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Porto cruise and Sandeman cellars

Posted by on Oct 9, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

There is much to see in the small but rich port wine mecca that is Porto.   A classy way to enjoy the beauty of the city is by boat.   Cruising the Douro river, you get to see all crossing bridges of Porto and to enjoy a windy yet sunny ride.   We made use of a combined ticket deal, we partly used to sightsee the day before.   The wind was especially strong when we were facing the direction of the ocean. Only competing with the sun.   Only a dam was keeping the crazy ocean waves  away.   Some creatures got through.   Other than that, the ride is rather harmonious.          Pretty Porto.             There are many wooden barcas lining the pier, which are the long old boats, once carrying barrels with...

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More Port(o)!

Posted by on Aug 4, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Porto did not only give its name to Portugal but to its famous wine – the port. Port is not everyone’s cup of wine. Some call it sickly sweet or an old ladies drink. Turns out I am a fan of sickly sweet and pushing ahead to be a proud old lady, which is probably why I really really liked port.  It is not as bitter as wine and there is a lot more appreciation for the sweet flavour of the grape. It is stronger than wine, yet I find port a lot tastier. Port is often served for desert and that just speaks for itself. The place to taste the best Port wine in Porto is beautiful Gaia, the part of Porto housing some world renowned wineries with a long history. Today we were introduced to Port –...

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Norte – my favourite mall in Porto

Posted by on Jul 26, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Shopping malls make for a great break inbetween sightseeing. Especially if it’s raining. Because the perfect solution to a rainy day – or any day – is a shopping mall. Preferably the biggest one with a decent food court. That lead us to Norte Shopping in Porto. Location: Rua Sara Afonso 105-117, 4460-841 Senhora da Hora, Porto.  Open from 10 a.m. to midnight. We got there using Porto’s public transport, that is, the new tram lines. You can take Line A (blue),  Line B (red), Line C (green) or Line E (purple) to Sete Bicas Station. It is still short 5 min walk from here. Norte Shopping is a fine and huge shopping mall in Porto which looks a bit out dated from the outside but is really pleasant inside. A wide variety of shops and entertainment is geared...

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Some magnificence of Porto

Posted by on Jul 23, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

The riches Portugal acquired during the age of discoveries is beyond decency. Noble, majestic and imposing. This would about summarise the sights we have seen in Porto this day. Impressions are similar to the magnificence Lisbon has offered. Splendid architecture and regal treasures. In today’s less flashy times Portugal lives off the past. Together with a stagnating economy,  many of the past riches could do with a financial boost. European Union aided projects are a blessing and the restoration of Porto’s stock exchange palace is one of those. Palacio da Bolsa The Portuguese stock exchange is a 19th century beauty. One room has huge oil paintings of the royal family. A testament to Portugal’s prosperous reign which came to an end when all royal descendants fled Portugal during the 1910 October revolution. The last king died in exile in...

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Popular restaurants in Porto

Posted by on Jul 2, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Tourists got to eat. Like everyone else, yes, except that we are more dependant on good food outside our temporary homes. Tourist menus are designed for tourists and hence not the muito excelente of Portuguese cuisine. Which is why we tried one overly recommended local restaurant and another one, frequented by locals a lot and just opposite our doorstep in Porto. These two places are loved by locals. Actually a good sign. But unfortunately no guarantee, that service or food will be as superfluous as expected. Just in case, you like to try your own luck with those, there we go.    At Restaurante Postigo do Carvao Location: Restaurante Postigo do Carvao, Rua da Fonde Taurina 24 a 34, Porto. For dinner we went to what must be the most popular restaurant in whole Porto. Once we arrived, it already...

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Foz in Porto – where we met the ocean

Posted by on Jul 1, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Facing the Atlantic at Foz, Porto’s seaside and beach area, leaves a long lasting memory.   There are various ways to get there but for me, riding the old tram was the greatest fun in Portugal.     The number 1 tram in Porto took us all the way along the Douro river to Foz.   How to get to Foz Electrico number 1 at the Infante Dom Henrique de Rua to the port of Foz (runs along the Douro river with pretty views) Bus 500 from Sao Bento (Loios – Matosinhos, also drives along the Douro but the bus aircons smell mouldy)   Take the tram!   The tickets were 2,50 for a one way ride which was more than what we usually paid for a normal ride. We were surprised that the driver told us not to...

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Nata Cafe with Mazagran and Fernando Pessoa

Posted by on Jun 30, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Nata is a combination of a bar, café and pastry shop in Porto. This place gave us good quality food for very reasonable prices. We found it as we were looking for a café serving Portuguese Easter food but luck wasn’t on our side. Or was. While everything had closed during Easter, Nata served us a good lunch. Their flexible opening hours are another great feature. It is frequented by students and locals but tourists seem to pass it by.   Location: Rua Santa Catarina 499, Porto, Portugal.   While Nata didn’t have special Easter snacks, we were offered some simple, good quality Portuguese lunch snacks by extremely friendly staff.    You can get anything from a toasted sandwich to the popular egg tarts, which are served appealingly warm. The thing to try at Nata is their Mazagran, the...

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Home rental and home life in Porto

Posted by on Jun 29, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

If you are planning to go abroad and like to travel more independently, think about renting an apartment. We have been doing this a while now and it is the most comfortable way to get a home away from home. Two years on the road and we have hardly seen a hotel room!       Our apartment rental in Porto We stayed 13 days and paid 65 Euros a night including airbnb fees (for the three of us – mum was travelling along).  If you are thinking about renting a home, you can get a referral bonus when booking through us, which is 25 $ that can be spend on any apartment of choice on airbnb. Airbnb is the web-portal we mainly use to find homes on our travels. No strings attached. As usual, location is a key...

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Hello Porto!

Posted by on Jun 25, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Porto gave Portugal its name. We are going to explore how this northern and second-biggest city after Lisbon has earned the honour. The journey to Porto from Lisbon began rather shaky. After being stood up by a taxi we had ordered the night before, The One had to hunt down a cab in the deserted neighbourhood. Miraculously, we made it well ahead of time. To the most intriguing train station I have seen. Entrecampos. It is so incredibly ugly, it passed the label fascinating. If you have too much time in Lisbon on your hands, take a look. The train tickets (for one way Lisbon-Porto) were 30,30 Euors per person. Now Porto! We arrived punctual, after two hours and forty minutes. I slept well on the train and noticed that I like sleeping when in motion, being softly rocked...

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Tile mania in Portugal – Tile museum in Lisbon

Posted by on Jun 16, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Tiles, tiles, tiles, everywhere. Portugal’s unique decorative feature is the azulejo. Shiny ceramic plates that adorn about every building in Portugal.  Azulejo is derived from the Arabic word azzelij or zuleycha, which means small polished stone and refers to a squared ceramic piece, with one side glazed. Tiles are used as decorations for everything, from the walls of halls, chambers, staircases or making up whole building façades to the lintels above doors or holy pictures at the entrance… they enter about every level of life here. Inside and outside, private and public places are adorned with traditional blue, but sometimes more colourful tiles.       You might be lucky and find a tile on the street. Or be (unlucky) hit by a falling one. Know the threats on Lisbon’s streets. Hence a visit to the National Tile Museum....

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Divine breathtaking

Posted by on Jun 14, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Garden, panaderia, dinner, concert. Today was a great day. 1st THE GARDEN To escape the city bustle and see if our favourite garden in Lisbon could be matched, we took a walk to the Jardim Botanico Tropical. Location: Largo Jeronimos and Calçada do Galvão, Belem, Lisbon. Entrance: 2 Euros. Souvenir tip: You can buy very sweet miniature plants in pretty pots for less than 10 Euros at the entrance office. The garden is located close to the monumental Monasterio Jeronimos and Lisbon’s Pasteis de Belem. Seriously, all the great things of Lisbon are in Belem.   Jardim Botanico Tropical is an inviting garden with a lot to see, or equally suited to relax on sun-warmed benches, get a tan and watch peacocks, waddling ducks and geese following their daily commitments. Wings-drying cycle activated. A lot to discover. We saw the...

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Happy Consumption

Posted by on Jun 12, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Happy consumption is, apart from my personal motto, the exhibition of vintage advertisements at the Centro Cultural in Portugal’s capital. The Centro Cultural is a hard contemporary contrast to Lisbon’s ornate architecture. The complex is large with conflicting dynamics, a bit too big, too ugly, too empty, just one of those examples of EU spending. Set in the medieval-historic centre of Belem, in the western part of Lisbon, it is clashing with its more attractive neighbours, the Monastery of Jeronimos, Monument of Discoveries and the fountain square, providing imposing picture backgrounds for Asian wedding tourists. Facing Lisbon’s Centro Cutural. Which in turn is facing the fountain on Praca do Imperio. And then facing love in front of the monastery, at Praca do Imperio. Dominating the graceful Praca do Imperio, the bulky cultural centre houses congress rooms, auditoriums for meetings,...

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Portugal’s regent residences – Ajuda and Belem Palace

Posted by on Jun 8, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Whilst visiting Queluz Palace, I was sure to have found the most opulent residence in Portugal. Today, I was proved wrong. Ajuda National Palace, just a stone’s throw away from our quarters in Belem, was the visualized definition of royal residence.  All heavy drapes and an abundance of aristocratic imagery. If you have little time in Lisbon, I would recommend to focus on the historic centre in Lisbon’s western district. Most of all, on Ajuda Palace. Palácio Nacional da Ajuda Location:  Largo Ajuda, Belem, Lisbon. Admission: The entrance is 5 Euros, plus 1 Euro for an info brochure (optional and the English version is a rather poor summary of the Spanish brochure). Construction of the Palácio started after royalty had lost their palace in the big earthquake and tsunami in 1755. A large piece of land stretching from Belem to...

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Foible for fashion and history

Posted by on Jun 6, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

A feast for nostalgic fashionistas are two sights in Lisbon. Especially if, like me, you love historic frock and fancy accessories of aristocracy. MUDE, the Museum for Design and Fashion in the centre of the capital and the Costume Museum, called Museu Nacional del Traje, did not disappoint. The latter is a real gem but located a bit on the outskirts, in Lumiar. If you have the time to travel around Lisbon, I highly recommend it. COSTUME MUSUEM – MUSEU NACIONAL DEL TRAJE When buying our tickets (for 4 Euros each), we were given a sweet present on top. Three postcards picturing dolls dressed in traditional folklore garb. The Costume Museum, more fittingly a fashion history museum, is set in a grand mansion of a Portuguese marquis from the 18th century. The family sold the residence rather recently to...

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Mystic craze at Quinta da Regaleira

Posted by on Jun 5, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Up next on our Sintra Hills tour was probably the most elaborate and funkiest fantasy-come-true. Quinta da Regaleira. Built between 1898 and 1912 by capitalist and philanthropist Carvalho Monteiro, also known as “Monteiro the Millionaire“. Money met a visionary. Italian architect Luigi Manini, who has also constructed the La Scala of Milan in Italy (where I cried to the dying swan from the Bolshoi), turned the vision of Monteiro into a private residence. It took 14 years of work. Close(r) up. Manueline features, Gothic style and Romanticism in architectural harmony. Once the property of a wealthy family of merchants from Porto, the Regaleira clan, Carvalho Monteiro bought the estate in 1892 and created a residence out of this world, magical and full of surprises. Baroness da Regaleira. She sold the house to Carvalho Monteiro.  Interestingly, in 1987 the property...

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Fairy tale Palace of Pena

Posted by on Jun 1, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Just as you probably thought we were palaced out by Portugal’s fancy pancy palácios, we took on another round. On day two of our weekend tour, we drove down from Lisbon to the wonders of Sintra Hills, to see Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira. PENA PALACE A sight nothing short of a Disney castle and a rival to the Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria, it is  sitting more hidden than prominent, on top of Sintra mountain. The Park and Palace of Pena are fine examples of 19th century Portuguese romanticism, constituting the most prominent part of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra’s World Heritage Status. You can easily see how. From mum’s perspective. Like her picture better. Pena Palace is a crowd pleaser. And a little princess’s dream. And her mum’s, too. If you are lucky you can spot little fairies...

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Portuguese Infernos

Posted by on May 29, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

Spoiler: Portuguese infernos are rather pleasant. Some are named inferno and dramatically describe incredible cliff formations on Portugal’s shores. The other infernos refer to the mental pain you are going through when 1) trying to limit yourself on Portuguese pastry and 2) choosing a decent restaurant serving seafood. We had all of that on our two day trip to Sintra. To get a break from Portuguese palacemania, we balanced out sightseeing with nature’s destructive forces and food. There were fantastic cliffs at Inferno da Roca and Cabo da Roca, followed by Sintra’s fantastic sweet creations and a decent dinner in fishing village Cascais. First things first. FAMOUS SWEETS OF SINTRA As you know by now, Portugal is fancy land for palaces and pastry. It just so happens that Sintra, World Heritage site for landscapes dotted with palaces and situated...

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Monserrate – Portugal’s fancy-pancy palaces III

Posted by on May 26, 2014 in All posts, Portugal | 0 comments

MONSERRATE Location: Monserrate, 2710-405 Sintra. Admission: Our combined ticket for four palaces (Monserrate, Sintra, Queluz and Pena) was 32,50 Euros per person. Monserrate Palace was number three on the list, which was the final one on the day, and in my opinion the most original of the Sintra palace lot. The Monserrate estate once belonged to the Royal All Saints Hospital and got its name from the Chapel to Our Lady Of Monserrate in 1540 , however, the most exciting architectural touches came a lot later, when it was purchased by millionaire Brit Francis Cook in 1841, a textile tycoon and antiques collector. This sophisticated individual transformed it into his personal Arabic-Indian fairy tale. I love passionate people. Especially, shall need arise, they do carry my scarf. Eclectic spirit of the 19th century. Monserrate is an example of Portuguese...

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