LAPC #236 North Meets South

It’s never the differences between people that surprise us. It’s the things that, against all odds, we have in common.
― Jodi Picoult

Thank you to Amy of The World is a Book, for hosting this week’s interesting challenge. She asks us to explore, East Meets West or North Meets South. Read her creative post here to inspire your thoughts. Remember to link to her post and add the Lens-Artists tag so we can find you.

I must declare this was a difficult task for me – how to? I hope my solution is OK with you.

Because, I have focused on North meets South, and two very different countries with much in common. Just like we humans, wherever we come from – we have got so many things in common.

I guess you already know from the first images which the two countries are…

Both have got spectacular natural phenomena as volcanoes and hot springs, and ice and snow in beautiful nature.

They have got similar houses too…(!) even if one of them only is from some famous films made here.

So, how do we use their natural resources, the hotsprings? We can bathe in them…

cook in them…

or maybe just love the sight of them as a tourist. For energi they are outstanding and sustainable resources.

Both countries also boast spectacular natural layers of stone.

In one of the two countries, there are no forests – in the other one the jungle lives side by side with the glaciers.

If you follow me, you know how close to my heart these two countries are. They carry the clear light of a natural world less spoilt. One of them is called the land of the long white cloud, while the other one, if you look at the images above, maybe is the land of the short white cloud…

A special thank you to Patti as she made us look at Shadows and Reflections in Monochrome last week. Once again, the interpretations to the challenge were creative, fun and inspiring.  This way, we also learned something about what photos work best in monochrome.  Next week, we welcome Bren as our guest host.  She challenges us with: ”Lowering That Clarity To Bring Softness.”  We look forward to more learning next week!

Interested in joining the Lens-Artists Challenges? Click here for more information.

Thursday Thoughts – Walking in Porto, Things that Caught My Eye

Today I feel like sharing another random walk…in Porto. When we walk it is not always a scheduled walk, I love lonely walks without a meticulous plan. Just to see what cathes my eye…so, come walk with me. Not many words needed.

Abandoned places always speak to me…

Walking on bridges gives you a different view of things.

Narrow streets are often tempting to walk…quite irresistible.

Realising the scale of things can be breathtaking.

His view?

This one! The young Brasilian playing was a complete virtuoso. He played among other wellknown artists, Carlos Santana. It was almost impossible to stop listening.

Just for fun.

Old houses and new art.

And who can resist a sight like this?

Some more of the beautiful wall art.

And we ended our Porto tour with a beautiful play of light and music in the neighbouring church.

LAPC #223 – Flights of Fancy

John leads this week’s challenge, and it is no surprise it involves a ”flight”…

I was a little bookworm, a girl with my head full of dreams. Many dreams of foreign countries I read about in books and saw fascinating pictures of. Mostly special places in these books, not so much whole countries. I never thought they would be more than dreams, but then I met a young man as eager as myself to see the world. We started travelling together when I was 16 and he was 21. And we never stopped. Today I am very grateful that so many ”flights of fancy” from my childhood really came to fruition. Of course I have many dreams left, but in fact there is only one more great travel dream, and that is to see the cherry blossom and the wisteria tunnels in Japan. Somehow I don’t think that dream will come true – but it feels good to still have dreams!

Please go to John’s site for more inspiration!

I have picked three different ”flights”… big and small, and in two out of three there is a real flight involved.

One of my first ”flights of fancy” was this house. As a young girl I used to spend every summer in the public swimming pool of our village. And on my way to the pool, every day I passed this white house, surrounded by a big garden with lots of birches, apple trees, plum trees and pear trees. It was built on a bit higher ground than the other houses, and I also knew that one of the most handsome young boys in my little village happened to live there…

Little did I know that my boyfriend and I would buy this house when I was only 21 – and we have lived here since then, for 44 years now. And, it is still my dream house!

This image is from quite some years ago, when we had both Mille and Totti waiting for us to come home.

Another ”flight of fancy” was going to New Zealand. I had a pen friend when I was 11 (one of many…), and this girl sent me a calender with photos from both islands, North and South. I was so mezmerised, so in love with these extraordinary nature sceneries, that I started dreaming of getting there one day. In my mind, no other country could literally have ”everything” I loved: high mountains and glaciers, volcanoes and hot springs, magical forests and jungle, unimaginable animals…yes, everything. A dream which of course sounded absolutely impossible…NZ was at the the other end of the world – the New Zealanders are our antipodes.

Then there is another ”flight of fancy” involved too. I had always loved the novels of JRR Tolkien, and especially Lord of the Rings. Our children loved it too…so, finally we arrived in NZ, North Island around Christmas 2011. We travelled the islands for a month, and of course we had to visit Hobbiton! And do you know what – it looked just like in my dreams.

Yet another ”flight of fancy” started with a novel, James Hilton’s Lost Horizon. I dreamt of the magical Himalayas and mystical Tibet, but realised I would never get there. This was literally another world. But, in 2009 my family took the train from Beijing over permafrost and the Tibetan Plateau to Lhasa. It is the world’s highest railway, 5,068 meters at Tanggula. The cars are equipped with oxygen supply to avoid altitude sickness. Still today, we all think this was one of our greatest adventures.

Over the last years, our home has become a ”flight of fancy” for birds and insects, plants and hedgehogs. I try to make it my own Shangri-La, a hidden paradise behind birches, bird cherry and lilacs. I cannot save the planet, but I know I can be of great help to make this little piece of Earth thrive.

According to John, and to, the idiom “flight of fancy” refers to “an unrealistic idea or fantastic notion, a
pipe dream. For example, ‘She engaged in flights of fancy, such as owning a million‐dollar house.’ This idiom uses
flight in the sense of ‘a soaring of the imagination,’ a usage dating from the mid‐1600s.”

I believe we all need imagination and flights of fancy to survive in this unruly world, so, keep dreaming…

A big thank you to Amy for a spectacular mountain challenge – and to you all for your fabulous entries! Now we are looking forward to seeing what was your flight of fancy (or someone else’s) that came to fruition? Please link to John’s original post and tag Lens-Artists.

Next week, Sofia hosts challenge #224 – Exposure. Be sure to visit her beautiful site for inspiration. Until next, stay calm and kind.

Thursday Thoughts – Porto’s Sister, Gaia

On the other side of the Douro river, is Gaia. Home to the wineries and the good food, the salesmen and the old boats – and great street art. Let’s pay the area a visit.

My first impression was of a rather run down area, nothing fashionable at all. The best thing was the lovely views of Porto on the other side of the river.

Walking along the Gaia waterfront, you can see the slender old port boats and even a vintage tram rattling along the Porto streets.

At Taylor’s Port, we were showed around among the impressive barrels, and the wine tasting was excellent. A couple of bottles in the bag could not be resisted.

Bacalhau! A national dish in Portugal. We got a first taste of it here, with a glass of port of course…The neighbour was a spectacular sardine shop. You could even buy a box of sardines with your year of birth on it – luckily the fish was not the same age… I bought a box for my father, who turned 89 two weeks later.

There was excellent street art all over the city, for almost every new block we walked a surprise was waiting around the corner.

A marvelous work was this rabbit, or hare, made of debris and I guess whatever found… We met him at a corner and could not stop looking at all the details. I told him how amazing he was, and he nodded gracefully – I am sure!

Thank you for walking along with me in Gaia, and now, a glass of port – cheers!

Thursday Thoughts – Douro River

From Porto, a boat trip along the Douro river into the beautiful wine district was a must. The Douro valleys have a microclimate allowing for cultivation of olives, almonds, and especially grapes, which are important for making port. According to our guide, the region around Pinhão and São João da Pesqueira is considered to be the centre of port, with its quintas (or farms/estates) along the steep slopes of the river valleys. Today, many of these are owned by multinational, reputed wine companies.

The grapes had been harvested two weeks before we arrived, so the fields were empty – but still eye-catching.

We went by bus to the vineyard where we were going to eat and try their wines. With those lovely views everywhere, you could not fall asleep…

…neither on the river nor on the bus.

The rolling green hills and the blue sky – all softness and harmony.

The vines were almost always combined with olive trees – giving a soft silvery touch to the landscape.

Finally, as our trip was coming to an end, we inhaled the magnificent view from Quinta S Luiz before entering the bus again.

Of course we had delicious Portuguise food and nice wine along with it. Strolling through the wine cellar of Quinta S Luiz, I found ”my” vintage wine – but I did not buy it… maybe I should have…

Thursday Thoughts – Porto and the Waterfront

As much as I love the alleyways and narrow, cobbled streets, Porto has a beautiful waterfront too. We walked and we took a boat trip to see the colourful houses from a distance. And we were not disappointed.

Walking down to the river…

…or walking up from it – was always a treat. I even met some dogs enjoying the shadow.

Colourful and happy houses makes the wanderer happy too!

The bridge across the river made for beautiful views all over. The city looks delightful any time of the day.

A boat trip along the river is always to be recommended. I am not a boat person, but you will see all the bridges and the waterfront up close.

As we were lucky with the weather, there was no wind either.

So far we had only walked the Porto side of the river. Another day we would walk the Gaia, where there are many good restaurants and all the wineries.

Gaia photographed from another bridge. We couldn’t get enough of the river – or the many bridges. We’d had a delightful day, so thank you for coming along!

LAPC #220 – One Subject Three Ways

This weeks challenge is hosted by Patti, who once again wants us to think photographically – One subject three ways.

I am just back from Porto, and I have to post from the amazing Livraria Lello – ”The Most Beautiful Bookstore in the World”… and a bit more than three images it had to be. How do you portray a staircase like this? Hope you don’t mind, Patti! I stayed for an hour and a half to work this shot…

There were so many people in queue to come inside, that we had to try three times to find a queue that didn’t stretch all over Old Town Porto.

And I really don’t know how many books were sold or borrowed or… most people were there for the same reason as we were there – for the love of the architecture and for photographing.

My photos are all crowded, but there was no chance of shooting without people getting in the way…

…taking turns posing or just standing in awe. But for a second or two, suddenly there were only two people in the staircase!

I loved it almost more from behind …but every minute here, I was thinking ”Harry Potter”…

This is my favourite perspective and the lady looking upwards shows there is more to see up there – a beautifully painted glass ceiling for example. But that will be for another post, this one was all about the spectacular staircase!

Patti says: ”This week, we invite you to “work the shot.” Post 3 photos of the same subject–from your archives or from a recent outing. Vary your distance from the subject, try different perspectives, zoom out for the big picture, or zoom in on the details. It’s up to you. You can even experiment with processing the photos differently–in black and white or color, cropping, or trying different filters or effects.”

As usual, be sure to include a link to the original post and use the Lens-Artists tag so we can find you in the Reader.

A special thanks to Tina for hosting last week’s challenge for photo treasures. Your photos were so varied and inspiring–as always!

I, Ann-Christine, will host next challenge, LAPC #221, so be sure to visit Leya, next Saturday at noon to get all the details. We hope you will join us!

Until then, stay safe, inspired and kind.

Thursday Thoughts – A Piece of Porto

So, we finally went to Porto, a trip cancelled two times due to covid. I must admit it felt strange to travel again…boarding a plane, walking in the sun, taking photos, eating out… My guess is I took more photos than I usually do.

I will share my first impressions of this friendly city today.

We arrived in beautiful evening light, and it felt so good to finally be there. A stroll in the park, and then a good night’s sleep before next day’s adventures.

Early in the morning we realised people were absolutely right about the steep streets, mostly cobblestones too. Big parts of the city were under reconstruction as they were enlarging their metro system. Taking photos in the central parts were quite impossible.

The beautiful azulejos were everywhere. This church and the trainstation were especially amazing.

But, the azulejos were not the reason why we went to Porto. I knew from my blogging friend Viveka (Myguiltypleasures), that the narrow streets and alleyways, the old houses and the charm of the river Douro – and good food – was THE reason.

View from the upper part of the bridge between Porto and Gaia.

Stairs and steps…but worth the trouble!

This old man watering his flowers had a grand view of the Sé Cathedral from his balcony.

No words for this path – it was just my kind of path…

More of Porto later on – hope you enjoyed the first piece. We also went to the wine district in the Douro valley. I hope you will enjoy more of Porto later!