Central Portugal – Off the Tourist Trail


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A mini Break In Porto – PART 2

Contemorary art museum here I come.
On the map it looked to be in the suburbs, and was within the grounds of a big park. Getting to it turned out to be easier than it looked. I caught the 502 bus (the stop was 5 minutes from my hotel) which took me to within 250 metres of it and I walked the rest, following the perfect directions given to me by the lovely bus driver.

Now even if you are not a big lover of art I would say, the place is still worth a visit, if you enjoy nature, flowers and quiet spaces.
The park is quite large, with a lake, sculpture park, villa, tea house, and farm within it. I spent most of my time looking at the art exhibitions, and so I only managed a quick trip to the tea house and a wander around the lake, before having to head back. It was a pity I ran out of time, as it was a warm sunny day, and perfect for exploring the grounds, and having a look at the sculptures. However I saw more than I was expecting, and I can always revisit.
The two temporary exhibitions were great, and I particularly enjoyed the drawings ofJorge Martins, and what he managed to achieve with a pencil !

I will be writing a bit more about the art I saw on my Crafting in Portugal blog, if you want to have a look .

I spent around 3 ½ hours there, and it would be easy to spend 6 hours, and enjoy a picnic there, if the weather was good.

The time went all to soon, and I had to head back to the bus depot, for my journey home.

I didn’t find travelling by Rede Express bus as easy and as stress free as the train. The journey itself was fine, and the bus was just as clean and as comfortable, the difficult part was finding the correct coach at the depot before it departed. There are no information boards in the bus depot ( unlike the train station) All coach arrival and departures are announced over a tinny speaker sysyem, and even though they mention bus numbers, the buses don’t always have the numbers displayed. So it was almost a case of pick a bus and hope for the best.
I almost missed my bus (along with a few more people) as I was waiting to hear the word Coimbra announced. Five minutes before the departure I asked someone, and found out that I needed to catch the bus for Peniche, which stopped en route at Coimbra. This information was not on my ticket, and as as far as I could tell was not announced. It seemed was just one of those things you should know. Although my Portuguese is basic, I ususally manage to understand annnouncemnets, and so If you speak no Portuguese, you wouldn’t have a clue.
I guess like most things, it is always harder the first time, but for non Portuguese speakers, I would say the train system is much easier to work out.
It was good to try a different option, I will keep it in mind if the trains are on strike, and it all turned out well in the end.
The rest of my trip back home went without any difficulties and I was back home a few hours later, after having a my bonus mini break in Porto.

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A mini break in Porto – on my way home ( PART 1)


When I fly back from England into Porto I often have a stopover for the night. My arrival time allows me to get the train as far as Coimbra, but I am usually too late to get the bus from Coimbra to Gois.
Although I could stay over in Coimbra, or get a taxi to my house, I choose to stay In Porto, and travel down to Coimbra the following day. I like the feel of Porto, it is a friendly, down to earth city and every time I stay over I find something, or somewhere new. So that’s what I did on my return a few days ago.
When I arrive late, the first thing I consider is where I should stay. I will write about different areas I have stayed, and which I have found good, and which I have not in another post, but on this occasion I found a cheap and cheerful hotel close to BOLHAO metro station, on the main shopping street of Rua Santa Catarina. It turned out to be a brilliant location.
At 23€ for a double room,( half the price of a taxi from Coimbra to my house) I was not expecting much from the hotel, and so I was pleasantly surprised with the Residencial Solar. It was clean, the bed was comfy, I had a brand new bathroom, a flat screened TV, and it was quiet. If you are looking for posh and fashionable, then look elsewhere, but I would stay there again anytime. The only negative was that I was on the 4th floor, and with no lift it was tempting to leave my 25 kgs of luggage down stairs! I didn’t, but the night receptionist helped by taking a bag, which saved me a trip.
After a great nights sleep, I awoke to the sun peeking through the wooden shutters, which meant it was going to be a brilliant day to explore.
First on the list was breakfast. I wandered down Rua Santa Catarina up to Placa Batalha, passing at least a dozen or more places selling coffee and cakes. I always think it would be lovely to do a bakery version of a pub crawl, a cake wobble ? when I see the fabulous cakes in the windows. I chose a place in the sun and had Um Galao e Torrada ( milky coffee and door stop thick, buttery toast) and decided to save the cakes for later.
I then found the bus station and got my ticket for later on in the day.
I usually take the train, and so I needed to find out where the bus depot was, in case I was on the last minute. It seems there are several bus stations in Porto, depending on the company you are using. The Rede Express terminal was only a couple of minutes away from The Praca Batalha ( and about 15 minutes away from my hotel).
As I wandered back to my hotel, I noticed an art shop which I had not seen before. It turned out it had only opened two days before, and had the best art supplies I have found so far in Portugal. I was beyond excited when I found out it had a web site, and you could buy on line.(I had given up on that idea after many fruitless internet searches). Today was my lucky day.
I wandered around like a child in a sweet shop, with a big grin on my face. The thought of not having to buy my art and craft supplies in England and lug them back, hoping that the inks and paints had not leaked everywhere, made me feel so happy .
My day had started off brilliantly. What next ? I had a look at my map and decided to keep with the arty theme. I would try and find the contemporay art museum ……


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WHY I LIKE PORTO AIRPORT

I am over in England for a few days, to see family and friends, attend my sisters wedding, and stock up on a few art and craft supplies.
As i am originally from the Manchester area, I can either fly from Lisbon airport to Manchester with TAP airlines, or Porto to Liverpool with Ryan air. The cost of the ticket with TAP was four times the cost of flying with Ryan air ( thats a lot of craft supplies) and so Ryanair it was .

I also prefer flying from Porto to Lisbon.

WHY I LIKE PORTO AIRPORT

1.It’s on the metro line, and so I can hop off the train at Campanha and jump onto the Metro.

2.The airport is well set out, compact, and easy to get around.

3. There are lots of places to sit and relax, and in the departure lounge you can even sit and listen to live music at certain times throughout the day.

4. There are computers which are free to use in the departure lounge

5. There are free water dispensers throughout departures, so I don’t have to buy over priced bottles of water as I do in most airports

6. There are plenty of nice shops to look around.

7. There are small areas to sit and watch TV throughout departures. I was fortunate enough to be there when an English language film was
showing, and so the time just flew by.

8. The airport has the best choice of Port in duty free that I have ever seen, and it just happens to be my favourite drink !


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A LOOK AT LOUSA

 

Although Gois is my closest village and where I go for essentials, The larger town of Lousa is only 14 kms away, and  is somewhere I visit at least once a week.

(Lousa is actually written with a ~  symbol over  the a but unfortunately i can’t manage to get my keyboard  to type it )

Lousa has 4 large supermarkets and a good range of other shops and so I tend to do my weekly shopping there.

There is a food market on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the centre of Lousa , where fresh locally grown fruit and veg are for sale, as well as other bits and pieces.

It is  nice to wander around the older part of town, near to the library , town hall and church.There are some lovely old buildings and lots of places to sit and people watch, as well as a good variety of cafes and bars.

A few other things to do in the area.

Just a few kilometres from Lousa at the foot of the Serra de Lousa ( a range of hills)  is the small castle of Arouce. It is in a lovely pictureque valley with three shrines and  a restaurant nearby. If you wish to see in the castle you need permission from the town hall, but it is still worth a stop off and a wander around, without seeing inside.

If you continue past the castle on the road to Castanheira de Pera you will come to Trevim which is the highest point of the Serra de Lousa, 1,204 metres above sea level. From here you have amazing views, as well as being up close to the many windmills that you usually only see from a far. It is a great place to visit on a clear day, and there are plenty of places to stop for a picnic, if like me you’re picnic crazy !

Go for a swim . Either at the municipal swimming pool, which is open all year, or to the outdoor pool/ fluvial beach in July and August.

Visit the flea/market  car boot  on the last Sunday of the month. It is held near the church in the old part of Lousa.

Visit the  Eco museum in Lousa.

Go toLousa cinema . Movies are shown  most Sundays,( although at the moment there are a series of music concerts on instead, and so it is best to check the Lousa web site )

 

I am sure there are lots more things to discover in Lousa,these are just a few ideas.

You can also check out if there are any fairs, concerts, or other events on by visiting the Lousa website www.cm-lousa.pt