Wednesday, 31 August 2011

the sanctuary.

And we keep our journey through my vacation's photos, this time at São Bento da Porta Aberta (or St. Benedict's Open Door), a Portuguese Christian sanctuary. The Shrine of St. Benedict's Open Door was originally a chapel built around 1640. The name of the sanctuary is explained by the fact that it was a shelter to travelers. The construction of the current sanctuary began in 1880 and was completed in 1895.
I love photographing churches, and even thought these are one of the most difficult places to photograph, due to the lack of good lighting, photographing sacred art is always a challenge and a pleasure for me. This part of the sanctuary portrayed in my photos is actually quite recent. In my opinion, it resembles a temple, rather than a church. All the space around the actual church is arranged in a U shape, with windows and wide open spaces facing the mountains. This part of the sanctuary is also decorated with tile panels, which were painted by Cherub Lapa. This is actually the first modern church that I ended up liking. It has definitely to do with the involving space and the architecture of the place. I find it to be quite different from regular old churches: to start off, the lighting plays a huge a role here. All the construction is open and exposed to a lot of lighting. And there's also the architecture of this zone, which is completely different from the one of a traditional church. I like to think that this work as a metaphor for the church's opening to the modern world we live in.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


The Dr. Organic Tea Tree Shampoo and Conditioner are two products from their Tea Tree line. These two products are described as soft, gentle products, which will purify and deeply cleanse your hair. Their formula, enriched with Organic Tea Tree oil and Aloe Vera, gently cleanses the hair and scalp leaving it instantly revitalized, fresh and hydrated. It provides an invigorating effect while soothing and moisturizing the scalp. Dr Organic Tea Tree shampoo is advised for both normal and oily hair.
These two products were difficult products to review, since I wasn't pleased with them since the very beginning. However, I have remained faithful to these until the end. To start off, there is the scent. It's a really a strong tea tree and aloe vera scent, which I am sure some people won't like. However, I ended up getting used to it, but as I refer, it's not an easy scent to like since it's so active. However, its formula was the number one aspect that made these two products difficult to use (especially the shampoo). The first time that I washed my hair with the shampoo, I used the same amount that I normally use with any other one. After washing it, I realized that it barely made any foam. At first, I though that it had to do with how wet my hair was. Probably, it wasn't as soaked as it should be. Therefore, I repeated every single step. In the end, the result was exactly the same. This shampoo doesn't easily foam. In my case, and since I have long hair, that turns out to be something problematic. In order to achieve minimal foam, I had to use a huge amount of shampoo. I can obviously understand that this happens just because this shampoo is probably sulphate free. But it's also true that it foams just by using a high quantity of the product. Despite all this aspects, it really cleanses and purifies your hair. I could clearly notice that my hair was deeply cleansed. Overall, I think this would be a great product to use when your hair feels extremely oily and unwashed. In this sense, I wouldn't use this in a regular basis (probably just once a week). As you can see, this was indeed a case of love-hate. Regarding the conditioner, I don't have anything bad to say about it. It's not outstanding, but it's still a regular quality conditioner, which will do its job. However, I don't see it as nourishing as it claimed to be.
It is still noteworthy to mention that these products are 100% natural, free of harsh chemicals, and not tested in animals.
After using these, I would just use the shampoo whenever my hair would really need a deep cleaning. From what I have read from other reviews, the foam problem seems to be a consistent issue. However, I would like to reinforce once again its cleansing properties, which are really good. The shampoo and conditioner are available on a 250 ml package, which costs £5.39 each.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

rain, green, blue & yellow.

Today's weather is awfully beautiful, at least in my opinion. It has been raining heavily, and during the afternoon it almost seemed like we were in the middle of a storm. It is so windy! So following the weather's mood, we have decided to go to a tea house, located in a quiet zone surrounded by forest. I wasn't able to photograph inside the tea shop, because it wasn't allowed. There was an exhibit inside of Portuguese traditional tiles and ceramic. The owner told us that people would frequently come to his shop just to photograph the tiles, for later copying their design. So I ended up saving some shots for the outside entrance, decorated with plants and little vases. I love photographing Mother Nature, the simplicity of a flower, the beauty of a millennial tree. And I even made some cute friends that kindly allowed me to photograph them! 

Friday, 19 August 2011

travelling through postcards.

I've been into pen palling for almost a year. I currently have four female pen pals: two from South Korea, and two from Australia. And I'm actually in the process of becoming pen friends with a few more (from China, Japan, and Italy). If you'll read my previous post about pen palling, you can obviously tell how enriching and inspirational this is for me. As time goes by, and while technology advances more and more, people tend to forget about something as simple as this. Communication has become, in most cases, something impersonal.  But writing a letter is a completely different experience. There is a level of intimacy and commitment that is hard to get in an email. Obviously, this isn’t something for everyone, because some people aren’t willing to put effort into something like this. Others just don’t see the point in exchanging letters with someone who lives miles apart from them. The true is that I love writing, and learning about new cultures and languages. Therefore, pen palling is the perfect mix between these. The only thing that I regret is not have started pen palling before.
Lately, I have also discovered a new side of this experience, which is postcards swapping.
I've been a postcard's collector for quite a while now. It was only until this past June, that I realized how promising swapping postcards would be. And I was right! I've been receiving postcards from all over the world, and it almost seems like I’ve been traveling through these same countries.
The other day, I was actually thinking how interesting it would be if we, bloggers, would swap some postcards. I actually compare a lot blogging with pen palling. In some cases, there is the same level of intimacy and friendship. And as in pen palling, you are also following the other person’s life, but through her/his blog. Therefore, I feel like I have come to know some of you so much. In this sense, I was thinking that it would be amazing if we would swap postcards. I am not expecting a lot of people to join this initiative, and I am not even sure if this will go on. Anyway, I would just like to know your opinion and if anyone is willing to join. One thing I can tell you for sure, it’s worth the drive.   

Sunday, 14 August 2011

power of nature.

Serra do Gerês, located in the National Park of Peneda-Gerês, is a protected area, in which you'll find one of the richest flora and fauna of Portugal. We've visited it on our second day of vacation. The last time that I was there, was probably 5 years ago, during the winter. This was actually my first visit during the summer, and I have to say that it's way more beautiful and enchanting on winter time. I remember that the last time we were there we saw some wild horses crossing the road, right in front of us.  Besides, you wouldn't see anyone else. This time, it was full of people and cars. I like to visit this type of place exactly when there is no one around, because I like to take my time and explore everything. Because of the time of the year, we couldn't also get out of the car and, unfortunately for me, I couldn't take the photos that I was planning to. During the winter, we would definitely be able to freely get out of the car, and walk a little bit around.
Serra do Gerês has a lot of watercourses and waterfalls. Along the road, you can see dozens of little waterfalls and small rivers, cascading down the mountain. This particularly one that you are seeing on the photos is definitely my favorite. This is called the Rio Homem (or River Man), and it's next to the Portela do Homem, which is located near Spain's border. These pools, created by nature, are indeed a beautiful example of the richness and splendor of this park. These are undoubtedly pure master pieces, orchestrated by nature's time and perseverance. During the winter, the pools are completely frozen and the forest is majestically painted white due to the snow.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

it's a strange world.

Today, I’ve decided to sit down and write something that has been going around on my head for three days now. I have already said once, that I don’t believe in coincidences. Or better, I believe when things have to happen, they just happen. It’s almost as the world is conspiring for that specific thing to occur. And when we look back, we just have the same feeling that I have now: it was meant to be.
On Monday’s night I had a really hard time falling asleep. I normally stay awake until 2 am, just listening to music, reading, or seeing some dramas on the computer. But that night I was just laying on bed, with my eyes closed and listening to some music. Somehow, I was a little bit uneasy. It was quite inexplicable, since there was nothing on my mind worrying me. At some point, I heard a strange noise and I thought that was seeing something in the dark. I instantly turned off the music, and decided to sleep. A couples minutes later, I found myself crying, and my heart was squeezed in pain. At the beginning, I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me, and why was I crying so much. But then it hit me: if my grandfather would still be alive, we would be celebrating is anniversary on the 9th of August.
On that day, my parents went with the next door’s couple to have coffee at a coffee shop near my house. Around the hour that they normally arrive home, I heard the doorbell ringing. My brother was the one answering, and apparently my mother wanted us to go to our neighbours’ house to see something. They also have a cat, so I assumed that my mom wanted me to see him. However, there was a different cat in the kitchen, a tiny little kitten meowing while he was eating the food. You could see that he was starving and in panic. Later on, my mom told me that he was on the other side of the street, meowing as loudly as he could, in panic. They brought him home, trying to calm him down and see if he would eat something. That day, my mom brought the little kitten to our home. We bathe him and gave him food. My mom was actually confident of finding a place for him to live, and she quickly phoned Simba’s veterinary. But apparently they couldn’t provide a shelter to the little kitten. Then, she panicked. I have been asking for another cat for more than 2 months. And the answer was always a big no. Therefore, this wasn’t really going according to the plan. That night, my dad searched on the internet for animal shelters, but apparently no one would accept new animals. On the next day, we took him to the veterinary. He was vaccinated, treated because of the fleas, and so on. At that point, my mom was already convinced that we would have to adopt the little kitten. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting that. We ended up agreeing that we would discuss that issue as soon as my father would get home from work. When I wanted to adopt Simba, my dad was against it. He loves him so much now that they almost look like companions. In the morning, as my dad is getting ready for work, Simba follows him everywhere. This is their special routine. But accepting Simba wasn’t easy, in part because my father knew that having a cat isn’t the same thing as having a fish or a bird. Therefore, I was expecting some refusal. I told them multiple times that they shouldn’t have brought the little kitten home. How would we find someone that would be willing to adopt him? But my father was the first one to give his approval. For the first time since my grandfather has passed away, I saw tears on my father’s eyes. He didn’t cry on the day that my grandfather died, neither in the funeral’s day. I have never seen him shed a tear, even thought I knew he was in so much pain. And yesterday for the first time, I saw all that pain in his eyes, while he answered me: How could I leave this little kitten suffering, right on your grandfather’s anniversary day?
I just wanted to share this with you, as something that had its impact on me. Our lives are full of these enigmatic coincidences, that can’t be reasonably explained. Now I have two treasured blessings on my life, Simba and the little kitten. And just so you know, his name is Lucky, just as lucky as we were to find him.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

summer nights.

I have to admit that I am more of a winter person. I love rainy days, cold nights. But summer has its own special moments as well. Simple things like a beautiful sunset at the end of the day, definitely makes me appreciate living and being able to experience beautiful moments like these.