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Portugal, Adventure #26, Page 1
Pictures and Stories About Bicycle Adventures
Douro River Valley
By Bicicleta (Bicycle), Septembre, 2009
Forgive my Americano Keyboard; it does not have Acute, Tilde, or Circumflex accent options.
These characters must be hard coded with strings of special code - it takes extra effort.
Pinhão is coded as Pinhão, with proud extra effort by the Author.
FYI, the ão sound in Portuguese is pronounced as 'ow.n' in English and
the oa sound in Portuguese (Lisboa) is pronounced as 'on' (Lisbon).
Cool Facts and Observations
As a People, the Portuguese are friendly and helpful to all travelers. Surprisingly, to us, French is a common second language of elder Northern Portuguese, while younger persons, country wide, are taught English in School. We, of course made a good effort to learn rudimentary Portuguese before our trip and there were places in the back country where we put our knowledge to work. This, of course, is what makes for good stories and adventures - We had fun. The entire country was clean - a very pleasant surprise.
FoodFood was good. Seafood predominates and is economical while on or near coastal cities. Beef, lamb, and ham predominate and are more economical inland. Interestingly, we never saw a cow or pig during our entire six day bike trip and we only saw sheep on two days.
One of the things that a traveler should be aware, is that when sitting down for a meal or snack at a cafe table or restaurant, the Portuguese have a custom of setting out appetizers. Where in most countries, things set out for you are free, in Portugal appetizers that you eat are added to your meal cost. Villages are less pushy about such things but in the cities these meal cost add-ons are pushed aggressively. So if one doesn't want bread, don't eat any. If one doesn't want olives, don't eat any. If one doesn't want a small glass of Port, don't drink any. On the other hand, if you have one taste, you just bought the entire snack or aperitif content, enjoy it. This is mentioned in most travel guides, but it's easy to forget because the presentation is so friendly.
Villages, no matter their size, would have at least one café which allowed us to travel with less weight for food and water. One caveat was that food stores would close for lunch, so we learned to buy bread, meat (like pre-cooked sausage), fruit, and cheese in the morning when bread was fresh at the market and food selections at their best.
Mass TransportationIn Lisbon (Lisboa), we wisely bought a week long transportation pass for each of us. They cost about €24 each and entitled us to ride any bus or tram in the city as well as the vertical tram and elevators (lifts to and from low and high elevations). Lisbon's mass transportation is so good that one can live in a less costly non-tourist area and transport one's self anywhere with great convenience. We rented an apartment for a week, and our total cost was the same as one day at the recommended conference lodgings. Our average transportation wait time was about 4 minutes and the longest that we ever waited was once at 15 minutes.
The Knights Templar and PortugalThis is important because Portugal had always had a special relationship with the Knights Templar:
Facts: Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (Latin: Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici), commonly known as the Knights Templar or the Order of the Temple (French: Ordre du Temple or Templiers). Source: Wikipedia. In Portugal, they are called The Order (d'Ordem).After King Philip IV of France started his purge of Templars (1307, October, Friday the 13th), many escaped to Portugal. They were immediately accepted by King Denis (of the House of Burgundy, King of Portugal and the Algarves 1279-1325, Son of Afonso III of Portugal and Beatrice of Castile) for several reasons. One, King Denis knew King Philip's charges to be false and Templar confessions to be under duress (torture), but the Pope (Clement) literally resided in France at the time so the Pope had to be careful and did issue the Papal Bull to arrest all Templars and seize their assets. King Denis petitioned the Pope to allow Templars outside of France to not be persecuted and to even maintain their holdings. This petition was finally approved (long after all holdings were taken). Meanwhile, the Templars had money and skills as masons, shipwrights, sailors, and soldiers. All of which King Denis put to use. Important Note: Templar Masons built simple and practical structures using late gothic conventions - It appears that Templar Masons have nothing to do with Freemasons and vice versa, except that some Freemasons have used some Templar symbols and some Templar names [many myths here].
Escaping Templars went to Scotland , Switzerland , and Portugal and it is interesting that each of these countries have had or still have a cross in their national flag. Some knights were absorbed into other orders like the Knights Hospitaller or Teutonic Knights (outside of Portugal). A significant fact is that the symbolic cross of the Knights Templar soon became absorbed into the shape of the Cross of Portugal (with little change). The Templar cross was a solid red color and the Cross of Portugal maintained the same basic shape, but made a little wider than Templar Cross so as to imbed a smaller white (unadorned) interior cross.
Knights Templar: Knights of Christ: Portugal:
The Knights Templar organization, already well established in Portugal, upon persecution by King Philip IV of France simply changed their name from Knights Templar to Knights of Christ. One of the larger Templar holdings in Portugal is the Convent of Christ in Castle Tomar. Built in 1160 as a stronghold for the Knights Templar, it became the headquarters of the renamed Order of Christ (Portugal), often called or referred to as "the Order". One of the lesser known facts about the Knights Templar is that they had a small fleet of ocean going Ships [18 known], mainly used for cargo, transport, and high speed messaging that saw service from the Mediterranean to France and England. They also had inland river boats. At one point, the Templars owned the island of Cyprus.
Royal Emblem(s)The Shield of the House of Burgundy has always been a variation of a blue cross. Later variations show five smaller shield shapes arranged in a cross pattern, the shields themselves containing five white circles or squares. Later, the Portuguese Burgundy's added a ring of castles around the Shield of Burgundy to symbolize the organized action of Portuguese Houses to retake Portugal from the Muslim Occupiers. The number of castles has varied, but the latest version has seven castles, supposedly for the seven major strongholds and engagements to retake Portugal from the Muslims. The displayed shield emblem is more or less the emblem in the current Portuguese National Flag.
The Armillary SphereThis is quite interesting. Other names for the Armillary Sphere are: astrolabe, spherical astrolabe, armilla, or armil - Wikipedia. Armillary derives from armilla latin for (circle or bracelet) - Wikipedia. The Armillary Sphere is a celestial navigation tool. Both the Greeks and the Chinese had simple Armillary Sphere models before the time of Christ (BC or BCE). Pictured is a Sandro Botticelli (more known for his famous Nude in a Clam Shell) painting with an Armillary Sphere
The Armillary Sphere is a tool or device that demonstrates: star positions around the earth (on a rotating sphere); the tilt of the earth (whether understood or not); and some show lunar, sun and planet positions. The Armillary Sphere, of da Gama's time had rings for the Equator and the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer (which demonstrated issues of hemispheric navigation, such that geographic areas on the other side of the equator may have increasingly longer or shorter days or nights. Thus Latitudes and Longitudes for any global position could be addressed for any time of the year. These concepts are important to global navigation.
What's more interesting is that some of these navigational devices showed the sun at the center and some demonstrated a round earth with objects going around the earth, these spheres also demonstrate astronomical 'right ascension' and the fact that each day's rotation of earth was a few minutes short of 24 hours. In the 1500's a clock was added - In fact, the Armillary Sphere represents many accumulations of knowledge over time. This is all heady information with interesting implications (like the earth is round and rotates around the sun, and seasons [in the form of astrological signs: Summer - Leo, Winter - Aquarius, ...] were predictable and associated with the tilt of the earth, and differences in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere mattered).
It probably wasn't hard for Galileo to figure out that the Earth orbited the Sun, many educated people already suspected as much. Since the reader is probably wondering, Galileo lived from 1564 to 1642. The golden age of Portuguese wealth from global trade was about 1490 to 1520. In Portuguese culture, to have one's painting (or photograph) made with an Armillary Sphere was a sign of implied wisdom and knowledge. The Armillary Sphere is so important to Portugal that it is displayed in the background of the current Portuguese National Flag and the Armillary Sphere is what is displayed in the foreground of the current Brazilian National Flag (it's disguised, see the band). Portuguese were probably the first Europeans to discover Brazil and Brazil is the only country in South America to speak Portuguese as a national language.
Famous Portuguese ExplorersThe Portuguese were Explorers. Some famous, known, Portuguese explorers follow.
Manueline ArchitectureManueline Architecture (1490 to 1520) represented the end of Gothic Architecture (Late Gothic) and the Beginning of the Renaissance (early 1500's). It was principally Portuguese but it borrowed facets from Spanish (Plateresque), Italian, and Flemish styles. It was funded by the increased wealth provided by new and increased trade, resulting by circumventing the Sahara Road and Silk Road trade routes and establishing direct trade with India, South America (especially Brazil), China, Indonesia, and Japan. The word Manueline is a derivative of King Manuel I (1495 to 1521). Note that the King received 20% of the Income, which is called 1/5 (one/fifth) or Quinta in Portuguese. King Manual initiated 62 major building projects in Portugal, many in Lisboa (Lisbon).
The following are characteristics of Manueline Architecture (Wikipedia):
The house for the Hieronymite monks was built on the same site of the Ermida do Restelo, a hermitage that was founded by Henry the Navigator at about 1450. It was at this hermitage, that was already in disrepair, that Vasco da Gama and his men spent the night in prayer before departing for India in 1497.
Above Left: Church of Santa Maria.
Above Right: Courtyard of St Jerónimos.
Above Left: The Chancel of Santa Maria. King Manuel had a few wives. Going against the wishes of the King and the other Wives, the last surviving wife, Queen Catherine of Habsburg (Hapsburg), built the Chancel as she wanted it. It contains the tombs of the royal family (including herself). The Chancel is built in a 'Classical Style' (not a Manueline or Late Gothic Style) - To Queen Catherine's credit, this architecture marked the beginning of the Renaissance Style of architecture.
Above Right: See the Knights Templar symbol?
Above Left: See the Knights Templar symbol?
Above Right: See any Knights Templar symbols?
St Jerome (347-420 AD), thought to be of Illyria (the Balkan area between Italy and Greece) was a well educated and a well traveled man who is credited for translating the bible into Latin. He spoke and wrote Greek and Latin and is considered a Doctor of the Church (as in Doctorate). His translation included Hebrew sources while other previous translations were just from Greek. He was a Christian Apologist. Apologist's "present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defend the faith against objections, and expose the perceived flaws of other world views" [Wikipedia].
The St Jerome LION Story If the reader has ever heard the story of the man that removed a thorn from the paw of a Lion, it is supposed to be Jerome who performed this act. He apparently actually had a Lion as a kind of pet. The story goes that Jerome was entering a Hermitage/Monastery when all the students/initiates were seen running out of the building. They told Jerome that there was a lion in the Monastery. Jerome entered the building to investigate and, long story short, removed the thorn from the paw of the lion. From then on, the lion hung around the Monastery, and eventually became an item of the Monastery. Many paintings of St Jerome show a lion in the foreground.