New Photography Trip - Portugal
Posted 02 April 2004 - 02:27 PM
tell me, tell me
Posted 30 April 2004 - 05:43 PM
Let me explain the type of traveler/photographer I am. I am more of the slow type, in that I do not try to do follow my trip’s plans I made before I departed. I use them as a guide and the best word to describe me when I travel is “flexible”. I see how it goes when I there, I will change my plans due to the weather, good or bad, do something unexpected, the place I am visiting does not connect with me so I move on or it does connects so much with me I will see it again the next day. This is great when I go alone, because I can planned the trip around photography and to come to think of it my best photos/memories from my past trip have been from the unexpected.
As you were aware this was my first trip to Portugal and it was a fantastic. I can see sometime in my the future going back real soon. Since I want to go back soon that say volumes how much fun I had there! I spent eight days in Lisbon and four day is Porto. You could see the best of Lisbon in four or five days. When first landed in Lisbon it rain lightly the first two day. After that clear up had nothing but sunny days in 60 and 70. Some days I did not even need a jacket. Love that type of weather in March . From what I read Portugal has some great beaches, I did not visited any. This trip was mostly cities, small towns and historic places.
I will skipped much of the stuff you can find in tourist books and talk about what I did not find in the tour book or maybe I just did not see it.
Lisbon's Tourist Offices are the best in Europe. I swear they must find people that love helping tourists. Whenever I visited them they not only ask my questions, but gave me more information. I must have visited them like twenty times and never once did I meet someone that was not helpful or friendly. I flew into Lisbon from Paris and the Tourist Office at the airport offers a flat rate of 13 EURs to take you to your hotel anywhere in Lisbon including your luggage, that is an excellent deal. Lisbon has a very modern and new subway system. I wished I had the time to stop at many of the subway stations to take photos but I had none to spare. Like Paris each subway station is completely different, done in a certain theme, but Lisbon does it in a grand system that dwarf Paris. If you like taking photos of people in usual setting the Lisbon subway system is a must. Another surprise I found in Lisbon, Porto and other towns I visited are the excellent pastries. The hotels I stayed at had breakfast included with the room, but would I have a very light breakfast and would hit a coffee shop, just to have a pastries. I would have put on some extra pounds on this trip but lucky prefer to walk, skipping public transportation when I can and Lisbon and Porto are very hilly places. Very hilly!
I found many of the places in Portugal to be photographer friendly, photography with no flash. In Sintra, I visiting the Petra Palace which turn out to be totally photographer unfriendly because of their no photos policy, my camera had to be checked in. So I really did not enjoy my tour, because in the back of my mine I was thinking some strangers has my $2300 of my camera gear and I hope she does not drop it. But you have still have to visit, the palace it is like out of a fairly tale and the people that designed it must have been smoking something. The palace is colorful, but weird. Another surprise in Lisbon which I was not planning to see was the Expo 98. Ultra modern buildings, at night it is surreal quite and romantically lighted at night. My last day in Lisbon had seen everything I planned to see, I went back to the Expo 98 and visited the aquarium. Again I planned to skipped it on my trip, but I am glad I did not. No flash photos permitted in this two story huge fish bowel. I did managed to get some snapshots, nothing great but I do have some fantastic memories of this aquarium and they have some amazing fish, sharks, stingrays etc, etc. To me this place is a must see in Lisbon!
What put the bug into me to visit Portugal in the first place was three years ago I was watching a traveling program on TV. The program spent three minutes on Porto which in located in Northern Portugal. After that three minutes, knew I want to go to Porto to photograph it. Did some research then I knew I wanted to visit Portugal. Porto is small, I seen photos of it so I new what to expect visually, but I found out when I was their there was much more to Porto the I did not know about. Porto is trying to keep their history intact, they have historical district and development is taking place all around. So you find many building in the historical district very interesting to photograph, especially some of them on the outsides. They done in ceramic tiles on a grand scale. One of the places in Porto that is a must see and actually have some coffee is the Majestic Cafe. Everything speak old word charm. Everyone morning in Porto I would stop by just to sit and have a cup of coffee. Great place to get your creative batteries recharged. There is Porto during the day which is beautiful to photo during the day and there is Porto at night. Porto does really care how it looks at night and it is very beautifully. Just looking at the place a night makes one want to take nighttime photos and glad my tripod was with me. I have to go back to Porto because some of it historic places where under restoration and did not get all the photos I planned to take there. But that ok with me! )
Out of the fours day in Porto I had planned two for day trips. Only did one day trip since I was having so much fun in Porto. So I went to Coimbra, the university goes back to 1537. Usually when I planned day trips I leave for my destination early in the morning, but the night before I was out very late taking nighttime photos and by the time got back to my hotel, backup the days photos, recharged batteries and cleaned my gear, I went to bed very late. So I got to Combria around noon and at the wrong station. There are two stations A and B. B is closer to the town center, naturally I got off at A which wasn't even on my map of Coimbra. So I hail a taxi, to drive me to the town center. With all this trouble getting to Combria, I was thinking it was a mistake to come in the first place. So I decided to make the best of it and visit the university as I planned.
I did some reading about the university and seen some photos of students in their school uniforms. It was Saturday, so I was expecting no students. When I walked through the front gate there was student dressed in his school uniform. He walks up to me and we exchange greetings. He explains to me he trying to raise money for a school trip and if I make a small donation he will give me a calendar from the university. I agree, give him three EURs for the calendar. I ask him if I can take a photo of him and if he does I will email his photo to him. He poses, I take his photo and he gives me his email address. I am a happy camper because anytime I go a trips my goal is that 1/3 of my photos are of people, So I was extremely happy to get this unplanned photo. I spend hour and half visiting the university. The old library does permit photos, no flash. Since I was the only one there I laid down on the floor to get some ceiling shoots and the guard did not mine one bit.
I notice as I was leaving, three student where also in their school uniforms. On one was wearing his hat and another one was wearing his cape. One of them walks up to me and starts speaking Portuguese, I shake my head indicating no, he then he starts speaking French, I say "English". Turns out he is from Montreal Canada which is across the border from were I live New York City. He explain that his other two students and him like to explain to the visitors the history of their school uniforms. All three spend 1/2 hour with me explaining their uniforms, it's customs, rules, tradition and background. They even show me a book, a fat one on the rules. They also explain to me why they called the Tower Clock at the university, “The Bitch!”. After a few years of attending the university and hearing the gongs from the tower clock every hour would tick of anyone. Not to pass up a good photo opportunity, I ask them each to pose for a photos and then a group photo of all three of them I am in photo heaven with these unplanned photos. I get their email addresses to email their photos and say goodbye. As I about to leave, the student that first approached me, pulls out the small calendar. The same one form the student I meet at the front gate and I had in my pocket. He asks if I make a small donation he will give me a calendar. I ask him if his trying to raise money for the same trip? He say "Is that what he told you? No were are just trying to raise some money for beer." I laugh and give him five EURs! I understand the concept of beer money very well.
See that why I am flexible. I have many of these type of experiences that happen to me, because I willing to throw out my travel plans. If I followed my plans for Portugal. I would have been in Combria on different day, probably very early in the morning, would have still see the university but would have missing out meeting these wonderful students found there. And that was the highlight and the best photos of Combria, not of the old university there but of those who attend.
I am in the process of redesigning my website, www.digital-traveler.com. I posted three photos from my Portugal trip. As you can see I been to a few places and have to get all this photos up too. Also I promised some people in Portugal my best photos, so I have to print them and mail them. The people I make friends I always send them printed photos, my way of saying thank you.
Bottom line everyone should visit Portugal once in there lifetime, people and places are wonderful. And your camera will thank you too!
Also let me thank Mark for using his website on this!
Posted 11 May 2004 - 05:20 PM
Posted 17 May 2004 - 03:24 PM
Thank you foradeprazo. I always love reading the opinions from those that live in the countries I write about.
Azores is on my list of things to do when I go back to Portugal.
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