Joined December 2017 Message
  • Day8


    June 7, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

    After much debate we decided that given the weather we would go and look at some art. The Gulbenkian seemed like a good choice, a good chronological stretch and some interesting stuff. Hmmmm
    We got off the metro and the Gulbenkian was discreetly hidden away but we found it thanks to Google maps. When we arrived it was 10e and no student discount. We were a bit miffed at the price, but it had such a good write up in Lonely Planet that we coughed up.
    Pah... It just didn't do it for us, no free range wandering, there was a set order. We were looking forward to the Mesopotamian pots we'd been promised. Nope, one panel and that was it. We hit the cafe as consolation, which also felt unsatisfactory in a nebulous fashion. After a restorative tea and scone we tried again but it didn't feel good. We grumped off to the metro and headed for the Mosterio at Belem. A busy tram and the rain was more serious but we arrived just in time for last entry and no queue unlike earlier in the week. It is an impressive space with some informative displays, especially the time line that layered work events, Portuguese history and the monastery history into a single display. Afterwards we emerged into the by now fairly persistent rain and headed to the tram stop. It was rammed. We had to stand all the way back to the centre and mostly there wasn't enough room to fall over, the crush of bodies held you upright even as the tram lurched.
    Finally we made it back, a quick sit down and we headed back around the corner to Taberna Baixa for dinner. Very good and Mandy came away with the little thimble that the cherry brandy was served in.
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  • Day8

    Tram 28

    June 7, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    A dodgy weather forecast had us planning for a damp day. After breakfast we headed to Martim Moniz Square to catch tram 28, the iconic Lisbon tram before the queues got too immense. We didn't make the first tram, as we turned down the chance to stand all the way, but the next tram reversed into place soon and off we went, rattling up narrow streets and steep inclines, occasionally obstructed by delivery vans parked on the tracks, traffic cones and road digging. We rode all the way to the end, passing viewpoints and interesting looking districts. At the terminus (a big cemetery) we hopped straight back on another crowded tram, even more packed than the first. This meant I (Jo) had my thigh clamped by a guy bracing himself round each corner. When we got back to the Alfama viewpoint, we hopped off to look for the street art we'd seen on the way up. We wandered back through narrow streets and steps as the rain increased, bobbing in for coffee and pastries, and then to a little supermarket for edible gifts.
    We then decided rather than get back on the tram to walk back. We came across unexpected viewpoints and street art by Vhili, and then back to the hotel to drop off our purchases.
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  • Day7

    Towers, Turtles, Tiles

    June 6, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    A bit of a lie in, a decent breakfast and then off to find a tram to take us to Belem. We walked down to the river front and picked up a (sadly modern) tram to Belem, we rode all the way out to the tower.. And a bit oast. Belem as a suburb looked middle class and prosperous, the first houses we've seen. The tram route took us past pastel de nata Belem where they were queuing out of the door. When we reached the tower it was impressive but again a long queue for a small building, we skipped going in and headed towards the mosterio dos jeronimos instead. On the way we came to the 1960s Salazar monument of the explorers with its ott crowd of crew and Vasco de gama. We'd seen it on the Janina /Alistair program and it is quite a sight. In front of it is a mosaic compass rose with a map of the Portuguese discoveries in the centre. At the monument there was a lift to the top which gave us great, if rather cloudy views across the river and across Lisbon. From there we schlepped over to the monesterio where the queues were stupendous. There were an awful lot of coaches parked outside. We decided that the smart move would be to come back at the end of the day today or tomorrow when the cruise crowds would probably be gone. Instead we hopped back on the tram heading for the Museum of the Oriente housed in an old bacalhau warehouse. This was a good if rather disturbing museum. We concluded that Japan / China stuff didn't seem too exploitative compared with say India or Africa where the damage was so great. There were some really good pieces. I was particularly taken by the trade prints of the tea trade and the screens showing encounters between the Europeans and the Japanese /Chinese.
    Next stop the tile museum Inc its panoramic view of pre-earthquake Lisbon. We had some minor transport difficulties but eventually found ourselves on a bus heading to the tile museum. When we arrived the first stop was the cafe which was lovely but had glacial service. We sat with our drinks in a shaded courtyard with turtle pond before heading into the museum proper. This was a converted convent which now houses an array of tile samples. I was very taken with some of the early ones with their rather grumpy looking faces. There was a restoration department with a vast array of tiles awaiting attention, it looked like professional jigsaw construction without a picture.
    On the way round we ended up in the convents original church which had sufficient gilt and art to reawaken all my Catholic Church prejudices... Poverty... Pah. The highlight has to be the 1755ish panorama which has a large space all to itself on the top floor.

    Then back via bus to the riverfront and the walk back to our hotel. A brief recharge of our batteries and we headed out for food. This times recommendation was to take the lift opposite the top of our street where we're would emerge near a taberna. Good food but doleful staff didnt make it feel like the most welcomeing experience.
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  • Day6

    Lisbon first look

    June 5, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Off the train, two stops on the metro and a short walk to our hotel in the heart of Baixa. Nice room, helpful staff and a perfect location. We set off towards the river, wandered into the Lisbon Story where we skipped the story but bought a book. (the siege of Lisbon). We then wandered across the rua Augusta Square and rode the lift to the viewpoint. Lisbon is a lovely city, Terracotta roofs, tiled frontages, and pleasing sense of not being all about the tourists,it feels lived in. From the arch we wandered towards Rossia and found a cherry brandy bar: gingha (sp?) a quick shot and we continued up steps and a steep street to a little square by the Carmo museum where a band was busking and the jacarandas were in full bloom.
    After a sit and gawp we walked down the side of the ruined church to the lift designed by Eiffel's apprentice. There was only one lift operating so the queue was long but made shorter when a party of tourists decided not to wait. The lift was part of the transport system so we had to validate our tickets on entry.
    We drifted back to the hotel where we picked up warmer clothing and a recommendation for where to eat and off we went again. The restaurant was only round the corner, but just enough off the tourist track. Good food, friendly staff and we got bonus sherry from our Nepalese server. Afterwards we took a lift and wandered up towards the castle and had a drink in a bar behind a shop up there. Mandy also bought enamelled heart earrings. We headed back but the lift exit was closed at the bottom now and we had a little excitement trying to find our way out. But eventually we got back to the hotel.
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  • Day6

    Leaving Calheiros

    June 5, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    In the morning the rain wasn't bouncing on the roof but the clouds were low and there was a slow persistent drizzle. We headed to breakfast, where a few of the Italians were finishing up and the delights included a large quantity of strawberries. We had a last fix of the Count's fresh orange juice and it looked like being a solitary breakfast as the Italians departed for their trip to Vigo. But the Moseleyites and the count appeared (himself only briefly as he was leading the trip). He kissed us as if we were friends and instructed us to see his son Luis before we left.
    We left the Moseleyites to it but not before Mandy had been entertained by the sight of Geraldine poking bacon into a hole in a roll. We went for a last soggy walk around the estate to get a souvenir lemon and have a last look at the deer. We saw more of them today including a pregnant female and some fawns.
    Back to wait for the taxi, Luis appeared with a brochure about the place and a little water colour postcard signed by the count.
    Our taxi came and we headed through the rain to Porto.
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