Tag Archives: Culture

A to Z of Windows – A is for Albufeira

I first visited Albufeira on the Algarve in Portugal in 1985…

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People Pictures – Fish Tales

When it comes to taking pictures I like doors, statues, balconies and washing lines, Kim on the other hand likes people pictures so I thought I might share a few of them with you.

This one was taken in the fishing port town of Vila do Conde in Portugal.  I like to think that this woman has a lot of fishy stories to tell.

Three fishers went sailing out into the West,
Out into the West as the sun went down;
Each thought on the woman who lov’d him the best;
And the children stood watching them out of the town;
For men must work, and women must weep,
And there’s little to earn, and many to keep,

Charles Kingsley

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A to Z of Statues – V is for Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez

At the World famous art museum  Del Prado there is an entrance fee during the day but free admission after six o’clock for poor people to enjoy the last two hours of the day.

As it was only mid afternoon there was time for a quick drink at a pavement bar before Richard and I retraced our footsteps back to the Del Prado while the girls chose instead to go the department store El Corte Inglés. Culture is different things to different people and I no longer challenge that.

The free entry at six is so popular that it means that realistically if you want to get in with time to spare it is necessary to start queuing at five and when we arrived just before there was already a long line several yards long and we were a long way back from the entrance next to a grand statue of the painter Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez where we stood now and waited for fifty minutes or so.

This is the thirteenth most visited art gallery in Europe, first is the Louvre in Paris, second the Vatican Museum in Rome and third the Tate Modern in London.

I began to get concerned about how long it would take to get inside and worried that there might not be enough time to see all around the inside of the museum but at about six the line started to shuffle slowly forward at a pace as though people had shoe laces tied together but at about twenty past six we were inside.

I don’t really know what I was worrying about because to be honest I was completely bored with it all after about half an hour.  I enjoyed the exhibition of Goya paintings but after that everything was so samey. Let’s be honest there are only so many pictures of the crucifixion that you want to see or two hundred year old paintings of Charles III and the royal family so after only an hour or so I was happy to leave.  I told you that I am a Philistine.

More statues in Madrid…

People Pictures – Rainbow in Morocco

When it comes to taking pictures I like doors, statues, balconies and washing lines, Kim on the other hand likes people pictures so I thought I might share a few of them with you.

This one was taken at the Roman City of Volubilis in Morocco.  While I was busy taking pictures of the ancient Roman city Kim spotted this party of local tourist women with a tour guide…

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People Pictures – Taking a Break

When it comes to taking pictures I like doors, statues, balconies and washing lines, Kim on the other hand likes people pictures so I thought I might share a few of them with you.

This one was taken on the Greek Island of Amorgos…

I imagine this woman was taking a well earned break after a morning of hard graft housework.

We took a ride out to the  Chora which cannot be seen from the sea or from the harbour but as we got closer we could see it above us like a fresh snow fall on top of a mountain.  From the outside it doesn’t look especially promising but once inside the walls of the town it is a different matter altogether.  The town turns in on itself in an introspective sort of way and inside there were narrow shady streets and lots of traditional cafés and tavernas where getting disorientated and lost is a certainty.

It was a lazy place where time goes by slowly and no one is in a particular hurry about anything.  If this was Naxos or Ios the Chora would have been teeming with shops and fast food places but this was a local town for local people and completely unspoilt by the retinue of tourist shops that can be found on more popular islands.

We explored the streets and in a very stiff breeze climbed to the very top to the redundant windmills that overlook the town and the Venetian castle that is built on top of a rocky outcrop that soars above it and its mass of dazzling white buildings.

On the way back we were ready for a second stroll through the Chora where we ambled through the corkscrew of twisting streets returning several times to exactly the same place passing by several churches, the castle, blue doors, blue sky, shady vines and friendly cafés and I knew that this was my kind of town.

The Chora is rather like a hippie time-warp, slow, lazy, faded and bleached, pot plants struggling in the midday sun and appropriately slow mood music in the tavernas and bars – it reminded me of a favourite pair of old denim jeans and my battered blue t-shirt that I am reluctant to throw away.

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

The ambience is compounded by  cultural traditions. Village life retains a centuries old pace thanks in large part to the absence of motorised vehicles. Old men while away the afternoons sitting in the summer shade chatting.  The labyrinthine, narrow lanes are the province of donkeys and wooden carts. Displays of ripe fruit – tomatoes, figs, golden apples – stand outside the little stores, the local catch is brought into the harbour daily, the wine and the raki is plentiful, good and cheap.

As we wandered around an old lady dressed all in black asked for help negotiating some difficult steps and we naturally obliged and in return for our assistance she treated us to her life story and tales of Amorgian life.  Her name was Limonique and she told us that after sixty-five years of marriage she was now a widow so I guessed her age to be somewhere around eighty-five or so.

 

 

A to Z of Statues – Peter The Great of Russia

In 2012 I went on a two city touring holiday in Russia.

This is a statue of Peter The Great which has the distinction of being the eighth highest statue in the World and commemorates three hundred years of the Russian Navy.

I thought it looked rater grand but perhaps a little unfairly this statue has been included in a list of the World’s top ten ugliest statues.

No doubt embarrassed by this, in 2010, Moscow offered the statue to Saint-Petersburg – who promptly turned it down.

The other nine in the top ten ugly statues list were…

Peace and Brotherhood Statue, Turkey (now demolished)

Kim II-Sung, North Korea

Victory Arch, Iraq

Tear of Grief, New Jersey USA

Michael Jackson, Fulham FC, UK

Rocky Balboa, sebia

Patient Zero, Mexico

Yuri Gagarin, Moscow, Russia

Johnny Depp, Serbia

Frank Zappa, Lithuania

St Petersburg didn’t need the statue because they have one of their own…

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Hadrian’s Wall to Whitley Bay

After the stress of dealing with the breakdown we set off immediately in the direction of Newcastle and specifically Whitley Bay.

We were visiting children but with a growing there is a shortage of space for overnight guests so we prefer to make alternative sleeping arrangements.

I never thought that I would say this but we prefer to stop in a caravan.

I have always hated caravans.  I remember how horrible they were when I was a boy and we used to have family holidays in a tin box without any modern facilities but now, after a few modern caravan holidays I have become a real enthusiast, a zealot even, rather like someone who has gone through a rapid religious conversion and has become a serious pain in the arse about it.

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Gritty Grimsby is not a Tourist Town

“Grimsby was not at all what I had expected…. The town centre was not compact and charming and town like, but grubbily urban with busy roads which were difficult to cross on foot” – Bill Bryson

I used to like Bill Bryson, I thought he was funny but in his last lamentable book ‘The Road to Little Dribbling”  he had the above to say about Grimsby.  I am not a Grimbarian so I have no axe to grind.  I am not arguing with him but I just got the sense that he hadn’t really visited Grimsby at all and his dismissive assessment was based on a Google search.  Despite its shortcomings I think the town deserves more than a quarter page in one of Bill’s travel books.

I have lived in Grimsby for ten years and I rather like it.

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A to Z of Balconies – Zamora in Spain

And so I come to the end of my A to Z of balconies and finish in the delightful city of Zamora in Northern Spain.

Zamora is only a small city for a provincial capital, close to the border with Portugal and situated on the river Duero (Duoro in Portugal) and most famous for having the greatest number of Romanesque churches of any city in Europe.

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A to Z of Statues – K is for Louis Kossuth in Budapest

Louis Kossuth was the man who led the 1848 revolution that attempted to overthrow the Hapsburgs and there is a large monument to his memory at one end of the square.

Louis Kossuth is a hero in Hungarian history books but the pigeons don’t show him a lot of respect.

More statues in Budapest…

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