Our last week has been action-packed. Having extended our stay south on the Algarve meant we could meet up with “Aussie”” friends Will, Sandy and Sarah Leggat! They were staying in the world heritage town of Sintra, ½ hour west of Lisboa (Lisbon – capital of Portugal).
After squeezing Bruce through the tiny streets,we were able to park near the railway station in the town centre and booked ourselves into a little hotel for three nights close to the Leggats. Our reunion began at a local restaurant with traditional “cod fish pie”!!
Sintra is such a beautiful, picturesque town, steeped with both natural and built heritage! It is definitely a “must see” if you are ever in Portugal – and we had never heard of it!!
Quinta de Regaleira was the summer home (residence) of a wealthy family on the 18th century & appears like a “fairy castle”! Set amongst intriguing “secret gardens” Bev was in her element finding hidden caves, doors, garden waterfalls & wells. Easy to get lost here & we had to consult the map several times.
The chapel in the grounds had a crypt with an underground passage linking it with the main house.
The romantic Palace of Monserrate was the summer residence of English textile millionaire Sir Francis Cook in 1856. Mark is standing in the elegant entrance hall of gothic arches & pink marble columns.
The Palace and park of Pena is one of the finest examples of the 19th century Portuguese Romanticism. The palace is filed with artworks and souvenirs of royalty.
Don Carlos I royalty lived in the palace in late 18th century and Dona Amelia.
The imposing Moorish castle looks down upon Sintra & looks spectacular at night illuminated with many floodlights! It was a military fort built in the 10th century by the Muslims (moors) and acted as a control tower for the Atlantic Coast and land to the north. Amazing panoramic views from the top of tower.
Lisboa (Lisbon) was not our favourite spot with many streets littered with rubbish and very rundown buildings – not much street appeal here. However there are interesting monuments and the history is fascinating.
Sandy even made friends with a gargoyle & bought it to add to her collection at home!
The great earthquake of 1755 was Lisboa’s main undoing. Most of the old/original city was either shaken by the earthquake, washed away by the follow-up Tsunami or burnt in the fire caused by the Earthquake!! Not a good time to be in the area. The city was rebuilt – in a new “more modern” design. It has been a critical city in the exploration of the world as we know it. Many expeditions to THE NEW WORLD commenced or were dreamt-up in Lisboa!!
Delicious Portuguese traditional roast pork rolls with fresh buns from wood-fired oven for lunch €2.50 each. Served to us proudly! Family café!
Coimbra is an old attractive hill-top town known for it’s University. Portugal’s main university was moved there in 1290!! It is now the oldest in Portugal. The town owes it’s existence to the students – and now tourism too. All we had read about Coimbra said that “the students wear black capes with ribbons denoting which “school”/discipline they were studying”. Although it was mid-week, the only people wearing capes and ribbons were the people selling memorabilia!! Perhaps the students save it for special occasions!!
We really enjoyed our evening of FADO music by current & past students of the Coimbra University! After the performance we downed the complimentary port and chatted with the performers!
Just south of Coimbra is Conímbriga – The best preserved Roman Ruins of Portugal. Like many archaeological sites, Conimbriga was built in layers. Some of the earliest layers date back to the first Iron Age in the 9th Century B.C. The Romans arrived in the 2nd Century A.D., conquering the Celtic inhabitants and establishing a city that grew, flourished, and then fell victim to barbarian invasions until Conimbriga’s residents fled to nearby Coimbra in 468A.D. Although Conimbriga wasn’t the biggest Roman city in Portugal, it’s the best preserved. The city walls are largely intact, and the mosaic floors and foundations of many houses and public buildings remain. In the baths, you can view the network of stone heating ducts beneath the now-missing floors. Archaeologists estimate that only 10 percent of the city has been excavated. The site also has a museum that displays objects found by archaeologists during their excavations. A restaurant/café is in the museum – we had the Menu do Dai (Meal of the day) – three courses, drinks and coffee for €7.50 each. Excellent value – typical of our time in Portugal – although this value-for-money is not always possible in the really touristy places.
Porto, Portugal’s 2nd largest city, is famous for fortified wine known worldwide as Port, and it’s river, the Douro. It’s maze of steep cobbled streets, beautiful plazas & churches. We absorbed our surroundings as we relaxed on a Rabelo boat trip on the river, past old homes of granite & colourfully tiled façades & under the 6 bridges. The Rabelo is native to the Douro region, it does not exist in any other place of the world. Its history is closely linked to the production and trade of port wine. Before the arrival of the railway, the rabelo was the fastest and the most efficient means of transport between the Douro Valley, where port wine is produced, and the city of Porto, where it was traded and exported world wide! See Wikipedia here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabelo_Boat
What the …….taking a selfie in mirror, Porto!! mmmm, too many ports and beers at lunch maybe!!?
What a great time we’ve had exploring Northern Portugal with our friends, the Leggats. They met Bruce & our kookaburra mascot too! Sarah returns to London where she’s working and Will and Sandy to cold Melbourne.
Currently in a campismo at Madalena under gum trees – outskirts of Porto, near the beach. (http://www.orbitur.com/campsite-orbitur-madalena ).
Unfortunately the clothes washing awaits us!! Yes, we do have some menial work too!!?
Also see our Map of where we have been https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zq18rHevtQ8Q.ktYlkHzTSjo8