(We began our day by walking (mostly up a steep, cobblestoned road!) up to meet Eileen for our mosaic-making workshop. Eileen has lived in Lisbon for 25 years and is a Pennsylvania native. She loves her adopted city and told us about what it is like to live here. She has been creating mosaics for most of her 25 years here and has made some exquisite pieces of mosaic.
We each had our choice of either making 2 coasters or 2 sardine mosaics and we were soon working to choose colors, tiles, broken pottery, etc. to use. We learned how to use the nippers to cut the tiles and then paste them down to our coasters or sardines. Many of the students had never made mosaics and most enjoyed it greatly. Our workshop lasted for 3 hours and then we were off to meet Igor for our walking tour of the Alfama district of Lisbon.
We were a bit late to meet Igor at the Plaza do Comerica in Lisbon, but were soon off to take a walking tour of the backstreets of the Alfama. We walked up steep hills to visit places we would never have known existed if it weren't for our tour. The narrow, winding paths dotted with taverns and gelato stands were fascinatingly quaint and lovely. We stopped for a pastel de nata which we are eating almost on a daily basis. (Although Grace and Livy prefer the macaroons). We learned about Fado music and those from the Alfama who sang in the local taverns. We saw panoramic views of the sea and all of the beautiful red tile roofs. Lisbon is a treat for all of the senses.
Tonite will be our last night in Lisbon and then it is off to Porto in the morning. (see Photo tab for more images of the day)
We began our day by attempting to find a bus to take us to our tile making workshop. We waited for the bus for quite some time before finally grabbing two taxis to run us up a huge hill to our workshop. Carolyn, our instructor, is a Lisbon native and has been studying Azulejos for many years.
She told us the history of Portuguese tiles and taught us the authentic technique of painting tiles. We each were able to design and paint two ceramic tiles which Carolyn will fire and deliver to our hotel by Monday.
We learned that tiles were first developed by the Moors/Arabs and then brought to Spain and Italy from Northern Africa. Azulejos is a word meaning small polished stones. After the earthquake in 1755 which devastated more than half of Lisbon due to fire, much of the city was rebuilt using tiles. Tiles were used as they protected buildings from fire.
We then visited the beautiful Museum of Azulejos in Lisbon which had many, many examples of different tiles and mosaics. We didn't have a lot of time to spend at the museum, however we saw some beautiful work both historic and modern.
We returned to the hotel at about 4 and then rested for an hour before leaving for our cooking class. We had a lot of fun eating bread dipped in olive oil, fava beans and olives while preparing our meal of pork cooked in wine, cod croquettes, "garden fish" which were green beans, breaded and then lightly fried, and rice. For desert we made the egg custard tarts famous in Portugal. They were fantastic! We took taxi rides home and had fun looking at the preparations the city is making to prepare for carnival which takes place for the next four days. Tomorrow we are going to be picked up at 830am for our day trip to Sintra and Cascais. (see Photos tab for more images of the day)
Last night we enjoyed a flamenco class with Eva in the Triana neighborhood of Seville. Although everyone was physically exhausted from a very long day of site seeing, our students came alive in the dance studio and learned a lot in a short time from an excellent teacher. Eva taught us about the different rhythms and counting used in flamenco as well as the various styles that express tragedy, hope, happiness, and celebration.
Our first art workshop today! After visiting the Alhambra yesterday and learning about the tilework done there we walked down to the town center of Granada to visit the workshop where Munira creates beautiful work done in leather. She has lived in Granada for 40 years although is originally from Oakland, CA. When we began the workshop we were given a piece of leather on which to practice stamping. After gaining some confidence we were each given a square piece of leather on which to stamp designs taken from patterns we saw yesterday at the Alhambra.
We learned to first transfer the pattern onto the leather, wet down the leather and then begin stamping. Each tile is different, and Munira taught us to value each piece as unique - including any stamping mistakes we happened to make. After we completed stamping we painted on a coat of light stain to highlight areas of the pattern. We are going to retrieve our tile pieces at 6 tonite on our way to our flamenco class/ flamenco show and dinner. This is going to be a late night and so we all need to be packed up with journals written before leaving tomorrow morning at 9am for Seville. The weather here has been wonderful; 70 and sunny. We will write more about our flamenco lesson later.
We began our day at 9am when our tour guide met us at the hotel lobby and took us off to the Alhambra. We visited Generalife (the summer home and gardens of the Islam and Muslim royal families.) and the Nasrid Palace. The Nasrid Palace is the opulent Moorish-style courtyard and royal quarters and the heart of the Alhambra. We visit the Alcazaba which was the housing where the guards lived. The Alhambra is considered to be the most famous example of Islamic art and is the culmination and grand finale of medieval Islamic culture on the Iberian Peninsula.
After lunch we went to the Hammam al Andalus - Moorish/Andalucian baths - which were pools of various water temperatures which were beautiful. The waters were surrounded by alcoves with candles and it was very beautiful. We were served hot, sweet tea. We had learned earlier today how baths were an integral part of life at the Alhambra and the Islamic culture and so it was a great way to tie-in the two visits.
We are very excited to be attending our first workshop tomorrow with Munira, a local artist. We will be creating leather tiles with typical Islamic patterns as we take our first lesson in our study of tiles and art. We will fill you in tomorrow night on our workshop.