Portugal was an amazing destination - wonderful beaches, glorious medieval, walled villages, mind-blowing scenery in Serra de Estrela, delicious cheeses and hams, olive and cork trees, mouth watering pastries, fresh fish dishes and excellent highways, and the narrow cobbled streets.
Just be aware of the tolls:
Total cost was 98 Euro + 20 Euro for the transponder!
The market in Setubal in Rua Oriental do Mercado, was pure delight! The most amazing array of fresh fruit and veg, gorgeous flowers and orchids, fish for Africa, including live crabs! Everything was so clean. No flies and no smells!
Finding a supermarket was a problem! We passed a pet shop,electrical repair shop, and even a psychologist but no supermarket! Luckily, Casa do Arco served us a delicious 4 seasons pizza, watered down Super Bock (or so it seemed!) and Portuguese cheese cake
|Setubal Market, Portugal|
There is also a flea market - these always could be in any country, somebody's old castoffs! Why do we buy so much stuff and then it is discarded?
The very green ferry takes one on a short, but choppy ride across the bay to the Troia peninsula.
The walls of the old fort offer incredible views of the tranquil beach. Being the birthplace of Vasco da Gama it has its place in the history books. The towns crowning glory came around 1460's when Portugal’s legendary explorer Vasco da Gama was born in the castle here. He went on to establish trade routes between Portugal and India.
Vasco da Gama died in Cochin in India - we have been there as well.The only trace of da Gama in Sines these days is a statue in front of the Parish church.
|Sanlucar, Spain taken from Alcoutim, Portugal|
Take a step back in time while visiting this unspoilt village. Lying on the banks of the Guadiana River, which forms the natural border with Spain, the village on the Spanish side is Sanlucar De Guadiana. A short ferry ride will get you into the white washed houses in another country!
History in Alcoutim dates back 5000 years and one an just imagine how important this river was for both smugglers and conquerors.
The river is navigable for about 60km to the sea from this point so it was a very strategic settlement for trade. Merchants would exchange silken cloths and exotic spices for wine, olive oil, wheat and ore. The history dates back to the Phoenicians, then Romans and the Moors
Well worth an overnight stay to see it all.
Climbing the walls of an old Moorish fortification allows for wide views over the city. Lots of steep steps though! Once again a town which straddles a river; this time the Rio Gilao. With an air of understated elegance, Tavira boasts over 20 churches, interesting buildings and a modern Camera Obscura. Having visited the old Camera Obscura in Grahamstown, South Africa we had to view this via a convenient lift! It's amazing what a mirror and 2 lenses can depict.
The Torrens de Tavira is housed at the top of an old water tower.
So many Portuguese villages are situated on hills and Alte is a fine example. The river Alte is a favourite summer picnic spot with rough stone picnic tables and chairs. The filigree chimneys draw the eye while the cobbled streets offer both dilapidated plus well kept homes. There are many restaurants but we were drawn to the one that offered traditional Portuguese Custard tarts - Agua Mel. Beautiful interior plus outside deck seating overlooking the valley. A delicious toastie with pepperoni, tomato, cheese and herbs followed by a traditional Portuguese Custard Tart - all very yummy plus the tea in a glass cup.
|Agua Mel, Alte, Portugal|
Thunder and rain.....but we decided to drive to Armacao de Pera for a long walk in blustery conditions. The promenade is lined with modern, high rise apartments, the cliffs all have warning signs for rockfalls and the beach loungers have wind breaks! Lovely long beach - at one end there are many laid up boats waiting for the weather to change so that they can go out fishing again.
world. The festival is dedicated to a different theme each year, and occupies an area of 15,000 square metres, showcasing the work of the skillful hands of artists of various nationalities that shape over 35,000 tonnes of sand during a one-month period. Normally open April to October.
Portugal overall has a total population of around 10.5 million - Faro had 8 millions visitors arrive during 2016. While on our boat in the Ria Formosa we saw countless planes arriving. Our guide said it was actually very difficult to make himself heard during the summer months when planes are landing nearly every 2 minutes! For most holiday makers, Faro is just the point of entry as it does not really cater for family entertainment and the beaches are about 20 minutes away from the city.
Whilst we did not see many birds as the weather was rather topsy-turvy, I liked the Spoonbill the best. What an amazing bird.
We passed a very large oyster farm. The tidal waters are ideal for this as the sea water comes in so 80% of the water gets recycled, bringing fresh nutrients. Apparently, the oysters here only take 1.5 years to mature instead on 3 yrs in other places.
The Nature Reserve has very long boardwalks that take you along the lagoon as far as the breakwater. The huge granite boulders form a breakwater which simmers in the sunshine. The long, white sand of Alvor beach stretches to the modern, high rises that are in total contrast to the narrow, cobbled streets of the old village. It's a beautiful place.
Our first stop was Praia do Beliche, a stunning beach with steep steps down.
|Praia do Beliche, Portugal|
|Cabo de Sao Vicente, Portugal|
The beaches in the Algarve are stunning and truly need to be explored.
With over 3,000 hours of sunshine per year and a low annual average rainfall, the Algarve enjoys mild weather throughout the year and we were extremely lucky with our May weather.
The longest beach is Meia Praia in Lagos. At 4km long it just begs to be walked. The area closest to Lagos is beautiful and suitable for everybody. Further towards the Alvor boardwalk it seems to be more nudist and perhaps a gay hang- out with lone, naked males under small umbrellas in the dunes!
A lovely supper at Alvor Harbour rounded off our stay in the Algarve.
|Nativity Scenes Evora Portugal|
|Chapel of Bones, Evora, Portugal|
However, rather than interring the bones behind closed doors, the monks, who were concerned about society’s values at the time, thought it best to put them on display. They thought this would provide Évora, a town noted for its wealth in the early 1600s, with a helpful place to meditate on the transience of material things in the undeniable presence of death.
This is made clear by the thought-provoking message above the chapel door: “Nós ossos que aqui estamos, pelos vossos esperamos,” or: “We bones, are here, waiting for yours.”
|Aquaduct de Agua de Prata, Evora, Portugal|
The lovely lady in the shop that we visited was reading a book on Nelson Mandela. Amazing to find somebody interested in South African history in such a remote, hillside village.
|Serra de Estrela, Portugal|
The shops at Torre are amazing, all with different owners. Such a generous selection of cheeses and hams.Taste, buy, enjoy!
The delightful “Moliceiros” boats, similar in design to gondolas, are painted in bright colours and have motifs that depict scenes from the town’s history. These boats, originally used to harvest seaweed, now serve a much more glamorous purpose in transporting tourists around the town’s canals. The salt pans are still worked from June onwards. The fisherman's houses line one of the canals and we passed the oldest pub in Aveiro facing the canals.
The old blends with the new in this town with many modern apartments built after 2000. The very modern hotel extended the canal so their guests could have access!
The Forum Shopping Centre has won awards with its distinctive green spaces and stone facades, which are harmonious with the historic centre.
|Portugal dos Pequenitos, Coimbra|
We also visited Portugal dos Pequenitos, the name of which translates as "the little ones of Portugal". Everything here is a world in miniature, a scaled-down versions of Portugal's most cherished national monuments, finest buildings, and traditional villages.Within the grounds are three museums specialising in furniture, traditional costume, and naval artifacts.
Figueira da Foz
Figueira da Foz, the city at the mouth of the Mondego River, boasts THE hugest beach that I have ever seen! There are many outdoor activities on the beach such as running tracks, cycle tracks, soccer and basketball areas and skateboard area. We stayed in a lovely B&B situated on a narrow street and within walking distance of the beach, many restaurants and a casino.
Obidos is one of the most picturesque towns of Portugal. The compact town centre is filled with cobbled streets and traditional painted houses, while the entire town is encircled by the solid city walls. Obidos was traditionally owned by the queen of Portugal and this has ensured that every house or shop has been lovingly cared for and maintained.
The best monument in Obidos is the beautiful Porta da Vila. The Porta da Vila was the main gate into Obidos and is decorated by traditional azulejos tiles which depict the Passion of Christ. A busker was playing here on his instruments called "Handpan"
The Obidos region is famed for the cherry liqueur called Ginja de Obidos. Ginja is produced by infusing Morello cherries in Aguardiente (hence the strength of the drink!) and is served straight with a cherry in the shot glass or in a chocolate cup.
The town buzzes with many tourists, all exploring the many tourist shops but maybe not actually buying much? There are many restaurants in cute, cobbled streets, unfortunately our time was limited. I would have loved to have spent a night here to enjoy the atmosphere of this beautiful village.
Estoril has had a long association with Europe’s elite and famous, with many attracted by the glamour of the grand casino. During the Second World War the Casino was a haven for spies, who undertook secret negotiations and covert monitoring, and these were the inspiration for Ian Fleming's first book James Bond, Casino Royale. The reputation of Estoril was enhanced when the casino was centrepiece for the 1970s James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service!
We parked at the casino and wandered down to the promenade where it is possible to walk for a very, very long way.
Carcavelos is a big beach, frequented by surfers, young and old. We stopped at a cafe playing reggae music - it was a great vibe!
The Praia do Tamariz is the large beach that is directly in front of the Estoril Casino. There is a tidal pool and the station is close by.
A pleasant walk out of town leads to "Boca do Inferno" which is an interesting cliff formation. The name of Hell’s Mouth comes from the ceaseless pounding of the Atlantic Ocean on the cliffs which chiseled out a small cave, which subsequently collapsed forming a small bay and natural arch.
The Praia da Rainha is a very pretty but small beach that is surrounded by cliffs and overlooks the fishing harbour. The beach is named the Queen’s Beach (Praia da Rainha) as it was the private beach of queen Dona Amelia (the last queen of Portugal). This beach is right in the centre of Cascais but can get very busy.
The Praia da Ribeira is the beach directly in front of the Cascais fishing harbour and was where the fishing boats were brought ashore. The sheltered location means that the waters are some of the calmest in the region
The beaches in this area are so very beautiful, the winds are strong and refreshing and one's lungs really enjoy the blustery, clean air! It was one of the most beautiful 9among many!) spots in Portugal.
Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of Europe, comes with mind-blowing cliff views but a disgusting public toilet, overflowing bin and the toilet did not flush - all this for 50c!
|Cabo da Roca, Portugal|
As with all good holidays, they have to end sometime!
Portugal was an amazing destination - wonderful beaches, glorious medieval and walled villages, mind-blowing scenery in Serra de Estrela, delicious cheeses and hams, olive and cork trees, mouth watering pastries, fresh fish dishes and excellent highways, and the narrow cobbled streets.