Saturday, October 21, 2006



In 1983, I started having some trips abroad that left no photo trace: it happened in January and February 1983, when I travelled twice to London. The January trip allowed me to see, for the first time «CATS», which was then an amazing experience. In March, I flew again to London, and again have no photos, but this was on our way to the Far East. It was the first time I travelled to Japan, and here we have some photos of the first stages of this Far East trip.



By that time the commercial route from Europe to Japan was through the North Pole, as planes were prevented from flying over the territory of the USSR. Thus, the British Airways airplane took off from London at 11:00 a.m. for a nine hour flight to Anchorage, Alaska. We got there at 10:00 a.m., the same day. And this was the evidence that there was no need to fly the Concorde to beat time... After a stop at the Anchorage airport, we carried on some seven and a half hours more to Tokyo, where we landed around 2:30 p.m. the next day..., after more than 22 hours with the sun always on our side! Just imagine the passengers' reaction when they noticed that someone, who came in Anchorage, had opened a window shade...

"GLACIERS - The Pole route was a superb one"

"ANCHORAGE AIRPORT - A bit freezing"



Next day after the arrival to Tokyo - a Saturday - we took an early morning Shinkansen (Bullet) train to the former imperial capital of Kyoto. Unfortunately the sky was clouded, and there was no chance to see the Fuji-san, sometimes called in the West Fuji Yama, i.e. Mount Fuji... But the trip at the speed of more than 200 km an hour (the first time we experienced that on a train) was nice and comfortable!
Kyoto, which was formerly known to the West as Miyaco, Miaco or Miako - the name the early 17th century Portuguese called it - is Japan's seventh largest city and it is said to be the most beautiful of them all: it has 17 World Heritage Sites (only Rome has more) and welcomes now more than forty million tourists a year. It was the imperial capital from the time of its foundation until the middle of the 19th century.

"JUNSEI RESTAURANT - The restaurant opened in 1961 on the site of an 1839 medical school established during the shogun era. The house speciality was (and still is) yudofu (tofu) dishes, that came with vegetable and shrimp tempura and various other dishes. A banquet in the older building - of the traditional shoinzukuri style of house construction, which began in the 13th century - filled with antiques and tatami mats and with a view of the garden"

"THE HEIAN JINGU is a Shinto shrine built in 1895 for the 1100th anniversary of the establishment of Heian Kyō (the old name of Kyoto) by Emperor Kammu, who was born in 737 and ascended to the throne in 781 as the 50th Emperor of Japan"

"JAPANESE BRIDE? - It looked like a wedding, as, historically, Japanese weddings took place in Shinto shrines. However this bride, who should be painted white to show the gods her maiden status, was not wearing the white kimono..."

"NIJO CASTLE - Built as the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa Shoguns, its construction started in 1601 and was completed during the reign of Tokugawa Iemitsu in 1626. The five buildings that complete the structure represent the height of Momoyama architecture, and the Castle was included in the UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1994. The Nijo Castle has two concentric rings of fortifications, both consisting of a wall and a wide moat. Here we can see the main gate of the Ninomaru Palace and part of the gardens"

"KINKAKU-JI - The Golden Pavilion Temple in the Deer Garden Temple is one of the main attractions of Kyoto. Built in 1397, on the site of a 1220 villa for Kintsune Saionji, it was intended to serve as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. It was burned down several times, the last in 1950 by a mentally disturbed monk (see Mihima's 1956 book The Temple of the Golden Pavilion). The present Pavilion dates from 1955, got new coating and gilding with gold-leaf in 1987, and saw the roof restored in 2003. My favourite view is the Golden Pavilion reflected in the Kyōko-chi (Mirror Pond)"

"MIYAKO HOTEL - Night view from room 1806"

"ON THE WAY to Kiyomizudera, a complex of Buddhist temples in Eastern Kyoto"

"KIYOMISUDERA - The Temple of Clear Water - According to the tradition, Kiyomizudera originated in 778, but most of the present buildings were constructed in 1633. The temple takes its name from the waterfall within the complex. Here we can see the Niomon Gate"

"ASAKURADO HALL - Kiyomisudera, which was made an Imperial temple in 805, has been burnt down and reconstructed nine times. The Asakurado Hall is one of the 1633 buildings"

"MAINHALL - Notable for its vast veranda, supported by hundreds of pillars (13m high, which is impressive for a wooden structure), it offers fantastic views of the city. During the Edo period, 234 jumps from the veranda were recorded and of those, 85.4 percent survived and were supposed to have their wishes granted. The expression «to jump off the stage at Kiyomizu» is the Japanese equivalent of the English expression «to take the plunge»! Beneath the main hall is the waterfall, with three channels into a pond"

"TEMPLES at Kiyomisudera"

"SANJU-NO-TO - The Three Storied Pagoda is the tallest three-storied pagoda in Japan. Rebuilt in 1633, it seems that it was repainted in 1987 in the original vermilion and now stands out against the dull brown of the other buildings"



Nara was the capital of Japan during most of the Nara period, from 710 to 784. Nowadays, it is the capital city of Nara Prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan, near Kyoto. Seven temples, shrines and ruins, specifically Tōdai-ji, Saidai-ji, Kōfuku-ji, Kasuga Shrine, Gangō-ji, Yakushi-ji, Tōshōdai-ji and Heijo Palace Remains form the UNESCO World Heritage Site named "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara".

"TODAI-JI - Ochumon Gate"

"DAIBUTSUDEN HALL is the world's largest wooden structure, and the home of the Great Buddha of Nara, a gigantic statue that is 15m tall and weighs approximately 25 tonnes"

"NANDAI-MON was built in 1199, in the Tenjiku style architecture. In both sides of the building there are two of the biggest wooden statues in the world. The statues were named Kongo-Rikishi-zo and designed by sculptor Unkei and Kaikei in Early Kamakura Period"

"SHINKANSEN - Back to Tokyo with the bullet train"

Saturday, October 14, 2006



The post on Chicago was the last of our first one month trip to North America, in August 1982. In November 82, I had a meeting in Zurich, where I met some colleagues, and we made an escapade to St. Moritz. The funny was to see the tourists among the skiers...

"CHURWALDEN - The departure from Zurich Hauptbahnhof was made very early in the morning, as the trip was long and required some train changes. One of the train stops was made in Churwalden, somehow in the middle between Zurich and St. Moritz"

"ST. MORITZ BAD - The approach showed a nice village by the lake"

"ST. MORITZ is one of the most renowned holiday resorts of the world. Chic, elegant and exclusive (see coats hats and ties...), with a cosmopolitan ambiance, it is situated at 1856 m above sea level, in the Upper Engadine. Though the publicity says the famous sun of St. Moritz shines an average of 322 days a year, we were highly unlucky, as it can be seen from the photos..."

"ST.MORITZ is Switzerland's largest winter sports region, with 350 km of slopes. There are 88 runs and 37 mountain restaurants to choose from"

"CORVIGLIA - Piz Nair is the largest single skiing area in the Engadine. Nearly 100 km of ski slopes wait for you, but not in city attire..."

"PIZ NAIR - 23 lifts in winter take you to the winter sports area, at up to 3057 m above sea level"

"PIZ NAIR - There are also 14 mountain restaurants there. Mathis Food Affairs was one of them"

"FUNICULAR - A nice view on the way down, before the long trip back to Zurich..."

Thursday, October 05, 2006



«Checagou», meaning «wild onion» or «garlic», was the name the Potawatomi tribe called the marshes on which Chicago was later built. Located in north-eastern Illinois at the south-western tip of Lake Michigan, Chicago's official geographic coordinates are 41°53′0″North, 87°39′0″West. It sits on the continental divide at the site of the Chicago Portage, connecting the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes watersheds. Chicago has now a population of 2.9 million. If you take into account the greater metropolitan area known as Chicagoland the population grows to more than 9.4 million, making it the third most populated city in the United States.


"VIEW TO THE LAKE - The Portuguese Tourism Office was very well located in 1982. The view from the John Hancock Building towards the Michigan Lake was superb!"


Chicago is famous for its architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Frank Geary, as well as the so-called «Chicago seven» - James Freed, Tom Beeby, Larry Booth, Stuart Cohen, James Nagle, Stanley Tigerman, and Ben Weese - have constructed buildings of varying styles in the city!

"THE WATER TOWER, located on the Magnificent Mile of North Michigan Avenue, was built in 1869 by architect William Boyington. It is deemed to have been the only surviving structure after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and serves as the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau Visitor's Welcome Centre"

"CRUISING - A cruise in Lake Michigan is a perfect opportunity to spot the famous Chicago architecture. In fact, starting in the early 1880s, the Chicago School pioneered steel-frame construction and the use of large amounts of glass. These were the first modern skyscrapers. Here we can see at least the Sears Tower and the Standard Oil Building..."

"SEARS TOWER is the tallest building in the United States, and the views are fantastic, but the city also helps a lot! The John Hancock Building, the magnificent black structure seen in the photo, is a 344 m-tall skyscraper designed by Fazlur Khan and, when completed in 1969, was the tallest building in the world outside New York City. The building contains the highest residences in the world"


Further to the famous buildings, Chicago shows also an impressive display of contemporary works. The Public Art Program of Chicago was a success that inspired more than 200 similar programs in U.S. cities!

"CHAGALL'S 1974 FOUR SEASONS - A 21 meter long, 4.2 meter high and 3 meter wide mosaic depicting the four seasons, standing at the First National Bank Plaza... !"

"MIRÓ - Chicago by Miró, located outside 69 West Washington, is a 12 meter high reinforced concrete sculpture designed mid 1960's and installed 1981, anticipating our visit and our passion for Miró...

"PICASSO'S unnamed statue, often referred to as the "Chicago Picasso," is a 15 meter high 1967 sculpture, and can be found in a public square on the south side of the Richard J. Daley Centre at 50 W Washington Street"


Chicago's urban context is organized within a grid pattern. The pattern is modified by the shoreline, the three branches of the Chicago River, the system of rail lines, several diagonal streets, the expressways, and hundreds of bridges and viaducts.

"CHINATOWN - The neighbourhood is on the near South Side. We had a noice dim sum lunch on Sunday"

"MICHIGAN AVENUE is a north-south street in Chicago. At the north end it merges into Lake Shore Drive. Through portions of its northern part, it is a double decked road, including a two level bridge over the Chicago River. A portion of Michigan Avenue North of the Chicago River is referred to as the Magnificent Mile. It is the home of Chicago's famous Water Tower landmark"

"ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO is one of the great art museums of the world. The European painting and sculpture collection - more than 2,000 works - is considered one of the finest in the world. It is represented by works dating from the 13th century through the mid-20th century, including a rare group of 15th-century Spanish, French, and German paintings as well as 17th- and 18th-century paintings from most of the European nations. Impressionism and Postimpressionism is also well represented"

"GOLD COAST - Lake Shore and John Hancock... The Gold Coast is Chicago's wealthiest neighbourhood. The zone extends along the lakefront from Oak Street to North Avenue, and the housing is a mixture of 19th century brownstones and concrete high-rises, mostly from around the 1960s"

"GOLD COAST ART FAIR - The «Grand Daddy» of American art festivals, attracts over 400 artists and 600,000 visitors. The free festival is set along city streets and sidewalks in the gallery-filled River North neighbourhood. Seen from the apartment where we were staying, it looked much quieter than it actually was"


Luis' apartment, where we stayed, had a wonderful location at the Gold Coast, and superb views...

"LIVING ROOM - Wall glass windows and mirrors made a tremendous combination..."

"DAYTIME - Towards Lake Michigan!"

"SUNSET - Looking south..."

"NIGHT - Incredible view from bedroom..."