Central Portugal – Off the Tourist Trail


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Picture My week – Where has my week gone ?

This week has been one of those weeks where the time has gone so fast. I can’t believe it is already over a week since I posted my last pictures .

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HOME & AWAY

Last week was a busy week. Most of it was taken up making and finishing jewellery and cards, to put in a Xmas artisan exhibition in Gois.

I managed to take some photos with a friends camera, (mine is broken) but I can’t access them as I am now on holiday in England.

To see what I made for the exhibition, click on this link and it will take you to my art and craft blog, where I posted some photos before I left .

http://craftinginportugal.wordpress.com/my-blog/

The rest of my week was taken up with travelling. I took a train from Coimbra to Lisbon, where I had an overnight stay, before catching an early flight to Manchester.

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Since arriving in the UK I have bought a new camera, and have been busily clicking away, taking photos of everything and anything, to get the hang of it.

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It is great to have a camera again.

I am looking forward to starting my pictorial blog posts again very soon

in the meantime here are a few shots taken with my old ” brick ” camera of my afternoon in Lisbon.

Manchester here I come !

Picture my week 11th – 17th Sept . Two very lovely days.

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This gallery contains 18 photos

Picture My Week – 28th Aug – 3rd Sept . Joy and Sadness

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This gallery contains 15 photos

Picture My Week – Aug 21- 27th A quick trip to Porto for paints …

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This gallery contains 17 photos


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Unofficial tour guide

Last week I drove to Porto airport to pick up mum and dad, who were coming out for a holiday. We spent a couple of days sight-seeing in Porto, before heading back to Central Portugal, and I found an apartment just off Praca Batalha, which was handy for shops,bars, cafes, and the market at Bolhao. The only down side was it was a bit noisy at night, as it was above a bar, but that did not bother my parents, whose hearing is not as good as it was, and I bought some ear plugs.

However to walk anywhere off the main shopping street of Rua Santa Catarina meant steep hills, and so sight-seeing by foot and public transport was not possible.

So after a wander up and down the high street, and a few stops for tea and cakes, we bought a ticket on one of the sight-seeing buses.

There was the Red, Blue or Yellow bus companies, which were all similar in price, and itinerary, and all picked up in Praca Batalha.
We chose the historical sites and river Douro tour on the Yellow bus. For 12 euros it was possible to hop on and off along the route as much as you liked,or stay on for the round tour, which we did.

The double-decker bus was open-topped, with a covered front section. We had seats at the very front, and in the shade, which I was happy about as it was about 38 degrees in the sun !
We were given ear phones, to listen to the commentary, but they were a bit fiddly for my parents, so I relayed the information whist they took in the views.
Although I am more of an independent tourist, the bus tour was a perfect way for my parents.
It is a cheap and easy way to travel around the city, and I would recommend it if you have a limited time to see Porto, can’t/ don’t like walking, or are bad at reading maps and metro/ bus timetables.
Using the hop on and off option, It is possible to see and do a lot in one or two days.
Here are some snaps I took from our bus.

If we had another day,I would have bought a two-day ticket for 15€ and hopped off at one of the Port lodges, for a tipple.
Maybe next year !


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Valencia – A change is as good as a rest .

My 5 days in Valencia could not be called restful. I spent all but one day walking the length and breadth of the walled city, visiting several art galleries, historical buildings, a museum, the main shopping area and the big central market. Okay, I stopped for tapas and a few beers, and to buy some new shoes ( I had to repay my poor tired feet somehow ) but apart from an hour or so on Sunday, where I collapsed on the beach, my time was spent being busy, discovering what Valencia had to offer.

As well as sight-seeing, discovering new art, and impressive buildings, I love just walking around and getting the feel of a place, and seeing how differently it operates.
Part of the fun for me is having to adapt to a different routine. It brings new experiences, and ideas and shakes up my thinking. It also makes me appreciate things I take for granted.

a few thoughts from my 5 day visit.

Bacalhau( Portuguese dried salt cod) was nowhere to be seen. Valencia is home to Paella, and there was lots of that around, as well as loads of other fresh sea food. In fact the menus in Valencian restaurants were mostly fish , (well it is on the coast) here it is mostly pork, chicken, goat and Bacalhau of course.

Tapas bars were all over the city. I love being able to get a “real food” snack, or make a meal out of lots of different bits and pieces. For me tapas are a wonderful way to eat socially.
In Central Portugal, instead of lots of different small dishes, one plate of food here is often big enough for two, and many Portuguese share one dish.

Drinks in Valencian cafes were much more expensive. A café, known as a café solo in Spain, or an espresso in England, cost from 1,00 to 1,40 € . Here it is 0,50, (or with a custard tart 1,20) This was the same with beer and spirits too.

Gin was a popular drink in Valencia. Being a G and T girl, I made the most of it.
I have given up asking for a gin and tonic in the bars here, as I know most don’t have it. I tend to have a beer, port or Ginja here these days. The gin and tonics were a lovely holiday treat !

The street names and other signs reminded me that Valencias first language was not Spanish, but Catalan. It is supposedly closer to the Portuguese language, and so I didn’t know whether to try my Portuguese or use my basic Spanish. I listened to people talking, and as more people seemed to be using Spanish, I dragged my basic Spanish out of hibernation. I was surprised at how easily I was understood. Phonetically sounding Spanish, with only 5 vowel sounds seemed so simple.( Portugal has 14 I think )

On Sundays the bakeries, and supermarkets were closed. Here supermarkets and bakeries are open on Sunday, and I was a bit caught out at not being able to buy fresh bread for breakfast,however all the nearby bars sell breakfast pastries.

The cakes in the bakeries were not as varied as in Portugal. I have a sweet tooth and love a pastel de nata with coffee. I bought an ensaymarda ( a sort of sweet bread covered in icing sugar eaten at breakfast) but it was a poor replacement.

I had forgotten how late the Spanish like to eat out in the evening. Most people have eaten by 8 pm here, and yet the restaurants in Valencia did not start getting busy until after 10.30 and lots of Spanish were eating at mid night. I don’t like eating so late, and so I had my main meal at lunch ( around 3pm ) and then had a few tapas in the evening.

Valencia is home to a drink called Horchata. It is made from ground up tiger nut, sugar and milk and is traditionally eaten with a sweet long bread called a farton. I gave one a go. It had a weird taste, that I can’t describe, and one was enough !
Horchata must have been huge at one time, as around the old town I spotted a couple of very ornate,beautiful buildings, which had been Horchaterias, and old black and white photos showed them full of people drinking the stuff.

So those are just a few observation I thought i would share

I am now back into my village routine again, and appreciating the birds waking me in the morning, my lovely neighbours, the quiet peacefulness, and the lovely nature outside my door.

A change is definitely as good as a rest, but it is also good to be home !