Why visit Portugal?
Before I went to Portugal, the reasons were:
1. To listen to fado. I had fallen in love with Mariza, famous and beautiful singer of the plaintive Portuguese folk song called fado
2. To live cheaply. Portugal in 2009 was one of the cheapest places in Western Europe-important when you travel with Kiwi dollars
4. To experience a completely unknown culture with an unpronounceable language.
So what was Portugal like? Read more
We are staying in a fabulous apartment beside the river, opposite dozens of port merchants and under one of the spectacular bridges across the Douro River. We could not be more central. Ceridwyn found the apartment (and others we have used on this trip) on Owners Direct – www.ownersdirect.com Oporto City Apartment – Ribeira
Fernando met us and guided us here – it is not on Google maps, this area of the city is too old, and it is not really on a street, but on the river. A bottle of Port and a lovely cheese was in the apartment waiting for us – we find a bottle lasts about 2 days – are we really drinking that much??
Today we are off on a pilgrimage – Ceridwyn and I are keen to see Fatima. This international focus of pilgrimage is just down the road from Tomar where we are staying. Danielle is not so keen and The Lonely Planet is downright scathing about tacky religious souvenirs
I am here as an observer of the phenomenon that is Fatima. A welcome sign invites us to enter as pilgrims and despite myself, I am soon drawn in to the sense of holy in the place. Read more
What an extraordinary building the Knights Templar have left behind here in Tomar. Castelo Templ rio and Convento da ordem de Cristo de Tomar – or the Convent of Christ,
Straight out of history – red crosses on the tunics, swords at their sides, the stamp of horses feet – you can feel what it might have been like here at the height of their power. Read more
We have bought a GPS, christened her Maria, and we are finding it a great aid to navigation – Ceridwyn on the maps, Danielle at the wheel and Rosemary in the back with Maria – we are a great team.
We have an apartment in Lisboa – right in the heart of town, its fantastic, we can walk everywhere. What a great city Lisbon is – we loved it – a beautiful river, a magical castle up on the hill, plazas every corner you turn, and a beautiful big river/harbour. Read more
From NZ, Spain and Portugal are distant mysterious and far off lands, and here we are simply driving from Spain to Portugal – just like that.
We are here, the border does not even have a stop or guard, we barely notice that we have arrived in another fantastic country which is Portugal. What it must be like to live in the UK or Europe and have these places on your doorstep, just an hour or two’s flight away.
Evora has everything – megalithic stone circles, Roman temples and baths, Moorish influences, and its golden age of 14-16th centuries. It even has marks of the inquisition, with public burnings of the victims held in the main squares in the 16th Century.
We stayed in a great budget place – Pensao O Giraldo - a 16th Century house right in the centre of town with parking in the yard. It was great, and the staff could not have been more helpful for both local siteseeing and future planning.
- Capela dos Ossos – the chapel of bones in the church dedicated to St Francis. They have turned human bones into a work of art – a sign over the door says something like “we bones await yours”. It is a place for meditation on our mortality – gruesome but true.
- The administration offices of the local Roman Catholic Church which still have the symbol of the Inquisition over the door – I wonder if we have learnt anything from the past, to continue to wear such a coat of arms over the door.
- The remains of the Roman Temple alongside the 15th century palaces.
- The megalithic stones - to make the connection with a cultural story thousands of years old with links to Stonehenge, and New Grange in Ireland.