Walking and city break...
  • Day1

    Starting Out

    May 31, 2018 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    So a slightly edgy start as we hadn't got properly sorted. Adam the house sitter was due at 10am and we were still sorting stuff. We got away by about 11 am (via Mandy's to collect a waterproof and leave some Dreamies for Everest). Up to Manchester to park the car at Dad's and go for lunch.
    We went to Worsley Old Hall which was really busy for a weekday lunchtime but the food was good (and Northern, Inc. Bury black pudding nibbles to start and Bakewell Tart to finish). Dad ran us to terminal 1 where we had a short queue but a long wait for bag drop.... No separate desk so in with all the general check in. Then on to the joy of security which was very thorough... We got the line with body scanners.. And Mandy still got hauled out for a patdown. Baggage checking was really keen almost bags ended up in the hand check queue which took ages (not helped when people couldn't recognise their own bags) mine got stopped because of the hat in the tube and Mandy's had a mint induced check!
    Finally through to discover that the plane was running an hour late. We mooched, Mandy wrote cards, we mooched some more then we got a window seat and waited in the noise and chaos until the flight was finally called. We left around an hour late and the flight was fairly uneventful. We did watch with interest as a very glamorous Brazilian tried to get on the plane during business boarding and was stopped, then she tried during the first row call and was stopped... I don't think she was pleased (we saw her near the front later).
    At Lisbon we found the metro and rode out to the Baixa area to the Lis'bon Hostel. In the dark we could seen grand architecture and steep roads also quite a lot of rather drunk people. A quirky hostel with a fabulous tiny lift and a nice guy on reception who SD us a couple of bottles of beer and lent me a charger cable.... And so to bed.
    Read more

  • Explore, what other travelers do in:
  • Day2

    Day 1Lisbon to Porto and beyond

    June 1, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    We woke early as we needed to get to the station for the 9:30 train to Porto. Blue skies and breakfast on the roof terrace with views out across the rooftops to the river. Also an ambitious pigeon who tried to peck my orange.
    We navigated the easy Lisbon metro to St Apollonia Station and found our comfortable window seats. We had enough time for Mandy to hop off and grab a coffee before we departed. The journey was about three hours along rivers and through small towns until finally we started to see the sea and we knew we were nearing Porto.
    After some wandering about we found left luggage (we'd been distracted by the women selling cherries on the platform) and deposited our stuff so we could head into Porto. First stop lunch at a cafe by the station where we had a hotdog (sliced in two and put in white sliced with a slice of cheese!) and a local speciality called bifana; sliced pork in a bun with a spicy sauce. Then we spent a while trying to work out how to get to the city centre; the station was out in the suburbs. Eventually we worked out that there was a discretely hidden metro station so we hopped on that for three stops and hoped we were in roughly the right area. We emerged in front of one of those blue and white tiled portuguese churches in the heart of Porto. From there we ambled vaguely looking for the Church of San Francisco or the famous bookshop but we had no maps, minimal phone battery and there were no street signs /maps. So navigationally challenged and distracted by the copious quantities of cherries for sale everywhere we drifted until Mandy rose to the challenge and blagged a map from a big hotel.
    Armed with this we set off to find the world's most beautiful bookshop (apparently... According to some survey) we knew they charged 3e to enter redeemable against purchases but we weren't prepared for a grumpy bouncer, a huge queue and a entrance charge of 5e so we will never know if it really is so beautiful... We carried on wandering up and down the hills (Porto seems to be as hilly as Lisbon) and ended at the São Bento Station (apparently the world's most beautiful station... I might be spotting a theme here) but does have a magnificent tiled entrance hall.
    We then hunted around for the again rather discreet metro station - outside, round the corner, no signs in the station to direct you and not much signage above ground. Back on it and with a line change, back to our original station where we were to meet our taxi.

    The taxi ride was around 50minutes taking us north into the hills where we were deposited a a large house on a quiet side street in Ponte de Lima. Our host seemed friendly, very fond of hunting judging by the number of heads and tusks around the place.
    We wandered down towards the river to find dinner. It seemed to be prom season and the restaurant we were aiming for seemed to be a key location so we wandered on and ended up a restaurant with only one other party in it.... And then they left so it was us and the waiter.! We decided to go with traditional Portuguese food... It arrived: big chunks of pork, with black pudding, and other chunks of meat... Inc intestines... Not recommended.
    But the pork was good and the wine inexpensive and drinkable and we finished up with a port: one white and one red.
    Read more

  • Day3

    Help please

    June 2, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Lots of unidentified flowers and trees - help please! Mostly in the swampy eucalyptus forest wetlands, which were lovely, shady, with wild roses and vines scrambling up any available support. It was hot in the sun!Read more

  • Day3

    In the eucalyptus forest

    June 2, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    I thought eucalyptus was native to Australia - is that right? But clearly thriving here. Obviously not the bird season in the wetlands, but lovely walking on land and boardwalks.

  • Day3

    Wetlands walk

    June 2, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    So after a slightly awkward communal breakfast (but with compensatory good cake) we took a taxi out into the countryside to the wetland. We had detailed notes provided by Inntravel and a map and off we went into the forest. All went well although the notes weren't quite as good as on previous trips and so we took a wrong turning at one point. We had a picnic lunch purchased from the hotel so we knew we wouldn't starve and we soon sorted ourselves out. A good walk probably far enough for me (about 9.5km) and finished with a walk over the bridge and a stop to buy custard tarts... Back to the hotel to shower, read and recoverRead more

  • Day3

    Post recovery

    June 2, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    So after our wetland walk we ambled back to spend some time in recovery, sitting in the garden of our hotel and reading. We then wandered back out into Ponte de Lima, we stopped for a quick beer and then a look around the town. There were races going on in the town and a course had been taped off. We watched very briefly and then continued on we settled on what had seemed the most popular restaurant in town last night for dinner. It was good and thankfully tonight we weren't overwhelmed with dodgy cooked innards.... Back to our hotel a short read and then bedRead more

  • Day4

    On to the Count's place.

    June 3, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    So after a rather less awkward breakfast (where we discovered that two other guests were from Moseley... And we had an acquaintance in common (Fiona)) we pack up rather hurriedly as the taxi was early to move our luggage on.
    We set off a little behind following todays route notes which started us off following the camino, which was very clearly marked. No need for maps for pilgrims. The weather was much more iffy and the temperatures around 5 degrees cooler so we dressed for the climate and we're sweating before we were half way. The skies got darker and greyer as we climbed so we ended up with our waterproofs on sweating up hill to the Parco de Calheiros. Which is magnificent, we have a little cottage with a living area and bedroom and free run of the estate. We met the Count who was very engaging in an aristocratic way. He suggested we went and met his roe deer 🦌. We had already wandered around past poultry, pools and groves of orange and lemon trees.
    The deer were fabulous and we the wandered past a coach house, and along more terraces before ending up here in a large room furnished with comfy sofas, a huge fire place and an array of hunting trophies...
    Read more

  • Day4

    A Count, some Colombians and other Europ

    June 3, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ 🌧 14 °C

    When we spoke with the count he said that some riders would be arriving later, on their way to Santiago de Compostela. They duly arrived in a clatter of hooves. Also apparently a clatter of whisky bottles, we saw the bomberio (sp?) emergency services vehicle this was due to one of the riders falling down the stairs. According to the count "his eyes were rolled up in his head and he was completely inanimate" they thought he'd had a heart attack but actually he was dead drunk!
    Dinner was preceded by a drinks reception in a room with a grand fireplace; vinho Verde for most of us though some of the Columbians seemed to have found (more) whisky. Mandy got chatting to a bloke who described himself as a farmer (though a friend reckons it the Bogota polo club people... Not farmers). He made some dubious comments about Feminism... He was against it, Mandy handled it with aplomb leading him into a discussion about machismo. Then we were led off for a tour of the house (which has been in the family since the fifteenth century), stuffed full of antiques but also lots of family photos too. It feels like a home (albeit rather grand) rather than a hotel.
    Then we went into dinner, the long table was filled with Columbians so we were on a side table with a French/Dutch couple who live in Belgium. They seemed pleasant enough until she bemoaned the number of Arabs in Marseille (her home town)..
    then continued about the Muslims in Belgium. Again Mandy was in there but this time with a forceful rejoinder that pointed out that most Muslims rejected the actions of the militants.
    Fortunately the arrival of dinner (bacalhau) a salt cod dish distracted her with a discussion about that was her favourite and how the younger generation didn't bother to make it.... Dinner was otherwise good generously accompanied by more vinho Verde, then port and some pasties de nata.
    Read more