April 2017
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  • Day12

    Óbidos to Hotel Star Inn - Lisbon Airpor

    April 29, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 57 °F

    Decided it was time to head for the airport so we could get our car rental turned in. Stopped at a gas station near the airport to fill up with gas. Talked to a friendly lady at the gas counter who , when told that I had been to Coimbra, started singing a song about Coimbra. Too funny. A bit further down the road , stopped at a car wash so that we could clean off our dusty car (from our megalith hunting adventures near Evora). Wasn't quite sure how to operate it, but a nice Portuguese guy came over who spoke no English and rattled off some high speed Portuguese at me - had no idea what he was saying, but it did prompt me to figure out the car wash quickly. :) Made it to the hotel around 8pm. Couldn't find parking in front of the hotel, so just drove up on a sidewalk area in front of the hotel and went to check in. Of course, I hit it just as a huge group of kids was checking in. Very nice desk clerk, who advised me on how to get over to the airport to turn the car in. Drove to the airport - barely a 100 yards away, noticed at the last moment the car rental return lane and skidded to a stop. Guy who checked out the car was nice and didn't pay any attention to any dings,etc - gave us a clean bill of health and we were done! Walked back to the hotel, where Janet started packing while I headed for the bar - typical. Was served the biggest glass of red wine I think I've ever had! Downed that, and headed back up to bed for our 2 or 3 hrs of sleep before catching our flight.Read more

  • Day12

    Nazaré to Óbidos

    April 29, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 63 °F

    Headed out of Nazaré for our 22 mile drive to the walled fortress town of Óbidos. Janet had scoped this out in Rick Steve's book. This was a beautiful little town, swarmed with locals at the time we were there. Lots of little shops selling Ginjinha (Portugal's famed sour cherry liqueur). In Óbidos, Ginjinha is commonly served in a small edible chocolate cup.Read more

  • Day12

    Porto to Nazaré

    April 29, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 61 °F

    Got up early, walked over to parking garage and picked up car and headed out. No hassles on getting out of the garage. :) Plugged in Nazarè as our first point and off we went. About 145 mile drive to Nazarè As we drove, we noticed there were quite a few people of all ages walking along the road wearing bright green safety vests. They went on for miles and miles and miles. Janet suggested they were walking towards Fatima. I had my doubts, but a text message using WhatsApp to our hostess in Porto revealed that Janet was correct! And to think that this goes on day in and day out! Impressive. We had thought about heading to Fatima but time was important and we had been to shrines before so we decided to keep heading towards the seaside town of Nazaré, one of the most popular towns along the Costa de Prata (the Silver Coast of Portugal) - a town of fishermen where the women used to head to the sea to wait on their returning men and are known for their tradition of wearing a skirt with 7 petticoats to keep warm. Janet's eagle eye spotted a few of these ladies. I was struck by all the whitewashed buildings and brilliant sun and sea - for some reason , it made me feel like I was in Greece. Using Yelp, found a great place to eat - friendly hosts and very busy restaurant (http://bit.ly/2rnaLhN). After lunch, strolled the beachfront a bit, buying some souvenirs, taking pictures and wishing we had much longer to stay. This would be an ideal beachtown for a vacation.Read more

  • Day11

    Porto - 2nd full Day

    April 28, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 59 °F

    Today was a bit more relaxing. Woke up a bit later - probably didn't leave apt till about 10. Tried to wash some clothes last night. Noticed that someone had unplugged washing machine which we thought odd. Finally found the outlet under the water heater. They had a T where the water heater and the washing machine plugged in, but you had to look for it. So turned on the washing machine, didn't hear any water coming in. Examined the valves closer - looked like someone had shut the water valve off to the washing machine, so I turned the valve and then water started dripping on the floor. Not good - obviously a fitting was loose. Gave up on this idea and texted host via WhatsApp. She didn't even know about it - obviously hadn't checked out apt very carefully before we got there.

    Had some cheese,bread an apples for our breakfast and then strolled towards the old town looking for street art. Not far from the apt we stopped in a little pastry shop and had an Americano and a chocolate eclair. Good for my blood sugar which is a disaster on this trip! For the next 4 hours we just wandered the streets, shooting lots of photos. Stopped near the river for a good lunch at a place called My God, which had lousy reviews on Trip Advisor, but we thought it was excellent. Had grilled sea bass, Breem, with wine - excellent fish, good wine. Don't know what was up with the reviews.

    Saw a couple of good street performers, lots of things to photograph. Another beautiful sunny day. We have had incredible weather every single day.

    Finally back at the apt around 7:30 and now having to get our stuff together for tomorrow. Ugh. Tomorrow we drive back to Lisbon and crash at a hotel at the airport as we have an early 6:05 am flight. Yikes! Plan to stop at Fatima on the way down.
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  • Day10

    Porto -Day 1

    April 27, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 64 °F

    Decided it was time to leave Coimbra to head for Porto. Thought we would make it in 2 hrs but the traffic was intolerably slow. The NC-2 is obviously a truck route. Someone also got clobbered on a cycle so that really messed it up. Finally by 8:30 we made it and after some confusing missteps from the GPS, managed to find the apt. Met by Paulo , a friend of the hosts. He gave us a brief show around (didn't seem to know that somewhere in the apt there was a washing machine). Told us that after 8 we could park on street for free but had to feed the meter or find a parking garage. So after much searching on the Net found an app (www.parkopedia.com), downloaded it and was good to go, finding a place next door that had parking for 21€ for 2 days. Sweet!

    Finally. crashing for the night. Crawled into bed (two singles put together). I felt fine - Janet said -
    "How come there are things poking me in the back?" I felt her side of bed - felt like nothing but springs. Turns out whoever put the bed together put her combo springs/mattress down upside down ! So we had to tear the bed apart and fix that. Haven't mentioned that to the host yet. :)
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  • Day9

    Coimbra

    April 26, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 61 °F

    Well, I'm falling behind on my journaling. Not too surprising - lot of drivng going on from Lagos - Evora- Coimbra - and finally Porto. Took us longer than expected to navigate the IC2 out of Coimbra. Accidents and general slowdowns. Still we got to see all the backroads. Got very mountainous as we neared Coimbra. Tough haul on the little Toyota. Tried to drive onto the Campus - ho-ho ho - were lucky we ever escaped- driving nightmare! I should have filmed a video! Especially when I tried to enter a faculty parking lot with no entrance pass. That made the people behind me happy!! Finally found a free spot across the river to park (should have listened to Rick Steves suggestion for parking in the first place!). Trucked back into town to see the University library, known to be one of the great libraries of the world. (http://worldheritage.uc.pt/en/. - be sure to watch the video ) Claimed the longest and steepest set of stairs imaginable to get up there. Will have to post a photo! The library was ancient and magnificent as you can imagine - no photos allowed unfortunately. (But you will see the interior if you watch the video above)

    Afterwards strolled down through the town doing the usual gawking, shopping,eating.
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  • Day8

    Megaliths

    April 25, 2017 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 70 °F

    The cromlech of the Almendres located in the Iberian Peninsula is a megalithic complex, one of the oldest in the world - 2000 years older than Stonehenge. Drive down a few dusty roads to find these guys!