Continuing on Museums Lisbon


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The other Museum that was of interest to me, was the Royal Carriages Museum across the street from the Belem Palace, a former Royal Palace now the Presidential Palace. The Coches or Carriages used to be housed in the old Royal Stables, they are now housed in a modern building where they are well displayed with ample explanations on their style and usage.

It is a very large collection and spans 500 years of Portuguese history. Not only are there carriages but also uniforms of staff and all the accoutrement for horses and musical instruments used in processions.

The Carriages were manufactured in Italy, Holland, France, England and Austria and brought to Lisbon by ship, because some carriages are very large, often bigger than a modern large SUV and weighing several tons, up to 12 ships would be required to bring them to Portugal. The monarchy was abolished in 1910 but the Government of Portugal kept the accoutrement of royalty in its museums, certainly makes for a rich collection.

Many were gifts from the Sun King Louis XIV to mark the wedding of one of his relative to the Royal Portuguese Family. Some were manufactured to be used in processions during diplomatic missions to the Holy See, in all cases they were made to impress. It seems that you simply had to have the carriage that fit the occasion to convey the right message about the King of Portugal and his intentions.


This carriage is very similar to the carriage used by King Henri IV of France on the day he was stabbed to death. It is 400 years old and typical of the type of carriage used by Royalty at the time. It has glass panes in the windows, an unbelievable luxury at the time. Cannot imagine it was very comfortable to ride given the poor suspension mechanism. Made of wood, leather and decorated with expensive cloth.

This coach was used by the King for his trip from Madrid to Lisbon in 1619.




State Carriage, ordered by Austrian Emperor Joseph I in 1708 for the marriage of his sister Marie-Anne of Austria to the King of Portugal, Joao V. This carriage is all sculpted wood with gold leaf incrustation. It has royal symbols like the lions and painting at the back of the carriage, windows in glass. A crew of 4 men would served on it. Two Postillon at the back and 2 coach men at the front. Up to 6 horses would be used.

The carriage was made in the Netherlands and came to Lisbon transported on 11 ships.


The elaborate uniforms worn by the escort who would walk along on either side of the carriage. They also carried mace in solid sterling silver, to be used to clobber any one who presented a threat to the royal person. Pretty sure a blow would kill anyone.


Here is some embroidered cloth to dress the horses of the carriage, robes for the drums and a trumpeter’s uniform.




At the back of the carriages a special crank used to tighten the leather straps which were used as suspension for the box compartment carrying the passenger. The Coronation coach used to go to the Opening of Parliament in London has exactly the same suspension devices. Queen Elizabeth remarked in an interview how uncomfortable the carriage is bouncing around even at low speed. I suppose these royal carriages were made for show not comfort.


The collection is quite complete with carriages for every purpose including one to transport Royal BUT illegitimate children around town, another one to transport Princesses who are going to be married to the King from one Kingdom to the other and then would change to a new carriage to indicate the crossing of the border and their impending new status. Carriages for Archbishops, Carriages for religious icons during major Christian Festivals and then this carriage to transport a Blessed ribbon sent by  Pope Clement XI in 1715 for the baptism of the Heir to the Portuguese throne Don José. The figures on the four corners represents the 4 continents where the Portuguese Empire extend and the foot step is a Sea shell, Christian symbol of baptism.


The most impressive carriage was this one with its highly decorated human figures almost life size made of carved cork wood which is very light in weight.

This carriage ordered by King Joao V in 1716 was to celebrate a triumph in Rome and display the might of the Portuguese Empire in the World. The Ambassador of King Joao V would have ridden in it on his way to see the Holy Father, Pope Clement XI who at the time also ruled over the City of Rome and Central Italy and was a power broker amongst the Catholic Sovereigns.


At the back of the carriage covered in gold leaf we see the two Oceans the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans shaking hands. This celebrated the passage of the Cape of Good Hope by Portuguese navigators.


This coach also part of the triumphal procession shows Victory with a trumpet crowning Portugal at her feet two male figures, one African (African colonies) and the other Asian (Macau). The Ambassador of the King, Rodrigo Anes de Sa Menezes, Count of Fontes would ride in this carriage. The whole idea of such parades in Rome was to show the power and magnificence of Portugal and its King Don Joao V. Though these carriage are 300 years old, they remain truly impressive in terms of the artistry used to tell a story. Note also in the photo below between the two male figures the symbol of the Royal House of Braganza, the winged mythical dragon.






Museums Lisbon


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There are many wonderful sites to visit in Lisbon. We visited the Castle of Sao Jorge, the Mosteiro Dos Jeronimos, the Museo de la marioneta (Puppet Museum), the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum & Gardens, the archeological ruins of the Carmo, the museum of Royal Carriages (Dos Coches), the church of Sao Roque, the Tower of Belem and the monument to the Navigators.

Just to give you un aperçu as we say in French of what we saw, but that is not all.

One museum which might be dismissed as ”for children” is the beautiful and well curated puppet museum (Museo de la marioneta). It is housed in an old convent and on display are puppets from all continents of the world, from many cultures. Puppets after all are used in telling a story and as humans we need to tell others our stories. This museum brings this message of commonality amongst people, from Africa to Asia to Europe.

There are also many displays of Portuguese artist families who devoted their lives to developing this art form, many are very famous in Portugal like Maria Emilia Perestrelo. The last display is about puppets today in the age of technology, how camera are used to give them life. There is a special inter-active exhibit which you can use to make your own movie using puppets and sets.

It is a very interesting museum because it appeals to young and old and reminded me of my own childhood playing with puppets.



DSC09110.jpgAfrican Puppets


Some German puppets found on a German U-Boat, used to entertain the crew.


Puppets from Brazil



French Puppets


Portuguese Puppet theatre



here is the display exhibit with a computer who helps you create a moving scene and tell a story. Very laborious affair but fascinating for children and adults.


In the next post I will write about the other museums we visited.


Getting ready, we are ready


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Well we are 9 days away from Peace of Earth day to quote Mel Tormé. We have our menu all figured out for Christmas day Lunch. Christmas Eve it’s drinks Chez Nous with select friends and for New Year’s Eve we are going to our Club for a drink and sit by the fireplace. That is it, simple no fuss.

Today Will made gingerbread cookies (male-female) for equity sake following the Justin Trudeau Ideology on the topic. I decorated them with icing and was immediately cited by the Morality police, can you believe it. Do I look like Michael Cohen to you? I was directed to decorate them. You be the judge I think they are lovely.

Later I put the star at the top of the tree as is the tradition in this last 40 years in our household. Same dollar store star which has graced all our trees in the best capitals of the World.





The Christmas Dachshunds with their home made Xmas scarves, so festive. Our friend Lori gave them to Nicky and Nora.



the ladies have pasties and the men wear thongs all in Xmas colours of course.


Will also made some wonderful sausage rolls, they are soooo good!

IMG_4328.jpgThis picture is the taste test batch, we will be making more for Xmas Eve Cocktail party.

Will is also making a Tourtière for our Xmas Lunch and another friend is making Ragout de pattes de cochon avec boulettes de viande. (Ragout of pigs feet with meatballs) DIVINE! Typical French Canada fare. We will also have a breast of turkey just to say we have it. For dessert Mulled Wine jellies and Plum Pudding (home made). We will have our Christmas crackers as always. I am thinking of poor Duchess Meghan who will be introduced to this custom this year. Oh well it is all part of her becoming more civilized.


Finally last night after drinks at the Haviland Club where we go every Friday with the other cognocensti of Charlottetown, we had dinner across the street from our home at the Water Prince restaurant, it was their last night before closing for the Season, they will re-open in Mid-April. It is always fun to mark the end of the year this way and Shane Campbell who is the owner and his son are there. The fare is lobster, haddock, mussels, oysters and other seafood. I had oysters to start from Malpeque and grilled haddock, Will had a lobster and a chowder.


Maureen standing behind Will is the manager. The place is an institution in town, it is extremely popular in the Summer time. You can easily wait 45 minutes for a table.

Happy Christmas and Happy Festive Holidays to all! 



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For the last 20 years I have been following the progress of the re-building of the old Royal Palace in Berlin. It stood in the centre of the City on the Island Museum from 1445 to 1944 when heavy fire bombing over the city at the end of the Second World War did great damage to it. After 1946 the Palace was in the Soviet Occupied Zone of Berlin it came under the puppet East German Regime and like so many buildings deem ideologically unacceptable it was demolished in the 1950’s, the ground became a parking lot and stage for military parade the Communist loved so much. There was opposition in Berlin and in Germany to the demolition of the Palace and its ruins, the palace was so well built that it took months to demolish and 19 tons of explosives. It was and had been a symbol of the city and much history was attached to it.

In 1989 with re-unification of Germany a fellow by the name of Wilhelm von Boddien proposed that the Palace be re-built as it was before the war with its Baroque facade, he further proposed that the palace be renamed Humboldt Forum for the famous German scientists and academics, the interior space would be modern and house a museum of civilizations, conference centre, 2 restaurants, a theatre and be used as a gathering place for all Germans. The financing of 750 Million Euros to be divided between the City of Berlin, the Federal Government of Germany and the public as donors.

In December 2018 here is the almost complete Palace now called Humboldt Forum, it will  re-open in the Summer of 2019.


The Western Facade of the Palace as of December 16, 2018.


The Eastern facade, modern as designed by the Italian Architect with its entrance of the Spree river. It was designed this way to symbolize that it is a reconstruction and a view on the future. The Palace sits next to the Lutheran Cathedral of Berlin on Island Museum.

For the opening of the Humboldt Forum it is likely that the current head of the Imperial Hohenzollern Family of Germany, Prince Georg Frederich of Prussia will be attending. He is the cousin of Prince Harry and Prince William of Great Britain. His great grand father Kaiser Wilhelm II was the favourite grandson of Queen Victoria.



Souvenir from long ago


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This morning we were listening to Radio-Canada programming from Montréal and the weekly show was playing music from the 1950’s and 1960’s. French singers who are well known and were the big names of their time with many hits. On the weekend Radio-Canada has a programming of Oldies but goodies, tunes anyone over the age of 45 will recognize. This programming of French musical hits is highly popular. This is the sort of music my Mom would listen too and often sing along, she had a nice singing voice.

One of the French singers was Mathé Altery,  a French soprano singer prominent in the 1950s and 1960s for singing operettas and French songs. She was my Mom’s favourite French singer and we had all her records at home. Altery came to Montréal and gave several concerts. My parents met her, she was staying at the hotel my father managed at the time.

Here she sings an old favourite, Noël, trois anges sont venus. This piece was composed in 1884 by French composer Augusta Holmès. It is so very nice to hear this music for its quality in composition and lyrics.

This brings back a lot of memories from my childhood and Christmas then. Altery who is 91 years old now, lives in France. Her singing voice and her French diction was impeccable. She was the French voice of Julie Andrews in the movie the Sound of Music which came out 53 years ago. She sang the well known musical score in French, it is just as charming as the English version.


The words to this Christmas song,

Trois anges sont venus ce soir

M’apporter de bien belles choses,

L’un d’eux avait un encensoir,

L’autre avait un chapeau de roses,

Et le troisième avait en main

Une robe toute fleurie

De perles d’or et de jasmin

Comme en a Madame Marie.

Noël ! Noël !

Nous venons du ciel

T’apporter ce que tu désires,

Car le bon Dieu

Au fond du ciel bleu,

Est chagrin lorsque tu soupires.

Veux-tu le bel encensoir d’or

Ou la rose éclose en couronne ?

Veux-tu la robe, ou bien encore

Un collier où l’argent fleuronne ?

Veux-tu des fruits du Paradis

Ou du blé des célestes granges ?

Ou comme les bergers, jadis,

Veux-tu voir  Jésus dans ses langes ?

Noël ! Noël !

Retournez au ciel

Mes beaux anges, à l’instant même ;

Dans le ciel bleu,

Demandez à Dieu,

Le bonheur pour celui que j’aime.

Augusta Holmès


Have you made your list?


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Have you made your list for Santa?

What do you want for Xmas? I would like a BMW convertible or better still a Bentley Convertible, lots of Bulgari stuff and some nice cases of Bollinger Champagne. like in this photo in Lisbon.



Today 87 years ago, on 11 December 1931 Canada became a fully independent Country with the proclamation of the Statute of Westminster, George V was proclaimed King of the Dominion of Canada. These important changes were enshrined into our Constitution and Canada adopted its own Law on Royal Succession.  We were also able to finally make our own Foreign Policy independent from Britain and open our own Canadian Embassies around the world. The first one was in Tokyo, Japan and Sir Herbert Marler was our first Canadian Ambassador to the Empire of Japan.


Christmas shopping


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Many years ago when I was posted to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for the holidays I would fly back to Canada with a stop in London with British Airways. Amman  to London is about 5 hours. The fun of London was the shopping. The stores had so many fun items, you just wanted to buy it all. One request was to bring home to Canada a baby Stilton, the food hall at Harrod’s had such an item. The baby Stilton is the size of a human baby, this being Stilton it is pungent and needed to be wrapped up properly for the long flight home in Business Class. London is known for its great shopping and there was all kind of great gift food items and not to mention the visit to the wine merchants, what was on offer was mind boggling, not only wines and quality vintages but a great selection of Champagnes and liqueurs of all kinds, so many wonderful choices.

Not to mention the great restaurants and things to see in Museums and galleries. There was also the theatre and so many enjoyable plays. Yes that stop in London was lots of fun, it was always guaranteed to bring home unusual gifts.

And for Xmas how about this group Out of the Blue are Oxford’s all-male singing sensation and two times UK champions of a cappella. Featured on Britain’s Got Talent in 2011 and more recently being recognised by pop-diva Shakira and press all around the world, the group combines award-winning musicality with outrageously unprofessional choreography and mostly intentional comedy! Founded in 2000, the group is made up of students from Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University. Each year brings a fresh batch of faces, voices and arrangements. They raises funds through their music for the Helen & Douglas House Hospice for Children and Young Adults a registered hospice charity based in Oxford, England, providing palliative, respite, end-of-life and bereavement care to life-limited children and young adults and their families. The Patron is HRH Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.



Food in Portugal


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The fun of travel is often to discover national cuisine in the place you are visiting. Portugal has a very distinct cuisine if compared let’s say to Spain next door. While we were in Lisbon we discovered some wonderful food. Portugal is known for its fish and seafood, Cod from the Newfoundland banks, Sardines, Octopus, etc. it is also known for its beef and pork dishes and its rich soups. I was looking forward to this food adventure despite having some friends who recently returned from a trip to Portugal to tell us that the food was ordinary and nothing to talk about.

The first night we went to Ramiro on Rua Palma, it is stricly a fish and seafood restaurant   though you can get the famous beef steak sandwich, it is a small steak no bigger than an english muffin and it is usually served after your fish meal, somewhat like a dessert dish.

Good wines and Portuguese beer like Sagres, the service is fast, this is a two floor restaurant, food is good and simple. It is all about the experience and talking with other people around you. They do not take reservations, you get to the restaurant, there is a computer which gives you a number, ours was 3317, no this is not the number of people in front of you waiting for tables, it is just a number. While you wait you can get a big glass of  Sagres beer for 2 Euro.


We ordered a giant swimming crab for dinner, very rich and good. Some large red shrimps and wine. In Portuguese restaurant, olives, bread and sardines paté comes automatically to the table. For dessert a favourite Portuguese sweet is lemon sorbet doused with vodka refreshing and cleanses the palate. It was a great meal.


Sitting on Tram no.12 which has 20 seats and 38 persons can stand. The trams are very small and 90 years old made of wood frame. The most helpful numbers to get you around are no.12, 28 and 15.

The next day we took the Tram no. 12 up all the way up to the Castle of San Jorge and afterwards we had lunch at the Solar Dos Mouros Hotel, their patio had a spectacular view of the city. The Hotel is on a street called Rua do milagro de Santo Antonio, translation the street of the miracles of St Antonio. Though most people think that St-Anthony was from Padua in Italy, he was in fact Portuguese and he travelled to Italy to join St-Francis and the Franciscan order. He is the patron saint of Lisbon and his church is very popular, just a few steps away from the Cathedral Sé of Lisbon.

One night we had dinner at Infâme which is across the street from Ramiro. It is a young hip place, and it is also located across the piazza from a nice little bar called Josephine as in Josephine Baker. We met 3 young guides there, Nuno 23 years old, Pedro 26 and Alexandra 35, all operate Tuk Tuks, a three wheel electric people mover which is so small it can navigate the very narrow streets of Lisbon at great speed. Josephine is a friendly place and we quickly discovered that Portuguese people are friendly and helpful, unhurried and just happy.


The restaurant’s business card.

For our anniversary dinner we went to Sommelier on Rua Telhal 57, as the name indicates they have 80 wines on their list and all are pared with dishes prepared by the Chef. It is a very elegant restaurant and the wines are all individually chilled at the right temperature for serving. A computer controls it all and the back wall is a great glass display and you can see each bottle with the temperature number electronically displayed. Since you taste the wines, what you ordered is measured and served in the correct glass corresponding to the wine you are having. A Sommelier would know which wine is served in which glass, it is not all the same, ours was very knowledgeable. I was very impressed with their expertise. The food was wonderful we ordered the Lamb salad, the best lamb ever, a grilled John Dory, Filet of goose liver poêlée, melt in your mouth good and grilled octopus done perfectly. For dessert we had a vintage moscatel wine and a dessert called Papo de Anjo or angels double chins, which is whipped and baked egg yokes in a sugar syrup.

There were many other places where we had meals and I will mention them in my next posting. Needless to say there are plenty of excellent restaurants with great service.




Our trip to Portugal


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Well this trip had been planned half way through my campaign for municipal Office and we had decided that whatever the outcome, we would be off on a vacation away from PEI afterwards and somewhere in Europe.

So we departed on 19 November on Rouge, a division of Air Canada. We flew business class of premium I think it is called and despite all the negative press, I found it to be quite nice a flight, regular airliner and all the usual trimmings, can’t see what all the naysaying is about.

We found an Air B&B in Mouraria, one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Lisbon just below the thousand year old castle fortress of San Jorge formerly a Moorish Palace and citadel.

Lisbon airport is very close to the city centre, we were only 15 minutes away from our apartment. The joke is that Lisbon comes as a free gym, there about 12 hills and the city is small but everything is up or down hill some of them at a 40 degree angle.


this photo was taken from the Castle looking down on Mouraria where we lived, our building is in the middle of the photo.


From inside the Castle, the flag of the City of Lisbon and the flag of Portugal.


looking up to the castle walls.


Again from the Castle parapet looking towards the parish of San Vincente O Fora with the beautiful maritime pines providing the greenery. This church is the Royal Mausoleum to the Kings of Portugal. The monarchy was abolished in 1910 in a coup and the royal family of Braganza, retired quietly.

Some dates about Portuguese history you will here a lot about if you visit. In Lisbon 1147 Martin Moniz and a group of knights from England, Spain, France and elsewhere capture the Citadel and Castle from the Moors and expel them. Today a metro station is named after Martin Moniz who apparently according to the story wedged himself in a door of the castle allowing his companions to enter, he died in the process. The age of the Portuguese Empire starts with Prince Henry the Navigator and in 1497 Vasco de Gama,Count of Vidigueira travels to India and then to various points in Africa establishing colonies along the way. The Portuguese Empire spanned the globe and led to a Papal bull dividing the world between the Spanish and Portuguese Empires.

In 1644 the sovereignty of Portugal was restored and the Spanish Hapsburgs were forced to give up their control of the country. The Braganza dynasty becomes the Royal house in Portugal until 1910. Another metro station is named after the Restauradores (restorer). Another important date is 1834 when all monasteries are closed and confiscated and religious orders are dissolved. This happened because of a movement to liberalize society and give it a parliamentary and constitutional monarchy, the church chose to be on the side of the ultra conservative and fought the movement. In 1908 the king and the crown Prince were assassinated while crossing the Plaza de Comercio upon their return to Lisbon. This assassination shocked Europe, led to political paralysis in Portugal and two years later finally a republic was proclaimed. What is not much mentioned nowadays is the almost 50 years of dictatorship from 1932 to 1968 by the Estado Novo party and its leader Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, he died in 1970 but his government kept going, finally on 25 April 1974 the army ousted the party from power in what is called the Carnation Revolution and Portugal returned to democracy.


Plaza de Comercio, rebuilt in 1755 after the great earthquake destroyed much of Lisbon. What we see today is the work of the Marquis of Pombal. In this square facing the river Tegus, the King and his son the heir to the throne were assassinated in 1908.

We walked all over Lisbon, there is so much to see and do, it can be exhausting. Also many wonderful restaurants, good wines and lots of Port. IMG_2681.jpg

In the fashionable Chiado neighbourhood with the new Christmas lights. Love the sidewalks in stone mosaic pattern all over the city.