Aveiro’s Old Railway Station

Aveiro was one of our favorite stops during our visit to Portugal.  Though best known for its canals and the moliceiros that carry tourists up and down the canals, there’s a lot more to the city than the canals.  The city is full of fine examples Art Nouveau architecture and Portugal’s famous azulejos and calçada are everywhere.

Just a few minutes walk from Aveiro’s main canal you’ll find the city’s beautiful old railway station.  The station has been replaced by a newer and shinier station, but the old station is a gem.  The station is covered with azulejos depicting scenes from the area, including salt harvesting and fishing, both of which were traditional industries of Aveiro.

Old and New Stations
The old Aveiro Railway station with the new station on its right.

During our visit the station was closed and fenced off, hopefully for restoration.  The building is now over a century old and is in need of restoration.  We were still able to view the beautiful tiled artwork on the front of the building.  The tiles are predominantly the traditional blue azulejos, but highlights of yellow are scattered throughout, especially in the tilework framing the scenes.  These two sections depict scenes of the Vouga River and the Aveiro Lagoon.

Aveiro Train Station Detail 2
Azulejo panels on the Aveiro railway station.

The azulejos are quite beautiful and serve the purpose of documenting the history and traditions of Aveiro.  The citizens of the city are quite proud of their history and their old railway station does a great job of putting their history on display for visitors who may come to Aveiro through the railway station.

Station Azulejo Detail
Panel detail from the railway station.

My hope is that on our next visit to Aveiro the renovation of the old railway station has been completed and we’ll be able to enjoy the station in more detail.  For now, it was a nice stop on our tour of Portugal.

 

Praça da Liberdade, Porto

Praça da Liberdade, the main square in Porto, with its many beautiful Beaux Artes buildings, is reminiscent of the grand avenues of Paris.  Its location makes it a great starting point for an exploration of this beautiful and historic city.  It’s within walking distance of the Ribeira, the Mercado Bolhão, Majestic Cafe, Livraria Lello, Sao Bento Train Station and many other places to visit.

Just a few years ago the square was a tree-lined park.  When the Avenida dos Aliados Metro station was built under the square, the park was removed and the area over the Metro was paved in stone.  I would have loved to have been there when the park still existed, but the square still remains a great place to visit.

Avenida dos Aliados

Cigar Store Indians

Cigar store Indians have an interesting history.  Because many people in the 17th and 18th centuries could neither read nor write, store owners used emblems or totems to advertise their wares.  A great example that still exists today is the striped pole seen outside many barber shops.  Because American Indians introduced tobacco to Europeans, the image of a Native American became the symbol of tobacconists.

Unfortunately, many of the artisans who created the statues had never actually seen a Native American.  The cigar store Indians, for the most part, looked nothing like a Native American.  Many have dark skin and features associated more with people of African or Asian descent.

The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, in Williamsburg, Virginia, has a nice collection of these advertising icons.

Cigar Store Indians

Chimneys

As Winter quickly approaches, I want to share this photo I took at Williamsburg, Virginia several years ago.  During our visit a snow storm struck the east coast and left a six-inch blanket of snow covering Williamsburg.  While Colonial Williamsburg and most businesses in the town were closed, we made the best of the situation.  We spent a lot of time wandering through the historic district and taking many photos of a once in a lifetime experience.

I love how the red brick chimneys pop against the otherwise monochromatic scene.  I also love that, because the scene is from the backyards of the historic buildings, the snow is pristine, with footprints or other signs of man.  To me, it’s a peaceful and beautiful scene and provides a different view of a much photographed tourist destination.

Chimneys

Castle of Leiria

Probably the cultural and historical highlight of the Portuguese city of Leiria, the hilltop castle can be seen from virtually everywhere in the city.  The castle has a long history, when the very first king of Portugual, Afonso Henriques, had the castle built as defense against the Moors, who still controlled the south, including Santarem and Lisbon.

Over the centuries the castle has seen many changes and has been the site of many historical events.  It was the home to Dom Dinis and his wife, Saint Elizabeth of Portugal.  Dom Dinis was the king who declared the “language of the people” as the language of the state, making Portuguese the official language of the country.

Dom Dinis earned his “Farmer King” nickname when he founded agricultural schools to improve farming techniques in the country.  He also ordered the creation of the Pinhal de Leiria, a huge pine forest, as a barrier against encroaching ocean sands.  The forest also became an important source of raw materials for the building of the Portuguese naval fleet which, in the coming centuries, would help turn Portugal into the most powerful country in the world.

Leiria Castle 2

Atlas, NYC

This beautiful Art Deco sculpture has become one of those lasting icons that are associated with New York City.  Created by sculptor Lee Lawrie and installed at Rockefeller Center in 1937, The sculpture depicts Atlas holding up the heavens.

According to mythology, the Titans, the older gods, fought the Olympians, a younger generation of gods, in a ten-year series of battles known as the War of the Titans.  When the Olympians came out victorious, Atlas, a Titan, was condemned to hold up the heavens for eternity.

If you’re a fan of television, you may have seen this work of art on 30 Rock, where it’s been shown many times.  If you’re a reader, you may have seen an artistic rendering of it on the cover of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.  Atlas is is a fitting image to represent the strength and power of New York City.

AtlasInNYC2

Gaylord Opryland Resort, Nashville

About 10 years ago my wife and I spent a few days at the Gaylord Opryland Resort Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.  This is a photo of one of the hotel’s lobby areas.  I love the delicacy of the lights and the greenery.  It’s an amazing space and I can understand why the resort is a top destination in the southern United States.

Opryland Interior

The Portuguese Travel Cookbook

The Portuguese Travel Cookbook, by Nelson Carvalheiro, is more of a travelogue than a cookbook.  Carvalheiro, a popular Portuguese blogger and winner of the 2015 World FITUR Travel Blogger award, toured his home country, focusing on the traditional foods of Portugal as well as the restaurants making their mark on the food traditions of the country.

The book is full of beautiful photos and recipes, but the best part of the book, to me, is Carvalheiro’s descriptions of the foods and traditions of Portugal.  The recipes are pretty basic, but Carvalheiro shows great respect and love for his country and the food.

We had the pleasure of dining at one of the restaurants Carvalheiro writes about, Ze Manel dos Ossos, in Coimbra.  It’s a wonderful little restaurant and the food, what I would describe as Portuguese country cooking, was great.  I will use the Portuguese Travel Cookbook as a guide to exploring more of the food and cooking of Portugal on our next visit.

Old Kentucky Home, Asheville, NC

American author Thomas Wolfe spent much of his youth at this boarding house, which was purchased by his mother in 1906.  While most of his brothers and sisters lived with their father in their house a few blocks away, Wolfe’s mother insisted that he live with her at the boarding house.

Wolfe chronicled his early life in Look Homeward, Angel, a novel that drew heavily from his time at Old Kentucky Home.  One of the defining moments of Wolfe’s time at the boarding house was the death of his beloved brother Ben, who died in the house.

Today, the Old Kentucky Home is the Thomas Wolfe Memorial.  It’s an interesting slice of American literary history.  Behind the house is a museum celebrating Thomas Wolfe.  Both the house and the museum are well worth a visit.

IMG_1293

Stanton-Anthony-Bloomer Statue, Seneca Falls

Women have been fighting for an equal place in American society for many years.  In 1848, the first Women’s Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York.  This week, 170 years after that first convention, women made big gains in the mid-term elections, winning nearly 100 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

This beautiful sculpture, located in Seneca Falls, commemorates the first meeting between women’s rights activists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.  While Stanton, a resident of Seneca Falls attended the Women’s Rights Convention of 1848, Anthony was not in attendance.  Anthony and Stanton first met in 1851, when Anthony was in town to attend an anti-slavery lecture given by William Lloyd Garrison.  The two giants of women’s rights were introduced by dress reform activist Amelia Bloomer.  In the sculpture, Bloomer and Stanton wearing the mode of dress Bloomer was promoting, a knee length dress over pantaloons, a style that soon became known as “bloomers.”

Seneca Falls Meeting Statue Ektachrome 64 Pro HDR Outdoor 2

170 years after this meeting,women are still fighting for pay equality, the right to make decisions regarding their bodies, and other areas.  Congratulations to the many women who have continued the fight for equal rights.  Great inroads were made this week in the representation of women in the United States Government, but much more is left to be done.  I wish the women who now have a voice in our government great success.