Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sintra, Portugal

In early March 2005 I met Garry in Lisbon. He had finished two months at sea on the research vessel R/V JOIDES Resolution. At this time (since 1986) Garry and I had spent one to six months a year in Brazil so now it was time to visit 'the mother country'.

In 2002 I visited Rosslyn Chapel. I also read the book, Rosslyn, by Tim Wallace-Murphy and Marilyn Hopkins. I held a deep desire to visit Cintra/Sintra which is 14 miles, 23 kms northwest of Lisbon. In the book Sintra is mentioned as the eighth place, and starting point, on the European Path of Initiation that includes seven other major stops in Europe. I won't list them here, you must read the book if you have an interest. Ah-ha! An ah-ha moment for some of you as yes, this ties in with my walking the Retorno journey along the Camino de Santiago. Walking FROM Santiago de Compostela, Spain, TO Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France (the opposite direction).

Before walking to Santiago de Compostela in 2002 I knew that one day I would walk the return journey. Over the years I have visited five of the sacred places mentioned for this Pilgrimage of Initiation. It is 'killing' me that I have not visited the others - maybe this year I will visit one of the three left for me to visit.

If you plan on visiting Rosslyn, Scotland, then you should also read: The Stone Puzzle by Philip Coppens.

I have walked the Camino de Santiago from various starting points and here is the original photography website 2002-2009 and the latest site 2010 - Present

Is this what you are looking for?
Careful be aware, there could be one in plain view that can steer a seeker along the wrong path. I got shivers when I found this hidden column below ....

Quinta de Regaleira
A very special place.
The Initiation Well above leads to the maze/path below.
At one point when going through the maze/path we entered total darkness, pitch black, and then found ourselves at a closed door, below.

To leave the maze/path one must walk over water, here above are the steps. Below looking at the maze from 'the other side'.

The Fountain of Abundance above and the Magdalene Tower below.
There is an interesting mosaic in the Chapel and before I posted this photo I sent Kathleen McGowan a message. Kathleen is the author of The Magdalene Line  a series of historical novels - The Expected One, The Book of Love, The Poet Prince and her self-help book based on The Lord's Prayer, The Source of Miracles.

I wrote, "Kathleen, is this photo showing a coronation of Magdalene?" and this is her response, "A million percent YES. The traditional church will tell you it is Jesus and his mother - does that look like his mother to you? but in ancient tradtions and still within some of the Orthodox traditions, the bridegroom places a crown upon the brides head. By the way, this is GORGEOUS. xo"
There are other points of interest in the Sintra area and here above is the Moorish Castle.
Garry and me at the entrance gate to Pena Palace.
The Spirit of the Green Man
When I am not traveling I like to keep the Blog alive by Posting at least once a month. In keeping with the pilgrimage theme, next month I will post on my 2002 visit to Rosslyn Chapel. This chapel is the finishing point of the Pilgrimage of Initiation. I feel fortunate to have been there many years before Dan Brown wrote about it in The Da Vinci Code. Visitors no longer have the same freedom to walk around the chapel amazed by the stone carvings, looking at the wonderful ceilings, and contemplating what is the message or story they are telling here. 'Tis a shame what fame can do.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


San Juan - Caribe Hilton Hotel
December 26-31, 2011
My wonderful cousin 'got on my case' today for keeping UNDER CONSTRUCTION on my Blog. :) So for you, my Dear Beverley, here are the photos from Puerto Rico.

It is delightful here in the Caribe Hilton. If all you want for a Winter Sun vacation is a private beach, huge pool, sun chairs, hammocks, outdoor bars and palm trees, then this is your hotel. But there is more!  Puerto Rico offers it all.

December 27, 2011
Garry and I are in Puerto Rico for a winter sun vacation which is really not needed when one lives in Houston, Texas. Oh well, the truth is we needed to fly qualifying miles for our respective Silver and Platinum Elite status with Continental Airlines. Yuk, next year the merger will be complete and it will be United Airlines. By the time we arrived in PR we both had reached the required mileage.
The view from our seventh floor room at the Caribe Hilton Hotel (facing the Atlantic Ocean).
San Juan is on the north coast, under the o in Rico on this map.
We meet a friend of Elsie's (Houston) and she takes us to lunch at Raices a wonderful Puerto Rican restaurant in Old San Juan. The restaurant serves dishes typical of those cooked by the country folk of Puerto Rico.

After saying farewell to Mitzi we walked around Old San Juan to the two forts. The two forts were apparently known as the Guardians of the Caribbean. Above is Castillo de San Cristóbal and then we walked to the point where Castillo San Felipe del Morro stands. The fortifications were strong withholding battles from the British and Dutch.

This is the lighthouse at the point.

December 28, 2011
We go on a drive through El Yunque National Forest and were lucky as the rain held off until the end of the day. We walked to waterfalls in the middle of the forest - in the humidity it was quite a hike.
The sign at the entrance of El Yunque National Forest. Oh yeah! Puerto Rico is the USA - I forgot my National Parks Passport for a stamp but fortunately my Senior Pass was still in my wallet from when I was traveling with Bev in May, thanks Bev :)

These waterfalls are on the drive to our big walk.

Now we are on the walk. It is a good trail with many up and down hills on slippery wet paths. Thankfully I brought my hiking boots with me but unfortunately, not my stick. The smell of the moist earth brings me back to other rain forests but not Australian. The Australian forests have the smell of the gum trees (Eucalyptus). We heard some birds but not many, not near the number of parrots that are in the Aussie forests. Hm, I think I am getting homesick, I see a visit to Bev and Andrée is long overdue.
Some big trees but northern California has them beat :)
The little waterfall ....
La Mina Falls - they were well worth the long walk.

I am happy this photo turned out as it was extremely windy here and these fronds were not still at all.

The tale goes that the Piña Colada was invented at the Caribe Hilton, San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1954. OK, so that allows me to have more than one while here. Now where did they invent the Cuba Libre?  :)

December 29, 2011
Our drive today takes us south to the Caribbean coast where we went for a walk along the boardwalk at Ponce Playa. On the way we pass many Flame Trees. Of course I Google them now, to be sure of what I write and yes, they are native to Australia.
The African Tulip Tree flowers all year round in Puerto Rico. According to Mitzi, "The African Tulips in Puerto  Rico are commonly known by kids as "Meahitos" or Peeing Trees.  When we were kids we would take the bulbs (where the flower comes out of), break the tip, squeeze it, and spray it to other kids.  The amount of water that comes out of that little bulb is amazing and since the smell is not really "flowery" thus the peeing part of the expression."

On our drive yesterday and again today I saw many areas invaded by Kudzu (shown below). I wonder what damage it will end up doing to this beautiful small island.

The Kudzu is so invasive, it is horrible. I feel so sad that it has arrived here.
Salvador fish, if I understood the guy correctly. They are long, maybe four feet or more but he told us that they are very bony so not nice for eating.

They look docile but have a very sharp beak and will bite if teased. Up close the point at the end of the beak is clearly visible.

The boardwalk at Ponce Playa.
The Starfish were huge and very bright orange even when I was snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef (Australia) I did not see them like this. Another beautiful day in a Caribbean paradise.

December 30, 2011
We enjoyed another interesting day on this lovely island. We drove west to the Arecibo Observatory to see the world's largest radio telescope. It is a fascinating place to visit which starts with a thirty minute talk on the history, accomplishments, and goals of the observatory. Afterwards we walked out to the observation deck and stood in awe at the size of the reflector, the height of the towers, and the Gregorian Dome that is suspended above the reflector. Please click on the Arecibo link above to read about the telescope.
Visitors are very welcome at the Observatory and they have a very informative display of the facility and of course, a book and gift shop.
You will be in good company if you sit down for a coffee here :)
A little information about the Reflector.
The Reflector sits in a natural sink hole which is what enabled this large dish to be built here.
The Gregorian Dome, it was moving when we were visiting, a lucky event!
Holding my copy of Philip Coppens, The Ancient Alien Question.

Philip writes about Arecibo Observatory on pages 33 and 34 in TAAQ. No, this what not planned, but when we decided to visit the Observatory I looked to see if Philip mentioned Arecibo, he does and since he has requested that his readers place their photo holding a copy of his book on his facebook page ... well, what a great opportunity.
All the way from Texas and we find Big Horn Cattle grazing in a field on our drive to Aguadilla which was to be the end point of our drive today.
We stopped at Aguadilla which was as far west as we were able to journey today, or for that matter, this visit to Puerto Rico.

December 31, 2011
Some last minute shots from the grounds of the Caribe Hilton Hotel, San Juan, Puerto Rico. It has been a pleasant hotel to stay in and very easy to leave the area when going on drives around the island.

This afternoon we return to Houston arriving late on New Years Eve. Thank you for following my Blog this year. I hope you have enjoyed traveling with me.

I have a few exciting trips planned for 2012.
March 2012: Garry and I go on a SE Asian cruise. Departing from Singapore with various stops before finishing in India, this includes a land portion taking in the Taj Mahal.

April 2012: I go on tour with Kathleen MacGowan and Philips Coppens through SW France (Cathar Country). The Cathar history has been an interest of mine for many years. So to travel this region with Kathleen is an experience I am so looking forward to.

May 2012: I will cross into Spain to visit Girona which is really an extension of the Rennes-le-Chateâu story. Then I will visit Kees and Vicente in Madrid, Spain before finishing my return journey along the Camino de Santiago to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France.

December 2012: The Pyramid Code's Dr Carmen Boulter is leading a group of folks to Egypt for 12.12.12 and 12.21.12 - this trip should be amazing especially since Kees and Vicente are seriously thinking about joining the group.

I wish you a Happy New Year for 2012 and hope that all your dreams come true, remember DREAM BIG!