Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Hallowe'en on Yukon Street

This six-unit apartment is right across the street from our house. We love having it within our view because the families and children living there add joy and life to the street.  Especially at Hallowe'en.

The kids and parents have been preparing for weeks I think. Pumpkins have been carved, candy purchased and costumes created.

Here you can see them getting ready.  The guy in yellow on the right is dressing up as an aging hippie surfer. He's just putting on his long wig. I thought the little guy on the left was dressed up as a cotton ball. Wrong.  He ended up with a wolf mask on and a tail at the back. He was a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Last night it all culminated in a group gathering on the front stairs for a photograph before the kids set out for trick-or-treating. The kids headed off before it got dark with their parents in most cases. We stayed home to hand out goodies to families with young children from nearby streets.  What fun. I love living on Yukon Street.

This morning the kids headed off to school and the only signs left were the pumpkins on the stairs and the rubber bat flying from my front porch.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

European streets

We've been home for almost a week and we're pretty well over our jet lag. It seems to take longer with each trip. But today was a lovely sunny day so we got out into the garden to do some cleanup. We left at the height of summer and now we're deep into fall.  It's wonderful to see all the colours on the trees in the sunshine. We are glad to be home, but what an amazing variety of places we visited.

I was thinking this morning about some of the things we saw in Spain and Portugal, well London too. And what really stands out for me is the surfaces of the streets. Instead of our boring blacktop, Europe's city's feature cobblestones of many different shapes, sizes and colours. It's only in the older parts of the cities that these exist but they create such an altered feeling to our roads.  In looking through some of the photos I took I see that there's a whole album of these images.

Here are a few of the best.



These photos were taken in Cordoba, Granada, Sevilla, Ronda, Vejer de la Frontera, plus a white town whose name I cannot remember. Obviously the different materials used are due to the stones that were locally available.

In Lisbon most of the streets were black basalt stone cobbles and the sidewalks were made of white limestone cobbles. Sometimes they mixed them together to create wonderful patterns.

This was our street and they were doing some repairs and digging. They could just dig out the stones and pile them up and then replace them when the work was done. I could show you many more but this gives an idea. It's so much more interesting than our cement and blacktop. (Although more difficult to drive on and sometimes to walk on as well.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Farewell to Santos, Lisbon

It rained last night in Lisbon, a real downpour at about 3:00 in the morning. It's the first rain we've experienced since we were in London a month ago. When we awoke the bucket on the little airshaft behind our AirB&B apartment was full of water.  Time to go home I guess. Good thing we're ready with our flight and our taxi to the airport booked. After five weeks we're looking forward to Victoria. This is our elegant flat in the barrio of Santos, facing onto the neighbourhood street where kids sit on the doorstep.

Today, our last day, we finally visited the Marionette Museum, which we've walked by every day on our way up and down the hill. I'm so glad we didn't miss it. It has puppets and masks from all over the world but most of the exhibit focuses on puppetry of Portugal and Lisbon. It seems there's a tradition of puppet making that continues today.

Puppets are made of stuffed and sticked stockings, wood, papier mache and cast resin.

Really inventive puppets. These last ones are used to create an animated movie, very contemporary.  They made several faces with different expressions that they would use for the filming, as well as different props and hand gestures.  (These are for you LainĂ©.)

We enjoyed seeing this fellow introduce puppets to this group of entranced children.

And when we exited we found ourselves in a beautiful courtyard that was in fact the cloisters of an old convent. The building was used as a convent for a long time before it became the Marionette Museum.  What a great way to end our trip to Portugal.

Tonight one last dinner at one of the neighbourhood restaurants and then off we fly on the silver bird.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Belem, Alfama, and Sintra

Over the past three days we've seen some of the "touristic" sights around Lisbon.  Only a few of them though, as it's a big city.  Here are some highlights.

Belem -- along the Tagus River is an area of gardens, museums and a river walk.  We visited the Coach museum showing horse-drawn coaches from all over Europe going back 400 years. most of them were incredibly ornate along the lines of this one.

But the one below reminded us of Darth Vader.

Surprise: when we got back outside there were horse drawn carriages for hire.

We also visited a museum showing the history of electrical plant on the Tagus River. We could walk all around the huge building and see the coal fired boilers and condensers and all of that. Adjacent to that is the very modern Museum of Architecture and Culture, built right on the river bank. Within that building was an enormous oval room with huge screens showing video loops of water and traffic over bridges filmed from underneath along with sounds.  On the floor were a number of puffy mattresses where you could lie down and experience the sound and video. We spent a delightful 20 minutes resting our tired feet in the coolness of the gallery. 

Coming out of the gallery we found that the weather had changed. The photo above is looking west; the one below looking east along the same walk. Those clouds above have brought in much cooler, breezier weather--and I can't say I'm unhappy about it. Two days ago it was 90 degrees F in Lisbon.

Alfama -- one of the oldest parts of the city with narrow winding streets and a castle. Yesterday we rode up there to see the view and then wound our way down through the stairways and alleys

Sintra -- a charming town about 20 km away where nobility went to escape the city. We took a bus and a train to get there today, passing this huge aquaduct built in the 18th Century to supply drinking water to the city. Not sure if it's still in use, however.

Sintra is full of flowers and winding sidewalks and tourists of course.

Some of it was badly marked by graffiti though and many of the buildings seemed to be vacant. This was surprising as it's one of the prime tourist destinations. 

We visited this palace with the two tall towers, very unusual structures. They are actually chimneys built above the huge kitchens to remove the smoke. We toured this place and it's really lovely with hundreds of years of history and many Moorish elements as well as elaborate painted ceilings.  The photo on the right is part of the enormous kitchen. Those metal things are spits for roasting meats.

We've pretty well finished our sight-seeing now. Tomorrow is our last day in Lisbon and we'll just do a couple of little things nearby and get ready for the long flight back. We leave here at 4:30 am, then fly into London, then take another plane to Calgary and home. It's about a 24 hour trip.