Thursday, March 02, 2006


Lovely building colours

One thing I really love about the southern European countries is their use of colours in brightening up towns. The pastel shades of yellow, peach and red contrast so much with the drab colours in the UK.



Exploring the "Estufa Fria"

The greenhouses on the "Parque Eduardo VII" were very relaxing, especially after a hard morning working on the customer site. Only €1.50 - bargain. I wish I actually knew some botanical terms to make this post more informative than a photo shoot of random plants but never mind. Of course, if you recognise a plant then please comment.

The first section is the Cold Greenhouse where the slatted roof lets in air, water and warmth but cuts out the direct sunlight, except for those trees high enough to burst through it.

Not too many weird and wonderful plants here except for what I shall call the "Egyptian Boat Plant":

Still, a lovely place just to walk through and relax. In the early afternoon when I went, there were hardly any visitors - I must have seen about 10 people the whole time - which I think helped. In other similar places I have been to there have been vocal birds adding some background noise to the greenery. Although there were birds here, they seemed to be quietly huddling in grilled caves and not enjoying life. There were no signs around so I couldn't tell what the birds were or what they were doing there - maybe they were injured birds recovering in peace before being released?

The more exotic plants were in the glass greenhouse - I can imagine that this place gets really hot in the summer; in the winter (like such a season exists in Portugal) it was still quite comfortable. Here I saw some cacti and spikey plants that left me scratching my head. Take this one, for example, with the aeroplane wings that alternate at 90 degrees:

Or this lovely flower growing from a vicious spiked creation.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Lisbon late at night

I managed to procrastinate long enough that it wasn't until well past 9 that I ventured out into the night. The free guidebook I'd picked up at the airport indicated that there was a decent amount of history to walk round not too far away. I didn't realise how far I'd end up walking...

First stop was the Praça Marquês de Pombal (blogs passim) but the evening traffic was too light for me to really appreciate the terror that must be this 5-lane roundabout at rush hour.

Next a walk down the Avenida de Liberdade, which is the main avenue of the city. I was impressed how wide it was (over 300 feet) and, because it was still early on my trip, it being a mile long wasn't too much trouble. At the bottom was the Monument to the Heroes of the Great War (a tribute to the 50,000 Portuguese soldiers who fought in World War I).

One thing you notice on such a walk is that almost every piece of pavement is cobbled with small white stones, each a few centimetres across. It shows a lot of effort has gone into making the place look attractive, with occasional patterns of black stone to add variety. Although very nice, such flooring does have a few problems - any slopes (such as Rua Augusto dos Santos) are pretty slippery as the stones are so smooth; if a stone comes out, more soon follow and crippling pot-holes can quickly develop. But then people should always watch where they are going (unless they are blind when Lisbon may be a problem - I'm sure the pedestrian crossings, for example, were silent).

Next was the Praça Restauradores, a large square which commemorates the country's liberation from 60 years of Spanish rule in 1640 (big obelisk, vast areas of patterned cobbles - very impressive) which soon lead onto Rossion Square (properly called Praça Dom Pedro IV). Found a website with a lovely 360 view of the place - behind the fountain in my photo is the Teatro National Dona Maria II (not sure about the language of the graffiti):




This wasn't something I expected to see in Lisbon - a red letter box! I did wonder if it was an ex-UK box bought by Portugal for some gimmick.

Checking the Internet, though, I find that second-class mail (correio normal) goes in red boxes, just like in the UK. First-class mail (correio azul) is posted - as the Portuguese infers - in blue mailboxes.



Oh I do like to be beside the seaside...

Looking out of the hotel window I find that they've given me a sea view without me having to ask. That is so thoughtful of them:

Yes, that is the magnificent Atlantic Ocean just outside my window - you can almost feel the sea spray on your face.



Stroll in the park...

My hotel (and many others) is next to the Eduardo VII Park and it's really nice to have greenery to look at then just more buildings. Originally called Liberty Park, it was renamed in 1903 after the King of England who came to Lisbon to reaffirm the Anglo-Portuguese alliance (which dates back centuries to 1373).

Walking past it on the way back from the bank, I saw a strange wooded floor with some plants growing on it. After a little research, I found that the flooring was actually a huge planked roof to the Cold Greenhouse and the plants were trees growing through it! Must check it out tomorrow if there is time.

This view is from the top of the park (where looking down from in front of João Cutileiro's sculpture/fountain/thingy. Is that the world's easiest maze or the work of a mad topiarist? Half a mile away is the notorious Pombal Marquis Square (notorious from a traffic point-of-view, rather than the Marquis' reputation!). In the centre of this square rises the splendid monument to Pombal, the man who was in charge of Lisbon's reconstruction after the 1755 earthquake. Two miles away is the Lisbon shoreline and then four miles of ocean to Barreiro on the far side.



What a cold day

Well below average for the month (March is High 17°C and Low 9°C) so I'll just have to grin and bear it.



One of the best hotels I've been in

The Portuguese certainly know how to make lovely hotel rooms - check out this mini-bar at Le
Meridien Park Atlantic

And the bathroom even has a set of stylish scales - these reported 94.3kg (14 st 11.5 lbs) and so instantly get into my good books.

Next you can have a Japanese breakfast in the morning! Incredible!

All for just 28 Euros (£19).

I did a quick search to find out what these are and Natto looks like being really scary. I am tempted to order such a breakfast to make this business trip extra special.


Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Up, up and away...

I love travelling and especially flying. Although it's a pain to spend so much time travelling the short distance from the airport entrance to the departure gate and onto the plane (in fact longer than the flight itself), it's still fun to fly.

Here's TAP flight 357 being prepared for boarding - according to my itinerary (so that I have a clue), it's an Airbus A321:

The photo is really a few stitched together into one wide one - getting the whole plane into one shot just wasn't practical. What almost scuppered the shot was the man you can see closing the hatch - in the shots the door is in various states of closure and in the last the man is walking away! Luckily I managed to find enough good bits for the stitching software to make the panoramic view. Apart from the curvature of lines on the floor, you can't really tell it's not one single shot. Bizarrely it looks like there are big beams of sunlight from the storm but obviously what you are seeing are the strip lights from the departure lounge reflecting in the glass.



Flying business

Unfortunately there were not enough cattle class tickets so I was forced to fly business class to Lisbon (no such luck on the way back, though). I love business class - as you would - but company policy is that everybody flies economy. So I savour it when I can, sitting in the Lufthansa lounge (as I am) munching through bowls of chinese crackers, olives and yogurt-coated nuts whilst sipping from bottles of beer in a comfy armchair. And what a lovely view over the airport too...


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]