A Travellerspoint blog

Portugal

Day 43

National Forest of Bussaco

rain 13 °C

We are feeling proud of ourselves. Today for the first time in a long time we went searching for a national park and actually found it. Not only that, we paid our admission fee and got a pamphlet and did some of the things suggested on the pamphlet.

We woke this morning to a rainy day. The weather has been rainy on and off all day.

We actually found the National Forest of Bussaco. Not only did the GPS help us but there were road signs. We entered by a gate and paid our admission and drove to the information site and got a pamphlet. The sad part was that it was pouring rain and the clouds were so low that our visibility was hampered. We did not take any of the numerous walks in the forest. This park is known for having 700 different species of trees so a walk in the forest might have been interesting. The woman in the information office suggested a drive through the park to a height of land marked by a cross called Cruz Alta (High Cross). We did the drive and ate our lunch in the car there.

The formal gardens near the information office

The formal gardens near the information office

The clouds are so low that the steeple of the church is blurred

The clouds are so low that the steeple of the church is blurred

Roses in the formal garden

Roses in the formal garden

The Cruz Alta

The Cruz Alta

This site has the highest concentration of Green Olive trees in the world (or so they say)

This site has the highest concentration of Green Olive trees in the world (or so they say)

Our car from the Cruz Alta

Our car from the Cruz Alta

After our lunch we drove on. We drove through many clouds in the higher elevations. We thought that if we were in Costa Rica this area would be referred to as the "cloud forest".

This is the first time we saw a sign which advertises a servico or service area that has a recharge spot for electric cars. The icon for a car charger is under the icon for gasoline. We thought this was a cute symbol.

Recharge your electric car

Recharge your electric car

We had some troubles finding our lodging for tonight in the village of Trevoes but we did find it with the help of others. Along the way we drove through the Douro River valley. We did not get photos of that area.

We have a comfortable and modern one-bedroom apartment. We went to the local mini-mart and purchased what we needed for supper/dinner tonight. It was one of those stores with everything a small community would need. The owner gave us a free sample of their cherries for purchasing from him.

We have now been travelling for 6 weeks. We have 3 more weeks until we begin our journey home. We have put over 12,000 kilometres on our car. We have now travelled to all of the countries we planned to visit. We have visited the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, France, Monaco, Andorra, Spain, Gibraltar, and Portugal. Tomorrow we will leave Portugal and continue on through northern Spain and France and then back into Belgium and the Netherlands. It has been quite an adventure.

Reta is enjoying a glass of sweet port wine which is gift from our hostess. We passed through the city of Porto today which is known as a producer of port wine.

Posted by A-RPoulton 14:13 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Day 42

Portuguese Castles and Churches

overcast 20 °C

Today by the time we got our car out of the hotel garage the rain had started. It rained on and off all day. We did have some periods free of rain so we will report on those times.

Our first stop of the day was a city called Sintra. It is a World Heritage Site. It is known for all of the castles that are there. We thought we had seen some of them and, in fact, we saw one of the six castles and some beautiful homes. This first picture is called the Palace of Sintra. It was originally an Arab construction but became a Portuguese royal family home. It was a favourite retreat for hunting.

Palace of Sintra

Palace of Sintra

Window detail on the Palace of Sintra

Window detail on the Palace of Sintra

Across the square from the Palace of Sintra is a building which caught our attention because of the tiles used to decorate it.

Tile-covered building

Tile-covered building

All we could see of the Moorish castle was the wall that surrounds it on the top of the hill. This was built between the 8th and 9th centuries as a military installation that acted as a watchtower for this city.

Outline of fortification walls on top of hill

Outline of fortification walls on top of hill

This church tower caught our attention for its beautiful roof.

Decorative church tower

Decorative church tower

Our next stop was Sitio. This is a town that overlooks the shoreline north of Lisbon.

View 1 of shoreline

View 1 of shoreline

View 2 of shoreline

View 2 of shoreline

Our final visit of the day was to the city of Batalha. We had heard of the monastery there from the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and from Art's sister. This is a magnificent building. The size is breathtaking. It is so carefully and beautifully crafted. This monastery was conceived as a tribute to the victory of Portuguese troops over Castile at the Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. Construction began and continued for 200 years. It required extraordinary human and material resources. This monastery was originally known as "The Monastery of the Battle (Batalha) but is now known as the Monastery of Saint Mary of the Victory.

Lovely roses in the nearby garden

Lovely roses in the nearby garden

Part of the side elevation

Part of the side elevation

Another piece of the side elevation showing how intricate the work is

Another piece of the side elevation showing how intricate the work is

Interesting sun shades at nearby restaurant

Interesting sun shades at nearby restaurant

Some of the gargoyles for the gargoyle lovers

Some of the gargoyles for the gargoyle lovers

Front elevation

Front elevation

Interior photo - no photography allowed but Reta could not help it

Interior photo - no photography allowed but Reta could not help it

Side elevation at the back

Side elevation at the back

After we left Batalha we drove to our overnight accommodation. This is a vacation home on a rural property that specializes in horses. Even though we booked this over a year ago and paid for it in July 2017, they were not expecting us. Only one of the three staff (who are all Ukrainian) spoke any English and that was very little. They were welcoming and tried to make us comfortable. They got hold of the owner and then got started on preparing our unit. It is comfortable and certainly rural. We can hear the horses neighing from the nearby barn and fields.

Posted by A-RPoulton 14:10 Archived in Portugal Comments (1)

Day 41

Lisbon

semi-overcast 20 °C

This morning we walked to the closest tram stop. We needed to buy tram tickets from a machine and we did not understand the language at all so did not know what to do. Art asked a young man to help us. He did not understand English at all but did see our need and helped us with all the steps we needed to take.

We then took the tram to the ferry station.

We are staying in Almada which is across the Tagus River from Lisbon.

We then purchased return ferry tickets from a cashier which is much easier. We took the ferry to Lisbon.

We thought the Lisbon sign outside the ferry terminal was interesting. It is colourful and looks like it is made of scrap, a recycling project.

Lisbon welcome sign

Lisbon welcome sign

We then found a ticket booth and purchased Hop On/Hop Off tickets. We chose to take all three routes. We use this Hop On/Hop Off method of learning about a city and usually we enjoy the process and feel we have made a good decision but not today. The buses were comfortable but there was very little dialogue so we did not feel that we learned a lot about Lisbon. Their schedule was very poorly arranged. We spent a lot of time just sitting on a bus going nowhere or standing on a sidewalk waiting for the next bus to come. We likely spent close to six hours to accomplish 4 hours of touring. Here are some pictures from our day.

The municipal building - sort of city hall we think

The municipal building - sort of city hall we think

The Hard Rock Café but with a very decorative building

The Hard Rock Café but with a very decorative building

This picture shows some of the intricate tile work done on the sidewalks

This picture shows some of the intricate tile work done on the sidewalks

This picture was taken from a height of land and shows the strip of gardens, parks and squares that leads from that height of land to the river

This picture was taken from a height of land and shows the strip of gardens, parks and squares that leads from that height of land to the river


This is the Cristo Rei or Christ the King statue on the south bank of the Tagus River

This is the Cristo Rei or Christ the King statue on the south bank of the Tagus River


Sailboats on the Tagus

Sailboats on the Tagus

The Monument of Discoveries - built to honour the Portuguese explorers who traveled the world

The Monument of Discoveries - built to honour the Portuguese explorers who traveled the world


The Tower of Belem - built between 1514 and 1520 as part of a defence system

The Tower of Belem - built between 1514 and 1520 as part of a defence system


Fernando Botero sculpture named "Motherhood"

Fernando Botero sculpture named "Motherhood"

After our tours, we took the ferry and then the tram and then walked back to our hotel. We had a full day.

Posted by A-RPoulton 13:46 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Day 39 & 40

Our first two days in Portugal

sunny 24 °C

June 1, 2018

We knew that there were two things we needed to do as we entered Portugal.

Welcome to Portugal

Welcome to Portugal

First, we needed to stop in a "Welcome centre". We drive up to a machine and insert our credit card. While we were doing that a camera was recording our licence number. The machine then matched up our credit card and licence number. We were then issued a slip that had our identifier. From that moment on every time we drove under a toll road camera our credit card would be charged for that toll. This was easy and has certainly made going through toll areas quick.

The second thing we needed to do was go to a customs office and get a "Guia de Circulacao". This was a requirement of the insurance company that is insuring our car. We spotted an office just inside the border so after we acquired our toll certificate we drove over there. We walked to the office and were met by a policeman. We explained what we needed and we were lucky that he spoke English enough to help us. He went inside the building and talked to an administration person. She said we would have to go to the city of Faro which was about 50 kilometres further inside the country and go to the harbour to the customs office there.

So we drove to Faro and found a tourist information office. The staff there directed us to the customs office which was just across the square. When we got to the customs office it took a while for the staff to find a member who could understand English well enough for them to figure out what we needed. The ladies were all very friendly and seemed sincere in wanting to help us solve our problem. We were in the customs office for maybe an hour and a half but we left with the required paper. They all agreed that we needed this paper. It has to do with driving a foreign car in Portugal and insurance coverage. Surprisingly, there was no charge.

We got ourselves some lunch and walked back across the square to where we had left our car thinking that we would only be gone for a few minutes. We were happy that we had not gotten a ticket.

We took a picture of a building with a bell tower that everyone was taking a picture of. Then Reta noticed that the reason they were taking pictures of this building was because there was a nest with two storks in it. So we took another picture of the storks.

Building in Faro with bell tower

Building in Faro with bell tower

Storks in nest

Storks in nest

We then drove to the city of Loule in search of some decorated chimneys but we were unsuccessful in our search. We did spot this house that looked like a space ship.

Space ship house

Space ship house

Our next stop was the city of Salema. We drove to the coastline. It is a pretty city with some lovely coast views.

Street and coast view

Street and coast view

Nautical scene

Nautical scene

Our final stop for the day was "the end of the earth". This is Cape Sagres on the west coast of Portugal. There is a large fort-like structure there and a long walk along the top of the cliffs by the Atlantic Ocean.

A view of Cape St. Vincent from Cape Sagres

A view of Cape St. Vincent from Cape Sagres

The church at Cape Sagres

The church at Cape Sagres

The beach in the bay between Cape Sagres and Cape St. Vincent - waves coming in off the Atlantic

The beach in the bay between Cape Sagres and Cape St. Vincent - waves coming in off the Atlantic


The lighthouse and a military installation

The lighthouse and a military installation

Pretty blue flowers

Pretty blue flowers

The cliff that we were walking on as it meets the ocean

The cliff that we were walking on as it meets the ocean

A fishing boat coming to shore with a following of sea birds

A fishing boat coming to shore with a following of sea birds

A cave created by the waves on the cliff

A cave created by the waves on the cliff

This is a part of the fort at Cape Sagres that was built between 1432 and 1460 during the time of Prince Henry, the Navigator

This is a part of the fort at Cape Sagres that was built between 1432 and 1460 during the time of Prince Henry, the Navigator


This is a picture of the fort-like welcome centre.  We wished the buses were not in front of it.

This is a picture of the fort-like welcome centre. We wished the buses were not in front of it.

After exploring Cape Sagres and walking around the cliffs we went to our accommodation for the night and checked in. Along the way we spotted an Intermarche, a grocery store we like, and noticed that they had a car park laundromat. After we checked in we gathered our laundry and returned to the Intermarche. We got the laundry started and shopped for groceries. By the time we got back to the washing machines, one was finished so we put that load in the dryer. We had to wait for the first load to dry before we could start the second load drying so it was a long process but we did get the laundry done.

Intermarche car park laundromat

Intermarche car park laundromat

When we got back to our room we made supper and discovered that the internet was dreadfully slow so we gave up on doing a report for that day.

June 2, 2018

After a quiet night in the city/town of Sagres we started off to see the "Roman Bridge" at Silves.

We found the bridge quickly and decided to find a parking spot. As it was still a quiet "Market Day" morning we were successful.

We walked over to the bridge and passed by this lovely jacaranda tree.

The bridge was interesting in that it was buttressed which is not something we had seen before on these bridges. We noticed a mother duck and her ducklings feeding in the mud by the river.

Jacaranda tree

Jacaranda tree

Roman bridge at Silves

Roman bridge at Silves

Mother duck and ducklings

Mother duck and ducklings

A senior couple noticed us taking pictures and even though they could not speak English they offered to take our picture. So here it is -

Us

Us

As we walked back to the car we spotted a stork nesting on a crane.

Stork on crane

Stork on crane

Then we noticed two storks on a chimney overlooking a market day.

Two storks on a chimney

Two storks on a chimney

Overlooking the market

Overlooking the market

We then drove to Ria Formosa Nature Park. We had a pamphlet from that park that Art's sister had given us from their trip to Portugal last fall. We drove right to the spot our GPS found but it was a hotel called Ria Formosa Nature Park Hotel. We thought the park had to be nearby but we drove around and drove around and did not find it.

Discouraged, we drove on to Lisbon or Lisboa as it is known in Portugal. We have a comfortable modern hotel room for the next two nights.

Tomorrow - explore Lisbon.

Posted by A-RPoulton 14:57 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

Day 39

Sagres, Portugal

semi-overcast

We are in Sagres, Portugal. Internet is very poor. Will message tomorrow

Posted by A-RPoulton 13:01 Archived in Portugal Comments (0)

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