Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lisbon Day two

Day two in Lisbon we decided to take the tourist bus to the Aquarium, one of the largest in Europe. We decided to go early and start at the first stop at the Praça do Marqués de Pombal (best name ever!) Which is also, coincidentally, where google puts the marker when you pull up a generic map of Lisbon. There he is, the Marquee, sculpted with a lion at his side.

One of the many charming things about Lisbon were all of the ships used as decoration. Like at the top of all of the light posts.

Other charming thing: the European seaside town look...

...and the buildings covered with tiles.

Here is a view of one of the cable cars. This is a good place to point out that Lisbon reminded me of New Orleans. A New Orleans with a European flair. Maybe it was the heat (I visited New Orleans both times in the hotter months), but there was something about the run-down charm, the relaxed city by the sea that reminded me of the "big easy". New Orleans has cable cars too and I once got on one where the driver was a bit insane, I will never forget that day.

Look ships in these light posts too!

See! This next photo screams New Orleans.

These clever benches were on the bay. Each had only one seat and it's own personal tree.

There in the distance is the only good shot I got of the bridge. Does it remind you of a famous American one? The Statue on the land mass to the left is a smaller version of the "Christ the Redeemer" Statue. Apparently Lisbon was given that Statue as a present by Germany for staying out of World War II.

The front door of the the church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição Velha

A beautiful Palace I have forgotten the name of.

A typical dowtown street.

This lovely tile fountain was on the way from the bus stop to the Aquarium.

The Aquarium was crowded. Personal reminder: never, ever, ever go anywhere touristy in Europe in August, ever. Everything was super crowded. Why people travel in the hottest part of the year I will never know, but I was there because of the conference, which meant my hotel was free. Most of the time I felt like I was in Spain because Spanish was being spoken around me constantly. I know that a good percentage of Spaniards have the entire month of August off, I wonder if it is true for many other countries in Europe too?

What was the Special exposition at the Aquarium, you ask? Sea turtles. As you can see below there was a tank below our feet where a gigantic sea turtle was swimming, so cool!

Also cool, the sea turtle mini art exhibit that they had. Below you see a wooden painter's dummy rowing a turtle as if it were a boat.

and who does not need a remote controlled leopard skin turtle?

Back on the bus and through sea front where a giant multi-country exposition about sea life was held, which means the whole area was very nicely designed.

Below a rooftop designed to look like palm trees.

Off the bus at the university stop to walk back to the hotel. There were a lot of the glass recycle containers that were painted different styles. I loved this one.

We went back downtown after a rest to look for dinner.

There were step stairs up through the hills and at every flat part there was a restaurant. They must have been for tourists because the waiters would swoop in on you like vultures to get you to look at the menu. Still, a romantic place to eat, is is not?

A blurry picture of the moon, which was full that night. I have admit that this shot reminds me of New Orleans the most. Again maybe it was because of the heat. But I think that fact that we had just had dinner in a terrace of a restaurant surrounded by other restaurants, the walkway thick with tourists. The fact that a really talented musician was playing and international mix of songs could have helped too. Oh and did I mention that they vend alcohol on the sidewalk as well? I kept expecting to see Hurricanes (the drink, not the weather phenomenon).

Monday, August 26, 2013


Going to Lisbon was something we had planned and paid for in the spring. My husband had a conference and I had decided to join him. Even though it was already paid for I was not sure I was up for a holiday, but hey, everything was set, so off we went.

I am sure that if I visited Lisbon with a lighter heart I would have fell in love with the city. I am sure my posts will not be able to do it justice, but I will take you on a little armchair tour of the city and some observations that I made along the way.

So we got to the city Monday the 19th, and Lisbon, of course, was experiencing a very big heat wave. It was even hotter than Madrid that day! But we were not going to let that stop us, so we hopped on the metro and came downtown.

Lisbon is compared to San Francisco often, as it also has a lot of hills, is on a bay, had a big earthquake and has a still working cable car system. You will notice hills in almost every one of my photos. Despite the presence of hills Lisbon reminded me, shockingly, of another US town with working cable cars. Would you care to guess? I will give you a hint, the city that is reminds me of does not really have hills, but it was also hot, laid back and by the sea. I will tell which city and why tomorrow.

Look it is the castle of São Jorge on a hill! We forgot to go up there for a look. We will try another time, the view was supposed to be amazing.

One of the the first things that I saw after coming up from the metro was this sign (on the building, click to enlarge).

As you scroll through these photos be sure to look at the ground. The streets, the sidewalks, parking lots and plazas were all paved with these little square stones. Mostly white, with designs in black.

City hall, I think.

This was the train station. What a train station! It also had a Starbucks. Maybe this is uber-American of me, but as a non-dairy person I appreciate Starbucks for it's soy options. That being said I think that, the last time I was at one, I was in Plymouth, UK.

I had convinced my husband to but tickets for one of those Hop-on hop-off bus tours of the city. I am still not sure if it was a good idea. The temps were about 38C or 100F and there was not a/c on the bus. It was nice is you were in the open air portion while the bus was moving, but I needed plenty of sunscreen.

A view looking down from the top of Parque Eduardo VII towards the bay.

An Aqueduct we passed.

The Belém tower standing regal in the estuary.

Lisbon has those trees that the tree-like cell phone towers are based on. I did not think that they were real!

We did not have any problems communicating to anyone in English. It was amazing. I had heard that would be the case, but I did not believe it. I had only learned how to say "thank you", and "do you speak English or Spanish" in Portuguese. More of them Spoke English then Spanish, and it was really easy to get help or buy things. Even in the non touristy areas we were able to get dinner or buy sunscreen from a pharmacy. I am not saying that you could discuss world politics, not that I tried, you just can't be alone (i.e. not on a tour) in Madrid without knowing Spanish. I seemed to be able to read most signs in Portuguese, and the urge to speak Spanish to everyone was strong.

Later in the day we walk from our hotel to the University, on the way we past this strange sculpture in a park (Jardim do Campo Grande).

Some Gargoyles at the University of Lisbon.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sunset on a good life

I finished this piece on Friday, the same day my husband and I had to say goodbye to one of the family. Making these sunsets can be fun, and I was thinking of making it and putting it in my store, but now I think that I will keep it as a beautiful momento of a beautiful life.

I was luckily enough to know Bandit for 11 years. He was with me for five moves across three states and two countries. In him, I always had a friend to keep me company as I was looking for jobs and getting to know a new city. He and his brother were always preforming antics or being drop-dead adorable to distract me from worries or loneliness. He would always check on my every couple of hours if I was home to get a hug or to ask for food. Until the last months, he would always great me at the door.

Bandit on my handspun crochet blanket

About three years Ago I did a felt portrait of him, just to see if I could. I think I was able to capture the smile and the love in his eyes.

Needle felted portrait

Photo that the portrait was based upon
 Bandit was the other one in the household that loved wool, and things made from wool, as much as I did. He loved to huff (smell deeply) and roll in wool, be wrapped in wool blankets, and play with the wool toys I made him.

Classic sunbeam shot
 There are too many words, and none at all to describe the love we had for each other. So anything I can think to say seems, insufficient. I know that he was one of the great loves of my life, and one of the best friends I will ever have. He would come to comfort me when I was sad, cheer me up if I was angry, and celebrate with me when I was happy.

His fur was a soft as a bunny.

I know that I will miss him everyday for the rest of my life, and that I was very lucky to have known him.

Goodbye Bandit, rest in peace.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Art challenge Day 7

So I missed another day in my self imposed challenge. This was actually made, for the most part, yesterday and refined today.

I got my inspiration from this Spanish artist, who cuts designs out of leaves.

I wanted to see if I could copy it in felt.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Art Challenge Day 6

I started this piece on Saturday, and then we had a rough weekend, so I will bring you Art Challenge Day 6 today. 

I wanted to do something a little different. I was thinking about those just black and white paintings. The ones that look cartoon-eske with black for the shadows and white for everything else. I thought maybe I could do something like that. When I plugged in my request into Google, guess what came up?

A black and white photo of a merino sheep. It had to be fate, I set to work.

Of course I used it as an inspiration.

I am not sure how I feel about this piece. However, trying different techniques and keeping my mind of of the family illness was the point.

What do you think?
Should there be changes? If so, what would you change? OR how would you interpret this sheep?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Art Challenge Day 4 and 5

Yesterday was a very busy and emotional day, so nothing got done on the challenge. 
However today I'll bring you two things. We will call this first one Day 4's project.

This is a project that I have been working on for a while. It is my first felt piece with a wire armature inside, and I have to say that I will probably never do that again. I kept hitting the wire inside as I was felting it, also the armature does not move as smoothly as I was hoping for.

Because working with the armature was uncomfortable, this guy sat for a long time. When I first covered the armature around 3 years ago (I still lived in the US) I thought that he was going to be a bear. Then about 3 months ago I got it out again and decided to make something dinosaur-eske, but in fun colors.

Then the blue was too boring, so I added polka dots, three shades of blue and tusks.

There he is walking away. Since I am not used to an armature inside I keep thinking that I misjudged that length of the legs, when really, they are only bent outwards. 

This little guy I will call Day 5's piece.
He started out as just a head many months ago. At the time I was thinking "monster head broach". 

Today I decided to give him a body, not worrying too much about the shape of it, keeping the focus mainly on the head.

Then I tried making the arms 2D for a change. Sure he is a little strange, but that is exactly the point of a monster: to stretch your imagination. To try to make something unique and never seen before.

If anyone is wondering my kitty is doing better today, fingers crossed that he keeps improving.