September 13, 2005

A perfect Day!

Last sunday (11 sept) is the day I'm writing about. It was my first trip to Sintra, my first because I plan to go there again before I leave. Chico was too kind to take me, Renata and Salome(hope I spelled the name right) to that wonderfull place with his car and show us around.

Sintra is simply packed with palaces and mansions, centuries old, and all the buildings are simply adorable, but the most impressive are the ones on top of the hill guadring the town. There's a moorish castle, mostly ruined, more than a millenia old, and Palacio da Pena which is almost surreal, like cut out of an old story book, dating from the XIXth century. Great detail and a combination of styles out of which I could recognize the arab arches and the typical european towers. You don't need to be an architect to be thrilled by the beauty of this castle... it's just too nice. And the rooms inside were preserved with the furniture and decorations centuries old which were also incredible(but we weren't allowed to take pictures there)

Before getting to the castle though, we wondered through the streets of Sintra, which were home to a whole week festival that was about to end. There was a contest of the most beautiful decorated street in town and there were a lot to choose from. Through time polished stone steps and narrow streets going on incredibly steep slopes my eyes were overwhelmed with so many details as the locals did their best to make sure their street is the most eyecatching.

The vegetation that grows on the hill up to the castle is incredibly lush and green given the severe drought in the rest of the country. It is amazing to walk through ancient graves and ruines more than 1000 years old, remains of the Moorish Castle, covered in green.

After seeing the castle, we went to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in Europe, and an impressive landscape also, being on a high cliff above the ocean. We got there just in time to see the sunset in the ocean. Unfortunatelly, there were clouds on the horizon, as you can see in the pictures. The wind was quite strong there, but as some romanians I met there told me, this was nothing, compared to the really strong winds that blow there.

And to end the day in a superb way, we took the road back to Lisboa along the ocean coastline, as the moon was rising above the still ocean. It was a lot of fun, and a perfect day...

September 8, 2005

Mariza, simply increivel!!!

I can barely find the words to describe the extraordinary concert I attended last night when Mariza, the actual image of portuguese fado, performed live at Torre di Belem with the symphonic orchestra of Lisbon in open air. The atmosphere was incredible, not only the music was great but also the entire scenario. It rained for the second time since I'm here (and it's almost two months), but it was a really light rain, which added a special extra vibe to the twisting curves of fado music. Mariza has an amazing voice full of unimaginable strength considering she is so slim you fear she may bearly whisper, and she masters it so skillfully that she can turn in a second from the loudest cry to the faintest whisper creating sharp strinking vibes. A diffuse longing accompanies the intense grief and sometimes happiness transcending from her music that would stir up even the most petrified of souls.
As you cand probably see, I was deeply touched. But you have to see the live event in order to feel the same. No recorded reproduction can match the actual 'being there'...