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.