The story behind: Standing in the center of old part of the small mountainous town of Covilhã and being surprised by these delicate net of high level clouds I took my camera and shoot a photo. Low temperatures, crystal clear views , snow covered mountain peaks and orange trees ready for harvest always make me feel happy here. This is my place - I thought.
The story behind: Last Friday I took a flight from Porto to Ponta Delgada to the main Azorean Island of São Miguel. I had little expectation as far as taking photos was concerned because winter weather struck the islands very hard. How harsh can winters be on the islands ? - you may ask. Oh yes, they can be pretty harsh - I would reply.
A couple of days ago the Westernmost island of the archipelago, the small island of Corvo, was cut off from the exterior world for 18 days ! No flight or boat could reach the island and its population of 500 people. Gusty winds and 1o meters high waves struck the island really hard.As I landed in Ponta Delgada the sky was covered with heavy clouds and it was raining. No photos this time, I murmured. Until Sunday the weather was practically the same. In the early afternoon as I was driving and approaching a small settlement of Arrifes, suddenly the sky opened up and I got this view in front of my eyes. Thank you Lord - I thought.
The story behind: After a week of the almost continuous raining finally the sun was back. These wet days with almost 100% of humidity coming from the Atlantic ocean don´t allow you even to think of getting out or taking landscape photos. So yesterday when the sun and our mild winter temperatures of 18º C were back, I didn´t hesitate too long and packed the gear and drove south from Porto. I arrived the the site quite early ( at mid day ) so I had plenty of time to walk and explore. I started at the southern part of the village and walked along the beach until in the late afternoon I found this small and beautiful fishermen´s boat parked. The sky was covered with clouds on different attitudes that helped very much with beautiful light-diffusion, turning the atmosphere very red, something I'm only used to seeing in winter. The sun was behind the clouds. The higher clouds were actually moving quite quickly yet there was little or no wind which made the mild evening temperatures quite comfortable. The water was calm but the high tide was moving quickly so I had to rush things up and started shooting photos.
Also "Photo of the day" at http://photomediaworld.com/
We decided to have a lunch in the restaurant located on the top floor of "Hotel do Chiado". This is one of the greatest charms of Lisbon: you can sit on the terrace with lovely views over Lisbon and the Tejo river, slowly sip the local Portuguese wine, snacking cheeses and bread. Restaurant "Entretanto" ( which in Portuguese means : "So ...") with a kitchen set up by winning the best Portugese cook 2009 award, Igor Marinho, was worth a try. We drunk Fiuza 3 Castas red wine, with lovely strong, very fruity smell and notes of many spices in the mouth. Wine was short but was perfectly synchronized with both my Argentinian stake as well as with Agnieszka´s bacalhao fish.
It was a quick decision: we packed our thing and drove south. Two and a half hour´s later we arrived in Chiado/Bairo Alto, the most beautiful district of old Lisbon. The weather was great. Some clouds in the sky but November temperatures in their high teens. Later we had a wonderful 2 hours long lunch at the Ibo Restaurant with the view over the Tejo river. This is one of the best places in Lisbon to taste Mozambican flavors. Simple things like good company, nice weather, relaxing atmosphere, a lot of light inside restaurant and a bottle of a wonderful white Quinta da Bacalhoa 2008 wine made these moments truly unforgettable. After lunch we had a relaxing stroll up and around elegant Chiado neighborhood not so much packed with tourist at this off-peak season time of year. Date: Friday, 12th November, 2010. Maciek.
We are back from our first autumn break this year. I got really mixed feeling about Tenerife.
Pros: There are not too many of these. We tasted a couple of local wines and found our favorite: a red Suertes del Marques made on the northern slopes of the island from the unknown for us before vine Listan. Floatarium in our Spa was definitely a place to be - a wonderful pool with high concentration of dissolved mineral salts where you can float endlessly and lose yourself in a state of infinite abyss- it was absolutely relaxing ( but obviously had nothing to do with a Tenerife island ). Mountain of Teide ( 3,715 m ) , the highest elevation in Spain, and the surrounding post-volcanic landscape of black sharp rocks were quite interesting. You can drive through it with a moderate interest and take some photos.
Cons: Herds of tourist were everywhere ( and we are still receiving those skewed news about an "economical crisis", don´t we ? ). There are infinite number of horrible hotels designed for mass-tourism located all over the coastal areas. Main avenues close to the beaches are outlined with an never-ending strip of ugly bars, crappy restaurants, gift-shops and "bazaars" - all with primitive aluminum walls, plastic chairs offering a non-recognizable kind of "international cuisine". All over the island there is a spread of chaotic urbanization. The Spanish villages don´t look nice ether.
Mosteiros beach in rain. São Miguel Island.
awarded the front page of http://www.obiektywni.pl/
From the Sacramento we took highway 41 scenic road south. The landscape was nice with groves of trees, old farm houses and pastures. This was the land when California Gold Rush took place. In 1984 the gold was discovered in the creeks here up the mountains and people went crazy. Almost overnight 40.000 people poured into this area. In a decade 400.000 people looked for gold in this hills. Some of the towns are being preserved as they were at the time. One of the most intriguing places to explore is old Columbia, now turned into a State Historic Park.
This is one of the most photographed views of the Yosemite Park. We are standing on the west edge of the valley looking east. From the left: El Capitan with its massive 1400 m wall of rock ( the world´s largest exposed rock ), Half Dome in the middle standing 1600 meters above valley floor, Cathedral Spirals peaks with its Bridaveil Fall merely visible in the summer.
To our little surprise Google occupies a modest number of 3-stories high office buildings, not so fancy and not so special as you can expect from one of the world´s biggest companies. There were bicycles and scooters lying free on the grass in every possible corner of the lawn and beside the office entrances, some volleyball courts and a lot of green areas to keep the Googlers healthy and productive. Although nothing exceptional but I liked it. It was like actually "touching" and "seeing" the virtual reality of the Internet. I also hoped that the actual proximity to some of the best and beautiful Googlers minds will make me a little smarter. Maciek.
In the evening we drove up the mountains to the Puffer Lake. The lake was nothing special but the road up and down the hill was scenic. We passed the Elk Meadows ski area, meet some wind animals wandering by the street and later got back home.
What a pleasant and relaxing day it was. Maciek.
We also gambled. Agnieszka took a 1 dollar bill, win some extra bucks got excited and then... lost everything. It was fun.
It was out third visit to Las Vegas but the city still dazzled us. When you enter the city the very first thing you realize is how big, busy and well done it is. Everything is new and shiny and when you arrive at night the city lights can not be compared to any other place in the world. Driving the main street at night with millions and millions of lights is like an electric miracle, like being in one big Disneyland. It´s wonderful. Walking the street is different. First there are tourists: thousands of them all around you with money bulging out of their pockets. There is certainly no economic crisis in America as far as Las Vegas is concerned. Then you must also expect some scam. There are people at every nook and corner ( mostly Mexican looking ) offering you to book the cheapest ticket and hotel package or the best hooker.
Then you do ( like we did this time ) hotel sight-seeing. Sounds crazy ? But in fact it is fun. The hotels are huge, beautifully decorated, with shops, casinos, concert halls, zoos, entertainment and restaurants. In fact some of the hotels are better than the places they imitate. Take for instance the Venetian: the signature canals, gondola rides, fresco ceilings... might be better and cleaner than the original. Don´t forget that Las Vegas hosts also many internationally recognized top quality restaurants. So that day we poked around a dozen of hotels: started with Stardust Shopping Center, passed the Treasure Island with an open-air pirate show going every hour, crossed the Strip to see the Venetian-Pallazo hotel and Paris hotels, went to see the famous staircase of the Caesar´s Palace hotels. Soon we got hungry so for lunch we went to Paris, Paris hotel buffet. A long queue to enter, well organized, very wide food selection but ....well it is always a buffet so dont´t expect too much. In the afternoon we knocked around the New York, New York hotel with its famous roller coaster, explored the Medieval style Excalibur, see the lions at the MGM hotel and later on took a sky bridge to Mandalay Bay hotel. After the sunset the fountain sound and light show at the Bellagio hotel was marvelous. Maciek.