Thursday, July 12, 2012

A trip to the past.

Just went on an amazing tour of the rock engravings in the Vale do Coa. I had seen photos of the engravings beforehand and so I knew what I'd see, but I wasn't expecting the impact seeing the engravings would have on me. The engravings are really just scratches on random rocks (some of them hard to even decipher) beside the river, but as you look at them and realize that they were carved by people, fairly similar to us, thousands of years (20 to 30 thousand) ago, and you become truly amazed. Amazed that the engravings have lasted all this time, amazed that the ancient people who made them lived in this very valley, stood on the same soil looking at the same hills with no thoughts about people 30 thousand years in the future You also wonder why they made the engravings; was if for religious reasons? out of superstition? territory markings? or were they just bored and filling time with what they had? :) Whatever the reasons, it's incredible to see --it's also amazing because the site was almost destroyed! The engravings were discovered just at the time that a dam was being built (in 1991) that would have flooded the entire area without anyone ever knowing what was lost!

The Douro River running one direction.
The hills around here are filled with wine vineyards!

The Coa River running the other direction.
This is the river valley where all of the engravings are found. About 90 kilometers worth of engravings have been found, all within 300 feet of the rivers edges.

We started at the top of the mountain (where the shots of the rivers was taken) at the Coa Valley Museum. It's an incredible site in itself, the design apparently winning several awards. The outside is awesome and the inside is made to give the feeling of being in caverns and valleys (totally forgot to take photos of the inside :P ) and the exhibits are laid out in a very stark, modern way contrasted with an eery, primitive soundtrack. I LOVED it. :)

A larger shot of the building. (sort of reminds me of the ship that picked up R2D2 and C3PO on Tatooine :)

Some of the artwork on the walls of the museum. They were huge and gorgeous, luminescent, lit up by black light.

All of them represented some of the engravings found in the Valley. These two orange people were my favorites.

And here we are, midway down the mountain in a town called Castelo Melhor (Better Castle, apparently better than the one that was destroyed just before this one was built, lol) in our tour jeep ready for the ride down into the valley.

Our guide pointing out the engravings and talking about the theories on why they were made, etc.

Some of the engravings were very hard to see and they were usually engraved over and over each other spanning about a 10,000 year period. One of the reasons for this is territory markings, another is hunting superstitions.

These you can see fairly well, a horse is the largest and there's also a goat at the top right. There's actually a couple other engravings on this rock, but they are very difficult to see. (photos were hard also as the sun was behind us shining right on the face of the rocks, so no shadows to hilight the engravings)

Another shot where you can actually see some of the engravings.

Here's a couple of sites with more info if you'd like to read more info and see more/better photos.


Friday, July 6, 2012

A Roman Holiday! :)

*Warning - Many awesome photos to follow...

It was just entirely too difficult to cull 4 days of Rome photos any more than I did! :) Below are photos from The Colosseum, The Roman Forum, The Palatine, The Spanish Steps, The Trevi Fountain, The Capitoline Museums, The Pantheon, Plaza Navona, Vatican City and Museums, Trastevere, Tevere River, and some "just around town" shots.

I hope you enjoy them and are inspired by the amazing, well, everything! :) I certainly was!!

The Colosseum
There are no words to describe the feeling you get when you exit the metro at the Colosseum (which is just across the street from it). As soon as you exit the station, you look up and are just overwhelmed by the size and grandeur of the Colosseum structure! It's truly amazing.

A shot from down the street. This street is filled with people (blocking traffic :) taking photos.
Yes! It's worth risking life and limb to get a good shot, lol.
Even in ruins, it's beautiful.
The ruins inside. Imagine the floor finished (the ruins underneath held the mechanisms to transport
animals and items of torture to the arena) and the sides filled with seats.
A window view :)
...someone carved this gladiator, by hand, thousands of years ago! Amazing to contemplate!!
Walking the halls. (These probably held the Roman equivalent of beer and nachos :)
Gotta love a good art shot. :)
A view from the Colosseum.

The Paladine
A beautiful area, full of mystery!
Wow! So cool.
Adorable little grotto and very welcome relief from the scalding heat!

The Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Area Sacra dell' Argentina, and The Forum
Since it was scalding hot outside, we decided to get up early the 2nd day and do a lot of walking. It was really amazing visiting the sites early, it was cool and peaceful, hardly a soul around. Definitely worth the lack of extra sleep. :)
The Pantheon - Unfortunately, setting out early means some things aren't open yet. :(
It's pretty amazing on the outside anyway!
The Spanish Steps - I love the Spanish Steps when they are filled with people sitting, drinking, talking, and just being "Roman" :)
Via Condotti - Rome's "Rodeo Drive"
The Trevi Fountain - Just stunning to look at! It was a treat to see it early in the morning w/o
a huge crowd milling around.
Neptune, two tritons with "sea horses", one struggling and one calm, representing
the two moods of the sea.
Area Sacra dell' Argentina. This is where Caesar was murdered (just off to the left, the Curia of Pompey)
Pretty amazing to contemplate!
Looking onto the ruins of The Roman Forum from the Capitolini Museum. 
The Roman Forum ruins... I could look forever!
Another shot of The Roman Forum ruins, it's really just gorgeous!
Vatican City & Museums
I actually have some candid thoughts about the "show" of the Vatican and museums, the Disnyland-like procedures and commercialized way it's all presented (it didn't used to be that way). If you'd like to hear details, just let me know! :)
View across the Tevere to Vatican City and St. Peter's (this shot was actually taken at a different time
than those below (twilight) but I'm including it for the sake of relevance :)
Entering Vatican City - or actually state :)
tee-hee-hee... the Vatican guards! Why the funny outfits???
AWEsome capture! A priest entering the gates... I didn't know they were saluted! :)

The Vatican Museums
Entering the museum complex
The buildings are stuffed with sculptures and statues... and tourists!
Almost every wall, and ceiling, is covered in artwork! Really a site to see!!
Some pretty cool modern art within the museums.
Some "very" old rings in bronze and gold.

The Sistine Chapel
*no photos allowed :(

Plaza Navona
Huge plaza covered in artists selling their work, portrait artists and, of course, characturists!
Amazing architecture!
Plaza and artists at twilight. night with a full moon!

Misc. shots around the city!
Ruins are scattered throughout the city! I love seeing the contrast of
the ancient and the new(ish) :)
You can get confused as to which century you are in! lol.
Angel on Ponte Sant' Angelo
Colorful buildings!
Everything is cute!
Gorgeous! I'd live here in a second!
Even Rome's Street vendors are cool. The Live sculpture artists are incredible!
Several we saw truly looked like real statues! They do NOT skimp on design, lol.
(of course there were also the cheesy Egyptian mummy's and such :P lol)
Improvised architecture!
An adorable little alleyway!
The Tevere River
I swear they planted these type of trees in Rome specifically so you could see all the amazing
 sites easily and still have shade, lol. --aren't they gorgeous?!
Everything is HUGE!
Did you know there's a pyramid in Rome?
Older than most of the Roman ruins? Built as a tomb for a Roman magistrate in 12 BC!
Neither gowns, nor stiletto's, nor business suits can stop the Roman scooter-fetish! ;)

A Roman Arts Fest
I had read online about a big arts fest going on during the time we were in Rome. I was very excited because it was billed as being all about local artisans and musicians and I was looking forward to seeing some Roman artists. Unfortunately, although still a cool Fest, it was mostly resale items, alternative music and hooka bars! Major hang-out for the younger, alternative Romans!
Set up along the inner wall of the River! Actually a pretty cool spot, especially at night.
One of the "cooler" hooka bars.
Some of the "artist" tents

Whew! That's a lot of photos... and commenting, lol. Sorry if I kinda petered out toward the end! :)

This was my third time to Rome and I just never get tired of it! This time, though, I had my 11 yo son with me and it was his first time! He loved it, although I think he would've loved it even more if it hadn't been 100 degrees most of the time, lol. Still an amazing experience I'm sure he'll never forget! A friend once said, When you grow up you forget your toys, your teachers, and most of your friends, but you never forget your travels!


Wood & Copper! My jewelry display at the Weekend Boutique trunk show.

Display views from the Weekend Boutique! I love designing my display almost as much as I love designing jewelry! What do you think? Do you...