Monday, September 29, 2014

Santiago: Pilgrim’s (and Photographer’s) Paradise

Good Morning Everybody,

TouristsWe departed Santiago de Compostela, Spain yesterday after a wonderful and magical stay. For those of you that don’t know about this exciting location, this is the ending point for the famous Way of St. James 500 mile pilgrimage. The town was packed with pilgrims everywhere who had made part or all of the journey. Let me say, these are not you sandal footed monks of the past.  Many of today’s pilgrims are wearing the latest in fashionable footwear and hiking gear ;~)

StaircaseAnyway… our stay was fabulous.  Once we arrived we immediately parked the car – you could not drive into the historic, Olde Town, part of the city.  The parking garage was about a 5 minute wake from the apartment so we left the large suitcases locked in the car and carried my camera bag, computer bag and one small suit case to the apartment as Emilio, our host, suggestion.  Good thing we did too – the apartment was on the 5th floor!!!! We never would have made it with the large 50 lb. suitcases.

Needless to say, the views from the top floor were amazing. We found ourselves looking across the rooftops of the city and directly at the famous Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela towers.

Pilgrims on Roof

After getting settled in we were off to explore the city which was teaming with visitors, pilgrims, and tourists everywhere.  It was truly buzzing with energy. I loved it!!! People, from many, many nationalities, were just taking it easy and relaxing in any number of the many cafés sipping on a coffee, beer, or glass of delicious Spanish wine.  LaDawn and I walked the streets and enjoyed the sights, sounds, and colors of this vibrant community.

BotafumeiroWe haven’t visited many museums this trip but always take in the famous cathedrals along the way, Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela was no exception. We quickly discovered that on the evening of our arrival the cathedral was going to swing the Botafumeiro, the famous, and one of the largest in the world incense burner hanging in front of the main altar.

Incense is burned in this swinging metal container, or "incensory". The name "Botafumeiro" means "smoke expeller" in Galician. BTW… the Galician language continues to be widely used in this part of Spain, second to Spanish and both are inter-mixed frequently. The Botafumeiro is suspended from a pulley mechanism in the dome on the roof of the church . The current pulley mechanism was installed in 1604 and requires approximately 8 men to work the system.


The present Botafumeiro is made of an alloy of brass and bronze and is plated by a very thin layer of silver attach the rope to the Botafumeiro with a set of "sailor's knots". I have to tell you, it is quite the sight to see this 180 pound silver blazing object swinging from one end of the church to the other is unbelievable!


Here is a YouTube video shows what an unforgettable ceremony it was.  Just look at the crowds looking on as well – this is a BIG deal in Santiago!!!

Like I said, quite a sight!


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I’ll do a follow up post featuring several of our favorite photographs for all you photographers out there. Enjoy the rest of the day where you are and I’ll see you soon.

Adios for now, David

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Porto: A Photographic Album

Good Morning Everybody,

After yesterday’s post I wanted to recap our visit to Porto, Portugal with a selection of images mostly edited by LaDawn.  I think it gives a good overall impression of what we saw while visiting Porto.

Porto is a lovely city with all the historic sites of any European town – churches, museums, multi-colored buildings. As an example, check out the image below – it really gives a flavor to the historic and colorful Ribera section in which we stayed.  I’ve added the arrows to show the location of our apartment.  The inside was modern and quite comfortable – a different impression from what one might gather from the exterior.

Our Balconies

The churches and cathedrals are simply magnificent inside. I’m planning a future blog post describing how I photographed the interiors of these often times very dark amazing spaces.


One of the highlights of our visit was the Portuguese Center of Photography.  It was filled with several displays of award winning photography.  0017_Porto-DZ2_3759-EditThe displays coupled with the exhibits of cameras through the years would be a photographic treat for any photographer – well worth the visit, and it was free.

We took a short day trip over to Braga, the 3rd largest and oldest city in Portugal.  Our visit included a visit to the Bom Jesus do Monte, perched atop one of the tallest hills in the region.  The views were spectacular from such a high vantage point.  The Bom Jesus is another on of the famous pilgrimage sites throughout this part of the world.


Our trip to Porto would not have been complete without a visit to a few Port Wine Cellars.  The most prestigious in the city must be Taylor’s known throughout the world for it’s wonderful port wine.  The tours gave us a new appreciation for a wine we knew little about.  The tour also gave us some great opportunities to get some terrific images of the caves and surrounds.  It was definitely time well spent.


Hey gang, I’m going to let that be it for today.  Why not take a peak at the images below.  I think they round out the sights of our brief visit.

Adios everybody, David