guimarães, a historic city in the north. Among its curious charms was the hotel reception desk built with old books – Avril has a shot of that in her last blog and I have many more. But I have no shots of Avril there so let's skip to Porto.

The best part of Porto (for a tourist) is the river area, Ribeira, where old neighbourhoods rise from beside the Douro and glasses of port rise from the tourists' tables. The lighting was best from a bridge that spans the river, so that's where these shots were taken.


But several days of wandering the streets gets you the mix of grand old architecture, working class hillside neighborhoods, a train station with 20,000 tiles, etc.


And, in one of those serendipitous moments no guidebook tells you about, we stumbled upon the place where every night a hundred or more people gather just to watch the sun go down. For those of you who know Hornby Island, let's call it Porto's Grassy Point.


Sundown on Portugal for us. We'll bask in its glow for years.

Posted by AvrilAbroad 21:29 Archived in Portugal Tagged portugal

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Live the Avril-eye view angle!

by A

I think you've missed your vocation in life Avi, you're an amazingly interesting tour guide. Ave what are you going to do with all those pictures? On your next amazing trip, please invite me. This has been an experience everyone dreams to have in their lifetime

by Desre

Loving the perspective, Avi, of Avril's photo perspectives. Having travelled with Avril myself (nigh on 39 years ago), :) and seeing "the artist at work" in those travels, it is joyous to see these photos and perspectives (from both of you) of what captures the senses. As ever, Avril, the "artist at work" continues to inspire. Loving all of the stories and photos from you both. "We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls. (Anais Nin)" and of course to find the humour of many things, not the least of which is phallic shaped breads, and the back stories, etc... :)
xo Joanie

by Joanie

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