Seville Snapshots: Santa Catalina Church

When my friend Nancy came to visit nearly five years ago, she had two goals in mind: to not eat anything with a head on it, and to see as many Catholic temples as she could.

Since I had to work, I let Nancy loose with little more than a map, marked with circles around all of the places I thought interesting and worth a visit. She, instead, gravitated towards the churches. Her walk down Calle Imágen took her all the way to Santa Catalina de Alejanría, a mudejar style church right next to the bus depot and steps away from the Duquesa de Alba’s house.

The church has been closed to the public since 2004, upon which is was deemed in ruins. Despite the local government proclaiming its worth, no public money was put towards its restoration, even though immediate action was called for eight years ago. Locals have called for the intervention of the Cultural commission in the city to finance the project, but it may be that St. Catherine’s is closed forever.

You can sign a petition for the call to action by sending an email to elrinconcitocofrade@yahoo.es (Asunto: “Por Santa Catalina”) and leaving your full name.

If you’d like to contribute your photos from Spain and Seville, please send me an email at sunshineandsiestas @ gmail.com with your name, short description of the photo, and any bio or links directing you back to your own blog, Facebook page or twitter. There’s plenty more pictures of the gorgeous Seville on Sunshine and Siesta’s new Facebook page!

Details and Street Art in Porto

“Maggie?” I had to run to catch up with our fast-talking and fast-moving guide. “What does this mean?”

Showing her a photo I’d just snapped, she held her head back and roared with laughter. “Why, Rui Rio is the mayor of Porto, and this person has said he’s a son of a bitch!”

Lauren and I arrived to the Sheraton Oporto hotel in the city’s business district, Boavista, only a few hours before, running to catch a taxi and check in before the free tours and workshops started at the Travel Bloggers Unite conference. She got into a photo editing workshop, whereas I was rushed through the Oporto Cool tour. I imagined I’d have time in another moment to see the UNESCO World Heritage sites that crown the Duoro River, but blog conferences offer little time for anything more than social media.

No matter, though, as our tour of Fundação Serralves and the artsy backstreets of one of Iberia’s hippest cities provided the glimpse into tripeiro life I was looking for – the graffiti and details of urban living said it all.

Maggie, a native Angolean who has resided in Oporto for the better part of her life, had us disembarking in front of a stone house, once used as a farm house for a wealthy family. This was the Portugal I already knew – the exploration that gave way to commerce and a small yet fiercely proud people.

Thankfully, a quick pivot to our left and we were on Rúa Miguel Bombarda, a street with galleries every two steps and graffiti resting in between them.

Elders silhouetted the bright graffiti, hunched and making their way to nearby Alimentação for onions and water, and we followed suit. The stuck out just as much as we did, clustered next to graffiti depicting poetry and Oporto’s famed heart symbol. The warm day’s morning clouds had cleared, making us squint as we moved along the rúa.

The tour led us to a small mall, the Centro Comerção Bombarda, with bonsai gardens, chalk drawings on the floor and windows and artsy cafés. Used to the regal districts of Lisbon, seeing a city so alive with art and off-beat culture was refreshing. Named for a revolutionary who led a resistance against the long-standing monarchy, Rúa Miguel Bombarda is slowly starting a revolution of its own.

The street art even took the form of laundry, which Maggie pointing out as a way of life in Iberia: “We even think our garments are art. can you see? No secrets here. We are starting something new out of something old.” For someone who hangs her own laundry out to dry (both literally and figuratively), I had to laugh.

The rúa is also home to a number of interesting shops, displaying everything from rare sports cards to out-of-print books and even a curious shop with recycled goods. We sifted through old tiles, shoe horns and corsets. Hidden treasure was just begging to be found, but Maggie moved us right along, up towards the university and its nightlife hot spots.

Maggie led us past bookstores and bars carved out among government havens, speaking of the students’ revolution and their quest for all things bohemian. We tucked inside one of Porto’s oldest shops on Rúa Galerie da Paris, converted from a textiles mart into a gift store. I ignored everything on the tables and instead ran my hands along the worn wood of the old postal office and admire the crown molding on the second floor before being hurried out and onto a franchesinha sandwich. Old meets new when it comes to food, anyway.

Have you ever been to Porto? What were your impressions of the city?

If you are looking to rent an apartment in Porto which feels like home try MyFriendsRoom Vacation Rentals in Porto.

Seville Snapshots:Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo

Well, back to sweltering Spain. After a stint at the Travel Bloggers Unite conference in Porto, I lugged my 60+ lb. suitcase back to Seville (notably missing was my laptop, which I left in a cab and have yet to recover). It left me wanting fall, a temperate and dreamy time of the year in the South. Kelly of This Blonde sent me the picture below, plunging me into reveries of comfy sweaters, Kike’s army-issued PJs and the return of boots (want black riding ones, just like the pijas!).

In my world, the season of fall always arrives with color. Bursting from the trees, running down the mountainside, heralding the beginning of my favorite season. In southern Spain, fall is a different species. There is hot, and there is hotter. There are green leaves, and there are wet leaves. While I was daydreaming of bundling up in a sweater and a scarf, in reality I was peeling layers off as the days rolled on. It was here on the threshold of the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo that I found a very familiar scene.This photo is startlingly full of fall for a December day in Seville. The thick carpet of leaves, a woman (a student?) in a full length trench and hat wheeling her bike out into the courtyard.

Seville’s Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo (Museum of Contemporary Andalusian Art) is located in the old Cartuja ceramic factory and monastery, which in and of itself is worth a visit. Reached by the C1 or C2 circulars, its hours are Tuesday thru Saturday 11:00 to 21:00 h, Sunday de 11:00 a 15:00 h. Closed Monday. Free entry on weekdays from 19:00 to 21:h; tickets 1,80 to 3,01€.

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Love taking shots? Been to Seville or Spain? I’m looking for travelers with a good eye to capture beautiful Spain and contribute to my weekly Snapshots section. Send your photos to sunshineandsiestas @ gmail.com with your name and a short description of the photo and look to be featured here!

Dublin Doors

Way back four years ago, I made a list in a freshly-opened journal with an Old World Map on it. Underlining in black ink, the list read:

Places to Go This Year.

Ireland. Portugal. Morocco. the Netherlands. Germany.

For someone hellbent on traveling to 25 countries before a birthday of the same age, I had some work to do in just under three years. I scoured Internet travel agencies and budget airlines in search of my first destination, though I always knew what it would be. Given my reddish hair and blue eyes, freckles and being a softy for beer, the Emerald Isle, home to my father’s family, would get my well-saved travel dollars first, even if it was the most expensive.

My passport is now home to four green stamps, proclaiming my four trips to Eire, which include three in the last eight months. On each jaunt, I’m more enamored with Beef and Guinness pie, the Ha’penny Bridge over the River Liffey, fields exploding in bright green. And those doors! I spent an entire morning hunting out the most brightly colored amongst squat, brown brick buildings and the ever-present grey skies.

Have you ever been to Dublin?

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