Category Archives: Europe

My #9 Dream

It’s December. I love this month.

Filled with holidays and birthdays — mine, my sister Carol, and my granddaughter Aayah. She in fact is yet to be born as of this writing (her mom goes in to be induced on my birthday, December 9. Yes, my #9 dream). Fingers crossed that all goes well. For her birth, but also for everyone, everywhere in these perilous times.

It is also the 37th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon, one of the most influential people of the 20th century and one of my personal heroes.

Many people will be singing his idealistic anthem “Imagine” on December 8, and I have always loved it too. But a deep favorite will always be his “#9 Dream.” Spare, elegiac, and spiritually cryptic, the lyrics are a stream of consciousness, born in a moment in time. He sings while the melody drifts. And lingers. And haunts.

Last month Virginia and I took a trip half way across Portugal to the medieval town of Tomar. It’s a place so laden with history, secrets and mysteries it’s impossible to describe without having to refer to volumes of writings about it (Wikipedia’s page here, is a fascinating start). Instead, I took the easy way out and let a few photos and visuals try to give a feeling of what it was like to walk inside the long ago past.

Using John Lennon’s music in a place so Catholic and Christian may seem out of place at first. But if one knows anything of Lennon, he was a seeker and sought out truth and meaning wherever he was.


Cuisine, Culture and the Cascais Coast

In this episode Aisha tackles preparing a Portuguese dourada (fresh caught Atlantic golden bream) for dinner, a trip to one of the most important private collections in the world (Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon), lunch in a hidden gem of a local restaurant, and a long, leisurely ride down the three kilometer boardwalk from Cascais to the beach at Praia da Poça, also known as São João do Estoril.

Every day I never tire of saying the same dang thing; “Isn’t this lovely?”

As the days of Aisha’ time with us come to a close, we see many beautiful sites and appreciate every one that passes before us. Doesn’t make knowing she will soon leave any easier. However. Que será, será, baby.


Aisha’s August Arrival

If you are one of the very, very lucky ones in this unpredictable world, you may get to have someone like Aisha in your life.  She exudes a love and appreciation of everything around her and emits a contagious vibration that works on everyone in her immediate vicinity. It’s like some kind of crazy smile virus. But don’t worry, this is something you definitely want to catch.


Stalking The Centre For The Unknown

This place has fired my curiosity ever since we moved here. It’s instantly recognizable looking out from the train to Lisbon. What the hell are they doing in there? Unknown what? Artificial Intelligence? Extra dimensional travel? Galactic Alien Relocation Center? What’s going on? Turns out the Champalimaud Foundation (named after a wealthy Portuguese benefactor) is a world renown cancer research facility. I’m glad they’re doing good work there, but I’m a wee bit disappointed they didn’t quite fan the flame of my wild imaginings.

My curiosity built to the breaking point after I recently wrote a short science fiction play and entered it into a contest (The Future of Art). The  intriguing theme of the contest is Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Conflict: How will AI change the nature of human endeavor? Sounded like a challenge to me so I answered it by lobbing a Molotov cocktail into the discussion.  Hey, it’s what I do sometimes.  A filmmaker pal thinks we should shoot it as a movie here.

Here is the animated view of the facility a full three years before it was built. Looks amazingly like the final product in real life.

Pretty cool, yes? Just another day in one of the world’s oldest cities that also happens to have it’s eyes sharply focused on the future.

If you are interested, let me know and I’ll email you a copy of the play; it’s a pretty quick read. And my take on the theme has to do with AI, self-aware robots and NDE’s (Near Death Experiences). Yeah, it’s that far out there, but as in a lot of sci-fi…is it?

 


Alfama: The Oldest District In Lisbon

An ancient neighborhood (‘bairro’ in Portuguese) beginning on top of a spectacular hill. The Alfama district winds down to the Rio Tejo in a labyrinthine series of narrow streets, alley ways and storefronts that are the epitome of the word ‘quaint.’ We took some visiting friends there and got a soulful glance into this eternally fascinating city.


When Power Meets Time

A place of dark secrets amid swirling rumors. We snuck inside and roamed through an enchanting nightmare from the not-so-distant past.


Óbidos

A Portuguese castle born in antiquity, its high life lived in the Middle Ages, in its latest incarnation reinvented as a tourist attraction. History meets Disneyland? It is a beautiful relic, on a wondrous site, a marvel of engineering.

But I’m still not sure what to make of it.

Little alleyways, thrillingly dangerous ramparts, quaint shops and eateries mixed with kitsch and crowded lanes of tourists bused in from all over the world.

How does one decide what it all means? We’ll just have to go back for more visits.  If for nothing else but to sip ginjinha (the local tasty sour cherry liqueur) and look out again from the high castle walls to the farms and green countryside stretching out in the distance below.

 

 


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