A Travellerspoint blog

Coimbra ~ 31 Oct 2010

Thanks Annelieke!! So kind to give me a lift back to Coimbra and a place to stay for the night. It was lovely meeting you and to learn so much about permaculture! I was still feeling a bit spaced this entire day, so just took a leisurely stroll around the university and old librabry, Biblioteca Joanina. Fascinating!! One of the top five libraries in the world, this Baroque library was built between 1717 and 1728 and is home to more than 200 000 priceless and rare books. Maintaining a stable environment for these precious works is a challenge. One of the dangers is the destruction by papyrophaguses (insects that eat paper). No problem!! Oak shelves are too dense to make life easy for them and also have a natural repellant. In their daily fight for preservation the books have another ally - a colony of bats in the library, which are cherished as they eat the goggas that would eat the manuscripts! Special care must be taken of the library tables to prevent damage from these nocturnal mammals - each day the keeper covers the magnificent tables with leather towels and the following morning cleans the library before opening it up to the public. Dedication indeed! The opulence is quite incredible and certainly worth a visit if you ever come this side!!

Visitors are not allowed to take photos, so please take a virtual tour here - http://bibliotecajoanina.uc.pt - it's worth it!

Coimbra

Coimbra

Cobblestone pavement

Cobblestone pavement

Bluest of skies

Bluest of skies

Defacing and grafitti gets to me

Defacing and grafitti gets to me

Entrance to library praça

Entrance to library praça

Moi at the university

Moi at the university

Neoclassical statues near university

Neoclassical statues near university

Chapel entrance

Chapel entrance

From the hill up to university

From the hill up to university

Igreja

Igreja

Private garden

Private garden

Templar cross

Templar cross

Typical street

Typical street

Posted by Gypsy Lee 08:03 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Quinta da Mizerela, Benfeita ~ 28 to 31 Oct 2010

rain

I was only in Lisbon for 2 days and then off again....
The journey begins at Oriente train station

The journey begins at Oriente train station

Lee on her way again!

Lee on her way again!

Coimbra station - crazy grafitti everywhere

Coimbra station - crazy grafitti everywhere

Village of Coja

Village of Coja


..... to the Awakened Life Project on the Quinta da Mizerela, home of Pete and Cynthia. Heard about them at Boom – they practice the evolution of consciousness and much of their philosophy has a common thread with mine. Plus they have a stunning quinta (farm) in the Serra da Estrela (Mountains of the Stars), Portugal's highest range, where they practice and teach permaculture.
We arrive at the quinta

We arrive at the quinta

What a setting

What a setting

The yurt

The yurt

The downstairs shower

The downstairs shower

The Bank of Mizarela, otherwise known as the loo (Your deposit is safe with us!!!)

The Bank of Mizarela, otherwise known as the loo (Your deposit is safe with us!!!)

Quinta da Mizarela

Quinta da Mizarela

Pete and Cynthia's heaven

Pete and Cynthia's heaven

Perfect serenity

Perfect serenity

Most stunning waterfall

Most stunning waterfall

Love the colours

Love the colours

I stayed doooown the bottom there!

I stayed doooown the bottom there!

My home for 3 nights

My home for 3 nights

Autumn colours

Autumn colours

They weren't really taking any more volunteers as the rain was setting in, but there was a workshop that weekend and my help in food preparation was much needed. We had a great time, but it started raining just after I arrived and hardly ever stopped. Quite a challenge as I was staying in the yurt (a Mongolian round tent) at the bottom of the farm, with many terraces to walk up and down to get to the kitchen, compost toilet and pretty much anything else.
yummy leaves called old man's belly button found in between rocky walls

yummy leaves called old man's belly button found in between rocky walls

View from the loo

View from the loo

The Bank of Mizarela

The Bank of Mizarela

Lovely Laura

Lovely Laura

Learning about forest edibles

Learning about forest edibles

Laura doing her thing

Laura doing her thing

Antoniõ and Annelieke

Antoniõ and Annelieke

Pete and Moi

Pete and Moi

Pete and his donkey

Pete and his donkey


The spiritual energy in the place was also quite hectic for me – not quite sure what it was, but Cynthia told me that many sensitive people find it to be so. Perhaps I was just discharging....and it was Halloween night, so who knows?? Of course, no problem though!! Any way after chatting with them, by mutual agreement, we felt it best for me to come back when I could enjoy the farm more and I felt it unfair to be hanging around in the rain with not much work to offer them. I was disappointed, but cherished the few days that I could share with them, as well as the new people I met. I'll be back (in Austrian accent!!)

Posted by Gypsy Lee 00:52 Archived in Portugal Comments (2)

Porto ~ 26 Oct 2010

sunny

My journey back to Portugal on an airline that offers really cheap flights but well worth it for the cheap airfare, shall remain anonymous here, as I likened the inside to a cattle truck! It was a good flight though...made more pleasurable by a serendipitous meeting with a sweet woman from Spain, Luciana. We started chatting and found so much in common our flight only took 30 minutes I am sure. My plan was to stay over in Porto for the night and to wander around this beautiful city. Thwarted!! I get an sms from my mates in Lisboa, saying they had driven through and wanted to fetch me!! They missed me too much over the 2 weeks I was away!! So I didnt get to taste as much port as I would like, but I will go back for sure. Thanks you 2!! You are ***s!!

I did get around a bit though!!
Down the funicular

Down the funicular

Douro River

Douro River

Boat at the port caves (cellars)

Boat at the port caves (cellars)

Narrow streets of Vila Nova de Gaia

Narrow streets of Vila Nova de Gaia

Oldest cave in Porto

Oldest cave in Porto

Port caves

Port caves

Porto alleyway

Porto alleyway

Porto roofs

Porto roofs

Porto

Porto

Tour boats

Tour boats

View from would have been my backpacker for the night!

View from would have been my backpacker for the night!

You can only just squeeze through!

You can only just squeeze through!

Igreja or church

Igreja or church

Gargoyles

Gargoyles

Gaia shopfront

Gaia shopfront

Posted by Gypsy Lee 00:46 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

County Clare ~ 23 to 25 Oct 2010

all seasons in one day

I took myself off to the west of the country to see the famous Cliffs of Moher. I did a most unLeelike thing and went by tourist bus!! It was relatively cheap and easier in the unpredictable autumn weather.
Magnificen..f_Moher.jpgSolid_sentries.jpgView_from_the_top.jpgPICT0784.jpg
Its a photo of a photo but you get the idea of the Cliffs of Moher's impressive height

Its a photo of a photo but you get the idea of the Cliffs of Moher's impressive height

I_was_there_.jpg

A stop along the way at Poulnabrone cromelech - most impressive, on the stark and windy boglands.
PICT0730.jpgMoi at Poulnabron cromelech

Moi at Poulnabron cromelech

What is Poulnabron

What is Poulnabron

Poulnabron.jpg

Rural Ireland is about green farmlands and animals
PICT0815.jpgPICT0813.jpgPICT0806.jpgPICT0748.jpgPICT0736.jpg
When we stopped at Doolin, a delightful, typically Irish village, I was hooked and decided to stay overnight. I asked the bus driver if I could join up with the tour again the next day, for the return journey. Of course, me being so lovely, he agreed it would be no problem at all ;p And then I met the most charming people at the Aillee River Hostel where I stayed and extended my visit for another 2 nights! Freedom!! It's so sweet! John offered to be my personal tour guide and instead of having to take the bus to the cliffs, he took me on a winding route, through lovely countryside, stopping for whatever photo opportunity I requested, and there were many!! I have taken over 1200 photos since I have been in Europe!!
Aillee River

Aillee River

Doolin junction

Doolin junction

Down river

Down river

Castle of Co Clare

Castle of Co Clare

Guess the wind blows a lot here!

Guess the wind blows a lot here!

Home for 3 days

Home for 3 days

Jack the gatekeeper of Doolin

Jack the gatekeeper of Doolin

John, most gracious, humurous personal tour guide

John, most gracious, humurous personal tour guide

Now what do you think this sign means

Now what do you think this sign means

One of 5 local pubs

One of 5 local pubs

Our cosy backpackers

Our cosy backpackers

Penny walls - thus called as the folk who built them during the famine years were paid a penny a day - times were hard

Penny walls - thus called as the folk who built them during the famine years were paid a penny a day - times were hard


My mates from Aillee River Backpackers

My mates from Aillee River Backpackers

PICT0824.jpgCottage on the way to Tulla

Cottage on the way to Tulla

Not much allowed here in Ballycuggeran beach!!

Not much allowed here in Ballycuggeran beach!!

Upper Doolin

Upper Doolin

Windows!

Windows!

I enjoyed 2 awesome evenings in vibey Irish pubs, the one night with a fantastic group of musos (2 were visitors just jamming with the locals). The pub was packed to the ceiling, the Guiness was flowing, the singing was enthusiastic and at last I felt that I had experienced the Ireland I loved. I could leave with a happy heart, getting a lift back to Dublin with John which included a meander through more of the countryside, through places with such names as Lisdoonvarna, Killaloo, Sallygap, Shankill, Enniskerry and Bray. I believe there is also Trim, Cocktown and Muff, but we didn't go there!!
One of my Irish pub nights

One of my Irish pub nights

We did stop in at Liscannor, to see the sacred well of St Brigid. I was astounded – there is a small cavelike structure where the walls are completely adorned with with a multitude of offerings for lost or ill loved ones. Quite amazing and emotive. You can read more about it here - www.unc.edu/celtic/catalogue/stbrigid/St_brigids_well.html
PICT0789.jpgPICT0788.jpg

Also had afternoon tea in Ennistymon, with scones, jam and cream, looking out over the stunning river and gentle falls. The An Gorta Mor (The Great Hunger) Memorial was erected to the memory of the victims of the great potato crop failures of 1845 to 1851. The monument depicts an account found in Book 4 of the archived papers of the Workhouse preserved in the local library. The account centered on a note that was pinned to the torn shirt of a barefoot orphan boy who was left at the workhouse door on the freezing cold morning of February 25, 1848. The note read:
Gentlemen,
There is a little boy named Michael Rice of Lahinch aged about 4 years. He is an orphan, his father having died last year and his mother has expired on last Wednesday night, who is now about being buried without a coffin!! Unless ye make some provision for such. The child in question is now at the Workhouse Gate expecting to be admitted, if not it will starve.
Robs.S. Constable

One side of the memorial depicts a child standing before the workhouse door, while across from that is the head of an anguished mother and two hands clenched in frustration or anger above the sorrowful text of the pleading note. If you are fortunate enough to visit the memorial, breathe a prayer for the unnamed souls it commemorates. A sad time that has much influenced this indomitable nation. Now that potatoes are in great supply, you can get a meal served with at least 3, if not more, different offerings of the staple vegetable!
PICT0801.jpgPICT0800.jpgPICT0798.jpgPICT0796.jpgPICT0791.jpg

And so it´s on to Killaloe and the majestic Shannon River, where we stop for a warming bowl of soup before heading back to Dublin. An evening spent around a cosy fire, singing songs accompanied by John's guitar playing and enjoying a delish home-cooked meal. Aaaaah, this is my Ireland!!! Thanks John - a most gracious and kind friend indeed!
River Shannon

River Shannon

Posted by Gypsy Lee 23:45 Archived in Ireland Comments (2)

Back to Dublin ~ 21 to 22 Oct 2010

all seasons in one day

I didn't get enough of Dublin, so I am back! Take some time out to experience more of this wonderful city. My young German friend, Ula recommended the Avalon Backpackers and it was great!! Good vibe, clean and comfy room, all to myself. I just loved the sense of humour in the signs!!
my home for 3 nights - very cool backpackers

my home for 3 nights - very cool backpackers

Avalon signs3

Avalon signs3

Avalon signs2

Avalon signs2

Avalon signs1

Avalon signs1

Went on a walking tour on a cold and drizzly day, accompanied by an enthusiastic student of History who lovingly shared his city with us. Stunning old buildings, interesting stories, and so much to see.
Trinity College

Trinity College

Interesting Dublin doorway

Interesting Dublin doorway

PICT0707.jpgPICT0699.jpgPICT0691.jpgPICT0674.jpgPICT0672.jpgMore Dublin architecture

More Dublin architecture

Beautiful old buildings

Beautiful old buildings

Dublin in autumn

Dublin in autumn

No need to tell you about the popularity of Irish pubs!! Say Ireland, think pub! Dublin has it's fair share of them with the Temple Bar area being most popular for visitors, but not necessarily a true reflection of the traditional Irish pub - nonetheless a good time was had in a few here.
Popular Irish pub area

Popular Irish pub area

PICT0669.jpgStocking up on the good stuff!

Stocking up on the good stuff!

With a few uninspiring days I was feeling done in, somewhat deflated. Where is the Ireland I have in my imagination – perhaps my expectations were to high?? It's been a dream to visit for more than 15 years and I felt I hadn't yet had the Irish experience of this dream. I sent emails to a few farms that were on the Workaways volunteer site in the hope of extending my stay, but didnt get any positive replies – Dian warned me that the people are a bit slow to respond!! I think my somewhat “down” mood was influenced by a rather strange woman I met in the hostel. My 28-odd hours with her (and odd they were) gave me my “down the rabbit hole” experience which I can only share in person – remind when we see each other again!!! (or take a peep here www.flickr.com/photos/41901122@N00/403490722/)
My backpackers for a night

My backpackers for a night


So I plan a get-away to County Clare, on the west coast - more Irish than this I cannot find and it must surely be the perfect place to visit.

Posted by Gypsy Lee 23:23 Archived in Ireland Comments (1)

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