Through the week, Tammy Clifton (#razzatazza on instagram) who I shot with in September last year, asked if anyone would like to collaborate on a car-themed shoot in the Newcastle/Hunter Valley area. I said I’d be happy to shoot with her again, and to my delight, she said she would be happy to shoot with me again.
I asked what kind of car she had in mind… muscle car or hot 4 rice burner.
She was more inclined toward the hot 4, so I asked in the Hunter Valley Photography Group (on Facebook) if anyone owned, or knew someone who owned, such a beast. One guy told me he had a friend with a Ford Focus RS who might be up for it. Long story short, I ended up in touch with Cameron Davies, who very graciously agreed to bring his vehicle to a location of my choosing, and to have Tammy pose with it. Thanks heaps, Cameron!
I reached out to Saddler’s Creek Wines at Pokolbin, with whom I’ve been a member for over 10 years, and asked if I could possibly shoot there. The Manager, Scott O’Connell was completely accommodating and gave us free range.
So, last night, we all arrived just before 18:00 to catch the last couple of hours of daylight.
In the end, I was less impressed with the images we captured in direct sunlight, than I was with the stuff we shot once the sun had slid down behind the trees.
In all, we had a great time, and captured some images which complemented Tammy’s portfolio.
Having a wheely gwape time!
Through the week, Tammy Clifton (#razzatazza on instagram) who I shot with in September last year, asked if anyone would like to collaborate on a car-themed shoot in the Newcastle/Hunter Valley area. I said I’d be happy to shoot with her again, and to my delight, she said she would be happy to shoot with me again.
Teigan at Forrester’s Beach
Earlier this week, hard-working Central Coast model, Teigan Clarke and I got out first thing for a shoot at Forrester’s Beach.
It’s the first time I’ve done a beach shoot, and the first shoot I’ve done (that wasn’t family/travel) since August 2017! Yikes!
I had looked at tide charts in the preceding days, so I knew that at 06:00 (our proposed start time), it would be mid-tide and rising. This meant that the rocks I had imagined we were going to shoot near were just a little too submerged to be useful. So, we made good use of the north end of the beach, and some of the rock shelf around the headland.
I had come prepared with two speedlights and Honlphoto CTO (Colour Temperature Orange) gels. My thinking was that at some point during the shoot, there would be enough light that trying to shoot straight toward the sun with a single flash was not going to cut it. And on that thought, I was spot on. There was some good cloud cover out near the horizon which gave us nice soft light to begin with, but once the sun climbed over that, we had bright direct sunlight to content with.
I’m still getting over a heel injury on my left foot, which did make getting around a little slow and delicate. But all in all, it was a great morning, and nice to be shooting again.
Early morning walk
This morning, I finally got the motivation to get up early and go for a bushwalk to this waterfall.
I use the term loosely, as we haven’t had much rain on the Central Coast of late, and so it’s barely a trickle at the moment!
But I was aware of this location, also aware of its remoteness, and just how few photographers shoot here.
Strikes me that this would be a great location for a fine art nude shoot, particularly after some rain when the water is actually falling in quantity.
Anyway, good to be out with the camera again, and the salmon gums along the trail look amazing, too! I do find being alone in nature very theraputic, although the noise from the cicadas did try the nerves a bit!
Now to find a willing model…
A week or so back, I had an opportunity to do a quick shoot with model Tammy Clifton. We had a small window of opportunity, and did some portraiture in the Lane Cove National Park in Sydney.
Tammy was only in town for the day, having traveled down from Taree. She was great fun to work with, and open to direction.
I’m currently exploring the possibility of heading up to Taree to shoot with her again, possibly in an old factory location.
Europe 2017 – days 28-29
This morning, we caught the tour company courtesy bus from our resort for the hour-long commute to the marina. From there, we boarded our boat which ferried us around a bunch of iconic islands to the east of the Phuket peninsula. I don’t know what it was, but I felt crook all day, but it wasn’t seasickness, as it crept up on me before we even got to the marina.
Despite that, I shot as many images as I could. We visited a couple of different islands;, the first of which was made famous for being used in the James Bond film “The Man with the Golden Gun”. We stopped at another island to have lunch. But by lunch time, I couldn’t even look at food, so I spent the half hour to 45 mins we were there lying down.
Toward the end of the trip, we anchored near an island, and were,. in small groups, placed onto kayaks, and our guide would paddle us around some small caves and passageways. Bizarrely, I felt less ill-at-ease on the kayak than I did on the boat. Maybe it was a bit of seasickness. Who knows.
By the time we got back to our resort, I was ready for bed. I told Cath that she and Max should head down into Pathong Beach and grab some dinner, and that I was heading to bed. She said “You’ve got to eat SOMETHING”. I told her that if she could find some takeaway fried rice, to bring that back with her and I’d see if I could eat it. She did just that, and I managed to eat some of it and promptly went back to bed. Great end to the holiday! Not. But apparently, it was going to get worse before it got better.
We were checking out of the resort at midday, but had already booked a taxi to pick us up from there at 17:00 for the trip to the airport. We decided to head down into Pathong Beach one last time to kill a few hours. We got off the shuttle bus, and Cath said “The place we had dinner last night was really good. Shall we go there for lunch?” So, that’s what we did. Cath ordered a Pad Thai with prawns. She ate all the prawns and a few of the noodles. Max finished his lunch and half of mine, and then tried some of the noodles from Cath’s dish.
Fast forward to 17:30. We’re about half way to the airport when Cath mentions that she’s feeling sick. I initially suspected motion sickness, as she was in the back seat with Max. We get to the airport, and she vomits twice before getting on the plane. Thankfully, we flew from Phuket to Singapore without incident.
At Singapore, we got settled on our next plane for the Sydney leg, and Cath says “I’m gonna be sick” before we’ve even taxi’d away from the terminal. Twice more in the next half an hour. Then Max says “Dad, I’m not feeling too good.” Oh… great. By now, we had come to the realisation that we were dealing with food poisoning from the Pad Thai. I had not eaten any of it, and I was the only one of us not feeling crook. It was a rough 2-3 hours out of Singapore until both of them had got it out of their systems.
By the time we landed, they were both feeling fine, although all of us were in need of some sleep. The flight had not been the most relaxing. And with that, another family adventure comes to a close.
Europe 2017 – day 27
Thailand… where rules are pretty easy-going. I suggested to Max that we should go and hire a couple of jet skis. He was totally up for that, having never been allowed to pilot one by himself. We hit the beach at Pathong and negotiated a price on a couple of jet skis for half an hour. I’ve ridden jet skis before, but never off a surf beach. I headed out over the first wave, got some air, and came down nose first into the next wave. Copped a face full of water. Closed my eyes as it hit. Opened them back up and realised I can’t see jack. My glasses had been washed away, and I’m not going to see them ever again. Oh crap. They were multi-focal, too. I need them for both distance AND reading. Double crap.
We ended up finding a kiosk in a shopping centre that sold cheap frames with different script lenses. We managed to find a script that worked for my right eye (my stronger eye), but only for distance. So, I can at least see where I’m walking! Can’t read anything, but hey…. it’ll do until I get home to Australia.
This evening, we headed back down to Pathong Beach for dinner, and to wander the streets some more. I hadn’t done much street photography last night, so I thought I should try and capture some images tonight. Paid 5 Baht for a bloke to put his pet iguana on Max’s arm. Ah, what the heck. We’re not likely to be back here any time soon, and that’s maybe two bucks Australian. Whatever!
The Moulin Rouge you say? So I didn’t need to go all the way to France for that? Ripped off! We didn’t go in this one either, but I’m sure it would be much tackier inside than the original. To be honest, we’re actually quite put off by the flagrant hawking of sex shows and “massages” and the like. Cath joked about me and Max going to a show, but I could honestly not think of anything LESS sexy. Each to their own, I guess.
Tomorrow, we’re hitting the water for a trip around some of the iconic islands in this region. Looking forward to that!
Europe 2017 – days 25-26
We were up at 05:00, and out the door by 05:30 this morning.
At Heathrow by 06:00, two hours ahead of our 08:00 departure.
A fairly uneventful flight to Doha, a 3 hour stopover, and a connecting flight to Phuket in Thailand. We’d decided to spend 4 days in Thailand as it would give us an opportunity to get our body clocks back on Australian time.
We touched down around 08:30 in the morning, some 16 hours after leaving Heathrow. The taxi ride from the airport to our resort was about an hour.
The jet lag was hitting us hard. We didn’t WANT to sleep. We wanted to pull through the day (Saturday), crash early, and hopefully wake up tomorrow moderately or maybe even well-adjusted.
But best laid plans and all that….
We crashed for an hour and a half, then forced ourselves back out of bed at lunch time.
The resort has a shuttle bus which, each hour from 08:00-20:00, will ferry you down to Pathong Beach. We headed downtown on the midday bus and found us some lunch. We wandered around, somewhat stunned (despite everything we’ve heard about the Thailand sex trade) at the quantity of “massage” parlours. You’ve seen that episode of the Simpsons where every second store is a Starbucks Coffee? That’s what it felt like here. It was actually quite disheartening.
We caught a mid-afternoon bus back to the resort, and chilled out beside the pool for an hour or two. Then, a shower, another shuttle bus down to Pathong Beach, dinner, more wandering, then back to the resort and bed at a sensible hour.
Europe 2017 – day 24
We’d booked a hire car for the day, with a view to driving out to Windsor (to check out the Castle), then on to Bath, then down to Salisbury, and then back to Heathrow.
We were on the road a little later than we’d planned (about 10:00), and by the time we got out to Windsor Castle, the queue was way too long, given what we were planning for the rest of the day. So, we grabbed a few shots of the Castle from the outside, then took a quick wander through the shopping area, as I was looking for a store which might sell Compact Flash memory cards (given that I was now shooting with just one 8GB card!). One store I visited told me that they had another store in the next town (Slough) and that THAT store had CF cards in stock. So, we made a quick stop at Slough, picked up an extra 32GB card and headed for Bath.
The Roman baths at Bath are absolutely worth a visit. Lots of history, a beautifully laid-out museum (of sorts), and lots of great photo opportunities. And as a photographer, I am convinced that whoever designed the historical exhibits was either a photographer themselves, or was a professional lighting designer (probably the latter). Although subdued in some areas, the lighting was always really tasteful, and angled to give nice contrasts and contours.
Then, it was on to Salisbury, where we wanted to check out Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral. Stonehenge was going to cost us £50 (about A$120) which we felt was a bit steep just to look at some rocks, so we gave it a miss. We headed into Salisbury, parked the car, and wandered over to the cathedral. Yep, another bloody church! But one definitely worth checking out! The spire reaches to something like 124 meters above the ground (pretty impressive considering construction began in 1220!), and the inside is quite impressive as well.
We headed into town to find some dinner in another typical English pub. We got out of there around 19:30 and headed back to Heathrow, not arriving there until 21:00. We dropped the rental car off, and Cath and Max headed back to the hotel, while I headed into town to retrieve the backpack. On the tube by 21:P30, I didn’t get out at St Paul’s Cathedral until 23:00, much later than I’d planned, but still earlier than the promised closing time of 23:30.
But when I got to the pub, it was shut. Doors locked. Lights off. Nobody here but us chickens. I was ready to cry at this point. Low on sleep, I’ve just wasted on hour and a half coming in to town, I can’t get my gear, and now I’ve got to waste ANOTHER hour and a half to get back to Heathrow. It’ll be at least a quarter to one before I’m back there, and we’ve all got to be up at 05:00 because we’ve got an 08:00 flight out.
Long story short… I managed to get another photographer friend (who also happens to live on the NSW central coast; a stone’s throw from me) to pick up the backpack on my behalf, and she brought it home to Australia for me. Sure, it was another 3-4 weeks, and it meant I was now travelling with only one lens, but at least I got it back eventually!
On the upside, now I don’t need to clean my sensor every night for the remainder of the trip!
Europe 2017 – day 23
Up after 4 1/2 hours sleep, and we’re off to Gare du Nord, the train station from which the Eurostar will depart for London. On the way, Cath mentioned that we’re booked into a hotel out near Heathrow, about an hour and a quarter train ride out of the centre of London. We agreed that once we arrived in London, we’d go straight out to Heathrow, check in, drop our bags, then come back into the city to do some sightseeing.
So, that was what we did. As I’m now travelling sans camera bag, I requisitioned Cath’s backpack for a spare lens, water bottle and a few other bits and pieces. We did all the usual suspects…. the Palace, Westminster Bridge, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Tower Bridge. By that stage, it was getting close to dinner time, and we felt like we wanted a traditional English pub, and some good “pub grub”. We found a suitable establishment, ordered drinks and dinner, and sat down to contemplate everything we’d done in the previous 3 weeks. It was while we were sitting there that I got Cath to take a portrait of me, which I think is one of my favourite images of me… ever. Nice work, wiffy.
After dinner, we continued the Walk of Madness, heading west along the south side of the Thames, past Sir Francis Drake’s ship, Shakespeare’s Globe, across the Millennium Bridge, and up to St Paul’s Cathedral (ANOTHER bloody church!). Feet were starting to get tired, so we jumped on a bus westbound along Fleet Street, and jumped off near Covent Garden.
Then we walked some more.
Around 22:00, I said to Cath that I needed a break. We found a pub near to where Max and his school group were staying (we were due to pick him up around 22:45), and grabbed a drink. I put my camera on the table, and the backpack under the table. We had our drink, went and picked up Max, and were halfway back to Heathrow before it occurred to me that I didn’t have the backpack with me. D’oh!
I got back to the hotel, rang the pub, explained the situation, and was told that yes, they had the backpack. Great. “I’ll be in there tomorrow night to pick it up, somewhere around 9:30, 10 o’clock”, I said.
“No worries. We’ll be here ’til 11:30”.
Looks like I’ll be sightseeing tomorrow with NOTHING to carry around except the camera and tripod. Oh well. So be it.
Europe 2017 – day 22
Today was another big day of walking around the city of lights.
First stop was the Musee d’Orsay, which in a prior life, served as the main railway terminus for Paris. That big clock? That was the clock that gave travellers an idea of when their train was leaving.
Then, it was on to Sacre Coer and the artistic hot spot of Montmartre. Then down the hill to see the Moulin Rouge. We didn’t see a show there, as we had booked tickets at Lido instead.
Mid-afternoon, we made our way back to our Air B’n’B so as to say goodbye to Janine, who needed to get back to Rotterdam. Cath and I had a little rest, before heading out for our dinner and show at Lido. The show was beautifully produced, and to anyone who thinks it might be tacky, I can assure you, it isn’t! I would highly recommend it if you have the opportunity. After Lido, we headed back up to the Arc de Triomphe, which was just a couple of hundred metres up the road, for some night shots.
From there, we headed off to the Trocadero Gardens to get some night shots of the Eiffel Tower. And it was here that the trip suddenly took a turn for the worse. A safety fence was proving to be a bit of an issue for the camera/tripod combination. Scouting around, I noticed a brick wall that people were sitting on. The thought struck me that if I was standing up on top of that wall, with the tripod fully extended, I might just be able to compose a shot without the security fence in the way. I told Cath I was headed that way and she tagged along behind me. I dropped my camera bag at the base of the wall, while I climbed up and began setting up my tripod and camera. With Cath standing right beside my camera bag, I didn’t think much more about it.
Over the next 11 seconds (I’ve checked the metadata from my images), I fired off 3 photos. I looked down to where Cath was standing and asked “Where’d you put my bag?”
She looked at the ground right beside her where my camera bag had been, looked up at me, and said “Haven’t you got it up there?”
And in that nanosecond, it hits you that it’s gone, and you’re never gonna see it again.
The mongrels got 2 lenses, all of my memory cards except for the one in my camera, all my filters, my Triggertrap cable, a Black Rapid R-strap, my good flash unit, a Flashwave 3 trigger and receiver set, and a bunch of minor accessories.
All up, about $1700 worth of gear.
Thankfully, when I travel, I backup my images every single night to a laptop or tablet device. So while it was infuriating, I didn’t lose ANY images (I’d thankfully been shooting on just one card all day!).
In order to make an insurance claim, I had to make a report at a police station within 24 hours. The only problem was, we were leaving Paris at first light (it was around 23:40 when the theft occurred). That meant we HAD to find a police station RIGHT. FREAKING. NOW.
We walked to the nearest one, only to find it was closed. A chat with some lads at a nearby restaurant, and we were on our way to the nearest 24 hour cop shop…. 2 train trips away. Oh joy. By the time we had made our report and got out of there, it was 01:30, and 02:00 by the time we got back to our Air B’n’B. Meh. Who needs more than 4 and a half hours sleep anyway?
Europe 2017 – day 21
Although we’ve done a lot of walking on some of our sightseeing days on this trip, today epitomised what I had come to call “The Walk of Madness”. The three of us walked about 15km or so for the day, me lugging 12kg of camera gear.
From our Air B’n’B on Rue de Clery, we walked down toward Pont Neuf, crossed the River Seine onto the island (don’t know its name), along to the cathedral of Notre Dame, then back to the north side of the river and up to the Louvre.
Then back to the south side, headed in the general direction of the Eiffel Tower but with an eye out for somewhere to have lunch. We found a couple of tables alfresco, right on the edge of the road, where we enjoyed a drink and a bite.
Then, it was on to the Eiffel Tower, where Cath and I ventured up while Janine (who’d “been there, done that”) went off for a quiet coffee.
Having seen the sights of Paris from on high, we walked over to Bir-Hakeim station, and caught the train up to Kléber, the Metro station closest to the Arc de Triomphe. We walked around it, and under it, but didn’t go up it. And photographed it from all angles.
And that was enough for one day. It would be another big day tomorrow. Seems to be the mantra, right about now.
Europe 2017 – day 20
We caught an early bus down to the Palace, and were faced with a couple of options.
We could join the queue waiting for access to the inside of the Palace, or we could go and wander through the gardens, which at this time of the morning, were largely deserted. It looked like the queue to enter the Palace would be a good half hour wait, so we elected to go and wander the gardens first.
This would later prove to have been a disastrous decision.
We split up, as I knew I would want to walk quicker than Cath would. This allowed me to cover a fair bit of ground around the acres and acres of grounds. I walked over to Marie Antoinette’s Palace, but it wasn’t going to open until 10:30, and we, sadly, had too many things to pack into today to wait that long.
Cath and I bumped into each other somewhere in the Palace grounds, and walked back to the Palace together, in order to go inside. Upon arriving back on the forecourt, where we would line up, we found that what had been perhaps a half hour queue was now a 90 minute queue. D’oh! We took our place in line, and eventually gained access to the inside of the Palace. You can see the photos, and you’ve probably seen even better ones in history books. NONE of them do these rooms justice. You genuinely have to stand in these rooms to really appreciate the complexity, scale and brilliance of the art contained therein.
We left the Palace around 14:00, headed back to our Air B’n’B, and hit the road for Orly Airport, where we would be dropping off our car. With the car disposed of (with 5,000km clocked up in the previous 19 days), we caught a cab into Paris and found our next Air B’n’B. And just as we arrived, so did Janine. Janine lives in Rotterdam, and we had invited her to come down to Paris for a couple of days so we could catch up. She would prove to be a great asset over the next couple of days, as she spoke very passable French.
Once we’d got settled, we headed out for drinks and dinner, and an early night to bed. It would be a big day tomorrow (again!).
Europe 2017 – day 19
Today we drove from Bordeaux to Versailles, on the southern side of Paris. We’ll be doing a tour of the Palace tomorrow, but this afternoon, we checked into our Air B’n’B, jumped on a bus, headed toward the Palace, and spent a few hours wandering the streets.For whatever reason, I was not inspired to take many images today. Maybe I’m saving myself for tomorrow, which is sure to be a big day!
Europe 2017 – day 18
Today, we drove from Zumaia to Bordeaux, another long-ish day of around 7 hours.
I didn’t shoot anything along the way, as we just wanted to get there and get settled so we could hit the streets of Bordeaux. Our Air B’n’B turned out to be the dodgiest of them all (I guess one of them had to earn that honour, right?). But, we’re not here for the accommodation, we’re here for the sights! We dumped our bags, and jumped on a bus into town.
There, we proceeded to walk up, down and all around in 35 degree heat, which was a bit of a shock after the preceding week of mid-20 degree days. Bordeaux cathedral was suitably impressive, but to be honest, after 17 days, I’m kinda getting to a point of having seen enough churches. I had been warned of this before the trip; y my wife and by others. “The ABC tour of Europe? Another Bloody Church!”. Starting to understand that now. But, you have to give it to them; they ARE impressive buildings. But when you consider the corruption, coercion and torture that helped erect them, that sort of takes the gloss off the experience a little.
In the evening, we went and hung around out the front of the Place de la Bourse, near Le Miroir d’eau (the water mirror). This large flat expanse of concrete is riddled with jets which, every 20 minutes, emit a fine mist for a few minutes. At this time of year, in this heat, you can imagine how popular a location this is. The kids love it, and the adults are glad for the cooling effect of the water, as well. We grabbed a couple of selfies, had a camera-wielding stranger take one of the two of us, then hung around waiting for the sun to go down.
My aim was to shoot a long exposure with a 10 stop filter, thinking that if most of the people were moving (as most of them were), then I SHOULD end up with an image with no people evident. For the most part, I got that image, although you can see a couple of ‘ghosts’ from people who didn’t move much during my 2 minute exposure. And yes, the sky is slightly blown out. Ideally, I would have hung around for another hour for the sky to darken further, but it was 21:30 when I shot this, and we’ve got another big day of driving and sightseeing tomorrow. Oh well, at least I got a half decent image of it!
Europe 2017 – day 17
We’ve been in Zumaia for 24 hours and absolutely fallen in love with place. Today, Cath went off and sat on the beach and had some quiet time while I wandered around with the camera taking photos. These rocks are just mind boggling.
At the left end of the beach (the Southern end), I could see what appeared to be a small cave. So I wondered down for a closer look. As I turned the corner, I found a couple doing interpretive dance inside the cave and the guy had a DSLR set up on his camera bag videoing their performance. I started snapping a couple of shots of them and it seemed they were quite happy for me to do so. So what had started out as a random encounter ended up becoming an impromptu photo shoot. I grabbed the flash and off-camera trigger, and took a half dozen shots with them doing their dance moves. The guy came up and introduced himself as Marcel and asked me would I mind sending him copies of whatever images I had taken. He gave me a card. He and his partner, Imma, were lovely, and I really enjoyed the photoshoot we did together. The tide was coming in and the waves kept crashing inside the cave higher and higher up the sand. We had to keep on moving our gear so the water didn’t flood everything!
I also spent some time walking around the town, which has a lovely vibe to it. Peaceful, pretty, friendly locals… I could spend a week here easily. Who am I kidding? I could live here.
Oh btw…. a little somethin’ extra for fans of Game of Thrones. If you’ve seen season 7 by the time you read this, you’ll recognise the images from the beach at Zumaia as the location of “Dragonstone”! And that little cave in which I shot Marcel and Imma dancing? And which I also shot at sundown (the images toward the end of the set)? That is the same cave you see Jon Snow and Danerys walking through in episode 2. We got home to Australia, saw s07e01 about 3 days later, and completely flipped out when we saw Zumaia!
Europe 2017 – day 16
As has been our modus operandi on this trip, we decided yesterday afternoon that it was time to start looking for accommodation for our next port of call (for tonight).
We were originally going to go to San Sebastian, but when she started looking for an Air B’n’B there, Cath said “It’s more expensive than I thought it would be and it looks REALLY touristy”. We don’t particularly go for ‘touristy’.
So I said “Well, stuff that. What else is there?”
A quick browse on Google Maps and we came across Zumaia, maybe 40km west of San Sebastian.
Hmmm, interesting rock formations, an Air B’n’B that was in our price range, AND available… OK, let’s do that!
So, this morning, we hit the road for what was to be our biggest driving day of the trip. About 7 hours to Zumaia.
We stopped at a town called Sahagún for lunch. While we were there, I grabbed a shot of the Arco de San Benito (the Roman Arch).
A couple of hours after that, we pulled off the motorway at a little village called Pancorbo, nestled at the feet of some large and imposing hills.
Here we found a church (which even the venerable Google Maps doesn’t identify). You could look inside, but only through a locked door of steel bars. The image that I shot was probably the trickiest execution of any shot on this trip! The inside of the church was so dark, yet outside it was high noon in a cloudless sky. When I looked through the viewfinder, I couldn’t see ANYTHING inside the church. So, I did what any self-respecting photographer would do…. set up the tripod, switched to manual focus (focused to infinity, then wound the focal point back just a tad) and manual exposure (f13 for the depth of field, and 4 seconds to capture enough lumens) and away we go. Gotta say that despite the lens flare, I’m pretty proud of that shot.
When we arrived in Zumaia around 17:30, we had some time to kill before we could meet up with our Air B’n’B host, so we decided to wander around town a bit. Although we knew we were back in Spain, it struck both of us that none of the names or signs we saw looked like Spanish. Some googling revealed references to Basque. And some reading of Wikipedia introduced us to the concept of the Basque Country (an autonomous region of northern Spain, but not answerable to the Spanish government; with its own language, food and culture). This would prove to be quite the learning experience over the next 48 hours.
Once we were settled in our accommodation, Juan (our host) pointed us in the direction of a good restaurant or three. And after dinner, I grabbed the camera and took to the streets for some night time imagery.
Europe 2017 – day 15
While we absolutely loved the atmosphere in Fao, it wasn’t an overly photogenic town, so this ended up being a bit of a rest day for the camera. But come the evening, I was starting to feel guilty that I hadn’t shot anything all day. So I dropped Cath back at our Air B’n’B and headed out with the camera to take some night time shots of some of the buildings.
Europe 2017 – day 14
So, having decided to skip our second day in Lisbon, we packed up the car and headed out to Bellum to see the Tower of St Vincent. We then headed out to the area known as Sintra about an hour’s drive west of Lisbon. This area is full of historic buildings. The one place that we were able to spend some time was the Castle of the Moors. It’s high on a hill and enjoys magnificent 360 degree panoramic views.
We got on the road again around lunchtime, and headed north. We decided not to stop in Porto, but instead, opted to find something smaller, a little bit quieter, maybe a little fishing village somewhere.
Google Maps had us headed for a couple of towns called Fao and Esposende, about an hour north of Porto. We.got up there and absolutely fell in love with the place straight away. We found a nice little restaurant called Sublime, had dinner and then it was off to the beach to take a couple of sunset photos. It was here that I shot the image of Cath watching the sun go down. It was a great day.
Europe 2017 – day 13
Today we headed back into the centre of Lisbon and wandered the streets some more. We saw some beautiful architecture, some REALLY old footings (dating from the 1st Century AD!) and a great view across the top of the city from a rooftop somewhere.
We got to about 8 o’clock in the evening and decided that we really didn’t feel like we needed another day here, and that we were ready to move on. So we told our Air B’nB host we would forfeit our third night of accommodation and would be leaving the following morning. However I did say to Cath “we have to go and have a look at Sintra” which is located just to the west of Lisbon. A work colleague of mine who had traveled through Portugal in the past told me that when I was in Lisbon, I absolutely had to go and see the area of Sintra, so that’s on the agenda for tomorrow.
Europe 2017 – day 12
We left Portimao and started heading toward Lisbon..But along the way, we decided to stop in Lagos, which was also on the South Coast. It was a beautiful little town and we wandered the back streets looking at all the beautiful white-washed buildings, the cobblestone streets and marveling at some of the frescoes that adorned some of the buildings’ walls.
As we headed north for Lisbon, we crossed a river at Vila Nova de Milfontes. It looked like it might have been a nice place to stop for lunch, but we had already decided we were going to head to a place called Sines. Sadly, when we got to Sines, we found it was very much an industrial town and not particularly much to look at. We ended up stopping at a shop and buying a couple of baguettes, some ham, cheese and tomato and then we made ourselves a little picnic lunch beside this beautiful long beach. However, it was very windy and a little bit cold and there was nobody around, so we ate our lunch and jumped back in the car and continued on to Lisbon.
When we got to Lisbon, we checked into our Air B’n’B, got a brief introduction to how the metro system worked, went and bought ourselves our train tickets and headed into town. We wandered around the main square where there was a stage and PA system being set up for a free concert that was to take place that evening. It turned out we had arrived in Lisbon on the last day of a month-long festival.
After dinner, we found a great little wine bar called Tábuas Porto Wine Tavern, with shelves stocked with so many different types of wine and port. There were even some really old bottles of port for sale. The oldest I saw was dated 1936, and was €499. It was an awesome little place with a lot of character.