Portugal

Perfectly peaceful Porto…

I’ve been to Porto a few times before, so this trip I simply wanted to chill out and enjoy the various neighbourhoods of Porto. Nevertheless, there was one thing on my list that I simply had to see: The Lello & Irmão Bookstore! Seeing as though I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, I just had to see it. BOY WAS IT AWESOME! The only thing was that there were too many people in here, this was all the time… Our Airbnb was close by, so we’d always have to go past the book store when going into town, we’d peek inside to see if it was full, sometimes we wouldn’t even have to peek given the huge line out front… In any case, it was still awesome – you should definitely check it out!

We hung out along the river Douro quite alot, and the night shots are taken on the city side of the river. On one of the days that we were just walking around, we crossed the Ponte Luis I bridge and there was a young man preparing to jump off the bridge and into the water. He was gathering a crowd before doing so…. he was fine. We then crossed the bridge and saw a whole bunch of people jumping into the water (disclaimer it was boiling hot!!). There was even a group of men dressed up in weird outfits, continuously jumping into the water – it was actually quite funny!

We stayed in an Airbnb on Rua de Cedofeita, our hosts were really nice and the apartment itself was bright and spacious. Great location as it was where the locals mainly lived, so there was also local bakeries and grocery stores. The end of the street towards the city was pedestrianised and was a shopping street.

In terms of food, we found amazing restaurants on Rua das Taipas. The first one we discovered was called Tia Orlanda, which was food from Mozambique. The staff were amazing and the restaurant was VERY FULL! it seemed as though alot of people had booked prior to coming for dinner, we were lucky that there was one table for two. The food was simply amazing, plus it was cheap! The second place we discovered was at the bottom of the street (I can’t recall the name) but we had fish and rice – was amazing! We sat at the back, outside, where we had a view of Porto – truly amazing! I would definitely recommend exploring this street as the restaurants were cheap yet also really good!

Beaches of Porto

The beaches of Porto remind me of the beaches back home in Australia – particularly from the South Coast (where I come from). The sand beneath my toes and the warmth of the sun was simply amazing!

We caught the bus that goes along the river (sorry I don’t remember the number…) and we made our way to Matosinhos beach. It wasn’t over crowded yet there were quite a few people at the beach. There was a little bit of wind, but the locals had that covered – I noticed that when people first arrived at the beach they would erect “wind stoppers” and sit on one side, brilliant idea! We walked along the coast and we encountered a fishing area – there were loads and loads of restaurants along the street that were barbecuing the seafood. We wanted to get away from the smoke, we finally found a fish restaurant and had one of the best lunches ever! The seafood was amazing: SO FRESH!

The next day my friend wasn’t feeling so well, so I left her at the Airbnb and medicated her and made my way to Sao Bento train station. I bought a ticket Miramar (didn’t cost much and it only took about 20mins to get there!). Miramar was absolutely beautiful!!! The first thing I noticed was a tiny chapel on the beach. People were scattered and this beach wasn’t as busy as the previous day. I settled down and had some lunch that I’d packed. During this time, my feet absolutely burned (it was only 20mins!!!). There were a few cafes and restaurants on the promenade, so if you don’t pack a lunch you can always find food close by….

The beaches of Porto were very beautiful and reminded me of home – too bad my feet got burnt…

 

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When a Portoan meets a Gondomarian…

I went to Porto in the first week of July to attend my friend Dani’s wedding. She is from a town of Porto called Gondomar and Joel is from Porto itself – hence when a Portoan met a Gondomarian…

It was a beautiful day: the sky was bright blue and the sun was shining – perfect day for a wedding!

The ceremony was held in the gardens of the reception venue with rows of white chairs with a gazebo at the end, and a red carpet through the middle of the chairs. Dani walked down the aisle, looking absolutely stunning, and met Joel at the gazebo. The civil ceremony was performed, a kiss sealed the wedding and husband and wife walked down the aisle whilst guests fluttered the potpourri over their heads.

We then made our way over to the lounges for drinks and nibbles. The venue was absolute class! I felt like I was in LA, white leather lounges were scattered all around the gardens with a pool in the centre of the main outdoor area. It was such a sight!

As the sun came down, we were ushered into the reception lounge and we all took our seats. There were multiple courses, we ate and ate and ate some more! Really late into the evening, we were asked to stand around the pool while the bride and groom cut the cake. We were also each given a white balloon with a twinkling light inside. We all released them at the same time – it was such a sight!

We all then danced the night away….

It was a really enjoyable wedding, I wish my friends Dani and Joel a life full of happiness together….

 

Tile (Azulejos) painting in Lisbon

When you’re in Lisbon, the first thing that strikes you is the tiles – they’re EVERYWHERE! they are beautifully painted and cover the facade of apartments in the city. The most common colours I saw were the blue and white ones with geometrical patterns, so so nice!

So my friend who is a local, booked us in to a tile painting class (teacher’s details are below) or Azulejos as the Portuguese would say… The class only cost 15EU where we painted two tiles. She had drawn the pattern on with lead pencil and she demonstrated how we should paint and how dark each section should be. It was really nice in that it was only us three and the teacher. Her English was good enough and she had even researched the correct English words to use – which impressed me, it showed that she cared…

In the end, we all painted a village woman and for my second one I chose to paint a yacht (I love boats!). She had to put them into the kiln so we didn’t get a chance to get them back as we were leaving the next day. However, the teacher dropped them off to my friends house and has them safely (soon to be picked up on another trip to Portugal…). I filmed a bit when the teacher was instructing/demonstrating (apologies for the low light…) and I’ve inserted this video below.

I definitely DEFINITELY recommend attending a tile painting workshop! It’s not difficult and it’s alot of fun – plus it’s actually relaxing. Plus it’s a cultural thing – so go for it!

Azulejos Artisticos

Marie Caroline Vidal

mariecarolinevidal@hotmail.com

No: 934 144 520

Facebook: Workshop-de-Azulejos

 

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Beautiful beaches of Lisbon

As an Australian, I really appreciate the coastline of Lisbon – they have actual beaches! not the stoney beaches that I’ve seen in the UK…

And the beaches stretch endlessly – and they are clean! so so beautiful!

The only bad thing that I can say is that I don’t like the development on the beaches ie the stores, cafes, the sun mat hiring places. Beaches should be kept natural – best way to conserve them. I’m so glad that the beaches in Australia don’t have any development on them – I hope it remains like that…

The beaches that we went to were: Estoril and Caparica. Estoril is on the same side of downtown Lisbon whereas Caparica is on the otherside, ie you have to cross the bridge. Both are about 30mins drive from Saldanha and they aren’t over crowded.

The day we went to Caparica, there were a group of kids with bicycles with parachutes attached to the back, where the wind was providing momentum – it looked like so much fun! I walked along this beach, the weather was warm and it reminded me of home…

Seeing this coastline of Lisbon, really makes me want to see the Algarve – which is supposed to be really really nice! Definitely going on the bucket list!

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this is actually a lighthouse (so I'm told...)

this is actually a lighthouse (so I’m told…)

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Caparica

Caparica

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Streetart of Lisbon

Lisbon has a great street art culture. There are different types of work scattered throughout the city. One that I kept noticing was always when we were driving somewhere and I couldn’t take a photo of it. It’s work by Vhils – I absolutely love this guys style! It basically looks like he has scraped out the wall and thats how he gets his images. I can’t describe it so just click on the link…

There’s alot of streetart also at the LX Factory – various styles from cartoonish to screen painting-like to graphics…

I honestly didn’t get a chance to take photos of all the streetart I saw, but here are the ones I managed to capture, enjoy!

Click on the images below to enlarge them.

 

Pastéis de Belém

Now because I’m a bit of a foodie (others may call me a food snob), I am dedicating an entire post to the ever so delicious Portuguese tart: Pastéis de Belém.

My history with this particular goodness goes years back as I was first introduced to this speciality by my good friend Nancy – who has a Portuguese background. When we were both living in Sydney city, she took me to the Portuguese burrow of Petersham. We went to a cafe called: Sweet Belem Cake Boutique. The first bite was AMAZING! Just biting into the pastry makes all the flakes get on your clothes, and honestly, you don’t mind, because it tastes oh so good! So this became a regular “go to” place for me. The last time I went here was with a friend visiting from Porto years ago – who actually said that these pastries were as good as where they were from originally = BELEM!

So there you have the history of my obsession with these tarts… A few years ago, I visited that same friend in Porto and there the name of this pastry is called Pastel de nata. They were ok, but not WOW…

On this trip, I was very excited to be having the real thing = FINALLY! So when we all sat down and our Pastéis de Belém arrived with our homemade lemonade, I wanted to squeal with delight. I ate all THREE!!!! they were oh so YUM! I then got some for take away (will not disclose the number…) and enjoyed some more later on the beach…

If I haven’t convinced you to try the real thing – you simply don’t understand how good it is. It is DEFINITELY worth it! If you do nothing else in Lisbon and just go to Belem to get the pastries – I’d declare that an awesome trip in itself! I really am not exaggerating – they are simply YUM! Oh and just a note: do not wait outside in the line like all the other tourists, go and find a seat inside, the place is massive and you won’t wait as long! You can also see the place where they make them, take them out of the cases etc, it’s simply brilliant!

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