January 28, 2011

Lisbon - Expo 98

Because of a little problem I had trying to get my medication for my cancer through the mail, we were able to visit Lisbon not only once, but twice within 5 days.  Lisbon is only about a 2 hour drive north of Ferragudo and the last 10 miles takes us across the longest bridge in Europe "Vasco de Gama".

The cable-stayed main span of the bridge is 534.8-feet long, supported by 573-feet high pylons and 192 cables. The bridge was designed to withstand an earthquake four times greater than the 1755 earthquake that devastated Lisbon.

Vasco de Gama Bridge changes in form as it moves over the Tagus River into the horizon. The $1-billion bridge was completed on time for the opening of Expo'98 to accommodate visitors traveling by automobile from southern Portugal, Spain and other parts of Europe.

We had a great room in the "Tivoli Hotel" which is located in the heart of the waterfront area where the 1998 Expo took place from May to September 1998. 

 And this was our view! You can see the water and the Utopia Pavilion from our room. 
The 98 Expo prompted a major city renewal and the decaying industrial district was transformed into a beautiful waterfront.  Included among the outstanding projects at EXPO is the Oriente Terminal.

It consists of an inter-modal platform connecting metropolitan and regional trains with taxis and buses to the suburbs and metropolitan areas, contributing to the creation of a new center for the capital. The project features innovative design in steel frame truss assembly covered with a translucent glass roof, offering the passengers shelter from the elements and a panoramic view of EXPO grounds. The interior space includes a commercial area of about 19,000 square feet.

The main Pavilion of the 1998 Expo was transformed into a huge mall. The building currently holds many movie theaters, fashion shops, restaurants and bars.

Our next visit in a few days will be spent in the more historic area of this great city, Lisbon.

See more pictures at "Where's Debbie" in the album "Expo 98"

January 26, 2011

Watery Wednesday - Burney Falls

Burney Falls is one of those waterfalls I must see everytime I travel Hwy 89 in northern California on my way to, well anywhere.

Burney Falls is not the highest or largest waterfall in California but at 129-ft, Burney Falls, is possibly the most beautiful.

Burney Falls' additional water comes from springs, joining to create a mist-filled basin. Burney Creek originates from the park's underground springs and flows to Lake Britton, getting larger along the way to the majestic falls.

To see more beautiful watery pictures taken by some very talented photographers, please click here "Watery Wednesday"

January 25, 2011

Visiting Lisbon - Tower Belém

There is plenty to see in Lisbon, the capitol of Portugal.  So while visiting earlier this month we tried to take in as much as possible of the old merging with the new during the few days that we spent exploring the city.

I think it would be best to do a few posts about some of my favorite sites during our visit rather then try and lump everything into one post.

So on that note, I want to start with the Tower Belém on the River Tagus.  Also known as Tower of St. Vincent, the tower was built in the 16th century on a basalt island located close to the right bank of the Tagus.

In time, with the construction of new, more modern and more effective defences, the Tower of Belém lost its role as defender of the entrance of the River Tagus.

As centuries passed, new functions were given to the tower. It was a customs control point, a telegraph station and even a lighthouse.

It also served as a political prison, its storerooms transformed into dungeons, since the time when Philip II of Spain became king of Portugal (1580) and during periods of political unrest. Finally, in 1983 UNESCO classified it as a World Heritage Site.
UNESCO says...

Belem Tower was declared a World Heritage monument because:

"It is a reminder of the great maritime discoveries that laid the foundations of the modern world."

If you would like to see more pictures of this fascinating castle just click "Where's Debbie" and then click on the album "Tower Belem"

January 22, 2011


We enjoyed Silves so much on our first visit to Portugal back in February 2010 that we have come back  twice now since we have returned to the Algarve this past December.

What is the appeal?  How about the dark red of mighty castle walls that loom over the city and the surrounding countryside.

This being the first thing you see while entering Silves peaks ones curiosity to see more.

Driving over the Arade River it seems as if you've stepped back in time, yet there is an appeal of where past merges with present.

As an example, we drive over a newer bridge that is only a few yards from a bridge dating back to the Medieval period, until only a few years ago it was this structure that connected Silves to the coast.

I have so much to share with you about this great spot in the Algarve, but in this post I am going to focus on the biggest castle in the Algarve and the most beautiful military monument to the Islamic period in Portugal.  The imposing Moorish "Castle of Silves"


It has its origins in the ramparts built around the town during the Moorish occupation, probably on the site of late Roman or Visagothic fortifications (4th /5th centuries).

Its eleven towers, two of which are barbicans - joined to the ramparts by a supporting arch that holds up the walk way - and thick walls enclose an area of approximately 39,370 feet.

Twice during the 1700’s the Algarve was rocked by heavy earthquakes which seriously damaged the castle. The first time was in 1722 and the second time was 1755. It was not until the start of the Second World War in 1940, which Portugal played no part in that the castle was restored.

The double entrance is the gateway defended by two towers and the opening of the `traitors' gate in the north facing walls still remains. Four of the towers have gothic doorways, vaulted halls and stones bearing the marks of medieval masons.

Inside the castles walls, nothing remains of the original Moorish buildings.

For only 2 euros per person, it is the ideal space for enjoying a trip into the Portuguese past and for appreciating the fabulous view over the city, countryside and the River Arade below, from what is surely the most beautiful vantage point in Silves. Having been classified as a national monument since 1910, Silves Castle is today the largest, most important and best conserved castle in the Algarve.

If you would like to see more pictures of this interesting castle just click on "Where's Debbie" and then on the album "Silves Castle"

January 19, 2011

Watery Wednesday - Reflections on the Seine in Paris

Towards the end of December we took a train to Paris from Belgium for two days.
Our first night there we decided on a river cruise on the Seine.
I took these pictures hoping to capture the reflections of this magnificent city on the river that runs through the heart of Paris.

I hope you take the time to visit other photographers at "Watery Wednesday" and see some more fantastic Watery photos!

January 17, 2011

Alcalar Megalithic Monuments

While driving around the other day just north of Alvor we came across a sign that peaked my curiosity.

The little picture on this sign reminded me of "The Portal Tomb" I saw while visiting Ireland in 2003

Portal Tomb at Burren in County Clare Ireland 

So you see by the picture above, I thought for sure we would be seeing something very similiar.....NOT!

Apparently, in the third millennium BC, the focal point of the land stretching from the north of the Alvor inlet to the foot of the Mochique hills was a huge settlement located at the end of the once navigable Torre river.

Other small settlements grew up around this central location and megalithic funeral temples were gradually built on the surrounding low slopes.

Well this all still sounded very interesting, so we made our way to the Reception and Study Centre for the Monuments.  The price was right at 2 euros each to be able to walk among the funeral temples!  We started up the trail and came across the first temple.

You know I would have gone inside if I could, but the opening was very, very small

The picture below shows you the inside

We were able to take a peek inside from the top of the monument

Just ahead of us we can see another monument and walk over to take a look

Oh, there's that Portal Tomb similarity

Well that was it.....yep two monuments.  Average cost 2 euros per monument for two people.  It seems though that according to the brochure I picked up they actually list a total of 17 in the area.  So we drove around looking for more with no success.

If you are into this sort of thing, I mean really into it, then go ahead and check these ancient burial monuments out.  Otherwise, I would suggest enjoying the beautiful beaches and quaint villages of the Algarve.

There are a few more pictures to see by clicking "Where's Debbie" and then click on the album "Alcalar"

January 5, 2011

Exploring Ponta da Piedade

Yesterday was the perfect sunny day in the Algarve to drive about 16 miles to the west of Ferragudo and explore the cliffs at Ponta da Piedade.

 Ponda da Piedade is one of the most beautiful natural points in the Algarve region in Portugal. And to top off all this beauty, there is a lighthouse!

Excited to see just what makes this one of the most beautiful spots on the Algarve, we set out on one of the many trails that lead to the cliffs.

For many centuries the water created beautiful rock formations towering 65 feet from the sea. 

And then we spotted a set of stairs.  Oh yes, you know I want to get a closer look, so down we go.

The view from hear was amazing and I just couldn't stop taking pictures. The bold colours of the strangely shaped rock is such a beautiful contrast with the crystal blue of the sea.

Well all this fresh ocean air has us looking for somewhere to have lunch.  We found the perfect spot just down the road with a wonderful view of the ocean and coastline.

And yes, this grilled sworfish smoothered in onions was as good as it looks!

There are many more pictures of this beautiful spot at "Where's Debbie".  Just clik on the album "Ponta da Piedade"
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