“December is over, long live 2015!“ / Serra do Bouro, Portugal (Day 124+)

Portugal, Serra do Bouro

December is over and here’s a new year: new beginning as they say. I never understood the concept of a new year since it’s just another day in the calendar and since I live each day with awareness of being happy and present in the moment, so I never had an urge to make new year’s resolutions. If you don’t like how things are, change it! You’re not a tree. So welcome to 2015 and hope you will have another great year. Whatever you promised yourself for this year JUST DO IT. Really. That’s the only advice I can give you. Don’t think too much. It works!

My monthly routine is to empty my mobile phone memory (10 GB of pictures) and archive it on the external disc. They are archived by the year and month, and I make a selection and send it to my family on their emails. I work with video for a living, so you can imagine how do I look on the world: with the eye of a filmmaker, so this means that I have tons of photos each month. Since I never show too much pictures in public (except of small selection on this blog and daily photo on Instagram/Facebook), I’ve decided to do some small galleries below (selection of the photos) I made in December. It was another busy month full of adventures and I’ve decided I’ll share it with you.

Here are some random moments I captured during Christmas holidays; I walked through the streets at night and observed lovely holiday decoration, I had made a lot of delicious meals, I made great hitchhikes in the Portuguese hills and coastline, I got a special surprise Christmas visit, I tried the original Pasteis de Belem, I missed snow so I sledded on the sand, I went to Lisbon couple of times to enjoy Christmas spirit and explore random streets, I went shopping to the biggest outlet in Europe, I visited a lot of beautiful beaches and so on. December was very beautiful! Warm, happy, celebrating … One of the best in my life!

Click on the image in the gallery to enlarge it.

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Sledding on the sand: Portuguese edition!


In December I also visited couple of cities and places I want to write more about.

Sintra

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Me in front of one of the Sintra’s beautiful castles.

Here are some photo moments from the visit of Sintra. Sintra is known for its many 19th-century Romantic architectural monuments, which has resulted in its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although its heritage in buildings and nature is the most visible face of the historic individuality of Sintra, a whole literary heritage has made the area a legendary reference in Portuguese culture. When we went to Sintra, we didn’t expect it to be so big and majestic, so we were a little bit sad because we arrived there at 3pm, which didn’t give us a lot of sunlight to explore, since the sunset happened at around 5pm. But it was still beautiful even after sunset and we enjoyed the whole day there. So many castles, underground tunnels and amazing monuments. I would definitely recommend that you visit the place if you ever travel to Portugal – it’s a must! But be prepared: come early and bring water and your walking shoes, since it’s spread out on the big area and there are a lot of stairs and hills. It’s not a problem, but just be ready that you will walk around a lot. Even though we spent a lot of hours on our feet up and down the stairs and hills I wasn’t exhausted because I was so impressed with everything I saw! It’s amazing! Beside parks and castles you can also go inside and see some original pieces from the owners and see how their residences looked like from inside. Very beautiful indeed.

Obidos

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Sweet Christmas in Obidos.

I’ve been to Obidos couple of times, because it’s very inspiring for me and it’s quite close to my current residence. The name “Óbidos” probably derives from the Latin term oppidum, meaning “citadel”, or “fortified city”. The municipality had its origin in an early Roman settlement near the foothills of an elevated escarpment. The region of Óbidos, extending from the Atlantic to the interior of Estremadura Province along the rivers and lakes has been inhabited since the late Paleolithic. A settlement was constructed by early Celt tribes, that was later a centre of trade for the Phoenicians. Archeological evidence from the base of the medieval tower (south of Facho) at Óbidos Castle indicates Roman construction linked to an outpost of the Roman civitas of Eburobrittium, a large urban area that has been under excavation. Archeological surveys determined the remains of a forum, baths and other Roman structures near the settlement. It’s a perfect set up for Christmas time: stones, medieval scenery and friendly Portuguese people all over town offering sweet candy and drinks. I loved it! It was definately more crowded then in my previous visits, but I was expecting a lot of people since it was holidays and very good weather! We once again walked around the city wall (which is very scary thing for me because of the heights, but I made it!) and spend some time inside, had a coffee on the sun and tried special ginja drink in a chocolate cup. What a perfect day! I would again recommend it to visit and bring your walking shoes with you (you can’t enter the city with a car, but that’s the great thing so you have more to explore!).

Fatima

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Selfie with the Pope.

The next photo collection is from Fatima – the holy place where the Mary showed herself to three children in 1917 and now they build a real big Christian pilgrimage center. The place is surprisingly modern and very big. We were lucky to visit it after Christmas so it wasn’t crowded and so we could enjoy the modern architecture and some quiet time walking around different chapels and monuments. And we lighted a candle in the memory of our beloved ones. Nice place, especially if you’re religious. But be ready for some fanatic religious people and don’t be surprised when you see people walking on their knees around the church and across the big square – it’s the tradition and religious process. And you can buy tons and tons of plastic Jesus and Mary and other Christian souvenirs.

Leiria Castle

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First look when you enter into the inside walls of the castle.

When we went to Leiria Castle we did the same mistake which we already did with Sintra: we came too late! We thought it’s just an observation point to look the Leiria skyline, but the castle has so much more to offer. At first we were skeptical to pay the entrance since we thought it’s just to look at the city from above, but when we entered we saw that it’s a big castle with a museum and it offers a lot to explore! You can walk on the walls, visit different towers, inside museum and climb everywhere. It was beautiful and interesting, I never felt so great exploring the castle. I never had any interest in the medieval architecture or castles, but now (after Sintra and Leiria) I became very intrigued and I think that January 2015 and the next few months will probably be dedicated to more Portuguese castles. It’s brilliant! So our first intention to just visit the Leiria castle for the view became a couple of hours visit and at the end we almost got locked inside over the night because we went to the exit one hour after closing time and the security guard was just leaving, so we were happy to meet him otherwise we would stay locked inside over the night! He was angry, but we were very happy and lucky to go out. The night in the castle would probably be very scary! So after the castle visit we also went around night visit of Leiria, which is also a very beautiful city. You have to visit it!

While we were randomly walking through Leiria we found Nutelleria!!! That was the best surprise and we immediately stepped in the long waiting line to try delicious sweets made from Nutella! And all our eyes jumped on the special menu offer: Nutella kebab! It was heaven.

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December slowly ended…

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The last day of 2014 we spent on the beach. With a cup of green tea (I’m a tea drinker of course) and galão (typical Portuguese coffee). It was worm and we were happy. I couldn’t imagine that it’s the last day of December. I got news from Slovenia (my home place) that it’s snowing heavily and it’s around -20°C. And its just 3000 km apart. Crazy.

And when the evening of the New Year’s eve came, we drove north to the city of Nazare and went on the northern beach, which was completely empty and made bonfire and enjoyed the sound of the waves. It was great to stand on the sand next to the big amazing ocean at midnight and felt the warmth of the fire. I felt like every basic earth element was present: wind, water, earth, sand, energy … And the feeling of presence.

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At around 2 pm we went to the southern beach “back to civilization” where we danced until the next morning. I have to say that I have never seen so many overly-drunk people. There were young girls puking everywhere and the ambulance was driving around like crazy and picking up all the sick and injured people. That is civilization? No thank you, not for me. I enjoyed the music soberly and danced my socks off!

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2015, the beginning

So I started the new year with the positive mind and the things I love: delicious tea and the view over the endless ocean, working brunch on the sun and the most amazing sunset this year. Cheers to the new adventures yet to come!

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My December’s report is over, you’ve probably been overloaded with pictures, but it’s just a small selection of moments which happened in the past month. Life in Portugal is not as slow as they say, everything is happening so fast and the adventures are running by as fast as the lighting. Let’s see what the January will bring…

Soon,

Valerie

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Multimedia artist from Slovenia.