Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Quinta de Chocapalha wine profile

From the top left: mono varietal white Arinto ready to drink now, Vinha de Palha - basic Rosé from the producer, red Vinha de Palha - basic red ( table wine ) with no oak barrel maturation, White reserva Chocapalha from 2006, red Quinta de Chocopalha with 6 months french oak barrels maturation and finally best of producers wine: red Reserva ready to drink from Christmas this year.

Quinta de Chocapalha in a small family run wine producer in Portuguese Estremadura region. With the privileged location between the rolling hills of Southern Estremadura and nicely renovated, "Quinta" ( English: estate ) is a lovely place to live and make nice wines. We visited the place in mid-July 2009.

Road sign leading us to Quinta. Yu taste wines in the beautiful surroundings. Cork from red Quinta de Chocopalha 2006. Diogo Suplúlveda leading oenologist. Quinta exteriors.

Talking to the owner and the leading enologist is a must-do. To understand and get to know better the Quinta, we usually buy a wide spectrum of the produced wines, starting from the most simple to the best, trying to create a mental and tasting profile of the place.

We started our wine tasting with red Quinta de Chocopalha 2006 ( Vinho Regional Estremadura; made of Tinta Roriz, Castelão, Alicante Bouschet grapes ). The tannins were a little too aggressive I must say. The wine lacked the elegance of Douro wines and tasted a little more like vegetables than fruits. Gained only 14/20 points.

Next day we grabbed a bottle of pale white Arinto 2008. It was a nice middle class wine very similar to the vinho verde whites with a little touch of micro bubbles on your tongue. Got 14,5/20 points on our private scale.

Mid-June 2009.


Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas night wine

On the Christmas night dinner we opened a bottle of wine from the Wachau valley in central Austria. It was the 2007 white smaragd ( full body wine with 13 % of alcohol ) from a famous producer Joachim Janek. The wine was made from Gruner Veltliner grapes. It was very nice, with with a pleasant light bouquet, very well-balanced flavor, very discreet feeling of micro-bubbles at the start but somehow lacked the final "touch" to make this wine outstanding.
But the wine did its job very well in a very different way. It flashed back our memories to the summer days of 2008. The days we spent at the Jamek winery in Austria tasting wines, talking to the producer´s daughter about wines and visiting the Wachau valley. The full story can be found here.


Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas everyone

Thank you all for visiting and commenting on my blog. I wish you a Merry Christmas !
Be good !


Sunday, 20 December 2009

The star of Bethlehem.

Star of Bethlehem, like a candle in the darkness, brings us hope and happiness.
Wishing you all happy pre-Christmas time.


Shot during our Christmas gingerbread cooking
20th of Dezember 2009

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Happy Xmas ? Not for all !

A "little misfortune" had happened when we baked and decorated our Christmas cookies this year: a broken leg !

Wishing you all happy pre-Christmas time !

15th December 2009.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Mosteiros beach in November.

The Mosteiros beach ( Azores islands ) - just blowing wind and heavy dark skies.

17.25 local time.
25th of November 2009

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Our garden colours in mid-December

Not much joy and sun this December in our garden.

From the top left:

Citron mini-tree,
Spike Lavender,
red, beginning to flower Bougainvillea,
Pink Camelia,
Green pepper and
Doux Très Long Red Pepper.

All pictures taken on the same day, December 8th, 2009.


Friday, 4 December 2009

The land of cows and volcanoes

View from Paul viewpoint to the north. A small "swimming pool " inside an old volcano.

A good thing about Azores Islands ( from the photographic point of view ) is that there are no so-called "magic hours" ( 1 hour before the sunrise and 1 hour before the sunset ). At these particular moments there is a "magic light in the air", something that makes the landscape photography at that hour so unique.

H owever on the Azores Islands the weather conditions are so dynamic, they can dramatically change within minutes and the light can stay "magic" all day long.

On that particular day I climbed the Paul viewpoint. It was almost a mid-day so hopes for a nice landscape photo were thin. To my surprise at the top I found a nice diffused and filtered light.


Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Azores Islands - Unspoiled nature spots

One of the little-known unspoiled nature spots on the island is this two-step waterfall called Salto do Prego, near Ribeira Grande village.

Nikon D80
Shot during my November flight to Azores Islands.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Turn off the TV ! ( I´m back on Azores Islands )

When I stood and took that particular picture of the sunset at the Mosteiros beach ( Azores islands ) I wondered: "Why are people watching TV ? The nature itself is so beautiful."
In front of my eyes there was something special going on in the sky.

17.15 local time.
25th of November 2009

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Photo trip to Central Portugal ( day 4 )

I got up early to see the sunrise over the Serra Estrela and the Spanish mountains.

I drove east and after 2 hours begun a steep climbing to reach the Serra Estrela mountains. Located at 2000 meters, the highest peaks give you a panoramic view over mountainous Portugal-Spanish border.

Next morning I got up early to see the sunrise-

After the night low-level nimbostratus clouds were gathering in the valley but the sky above looked pretty nice only with some cirrus clouds painted in the morning light.

Nikon D80

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Photo trip to Central Portugal ( day 3 )

Next morning I got up very early trying to embrace a new day and take an "early-bird" photo of the famous Vasco da Gama bridge in Lisbon. This is definitely one of the most enchanting architectonic structures of the capital. On of the longest bridges in Europe with a total length of over 17 kilometers.

Standing on the western bank of Tagus river I was looking to the east a couple of minutes before the sunrise. Unfortunately fast moving dark rainy clouds spoiled the moment ( and the photo ).

15th of November 2009

Friday, 20 November 2009

Photo trip to Central Portugal ( day 2 )

On my second day I drove to Mourisca, just 60 kilometers south of Lisbon.

Mourisca Tide Mill is situated on marsh, salty lands used in the past for the cultivation of rice, near the village of Mourisca. Built in the 17th century (year 1601), it served well its purpose, which is to make the best use of the renewable energy of the tides, able to grind the grain, just by using the strength of the tides.

The mill is now a museum.

There are lots of fishermen´s boats in that area, so when the sun showed up, I shot some photos. I used a B&W technique to emphasize the dramatic sky.


Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Photo trip to Central Portugal - almost a complete failure

I have been planning this trip for some time. I clearly marked all my photographic spots on the map and was ready to go. The plan was to shot some photos in Sintra National Park and near Sado River National Reserve.
It ended up in an almost complete disaster.
For three following days the weather was bad: strong winds, fog, low dirty clouds and occasional terrencial rain.

Only during short periods of reasonable weather I managed to put my camera on the tripod and take some photos.

This first picture is from Adraga beach in Sintra National Park. The beach is located not far away from the Westernmost Point of Continental Europe - Cabo da Roca.
At 4 p.m. I parked my car not far away from the beach. The weather was stormy. To my surprise the parking lot was full of cars. There was a young "just married" couple on the beach with friends and family taking pictures.
I passed the crowd and went straight to the rocky part of the beach. Soon the party was over and I stayed alone. The winds were high and the waves were massive.

To be continued....

Nikon D80
Sigma 17/70
2 sec
ISO 100


Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Braided delta of Vouga River, part V

Same place, same rubber boots.

Last days of October 2009.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Braided delta of Vouga River, part IV

This is a traditional fishermen´s boat from the mouth of the Vouga river, central Portugal.
Barco Moliceiro, this is how the Portuguese call the boat, is usually painted with bright colors and decorated with some rather primitive ornaments.
The name comes from the word Moliço, which means the submerged aquatic vegetation ( seagrass ) collected for use in agriculture
The boats are still used to catch fish and seagrass today.

Photographed at low tide, 28th of October 2009.

Nikon D80
Rubber boots.


Thursday, 29 October 2009

Braided delta of Vouga River, part III

Vouga river delta.
October 2009

Nikon D80
Rubber fishing boots.


Tuesday, 27 October 2009

In the realm of the dying sun

For the first time I managed to convince my son Lucas to go with me. Big achievement !

Picture above: Douro river in the realm of the dying sun: last rays of sun illuminating the scene.
By lifting 0.3 EV I managed to create a little 3D volume of the picture.

Photographed in the evening
27th of October 2009


Monday, 26 October 2009

Lord of the Stone Chapel. I´m back !

So the winter is coming. The temperatures have fallen to lower twenties. Lower temperatures mean more image sharpness in the coastal zone. Today I was back to one of my favorite spots: Lord of the Stone Chapel. My previous photos can be found here.


Nikon D80
ISO 200
EV -0.3
Fl 20 mm.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Dinky boat

It was a stormy night. The sun was down. Strong wind was blowing inland. The seaside boulevard was completely abandoned. There was only me and this small, half filled with water dinky.

Nikon D80
Sigma DC 17/70
Manfrotto Tripod
F 8
ISO 500
FL 17 mm


20thOct 2009.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Our garden colors in early October

From the top left:

Doux très Long Red Pepper plant,

red tomato,

red mini cherry tomatoes,

yellow Fargo-type tomatoes,

and a colorful butterfly.

All pictures taken on the same day, 17th Oct, 2009.


Friday, 16 October 2009

Conch houses of Key West

A typical Key West architecture. House at Whitehead St., Key West.

What is a conch house? Early settlers of the Florida Keys built their homes of a molter made from sand, water, and lime. The settlers obtained their lime by burning conch shells. Having no building stones or bricks, but an abundance of conch shells the settlers often utilized the shell itself in constructing their houses. Thus the term "conch" house had its beginning. Later, wooden homes built by settlers and ship's carpenters utilizing a blend of architectural styles took on the name of conch houses. ( from ).

Nikon D80
Sigma 10-20
Polar. filter
Manfrotto tripod + head
Shutter release
ISO 100
Aperture f9,5
Exposure 1/8sec


Sunday, 11 October 2009

Vinha D´Ervideira Rosé

We drank today this very nice Portuguese pink wine: Vinha D´Ervideira from Alentejo region. Wine is made from Alfroncheiro, Aragonez and Tinta Caiada grapes.

This highly aromatic but still rosé wine is very food friendly - it can be paired with a great assortment of food textures. Today we did it with Agnieszka´s Bologna lasagna and it proved to be an excellent choice for this hot October day in Porto.


Saturday, 3 October 2009

Sunset at Mosteiros, Azores Islands.

At night I traveled to Mosteiros, a remote village at the very Westernmost point of the island. There was a black sandy beach and some huge blocks of volcanic rock rising from the ocean not far from the beach. Some surfers were hitting the waves nearby.
I took my shoes off, put a camera on the tripod and shot a picture.

02nd of October 2009.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Travelling Azores Islands again.

Wednesday, 30th Sept. 2009. I flew the Azores Islands again. Then I took a walk overlooking the spectacular rocky cliffes of the northern coast. This is the area called "Nordeste" - the land of sumptous vegetation, deep valleys and a big, big ocean.
Photographed at Ponta da Madrugada viewpoint.
30th Sept. 2009
Nikon D80.
Sigma DC 17-70 mm.


Friday, 25 September 2009

Melk Monastery

Melk famous spiral staircase.

I received an e-mail: "Your photo has been selected as a “Recommended photo”.

My photo at the main page of ? I am really very, very honored. ( link ).
Thank You all !

Melk, Austria. Melk Abbey or Stift Melk is an Austrian Benedictine abbey, and one of the world's most famous monastic sites. It is located above the town of Melk on a rocky outcrop overlooking the river Danube in Lower Austria, adjoining the Wachau valley.
The abbey was founded in 1089 when Leopold II, Margrave of Austria gave one of his castles to Benedictine monks from Lambach Abbey. A school was founded in the 12th Century, and the monastic library soon became renowned for its extensive manuscript collection. The monastery was also a major site for the production of manuscripts. In the 15th Century the abbey became the centre of the Melk Reform movement which reinvigorated the monastic life of Austria and Southern Germany.


Miami, Ocean Drive

One of the old cars parked in front of the Casablanca hotel on the Ocean Drive, Miami.

The southern tip of Miami Beach Island is home to the Art Deco National Historic District. Ocean Drive is a strip of hotels with characteristic rounded corners, vivid colors ( mainly blue and yellow ) and geometric ornamentation.
The hotels were completed in the 1920's but
Ocean Drive soon became associated with liquor and gambling ( Al Capone was a frequent guest here ). Then much of the Art Deco district had become a slum but it experienced an unprecedented revival in the late 80's which some partially attribute to the success of the TV show "Miami Vice."

Shot on the early morning Sept., 6th 2009.

Monday, 21 September 2009

The beach hammock

That afternoon I was walking around the hotel we stayed in Key West looking for a nice
photo spot. On the beach I found this nice hammock and some palm tree shadows. The scene seemed to be so serene and relaxing that I took a photo.

The picture was selected at front page of the webpage ( link ). Thank you all for all your votes !
Shot at Key West on southernmost of the continental US beach.
04th Sept 2009.


Saturday, 19 September 2009

Just another sunset at Fort Myers

Another night, another sunset.
Shot at Fort Myers, Florida, USA.

Focal length 12 mm
ISO 100
Nikon D80


Friday, 18 September 2009

Travel around the big continent ( 1 )

We leave the Everglades National Park by driving road 41 east toward Miami. We say farewell ( and no regret ) to alligators and thousands of mosquitoes. The last part of the road is so typical for US roads: straight as an arrow section stretching for thirty miles. Both sides of the road have dull and monotonous views: only swamps and sea of grass. We pass the Miccosukee Indian Reservation and three Indian small towns: Tamiami Trail, Alligator Alley and Krome Avenue, which are hermetically separated from the road and protected by high fences. "No stopping at any times" are everywhere. Behind the fences one can be seen, however, some Indian homes. They are quite well cared for, hidden in the green trees from the hot sun. How different are these settlements from Indian reservations in Arizona! There the majority of Indian homes are squalid caravan parked in the middle of the semidesert with a multitude of trash scattered around helplessly.
What makes the relative wealth of Miccosukee Indians? First, the Everglades N.P. is frequently visited by thousands of tourists from near Miami. Close to the border of the park there is a huge Indian casino&hotel in no way inferior to the size of casinos from Las Vegas: 350 rooms, five restaurants and a casino with more than 1700 "one hand bandits". We pass the casino. It is enormous, the parking lot is stretching for half a mile. Indian casinos exist in almost all U.S. states. They are don´t pay many taxes. The idea was to help poor Indians get some money. Unfortunately this all went wrong. In 2002 Time magazine wrote: "Look who is cashing at Indian Casinos. Hint: It's not the people who are supposed to benefit. Indian Casinos are making millions for their investors and providing little to the poor".
The term "Indian Casinos" is a synonym for corruption.

The Everglades N.P. ends and we approach Miami. We turn south from US41 to US997. When I looked at the photos of this US41-977 junction at site, someone has named one of the pictures: Back to Civilization. This is exactly how we felt on entering the intersection. After more than 150 kilometers of swamp and grass you suddenly are back to civilization: dozens of bars, gas stations, restaurants, shopping and .... Indian casino - they all apppeal suddenly before our eyes.

We continue US997 south. It seems like the road separates two different worlds: to the left there are suburbs of Miami, to the right vast plantations of fruits and vegetables with roadside vendors every few miles. Traffic lights are everywhere, and of course, the speed limit is a miserable 45. For lunch we stop at the Cracker Barrel. The restaurant is full. After several minutes, smiling waitress leads us to the table. "How're you guys doing?" he asks. The food is, as usual in such restaurants, delicious. The menu is mainly based on excellent beefs, ham and pork with tons of vegetables. We're also order a fried catfish, which is quite good. Portions, as usually in all the family restaurants, are huge.

We hit the road again. Our 997 joins the US1. This is the oldest interstate in the U.S. It stretches from the border with Canada, passing all the major cities of the east coast to Key West. It is 3200 kilometers long. Built in the twenties of the last century, US1 was the main north-south route until 1950 when the highway 95 was built. Prior to 1950 along US1 lived 1/3 of all U.S. residents.

The landscape again becomes more fierce. More and more shallow lakes and swamps appear along US1. Funny road signs warn: "Crocodile crossing next 5 miles". It almost feels like Everglades Park again.

US1 soon leaves the mainland. Passing several interconnected bridges, we enter tropical islands called Keys. The climate begins to improve slightly. It is no longer so hot and humid as Florida mainland. Keys is a group of approximately 1,700 islands stretching from the southern coast of Florida towards Cuba.

Larger islands were connected with the mainland by rail in 1920. In 1935 one of the biggest hurricanes in U.S. history completely destroyed the existing railroad. The motorway was opened only in 1982.

The first island, Key Largo, as seen from the main road, is just ugly. By several kilometers on both sides of US1 we pass hundreds of bars, real estate agencies, petrol stations, souvenirs shops, escort agencies, fortune-tellers and travel agents who offer all possible beach and sea attractions. All this has no style and is simply ugly. This is the American trading culture at its worst.
We drive south from island to island, hopping from one bridge to another. On the left there is Atlantic Ocean, on the right shallow and turquoise waters of Gulf of Mexico. The farther away from Florida, there is less people, less hotels, less roadside bar, the views are getting better and better. This is begging to feel like Caribbean.
It takes us long minutes to cross the Seven Miles Bridge connecting the islands of Marathon and Big Pine Key. Here some scenes from movies like
True Lies, 2 Fast 2 Furious, and James Bond - License to Kill were shot.
After leaving the town of Marathon the landscapes are beautiful. We pass the Bahia Honda ( Deep Bay) Beach, which was elected the most beautiful beach in the USA.

The last of the large islands, Key West is located only 90 miles from Cuba.
We have been to Key West twice, but still this island fascinates us. And suddenly here it is: Key West with its fine wooden houses and cozy atmosphere.

2B cont.

Monday, 14 September 2009

São Jorge Island mountains

The highest point of this mountain chain is Pico da Esperança at 1,053 meters. The mountain has a volcanic origin. From its top one can admire a breath-taking 360 degree view and all the central Azores group islands can easily be seen.

Full screen photo: click here.

August 2009.

Panorama of 7.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Holidays in Key West

From the top left: Southernmost beach of the continental USA; Southernmost Hotel - the hotel we adored during long and lazy 7 days;
Bottom: Southernmost Hotel again; the beach.

29 August - 6 September 2009

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Red Bull Air Race

Red Bull Air Race 2009 Porto, Portugal. The Breitling
jet team over the Douro River, as seen from our house, 12 Sept 2009.

Nikon D80

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Before the storm has come ( part II )

Part II.
The same place, camera and lens.


Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Before the storm has come

Our last night at Key West ( Florida, US ) was stormy. Starting from 5 pm. the heavy clouds surrounded the island. As always it was hot and humid. Highs were near 90 degree F ( 33 degree Celsius ). Thunderstorms were coming.

I took my camera to the beach close to Radisson Ocean Key Resort. The dark Cumulonimbus, anvil-like shaped clouds, were approaching. Some in-cloud lightning could also be seen. I put my camera on tripod and started to take photos.


Nikon D80
20/09/2009 19:46:00
F 22
ISO 100
Fl 10 mm
Flash: did not fire
Program: Aperture priority

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Lazy summer days

Shot at Southermost On The Beach Hotel, Key West, Florida, US.

31st August 2009.

Monday, 31 August 2009

American roadside eating

All-american roadside cuisine is based on meat and tons of vegetables. Delicious steaks, chicken, roast beef ans ham make a good country cookin´.

Above: Texas roadhouse and Cracker Barrel restaurants.

Nice people, good food - I love american roadside restaurants.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Fort Myers sunset

Sunset over pier of Fort Myers beach, Gulf Coast, Florida.

Going back form Luisiana, we saw a nice hotel ( Best Western Beach Resort ) at the Fort Myers Beach, Florida and decided to stay for 2 nights.
The beach is beautiful with white sand. The water is about 80F or 30C. We had strall on the beach and 2-hours long Hobie Cat sailing.

The photo was selected at the front page of


Thursday, 27 August 2009

Luis Armstrong Park

Luis Armstrong is an American cultural icon who was born in New Orleans, Luisiana. He ones could be heard playing cornet aboard Mississippi River steamboats or in the city streets.

Today, the main park in the old part of New Orleans old city ( French Quarter ) is now named after this most famous jazz musician.

Main entrance to the Luis Armstrong Park in New Orleans, Luisiana, US.

When I stood there taking this photo to my left I had a J&M Recording Studio, where Rythm&Blues and Rock n´Roll were borned. Behind me there was a French Quarter with live jazz performances every night.

"This is beautiful city" I thought.

Nikon D80
21.30 h.


Friday, 21 August 2009

1958 volcano

Capelinhos is a volcano that was born not so many years ago. In 1957 and 1958 a huge eruption started in the sea close to the western shore of the Fial, one of the Azores Islands, creating initially a land of 3 km2. Today almost one-third of that area is gone due to water erosion. What is left resembles a Moon-like or rather Mars-like landscape.
The Capelinhos Volcano is a proof that many of the islands in the Azores are still volcanically active.

Please click HERE to see the photo in its full dimension !


Nikon D80
Lens: Sigma 17-70
Panorama of 8 vertical photos.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Lake of Fire

Lagoa de Fogo or Lake of Fire is one of the crater lakes on the São Miguel island in Azores, Portugal. This was the last day of our "from one to another island" hopping trip.


Nikon D80
Sigma 10-20
F 11
Fl 13 mm
ISO 100.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

From the São Jorge island to the west

A dramatic sunset as observed on Monday´s evening, the 3rd of August 2009, close to our hotel on the São Jorge island, Azores.

Nikon D80
Date: 03.08.2009 21:59
F 14
ISO 200
Fl 13 mm
Sigma 10-20 mm
2 sec
ND 03
Post processing: PS CS3, sharp, white balance, crop.