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Graz: Light and Distance

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These shots are from my visit to the Styrian capital of Graz last week. I played around with light and perspective in analogue as well in digital “postproduction”. The first shot is showcasing the so called love chains on the main bridge above the river Mur. On the right side you see the green city hill “Schlossberg”. The second picture shows the city hall in B&W.

These were taken in the “Rüstkammer”, the largest depot of medieval armory world wide. As I have not planned the visit I was not sure what to expect. But the museums turned out to be pretty interesting and great as subject for photography.

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Portugal Part IV

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Hey! I hope you all have a great week so far! Actually I wanted to bring the Portugal series to a worthy end with this post but as there are some good shots left there will be one more 🙂 As always hope you enjoy!

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Lisboa, Alfama. We didn’t try neither Sangria nor Caipirinha. Wine is quite cheap even ordered in a restaurant (but not as cheap as in Sicily). I like Sangria though, guess I have to visit Portugal again to try the Portuguese one

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Another shot of the great Mosteiro do Jéronimos in Bélem. The entry was a couple of Euros and it was very much worth it. It was great. Our (first) hostel was around the corner practically. The tramway line leads straight into the city centre, our daily commuter. Not always as modern as this one sometimes cranky and out of wood, but even more charming!

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A busy street in Lisboa. As I wrote in previous posts Lisboa is interesting because it is very much European in every sense of the word but also kind of out of time and laid down. A bit like a living anachronism. You don’t have a McDonalds and H&M on every corner (I didn’t say there are none of them ;)). There are many small shop and handcraft, even shoe cleaners. At the same time it is not stressful at all like Italy (♥) or other southern countries sometimes tend to be.

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Self examining seagulls. You are pretty – don’t worry

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One of many traditional wine distilleries in Porto. Well, that is not entirely correct. Actually the distilleries are on the other side of the river in Gaia. On paper it is an independent city but most consider it part of Porto anyway (and the wine is called portwine in the end isn’t it?).

So what is actually the story behind portwine? It is stronger and sweeter to be more durable during long ship journey’s. One day an englishman came to Porto, liked the local wine and took a bottle as souvenir to England. It turned out to be a hit and englishmen – being englishmen – did start to settle down in Porto and make businesses out the production and shipping of the wine. Now this small local tradition became truly global. By the way you can visit these distilleries – like the above Sandeman – and taste all the wines! The 10 years old Sandeman was my personal favorite

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Let’s stay with food 🙂 Usually I don’t like food pictures – we see enough of them in advertisement and they make hungry – but unfortunately I guess I have to make you hungry right now. Because I feel like a Portugal recapture could not be complete without a picture of a gorgeous gargantuan amazing good deadly Francesinha.

So what is it? It is a toast with different kind of meat in a cheese crust dunked into tomato / wine sauce (with about 2331859 calories). I’ve never heard of it before and the story behind of it is kind of great: In the fabulous 1920s there was once a man from Portugal traveling to Paris liking all the beautiful girls there (get it). That was a contrast for him as he only knew the not so outgoing (very catholic country) and very thin Portuguese girls. So he invented the Francesinha – small French – to make the Portuguese girls gain some weight and make them all hot 🙂 I guess it worked out quite well.

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In the background you see the bridge of the 25 of April in Lisboa. It is a magnificent bridge and I talked already about it in a previous post. I guess the view speaks for itself.

Portugal Part III

So if you did like the last two and didn’t get bored I’d like to invite you for a further recapture of Portugal in February 2013.

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In the foreground you see a seller of chestnuts. The nuts are very good and you should definitely try them. Besides of that the sellers add charme to Lisboa. So it is nice to support them either way 🙂 What they are standing on is worth mentioning too. It is a specific Portuguese form of a cobbled pavement called Calçada Portuguesa. An art which the country is known for and which can be seen (and walked on) throughout the city. The patterns are often beautiful and you only have to look down to enjoy them – but don’t run into a tree, please.

In the background you see the Elevador de Santa Justa or also called Elevador do Carmo. It connects the Baixa (downtown) with a higher part of the city (Chiado) and was build by an associate of Gustave Eiffel, the Paris tower guy. It has a steam punk vibe to it, being definitely a genius piece of 19th century engineering. The elevator combines “modern” steel as building material and traditional ornaments as decorative art. But what I personally liked most was the connecting bridge at the top. It lead through a rooftop and – more amazingly – through the remainings of an old church which was destroyed in the earthquake of 1755.

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I imagine how the driver saw this house and then a free parking spot and thought MATCH! Or maybe he is the house owner too and fond of the color yellow 🙂

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Another architectural piece of an associate of Eiffel – the Dom Luise bridge in Porto. This one was build by Théophile Seyrig. There is a similar bridge further away from the city centre also build by the same architect before. But Eiffel didn’t give any credit to Seyrig so he decided to compete against his former teacher in the contest for the bridge. After Seyrig won Eiffel was supposedly so angry about it that he decided to build the Eiffel Tower. Or so.

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As Lisboa Porto has many viewing points (miradouros) and even more seagulls 😉 They told us they are can be quite aggressive and annoying. But as a mainlander I enjoyed them very much and I prefer them definitely to pigeons – or the rats of the skies – as I joke sometimes. They are gorgeous.

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The monument for the Portuguese seafarer. It reaches out in to the see and into the unknown with the seamen (and priests 😉 ) longing for a new world. The details are just beautiful and I can very recommend a visit in Belém, an interesting and worth visiting part of Lisbon crowned by this monument. You can also visit the top of it and get a great view on the Tejo.

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A view of Lisboa from the Castelo de São Jorge. You see the main square and a part of the city not laying directly to the water. Being in the old town you don’t immediately realize how big Lisboa actually is. But being up here you are definitely reminded that you are in a European metropole indeed.

Portugal Part II

This post is a continuation of the one I published some days ago about my Portugal journey in mid of February. It was a good choice to travel there in February by the way. There aren’t many tourists and you meet a lot of locals. The temperature (around 15 to 20 degress Celsius) is perfect for walking around, but there is a good chance for rain though. So that’s a bit of a risk. Although I was in the sea for a couple of minutes (I promised it to a friend) in general I can’t recommend going for a swim in winter 😉 Unless maybe you are Russian and practice one of these crazy winter swims being shown on TV. Anyway the water was darn freezing.

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View out of the Torre

So maybe it is a better idea just to look at the sea, for example from the Tower of Belém. You get a great view and the architecture of the tower, build in the 16th century, is fascinating by itself. Actually this isn’t the Atlantic but the Tejo River. Unfortunately it was quite foggy this particular morning and you can’t really see Almada, the city lying on the other side of the river bank.

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I liked these small grocery stores very much. You don’t see them very often in Vienna anymore sadly. We had a funny experience in a small shop selling handcrafted ceramics. The old lady spoke Portuguese with me even after I signalized that I didn’t understand it. But she realized that I didn’t get the price so the old lady showed it to me with her hands hereby teaching me how to count in Portuguese. Then the charming woman said something like “Good Schoolboy” and we had a laugh. And in case you wonder about the odd sign of the above shop. I wonder too 😉

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The “waterfront” of Porto is definitely the most AWE-inspiring part of the city. In this town we joined a free walking tour due to our short stay (just one day). A young teacher showed us her city with much dedication. There was an old women monastery out of pure gold. Replying to my question about protection measures she just said “These kind of things don’t happen here”. Her love for Porto was insipring and uplifting. But she also talked about the hard times Portugal is facing due to the finance crisis these days. There are many young people without jobs and it looks grim unfortunately.

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A narrow street in Porto. The Portuguese are fond of cute dogs (I think I didn’t see any big ones). They are everywhere! This particular one followed me a while but lost interest in me after seeing a cat and chasing the poor little thing.

Red Rooftops of Lisboa

In the background you see the Cathedral of Lisboa in a similar style as Notre Dam  (I guess at this point architecture lovers will shout uncontrollably). The picture was taken from one of many viewing points, so called miradouros. You see the Baixa (downtown) and parts of Alfama, the higher part on the eastern side of the old town. Needless to say the red rooftops are magnificent.

Portugal Art

Portuguese are definitely keen on urban art. I didn’t like everything, but this piece was cool. Maybe you would think the tiles are unusual and quite modern here. But in fact Portuguese use tiles a lot. They are called Azulejos and have a centuries old tradition in Portugal. Wanna know more about them? Well I guess then you have to tune in for Part III in a couple of days ;)*

* or you read the wikipedia article, but ppppssss.. don’t tell anyone.