Surf Monument, Nazaré, Portugal

There are statues and monuments all over Portugal.  Most of them memorialize people and events from Portugal’s history.  The statue in Nazaré, on the road to the Fortaleza, is probably one of the strangest monuments in Portugal.

The statue, named Veado and created by Portuguese sculptor Adália Alberto, was placed in 2016 and honors the legend of Nazaré as well as the town’s legendary status as the home to some of the best surfing and biggest waves in the world.

Veado

First, the legend.  In the fifth century, a monk named Ciriaco returned from Nazareth to the monastery of Cauliniana with a small wooden statue of Mary with the Infant Jesus which, by oral tradition, is said to have been carved by Mary’s husband, Joseph, the carpenter.  The icon remained at the monastery until 711, when invading Moorish armies defeated Christian forces.

Roderic, the defeated king, fled to the coast, accompanied by a monk, Romano, who carried the icon with him when the men fled.  When the two men reached the Atlantic, they separated, with Frei Romano living out his days, still in possession of the statue,  in a cliff-side cave overlooking what is now Nazaré.

Fast forward a few hundred years, to an early morning when a knight, Dom Fuas Roupinho, was hunting on the cliff overlooking the ocean.  The knight was in pursuit of a deer when a heavy fog suddenly descended.  The deer, blinded by the fog, ran over the edge of the cliff.  Dom Roupinho, realizing that he was very close to the grotto where the icon still remained, prayed to Our Lady to save him from certain death.  His horse, though blinded by the fog, miraculously stopped at the edge of the cliff, saving the knight from death.

So that’s the legend of Nazaré, and where the deer head comes from.  Now for the surfing.  Nazaré’s North Beach is legendary for the giant waves that come out of the Atlantic and provide some of the best big wave surfiing in the world.  In 2011, American Garrett McNamara set the world record by surfing a 78-foot wave at North Beach.  Two years later he shattered his own record by surfing a giant 100-foot wave at the same beach.

So now you know the two legends that inspired Veado, the statue overlooking Praia do Norte, in Nazaré.

Dog Cemetery, Chinqua Penn Plantation

Chinqua Penn was a beautiful old English manor near Reidsville, North Carolina.  Originally built by Jeff and Betty Penn.  The name Chinqua Penn comes from the name of a species of American Chestnut, the chinquapin and, of course, the family’s name.

Mr. and Mrs. Penn were philanthropists who traveled the world and furnished their house with the treasures they acquired on their journeys.  There’s even a full scale Chinese pagoda on the property.  The property was given into trusteeship by the University of North Carolina.  In 2006 the property was sold to Calvin Phelps, the founder of Renegade Tobacco Company, and was closed, with all the beautiful belongings sold at auction during bankruptcy proceedings.

We were fortunate to be able to tour the property and house before the closure.  One point of interest for us was the dog cemetery.  The Penns were dog lovers and raised Cocker Spaniels and English Setters.  The Penns buried their beloved companions in this cemetery, with Mr. Penn delivering the eulogy.  It was a nice way to memorialize the animals they loved.

Dog Cemetery

Wildlife Museum, Caribou Crossing, Yukon

I’m not a big fan of taxidermy.  There’s a lot more bad examples than good when it comes to stuffed animals.  I was really surprised, though, by the Wildlife Museum at Caribou Crossing.  We visited the museum as part of a cruise ship excursion in May 2016.  The museum was quite interesting and the taxidermy was some of the best I’ve seen.

From the famous polar and brown bears to the lesser known wood bison and saigo antelope as well as the now extinct woolly mammoth.  The displays are at times beautiful and at other times violent, but always interesting and educational.

 

Old Cathedral of Coimbra

The Romanesque Sé Velha de Coimbra is almost as old as Portugal itself.  The construction of the cathedral was ordered and financed by Dom Afonso Henrique, the first king of Portugal.  Construction took many years, but the construction was advanced enough by 1185 that the coronation of Dom Sancho I, the second king of Portugal, took place in the cathedral. 

The cathedral’s construction was finished early in the 13th century, with the construction of the cloisters begun around the same time.  While there have been several additions to the cathedral, it is the only Romanesque cathedrals in Portugal to survive relatively intact over the centuries.

It’s a beautiful structure, strong like a fortress.  This photo is of the eastern  façade, with the semicircular apse.  I love the way the wispy cirrus clouds contrast with the angles and edges of the stones.

Old Cathedral

Fado de Coimbra

Fado is the national music of Portugal.  There are two distinct styles of Fado.  Lisbon Fado tends to be a little more upbeat and can be sung by both men and women.  The songs can be about a variety of subjects and can be accompanied by instruments other than the traditional Portuguese guitar and classical guitar.

Coimbra fado is a different style from the Lisbon version.  Coimbra Fado came about when the male students of the university would stand below a girl’s window and sing love songs to woo a young lady.  Because of this local tradition, Coimbra Fado is much more restricted.  Only male students or former students of Coimbra University, can perform Fado and the singers are only accompanied by the Portuguese guitar and classical guitar.  The songs are mostly love songs, but occasionally protest songs are sung.

This beautiful sculpture, titled Fado de Coimbra, celebrates the city’s version of the national music.   The Portuguese guitar has morphed into the form of a beautiful young woman, who is both the inspiration and the recipient of the song.  It’s a beautiful way to honor the city’s version of this wonderful music.

Fado de Coimbra

Fishing Boat, Nazaré, Portugal

Nazaré, a small beach town in Portugal, was once known as a fishing village.  These days it’s known more for its beaches and its big wave surfing.  There are still signs of the old fishing village, but these days they’re mostly for the tourists.

There are several old fishing boats on the praia, or beach.  They’re quite colorful; each boat has a different color and size.  I took several photos of the boats but I like this one best because the cliff-side fortaleza can be seen under the boat’s paddle.

Red Boat

Arched Stairs

In March we visited the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza in Guimarães, Portugal.  A beautiful structure, it’s hard to believe that a century ago the palace was in ruins.  It was renovated based on an analysis of other European palaces of the 15th century.  The newly reconstructed palace was opened to the public in 1959 and once served as an official residence of Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar.

The palace is full of interesting rooms with priceless antiques and paintings, but this arched staircase, with a simple wooden door at the bottom, caught my eye.  It’s primitive and elegant at the same time.

Arched Staircase

São Bento Railway Station, Porto Portugal, March 2018

Portugal is full of beautiful and wonderful sights.  From the beaches of the Algarve to the wilderness areas of the Minho, beauty is found everywhere.  Porto is home to one of the most beautiful railroad stations in the world.

The Convent of São Bento da Avé Maria originally stood where the São Bento Station now sits, but the original convent was destroyed in a fire in the 18th century and the rebuilt convent was in a state of disrepair when the decision was made to raze the convent and to build the station.

Porto architect José Marques da Silva was chosen to design the station.  The French Beaux-Arts was opened in 1900.  The exterior is quite striking.

Sao Bento Exterior
The Beaux-Arts exterior

The interior of the station, though, is what puts the São Bento Station on the list of most beautiful railroad stations.  Between 1905 and 1916, renowned artist Jorge Colaço covered the walls of the station with hand painted azulejos depicting historical events and scenes from around Portugal.  Colaço created many works of art throughout Portugal but São Bento Station is arguably his best work.

Sao Bento 6
The lobby

While most of the artwork are the blue and white tiles most commonly used, the top border is a mural of polychromatic tiles depicting the history of transportation.  One of the larger murals depicts Infante Dom Henrique’s victory at the battle of Ceuta.

Sao Bento Detail 2
Celebrating Infante Dom Henrique’s victory at Ceuta

Another mural celebrates the marriage of João I to Philippa of Lancaster.  The murals are all quite beautiful.

Sao Bento Detail 1
Celebrating the wedding of João I to Philippa of Lancaster

It’s important to remember that the São Bento Station is a working railway station and is a major transportation hub in the north of Portugal.  It may look like a museum but it still serves its original purpose and moves a lot of people every day.

Sao Bento 10
The busy station platforms

São Bento Station is a beautiful landmark and a can’t miss destination if you’re traveling in Portugal.

Bicycle, Louisa, Virginia, May 2018

This bicycle was outside a wonderful little bed & breakfast called the Whistle Stop in Louisa, Virginia.  I love the way the colors of the old rusted bike now blend with the greenery growing around and over it.  It’s as if the man made materials are becoming part of Nature.

Bicycle