wordless wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday
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weekly photo challenge: sea

Saturday, August 31:  The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is SEA.

Sarah Rosso writes: Sea. What kind of emotions does the sea or ocean make you feel? Do you remember the first time you went in the water? Had a wave crash on you? Felt the sand burn your feet? Do you feel more peaceful around water? Do you hate the beach? What’s the most interesting thing about the sea for you?

In a new post specifically for this challenge, share a photo which means SEA to you!

I used to love the sea, making frequent trips to Virginia Beach or the Outer Banks as a teenager, slathering myself in baby oil, lying in the hot sun and listening to Seals & Crofts’ “Summer Days” on a boom box.  I’d enjoy the salty smell of the sea and the lapping of the waves on the shore while getting lost in a good book, or I’d fall asleep in the hot sun, covered in a thin and sticky coat of sand.  Whenever I got hot or bored, I’d wade through the surf and go for a swim, floating on the waves and letting the motion carry my body, which felt light and buoyant.

These days, I don’t enjoy the sea in the same way that I used to.  I don’t really like to swim in it anymore, and neither do I enjoy lying in unrelenting sunlight with a sprinkle of sand sticking to my body as I were some Velcro strip.  I prefer to either walk along the edge of the sea in the cool off-season, or I enjoy watching its shimmering and dancing surface from a high-up vantage point.

Here’s the way I best enjoy the sea these days.  From Oia, Santorini, Greece in September 2012.

the sea from Oia, Santorini, Greece
the sea from Oia, Santorini, Greece

weekly photo challenge: carefree

Saturday, August 17:  The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge for this week is carefree.

Sheri Bigelow of WordPress writes: Summer memories make everything feel magical to me — carefree and untroubled.

Even on the trips where everything went wrong, I look back and smile at the narrow escapes, or the long walks on a beach while I sorted out and righted the world.

Whether a good memory was made in years past, yesterday, or only moments ago, I love letting the nostalgia wrap me up — like a borrowed sweater on a cold summer night. Even more, I love making new memories: a carefree summer at the lake, a stroll through the park, dancing in the rain… then all I need to do is remember, and the same carefree feeling washes over me.

This young lady in Cascais, Portugal, looks pretty carefree.

Cascais, Portugal
Cascais, Portugal

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.

travel theme: wild

Thursday, August 8:  I didn’t get to many natural places during my trip to Spain and Portugal this summer, but in the few places I did go, I found some wild flowers that I thought were pretty crazy-looking.   I also found a wild bird here and there, and some wild street art in Lisbon.  So for Ailsa’s travel theme this week, just under the wire, here are some pictures. (Where’s my backpack? Travel Theme: Wild)

wild flower in El Torcal, Spain
wild flowers in El Torcal, Spain
wildflowers in El Torcal, Spain
wildflowers in El Torcal, Spain
Scottish thistle in El Torcal, Spain
Scottish thistle in El Torcal, Spain
Scottish thistle in Teba, Spain
Scottish thistle in Teba, Spain
wildflowers in Teba, Spain
wildflowers in Teba, Spain
wildflowers in Teba, Spain
wildflowers in Teba, Spain
A wild bird in Teba
A wild bird in Teba
Scottish thistle in Teba, Spain
Scottish thistle in Teba, Spain
Wild street art in Lisbon, Portugal
Wild street art in Lisbon, Portugal
more wild street art in Lisbon
more wild street art in Lisbon

weekly photo challenge: masterpiece

Sunday, July 28:  The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is Masterpiece.

Writes Cheri Lucas: Masterpiece. No matter where you are (and where you’ve been), I’m certain you’ve stumbled upon something extraordinary: a place that blows your mind; a work of art or object that speaks to you; or even a location or scene that’s special, unusual, or even magical in some way.

One thing you can never really “stumble upon” is a ceiling.  Often, you can miss the wonders of ceilings simply by forgetting to look up.  During my travels this summer, I saw some beautiful ceilings in cathedrals and palaces, but in order to see them I had to remember to look up. 🙂

Ceilings are often artistic masterpieces that can be vastly under-appreciated or ignored completely.  A viewer can’t even study ceilings for very long without getting a crick in the neck. And think of what the artist had to endure to create them.  I can only imagine how uncomfortable it would be to design and create a beautiful ceiling by holding one’s arms overhead and one’s face looking up for extended periods of time.  Unless an artist can lie on a platform on his back, I can’t imagine it could be very easy work.

Here are some masterpiece ceilings I found throughout Spain and Portugal this summer.

Cordoba's Mezquita
Cordoba’s Mezquita
Cordoba's Mezquita
Cordoba’s Mezquita
Granada's Cathedral
Granada’s Cathedral
the Alhambra
the Alhambra in Granada, Spain
ceiling and lamp in Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal
ceiling and lamp in Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal
swans on the ceiling in the National Palace, Sintra, Portugal
swans on the ceiling in the National Palace, Sintra, Portugal
more painted ceilings at the National Palace in Sintra
more painted ceilings at the National Palace in Sintra
Ceilings in the National Palace, Sintra
Ceilings in the National Palace, Sintra
Basilica dos Martires in Lisbon
Basilica dos Martires in Lisbon

And this, my friends, is only a tiny glimpse of heaven. 🙂

travel theme: sweet

Friday, July 26:  This week, Ailsa of Where’s my backpack? challenges us to come up with something sweet.   She asks us to: Whisper a sweet nothing and send it my way.

On my trip through Spain and Portugal, I sampled delectable sweets all along the way.  I have a few extra bulges around my waist as a result.  Here’s to you, Ailsa, some sweet nothings coming your way.

The Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona is a colorful feast of sweets: fruit juices, fruits, and candies galore.

sweet fruit juices at the Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona
sweet fruit juices at the Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona
sweet fruit at Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona
sweet fruit at Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona
candies at Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona
candies at Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona

One sweet treat that beckons from nearly every street in Spain and Portugal is gelato.  I tried to sample as much as I could. 🙂  This gelato cart was on the street in Tavira, Portugal.  Jo of restlessjo and I were in search of fig and almond gelato, which she raves about.  Sadly for me, though this cart usually sells Jo’s favorite flavor, they are out of it on this night.

gelato in Tavira, Portugal
gelato in Tavira, Portugal

Toledo, Spain is famous for its marzipan.  Of course, I had to sample some.

marzipan in Toledo, Spain
marzipan in Toledo, Spain

A churro, sometimes referred to as a Spanish doughnut, is a fried-dough pastry-based snack. It is normally eaten for breakfast dipped in hot chocolate or cafe con leche.  It’s delicious!

churros and chocolate in Granada, Spain
churros and chocolate in Granada, Spain

And finally, one of Portugal’s great culinary wonders is the cinnamon-dusted pastel de nata (custard tart), with its flaky crust and creamy center.  I tasted lots of these throughout Portugal, but this one was at Cafe Pielas In Sintra.

cinnamon-dusted pastel de nata in Portugal
cinnamon-dusted pastel de nata in Portugal

I have to say that some of the best sweets to be found are in Europe! 🙂