Posts tagged ‘Portugal’

My European Vacation – Portugal!

How time flies!  I’m just getting around to posting about my wonderful vacation to Europe that I took in April of this year.  I traveled to five countries in four weeks.  It was fantastic and I saw so many wonderful things!

I started in Portugal with my friend Donna.  We stayed in the Algarve, the southern coastal area of Portugal.  This is the second time that Donna invited me to join her in her condo in Albufeira.

The amazing Oura-View Beach Club where we stayed in the Algarve.

The amazing Oura-View Beach Club where we stayed in the Algarve.

Of course we had to have dinner just up the street at our favorite restaurant Donaldos

Enjoying delicious Fish Cataplana at Donaldos

Enjoying delicious Fish Cataplana at Donaldos

We drove along the coastline and visited some places that we missed the last time we were there.  There are so many beautiful beaches!  These are just a few.

Praia da Oura

Praia da Oura

Praia Da Oura is the beach just steps from the condo.  It was relaxing walking along the water and discovering all of the rock formations.  What a beautiful place!

Golden sands of Praia da Marinha

Golden sands of Praia da Marinha

Overlooking the cliffs of Praia da Marinha

Overlooking the cliffs of Praia da Marinha

Praia da Marinha with its golden beach and magnificent cliffs is one of the most beautiful beaches of Portugal, and is considered one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in Europe, and one of the 100 most beautiful beaches in the world!  I can definitely see why!

Standing on the hill overlooking Praia da Carvoeiro

Standing on the hill overlooking Praia de Carvoeiro

White stucco houses with terra cotta roof tiles. And a lone pine tree on the cliffs of Carvoeiro.

White stucco houses with terra cotta roof tiles. And a lone pine tree on the cliffs of Carvoeiro.

Praia de Carvoeiro, a traditional, small fishing village originally surviving on tuna catches now has, not surprisingly, become a popular resort.  The beach town has a beautifully sheltered sandy bay and spreads out just in front of the square with cliffs protecting it on either side.  I love the stucco buildings with the terra cotta roof tiles we saw all throughout Portugal.

Listening to Fado music at Vivaldos

Listening to Fado music at Vivaldos

Another of our favorite restaurants is Vivaldos, a seaside restaurant just steps from our condo along the boardwalk.  We were thrilled to find that there would be a Fado singer one evening.  Fado music, originating along the waterfront in the early 1800’s, speak of life, struggle and passion. It is a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and is infused with a sentiment of resignation, fatefulness and melancholia. It is beautiful to listen to, and to watch the expressions of the lovely singer.

Castelo De Silves

Castelo De Silves

Excavation sites and garden area of the Castelo de Silves

Excavation sites and garden area of the Castelo de Silves

The Castelo de Silves is a castle in the town of Silves.  Built between the 8th and 13th century, the castle is one of the best preserved of the Moorish fortifications in Portugal, the most important Moorish fortification resulting in its classification as a National Monument in 1910.  It was fascinating to see the archaeological excavations, and to imagine how the people lived all those many years ago.  It is believed that around 201 B.C. the Romans conquered Silves, transforming it into a citadel of their occupation, and commercial center that prospered for the next five centuries.

Several artifacts on display at the museum

Several artifacts on display at the museum

While in Silves we also visited the Municipal Museum of Archaeology of Silves.  The exhibition begins with an array of prehistoric artifacts dating from the Paleolithic period (1,5000,000 to 10,000 BC) to the Modern Period (15th to 17th centuries).

The picture above shows a gravestone in the upper left from the Iron Age (7th to 2nd Centuries BC), a head in the upper right from the Christian Medieval Period (13th – 14th Centuries) and some vases from the Bronze Age (2nd Millennium BC).

Model of the cistern-well found in the 1980's

The cistern-well found in the 1980’s

In the center of the museum, and the reason the museum was initially built, stands a Cistern-Well discovered in the 1980’s.  The shaft with a diameter of about 8 ft. surrounded by a 4 ft. wide spiral stairway gallery covered with a semi-circular domed ceiling.  For lighting and ventilation purposes three semicircle domed windows were open between the gallery and the shaft.  Access to the water was accessed through the circular opening.  The well was constructed of red sandstone.

Now we’re off to Spain!  My next post will tell of our adventures in Barcelona!

August 16, 2016 at 7:15 am 2 comments

Lisbon, Portugal

Our next and last place to visit on our amazing trip to Portugal was Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal.  We checked into our delightful Santa Justa Hotel in the Baixa district of Lisbon.  We were greeted by a lovely tray of port and pastries.  During my time in Portugal I learned that I love port, especially Cockburns Special Reserve of which I brought a bottle home with me!

Portugal phone 517

Port and pastries awaited us at the Santa Justa Hotel

Port and pastries awaited us at the Santa Justa Hotel

Love that port!

Love that port!

We had just enough time to take a quick peek at the surrounding area where people filled the streets that were closed off from traffic and lined with cafes.  We had a nice dinner and fell into bed.

Street outside the Santa Justa Hotel

Street outside the Santa Justa Hotel

On Saturday we started exploring the city.  Lisbon sits on seven hills and there is no rhyme or reason to the streets.  They meander around buildings in no orderly fashion at all.  I think we walked over every one of the seven hills :-).  Well, at least it felt like it!

Cable car heading up a hill in Lisbon

Cable car heading up a hill in Lisbon

The Cathedral

The Cathedral

Steep, narrow road

Steep, narrow road

Buildings with terraces

Building with terraces

Cable cars are a great form of transportation on this hilly city!

Cable cars are a great form of transportation on this hilly city

Donna checking out a cable car

Crazy streets in Lisbon

Crazy streets in Lisbon

Very close to our hotel is the Praca do Comercio, or Commerce Square.  We decided to take a look around and have lunch there.

Archway into Commerce Square

Archway into Commerce Square

Commerce Square was chock-full of people enjoying the beautiful weather at the cafes and the Tagus River.  It’s square is huge and beautiful with the Statue of King Jose 1 right in the center.

Sidewalk cafes in commerce Square

Sidewalk cafe in commerce Square

Lunch at Commerce Square

Lunch at Commerce Square

Statue and arch of Commerce Square

Statue and arch of Commerce Square

People enjoying the beautiful weather on the banks of the Tagus River

People enjoying the beautiful weather on the banks of the Tagus River

White and red sangrias

White and red sangrias

On Sunday we walked to Rossio Square to catch the subway to the Museum Calouste Gulbenkian.

Fountain in Rossio Square

Fountain in Rossio Square

The museum is a collection of Calouse Gulbenkians, a rich Armenian oil tycoon who left it all to Portugal when he died in 1955.  The collection spans the period from 2700 B. C. Egypt to the early 20th century.  Works by Rembrandt, Renoir and Manet are displayed along with countless other exquisite objects.  Here are just a very few items we saw in this huge eclectic collection.

Egyptian tablet

Egyptian tablet

Terra cotta vase ca. 440 B. C.

Terra cotta vase ca. 440 B. C.

The Apocalypse ca. 1265-70

The Apocalypse ca. 1265-70

Gilded and enameled glass vase.  14th century

Gilded and enameled glass vase. 14th century

Portrait of an Old Man, by Rembrandt, 1645

Portrait of an Old Man, by Rembrandt, 1645

Velvet Chasuble, late 16th century

Velvet Chasuble, late 16th century

Gilded silver tureen and stand, 1769-70

Gilded silver tureen and stand, 1769-70

Diana, 1780

Diana, 1780

Portrait of Madame Claude Monet.  Renoir, 1874

Portrait of Madame Claude Monet. Renoir, 1874

Our last evening in Lisbon we rode the Santa Justa lift to see the sights of the city.  It connects the lower streets of the Baixa district with the higher Largo do Carmo (Carmo Square.)  The hills of Lisbon have always presented a problem for accessibility,especially in a time when people were required to move on foot or being pulled by horse.  So in 1900 construction on the lift began.  Today it’s a landmark and a definite tourist attraction of the city.

Santa Justa lift

Santa Justa lift

Terra cotta roofed buildings of Lisbon

Terra cotta roofed buildings of Lisbon

Donna with the moon rising over Lisbon

Donna with the moon rising over Lisbon

 

Rossio Square

Rossio Square

Me with the Castle of St. Jorge in the distance

Me with the Castle of St. Jorge in the distance

To finish the evening we went to the Restaurante Concha D’Ouro for dinner.  Because it was getting a little chilly, we decided to sit inside.  We sat upstairs overlooking the street below.

Every meal in Portugal starts with a couvert.  Each restaurant serves a different variety of breads, butter, cheese, olives, spreads, etc.  You pay for what you eat.

Every meal in Portugal starts with a couvert. Each restaurant serves a different variety of breads, butter, cheese, olives, spreads, etc. You pay for what you eat.

Octopus!

Donna had the Octopus!

Our last dinner in Lisbon

Our last dinner in Lisbon

The next morning we were on our way to the airport and back to the US.

What a wonderful opportunity it was to get to travel to this great country!!!

May 11, 2014 at 9:41 pm Leave a comment

Sintra, Portugal

Portugal phone 285

After reluctantly leaving the beautiful Algarve area of Portugal we headed north towards Sintra.  We saw many cork trees along the way.  It was so interesting to me to have a close up look at the trees.  The cork is harvested every 9 to 12 years and doesn’t harm the tree.  Only the bark is extracted making it a renewable resource.  Portugal accounts for around 50% of the world cork harvest.

Cork trees along the roads in Portugal

Cork trees along the roads in Portugal

We arrived in Sintra and drove along the timeless back roads towards the Palacio de Seteais.

Typical road in Sintra

Typical narrow, winding road in Sintra

The Hotel Palacio de Seteais is a luxurious and romantic palace (now a hotel and restaurant)which takes us back to the days of the elegance of the 18th century. Located on the mountain side of Sintra, and with its spectacular views, it was an honor to be able to visit this beautiful palace built by the Dutch consul to Portugal.  I love to daydream of those elegant days gone by.

Hotel Palacio de Seteais

Hotel Palacio de Seteais

Beautiful gardens of Hotel Palacio de Seteais

Beautiful gardens of Hotel Palacio de Seteais

One of the many mazes surrounding Palacio de Seteais

One of the many mazes surrounding Palacio de Seteais

A beautiful meeting room at Palacio de Seteais.  Notice the chandeliers and paintings on the walls that continue onto the ceiling

A lovely meeting room at Palacio de Seteais. Notice the chandeliers and paintings on the walls that continue onto the ceiling

Frescos of rare beauty in a sitting room at Palaceo de Setais

Frescos of rare beauty in a sitting room at Palaceo de Seteais

Sintra is a town of marvelous historic mansions, royal retreats, estates, castles, and buildings from the 8th-9th century as well as the 17th to 19th century, all set against the backdrop of lush hills and winding roads.

A small castle we passed along the roads of Sintra

A small castle we passed along the roads of Sintra

The Pena Palace, or Palacio da Pena as it is known in Portugal, is probably one of the most iconic and best-known images of Sintra. Perched high on a hilltop, it can be seen from as far away as Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, on a clear day.  This is a definite must-see if you are visiting Sintra.

A grand view of the Pena Palace atop the hill

A grand sight of the Pena Palace greets you as you come up the hill

The Pena Palace was built during the first half of the 19th century by the Queen of Portugal and definitely has a woman’s touch, with the brightly colored exterior and feminine interior.

Pena Palace

Pena Palace looking up towards the Queens terrace

Entrance to the palace

Entrance to the courtyard of the palace

The Portico of the Triton is one of the entrances to the Court of the arches Moorish.  It symbolizes the creation of the world.

The Portico of the Triton is one of the entrances to the Court of the arches Moorish.

Ballroom

Pena Palace Ballroom

Pena Palace dining room

Pena Palace dining room

Modern bathroom for the Queen in Pena Palace

Modern bathroom for the Queen in Pena Palace

Donna overlooking the courtyard

Donna looking out onto the courtyard

 

The park surrounding the Pena Palace is a natural environment of rare beauty.  The exotic taste of the Romanticism was applied to the park as it was to the palace. Once a barren hillside, trees from diverse, distant lands are now planted here as well as a wide variety of ferns and tree ferns, concentrated in the Queen’s Fern Garden. The park has a complicated system of paths and narrow roads, connecting the palace to the many points of interest throughout the park.

My next post and our last destination in Portugal will be about our time in Lisbon!

May 11, 2014 at 5:37 pm Leave a comment

Portugal – The Algarve

I was so very lucky to have the opportunity to join my friend Donna on her trip to Portugal this August.  She showed me such a wonderful time, taking me to all the most wonderful places!  I’m going to post this trip in three separate blogs because there was just so much we saw I couldn’t possible get it all into one.

The first area we visited was the Algarve, the southernmost coastal area of Portugal.  On our drive from the airport in Lisbon to Albufeira, we stopped at Evora.  Evora is the kind of place a sightseers’ dreams are made of.  It is almost entirely surrounded by medieval 14th century walls and it’s narrow meandering cobblestone streets are lined with shops and cafe’s.  If you can believe it, we actually DROVE through these streets!

Narrow streets of Evora

Narrow streets of Evora

Giraldo Square is where locals and visitors gather to chat, have drinks and watch the world go by.  A lovely place now with a beautiful fountain in the center, it was once used as an execution ground during the times of the Spanish Inquisition.

Giraldo Square

Giraldo Square

The main attractions of the city are the 16th Century Church of dos Loios, famous for its hand-painted blue-and-white tiles of Portugal.  Adjacent to the church, and next to the ruins of the 2nd-century Roman temple dedicated to Diana, is a former 15th-century baronial mansion that is now a hotel and restaurant.  After wandering the streets for hours we didn’t get a chance to explore these wonderful sights.  But we did get a glimpse of them!

Ruins of the 2nd-century Roman temple of Diana.

Ruins of the 2nd-century Roman temple of Diana.

We still had several hours to drive to get to our destination so off we went, finally arriving at the beautiful Aura View Beach Club in Albufeira.  What a view awaited us!

Night view of Aura View Beach Club

Night view of Aura View Beach Club

The next day we were greeted by a beautiful sunny day and a gorgeous view!

Looking out from our room

Looking out from our room

Then we drove to Alcantarilha, a small village just a short drive west of Albufeira.  Here we saw a church built in 1586 during the reign of Filipe 1 of Portugal,

One of many churches in the little towns in Portugal.  This on was built in 1586

One of many churches in the little towns in Portugal. This one was built in 1586!

Wonderful examples of the old and new architecture sitting side by side.  I was amazed how often I witnessed this.

Lovely old tiled home in Alcantarilha

Lovely old tiled home in Alcantarilha

And a nice glimpse of a couple of locals enjoying the afternoon.

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And of course I couldn’t forget the Chapel of Bones.  The interior of this small chapel is lined with skulls and is pretty typical around Portugal.  The message being that this life is only temporary.

Chapel of Bones

Chapel of Bones

Yes, they're really skulls lining this chapel

Yes, they’re really skulls lining this chapel

Returning to Albufeira, we went to Donaldo’s, a local restaurant where I had my first authentic Portuguese meal.  The food was marvelous, the service was outstanding, and the host was too much for words.  We absolutely loved it!

If you go to The Algarve, you MUST have fried sardines!

If you go to the Algarve, you MUST have fried sardines!

The cataplana, or fish stew, which is cooked in a copper clamshell was to die for!

The cataplana, or fish stew, which is cooked in a copper clamshell was to die for!

On Monday we had a morning walk and breakfast on the cobblestone walkway lined with cafe’s and overlooking the beach.  It was just down the path from our room.  Another beautiful day!

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Breakfast overlooking the ocean.  Great way to start the day!

Breakfast overlooking the ocean. Great way to start the day!

Then off to shop for some of Portugal’s lovely pottery.

One of the many pottery shops we stopped at

One of the many pottery shops we stopped at

On Tuesday we drove along the coast to view the Cape St. Vincent Lighthouse with its 200 ft. cliffs.  The lighthouse is the southwestern most point of Europe.  The lighthouse was built over a 16th century convent in 1846.

St. Vincent Lighthouse

Cape St. Vincent Lighthouse

St. Vincent Lighthouse looking from Sagres Point

Cape St. Vincent Lighthouse looking from Sagres Point

Donna overlooking the cliffs

Donna overlooking the cliffs

We also took a glimpse at the Beliche fort and toured the Sagres fortress.

Beliche fort - Used to guard the coastline in the 17th century

Beliche fort – Used to guard the coastline in the 17th century

Looking out on the cliffs from Beliche Fort

Looking out on the cliffs from Beliche Fort

Sagres Point castle (photo taken from Wikipedia)

Sagres Point castle
(photo taken from Wikipedia)

141 ft. diameter wind rose with 40 spokes marked out with stones was unearthed in 1921

141 ft. diameter wind rose with 40 spokes marked out with stones was unearthed in 1921

We got to spend a day exploring “Old Town” Albufeira.  Narrow streets, steep hills, quaint restaurants and shops, striking white buildings and a beautiful beach describes this part of the city.

One of many quaint little restaurants in "Old Town" Albuferia

One of many quaint little restaurants in “Old Town” Albufeira

Sand art on the beach

Sand art on the beach

A view of the buildings towering above the beautiful beach

A view of the pure white buildings towering above the beautiful beach

Hiking up one of the steep paths in Old Town Albuferia

Hiking up one of the steep paths in Old Town Albuferia

This walkway is coming out of a tunnel from the beach to town

This walkway is coming out of a tunnel from the beach to town

The town of Faro is famous for its stork’s nests, so off we went to see them.  The white storks generally migrate from Portugal to Africa but because of the abundance of food that the landfills supply around Faro, more and more stay here year around.  We saw lots of stork nests as we were traveling from Lisbon to the Algarve, also.  Quite a sight, I must say.  I have NEVER seen a stork before, and to see them nesting was pretty awesome for me!

We were so lucky to see a stork standing on top of the roof!

We were lucky enough to see a stork standing on top of the roof!

Three stork nests on top of the main entrance to the Old Town area of Faro

Three stork nests on top of the main entrance to the Old Town area of Faro

Mamma stork tending to her nest

Mamma stork tending to her nest

Can you see the stork chick peeking out of his nest?

Can you see the chick peeking out of his nest?

The perfect ending to our time in The Algarve.  The next post will be our adventures in Seville, Spain!

 

 

May 6, 2014 at 4:59 am Leave a comment