Thursday, August 22, 2019


Iceland, the land of ice and fire, of volcanoes and glaciers, waterfalls and fjords, nature in its purest and rawest state. It makes you want to go there, right? There is only one small catch, Iceland is one of the most expensive destinations in the world and for that reason alone it is not on my list of countries to visit... soon. Maybe one day you'll do like Gemma, who visited the country a few weeks ago, forget the budget and go live an unique experience.

© Photo: Ingimar Thorhallsson
Gemma is one of my penpals and in the next letter she'll tell me all about this trip. While she was traveling, she sent me this card with some beautiful Icelandic landscapes.
Clockwise: Vestrahorn Mountain; puffins; Seljalandsfoss waterfall, one of the most photogenic and unique (Seljalandsfoss is one of the very rare waterfalls, anywhere in the world, where it is possible to walk behind the narrow, cascading falls) of Icelandic waterfalls; the Skógafoss waterfall and Reynisdrangar, basalt sea stacks situated under the mountain Reynisfjall near the village Vík í Mýrdal. 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Meetings in France

Two meetings in France with 21 days and more than 900 kms distance from each other. The cards were sent by two portuguese emigrant postcrossers, Joana and Raquel. 

Joana and 10 other postcrossers met in the beginning of July in Mont de Marsan, where Joana lives. 

poster XXL
A few days later Raquel traveled a few kms from Belgium to France to attend a meeting in Lille.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Minho River

Let's have a geography lesson with this postcard sent by Maria do Céu. 

The Minho is the longest river in Galicia, sharing the border with Portugal, with a length of 340 kilometres (210 mi). By discharge, it is the fourth river of the Iberian peninsula, after the Douro, Ebro and Tagus.

Foto de Andrea Fernandes
The source of the Minho lies north of Lugo in Galicia, in a place called Pedregal de Irimia. 
From its source to its outlet in the Atlantic, it runs 340 kilometers. In the last 75 kilometers of its route, between Melgaço and the mouth, the river serves as the border between Spain and Portugal.
Passing the medieval towns of Melgaço and Monção, the Minho divides the Spanish Tui and Portuguese Valença do Minho, towns that guarded an important bridge for road and rail. Both towns preserve fortifications and are national monuments. The Minho reaches the Atlantic between the Galician A Guarda and the Portuguese Caminha. - in: wikipedia

Azeitão - Portugal

Postcrossing meetings happen everywhere, with a lot or only a few postcrossers, always with lotsof happy moments . Last saturday 4 portuguese postcrossers who gathered in Azeitão, Gracinha, João, Luís and Filipa (I believe this is the name). I thank all of them for my first postcard of Azeitão.

It would be interesting to know what year this postcard is. At that time the Palace of the Dukes of Aveiro was still in good condition, currently is, according to wikipedia, abandoned.

The Palace of the Dukes of Aveiro is a majestic building of Classical Renaissance. It was built by D. Jorge de Lancastre between 1521 - 1537.
Its fate was set on 12 January 1759 when it was confiscated with all the property of the Távora family who owned the palace at the time, and this was the only property that was spared from demolition even though the coat of arms had been shredded.
Of the palatial interior there is little left but the large halls, with their half-tiled silvery towers, as the palace was sacked when the last Duke of Aveiro was arrested, accused of involvement in the attack on D. José in 1758. Most of these beautiful tiles date back to the 17th century (...).

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Chaves' Roman Bridge - Portugal

This is probably, one of the most photographed bridges in Portugal. I've been to Chaves a couple of years ago a took quite a few pictures too. I'm actually considering a visit to this city in a few days. I wanted to go there last month to attend a postcrossing meeting but it wasn't possible. Anyway, a got a card signed by a lot of postcrossers, thanks to Sofia. The other 2 were sent by Paula and Emanuel over the last years. 

The Roman Bridge at Chaves, also known as Trajano bridge as a reference to Trajan, is an ancient bridge located in the north of Portugal in the town of the same name.

The bridge which is in relatively good shape unites the two most important parishes in the town. The bridge is 140 meters long, high and has 12 visible arches. Although the bridge spanning the Minho in Ourense is longer and higher, this example of Roman architecture is even today a masterpiece of construction.
Two of the columns of the original bridge, built by the Emperor Trajan, still stand. They are stout cylindrical columns with details of the honors bestowed by the emperor on local governors or generals clearly legible on them. They were also milestones indicating distances to the important settlements of Astorga in Spanish León and Bracara Augusta, Braga, in Portugal.

Photo by Oswaldo Santos
The bridge was built between the end of the first century and the beginning of the second century AD. Little is known about the exact dates of the beginning or conclusion of construction. However, it is known that slaves captured from the peoples inhabiting the region worked on the bridge. This appears to be written on one of the columns placed in the middle of the bridge. These columns were not here originally. One of them mentions the construction of the bridge, referring to the reign of the emperor Trajan; the other was taken from the Roman road leading up to the bridge.
Allowing the river to be crossed at any time of the year, the bridge was an important factor of development for the town, but it was also necessary and useful for the Pax Romana: here there were hot springs visited by a lot of people; in the region there were mines with precious metals, whose product was taken to Rome; across the bridge passed the important Roman road of Braga to Astorga, with a lot of traffic; and lastly here was quartered a numerous detachment of legionnaires of the Roman army.

Fotografia: Oswaldo Santos -
The bridge has suffered many modifications, for restoration and conservation. The fortified tower that was built at the entrance was long ago demolished and the stone sides were substituted by iron. The span was widened and footpaths put in. The floor, originally covered by large granite blocks, now is covered by paving stones. - in: wikipedia

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Festival of the Trays - Portugal

Early July, every four years, Tomar holds the traditional Festa dos Tabuleiros (Festival of the Trays). As you can read on the postcard sent by Rui, this year the festival took place between 29 June and 8 July.
In addition to the postcard sent by Rui, I'm also posting the postcards that Paula and Zé sent me during the 6th Postcrossing anniversary meeting in Tomar in 2011. I don't remember where the card with the girls came from.

This festival has its origins in the worship of the Holy Spirit, a great devotion of Queen Saint Isabel, wife of King Dinis, and is strongly rooted throughout the whole national territory but in Tomar it reaches a most symbolic and followed fair. In the adornment of the Trays, houses and streets, one can find flowers, bread and wheat spikes that are typical elements of ancient and traditional crops festivals.

 Design: Vasco Nuno Martins
For the Festa dos Tabuleiros, in addition to the traditional Parade, it is also organized the "Procession of the Boys", the "Mordomo" Parade and Partial Parades. The streets decorated by the locals, the street Parties, the Popular Games and the "Peza", illustrate and bring the festival alive for over three days.

The Grand Parade takes place on Sunday and the city's window balconies are decorated with gaudy brocade quilts to welcome the procession of trays. The parade always begins with fireworks men clothed in white with a red band, followed by pipers and music bands. There follows the Banner of the Holy Spirit held by the Mayor, and then the guests of honour carrying three Crowns and, finally, Banners and Crowns of all the parishes as well as their duly ornamented Trays carried by coupled pairs. The young women will be wearing white with a coloured ribbon across the chest and place the stacked trays on their heads, while the young men wear white shirts, dark pants, cap on the shoulder and a tie the colour of the girl´s ribbon.

The traditional Tray should have the height of the girl who carries it and it is decorated with paper flowers, wheat spikes, 30 bread loaves of 400g each, stuffed into rods coming out of a wicker basket decorated with an embroidered white cloth. At the top of the Tray, the Cross of Christ or the Dove of the Holy Spirit finishes off a crown. The day after the Grand Parade, tradition implies distributing the bread and meat - "Pêza" - amongst the people of the municipality. - in:

Coimbra University - Portugal

I go to Coimbra quite often, have been to the University  a few times but never visited inside, it's one of the things I have to do in the city.
The 1st of these cards was a lottery prize, sent by Fernando. I bought the 2nd a few years ago in the post office. Back then the portuguese mail service was selling some nice collections of postcards. The 3rd is a meeting card sent by Luís and also signed by Anabela and Liliana. 

© New Jamp, Lda
A centre of learning, par excellence, the University of Coimbra was founded in 1290 and is one of the oldest in Europe, and was classified World heritage site by UNESCO; this classification includes also the Uptown and Sofia Street.

Founded in 1290 by Dom Dinis, with the name of "Estudos Gerais" (General Studies), the University was transferred between Lisbon and Coimbra during the reigns of several monarchs until it was definitively established in this city in 1537, by Dom João III. Since then, it has continued to occupy the same building, the former mediaeval royal palace, acquired by the university in 1597 from Filipe II of Spain, who also ruled over Portugal at that time. 
The subjects studied here were theology, medicine and law until the 18th century when the Marquês de Pombal changed the educational system and introduced other subjects. Today, the University has seven faculties - Arts, Law, Medicine, Science and Technology, Pharmacy, Economics and Psychology and Educational Sciences. 

Guia Turístico do Norte, Lda
Standing in a most privileged position overlooking the rest of the city, with a magnificent view over the River Mondego, the University is a complex building, constructed around a central courtyard in which a number of features stand out because of their artistic interest and symbolism. The entrance to the University is through the Porta Férrea (Iron Gate), an impressive Mannerist work (1634), where one can see the statues of the University´s patrons, the kings Dom Dinis and Dom João III. 
On the right, in the centre, is the Via Latina, a Mannerist colonnade built in the 18th century and indicating that Latin was the "official language" formerly used inside this space. The entrance through the loggia leads to the Sala Grande dos Actos (the Ceremonial Hall), and in the corner is the famous Tower. Built in 1728, it can be seen from all around the city and has become its most distinctive landmark. It has four bells, which used to regulate the routine of academic life and that of the city itself. The tower has always been tenderly referred to by the students as "a Cabra" (the Goat).  - in