A Quick Trip To Portugal

Hello, my viewless blog! Sorry about making you wait but I was away in Portugal on holiday, checking in on the old family. It was a lovely week spent walking around with my boyfriend around Cascais, Sintra, Lisbon and Reguengos de Monsaraz. Unfortunately the sun didn’t decide to grace us with his company much.

I’d like to share just some of the things I did on that week, and I shall do it by day.

DAY 1: Praia do Guincho

This was one of the two days that the sun decided to show itself from behind the clouds. The moment I saw the weather was fine, I urged my boyfriend to go to Praia do Guincho, a gorgeous beach in Cascais which we always visit whenever we go to Portugal.

We got on (what used to be) my Peugeot 107 and drove (oh how I love to drive) to the coast.

It always takes my breath away. The long beach, the sand dunes, the blue and cold Atlantic Ocean. Almost indescribable. And that’s why I took pictures!

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The tide was out and all the rocks were glistening in the sun and completely covered in mussels. We looked around to see if we could find any other sea creatures, and were only able to find some anemone and a few birds pecking at the rocks. All in all, a great day.

DAY 2: Palácio da Pena

The following day the weather wasn’t as forgiving. When we left the house it was sunny. We stopped on our way to Sintra to buy some sandwiches and when we came out of the shop the sky had been covered with dark clouds and by the time we reached the palace in Sintra it had already started to drizzle.

Anyway, we didn’t let that stop us, after all we live in England and if we gave up on our plans every time it rained we would never do anything.

Palácio da Pena, or Pena Palace, is a unique building built by one of our kings. According to my mother, who reads a lot of historic novels, he built it out of boredom. You see, he was Spanish and our Queen Mary refused to get him involved in state affairs, so while she was running the country, he created this beautiful palace as he was very into architecture.

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We were lucky enough to be able to see the fantastic view before the mountain was swallowed up by mist. You see, Sintra has what we call a microclimate, which means it’s quite different from other areas of Portugal. It’s quite damp and stuffy and everything is green and covered with moss.

DAY 3: Reguengos de Monsaraz

To be honest, we stayed in on the 3rd day so I’ll just ignore that one.

So, on the “3rd day” we drove down to Reguengos de Monsaraz where my mother’s side of the family is from. It’s a small town in Alentejo quite near Évora and it happens to have been nominated this year’s European Wine City.

First stop was at my aunt’s place for a lovely lunch (with a bit of wine of course) and then we drove up to Monsaraz, a city whithin a castle. It has a wonderful view and really interesting streets. Nowadays there are a lot of shops and small hotels and apparently it has a growing gay population, which is a bit unusual for the close-minded atmosphere of the countryside.

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Of course it was raining. Actually, it was pouring. Rivers of water were rolling down the cobblestones, and I was wearing a dress. But it was still a lovely day, and I was able to get some nice pictures.

DAY 4: Vila Viçosa

With the weather still hideous we decided to abandon our plans to have lunch in Badajoz (Spain, as Reguengos is really close to our neighbouring country) and went to visit Vila Viçosa instead, near Évora. Another town with another castle. There seem to be quite a lot around the area.

Vila Viçosa is a quiet town, with lots of churches, a castle, a palace and a beautiful hotel. We walked around (it was raining, as per usual) and went searching for a church my grandmother had mentioned that morning.

At some point in our history we had a line of Spanish kings. Of course, Portuguese people were not too thrilled about this and there was a revolution. The Spanish were kicked out and King John IV was crowned. However, he decided to put his crown upon the head of the Virgin Mary, and after that no King wore a crown in Portugal.

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So we were searching for the crowned Virgin Mary, as it still sits there in Vila Viçosa. We went to two different churches and the third was closed. Of course, that was the actual church but well, it was still a nice day, and we had some lovely coffee at the hotel.

DAY 5: Lisboa

On our last day in Portugal, we went to Lisbon. We were lucky enough to get a ride from my mother to Belém, where you have a lot of turist points. You have the Belém Tower, the CCB museum of modern art, the Jerónimos Monastery and the Electricity Museum (where you have the biannual children’s illustration competition exhibition). It is also, of course, the home of the famous Portuguese custard tarts (or Pastéis de Nata). And there’s where we went. And oh god, they’re so delicious.

Then we caught the train to Lisbon and had lunch with my aunt in Trindade, a really old restaurant that serves delicious steaks with a mouth-watering sauce. I completely recommend it, even though it is a tiny bit pricy. After that we went to visit a new pop-up shop callet NutChiado, where they make all sorts of desserts with Nutella.

Alone again, we walked around looking for souvenirs and then went towards the river as the weather was nice. We found a nice little bar right by the river with some nice street musicians, it was really pleasant.

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And that was the end of my lovely Easter holiday. I am now back in London back to working, commuting and reading TimeOut on Tuesdays. Tomorrow I’ll tell you about a small adventure I had today.

Hope you enjoyed your Easter holidays and watch out for the weirdly hot day that is coming up tomorrow!

Until next time,

Inês

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