Monday, December 14, 2015

New Year Atmosphere (Óbidos, Portugal)

December is here and New Year holidays are getting closer. That reminded me to refresh some of my old memories and to look for the older pictures which I took somewhere around this time a few years ago. Perhaps my favorite spot in the whole Portugal is a small village named Óbidos that each year have so-called Christmas festival. This was of course perfect opportunity for me to drink Ginjinha Liquor from a sweet chocolate cup, warm red wine, trying some nice food in the local restaurant with friends and to enjoy in the magic of small streets covered with colorful decorations.
Bubbles In the Air by Igor L.
(Bubbles In the Air, Óbidos)
Photo taken by Igor L.

At the entrance of this unique beautiful village, you can suddenly feel some special positive energy that radiates happiness from fortification. Passing by the structures that have remained here since the time of the Roman Empire all seemed cheerful and ready for the festival program in which apparently, children enjoyed the most jumping around happy because for the first time in life they are able to see a snow (fake snow from the machine). Walking along the main street of Óbidos, local sellers have tried to present some of their traditional manufactured products such as soaps, towels, drinks, sweets and souvenirs set within the very nice small shopping houses. At one point the water bubbles started flying in the air and a bunch of people dressed as Santa Clauses began parade through the village.

Fake Snow Near the Fort by Igor L.
(Fake Snow Near the Fort, Óbidos)
Photo taken by Igor L.

Enchanted by the scenes that we have seen so far which already brought us back to the childhood, (with a little bit of help from the Portuguese warm wine) we went to the place where the main event was held. It was a Puppet Show that is more reminiscent of a musical with fantastic authors who have made the great effort to entertain the crowd that gathered to see this unusual theater. Right next, there was a house of laughter, then the girl who was dressed as a witch and was making variety of chemical experiments and finally my favorite Planetarium! We waited in the line for a while but it was worth it since within half hour of video presentation in circle we could see the stars, their constellations and detailed explanations.

New Year Atmosphere in Óbidos by Igor L.
(New Year Atmosphere, Óbidos)
Photo taken by Igor L.
Nevertheless, I took the opportunity to see also and other historically important things while I was already in the Óbidos. Certainly of all the attractions in the village somehow the most highlighted was for sure Igreja de Santa Maria and its gates where is write year 1890. Inside of the cathedral you can feel serenity with altar which is decorated with beautiful icons and stunting paintings. From the external walls of the Óbidos fortification with a great view on the valley with the Roman Aqueduck someone could only guessed how old this structure is while upon our returning back to home my eyes simply can not took out the look from Porta da Senhora da Graca which was painted in blue-white color with a precise details. Óbidos will always remain in my memory as a place where is worth to go back and later on I will have a chance to visit it again.

Monday, November 9, 2015

University Building (Coimbra, Portugal)

If I need to describe something more about my own personal experience in Coimbra then the first association for this small Portuguese town will be the long tradition, student parties, old medieval buildings, churches, Harry Potter dresses style and never ending line of young people who are rushing to their early morning university lectures. Coimbra is hilly and in some places you can have a nice view on the whole town area from totally different angles. I discovered so many interesting shortcuts with the stairs and several old cafes around where you can see locals who are enjoying in Sagres while watching the football on TV.

University Building in Coimbra by Igor L.
(University Building, Coimbra)
Photo taken by Igor L.

Coimbra University is probably one of the most famous universities in Europe and one of the oldest in the whole world! It is separated on many faculties but main building keep a significant part of history from which particularly the most interesting for me to see was the Joanina Library built somewhere around 18th century. Except some very old books in the main Library part, this building contains and small cathedral, rooms with paintings, museums, classrooms and statues of Portuguese heroes-kings. During the visit I learned lot about this mansion and especially interesting part was the basement where was detained a prison for "bad" students of that time as penalty for their behavior.

Mortos da Grande Guerra Monument by Igor L.
(Mortos da Grande Guerra, Coimbra)
Photo taken by Igor L.

Passing by the unique store in which were exposed student cloaks for really high prices I could not understand why they were so important to the some young people in this country. Portuguese friend of mine explained to me that not all the students wearing cloaks, especially not all day but that many of them look on cloaks as a status symbols, others as great fun and some as a good tradition which should be saved. Thinking about the cloaks and graduation hats I suddenly found myself in front of the statue Mortos da Grande Guerra that in the past I already saw in some colorful book! Portugal also participated in the WW1 on the allies side (the same as my country) and that is one part of the history for which I have specific respect since and my family had participants through WW1.

Igreja de Santa Justa in Coimbra by Igor L.
(Igreja de Santa Justa, Coimbra)
Photo taken by Igor L. 

During the night, Coimbra becomes a town full of great fun with different content for mostly young people but also and for those little bit older who are enjoying in a good Fado music right next to the main Old Cathedral. I still preferred to saw myself listening to the Jazz performance and sipping wine until the late hours which I did meeting some fantastic people around. Before I returned back to the bus station I succeeded to see from the inside and Igreja de Santa Justa, which is simply outstanding and although it may not be comparable with Old Cathedral in the town center, I find it very beautiful on its own way. Generally speaking, all churches in Coimbra are the real treasures full of artistic and spiritual powers that is worth to see and visit if you ever have a chance to do it.

Friday, July 10, 2015

View From Citadel (Namur, Belgium)

Only a few days before the "Esperanzah!" festival at the Belgium countryside village called Floreffe I had a chance to see how the whole area looks like without any annoying tourists and regular guitar dreadlocks hippies which will soon start to arrive and completely flood the site with their tents. Apart from a few cool streets with shops and a very beautiful old baroque houses, its looked to me that the whole Floreffe village slept in a vintage dream and just waited to be waken up by some special occasion once in a while. The view from the old monastery (fortress) is also specific with all meadows of this region which are so green like nowhere else. Before the festival I grab my chance and took the train to visit nearby Namur town which promised more fun at the moment then village itself...

View From Citadel of Namur by Igor L.
(View From Citadel, Namur)
Photo taken by Igor L.
Unlike the other places all across the Belgium, Namur town has some pretty vintage and dark atmosphere but compering to the some other towns here you are still able to feel very positive energy and mix of white, brown, grey and red colors somehow connected together. Walk through the town would not be completed if we do not visited its central attraction - medieval fortress called Cidatel of Namur! Walls from Namur Citadel we can classified among the best preserved around the Europe and some parts dates back even to 10th century which is simple fascinating. Surrounded by the river, and with a nice long walking path, town itself can be seen perfectly from the top of the whole medieval structure. At that point, it is almost impossible to make a bad picture because wherever you turn you will be amazed by look of this place and its unique environment.
Fountain of Abbaye de Floreffe by Igor L.
(Fountain of Abbaye de Floreffe, Namur)
Photo taken by Igor L.

Back to the festival site zone (about which I will write something more in the other posts) I spent a really good time listening to alternative music and meeting with great people but after everything was done the whole place goes back into its normal life. Who can even imagine that in the quiet village like Floreffe was held Esperanzah! main stage party just two days before this photography is made. Long time ago, Abbaye de Floreffe was used as a monastery, positioned close to strategic town of Namur area and today it is serving mostly for local educational purposes, but also and for manufacturing of the fantastic beer. It was my last day till my returning back home and I wanted to have some nice memory of this place which you can see on picture above with beautiful fountain, next to the Abbaye.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Ataturk Mausoleum (Ankara, Turkey)

While leaving the train waggon from Izmir on his last stop in Ankara, the first thing I noticed were some very tall buildings, skyscrapers, wide roads and vast of asphalt all around the city! I thought to myself that I never imagined Ankara on this way while I was moving in direction of the nearest Ulus metro station from where I should go to the next hostel place near Kizilay. Wherever you are in Turkey it is almost impossible to skip observation how people are grateful to Atatürk (father of the modern Turkish nation). Perhaps this pride can be the best seen here in Ankara as every second skyscraper, house or regular building wearing the flag with Atatürk's picture and Turkish symbols on it.

Next to The Ulus Station by Igor L.
(Next to The Ulus Station, Ankara)
Photo taken by Igor L.

Kizilay could be eventually called center of the city and essentially in addition to numerous cafes, nice pedestrian baazar and many small shops it is not so much different from the rest of the Ankara. Nearby is also located a bus station for the public transport which will easily bring you to any part of the city for a cheap price. That day at the local university in Ankara (sorry I forgot its name) was held a special festival so I managed with the help of Turkish friends to visit students which are representing different sport, technical, science, artistic but and all other kinds of activities in their departments. After cup of black tea inside university caffee, students took me up to famous stadium where under the seats is written word DEVRIM. They explained to me that it has to dill with a certain revolution which dating back all the way to 1968 year but I did not find out any more details about event.

Ataturk Mausoleum in Ankara by Igor L.
(Ataturk Mausoleum, Ankara)
Photo taken by Igor L.

Yet not to be fussy Ankara in addition to skyscrapers have indeed many great cultural and historical content as it is the case for example with Atatürk mausoleum. Besides being a great general and reformer, Atatürk made from Turkey a better place for living, giving the many freedoms which people do not had during the past Ottoman periodThis mausoleum in Ankara was erected in Atatürk honor after his death and his remains now resting in building which you can see on the picture. I can freely say that this is one of the most beautiful historical museums I've ever visited with a great concept of paintings, weapons, maps, data and other stuffs so it has a huge recommendation to all of you who planing to eventually travel into Ankara and Turkey.

View on Hisar Castle Area by Igor L.
(View on Hisar Castle Area, Ankara)
Photo taken by Igor L. 

Among the other museums that I visited in Ankara I would especially like to note Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. Moving through the different years from prehistoric times you can see how people in Anatolia have developed together with their religion beliefs, art, manufacturing skills and tools which they used for farming or other manual works. Still under the large impression of unusual sculptures and explanations which I found interesting in the museum, I went on a small walk through the Hisar area, first to the castle and then heading to a little shops next to the road in nice old renovated district which can only give a frame of idea how Ankara had looked in some past times. In the meantime, I found the postcards that I bought and which I sent to a different addresses around the world while I was going back to the train station in the local post office.