Shelagh's Lens

Lions Gate Bridge

Lions Gate Bridge connects Vancouver, via much loved Stanley Park, to West Vancouver and the North Shore.

Here, on a foggy December 23rd and away from the cheer of Christmas lights elsewhere in the city, one might be forgiven for thinking the  bridge leads into an abyss of the unknown.

Porto’s Festa de São João

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Portugal, you may want to plan your travels for June, since villages and cities there have patron saints whom they take great pleasure in honouring. The kind Portuguese are very welcoming of guests to their parties, and they certainly know how to have fun.

It was sheer luck that our stay in Porto coincided with residents’ celebration of Festa de São João, the Festival of Saint John. A couple of days earlier in Lisbon, we’d taken a roundabout route to the gorgeous and intimate Heritage Avenida de Liberdade Hotel, since Avenida de Liberdade was closed down for musical performances and parties celebrating that city’s festival honouring Saint Anthony.

Our time in Portugal yielded a little treasure trove of photos and memories, but for today I’ll start with this one from Porto, in which a young girl – surrounded by thousands of people – took in the midnight fireworks display over the Douro.

Swan Ballet

While Palma de Mallorca’s Le Sue (Cathedral) is much to be admired for its Gothic architecture, scale and views out to the water, there’s a quiet spot nestled to the side of the building that I also appreciate.

Here, we were treated to the antics of a family of swans, complete with cygnets/young ones. Depending on the time of day, you may see the entire brood in the water. In this shot, some of the family offered a synchronised, and almost balletic approach,  to seeking food.

What could be mistaken for fluttering pieces of linen surrounding a mature swan are actually its mate and four of the little ones bobbing gracefully for food, as may be seen by the gently churned waters surrounding each immersed beak.

Earlier the same day, the entire family made their way out of the water together, with the parents taking time and great care grooming themselves once they were on land – and with the little ones mimicking their parents.

 

Style from Seville

Outside the cathedral of Seville, a newly married young couple posed for photographs.

Members of the wedding party, including the man escorting this young mother, gathered in clusters here and there until called into action for a group photograph.

While the bride was indeed lovely, it was this gal who drew my camera. Elegantly attired, and patiently waiting with her little one alongside the centuries-old wall, she stole the show.

Sevillian Revellers

Spain’s Andalusia region is a treat for the eyes. On a recent afternoon, we rounded the corner of the massive Cathedral of Seville before retreating for some cool shade when we came across this celebratory group.

The cathedral, which you’ll see in the background, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also known as Saint Mary of the See. Not only the  largest Gothic building in Europe, and apparently the largest cathedral of any kind, this is also the third largest church on the planet.  Only Brazil’s Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida and the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica are larger. Christopher Columbus’ tomb is here, in the stunning building that was constructed between 1402 and 1506.

I like the juxtaposition and then marriage  between the historical building, complete with horse and buggy, and the contemporary revellers of various ages (there seemed to be a mother and aunt or two toward the rear of the dance line) led by a lovely and friendly young woman in not-so-contemporary garb.

 

Heron in Flight

Where to begin? Well, with this blog set to take flight, why not this lovely heron in the waters of Vancouver’s Spanish Banks.

The tide was out one late Spring morning, and the herons were taking full advantage of the fine fishing conditions. They allowed me to get within 12 – 15 feet/almost five meters to capture their beauty before gracefully lifting off to find a new spot, just slightly westward.

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