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Archive for December, 2010

Anytime Ranger save Yoko in Belem

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Anytime Rangers predicted that passengers might have problems while boarding their trains in Portugal.  And that’s exactly what happened to this sweet woman named Yoko, who dropped her ticket and had no idea where she should sit.  If it weren’t for the Anytime Rangers, Yoko would have had to stand all the way to Belem.

Arte e arquitetura

Thursday, December 30, 2010

We spent the day looking for contemporary art, which was actually quite hard to find during the holidays.  The Museu do Chiado hardly had contemporary art, but we were happy to discover the art of Columbano Bordalo Pinheiro.  Columbano’s realist paintings reminded us of Thomas Eakins and the paintings often revealed the influence of impressionist painters Manet and Degas.

Lisbon’s narrow streets are full of contemporary art.  We loved the contrast of the old, decadent buildings with the new, attention-grabbing graffiti by Lisbon’s youth.

Curvy metro seats are actually comfortable… and cool looking.

One of our favorite Castlelo de Sao Jorge moments was finding the Camera Escura on top of the Tower of Ulysses.  This periscope focuses on sights around the city and provides 360-degrees detailed views in real time.  It was rainy and cloudy when we were there, but the sun came out enough to show up on the disc.

A very contemporary-looking section of the Castelo…but really not contemporary at all!

Mar Portugues

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mar Portugues

Fernando Pessoa

O mar salgado, quanto do teu sal
Sao lagrimas de Portugal!
Por te cruzarmos, quantas maes choraram,
Quantos filhos em vao rezaram!
Quantas noivas ficaram por casar
Para que fosses nosso, o mar!

Valeu a pena? Tudo vale a pena
Se a alma nao e pequena.
Quem quer passar alem da dor.
Deus ao mar o perigo e o abismo deu,
Mas nele e que espelhou o ceu.

Portuguese Sea

Oh salty sea, so much of your salt
Is tears of Portugal!
Because we crossed you, so many mothers wept,
So many sons prayed in vain!
So many brides remained unmarried
That you might be ours, oh sea!

Was it worthwhile? All is worthwhile
When the spirit is not small.
He who wants to go beyond the Cape
Has to go beyond pain.
God to the sea peril and abyss has given
But it was in it that He mirrored heaven.

Surrounded by Fernando Pessoa’s poetry

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Here are two poems by the incredible writer Fernando Pessoa in its original Portuguese, and then translated into English below.

O Dos Castelos

A Europa jaz, posta nos cotovelos:
De Oriente a Ocidente jaz, fitando,
E toldam-lhe romanticos cabelos
Olhos gregos, lembrando.

O cotovelo esquerdo e recuado;
O direito e em angulo disposto.
Aquele diz Italia onde e pousado;
Este diz Inglaterra onde, afastado,
A mao sustenta, em que se apoia o rosto.

Fita, com olhar esfingico e fatal,
O Ocidente, futuro do passado.

O rostro com que fita e Portugal.

The Field of the Castles

Europe lies, reclining upon her elbows:
From East to West she stretches, staring,
And romantic tresses fall over
Greek eyes, reminding.

The left elbow is stepped back;
The other laid out at an angle.
The first says Italy where it leans.
This one England where, set afar,
The hand holds the resting face.
Enigmatic and fateful she stares

Out West, to the future of the past.

The staring face is Portugal.


Que jaz no abismo sob o mar que se ergue?
Nos, Portugal, o poder ser.
Que inquietacao do fundo nos soergue?
O desejar poder querer.

Isto, e o misterio de que a noite e o fausto..
Mas subito, onde o vento ruge,
O relampago, farol de Deus, um hausto
Brilha, e o mar ‘scuro ‘struge.


What lies in the abyss beneath the sea that rises up?
We, Portugal, the possibility of becoming.
What restlessness from the depths lifts us up?
The wish to be able to become.

This, and the mystery of which night is the splendour.
But suddenly, where the wind roars,
A lightning bolt, beacon of God, for a moment
Shines and the dark sea thunders.

Alo Lisboa!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

We are now in Lisboa, Portugal, where everyone is getting ready for the new year’s celebration.  Rather than make a plan, we decided to get lost in its amazing network of cobbled streets and see what we could find.  Just out of the metro stop Baixa-Chiado, we found ourselves in front of A Brasileira cafe, one of the most famous old-style coffee houses on the Rua Garrett.  That’s where we had our first delicious pastel de nata con uma bica.  It was pouring rain and so we ran to the very interesting Museu Design Moda.  The night ended with delicious food and fado in the Bairro Alto.  We noticed that azulejos are everywhere, even in the metro stations.

The Golden Triangle of Art completed…

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

We finally completed the Golden Triangle of Art by visiting the outstanding art collection at the Thyssen-Bornemisza.  We were happy to see the new extension and new restaurant/cafe of the Villahermosa Palace, refurbished by Rafael Moneo (architect of LA Cathedral & Atocha garden/extension).  We were exhausted after going through this museum, as it holds the second largest private collection of art in the world.

The art deco Circulo de Belles Artes not only has a really great view of Madrid from the top, but a cool, retro 1920s bar/restaurant adorned with a massive floating chandelier.  But what we loved most of all was this classic sculpture turned into a contemporary work of art.  Watch the video:

In case you are wondering what music that is, it’s actually a song called “Yokohama” recorded from Nicasio’s gramophone on Christmas Eve. The ending beeps were recorded on La Castellana when we were crossing the street on a crosswalk.

Museo de Escultura al Aire Libre de La Castellana

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

El Museo de Escultura al Aire Libre is a small but plentiful open air museum with 17 excellent abstract sculptures.  If you are walking on La Castellana and not really paying attention, it’s quite easy to walk by and not notice.   Eduardo Chillida‘s La Sirena Varada (originally named Lugar de Encuentros III), a huge concrete sculpture suspended on cables from an overpass, is the highlight.  We also liked Joan Miro’s Mere Ubu and Manuel Rivera’s Triptico.

While walking down calle Orfilia, which has many galleries, we were lucky to bump into Chillida’s “Alabastros” show at Galeria Cayon.  This piece had a poem written above it by Chillada after visiting Greece and being inspired by his stay there.

“Nieva luz sobre luz
Blanco sobre blanco
Es luz de la mente
Primera luz de Grecia”

Taking a long walk down La Castellana led us to the Palacio de Congresos, where Joan Miro’s fabulous mosaic mural has made this building iconic.  It is a timeless piece.

Floating building and vertical garden

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Caixa Forum Madrid by Herzog & de Meuron is an architectural gem.  The architects lifted the building off the ground, inviting visitors to come inside and enjoy the exhibits.

A 24 meter high vertical garden grows along an entire wall.  It helps create a perfect dialogue between the brick building and the verdant Paseo del Prado.

The main entrance/gift shop is shiny and inviting.

The staircase is also very photogenic.

Up on the top is a cafe and the restaurant Arturo, where shadows like in this picture fill the floors.

The new and the old Reina Sofia

Monday, December 27, 2010

Reina Sophia is one of the only museums in Madrid open on a Monday.  Although we had been here several times before, we had never seen the new extension.

The extension is great, with Lichtenstein’s sculpture installation “Brushstroke” right in the middle of the buildings, merging the old with the new.

The new extension allows you to go all the way to the top, giving you nice views of the museum buildings as well as of Atocha and the surrounding neighborhoods.

From the inside you can feel the history of this building… once a general hospital in the 18th century.

Picasso’s iconic Guernica still surprises and the crowds prove it.  Room 206 is the only room in which you cannot take photographs.  But the room right next to Guernica is full of more Picasso masterpieces.  Here are a few of our favorites.  We also love Salvador Dali’s  Retrato de Luis Bunuel and Man Ray’s Indestructible Object. As for the temporary exhibits, we really liked the work of Jose Val del Omar, described as an “extraordinary camera artist”.  Our favorite films were those about his native Granada.  We also enjoyed the temporary exhibit of conceptual artist Hans-Peter Feldmann, whose 100 Years is a series of 101 photographic portraits, where each photo depicts a person (his family and friends) aged between 8 months and 100 years.  His installation 9/12 records the reaction of Sept. 11 in 150 newspapers worldwide.

Indestructible Object

Monday, December 27, 2010

The original “Object to Be Destroyed” was originally intended to be a silent witness in Man Ray’s studio to watch him paint.  Then in 1932 his lover left him, so came the 2nd version with a photo of her eye and these instructions:

“Cut out the eye from a photograph of one who has been loved but is seen no more.  Attach the eye to the pendulum of a metronome and regulate the weight to suit the tempo desired.  Keep going to the limit of endurance.  With a hammer well-aimed, try to destroy the whole at a single blow.”