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. :) 


You can take a behind the scenes peek as well.

And the Dream lives on . . . .

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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 . . . .

Monday, November 17, 2014

Trekcapri's 2014 Portugal Adventures: Day Trip to Fatima

What a fun time I'm having so far.  Tomorrow I leave for Obidos and it will be the first of my two overnight day trips I have planned on this trip.    

So far, I've seen many sights here in Lisbon and have also done day trips to Belem, Sintra, Cabo da Roca, Cascais, Evora and Fatima. This post will be about my moving experience visiting the small town of Fatima.  I took a 90 minute bus ride from Lisbon to Fatima. From the bus station in Fatima it is a short walk to the Sanctuary.  Fatima is a small town with much religious significance for Catholics, but it is also a wonderful place for all visitors.  For me personally, I have a real interest in this subject.  I think it all started when I first watched this old classic movie (and I can't remember the name of it), but it was a story about Mary appearing before this girl or nun.  That scene for some reason had an impact on me.  I wasn't sure I would be able to do this day trip and I am so glad that I did because it has been one of the more moving travel & life experiences I've had.  

On May 13, 1917 three shepherd children were pasturing their little flock in Cova da Iria.  After their midday praying the Rosary, they saw a brilliant light in the spot (where the Chapel of Apparitions now stands), "a Lady more brilliant than the sun", from whose hands hung a white rosary.  

The Lady told the three children that it was necessary to pray much and she invited them to return to the Vova da Iria during five consecutive months n the 13th day of that hour.  The children did so and the 13th day of June, July, September and October the Lady appeared to them again and spoke to them.  On October 13 with about 70,000 people present the Lady said to the that she was the Lady of the Rosary and that a chapel was to be built there in her honor  After the apparition all present witnessed the miracle promised to the three children in July and September the sun resembling a silver disc coud be gazed at without difficulty and whirling on itself like a wheel of fire it seemed about to fall upon the earth.  

There is a nice church here where I was able to catch the tail end of mass. 

Here is a photo from the Brochure of the three Shepherd children, Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta.  

This is a photo of where one of the childre (Jacinta) is entombed.

A close-up of one of the murals/

This really reminded me a bit of St. Peters in Rome.

I thought it was going to be raining (well, it did on the bus ride back to Lisbon), but it was a beautiful day. 

I was so moved to be here I sat and prayed and thought of all the people in my life and prayed for everyone. 

A wider photo of the Chapel 

Where visitors light their candles and pray for family & friends.

Here's a quick video I took.

And the Dream lives on . . . .

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Trekcapri's 2014 Portugal Adventures: Need to Catch Up

  Yesterday, I spotted a very famous Royal Couple . . . 

Today, I'm  off to try to see the Coach Museum in Belem and maybe the Maritime Museum.  I've been so exhausted by the time I get back from my days of sightseeing that I haven't had a chance to catch up. I've been writing down my experiences and I hope to post them along with photos Yesterday was particularly long as I went to Sintra. I was lucky to spot a very famous royal couple while there.  Ha! Ha!  

I LOVED Sintra and Cascais was kind of meh for me.  More about my experiences to come. 

And the Dream lives on . . . .

Monday, November 10, 2014

2014 Trekcapri's Portugal Travel Adventures: Tram 28, A Knight and a Castle

St. George Castle sits atop a hill guarding the Tagus.  It dates back from the Moorish occupation in the 10th century.  This site has been a fortress for centuries, possibly from 500 AD. The castle is an important part of Lisbon's historical past.  Today, it provides a wonderful panoramic view of the River Tagus and the Alfama medieval district, which is spread out below it.  With some luck, the sun made it's appearance to help highlight the red colored rooftops of the old neighborhood below.  You can even see the 25th of April and the Cristo statue in the far distance.  

I climbed up to walk along the castle walls which was pretty cool.  It started to rain once again so I had to put away my big camera but managed to snap some photos with my iTouch, so the quality isn't so great 

I just missed a performance of knights doing battle in the main court area which was a bummer  I did, however, manage to catch my next hottie posting on this trip  A knightly addition to my collection. Nothing like a knight doing battle messing up his hair and causing swear to pour down his face to make a hottie list.  

The grounds of the castle are planted with olive, pine and cork trees and is a pleasant spot for taking in views of the city. The entrance fees are 8.50 euros.  Try to arrive early to beat the tour crowds later in the afternoon. 

Another fun thing I did these past two days was to take a ride on famous Tram 28.  The interior is made of wood and it's such a fun way to ride through the Alfama District.  

And lucky me! There is a wonderful Gelato place across the street from my apartment. I've gone there every night and it is as near to the real deal as I've come across tasting.  I think all the workers already know me. I asked the girl if I could take her photo making my gelato and she said sure!  My last photo will illustrate why. So cool (not to mention yummy!)

I'm working on a very short video and I hope to post that soon. 

And the Dream lives on . . . .

Trekcapri's 2014 Portugal Adventures: Coming to you Live!

The flight over was well . . . . LONG! But I’m here in Lisbon and have hit the ground running as I usually do.  I think the jet lag has finally caught up with me and I’m ready for a very slow morning which is great because I can now update my blog.

My apartment is wonderful. It’s located in the trendy and vibrant neighborhood in Chiado. There are several cafes and many shops around and it is with walking distance to public transport.  The owners of the apartment are so nice. The apartment is on the corner so it’s pretty cool. The size is perfect for me.  I love staying in apartments versus hotel rooms. There’s so much more room and you have cooking and laundry facilities. So much better that having to rely on cafes for that must have morning wake up coffee.  After showing me how things worked, I paid the balance owed, unpacked then went to explore around. I found a nearby small café and had my first egg tart desert. 

After a nice goodnight sleep, I woke up to some sunny weather. I planned to visit Belem to hit the three biggies.  First I stopped at the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos which was built by Manuel I to commemorate Vasco da Gama’s voyage to India and to give thanks to the Virgin Mary for its success.  The architecture with its Gothic and Moorish influences is amazing.  You have to pay to enter the Cloisters and it is completely worth the entrance fee.

Next I walked over to the Monument to the Discoveries which was built to commemorate the Portuguese Age of Discovery. It is built where the Tagus meets the sea and is the point from which maritime explorers set fort in their sailing ships to discover the world.  It is very cool!  I love this monument a lot because it is dedicated to explorers.  Suddenly dark clouds and a downpour had a bunch of us tourists rushing inside the Monument’s lobby. When the downpour stopped we make a mad dash over to the Belem Tower.

There is a nice walkway that runs along the Tagus river to the Tower of Belem which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It is one of Lisbon’s most photographed landmarks.  It was built in the 16th century to serve as a fortress in the middle of the River Tagus.  You have go walk on this wooden plank then cross this small but very cool drawer bridge.

I had intended to go to the Pastry shop and the museum of maritime and coaches, but with the weather and a bit of jetlag kicking in I headed back.  One of the greatest  benefits to takig independent slow travel is you have the time and flexibility to change your itinerary at any moment. I'll be back to visit Belem again. :)  

I had a wonderful dinner at a nearby café enjoying this very delicious Portuguese wine, called Green Wine. It is a sparkling wine very similar to Italy’s Prosseco. Yum!  

And here's the hottie that poured my wine for me and who recommended this delicious wine. 

I am really enjoying Lisbon so far!  More to come.

And the Dream lives on . . . .