Oceanus

Caius Calpurnius, Caius Vibius Quintilianus, Lucius Atius and Marcus Verrius Geminus commissioned this building with the mosaic.
      ——— Municipal Museum, Faro

So rare to find a Roman private building, in this case the office of a trading concern or a bank, and to actually read who the owners were.  The centrepiece is a portrait of Oceanus, the god of the Sea Ocean, i.e., the Atlantic.

Owner's names in foreground.  4 November 2015, Leica Typ 114.

Owner's names in foreground.  4 November 2015, Leica Typ 114.

The view from da Gama's home

Vasco da Gama is the adventurer who opened up the trade routes to India in 1498 and changed the world: for one thing, his success resulted in the terminal decline of Venice, which had been the preeminent maritime power until then.  Like the other heroes of the era (Columbus, Pizarro, Magellan, Cortés, etc.), his willingness to take risks and the ruthlessness with which he undertook his enterprises are hard to fathom today.  Five hundred years later, he is still Portugal's major hero.

We made an unscheduled stop in Sines, south of Lisbon, and went into the little local museum, filled, in the bottom floor, with Roman ruins, like every museum of history in the Iberian peninsula.  It looked like we were about done with the museum but there was an elevator to the top floors, and what do we step in there?  Da Gama's family rooms, the very place where the man grew up.

And so we snapped a picture of Peregrinus anchored out, as little Vasco may have seen it from the top of his home's walls, and perhaps have dreamt that one day he, too, would go out to sea.

A luz de Lisboa

The Light of Lisbon is a current exhibit on the West turret of the Terro do Paço.  Among many interesting trivia, the exhibit shows Lisbon gets more sunshine than any other Euro capital, and that it turns out the city and its hills form a natural parabolic reflector that throws light on to the Baixa Pombalina.

As we stepped of the exhibit and sat for a gin and tonic at Café Paço d'Agua , this is the light of Lisbon we saw from our table.

iPhone 6 Plus, 4:03pm 20 October 2015

iPhone 6 Plus, 4:03pm 20 October 2015

Fate, a Portuguese guitar, and a Spanish guitar

It is said that Fado music got its name from latin fatum, meaning fate, or destiny.  The singer traditionally wears black and at the Tasco Fora de Moda in the Alfama there were three singers and two guitarists.  The place is so small, when the singer and two musicians come out for their half-dozen song sets, they block the hallway and food can't be served in the terrace.

The songs were melancholic affairs of destiny, love, and loss, and the applause, deservedly copious.  The food, excellent, the service cordial, and the prices ridiculously low.

Who knew these sorts of places are still around?

Largo de Santo Estêvão 9, Lisboa.  18 October 2015, iPhone 6 Plus.

Largo de Santo Estêvão 9, Lisboa.  18 October 2015, iPhone 6 Plus.

Only the best

Calouste Gulbenkian was born in Constantinople, had a protagonic role in the pre-WW II oil industry, and left his art collection in Lisbon.  From ancient Egyptian treasures, to Della Robbia, to Rubens, to Lalique, his collection is immensely rich; and all in very good taste.  In this second regard, it may only be second to The Frick in New York, but Gulbenkian's far exceeds Frick's in range.

Of Gulbenkian, also known as "Mr. Five Percent," it is said that his standard was "only the best," and it shows.

A place to come back to.

Memorial coin issued for the  Alexandreia  Games in Macedon during Roman times, sometime between 218 and 250 A.D.  Instead of the usual profile view, Alexander faces us while looking forward and upward.  Out of the 20 surviving coins, with various designs, Gulbenkian got eleven, and The Walters got three.  The games collectors play.  iPhone 4S, 19 October.

Memorial coin issued for the Alexandreia Games in Macedon during Roman times, sometime between 218 and 250 A.D.  Instead of the usual profile view, Alexander faces us while looking forward and upward.  Out of the 20 surviving coins, with various designs, Gulbenkian got eleven, and The Walters got three.  The games collectors play.  iPhone 4S, 19 October.

A castle in Portugal

Building of the fort of Saint John the Baptist of the Berlengas began in 1651, as a result of Algerian and Moroccan attacks on the islands.  Already by 1655, while still under construction, the fort had successfully defended against an attack by a three-ship Turk squadron.

During the next two centuries, the fort was from time to time occupied by the Spanish (1666), the  British, and later the French during the Napoleonic Wars.  A few years later, the  fort was a forward base for forces loyal to the recently abdicated Emperor of Brazil (i.e., loyal to Emperor Pedro I of Brazil, who was also King Pedro IV of Portugal) during the Portuguese Liberal Wars.

We anchored off at night and were greeted by this sight in the morning.

Berlenga Grande Island, Berlengas archipelago, 14 October 2015, 7:53AM.  Leica Typ 114.

Berlenga Grande Island, Berlengas archipelago, 14 October 2015, 7:53AM.  Leica Typ 114.