Thursday, February 19, 2015

the evolution of a lunch

Snacks turned into lunch at Mercearia das Flores, a gorgeous little deli that offered all sorts of regional, organic goodies. We really only wanted some sardines and broa, Portuguese cornbread, but there was this irresistible cured tuna. And presunto. And Sovina— a smooth and oh-so-heavenly artisanal beer.

My goodness, the Portuguese really know how to eat well— even the simplest snack is a delight!


Porto is moody, gritty and grey, with gems of brilliant colour.

olá porto!

Ok, now that our snowstorm is over and we are thawing out, let's get back to Porto!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

meanwhile, in istanbul

It's our second day of relentless snowfall, and I wanted to share these images of our winter wonderland with you before another power outage!

walk like a dinosaur

the pressing issue of lunch

It was important that we swing by Pedreira do Galinha on our way up to Porto, to see the dinosaur tracks. As I discovered two years ago, Portugal has loads of dinosaur tracks and fossils, and site at the quarry in the district of Ourém has some remarkable sauropod prints from the Middle Jurassic period. But first, we had to take care of the pressing issue of lunch.

Rabbit stewed with sweet carrots until it melted off the bone, served beside hills of creamy mashed potatoes. Fresh goat cheese drowned in olive oil. A glass of beer. It was gorgeous, but the true hero of lunch was the garlicky kale with breadcrumbs. Lucky for us, the restaurant owner was feeling generous, and we were given a second helping of greens on the house.

This was going to be a fine day.

jim henson, time traveller?

A chapel in the Monastery of Batalha remains unfinished; the beginnings of ornate pillars stretch hopefully toward an open sky, and lichen dots the chapel's stone in beautiful shades of green.

In an odd contrast to the intricate leafy vines and folds of fabric that dominate the chapel's structure, the crude faces of beasts appeared in nearly each corner of the bases of the lower pillars. It was as though Jim Henson had found the secret of time travel, and carved these peculiar creatures with great relish!

Master Yoda?

a promise kept

The Monastery of Batalha is one of the most marvellous examples of Gothic architecture I have ever seen— it seemed as though each footstep I took revealed something even more beautiful. Gargoyles, saints, and lacy stonework decorated the exterior, blackened in interesting patterns by time.

The monastery was built in 1385 by King D. João I, who promised to build a great monument to the Virgin Mary if he was granted victory over the Castillians in the Battle of Aljubarrota. Clearly he was, and the results are nothing short of a masterpiece. Embellishments were added over the next two centuries, mostly in the Manueline style, which is known for its nautical motifs.

With its towering stained glass windows, much of the interior is filled with a soft, multi-coloured light.

In addition to housing the tombs of King D. João I and his English wife Queen Philippa of Lancaster, the monastery is also the final resting place of their famed son, Prince Henry the Navigator. I remember reading about Prince Henry and the Age of Discovery with great interest in school, and here is is, the man who never joined an expedition himself, but profoundly changed the world with his sponsorship of exploration:

Thursday, February 12, 2015


The older ladies of Nazaré can still be spotted wearing their traditional knee-length circle skirts with colourful aprons, wooly knitted socks, shawls, and patterned headscarves.