I’m in Portugal!

Being on holiday should mean there is lots of free time, but it seems that there’s just not enough! I’m worn out after each day from walking around exploring everything (honestly, I have the constitution of a woman fifty years older than me!) but I still miss things. Spain and Portugal have been lovely so far, but the wifi is erratic so I haven’t been able to catch up in the matrix as much as I would have liked. So here’s a quick recap of the last few days…

Spain – Day 2 – Madrid and Sergovia

Still staying the night in Madrid, so no need to walk around with money belts restricting my belly (they are necessary, but so very, very irritating). We’re with the tour now so the morning was a quick drive around getting the run down on major sites and photos from the bus. Then came the Prado Museum, and if I had to choose between an art or a history museum I would always choose history, but as it was, I didn’t have the choice. Obviously the Prado was worth seeing – HUGE collection of the different artists (though they only had one Rembrandt, because he was Protestant and not Catholic). I got to see the paintings that were referenced in my mythology books, especially Rubens’ The Three Graces and The Rape of Ganymede. Vega’s paintings were properly eerie and triply, so I loved them. Pretty much all the paintings were either Classical Mythology or Christian stories (well, Jesus in various stages of his crucifixion, anyway). Lots of violence on both counts, and lots more of the other vice in the Greek inspired paintings. There were also portraits of the various royals to have ruled Spain, and there was a section on portraits of the ‘fools’. The history there is really interesting, there was a man with dwarfism who wasn’t just an entertainer but also worked as an emissary of very high standing. I forget the name, but the story stuck with me.

Again, couldn’t take photos, but there was a little coffee table book on the cheap so we picked that up.

In the afternoon, we went to Sergovia:

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This is one of the many ancient towns in Spain, with its roman aqueduct and moorish castle.

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And and this time, we were allowed to take photos!

Coronation painting without eyes

Coronation painting without eyes

Creepy eyeless wall painting inside the castle.

Day 3 – Toledo and Salamanca

Toledo was settled because the Romans found the water flowing in the nearby river had certain properties that rendered forged steel to be more durable and flexible than anything they’d seem before. I don’t know much about smithing, but I know about geology – flexible is good, because otherwise it will break easily.  So we got to see  a sword being forged and then I bought a couple of daggers and a gold fob watch (really cheap) from the smithy. I figured daggers were more practical for display in an apartment, plus I could probably get them back into the country more easily (I hope). They had a lot of katanas for sale, which I thought was silly because katanas were made from folded steal to prevent the high iron steel of the Japanese from shattering, and there is no need to fold Spanish steel so the katanas wouldn’t be made the traditional way. But I guess there’s more of a market for katanas than western swords. Actually, there didn’t seem to be a broad rage of western swords – I didn’t see any roman or Celtic styles, or bastard, broad or longswords.

What I did see a lot of was Lord of the Rings’ weapons. They had all the different weapons – Sting, that elvish sword, what’s the one the dwarf has now? Goblin cleaver or something? I’m not a big LOTR fan. I should try and read  the books now that I’m older and have a better grasp of the English language (I think). I had tried reading the fellowship of the ring when I was thirteen, before giving up and going back to Christopher Pike. I was a bit of a horror junkie then, and books longer than 200 pages scared me.

Anyway, lots of LOTR stuff. Good stuff too.

The cathedral was awesome. It’s easy to get very sick of churches in Europe, but there’s no denying Catholics rock the gold, art, and all things materially beautiful (I can definitely see how Martin Luther got so worked up). Still, they make great tourist attractions.

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It’s really difficult to see because of the contrast between the sunlight and the dark cathedral, but that second photo, there is a hole in the cathedral with all these statues carved in little tunnel that reaches the light outside. It is amazing and the picture really does not do it justice.

Salamanca was a very quick one hour wander before dinner, then we were off again to Portugal the next day!

Day 4 Porto

Porto was gorgeous. It was the first time I’d ever seen the Atlantic Ocean, so that was pretty exciting. The old town is just stunning – all these buildings that kept to the moorish style of tiling in the outside. I don’t know if the tiling thing is being kept up by any other country – I’ve been to Turkey and all of their tiles were inside, not outside. So even though it’s attributed to an Islamic style of art, I guess that way of doing things just isn’t done anymore?

i didn’t take any photos of the lovely town on my ipad! Only my camera, which I don’t have the connecting cable for!

Well, I do have this picture of the francesinha I had for lunch. It was perfect with the half litre of beer I drank. Seriously, I could see this sandwich taking off as pub grub in Australia.

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It’s a three meat sandwich  (steak, spicy sausage and ham) covered in melted cheese, swimming in a spicy beer sauce. It was pretty awesome.

And with that bit of culture, I shall sign off! Good night everyone!

MdD

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