Driving Through Portugal

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Driving through Portugal

“Wet or fine the air in Portugal has a natural happiness in it, and the people of the country should be as happy and prosperous as any people in the world.” H.G.Wells

 I love Lisbon and Porto but in addition  Portugal has some of the most beautiful towns, and villages in all of Europe On my last trip I was lucky to include Sintra, Cascais and Estoril. 

This time we have our wonderful tour guide Tiago who took us through these lovely towns. I googled guide to drive from Porto to Lisbon. Sometimes the internet connects  you to just the right person. Tiago was interesting, kind and very knowledgeable about his country. He could change plans in a minute if necessary and made it the perfect itinerary for us. It is a local company which I always prefer  and dealing with them online is easy.  I highly recommend him if you are in Porto. https://www.4u2enjoy.pt/

Amarante is a settlement since the fourth century BC and municipality halfway  between Porto and the Douro Valley. 

A church and monastery sit theatrically beside a rebuilt medieval bridge  over the Rio Tamega.

The scene is spectacular. 

The town enjoys some small degree of fame for being the hometown of São Gonçalo.

He is Portugal’s St Valentine and is the target for lonely hearts who make pilgrimages here in the hope of finding true love.

it is located on one of the original Portuguese routes of the Camino Del Santiago.

Coimbre is a pretty riverside  city with a Unesco World Heritage University that dates back to Roman times.

The oldest part of Coimbra University occupies the former Royal Palace on top of the city’s highest hill. 

Coimbra’s university, founded in 1290, is Portugal’s oldest and most distinguished, and a third of the city’s 35,000-strong population are students.

The Baroque library is quite impressive and a colony of bats is nurtured within it to keep the insect population down.

St Michael’s Chapel is a blend of decorative tiles and sea themed ceiling paintings with a 3,000 pipe organ protruding from the wall.

The large Room of Acts once a throne room with its unique silver and gold paneling and portraits of Portuguese monarchs is where the PHD  students take their exams.

Obidos is a small town in central Portugal. Hiding on a hill behind its medieval fortifications, it forces the modern world to wait outside.

Inside are quaint cobblestone streets, historic houses with yellow and blue stripes  and whitewashed bougainvillea-draped houses. It is easy to wander on the stairs and alleys when you go off the main streets filled with souvenir shops. 

Thought it dates back to the Romans, the fortifications and colors come from the Moors.

When you visit the St James Church you see a bookstore inside because of Obidos commitment to culture and literature.

There are a number of bookshops  in unconventional settings like an organic market and in a wine cellar. 

There’s one local custom worth trying in Obidos. It’s a shot of the local ginja which is a  Portuguese cherry liquor.

The ginja comes in an edible chocolate cup.

.Obidos is actually surrounded by a lot of cherry trees so I believe so the ginja is locally made.

At sunset, we stop in Mafra.

Tiago has arranged for us to meet a luthier who makes Portuguese guitars.

His home overlooks a beautiful beach and a fado singer drops by.

It is a perfect end to the day.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

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Douro Valley, Portugal

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Douro Valley Portugal

“But Portugal has a peaceful feel about it. I sit on the terrace overlooking the vineyard there and I feel cut off from the world. You need that sort of thing.” Cliff Richard

The Douro Valley is the primary wine-growing region of northern Portugal. It can be a day trip from Porto. I knew it would be beautiful but I didn’t know it would be this beautiful.

Terraced vineyards, green-brown mountains, almond and olive trees swoop down to the glassy, blue Douro River.  This was the view from everywhere.

The Valley isn’t necessarily a secret but  the destination doesn’t see nearly as many tourists as other famed wine regions such as Bordeaux or Napa.

The Douro Valley is a World Heritage Site Wine Region with approximately 2000 years of past. According to UNESCO, you’re stepping  into a winemaking valley full of history. The Romans started to cultivated vines in the valley. By the 18th and 19th Century, Port Wine reached English tables and started to make its own name.

We tour the facilities of a few wineries. We learn about the traditional foot-stomping method to crush grapes, which is still used for  wine production (especially the older vines which create more complex wines.

Across the river from Pinhao, is Quinta de Seixo where the well-known Sandeman winery combines state-of the-art cellar technology with great wine experiences.

We do a wine tasting here with the  absolutely breath taking view.

On the banks of the river, along with a Michelin star is DOC restaurant which is one of the best places to go in the valley.

I have a lunch there and it is so delicious we eat a Chef Rui Paula’s restaurant in Porto as well. 

The Douro Valley is a surprisingly quiet and tranquil place to be.

There is always something strange and familiar about a river, hills, grass and trees. Sometimes, the world looks very peaceful. Thanks again to our tour guide Tiago for a wonderful day.    https://www.4u2enjoy.pt/

Fly safe,

JAZ

Things That I Have Learned In Porto, Portugal

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Things That  I Have Learned In Porto, Portugal

“Any Portuguese town looks like bride’s finery –  something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.” Mary McCarthy

Portugal actually got its name from the city of Porto which was originally named Portus Cale in Latin.

Porto is more commonly known as Oporto, however this is only due to the fact that foreigners misinterpreted locals saying “o Porto” which means “the port” and this eventually led to it being called Oporto.

it is Portugal’s second largest city.

Citizens of Porto are informally known as “Tripeiros” which literally translates to “animal guts”. According to a well-known legend of the 15th century Henry the Navigator needed a lot of supplies for his Conquest of Ceuta. As a result, the city and its citizens gave up all the supplies they had, including all their food. All they had left were the animal “guts” or “tripas”.. As a result, a now-famous dish came along called “Tripas à Moda do Porto.” Because of this dish, the citizens of Porto got the nickname of “Tripeiros.”

Porto is Portuguese for port. The Port wine cellars are in Gaia which is across the river and the seaport is in the fishing village of Matosinhos. Both are  very close and municipalities. Maybe it should have been called near the port. 

The view from the Yeatman hotel (in Gaia) is spectacular.

So is the spa and the breakfast.

Most prisons are hidden away from a city. Porto’s 18th-century Cadeia de Relação was not.

After two centuries as prison, it closed its doors in 1974 and reopened as the Center for Photography.

There was a new traveling exhibition of Frieda Kahlo’s collection of photographs.

I was fascinated by this building as well.

We explored and on the top floor  is the former cell of Camilo Castelo Branco.The famed 19th-century writer was locked up (with his married lover, the writer Ana Plácido) for adultery. His 12 months behind bars inspired several books, as well as a fine bronze sculpture of the couple in the museum’s paved entrance square.

There was also a collection of old cameras  used to take the prison photos.

Portuguese people seem to be great at the English language. Portuguese  is very difficult.

Porto is a city of bridges. It has six iconic bridges.

Two were started by Gustav Eiffel (of the tower) and finished by his apprentice  Theophile Seyrig. It is probably easier to walk across the bridges when it isn’t pouring.

The Francesinha (Frenchy) is a typical dish in Porto. It is not for the weak of stomach. Thick white bread housing several layers of cooked meats (including ham, steak and pork) are topped with a beer sauce and finished with a fried egg.It is usually accompanied by a huge dish of fries and multiple beers. I’m all for a curious local combo but this was not for me.

Bacalhau is fresh dry salt cod. The Portuguese are obsessed with bacalhau. It is eaten baked, roasted, barbecued, canned,  in codfish cakes, with potatoes, rice, eggs, cheese, cream and so many other ways. As the Portuguese would say: “There are more than 365 ways to cook bacalhau, one for every day of the year!”

One of my favorite dishes to eat anywhere is octopus but it is especially good and cheap in Portugal. Octopus is rubbery so it is hard to cook. It was always fresh and cooked to perfection in Portugal.

The São João Festival in Porto takes place between the 23rd and the 24th of June each year.. Some silly traditions that happen while you’re out partying on the streets include hitting others on the head with huge (not painful) loud plastic hammers, releasing hot air balloons up into the sky, and waving garlic in front of people’s faces. Might not sound appealing, but it is a lot of fun. The most symbolic item however is a round potted basil plant  and usually comes with a little poem stuck on it.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Harry Potter and the Livrario Lello, Porto, Portugal

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Harry Potter And The Livrario Lello

“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” J.K. Rowling

Once upon a time Livraria Lello was an old beautiful book store. The Lello book store was built in 1906 in Porto, Portugal by the Lello Brothers (Antonio and Jose).

Their  book store is one of the most ornate book stores in the world, mixing  Neo-Gothic and Art Deco elements.  The book store is visually stunning.

Carved wood ceilings, a stain-glass roof, an undulating, opulent red staircase, and even a built-in wheel-barrow on rails for moving the store’s 120,000 books all make the Lello seem like a bookstore out of some fantasy-world. 

One day some lady named J.K. Rowling lived in Porto while working on her first book. You might have heard of it- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Livraria Lello is reputed to have inspired parts of Hogwarts.

Since then, it has been inundated with Potter fans from around the world wanting to catch a glimpse and selfie of the bookstore’s interior.

What has resulted is a street-long queue of people who pay five euros per person to look at a set of stairs.

There is another longer queue in the ticket office on the corner if you have  failed to buy your ticket online in advance. (That would be me.)

Being a book lover, I wanted to fall in love with this beautiful book store. Unfortunately with all the tourists, the store is so noisy and crowded,

it is hard to even stand and look at the books.

I did manage to buy one. I did also fall in love with a city who’s number one tourist attraction is a book store.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Ten Things That I Want To Do In Portugal This Time

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Ten Things That I Want To Do In Portugal This Time

“Life is what we make of it. Travel is the traveler. What we see isn’t what we see but what we are.” Fernando Pessoa, Book Of Disquiet

Porto is the colorful, Unesco city that I  have wanted to visit. The photos are beautiful and I can’t wait to walk down those streets.

 Livraria Lello and Irmao is one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. Ask JK Rowling.

Drink Port which is named after….

I love seafood and both Porto and Lisbon are on the sea – codfish, sardines, snails, grilled whole fresh fish of the day with coarse salt and crispy, skin, octopus, eels, and snails along with kale soup and pastel de nata  is a great reason to go to Portugal  (This is a major eating trip)

When I was in Lisbon I didn’t make it to the National Tile Museum ((Museo Nacional De Azulejo). It is located in the Alfama area (where we are staying this time)  in a fifteenth century convent. I saw those beautiful tiles on many of the old buildings and palaces when I was there and I want to know more about them.

The Fado Museum (Portuguese guitar music) is also in Alfama and sounds like something I would like. The Fado Museum is a  testimony of passion and dedication this country has for Fado and has helped musicians, instrument manufacturers and researchers gain the exceptional esteem which the practice of fado enjoys today.

Buying a few more pair of handmade gloves at Ulisses in Lisbon.  They are guaranteed for life so i will check mine before I leave for Portugal . 

The Douro Valley is known for its vineyards, landscapes and the Douro River. It’s another amazing place in Portugal that I will see this time.

Drive from Porto to Lisbon stopping in towns and fishing villages along the way.

Buy canned fish to take home from Lisbon. There are many different cans to choose from. Shelves in every corner of the city sit stacked with cans of sardines, horse mackerel, tuna, anchovies, octopus, eel, and more. Some shops sell nothing but tinned fish. It is surprisingly good. It is not like Chicken of the Sea.

Fly safe,

JAZ