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3 Weeks in Portugal: A photographic report of a trip in progress

3 Weeks in Portugal: A photographic report of a trip in progress

Old May 24th, 2021, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by lrice View Post
I’m so happy to be reading trip reports again! Hope you having a marvelous time and thank you for the tips, thoughts and beautiful pictures!
Originally Posted by Iwan2go View Post
Oh thank you SO much for your trip report! We’re going (to Lisbon only, sadly) in January, and I’m bookmarking all the places you’ve been. Very excited! Adrienne, still in LA 😎
It’s my pleasure. More adventures to come!
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Old May 24th, 2021, 01:15 PM
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Must be nice without all of those British EasyJetters.
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Old May 24th, 2021, 01:29 PM
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Mafra National Palace

En route from Évora to Óbidos, we decided to stop in Mafra to grab some lunch, stretch our legs, and check out the Mafra National Palace. Started in 1717, this was meant to be a simple Franciscan monastery, until gold and other precious minerals were found in Portugal’s holdings in Brazil. With the sudden addition to the national treasury, this modest project turned into a monument to excess, with 1200 rooms, 156 staircases, and over 5000 windows.







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Old May 24th, 2021, 02:20 PM
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Óbidos

Although Óbidos can easily be seen in three hours, we decided to spend a couple of nights there, partly to use as a base to see Alcobaça and Batalha monasteries during our one full day, and partly so we could see the village in the evenings and early mornings, without all the day-trippers. This strategy had served us well in the past when visiting highly touristic villages, like Mont St-Michele, and it worked just as well this time.

We stayed at an AirBnB just outside the ancient but very well preserved walls, and the location could not have been better. Our very hospitable host and his wife were super friendly and charming, and even made dinner reservations for us on a Saturday night at Jamon Jamon, the most popular place in town. We liked it so much we had lunch there the next day as well.

The village has no end of colorful and highly photogenic spots, but the highlight is a walk on the top of the 15 meter high walls, which are only about a meter wide and have no safety rails, so not for the faint of heart!






















Last edited by russ_in_LA; May 24th, 2021 at 03:10 PM.
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Old May 24th, 2021, 05:37 PM
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I'm a bit late to this party, but oh my, your photos are gorgeous. Portugal hasn't been high on my list (don't know why not, I love port, after all) but it has moved up considerably thanks to your TR. Thank you for posting.
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Old May 24th, 2021, 06:17 PM
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As everyone else has said, your photos are gorgeous, stunning, beautiful, etc!!!! Are you a professional photographer? While it helps to have beautiful scenery and interesting architecture, you obviously have a wonderful eye for composition and detail.

Unfortunately, we didn't have time to visit the Tile Museum when we were in Lisbon. I now regret missing it after seeing your photos. We enjoyed the Coach Museum very much, but our favorite museum in Lisbon is the Gulbenkian. I am not a fan of modern art ,but I thought the Modern Collection was fascinating, and the Founders Collection is outstanding.

I definitely want to return to Portugal to visit the places you have visited. I wasn't too interested in the Algarve because I've heard it is very built up and commercialized. But your photos have convinced me to include it if we visit Portugal again.
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Old May 24th, 2021, 07:59 PM
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Continuing to love your TR and pics! Many thanks!
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Old May 24th, 2021, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by KarenWoo View Post
As everyone else has said, your photos are gorgeous, stunning, beautiful, etc!!!! Are you a professional photographer? While it helps to have beautiful scenery and interesting architecture, you obviously have a wonderful eye for composition and detail.

Unfortunately, we didn't have time to visit the Tile Museum when we were in Lisbon. I now regret missing it after seeing your photos. We enjoyed the Coach Museum very much, but our favorite museum in Lisbon is the Gulbenkian. I am not a fan of modern art ,but I thought the Modern Collection was fascinating, and the Founders Collection is outstanding.

I definitely want to return to Portugal to visit the places you have visited. I wasn't too interested in the Algarve because I've heard it is very built up and commercialized. But your photos have convinced me to include it if we visit Portugal again.
Thank you! I’m not a professional photographer, but I’ll share my photography secret. For every photo I post I took ten more which I deleted, so one of them is bound to be good. 😉 I’m using my iPhone 11, which is probably better than any camera I’ve ever owned.

As for the Algarve, it’s true that the urban sprawl is not pretty, but if you go west of Lagos or east of Tavira, it’s relatively undeveloped, and as I discovered, even some parts in between are nice. According to our guide, May and September are the best times to enjoy the coast without the peak summer crowds. We typically stick to this shoulder season wherever we go.
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Old May 25th, 2021, 02:04 PM
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So, in addition to touring the village and its walls, we used Óbidos as a base for visiting the monasteries of Alcobaça and Batalha, about 30 minutes to the north. At first I thought we would suffer from MFS (monastery fatigue syndrome) but we have found that there is something unique at each one. For Alcobaça it was the amazing kitchen, with its awe inspiring, tile-covered chimney. For Batalha, it was the intricate, lacey carving of the cloister and the unfinished chapel. Really beautiful.

Afterwards, I thought we could use some outdoor time, so we headed over to Nazaré, which I originally considered as an overnight stop instead of Óbidos. Wow, was I ever glad that we didn’t stay there! It’s not that the bay and the beaches aren’t beautiful, but I could not find any redeeming qualities in the town itself. I was also a tad cranky, as it was Sunday, so there was a lot of traffic. I usually find that there is almost nothing that ice cream can’t solve, but the lines at all the gelaterias were 20-30 people deep. So we high-tailed it back to Óbidos, and took a nice, calm stroll through the quiet and peaceful streets.



Alcobaça

Alcobaça

Alcobaça

Alcobaça

Alcobaça Kitchen

Alcobaça Kitchen

Alcobaça

Alcobaça

Batalha

Batalha

Batalha

Batalha

Batalha

Batalha Unfinished chapel

Batalha Detail

Batalha Unfinished chapel

Nazaré bay


Last edited by russ_in_LA; May 25th, 2021 at 02:50 PM.
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Old May 25th, 2021, 03:03 PM
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I'd say Portugal got a healthy amount of EU funds to restore this marvelous old architecture.

That was the case in Spain, such as a smaller town like Salamanca.

Last edited by scrb11; May 25th, 2021 at 03:05 PM.
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Old May 25th, 2021, 04:38 PM
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Such gorgeous photos! So wish I was there.....
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Old May 26th, 2021, 10:38 AM
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And the winner for best English menu translation goes to...







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Old May 26th, 2021, 12:58 PM
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I'm enjoying this trip report and the photos immensely. We plan to visit Portugal and continuing on to northern Spain in September 2022. I'll be using your report as a reference!
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Old May 29th, 2021, 12:36 AM
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Somehow we’ve ended up in Porto on the day of the football championship game, which was moved here from Istanbul. The streets are filled with rabid fans looking for blood. If you don’t hear back from me, tell my mother that I love her.
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Old May 29th, 2021, 01:05 AM
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Originally Posted by russ_in_LA View Post
Somehow we’ve ended up in Porto on the day of the football championship game, which was moved here from Istanbul. The streets are filled with rabid fans looking for blood. If you don’t hear back from me, tell my mother that I love her.
It will be fun! Just do not wear a Chelsea shirt
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Old May 29th, 2021, 03:17 AM
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Russ, was wondering why you’d gone silent, I see now you were partying with the soccer fans! Who are you rooting for, City or Chelsea? In any case am sure we’ll get a pictorial update in the next few days, enjoy...😉😂
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Old May 29th, 2021, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by russ_in_LA View Post
Somehow we’ve ended up in Porto on the day of the football championship game, which was moved here from Istanbul. The streets are filled with rabid fans looking for blood. If you don’t hear back from me, tell my mother that I love her.
Oops! I was in Porto in 2004 when their football team won the UEFA cup, but fortunately it wasn't a home game. Fans were still celebrating the next day. It was also the year Portugal was hosting the European Championship tournament, and I left the country earlier than I wanted to in order to escape it.
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Old May 29th, 2021, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by russ_in_LA View Post
Somehow we’ve ended up in Porto on the day of the football championship game, which was moved here from Istanbul. The streets are filled with rabid fans looking for blood. If you don’t hear back from me, tell my mother that I love her.
Russ, I'm so sorry for you, and for my city! Tonight, please avoid downtown. You can have a nice dinner at our neighbour city Matosinhos, ans it is possible to visit lots of interesting things in Porto that are not downtown.

I had lunch at Boavista today, at the old market Bom Sucesso. It is not downtown, but anyway I saw some british soccer fans (from Manchester city and from Chelsea) buying packs of beer at the supermarket, singing out loud, being nasty to people in general. So now I'm at home with my cat, wishing tomorrow they are all gone.

Helena
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Old May 29th, 2021, 02:11 PM
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From Òbidos to Coimbra

I’m happy to report that we went and had a nice dinner away from downtown Porto, and arrived back to our AirBnb unscathed. I’ve gotten several days behind on my posts, so I’m going to see if I can remember as far back as last week and try to catch up.

The day we left Óbidos, we decided to make the most of our drive to Coimbra, so we made a couple of stops along the way. The first was only about 15 minutes away, at the Bacalhôa Buddha Eden garden. It’s hard to describe exactly what this place is like. Imagine that someone with way too much money decides he wants to make a garden, and fill it with artworks from around the world; but he can’t decide what to buy, so he takes a hit of acid, and in his mind-altered state, he buys EVERYTHING!! It is such an insane collection, with no particular theme. There is a section populated by herds of roaming metal lions, elephants and monkeys; large battalions of copies of China’s terracotta warriors, but painted cobalt blue. There are dozens of Buddha statues: sitting Buddhas, standing Buddhas, and even an enormous reclining Buddha. And of course, there is the very extensive collection of erotic sculptures. It’s a trip. Unfortunately, it was raining, so I didn’t take a lot of pics, and the ones I did take I didn’t love, but hopefully you’ll get the idea from the few I’ve posted.

About 90 minutes after leaving the garden, we arrived in Tomar, a smallish city with a delightful pedestrian street and pretty central praça, where we had lunch before heading to the principal claim to fame, the Convento de Christo. Originally a Knights of Templar stronghold, it has no less than eight cloisters and a round church, which is similar to and likely modeled after the Church of the Holy Seplucher in Jerusalem.


Eden garden

Eden garden

Eden garden

Eden garden

Tomar main square

Convento de Christo







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Old May 30th, 2021, 02:26 PM
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Coimbra

We arrived to our AirBnB in Coimbra, located on the main pedestrian street of the Baixa area, right next to the gate leading up to the older, upper town. We couldn’t have been more central if we tried. We loved the apartment, on the top floor of a six story building, with views out of the living room toward the river and the street below, and a view out the kitchen and back bedroom of the university at the top of the hill and the Almedina tower, right next door.

While I think two nights might be overkill for most people in Óbidos and Évora, I was really happy we had a full day, with no traveling, to explore Coimbra. We started at the arch of the Almedina Tower, which was one of the original gates to the city. Winding up the steep streets, we toured both the original Sé, as well as the “new” Sé further up the hill. We then bought tickets for a tour of the old university, which is located in the former royal palaces. The tickets are timed, with departures every twenty minutes.

Since we had time to kill, we decided to check out some of the other sights. We had planned to visit the Museu de Machado de Castro, which is built on first century Roman ruins, but it was, unfortunately, closed due to Covid, as was the Science museum, which contains scientific instruments that have been in use since the 18th century. So we contented ourselves with a pleasant, if unexciting, stroll through the Botanical garden next door, and a stop for a Pastel de Nata, which has become a daily ritual (simply the best baked good ever invented, IMO).

Anyway, the wait was worth it. Despite the drab buildings from the 1940’s that surround them, the exterior of the original university is simply stunning. But even that doesn’t prepare you for the interiors.

The Biblioteca Joanina from 1717 is a gorgeous Baroque room, filled with over 250,000 books, going as far back as the 12th century. It is decorated with frescoed ceilings, carved wood and convincing trompe l’oeil. Unfortunately, photos are not permitted, but Google it if you want to have a peek. Typically the groups funneling through every 20 minutes contain up to 50 people, so we felt extremely fortunate to have only four other people with us.

Just as beautiful is the Capela de São Miguel, which does allow photos. It features an impressive, oversized pipe-organ, with over 2000 pipes, and floor to ceiling azulejo tiles.

After lunch we ambled back down the hill to the Santa Cruz church and monastery, one of the oldest in Coimbra and home to the graves of some of Portugal’s earliest monarchs. Ending the day with a climb up the Almedina tower, which contains videos showing the evolution of the city’s architecture, and where we discovered that the kitchen window of our apartment looks our directly onto the bell of the tower.

As I mentioned previously, we have been pleasantly surprised with how consistently good the food has been throughout the trip, but dinner at Refeitro da Baixa was one of our favorites. Located in a former ceramics studio (which you can still see behind a glass wall), it’s a bit tricky to find, being in an area with a lot of buildings currently being renovated. The decor is sleek and minimal, but still warm and inviting, as is the service. The food is modern Portuguese, and the crispy pork belly was a standout.

So overall, I’d have to say that we are very happy we included Coimbra on our itinerary.



View from our apartment

Baixa

Almedina gate

Botanical garden (with aqueduct in background)

University entrance

University

Library entrance (sadly, no interior photos )

Chapel entrance

Chapel interior

Chapel organ




Another cool room, the details of which now escape me

São Cruz






University clock tower

View (of our apartment) from the Almedina tower

View from back of our apartment


Last edited by russ_in_LA; May 30th, 2021 at 02:33 PM.
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