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Portugal V (last part)

Some weeks went by since I visited Portugal in mid of February and started to share my impressions with you in a series of posts. This one will be the last one for now. But I will be back in April with new pictures of a new city (hopefully :))! Enjoy.

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What is truly great about Lisboa and Porto and what I didn’t mention before is the great choice of hostels here. Portuguese hostels win competitions on hostelworld and hostelbookers almost every year and they definitely deserve the prices! A lisboan hostel I can recommend from own experience is the Good Morning Hostel on the Praca dos Restauradores in the city centre. The people there were lovely and very helpful. We cooked together and had a great time. If you go to Lisboa check it out

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Honestly I can’t remember the name of the church, but it was most certainly in Porto. The city has many magnificent churches, some of them made of pure gold. They are remains of a colonial era in which Porto became on of the richest cities on the Iberian peninsula thanks to trade and the importance of the local harbor. + I miss the blue sky terribly.

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Number 28 again as seen on a rainy day in Alfama. My favorite part of the old town. Especially the surroundings of the Castello are beautiful and very charming. A nice part of the town for a walk, but you shouldn’t mind steep hights 😉 In case there is always a tram to bring you up & back.

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A panorama picture of Porto. One day was definitively not enough for Porto. Although there are not many traditional “tourist sights” here the city doesn’t need them at all. It is the maritime flair, the port wine and last but not least the architecture and the small streets which are selling Porto and making it so attractive (especially for Britons we were told because there is a cheap connection from London introduced recently).

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There had to be a cat picture at some point 😉 I get her anger, probably wouldn’t enjoy it either if someone would point a camera on me 10 cm in front of my face. So I was a bit of a cat paparazzi here. Guilty as charged. Still cute 🙂

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The end of the world. Almost. The end of the European continent at Capo da Roca 3000 km from home. An amazing, almost spiritual place. But unfortunately we had bad luck with the weather, the wind was awful and cold as ice so we had to return rather quickly. Our hope to see the sunset stayed unfulfilled either. It was beautiful nontheless.

Portugal Part IV

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Hey! I hope you all have a great week so far! Actually I wanted to bring the Portugal series to a worthy end with this post but as there are some good shots left there will be one more 🙂 As always hope you enjoy!

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Lisboa, Alfama. We didn’t try neither Sangria nor Caipirinha. Wine is quite cheap even ordered in a restaurant (but not as cheap as in Sicily). I like Sangria though, guess I have to visit Portugal again to try the Portuguese one

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Another shot of the great Mosteiro do Jéronimos in Bélem. The entry was a couple of Euros and it was very much worth it. It was great. Our (first) hostel was around the corner practically. The tramway line leads straight into the city centre, our daily commuter. Not always as modern as this one sometimes cranky and out of wood, but even more charming!

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A busy street in Lisboa. As I wrote in previous posts Lisboa is interesting because it is very much European in every sense of the word but also kind of out of time and laid down. A bit like a living anachronism. You don’t have a McDonalds and H&M on every corner (I didn’t say there are none of them ;)). There are many small shop and handcraft, even shoe cleaners. At the same time it is not stressful at all like Italy (♥) or other southern countries sometimes tend to be.

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Self examining seagulls. You are pretty – don’t worry

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One of many traditional wine distilleries in Porto. Well, that is not entirely correct. Actually the distilleries are on the other side of the river in Gaia. On paper it is an independent city but most consider it part of Porto anyway (and the wine is called portwine in the end isn’t it?).

So what is actually the story behind portwine? It is stronger and sweeter to be more durable during long ship journey’s. One day an englishman came to Porto, liked the local wine and took a bottle as souvenir to England. It turned out to be a hit and englishmen – being englishmen – did start to settle down in Porto and make businesses out the production and shipping of the wine. Now this small local tradition became truly global. By the way you can visit these distilleries – like the above Sandeman – and taste all the wines! The 10 years old Sandeman was my personal favorite

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Let’s stay with food 🙂 Usually I don’t like food pictures – we see enough of them in advertisement and they make hungry – but unfortunately I guess I have to make you hungry right now. Because I feel like a Portugal recapture could not be complete without a picture of a gorgeous gargantuan amazing good deadly Francesinha.

So what is it? It is a toast with different kind of meat in a cheese crust dunked into tomato / wine sauce (with about 2331859 calories). I’ve never heard of it before and the story behind of it is kind of great: In the fabulous 1920s there was once a man from Portugal traveling to Paris liking all the beautiful girls there (get it). That was a contrast for him as he only knew the not so outgoing (very catholic country) and very thin Portuguese girls. So he invented the Francesinha – small French – to make the Portuguese girls gain some weight and make them all hot 🙂 I guess it worked out quite well.

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In the background you see the bridge of the 25 of April in Lisboa. It is a magnificent bridge and I talked already about it in a previous post. I guess the view speaks for itself.

Portugal Part II

This post is a continuation of the one I published some days ago about my Portugal journey in mid of February. It was a good choice to travel there in February by the way. There aren’t many tourists and you meet a lot of locals. The temperature (around 15 to 20 degress Celsius) is perfect for walking around, but there is a good chance for rain though. So that’s a bit of a risk. Although I was in the sea for a couple of minutes (I promised it to a friend) in general I can’t recommend going for a swim in winter 😉 Unless maybe you are Russian and practice one of these crazy winter swims being shown on TV. Anyway the water was darn freezing.

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View out of the Torre

So maybe it is a better idea just to look at the sea, for example from the Tower of Belém. You get a great view and the architecture of the tower, build in the 16th century, is fascinating by itself. Actually this isn’t the Atlantic but the Tejo River. Unfortunately it was quite foggy this particular morning and you can’t really see Almada, the city lying on the other side of the river bank.

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I liked these small grocery stores very much. You don’t see them very often in Vienna anymore sadly. We had a funny experience in a small shop selling handcrafted ceramics. The old lady spoke Portuguese with me even after I signalized that I didn’t understand it. But she realized that I didn’t get the price so the old lady showed it to me with her hands hereby teaching me how to count in Portuguese. Then the charming woman said something like “Good Schoolboy” and we had a laugh. And in case you wonder about the odd sign of the above shop. I wonder too 😉

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The “waterfront” of Porto is definitely the most AWE-inspiring part of the city. In this town we joined a free walking tour due to our short stay (just one day). A young teacher showed us her city with much dedication. There was an old women monastery out of pure gold. Replying to my question about protection measures she just said “These kind of things don’t happen here”. Her love for Porto was insipring and uplifting. But she also talked about the hard times Portugal is facing due to the finance crisis these days. There are many young people without jobs and it looks grim unfortunately.

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A narrow street in Porto. The Portuguese are fond of cute dogs (I think I didn’t see any big ones). They are everywhere! This particular one followed me a while but lost interest in me after seeing a cat and chasing the poor little thing.

Red Rooftops of Lisboa

In the background you see the Cathedral of Lisboa in a similar style as Notre Dam  (I guess at this point architecture lovers will shout uncontrollably). The picture was taken from one of many viewing points, so called miradouros. You see the Baixa (downtown) and parts of Alfama, the higher part on the eastern side of the old town. Needless to say the red rooftops are magnificent.

Portugal Art

Portuguese are definitely keen on urban art. I didn’t like everything, but this piece was cool. Maybe you would think the tiles are unusual and quite modern here. But in fact Portuguese use tiles a lot. They are called Azulejos and have a centuries old tradition in Portugal. Wanna know more about them? Well I guess then you have to tune in for Part III in a couple of days ;)*

* or you read the wikipedia article, but ppppssss.. don’t tell anyone.

Portugal Part I

February 2013

In the midst of Austrian winter I embarked on a week long journey to a warm and friendly place at the most western point of Europe. Portugal was amazing and I would like to share with you my impressions in a series of posts. Here we go with the first one..

Striking and very interesting was the difference between Porto and Lisboa. One being the name giver of the country, the other the actual capital. While Lisboa is undenyingly an European metropole there is also a provincial charme about it. Being in the Baixa (downtown) you would think you are in an old 30.00+ town, but when you go up to one of the many (I say again many) viewpoints you will discover that you are indeed in a pulsing capital. Porto just screams life. There are these narrow streets full of history, churches out of pure gold (which will take your breath away), superb restaurants and lovely people. And portwine 😉

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This statue stands in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belém, Lisboa. Laying a little bit outside of the city core Belém is an important cultural area. We slept in Belém for the first nights and it was perfect to discover the sights here, like the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (a beautiful monastery of the 16th century and World Heritage – see down below – ) and the Torre de Belem (tower from the same century and symbol of the city).

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A birdview of Belém. You see the mentioned monastry. Once Belém was situated outside of the city and after the earthquake of 1755 there were ideas of rebuilding the destroyed Lisboa in Belém, which did not suffer as much from the catastrophy.

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One must love these precious yellow trams. Especially the ones going from the lower parts of the city to the higher parts. The view is amazing, the atmosphere unique. Basically the center of Lisboa can be diveded into a valley (Baixa) laying between two hills (Bairro Alto – seen here – and Alfama), the trams connecting them. A line crossing all these neighborhoods is Number 28.

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In the background you see the bridge of 25 de Abril, connecting the independent city of Alamada with Lisboa. It is a suspension bridge and often compared to the Golden Gate bridge. In fact it was build by the same company and constructed in a similar style because of the thread of earthquakes both cities are constantly facing.

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While the earthquake of 1755 could be felt in Porto too the city was not destroyed and so are the houses much older. But besides of that the buildings of the city seem narrower and have an own charme different of Lisboa.

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