Drone PhotographyLifestyle

Grand Portugal Adventure

Group Boat Trip Portugal

The night I went to my friend Rebekah’s house to walk the dogs, I did not expect to leave there with definite plans to visit Portugal, though I really wanted to go. I had friends attending a music convention in Palmela and another soon to be friend in Lisbon with whom we would be staying. Yes, in a few months, I would be going on an adventure of a lifetime to date.

Becca would be flying in from Ireland and while she was still working remotely, we would partner up with Mikey who has been living mostly in Lisbon for about 14 years working remotely as a web developer, traveling the world. I flew into Lisbon and headed to the bus station to join up with the gang in Porto where we spent a couple days touring the sites, sipping real port wine flights and pairings, and sampling the local fare.

Initiation Well Sintra, Portugal

Mikey is more of a night city person and Becca and I discovered that we both like venturing out to see the country side. So, even though she had a meeting that day we made our best effort to head out to Sintra, once a summer retreat for Portuguese nobility and royalty. I was able to walk the initiation well at the The Quinta da Regaleria, a gothic spiral staircase said to be used for ceremony and tarot initiation, and is said to have masonic ties. The staircase spirals down about 88 feet to a maze of tunnels leading back to the grounds.

During the car ride up we knew we were arriving at one of our best moments on the trip. Every piece of masonry, every curb, the trees, the street signs and lettering; it was all new and different than anything
we had ever seen.

Quinta da Reglaeira is considered one of the main tourist attractions in Sintra because of its rich history, beautiful grounds, and architecture. It is quite romantic and is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This palace design was completed in 1910 by Luigi Manini and incorporates symbolism related to alchemy and The Knights Templar as well as Rosicrucianism.

As I walked around taking in all the beauty and magnificence, I was fortunate enough to get this beautiful image of the palace atop one of the stone terraces.

Quinta da Reglaeira

We all gathered back at Mikey’s place and we would depart in the morning, all heading to different countries. Becca was headed back to Ireland to meet back up with her team, Mikey was headed out to Italy for a work-cation, and I had decided last minute to fly to Berlin to attend the worlds largest synthesizer meet up, Superbooth. This rendezvous was not part of the original plan as I had yet another music convention to attend in Palmela, Portugal in just about a week. However, I am very thankful that I was able to book a flight and get accommodations in such a short period of time.

Superbooth 2023 Banner

Above are images taken during Superbooth 2023 held at the Fez Berlin, a community arts center nestled in the city among a forest wrapped in bike trails which I used to ride in approximately one mile from my Airbnb. The middle image was taken at the Moon Modular booth, a manufacturer local to Berlin and the image on the right shows the iconic Korg tent in which one can sample all the latest products and toys. I had wished my German was better. I was exhausted from all the travel and adventures with my friends in Portugal.

OB6 Superbooth 2023

Here is the OB-6, a synthesizer collaboration between two of the most influential synthesizer designers in history, Dave Smith and Tom Oberheim. My passion and excitement to play this instrument had me choking back tears as I sampled the beautiful tones coming through my headphones as I played. I caught someone gazing at me and they too looked as if they wanted to cry—like they understood what I was experiencing then and there. At this moment, the trip to Berlin had been worth it. I met Tom Oberheim at a different synthesizer convention, Knobcon, held in Chicago, IL. We had a banquet and I sat at the table with his family.

After a good nights sleep, I returned to Superbooth for day two and got to enjoy the boundless expanse of sound that is electronic music and check out even more music gear and synthesizers. I made the right decision to attend.

Now, the vacation part of my trip would begin. Although attending Superbooth had been a dream of mine, the decision to go was impromptu and only took two days between my time with dear friends and my vacation time just before the second music convention would commence: ContinuuCon!

The next two days I spent venturing out in my rental car across the beaches of Comporta, Portugal and exploring fishing towns and coastlines on my way to Palmela, Portugal.

I was excited to explore the exquisite coastline with my drone and I studied for a couple months to get EASA certified to be legally eligible to fly although the rules in Portugal are quite strict because of GDPR laws. The top image is somewhere near Praia da Malha da Costa as I found a place to have lift off for a beautiful aerial shot capturing both sides of the peninsula. The second image shows the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Cape, first constructed in 1701 located at Cabo Espichel. Some say this part of the coastline looks like it could be on the California coast.

The bottom image in this series is a fishing dock at Porto Palafita da Carrasqueira. The tide was low as I walked out across the old, questionable docks as the fishermen prepared to go out and get their catch of the day. This was a special drive and has become a tourist destination because of its rustic appeal and history.

Portugal fishing and Coastline May 2023
Stuck in the sand in Portugal

One of the more fun parts of this story is about the time I made friends from Switzerland by helping them get their vacation van unstuck. After reviewing my Google Maps timeline, I still do not know which part of the adventure this location was in but I had driven my rental car (low to the ground, sporty manual) through the sandy parts of the trail towards a cliff-lined coast with the intention of getting just a bit more beach time in before checking into my lodging in Palmela. I was able to navigate the sand traps and park just before the sand got too deep and not navigable.

Just after I parked, I saw a young woman coming around the bend on foot saying “Excuse me, could you please help us?” As it turns out, because they were stuck, I was also stuck as the road was narrow and I was trapped in a way, so we would both be waiting on the tow truck unless I could help her and her husband…and that I did. We spent about forty-five minutes digging the sand out from their front tires and lodging sticks under the tires to gain some traction. Finally, after several tries, the hubby was able to put the van into reverse and back out of there! In turn, I was able to return to my sporty rental and drive like a bat out of hell back across the sand to get out of there! Inga and I are still friends on Instagram and they were so grateful. See? Americans aren’t so bad, right?

Haken Continuum

ContinuuCon is an annual music conference inspired by the Continuum Fingerboard, manufactured by Haken Audio out of Champaign, IL. The most unique thing about this instrument is that it plays a range of sounds based on how the keys are pressed on the fingerboard. One can press and slide each note for a range of intriguing sounds unlike any other instrument. This instrument was invented by Lippold Haken, an electrical engineer and professor.

The sound technology that powers this instrument is the EaganMatrix, developed by Edmund Eagan. It is a modular digital synthesizer system that utilizes a DSP engine by Lippold Haken. It works much like a digital patch bay so the user can craft unique musical sounds edited by using an external cross-platform editing platform, the Haken Editor.

Each year a group of enthusiasts travel from around the world to gather in one place celebrating this fascinating musical technology. In 2023, we met in the charming gem that is Palmela, Portugal!

ContinuuCon Faces and Places

Here we see scenes from the meet up featuring images of Continuum enthusiasts enjoying the sights and talks from the creators and engineers themselves. Music writers, musicians, inventors, and programmers alike come together to collaborate on performances, discuss the future of music technology, programming, and savor time being spent with like minded friends. Some highlights of the trip included delighting in musical performances in the Palmela Castle’s cathedral as well as a castle tour and dinner with a rustic feel at the Restaurante Pousada de Palmela situated at the top of the castle. The group also enjoyed talks on the future of embedded DSP and in-depth presentations on Continuum presets. Christophe Duquesne gave a presentation on implementing Loris for Max, a library that can be used with Max and Ableton. Musical performances were also held at the theater in downtown Palmela as an opening and closing ceremony and we were joined by the Arts and Culture Concierge to the Mayor.

After a busy day of sight seeing and music technical talks, I had a little free time to fly my drone around the castle. After studying for months, this is what I was here to do. I found a secluded launch spot in the outdoor amphitheater just below the castle and set flight. After taking off, I could not believe what I was seeing on my screen as I had never captured a vista like this! As the wind shears began to whip around my drone, I lost signal for about 30 seconds sending me into a tizzy of panic! I raced up the amphitheater stairs as my heart was about to beat out of my chest and was finally able to regain connection with my drone and bring it back in to land safely. No one could fully understand why I was dancing into dinner that night having captured the best footage of my life! They found out only after witnessing the video.

Alas, great things come to an end. Great loves one day must part. I returned to the United States with an overwhelming sense of belonging and inspiration; taking with me the experience of an unparalleled cultural journey.

Oh, and Becca asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding.