Last morning in Portugal. Another great breakfast buffet, then it’s off to the airport and home. Time to start planning a return trip!
21 October 2017
Strolling through the streets of Alfama.
A stop at the Conserveira de Lisboa to buy tinned fish, then a lunch at a little restaurant where we were the only tourists.
The next day, it’s off to the train station to catch an early morning train to Lisboa. After dropping our bags at the Memmo Alfama, we hit the steep streets of the Alfama for some sightseeing. First stop, the cathedral.
20 October 2017
The Pestana Hotel is lovely and a great location to use as a base for Porto sightseeing.
Typical Porto tapas and wine. We’ll be back later to try to retrieve Russ’s cap and wind up with a glass of wine instead.
Then a walk down to the waterfront area for the final stop.
Pastry time again! Chocolate and lemon eclairs with extra cream!
Next stop - a very welcome espresso at a classic cafe.
Back out into the now slightly rainy streets of Porto. Our guide pointed out some of Porto’s lovely tile work.
Next stop is a cozy and very historic bistro. Amazing roast pork and ham sandwiches on very fresh rolls and a slightly sweet red wine.
Finally, another eating stop. Wonderful tinned sardines, olive oil, pastries and sweet wine.
Garlic and beans and meats - more choices than we know existed.
Next to the fishmonger. Those weird little things are percebes. You can select your fish and shellfish and have it sent to the restaurant next to the stalls to have it cooked.
Next off to the market. The top floor was home to produce stands and charcuterie.
First stop - Loga des Pasteis de Chaves. The original is a veal pastry, but the have expanded to all sorts of savories and sweets.
The next morning we are off on our own to Rua Santa Caterina to join a Taste of Porto food tour.
19 October 2017
Last day with our jolly group. A city tour and dinner at a Fado restaurant.
First stop in Porto is Graham’s Lodge, where we learned about the history of Port and how it is produced. We tasted 8 and 10 and 20 year tawnys and a vintage Port from the vineyard where the grapes are still pressed by foot.
So, we depart from our visit with the Count and head to our final tour destination, Porto.
18 October 2017
We reunited with Christina for a tour of Ponte de Lima and a lovely dinner.
The afternoon’s portion of the Camino wound through farms and over Roman roads and an old Roman bridge.
A highlight of the hike was the most amazing grilled chicken, served under a tent in a backyard restaurant. Best chicken ever !
The day started rainy, but improved to misty before long. The Camino wound through vineyards and forests.
On to Ponte de Lima. Our final hike is a portion of the Camino Santiago. We started in this little chapel with our wonderful local guide Christina.
17 October 2017
After a long morning hike and a lovely lunch, we took the afternoon off. We visited the Serra Peneda nature center then enjoyed the scenic drive through the mountains. We made a return visit to the Mirador. What a difference a day makes!
We climbed the trail above the Santuario to a lovely hanging valley, then headed down and across the countryside.
16 October 2017
In lieu of the afternoon hike, we strolled the grounds of the Santuario. Piles of candles were left by pilgrims who had participated in the recent pilgrimage.
The morning ended with a picnic on the grounds of a small pilgrimage church. We headed for a spot on the highway known as the Mirador, for its lovely view down the valley. On a good day, our next destination, the pilgrimage church Santuario de Nossa Senhora da Peneda, would be visible in the distance. Today, thick smoky mist totally obscured the view. This and the prospect of a painful downhill hike on my still very unhappy ankle led to a choice to stay on the bus and ride to the foot of the hill below the Santuario.
We crossed briefly into Spain then back to Portugal to the town of Soajo to visit the stone granaries (espigueiros) and to hike through the foggy and smoky hills beyond.
15 October 2017
After dropping our bags at the hotel and a way-too-large lunch in Caldas do Geres, we were off on our afternoon hike in the hills above town. Forest fires in the area gave the woods a smoky haze and provided a dramatic sunset.
Our last morning in Pinhao was grey and cool. After a second awesome breakfast at the Vintage House, we were off to the Serra Peneda. First stop was a chance to watch the lock at Bagauste in action.
14 October 2017
A lovely lunch at the Quinta da Marka, overlooking the vineyards and the Douro River.
Our home in Pinhao was the Vintage House, a former warehouse for wine headed to the port lodges in Porto. After a taxi shuttle into the vineyards above town, we hiked to a winery, enjoyed an impromptu tour of a small winery, a large and lovely lunch at a wine estate and a tour of their winery and a boat ride up the Douro to our hotel.
Beautiful tile art in the train station in Pinhao.
13 October 2017
The next stop was the Coa Valley archeological Park, home to Paleolithic etchings on rocks. The weather continued to be hot and dry. Then, we were off to the train station in Picinho to take the scenic train along the Douro River to Pinhao.
Touring and travel day. Our first stop was Belmonte. Known for Pedro Cabral, the explorer who “discovered” Brazil and a community of Jews who worshipped in secret after being forced to “convert” to Christianity during the Inquisition. We visited the ruins of a a castle, the Museum of Discovery, the museum detailing the lives of Belmonte’s Crypto-Jews and a museum showing the history of olive oil pressing (the press and a filter are shown below). A nice town for strolling and having lunch (we had a nice meal at the Restaurante Brasoa
12 October 2017
The Burel Factory was recently reopened. It starts with wool from local sheep and does the entire process of spinning and weaving (the wool is taken elsewhere to be dyed) to created fabric for upholstery, blankets and clothing. The process of creating elaborate geometric patterns and custom smocking was fascinating to watch. We came away with a scarf (pictured) and a blanket.
11 October 2017
Our home for the next two nights was the Hotel Berne in Manteigas. This shrimp with rice (mama’s special recipe) was one of the best things we ate in Portugal.
The trail wound through an area of farms, and we encountered flocks of sheep. This a very friendly farmer who offered us samples of his Serra da Estrela cheese, with some bread and wine.
Guidebooks warned that the hike lacks shade and can be very hot in summer. At this point in the trip, Portugal was experiencing unusually hot and dry weather. We took a little rest in a sheep barn on the hike down the valley.
Our objective for the day.
The Zezere Valley. Our hiking venue for today. We are hiking to Manteigas, which is that little town in the distance.
Head of the Zezere glacial valley. Awesome rocks. Very beautiful.
We then headed downhill a bit to start our hike. This is a highway shrine in the Serra da Estrella. Back in the day, foot travelers stopped here to pray for safe passage.
After leaving Lousa, we headed for the highest spot in Portugal, Torre. It is the summit of the only ski resort in Portugal. It doesn’t look like much, but the highway snow poles to guide the plows were about 12’ high. You can also see the dark line of smoke in the sky from forest fires that are still burning in Portugal.
10 October 2017
A nasty sprain I sustained a few days before the trip was aggravated by the first day’s hike. I took the next day off and set out in town to find the Farmacia for a big bottle of Advil. I encountered this sidewalk shrine en route.
9 October 2017
Our first two nights were spent at the Palacio da Lousa Hotel, a historic palace now converted to a hotel. This is the Oratory, now part of the extensive lounge area of the hotel. The Palacio did not have a chapel; this area was used for prayer.
Some of the schist cottages, in various stages of repair
The buildings in the schist villages were largely abandoned when residents chose to move to more convenient and modern accommodations. Some of them have been and are being renovated for holiday use.
We started our excursion with a visit to Tasanal, one of the Schist Villages in the hills above Lousa, Portugal. Town square!
The next morning we headed to an airport hotel to meet our Wilderness Travel group. After introductions we boarded a bus to The town of Lousa. We dropped our bags (and the big bus) and boarded smaller vans with guides from the local mountain club for our first group meal and hike. This is a photo of destination, Tasanal, Portugal, from the windy roads approaching it.
8 October 2017
More beautiful mosaics in the Placa de Descobrimentos.
The Altis shuttle delivered us to Belem, and the driver provided a running commentary that left us with a dozen museums and activities for a future trip to Lisboa. After a bit of freshening up, we set out to see the sights. The Placa de Descobrimentos contains elaborate mosaics illustrating Portugal’s Age of Exploration.
Our first stop in Lisboa was the Altis Avenida Hotel, where we left our bags pending a transfer to Belem. We had a low-key and delicious Sunday brunch with a view in their top floor restaurant.
This is a portion of the elaborate facade of Rossio Station.
Lisbon streets abound with mosaics. This is the pattern in Rossio Square.
Our initial destination was to have been the Altis Hotel Belem, but a 10K race blocked access to the hotel. At their suggestion, we spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon near Rossio Square.
Our trip begins... dawn over the Atlantic... 2 hours to Lisbon.