travel theme: architecture

Monday, August 12:  Ailsa’s Travel Theme (Where’s my backpack?) for this week is architecture.  I’ve been having a bit of a hard time with this one because it’s such a broad theme.  As a matter of fact, I would say my entire trip through Spain and Portugal this summer was about the architecture (and the food!), so you could look at my entire travelogue to see some amazing architecture.  For this challenge, I’m going to limit myself to three places, four photos.  These are some of my favorites, but are of course not all-inclusive!

First choice, hands down, Cordoba’s Mezquita.  To see lots more pictures, you can check out my post: andalucía: córdoba’s stunning mezquita.

Cordoba's Mezquita
Cordoba’s Mezquita

Second choice, Seville’s Alcázar.  If you’d like to see more, you can visit: the alcázar in seville.

Seville's Alcázar
Seville’s Alcázar
Seville's Alcázar
Seville’s Alcázar

And finally, I have to include at least one place from beautiful Sintra, in Portugal: the gorgeous Palace of Monserrate.

Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate

weekly photo challenge: one shot, two ways

Sunday, August 11: The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is One Shot, Two Ways.

Cheri Lucas of WordPress writes: This week, photographer Jeff Sinon talked about his process of finding the best shot. Before taking a picture, he studies his scene — looking at a shot horizontally (as a landscape) and vertically (as a portrait). With this honed, critical eye, he decides what orientation works best for his photograph.

For this challenge, capture two images — a horizontal and a vertical version — of the same scene or subject. There are no concrete “rules” here, but a) it should be evident that both shots are of the same place/location or person/thing, and b) your photographs should ideally have been taken during the same shoot.

Here are mine from Europe, from the beautiful town of Sintra in Portugal, one of my favorite places so far in the world!  The first set is the Chapel at Quinta da Regaleira.

Click on any of the photos for a larger view and mini-slideshow.

Here are two shots inside the Main House at Quinta da Regaleira.  This is from the Hunting Room, where the theme of the “cycle of life” is evident throughout the room.

Finally, also in Sintra, is the Palace of Monserrate.

sintra: the park & palace of monserrate

Saturday, July 20:  When I arrive at the Park of Monserrate, I’m hungry so I stop for a little pastel de nata before I continue to explore the grounds of the Palace.   Oh how I love that pastel de nata!  I’m really trying to make sure I get my fill of it before I leave Portugal.

restaurant at Park of Monserrate
restaurant at Park of Monserrate

I walk along the Scented Path, bordered by pergolas with wisteria and jasmine, and pass by the Arch of India, which is missing its upper half.  It was purchased by Francis Cook and represented spoils of the war resulting from the unsuccessful revolt of Indian maharajahs in 1857.

India Gate at Park of Monserrate
India Gate at Park of Monserrate
India Gate at Park of Monserrate
India Gate at Park of Monserrate

Monserrate Palace was originally commissioned by Gerard de Visme, an English merchant holding the concession to import Brazilian teak.  The builder was William Beckford (1760-1844), writer, novelist, art critic and eccentric builder, and known as the wealthiest young Englishman of his time.

Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate

Monserrate Palace was transformed in 1856 into a summer residence for the Francis Cook family by the British architect James T. Knowles.  Raised on the ruins of the neo-Gothic mansion built by Gerard de Visme in 1790, it represents 19th century eclecticism.

Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate

Francis Cook (1817-1901) was an English textile millionaire and owner of one of the greatest private art collections in Britain.  He conceived the present Romantic Palace and Gardens as his family summer residence.

Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate

The setting of this palace is simply stunning.

garden at Palace of Monserrate
garden at Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate

The Gallery is a corridor connecting the three towers of the Palace.  The succession of arches and columns creates great depth.

Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate

The Main Hall dome is a wooden structure decorated with plasterwork.

Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate

Some of the rooms are used to exhibit colorful paintings.

artwork at Palace of Monserrate
artwork at Palace of Monserrate
artwork at Palace of Monserrate
artwork at Palace of Monserrate

I love the stairway and the elaborately carved arches and columns throughout the Palace.

Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate

The Library walls are entirely covered by walnut bookshelves.  The door, also in walnut, is decorated in high relief.

carved door at Palace of Monserrate
carved door at Palace of Monserrate

The Lawn, the first lawn planted in Portugal, was notable for its size and unusual cambered surface which required an imaginative irrigation system.

Park of Monserrate
Park of Monserrate
me at the Palace of Monserrate
me at the Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate

I always love these huge sprawling Ficus trees.

ficus tree at the Palace of Monserrate
Ficus tree at the Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate

At the bottom of the lawn is a lovely water garden.  All around, people are sitting or lying on blankets enjoying picnics.

Park of Monserrate
Park of Monserrate
Park of Monserrate
Park of Monserrate

The Mexican garden is the hottest and driest part of the garden and holds collections of palms, yuccas, nolinas, agaves, and cycads.  It was fully restored in 2010.

Park of Monserrate
Park of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate

An artificial waterfall attributed to William Beckford, called Beckford’s Waterfall, flows into this pond.

pool near a waterfall at Park of Monserrate
pool near a waterfall at Park of Monserrate

After walking all over Qinta da Regaleira’s gardens this morning, and walking all over Monserrate this afternoon, I go back to my room to find the cafe is now closed for Saturday night and all of Sunday.  I guess I won’t see Manuel and Leonor again. 😦  I sit on the patio outside my room, but it gets quite cold so I go back inside and lie down for a bit.

Later I go out for dinner at another of Manuel’s local recommendations, Restaurante Sopa da Avo.  The woman who runs the restaurant is really kind, and as I seem to be the only patron at first, she gives me her undivided attention.  She even speaks some English.

Sopa d'Avo
Sopa d’Avo

I order Leeks a Bras, described on the menu as “leeks mixed with tiny French fries and involved in scrambled eggs.”  I really like how the leeks are “involved” with the scrambled eggs.  This dish is SUPERB!!!  I savor every bite and really don’t want this meal to end!

Leeks a Bra's at Sopa d'Avo
Leeks a Bra’s at Sopa d’Avo

When the owner sees how much I’m enjoying the meal, she brings me the recipe: Mix chopped onion with olive oil and milk.  Then add the leeks and let cook.  Add Gasket potatoes (tiny shreds of potato fries, much like potato chips, but in tiny sticks, from a cellophane bag) and eggs with parsley.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen these kinds of potatoes in the USA, but I’m going to be on the lookout for them so I can try to make this dish!

me enjoying every bite of my dinner at Sopa d'Avo
me enjoying every bite of my dinner at Sopa d’Avo

I return to Cafe Piela’s in the biting wind (it sure gets cold at night here in Sintra!) and get comfortable and warm for this, my last night in Sintra. I’m going to be really sad to leave here. 😦