Traveling Europe. Some useful vocabulary


Azulejos is painted tin-glazed ceramic tile work widespread in Portugal and Spain. In Portugal, you will find them outdoors and indoors on walls in private and public buildings. The variety of azulejos reaches from simple reproduced white-blue tiles to big detailed pictures that are indeed real pieces of art. Similar kind of tile work has been traditionally produced in some other European countries (like Italy and Netherlands). This kind of tile work in Europe origins from Moorish culture and first it was applied on the Iberian peninsula.

If you want to know more about azulejos and during your Portugal journey stay in Lisbon, just go to the National Tile Museum (>>>). It is located in the former Convent of Madre Deus (convents were banished from Portugal some time ago, so it is a state museum). Even if you are not an art fan, following the visiting route you will see how the art of azulejos and its technique developed with time. A real masterpiece is however the scenes from the Portuguese history decorating the walls of the Sao Bento railway station in Porto (>>>).


Vera Cruz Church in Aveiro, Portugal


Bagpipe is an instrument associated with Scotland and widespread in military bands in English speaking world. It was however invented already in the ancient world probably somewhere in the Middle East. In Europe known by ancient Greeks and Romans.


Seen at the Blair Castle, Scotland.


Sightseeing in England sooner or later you see guards or soldiers in ceremonial military uniforms. An important part of the ceremonial uniform is the bearskin, a tall fur cap. In past times bearskins were used on battlefields. Today, they are only a part of a ceremonial outfit. In Europe besides England in Italy, Belgium, Scotland, Denmark and the Netherlands.


Guard change at the Windsor castle, England

B like BLACK CAB, that not necessarily is black

London licensed taxis are called ‘black cabs‘. However, the technical regulations for the London cabs called ‘Conditions of Fitness‘ are not specifying black as the only colour. So the taxis on London streets that used to be traditionally black are allowed to be of different colours. Some traditional technical requirements stand however. These are: separate passenger and driver compartments, high internal headroom, and ability to turn 180° within the 28 ft limit.


Seen at St. Pancras drop off area (>>>), London


Paris cabaret, today is a show involving beautiful costumes, beautiful ladies, for much of the show (but definitively not as a rule) dancing topless, some acrobatics, including dangerous stunts and of course the can-can. Some would say it is a burlesque show. But ‘burlesque’ to describe this kind of entertainment is … an American invention! Burlesque translated from French into English means ‘parody’, so the word ‘cabaret’ or ‘Paris cabaret’ is more appropriate. If you are in Paris you can choose a show by the famous Moulin Rouge, Lido or Crazy Horse.

Paris, Champs Elysees, burlesque show in Lido.

Seen in Lido


Frescoes was a very popular technique used to decorate ceilings and walls in Rome, in ancient times as well as during the Renaissance. It was adopted in many other places and countries usually in churches, palaces and villas belonging to the rich. The technique was also applied in China and India. The true fresco technique involves painting with a water colour on the wet plaster. If the painter did not manage to put colour onto the plaster before it dried up, the plaster had to be removed and put on once again. Frescoes were also painted with a technique called fresco secco, where the painting was applied on a dry plaster. (Secco stands in Italian for dry, fresco – for fresh). The major difference between a true fresco and the fresco secco is its durability. In case of a true fresco during the drying process the colour becomes part of the plastered wall and this way the fresco painting may preserve longer. True frescoes are not suitable as a painting technique for countries where the climate is wet and cold.

Galeria Borghese, Rome, the marvelous interiors.

The view you may admire if you look up entering the great hall of the Villa Borghese Pinciana in Rome >>>


Half-timbering technique was a popular method to built houses in medieval and early modern times in Northern Europe (Denmark, England, Scotland, Germany / Prussia, parts of France and Switzerland). Houses were constructed by means of first timber framing of walls. The space between polls and planks was later filled in with other building material like stone, bricks, etc. In medieval cities to provide more housing space in houses built alongside narrow streets, many houses were constructed with overhangs of upper floors over the ground floor (called jetties).

France, Normandy & Brittany, half timbered houses #sightseeing #travelingSeen in Bretagne, Northern France  >>>