Pictury Photo Tours is crossing borders in the company of my friends Ugo Cei from Italy and Ralph Velasco from the USA, great photographers and Photo Tour international leaders who have been kind enough to interview me recently.
You can listen below and follow us at www.picturyphototours.com
So says Sérgio Godinho’s song, singer-songwriter of Porto that I admire. Music is part of our lives, has an extraordinary effect on the awakening of emotions and the words sung in Portuguese are blessed.
Today I write with a peace and a feeling that from now everything will go well. It feels so good …
Yesterday we officially inaugurated Pictury Photo Tours, joining a group of friends for a small photo tour through Porto, that city of cobbled, narrow and old alleyways that is always there for us and we feel how much it likes to be shared. We start at Virtudes Garden, always different in each visit, but where we feel always free.
Next stop, the Church of S. Pedro de Miragaia, with its magnificent altarpiece, beautiful! We were greeted by D Zulmira, whom I thank for the generosity and sympathy with which she made known to us the whole filling of this church that is well worth the visit.
Now let’s all be (when I say everyone is really everyone, because me and our children did not know what was going to happen, everything was prepared by my husband) surprised (always liked to surprise and did not lose the way …) by our guide. We have a 5D movie session about Porto that I highly recommend. It’s a different and fun way to see Porto.
The ride is almost over. We are going to walk along a narrow street that ends in a staircase leading to a small square where there are only 3 doors, we have to go back. Very curious and unusual.
A wonderful dinner is waiting for us at Espiga, which is a really nice space with a concern to promote cultural initiatives that for me are important to the city and where we eat well.
We finished the day with the presentation of a beautiful video (I know I’m suspicious, but I really like it) with compliments from renowed international photographers who know about my husband’s work. Thank you all.
Finally, I want to thank all those who were present and those that can’t but are “cheering” for us since the beginning
I still want to say that, despite giving a lot of work, it has been a pleasure for me to collaborate in this project that, even though it is not mine, has all my love. I will always be willing to welcome you with my biggest smile.
Maria José Dias
Another sweet dawn and I’m sure that I will have a very well spent day and it will end in the best way, to see another theater play.
Today our tour will be to the cradle of the nation, the city of Guimarães. For those who are lovers of the country, of this wonderful Portugal, this city is always an inspiration. It is a city with a glorious historical past that is associated with the foundation of the national identity and the portuguese language. It is certainly one of the most important historical destinations in the country. Ancient Roman city, was chosen by D. Afonso Henriques (our first king) to be the capital of the kingdom, after the victory in the battle of S. Mamede, in 1128. It was classified as World Heritage of Unesco in 2001.
When you arrive in Guimarães there is always a good feeling that I can’t explain, but I think it’s because I’m portuguese. I want to shout very loudly “Viva Portugal”. We start at the hill where two remarkable examples of the Vimaranian heritage stand: The castle and the Ducal Palace. BEAUTIFUL!
The Castle of Guimarães was built in the 10th century , being extended in the 11th century. Says the legend that D. Afonso Henriques was born here. In 1910 it was classified as a national monument.
The Ducal Palace dates back to the 15th century, and it has, in its interior, a set of Flemish tapestries and Persian rugs, superb. Both are well worth a visit.
Then we continue our journey right through the main square, the Oliveira Square.
It’s so nice to go down calmly enjoying the surroundings. A real labyrinth of winding alleys, flanked by old houses, decorated with statuary.
Suddenly we see the Salado Pattern in the center, which is a Gothic pearl (style that I like so much) and on the left side is the beautiful church of Nossa Senhora da Oliveira. This church was founded by D. Afonso Henriques and underwent a restoration in the reign of King João I in 1835, after the victory in the battle of Aljubarrota. The tower is Manueline (a style that is only portuguese).
There is a curious legend associated with this square that I think is worth telling here. There was an olive tree in front of the church, which olives were used to provide oil to the altar lamps, but dried up and died. Later, a merchant put a cross on the exact spot where the olive tree once existed. Miraculously the tree came back to life. Unfortunately the one that exists today is not the original.
It is lunch time and there are many good restaurants in Guimarães. We chose one that, apart from eating very well, is a happy recovery from an old building, Papa Boa. I recommend.
Our afternoon will be spent on the mountain of Penha to enjoy all the nature and the best views over the city.
We will climb the cable car, probably the first to start operating in Portugal, in 1955. The climb is very pleasant and allows us to have an aerial perspective.
The mountain of Penha, although it goes back to the prehistoric period, its occupation took place in the last three centuries, was when the relation of the men with the space happened. The men wanted to build a place of worship here and “faith moves mountains”. Today there is a very important sanctuary for the Catholic religion and that is a true place of pilgrimage. It’s a fascinating place where granite rocks predominate. There are a set of caves, gorges, fountains, cliffs, large trees, all ready to be discovered and appreciated.
The devotion of men does miracles. Man with nature and faith leaves a valuable legacy.
It’s time to go down to dinner in Oliveira Square, on a terrace where you feel like sitting and taking more time than necessary, looking without haste for every detail. We had dinner calmly, but now we have to go to the Alberto Sampaio Museum where we will have the real privilege of seeing a play. I think it’s an unbeatable duo, a good play in an unlikely and so beautiful place.
The Alberto Sampaio Museum has one of the most valuable collections of tiles and sculptures in the country. I emphasize a beautiful triptych in silver, that represents the visitation, the annunciation and the birth of Christ. But the ex-libris of this place are, for me, the cloisters, gorgeous.
Here we go up an ancient staircase that takes us to a small wooden room, cozy, where we feel special. The historical play was very well performed, with a fantastic wardrobe. Congratulations!
It’s time to say goodbye and it looks like we miss it already. We’ll come back soon!
Maria José Dias
Pictury Photo Tours
Nothing better than getting up in the morning with the joy of thinking that the end of the day will be toasted with another play, Cheers to the Theater (on this day that is his I have to celebrate it)!
Thus, we have a good excuse to go early to Braga and enjoy the day in this small and beautiful city.
Braga is, beyond a city full of history, the city of creativity, despite its interiority, it feels the bubbling.
We start the tour in the Sé (catedral) that still exists before Portugal is a country and that is the most emblematic building.
Located in the historical center, as we know it was projected at the end of the 12th century by Bishop D. Pedro. It is thought to have been built where there once existed a Roman temple dedicated to the goddess Isis (goddess of motherhood and fertility, protector of nature and magic – this building is even magical). It offers a range of styles, from the Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque styles.
Inside are the tombs of the most important “fathers” of Portugal, those of D. Afonso Henriques, our first King. Let us appreciate.
Whenever I go to Braga I like to walk the old streets, to enjoy the details calmly, but also the people with all their sympathy and generosity.
One of the buildings I like most is the Palácio do Raio, sublime!
It has everything that in my imagination a palace must have, so full of details, with all the magnificent tiles (that so much taste and that so well represent Portugal), sumptuous and so different. It’s really special.
I can not fail to make reference to the architect to whom we owe his existence to our delight, André Soares.
André Soares and Carlos Amarante are two of the most important architects for the city of Braga. Already someone said that architecture is the greatest art.
Continuing our tour we have to pass in the so-called New Door Arch that never had a door, but which is worth appreciating, especially the top sculptures. This bow will connect to a square with a very beautiful fountain where a fish market was once held. It is always interesting to imagine ourselves in other times.
There is still a curiosity that has to do with the authorship of this arch, there are doubts about if it was André Soares or Carlos Amarante who built.
It’s lunchtime and hunger tightens. We still have a long afternoon, but it sure will be worth it.
Lunch at S. Frutuoso, one of Braga classics restaurant retemper and is always so good.
Let’s go to one of the favorite places, Bom Jesus do Monte or Braga.
As the name implies it stands on a hill and has one of the most curious buildings I know, it is a staircase with 573 steps where the five human senses are represented in each fountain with enchanting details, whose authorship is the architect Carlos Amarante.
I recommend climbing on foot, for the bravest it’s worth it, when we got there above we felt some conquerors.
There is the possibility of getting on the funicular (you have to try climbing or descending) which was inaugurated in 1882 and is the oldest in the world in activity. It is an extraordinary work of engineering of the Portuguese Raul Mesnier de Ponsard, moved by water by counterweight, constituted by two cabins, both with water deposits and connected by a cable. Truly ingenious.
The conquerors have arrived and will now feel these gardens that alone are worth the visit. Nature at its best, whatever the time of year.
To those who are believers, nature is indeed a gift from God and to me these gardens are proof of that. We are in a set of extensive gardens, lakes, grottos, rails and coretos, a true feast. It is worthwhile to let yourself to be inebriate and envolved with nature, discover all the nooks that are always surprising. A very rich afternoon.
Let’s get down on this fantastic funicular that I told you about (yes, do not forget that the climb was on foot).
We had dinner in a restaurant in the historic area that I really like, both for its beauty and for the food it offers. Modern, but in an old building that has been recovered in the best way.
My heart is “running” fast, I see the entrance to Theatro Circo.
Take a deep breath, let’s get into one of the most beautiful theaters in the country and maybe in the world. The inauguration of this theater took place on April 21, 1915, a project by the architect João Moura Coutinho, because there was a need to provide the city with a large cultural space. After years of decline, it has been completely restored and today is a true cultural icon.
It is difficult for me to describe how much I am moved by all the place surroundings, it is really to go to tears. So beautiful that it hurts! (A good pain, of course.)
The piece lived up to expectations and all the palms they received were well deserved. Thanks.
The time has come for me to return to “my” sea, which is so dear to me. Even though it’s night, let it light up in a sweet moonlight, I see it greet me a warm welcome.
Until always Braga, I promise I’ll come back more often.
Maria José Dias
Pictury Photo Tours
Oporto’s Winter Sun
From the narrow balcony
I feel the sun invade me.
With eyes closed
I see this beautiful city.
The tower, of Teixeira de Pascoaes, arises proudly:
“Oporto squeezed up”.
We descend the precious staircase lined with stained glass that leads to the street. Let’s start our crusade of accidental tourists.
First visit, the house of the photo in front of the garden with the “my” trees that, although ill, grew and became gorgeous. We enjoy, with eyes wide open, all the exposed images, because they are worth it. We continue our walk along the steep streets, winding and full of history of this city towards the viewpoint that is of the virtues, it will be, perhaps, by the stunning view. But for me, what most fills my soul is the wonderful sculpture of the master José Rodrigues (I miss him…), horses and men from / to iron that so well symbolize the beauty and strength of these people (tripeiros).
Must stop at the tavern Sto. Antonio of Mr. Vitor whose sympathy is so captivating that makes you eat or drink even without hunger or thirst. The tour is not over yet, some old, worn stairs that end up right next to the S. Domingos square are waiting for us and where there is a guy so typical that he gives me a humorous phrase: “It’s good that there is no lift.” Separation of group, I continue with the youngers, street of flowers above and another unmissable stop in what is perhaps the most charming and precious tea room, as the name indicates, the goldsmithing Alliance. What a pleasant and surprising conversation!
We are almost at the end of this journey, but we are still going up the street of Clérigos, that of the tower that I spoke at the beginning and from which one can not look away, although we have to do it in order not to lose all the balconies of twisted iron, a masterpiece. So good! I finally love this city, which, being not mine, I feel, breathe and live as if it were.
Maria José Dias
Pictury Photo Tours
The choice of the winning city never has been so unanimous among travellers from all other the world. It is with the votes of worldwide travellers from 174 countries that Porto wins this European title again for the third time (2012, 2014, 2017). Travellers from the USA, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, South-Africa, South Korea, Ireland and Canada, among others,… voted Porto in the first place in this competition.
Porto is exceptional in more ways than one and the “Cidade Invicta” (unvanquished city) is history, is architecture, culture, gastronomy, trade, encounters and discoveries, will seduce you.
Porto has all the charm of towns which happily cohabit with their river. You can stroll along the River Douro (river of gold) in Cais da Ribeira, fly over it by helicopter or discover Porto’s architecture, its amazing landscapes and magnificent bridges by taking a cruise on this majestic river. Porto is also a sea city and in the briefest of time a tram will bring you to Foz do Douro’s gentle beaches face to face with the Atlantic.
Enter the sumptuously cool Palacio da Bolsa, and walk through history with Portuguese adventurers, follow the country’s trade routes and be stunned by the treasures which they brought back. Remarkable buildings such as the Sé Catédral and its terraces offer superb viewpoints over a bustle of markets, grocery stores, bars, restaurants…
Once upon a time… get ready; I will try to tell our story of many years traveling around the country, one that was once so deep that no one could be seen. Now, it remains isolated, but despite everything, more known and accessible.
I hope you like it because this cannot be done in a few words, we spent too many years, just the two of us.
Let’s start then… We usually say, “Do you remember when we were little, and we went to Pena village?” Yes, in fact, we were two youngsters, and one of our biggest pleasures was to travel around the country, getting to know it, so that we could celebrate it, as we did in these amazing and unforgettable guides “The most beautiful villages in Portugal” and “Time and the Soul.”
We ran across Portugal, even though we knew that once we got there, there would be no one with us, just walking around, and even the places to see were very few, always with such rich and poor “stories,” harsh stories, but always told with sweet smiles on exhausted faces.
They talked to us with a generosity that is so Portuguese, so real, so ours. They showed us their treasures, which were their cows, sheep, goats, and dogs; always the dogs, because these apparently rude people have a very strong bond with their animals, which is reciprocated.
It is very hard for a city person to realize that that villager who doesn’t know how to read or write knows all their sheep, and that all of them have a name (they are all the same to me…+ reading is not enough).
A legend is told in this village that seems very peculiar to me and I want to tell you. Pena is close to S. Pedro do Sul (Beira Alta), in a “hole,” and the access road is made of dirt. Imagine how hard it is to get there. But there is a narrow canyon that could only be crossed by foot, which is really dangerous, but that connected them to a nearby village more quickly.
In this other village, there was a cemetery (Pena is so small they don’t have their own cemetery). So the legend says that one day, one of their few inhabitants died, and their friends decided to carry the coffin through the canyon. But they lost balance and fell, and of course, they died.
As of this day, the canyon was known as “the canyon of the dead man who killed the living.” Despite its name, it is worth visiting it, very carefully. The view is amazing. Time to come back home after another busy day, Porto awaits us. The return was always through the top floor of the Luis I bridge (even though that is not the fastest way home), because the “S. Joanina waterfall” is always different and unforgettable.
Maria José Dias
Pictury Photo Tours