Friday, April 20

Pederneira • Lisboa • Porto • Toronto

We leave Quinta das Rosas (a wonderful place - more later) for the Lisboa airport this morning, where we catch a two-stage flight to Toronto. Our second trip to Portugal (our first was last May) has helped us determine that we will return to this 'gentle country' (as Anna, our delightful host here, characterized Portugal) soon.

Bom dia!

Our traveling slogan is No hurry, no worry
Steve Knowles | Susan Markanen

Tuesday, April 17

A day at the beach

We actually visited two beaches, and both before lunch! We are staying just outside Pederneira, which is on a cliff high above Nazaré - a well-known beach town. The beach is stunning there, and we rolled up our trousers and got our feet wet as we strolled up and down (nearly alone) as the surf pounded. We then drove a little south to Salgado, where we repeated our earlier activities (rolled up our trousers, strolled a bit). At Salgado, there were a few fishermen with long poles stuck in the sand which they would occasionally cast into the surf. This beach is basically an extension of the one in Nazaré (several kilometres south), but physically it is different. And, much less visited.

We were also told that the beach at Nazaré had no undertow (therefore quite safe for swimming, etc.), while the one at Salgado is more dangerous in that regard. The surf seemed much the same at both beaches, so this was a surprise. Both were well worth visiting, even if you are not 'beach bunnies' (which we are not).

We then returned to Nazaré for lunch at Sete Saias, which had been recommended to us by Senhor José at Quinta de Coalhos (our previous stay). It did not disappoint, and we enjoyed caldeirada and arroz de tamboril. Both were delicious. And, we found that the owner of Sete Saias was related (by marriage) to our hostess at Quinta Das Rosas, where we are staying!

We did some other stuff, but time is running out for the author - we'll finish this later ...

Weather-wise, it was another great day (a perfect 3.0) in this part of Portugal.

Our traveling slogan is No hurry, no worry
Steve Knowles | Susan Markanen

Sunday, April 15

Coalhos • Pederneira

Another gorgeous day (a perfect 3.0) as we packed up after a short, delightful stay at Quinta de Coalhos. We were in no hurry to leave and spent a little time with our hosts (Senhor José and Senhora Isabel) getting some advice and direction about where to eat and what to see near our final destination, which is just outside the village of Pederneira, high on a cliff above Nazaré, on o oceano Atlântico.

We had arranged to have lunch at Remédio D'Alma, since our dinner there on Friday night (13 April) was such a delight. This is quite a testimonial, since our original plans called for us to have lunch at A Lúria, where we had such a great meal last year. Lunch did not disappoint - Steve had a absolutely wonderful arroz de pato, while Susan had lombo assado recheado com ameixa. A second memorable meal at Remédio D'Alma, accompanied by a nice 2004 Paço de Aviz (Trincadeira).

We then sped down the A1 (unusual for us, but we had some time constraints) in what turned out to be a fruitless search for the Castro de Vila Nova de São Pedro, the site of a chalcolithic ruin. The area was beautiful (once we got off the A1), but the Castro was not evident, at least to us!

The remainder of the day found us slowly wending our way north and west until we finally arrived at Quinta das Rosas, where we had a light dinner on our balcony overlooking the ocean. Not too hard to take ;-]

Our traveling slogan is No hurry, no worry
Steve Knowles | Susan Markanen

Friday, April 13

Terena • Coalhos

Friday the 13th is a travel day as we leave the Alentejo region for Ribatejo. After saying our farewells to Stella at Casa de Terena, we went to Orvalhos to buy some more queijo and pão and have our morning café. The couple that runs the Mini Mercado (for our bread) and the attached café were especially nice.

We then drove leisurely northwards through Portalegre and stopped for a picnic lunch at a lovely miradouro high in the Serra de São Mamede. While it was a bit hazy, the views were still gorgeous. Then, into Castelo de Vide, which is a very nice town. We wandered around for a while and had our afternoon bicas. It turned out to be a very nice day for driving, with only some occasional clouds - 2.5 on our scale.

Dropping out of the Serra, we slowly drove west, arriving at Quinta de Coalhos in the late afternoon, where we were familiarly greeted by Senhor José and Senhora Isabel, our gracious hosts. We had stayed here last year for three nights and very much enjoyed their hospitality and the local cuisine. And, this stay (only two nights) started out very well on the eating front with an excellent meal in Constância at the Remédio D'Alma. Senhor Carlos was our host and treated us very well. We liked it so much that we have arranged to have Sunday lunch there as we leave Coalhos for our final destination (Nazaré).

Our traveling slogan is No hurry, no worry
Steve Knowles | Susan Markanen

Thursday, April 12

Lunch amid the marble

Our last full day in the Terena area found us just puttering about the region, which is pretty standard for us. Our main task was to find the queijaria in the village of Orvalhos. Stella (our charming hostess at Casa de Terena) gave us excellent directions and we were able to buy some of the wonderful queijo de cabra (goat cheese) that we both love. This is standard (picnic) lunch fare for us, which we had today at the foot of an enormous pile of discarded marble (quarried extensively here).

The weather was a solid 2.0 today, despite heavy thunderstorms in the late afternoon and evening. Unfortunately, we have had some rain every day during our time in eastern Alentejo. But the temperatures have been fairly mild and there has also been quite a lot of sunshine. All in all, a mixed bag.

Our traveling slogan is No hurry, no worry
Steve Knowles | Susan Markanen

Tuesday, April 10

Mostly Monsaraz

We took a long, meandering route (pretty standard) to Monsaraz via Reguengos. After a little shopping in Reguengos, we nipped into Spain(!) on our way to Monsaraz. We only went to Spain because it was just really close. So, we crossed the unattended border at the village of São Leonardo (where the road got noticeably worse as we entered Spain) and then turned around and went back to Portugal.

Monsaraz offers some beautiful panoramic views of the countryside, including a large part of the Rio Guadiana basin formed by the Barragem de Alqueva. Having brought some supplies and bought others, we picnicked at the little deserted church directly across from the main complex at Monsaraz. We had the entire area to ourselves and the light rain stopped and the sun emerged just as we started lunch.

A great dinner in Terena tonight at A Lanterna, cooked by Maria, the owner. Stella - our hostess at Casa de Terena - checked (earlier in the day) to make sure that Maria would be making borrego assado tonight. Since she knew that we were coming, she did and we were not disappointed!

The weather rated a solid 2.0 today, despite the early showers.

Our traveling slogan is No hurry, no worry
Steve Knowles | Susan Markanen

Monday, April 9

Alentejo orientation

We spent our first full day in this region just orienting ourselves. Mostly we explored to the north and east. We found ourselves in Alandroal for a late lunch at Arco-Íris, a great little restaurant. It is run by Senhor Manel, who was called the "nicest man in Portugal" by our host at Casa de Terena. We would not argue with that assessment! Steve had bife de atum and Susan had costeletas de borrego - everything grilled.

This area is incredible - goats, sheep and the famous porco preto grazing amongst the cork oaks with their keepers nearby.

Our traveling slogan is No hurry, no worry
Steve Knowles | Susan Markanen

Sunday, April 8

Lisboa • Terena

Today was a travel day as we sadly left Lisboa (which we really like) for our next destination - Terena, in Alentejo, very near the Spanish border. Before we left Lisboa, we walked up the hill to Campo de Ourique for the last time and had café and one last pasteis de nata at a belha d'ouro.

We picked up our rental car near Saldanha about noon and exited Lisboa on the Ponte Vasco da Gama, picked up the N4 and followed it east, nearly all the way to Terena.

The weather was spotty, just rating a 2.0 on the Knowmark Weather Scale.

Our traveling slogan is No hurry, no worry
Steve Knowles | Susan Markanen

Saturday, April 7

Laundry and fado

Our last full day in Lisboa found us spending a leisurely day (what else?). We took full advantage of the sunshine (a very nice 2.5 today) to do some laundry. And, then a very interesting, enjoyable experience with fado in the afternoon in Graça.

Our traveling slogan is No hurry, no worry
Steve Knowles | Susan Markanen

Friday, April 6

A very Good Friday

Today was a perfect 3.0 on the Knowmark Weather Scale: a very blue Lisboan sky, lots of sun and very comfortable temperatures. In the morning, we checked out the place where we will pick up our rental car on Sunday then walked most of the way back to our place. After a lovely picnic lunch in our local jardim, we paid a visit to the Jardim Botânico which was quite empty of visitors.

Tonight's special dinner was at XL, a very good restaurant within walking distance of our apartment, and apparently named after the size of the chef/owner.

Our traveling slogan is No hurry, no worry
Steve Knowles | Susan Markanen

Thursday, April 5

Lunching with Helena

Today's main event (and, we usually only manage to do one thing a day, because we are very slow travellers!) was to have lunch with our Lisboan friend, Helena. We met her last year through The Travelzine and spent a very nice evening with her when we visited Lisboa in May, 2006.

Today we met Helena in Graça for an aperitivo at the miradouro beside the Convento Nossa Senhora da Graça and then lunch at O Jaime. From the miradouro, we could easily see the Basilica da Estrela (about 3km away), which is very near where we are staying.

A lovely day today - 2.5 on our scale.

Our traveling slogan is No hurry, no worry
Steve Knowles | Susan Markanen

Wednesday, April 4

Flora and fauna

Slight modification to our morning routine today - instead of foraging for lunch ingredients, we were after things for dinner. As part of our meal planning, we paid a visit to the Garrafeira Campo De Ourique where on Monday we met a nice young man who was born in Toronto!

Lunch was at the nearby O Correio: shrimp omelette for Susan, grilled salmon for Steve. After lunch we spent some more time in the Jardim da Estrela as the afternoon was sunny and warmer. Later we went further north in the city to the Fundaçao Calouste Gulbenkian where there is a very well-thought-of museum; but we were there quite late and just wandered the grounds where we saw many lovely flowers and assorted fauna: a turtle sunning itself, lots of very noisy frogs and some ducks, including some babies.

Dinner was in our own place - take out frango assado from O Lavador (it really is great chicken) with home cooked baked potatoes and green beans accompanied by a nice Ribatejano wine; and of course, later we had port and chocolate!

A very nice 2.0+ on the Knowmark Weather Scale today.

Our traveling slogan is No hurry, no worry
Steve Knowles | Susan Markanen

Tuesday, April 3

Foraging

After our first night in Lisboa, we quickly established a routine: out for café (uma bica for Susan - uma bica pingada for Steve) at Doce Estrela; back to the apartment for breakfast (yogurt - fresh fruit - bread); up the hill to the Mercado de Campo de Ourique for various foodstuffs; across the street from the market to a belha d'ouro for another café accompanied by the wonderful pasteis de nata (which are excellent at this pastelaria!).

Today's major task was to travel (on the excellent transit system in Lisboa) to the Instituto Geográfico do Exército in northeast Lisboa for some maps that we will use later on this trip when we rent a car and leave Lisboa. They were very nice at the Instituto and we bought what looks to be an excellent 1:250,000 scale map of the entire country (in easy-to-use book form).

This pursuit was actually our second map-seeking expedition here. On Monday, while we were waiting for our apartment to be available (see previous post), we walked to the Instituto Geográfico Português, where we got a few topographical maps (1:50,000 scale) of a couple of the places we'll be staying later on this visit. Steve (aka map boy) had been corresponding with a very nice man at the IGP (João Carvalho), so we knew they had some maps that we would find useful. And, they look great.

The weather is improving - a solid 2.0 today.

Our traveling slogan is No hurry, no worry
Steve Knowles | Susan Markanen

Monday, April 2

Back to Lisboa

We arrived quite early this morning (about 7am) after an uneventful flight on SATA from Toronto. The broker for our apartment (Mary Goudie) met us at the apartment just after 8:30am. We were able to drop our luggage and have a brief look around, but couldn't really take 'possession' until about noon. Mary showed us a few places of interest in the neighbourhood (Estrela), including a very nice place just up the street (Doce Estrela) where we shared a café.

After Mary took her leave, we spent some time orienting ourselves, then back to the apartment, and finally some lunch at O Lavrador (which is just metres from our door). We had wonderful frango, the famous grilled chicken of Portugal. It was the best that we had ever had. Finally, a late afternoon siesta (which went a long way to sorting out the time difference) and then dinner at (unknown restaurant, which we will update!), sharing a pork dish with mushroom sauce. And, a fairly early night.

The weather today was not great - only 1.5 on the Knowmark Weather Scale. There was rain off and on, plus it was fairly cool.

Our traveling slogan is No hurry, no worry
Steve Knowles | Susan Markanen

Sunday, April 1

Toronto • Lisboa

We leave on 1 April for our second trip to Portugal, which will last for just less than three weeks. Our journey begins in Lisboa (after an overnight flight from Toronto on SATA).

We plan to stay in the following places:

Our traveling slogan is No hurry, no worry
Steve Knowles | Susan Markanen