Seven Super Shots of Portugal

Having been tagged by Fiona at Scribbler in Seville to take part in HostelBookers 7 Super Shots photography challenge, I’ve spent many happy hours browsing my photo collection. However, rather than go through the thousands of photos I’ve collected over years of travelling and living abroad, I decided to limit myself to photos of Portugal. I hope you enjoy them.

A photo that takes my breath away

I’m in total awe of Olive Tree Dance, a Portuguese band who I first experienced in a small venue in Coimbra. I had seen a couple of their you tube videos but nothing could have prepared me for the way that they filled the room with pulsating sound from just a tiny drum box and a digeridoo. Renato Oliveira, the digeridoo player, worked pure magic using incredible energy and breath control to create music that had me dancing like a loon for hours.

I’ve been to a few of their gigs and now that they’re becoming more widely-known, they play bigger venues and involve more musicians and instruments. They’re still amazing but I prefer their more intimate, simple gigs like this unscheduled performance on the beach at Cortegaça at the 2011 Surf at Night festival.

A photo that makes me laugh or smile

I had lots of contenders for this category but this “Slow Down, School Ahead” road sign in São Miguel de Poiares never fails to make me chuckle every time I drive past it. I just love the way this little girl is gaily skipping across the road on her way to school, flashing her knickers without a care in the world.

A photo that makes me dream

This was another tricky one to choose but ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to live in a castle. Despite the Disney colours of Pena National Palace in Sintra, I can easily imagine living here, without the tourists, of course. While it was being built in the 19th century, the reigning king and queen of Portugal insisted on incorporating elements of Islamic architecture, which I adore, as well as medieval features and Manueline trimmings. It’s a bit over the top, granted, but the grounds and views are gorgeous. And mine, in my dreams.

A photo that makes me think

The ruins of Monsanto castle sit on top of a hill in the Beira Baixa, a part of Portugal which is strewn with granite boulders. Being resourceful folk, the townspeople of Monsanto made full use of what nature had supplied them with and built their homes around the gigantic piles of stone. I can’t help thinking that I’d be worried about them shifting somehow. Can you imagine this roof falling down? I’m not sure how soundly I’d sleep at night in that house.

A photo that makes my mouth water

I’ve just come back from the chocolate festival in Óbidos and as well as sampling some very yummy treats while I was there, I’ve got a lasting reminder in the form of this photo of chocolate Johnny Depp. Enough to make my mouth water for more than one reason.

A photo that tells a story

I spent a few hours in Ponte da Lima last year and was intrigued by the legend of the river. Apparently, when the Roman army arrived there, long before the bridge, they were so struck by the natural beauty of the place that they became convinced that they had reached the mythical River Lethe. The soldiers believed that the river had the power to erase their memories and refused to cross it.

Their general, who you can just make out on his horse on the other side of the water, needed to get his men across so he went first and called them over by name from the opposite bank. The soldiers were amazed but reassured that he could remember their names and followed him to the other side.

A photo that I am most proud of (aka my worthy of National Geographic shot)

I don’t think this photo is quite that worthy but I do really like it. I took this shot through a hole in the walls of the hilltop castle of Marvão, looking back across its manicured garden hedges and over the whitewashed buildings of the beautiful ancient village.