Friday, November 28, 2014

Trekcapri's 2014 Portugal Travel Adventures: Muito Obrigado Portugal!

Thank you so much Portugal for a fantastic time!  It's been wonderful visiting this amazing country. I had such an incredible time learning about its history, sampling their cuisine with an emphasis on their delicious desserts, meeting the locals.  

There are so many highlights which I'll try to summarize;

Day Trip to Sintra, Cascais and Cabo da Roca - I had read that you can do a day trip circuit to Sintra, Cabo da Roca and  Casais, so I purchased my combo round trip train ticket/bus pass and made the 1.40 hour train journey. I loved Sintra a lot because of it's beautiful surrounding and I enjoyed visiting the Pena Palace. The palace is painted in such bright happy colors. I loved it.  

There were other things I wanted to see but had to head to Cabo da Roca and Cascais.  Cabo da Roca is touted as the western most point in Western Europe so I wanted to stop there on the way to Cascais. It was a beautiful spot and I spent an hour there before catching the bus to Cascais.  To be honest, I was a little meh on Cascais.  


Day Trip to Fatima - This was one of the highlights of my trip and I had the most moving experience here.  To think that I almost didn't make this day trip because I felt I wasn't going to have enough time to do it.  This goes to show that sometimes you need to follow your instincts and your heart when making decisions on the fly when traveling.  Sometimes some of the things you didn't solidify in your plans can turn out to be the best experiences on your trip.


Day Trip to Evora - This was a lovely town which is only a  1.5 hour train ride from Lisbon and it has this Roman Temple in the historic center.  It had a nice town square where locals hung out at in the evening.  The cobble stoned streets within the town walls are lined with charming white buildings trimmed in gold (yellow).   I would recommend Evora as a nice day trip.


Day Trip to Obidos - Obidos is a very small village only a one hour bus ride away from Lisbon.  I had a very relaxing time here walking the Castle Walls (even if it was raining the whole time) and enjoying a new drink called Ginja which is a sweet Sherry liquor. You drink it in a little chocolate cup and then when you're done you can eat the chocolate cup. :) At the entrance to the town center is this beautiful tiles.



Day Trip to Porto - This is the second largest city in Portugal but it didn't feel like a big city. It was only when I took the City Hop On/Hop Off Bus did I see how really big this city is. It is a picturesque city because of the bridges and old port area near the Douro river which is where I stayed and colorful old buildings with laundry hanging out to dry.  It reminded me so much of Venice. 



I also went on a cool wine tasting tour at the Taylor Wine Cellars.  Can you guess which one I liked the best.  You can see the difference in the colors that they are two different types. My favorite is the one on the left, the 10 year Vintage wine which was a bit more fruitier.  I'm not a big wine drinker but this was so good. 




And then there was the food.  I already posted on those delicious Pasteis de Nata, but at the Landeau Chocolate Cafe located in the artistic LX Factory which Jonathan from the Slow Europe Travel Forum recommended I had the best chocolate cake ever. 




Since the City lies on a series of seven hills, it offers some stunning views at strategically viewing points called Miradouros.  I visited as many as I could.  

From St. George's Castle.


MIradouro da Senhora do Moniz.



Miradouro De Sao Pedro de Alcantra.


Miradouro Santa Luiza.



And although this isn't a Miradouro, this little side street in Barrio Alto offers a stunning view of St George Castle in the Alfama District.


I've written about my experience visiting the Coach museum but I also made time to visit the National Tile Museum which was wonderful. 


After spending 3 weeks here, I finally figured out the layout and how to catch the right tram going in the right direction. They aren't the smoothest ride ever but they are fun to ride in and watch go by. 



I love my neighborhood in the Chiado District but I also loved strolling through the old Alfama District where everything seem so old, authentic and  charming. 


In some places the streets are so narrow, you have to step to the side when the tram rolls by.


Up the street from my apartment there is great place where street musicians entertain patrons at the famous A Brasileira Cafe.



And then there are are the people and random little delights that I noticed each time I ventured out to explore.  As always I seem to find the most pleasure in the little details of these snapshots. 


At one of the Miradouros I saw this local gentleman greet this little kid he saw running around with his father.  It was so sweet.



Here in Porto a local woman watches out of her window after hanging her laundry.


At the popular cafe up the street from my apartment a little dog sits at the door waiting for her owner.

I saw several Camino de Santiago arrows during my trip.  The first two photos knew about and looked for it when I went to visit the Cathedral Se.  I even think I saw a pilgrim in there praying.  She had a big backpack with a pair of crocs hanging on the side.  It was very exciting!



These next two arrows I stumbled upon during my visit to Porto.  Here are a couple I found in Porto. 



I had a wonderful time here in Portugal and I would recommend visiting here for any traveler.  I am so thankful to Annie (Blog: Churches in Venice) & Girasoli (Blog: Shave Ice & Gelato) for your kind comments and for following my blog. I appreciate it so much.  

I want to say thank you to my family, friends, blogging and travel friends and co-workers for all of your support and for following my blog posts.


And the Dream lives on . . . .

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Trekcapri's 2014 Portugal Adventures: Back to Belem for Coaches & Dessert

As you may recall on my first trip to Belem I got drenched in an amazing downpour.  I went back and got drenched again. :)  I wanted to visit the Coach Museum so rain or shine I got my Tram 15 ticket and headed back.  

According to Wikipedia the National Coach Museum has one of the finest collection of historical coaches in the world.  These coaches carried members of the Royal families in Portugal and other countries.  The designs were very eland the designs are pretty cool.  If you find yourself in Lisbon, I would highly recommend a quick visit to the Coach Museum and while you're there, treat yourself to one of the best desserts in this world (a close tie with Gelato of course). 







Before heading to the Coach Museum it was raining so hard that I had to "force" myself to stop in at the very famous Pasteis de Belem for those very famous Pasteis de Nata. A fellow slow traveler recommended them and it was amazing.  I've already tried them at nearby cafes but I have to say that these are by far the best.  The crust is so flaky and the filling is creamy.  I had two of them and I'm sure I'll be making a return trip before I leave Lisbon. :) 

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You can take a behind the scenes peek as well.





And the Dream lives on . . . .

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Trekcapri's 2014 Portugal Adventures: Daytrip To Obidos

Coming to you live from Obidos.  This pretty little Medieval village just north of the high octane city of Lisbon is small, quaint, charming and quiet! It is the complete opposite of Lisbon. There are no clamoring  trams just narrow uneven cobblestone streets with souvenir shops, photogenic window sills and (even though it is November) Bougainvillea flowers along the main drag.  The village is encircled by the walls of the 12th century Castle

It's a bit windy and much cooler than Lisbon but I still managed to walk the entire town in about an hour.  I wanted to walk the walls too, but decided to grab a late lunch at a wonderful place called Memoria  Restaurante & Wine Bar where I had the best Grilled Salmon.  It was so good I'm going back there tomorrow. 

I love that it is nearly empty with just a spattering of a small tour group. It's so peaceful. Sometimes we need peace in our lives and it is a nice change from high octane Lisbon.  I love it here already.  The weather took a turn for the worst now and I probably won't be able to climb the walls today, but guess what! I'm here for two nights so I 'me hoping to scale the walls tomorrow right after breakfast.

I'm using my IPad for this post so my photo selection will be limited.  By the way I had my first Ginja tasting and it came in a little chocolate cup. Yum!  










And the Dream lives on . . . .