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Friday, August 31, 2012

back to basics – in Black and White.

You all know that I prefer color.  I see better when colors are defining the photo so I haven’t ever taken photos in black and white.  I thought that I would play along this week, using my photo editor (I know its not the same thing) to convert some photos of Nova Friburgo into Black and White.  I looked through my archives, looking specifically for bright light that would define the shadows in the photos, trying for first class (edited) photos. 

**** on my computer this photo looked like B&W but wasn’t so I edited it – following is the result.

082 crop

     082 crop B&W

                                             My world class view.  

(still only see it in B&W – per B&B I need a better monitor.)

Nova Friburgo sits, sprawled along a small mountain river. Its streets curve and wind up the hills from the main highway that runs on either side of the concrete-sided river.  The natural beauty of the area is masked by the mess humans have made of managing the city.  It is not a dirty town, just frayed and clustered and now stymied by the transit that is the benefit of a good economy.  After saying all of this how do I really enjoy making photos show the basics of this city in stark B & W. 

DSC08443The city of Nova Friburgo is trying – trying to keep its family oriented environment, trying to add culture and entertainment,  even with the mess of traffic the city continues to have festivals, and it own carnival celebrations giving the citizens a chance a good life with their families. 

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Early Vacations - 2004 to Sicily

Last week’s FSO post about vacations took me down memory lane, forcing me to look at old photos and to straighten out numerous folders and photo albums with 35mm shots.  I found a post about Buenos Aires Argentine where I tell you all that I will write a second post about the new docks - Puerto Madero Waterfront – and then don’t.  I can’t imagine how many times that has happened.  How many times have I dropped a thought and said, “that a different story, will tell you later.” and then don’t.  Can you think of something I didn’t tell you and should have?

In the spirit of showing you things I have missed, I want to do a few posts about vacations that we took between 2002, when I got my first digital camera for Christmas, and early 2007 when I started to write and show photos on ‘Flowers and More’.  I might also go back to my 35mm photo albums and scan to show you anything else of real interest but for now I will hold that thought (Smile) until later. 

Cefalu, Sicily (9)Because I showed you scanned photos of Taormina, Sicily on Friday, a trip we took in 2002, no specific dates found but if memory serves me correctly it was in late spring.  I thought that I would start this trip in nostalgia  with our second trip to Sicily in May of 2004.  This trip was from Rio; I think that Camillo got really good ticket prices because we went Rio, Sao Paulo, Zurich, Rome, Palermo - changing planes and with stopovers on each step of the flight.  In Zurich, we had a major stop, like 5 or 6 hours, so we took the local train to have lunch in old town Zurich.  After 2 days in Palermo, we took a train to Cefalù, then a boat tour out to Lapari and Vulcano, both islands north of Cefalù with live (not necessarily active) volcanoes.  Then after another day or so in Cefalù, another night train all the way back to Rome where we met Patty (my daughter) and Vivi (Camillo’s).  We spent several weeks showing them all around Rome and onward.  Yes, was a very nice trip indeed.   **I don’t know if it has improved but train schedules in Italy are hard to track down.  Travel agent do (did) not have the schedules you have to go to the train stations.  Like in this case they are not right in the city.  Our night train along the coast at sunset was great, then at the port at Messina the whole train was loaded into the bowels  of a ferry.  All of the doors snapped shut – locking us in – twenty minutes later the whole train came off the ferry and early the next morning we were in Rome.

Cefalu, Sicily (21)

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For us, though, Cefalù was the highlight of the trip.  All of Sicily and the surrounding islands have a long and varied history.  Starting back several thousand years before Christ, the foundation of this city being Greek, and running until joining the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.  At one time or another the Island of Sicily was Greek, Etruscan, Roman, Norman, and Arab. The Cefalù Cathedral reflects this history. 

Started in 1131, the façade being finished in 1240 and the cathedral was consecrated in 1267.  Its architecture is varied, reflecting the conquering groups through the years it was built and expanded. 

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cefaluscan (4)

Take away the great food, the natural scenery, the ancient architectural flavor – strip this city down and it is still worth visiting just to see the Cathedral.  For more photos see the slideshow below.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Vacation Spots -

Camillo and I live in the vacation wonderland of the world.  From the Christ to the Sugar Loaf, from the laying on the beach and playing in the surf to hiking in the forests that run through Rio and rock climbing,  From eating Churrasco to drinking caiprinhas in the open air, you can’t beat this city for a great vacation.   But within my definition of a great vacation are several elements missing in Rio.  Primarily a vacation needs to take you away from your routine and give you a long break from what you know and are familiar with.   That means that for me I need to go anyplace other than someplace in Brasil to really have a vacation. 

Piazza Armerina Sicily (4)The winner is Taormina Sicily

Camillo and I talked several times this week about which vacation place, outside of Brasil, has been our best vacation.  This was a VERY hard choice.  We have been so many places, eaten to much great food, seen such beauty that to say ‘that’ is number one – for both of us – took some real negotiations.  Since 2007 when I started writing for ‘Flowers’ I have shown you our vacations virtually as they have happened.  Not only did I have to look through my digital archives looking at those I’ve already shown you,  trying to make the choice, but also the 14 albums from my 35 mm days.   I can tell you I really enjoyed reviewing all the photos.

Landscapes of Etna (3)

Maybe the win for Taormina was because this city was a first visit for both of us; in 2002 – not so long ago – we flew from Houston to Rome to Sicily and spent a week or so in Taormina,  across a valley from Etna and flowing to the edge of the sea, this little city is beautiful.   Taormina has romance, adventure, Greek and Roman ruins, texture and color to make you and your camera happy; it is small enough that you can walk from one side to the other holding hands, and large enough to have a variety of hotels and restaurants to meet your budget.  We dubbed it the city of balconies. 

Taormina sicily (6)

I got my first digital camera for Christmas of 2002, too late to give you digital photos of Taormina.  I spent the better part of yesterday scanning about 1/2 of my photos of the trip into the computer.  I don’t think this gives you really good photos but good enough for you to get the idea.  At the end of this post will be several slide shows if you want to see more. 

Taormina sicily (25)  Taormina sicily (13)

     Villa Romana, in the mid-central part of Sicily.  The tour takes you through hills full of lemon trees.  The villa was discovered by a farmer turning over a new field.  It was once a vacation home for a Roman General out of north Africa.  All the wall and floors were decorated with detailed mosaic …. During restoration each area was painstakingly cleaned, sorted and re-laid.  An art not lost

     Another tour took us up onto the sides of The Etna – still hot from the last eruption, we were

instructed not to leave the designated trail…. to make his point the tour guide threw a piece of paper onto the lava stone and it caught on fire….. we were careful where we put our feet.   

Friday, August 17, 2012

What I do? (MTFSO Sent to you from Bahia, Brasil)

this is paramount to asking “who am I”.  What an awful question to ask a retired person; who lives in a country where language is difficult; who lives far from the lives of children and grandchildren; who, when moving to said foreign country, inherited a housekeeper and a gardener; and who is not the most adventuresome person.   Forcing me to face ‘what do I do?’  (God forbid I ask the question – Who am I?)

DSC_2219Life moves along, time passes quite rapidly, so there must be something of substance in those days, months, years.  I don’t watch daytime TV, nor languish on the sofa eating chocolates – so there must be something.  Just this last year I gave up my quasi job of quasi bookkeeping for a small Norwegian company – basically converting Portuguese expenses into English and into US$ reports for Corporate in Oslo.  The job was not at all a challenge and not particularly interesting but kept me in my own spending change for the past 7 years – I will miss the money.  Nothing is worse than having to routinely asking your husband for money so you can buy a jar of hand cream. 

I do spend too many hours on Facebook, and other computer oriented activities.  I drive into town to go to the gym and to run errands…grocery shopping and such (four or 5 hours per week).   I do cook, usually the midday meal which means that daily about two hours are taken care of.  DSC_2221Lets see, I sleep about 7 hours … so that is nine out of 24 …. Add in 3 hours on the computer and two or so on the veranda having coffee or a drink with Camillo listening in while he talks of his day and his contacts in the outside world. and, the average, 1 hour at the gym…  We are now up to 15 of 24 hours accounted for in a day – what happens to the other 9 hours per day? …. are you bored silly yet?

Trying to account for a day in the time of a retired person is a futile exercise.   If I pull back a bit, look at my time from a distance, I can add baking cookies, which I normally take to the gym so the young, slender girls are tempted with the calories  …Lol…and I will not.  I make jams and jellies as the fruits are in season – one of my DSC_2228favorite activities,  and I travel.  Some retired people play golf, or lunch at the country club and play cards, we travel. 

Usually, I have one or two trips a year to Houston / Adrian to visit family.  We take one major trip a year and that has pretty constantly been to Europe where we end up in Rome to visit Camillo only sister.  Along the way, we visit friends in different cities of Brasil and S. America.  Enjoying ourselves immensely, eating and tasting and being entertained.  Yes, if looked at from a distance life is pretty good.  

This week we have been in Salvador Bahia.  Camillo consulting, facilitating and entertaining, and I walking and taking photos and trying to keep myself busy.  (Hum!)  I do enjoy the taking photos part, finding treasures and enjoying new spaces, color and reflections.  And next week will be busy with editing and storing the photos.  Yes, If viewed from a distance Life IS Good.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Salvador – part two

DSCN0862Yesterday’s walk through old town Salvador brought no real surprises but did bring a few questions.  The whole area is dotted with churches – built in the old style of Portugal; they add texture and beauty to the decaying streets – but yesterday, Sunday morning, father’s day here in Brasil,  we didn’t find one open – are they not functioning churches?  Do people not live in the old town?  At noon, we were able to go inside the Church of the ‘Ordem Terceira Secular de Sao Francisco’.   This is a small, crumbling, gold-leaf-painted interior church with a three story (possibly) living quarters attached.  I apologize, we had a tour guide offer to take us around and talk of the history, but John and Camillo opted to sit on a back pew and talk (likely) geophysics, while I walked the building with my camera, and I wasn’t able to find online info this morning.  There is plenty of information but I only found Portuguese no English…. will hunt some more.

For me it was a delight to walk through the 3 floors; up narrow wooden DSC_2282

stairwells, across wide planked wooden floors, viewing into side rooms and at artifacts, looking at the original Portuguese, hand painted tiled walls, admiring the crafted ceilings even on the highest floors.  There was a large room on the third floor that had a huge table, surrounded by large chairs, telling me this space was for the Priests not for Nuns.  A beauty of a room, light coming in tall thin windows, looking out over more church steeples.  I loved it.

looking at my photos – the first two below had tile floors and was just off the main chapel.  the next floor seems to also have tile floors.  The floor in the large dinning rooms was parquet and only the upper – most floor was wood plank…..



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go to the slideshow to see random photos of Salvador.



Sunday, August 12, 2012

Salvador, Bahia Revisited

DSCN0796Camillo has been bringing me to Bahia (as the natives call Salvador) for visits for the past 20 years.  I guess this trip represents my 6th or 7th time here.  It is one of my favorite Brazilian cities.  The people that you meet here, from restaurant service to the vendors on the street, seem to have an inherent good nature, a warm smile and a helpful attitude freely given.  DSCN0823

Most visits we make at least on walk through the old city, mainly because (of course) Camillo like to eat in favorite local restaurants.  Today we had the additional enjoyment of showing a first-timer to Salvador around our favorite sights; the Mercado Modelo, then up the (pretty rickety) elevator at the cost of R$0.15 each, taking him on a walk around the old city.   This visit I DSCN0822requested more time to actual visit the inside space of a couple of the churches and the Palácio Rio Branco, which sits right at the top of the elevator.   

I could have stopped with my walk through the ‘Palace’DSC_2244 and been perfectly happy.  Built in 1889 and refurbished in 1919, half of the ground floor, devoid of furniture, is a truly beautiful space.  We didn’t see upstairs – you can only go up with a tour, but the two large rooms and the rounded DSC_2241veranda overlooking the sea are spectacular.DSC_2253DSC_2255



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My plan was to give you more photos from todays walk but  I will complete this in the morning…. too long a day, too much food.  Tomorrow Camillo goes to the field – he will be in ‘hog heaven’.  I will get into the feel of the tropic, start slow, have breakfast late, then a walk and a sit by the pool.  No complaints.  Tomorrow the ‘Ordem Terceira Secular de Sao Francisco.  Night.