September 4 to 18, 2018
Tuesday september 4 : the alarm clock rings at 4:45 am. We leave the house an hour later, direction Parkineo Orly. At 7 am, we leave the car and a shuttle takes us to Orly airport. Check in at 8 am. Takeoff at 10:20 am. After 1h55min of flight, we arrive in Porto at 11:30 am (local time -1h compared to France). Sixt rent a car, from the airport, makes us take the shuttle to the car rental center. We make the papers and the lady tells us how the tolls work. We must take a subscription of 18 € to Via Verde and then we will be charged each time on the toll motorways. Our car is a Renault Captur.
We go to the Hotel Estoril Porto we booked in advance (200 € for 2 nights with breakfast for 2 people). The street of the hotel is pedestrian, we park in a paid parking adjoining a garage. The room is large (1 bed for 2 people and 2 beds for 1 person), small bathroom that had to be built after because it is, in fact, on the balcony! We drop our bags and we go to visit Porto. We are really close to the Carmelites, the Carmo churches and the hidden house.
There is a Mass in Carmo so we can't get in. We go in the other (free entry) and it's very beautiful.
We will then eat a little (burger for David, hot dog for me for just 9 €) in a snack at 2:30 pm. We continue the visit and we pass in front of the bookshop Lello which is apparently to see. But there is the queue and you have to buy a ticket (5 € / person) and leave the backpacks. We are dropping for the moment. Not far away is the Clerigos Tower (Torre dos Clerigos).
To go to the top of the tower it's 5 € / person and it is full right now. We still take the tickets for 4:30 pm. In the meantime, we will see the Sao Bento train station and its hall decorated with azulejos, the typical faience of Portugal. It is very beautiful and impressive.
There are a lot of people. We go back to the Torre dos Clerigos and go up to the top. The view of the city is great. Then we take the Avenida dos Aliados. We pass the Town Hall and Trendade Church.
The interior is less beautiful than Carmelites. We return to the hotel after buying water and cereal bars for tomorrow. We walked 3 miles. Return at 6 pm. We come out for dinner at the restaurant. We stop at Cafe Luso which looks pretty good. David takes a Francesinha and me a bacalhau (cod) and a glass of Porto wine. And for dessert, pancakes. All this for 41 €. It's not bad but the dishes are greasy. It rains when we leave the restaurant. We wanted to take pictures at night, it's missed. We return to the hotel at 9 pm.
Wednesday september 5 : up at 7:45 am, the breakfast is served from 8 am. It's a buffet. New day of visit of Porto that we start at 8:45 am. Here are the details :
We take the small streets to reach the upper level of the bridge by the Jardim do Morro and cross in the other direction.
We pause and nibble paninis and cupcakes.
Return to the hotel at 5 pm after 7,5 miles. We come out at 6:30 pm for dinner at Ribeira. There is a small restaurant, rather a snack. Then we walk to the other side of the bridge to take pictures at night.
Back to the hotel at 9:40 pm.
Thursday september 6 : up at 7:15 am. Breakfast at 8:00. Departure at 8:40 am for Aveiro. It's a struggle to reach the highway. The sky is overcast and it is 64 ° F. We arrive in Aveiro at 10 am. We park at the entrance along the canal (price: € 1 per day). And we will walk 1 hour along the canal to see the boats type gondola - moliceiros - with their decorations a little gritty,
then the city hall and the Paços do Concelho church.
We leave at 11:10 am for Coimbra where we arrive at 12:15 pm. We park in the parking near the bridge which is also paying. We go to visit the area of the University. We buy the ticket at 12 € / person for the visit of the various buildings, library included (without it is 7 €). The central square is already impressive with its large esplanade and tower.
We enter the building "Reitoria". The rooms are beautiful especially this one:
There is access to an outside corridor which allows to have a view on the city. We will then visit Capela de Sao Miguel, very pretty and decorated with azulejos.
Then we pass in front of the college of letters, the medical school, to arrive at the cathedral quite beautiful too.
Finally, arrive time for our guided tour (no other choice !) of the library. It starts with rather classic rooms and simple decoration and finally the famous room that everyone wants to see in which it is forbidden to take pictures. We do not understand why. But I try one still keeping my device around the neck that hangs on my belly. I aim at chance and I click, fortunately my camera is silent. Nevertheless, I'm spotted! "No photo" says the lady looking at me and me who does not look at her "I'm not concerned" style! I go to the back of the room to continue the visit and look where is the pitbull before redoing 2 more photos. Well, they are poorly framed, necessarily, and one is unclear.
We return to the car at 3:20 pm It is sunny and warm 88 °. Direction the Natural Park das Serras de Aire e Candeeiros. We arrive at Porto de Mos at 4:30 pm. We do some shopping at Intermarche. Then we go to see the castle but arriving there we realize that it is closed for work until 31 October. We then decide to go to natural amphitheater of Fornéa but it is not possible to drive from Alcaria, only on foot. It is already 5:30 pm and we do not know how long it takes to go up. We prefer to go for accommodation for the night. Seeing nothing around, we take the road to Nazare where we arrive at 6:10 pm. We are looking for a hotel: Miramar is full, Miramar Sur is too expensive 153 €. Galley to go around intown. So, we go to the campsite Orbitur and we take a bungalow at 69 €. It is very small with a bed, a kitchenette and a bathroom.
We are going to dine at the campsite's snack restaurant: chopped steak, rice, fries 12 €, it's average. Bed at 9:30 pm
Friday september 7 : up at 7:20 am. Breakfast in the bungalow. Departure under the fog and 59 ° F for Nazare. At 9 am, we go to Sitio which is a hill that dominates the city and the beach of Nazare. We park not far from the city center and from there, we walk to the lighthouse (2 miles round trip). Despite the fog, the view is pretty on each side of the cliff where the lighthouse is.
There are a lot of waves. It is also a very famous place for surfers. We reach the car at 10:50 am and we take the direction of Obidos. We arrive at 11:30 am and we park on the large parking - fee - at the entrance. There is a large aqueduct here. We enter the fortified village and we go to the castle at the other end through the ramparts. Fewer people and views of the village are nice.
A lot of houses are painted in yellow or blue on the corners. At the end of the ramparts, we go down and we retrace our steps through the small streets (1,8 miles roundtrip). It's hot and sunny 26 °. 1:25pm, direction Azenhas do Mar. We fill up with gasoline. We take some pictures of this village perched on a cliff with its "swimming pool" in the sea. There is again fog.
We leave at 3 pm. 20 minutes later, we are in Sintra and we park at Parque de Monserrate. It's a small palace with arabic style. We pay the entrance 8€/person and we start the visit of the palace, gardens and a false chapel ruin.
It's quite pretty. We visited for 1h30 and 1,9 miles. We return to the car at 4:50 pm. We will settle at the campsite Orbitur Guincho (30 € location + car + tent + 2 people). At 6:20 pm, we go to Cabo Da Roca to see the sunset but it's pretty foggy. We will turn around a bit further and we will find ourselves in front of the Cabo Raso lighthouse also in the mist. Pity. We leave at 7:10 pm. We are looking for picnic tables but there are none. In addition, the wind is rising and it starts to cool. We return to the campsite and we find a restaurant, the "O Correio". David takes cod and me salmon (20 €). Not bad. Back to the campsite around 9 pm.
Saturday september 8 : up at 7 am. Disassembly of the tent. We take breakfast sitting on the tarpaulin of the tent! Departure at 9 am direction Sintra. Not the best day to visit the castles of Sintra, it's Saturday! The sky is overcast, 64 ° F and a few drops of rain. We get lost a bit and finally we arrive at the Palacio de Pena, the famous yellow and red castle, Disneyland style. I am disgusted: there is a lot of fog that hides the top of the towers.
There is a queue - there are quite a few people - to take a ticket to the palace and the Castelo dos Mauros (€ 20.90 / person). We queue up again to enter the palace and we make the internal visit ... to queueleuleu! ... The interior is beautifully furnished. When we go out, there is always fog with occasional gaps with a ray of sunshine. Do not miss the boat!
Then we will visit the gardens up to small lakes. 2h30 later, we are at the end of the garden where there is an exit to reach the Castelo dos Mauros.
We spent 1:30 on the walls before joining the car at 2:10 pm (3,6 miles in all). Last visit of the day: the Quinta da Regaleira (6 € / person). We visit the palace,
the gardens with the famous Poço Initiatico and Poço Imperfecto, wells in which we can go down,
the lake and its cave ... It's very nice. We will have walk 3.9 miles in 2 hours with photo breaks. At 5:20 pm, we take the direction of Lisbon and our campsite - Lisboa Camping & Bungalows - that we booked in advance. We take possession of the bungalow (121 € for 2 nights): it is large with a room with a bed for 2 people, 2 beds for 1 person in the "living room", bathroom and kitchen. It is quiet.
Sunday september 9 : up at 7 am. Breakfast in the bungalow. Departure at 8:30 am. We take the bus 714 at the exit of the campground to the Mosteiro do Jeronimos. The bus stop is right in front of the shop «Pasteis de Belem», so we buy 4 pasteis (1,10€ each) that we are going to taste in the garden facing the shop.
It's too good ! Then heading to the monastery, we stop at a hut selling the Lisboa Card (19 € per person) which gives access, without paying more, to buses and some monument entrances including the monastery. This ticket is not a cut-queue, so 1h of queue in the sun. The monastery and the adjoining church are quite pretty but there is not much to see.
We take the bus to go to the district of Alfama. On the way, we see the Time Out Market that Etienne told us about. We stop there to go see. The principle is nice : it is takeaway food of all nationalities around a large "place" with tables. We continue on foot to the district of Alfama. We arrive at the Market Place, it is super big.
We had prepared a route that passes by the Cathedral, the Miradouro Santa Lucia,
Castelo Sao Jorge (that we visit for 6,50€/person),
the church and convent of Graça - where we eat Pasteis again! Then we ended up taking the famous Tram n ° 28 which passes in very small streets. It is tight in the tram but it's typical! We stop again at Time Out Market and we still buy Pasteis but they are with cinnamon, we like less. We then take the bus to go to the bus stop of Mosteiro do Jeronimos. But we can see through the windows the bridge of April 25, so we go down to see it more closely. It's nice, it looks like the one in San Francisco.
Then we go by bus in the Belem sector. It is nice and 82 ° F. We decide to take a little height and climb up Padrao dos Descobrimentos, the white carved "tower" that looks like a boat bow (€ 3.50 with the Lisboa Card).
The view is impressive. We will finally see the Tower of Belem but it is too late for the visit. We take some pictures and then we will eat pasta at Esplanada restaurant. Its good. Now that night has fallen, we go back and take pictures of Torre de Belem. It's nice.
We take again our last Lisboa bus n°714 at 9:40 pm ti return to the campsite. It's 10 pm.
Monday september 10 : up at 7 am. We go to the Decathlon not far from the campsite to buy a table and camping chairs. It is super large and well equipped with camping gear. We will try to approach the great bridge Vasco de Gama. We see signs that lead to the pillars of the bridge. We park at Parque de Tejo, well placed to take pictures.
Departure at 10:50 am toward Zambujeira do Mar. The road takes the bridge Vasco de Gama, that is very long ! We take a few pictures at Zambujeira
then we'll do some shopping at Intermarche by the way. Then we go to Odeceixe Beach. Picnic on a bench overlooking the river that flows into the ocean.
Not bad ! We will then see the mill. We leave for Sagres where we arrive at 6:30 pm and moved to the campsite Orbitur (26 €). At 7 pm, we leave for Cape St Vincent for the sunset. There are plenty of people! The sunset is not exceptional.
We return to the campsite around 8:30 pm and we inaugurate our small table and small camping chairs! The campsite is nice, under the pines, quiet but the toilets are old.
Tuesday september 11 : up at 7:15 am. Back to the Sagres Lighthouse. It's nice. We continue a little to drive to see the coast and we arrive at the beach of Telheiro. Then we go to Fort (it is already 86° F and it is only 10:30 am). The entrance to the fort is 3 € / person. We are not impressed, the Rose of the Winds is not maintained, it is hardly seen in the grass.
Back to the car, direction Lagos. On the way, we stop at MacDo to eat a salad. We arrive at Ponta da Piedade at 2 pm. We walk along the coast overlooking the caves, arches. It is very pretty but there are a lot of people.
In late afternoon, we look for a campsite. We move to Canelas campsite in Armacao de Pera (15,50 € / per night for 2 persons - bar, restaurant, swimming pool, fairly clean sanitary facilities, washing machine and dryer at 4 € each).
Wednesday september 12 : up at 7 am. We will learn in the village for a boat trip to the caves of Benagil, but the hut is closed. We walk a little until 9 am but it's always closed. We're going to have a coffee with Pasteis and we ask the waiter what time it opens. He does not know but he sends us a fisherman who tells us that at this time, there are too many rocks and waves (low tide). Maybe it will be good this afternoon if there is no wind. We do not feel hot, the fisherman! So, we drop and we go to Praia Marinha. From there, start the hike of the 7 Suspended Valleys to Praia Carvoeiro.
We take it to the cave of Benagil, which we see from above.
There are some people on the beach. We come back on our feet because it is hot (93° F) in full sun without shade and without air. We did 4 miles roundtrip (the whole hike is 6,8 miles roundtrip). We will then take some pictures of the rocks of Praia Marinha.
Then we return to the campsite at 12:45 pm. Shower for David who is soaked, I rinse quickly handmade his clothes. Lunch of tomatoes, crackers, peaches. At 3:30 pm, we will see Praia da Rocha. We stop at a craft ice cream shop. Too good. We continue to a point of view in height of the beach. What a horror: a crowd of people on their towels! And towers of buildings in the background.
We then go to Cabo Carvoeiro and its lighthouse Farol de Alfanzina.
Back to Praia Marinha to see if we can take long exposure photos on the rocks with green moss. But everything is under water. In the evening, we go to the village to eat at the Casa da Avo restaurant. We take a Portuguese specialty: a Cataplana Shell Fish, based on seafood (shrimp, langoustines, mussels, crabs, cockles, tomatoes, peppers, onions) and fries (32.10 € the dish for 2). Not bad. Finally, we will eat an ice cream by the sea.
Monday september 13 : up at 7:15 am. Disassembly of the tent (31 € the campsite). Departure for Evora at 9:15 am. After 3 hours of road, we park on the large parking at the entrance of the ramparts. And we go to discover the city. We start with the visit of the Sao Francisco church
and the Capela dos Ossos (€ 4 / person). The latter, which dates from the sixteenth century, is "decorated" with bones and human skulls recovered from the cemeteries. It's a bit creepy.
Then we visit the cathedral, its cloister and tower that allows you to climb on the roof and have a view from above Evora (€ 3.50 / person).
Not far away, there are remains of a Roman temple.
We have lunch near this one in a snack: croque-monsieur on the terrace. We will then do some shopping in Intermarche on the road. We leave at 3:30 pm for the Serra da Estrela. At 7 pm, we take 2 nights (11.45 € / night) at the Piao campsite in Covilha with bar and swimming pool. We put the tent under the pines and we dine. We are attacked by flies.
Friday september 14 : up at 6:45. We take the road – where we often stop to take pictures - that leads to Torre. It is the highest point in Portugal : 6538 feet.
We continue the road to the dam of Lake Comprida. From there, starts 6 lakes hike. We leave at 9:15 am. The beginning is easy on a wide marked path. It rises slightly, which gives a nice view of the lake Comprida.
The landscape is rather pleasant. Then we arrive at Lac dos Conchos which also has a dam and a hole through which the water flows. It looks nice.
We take the opportunity to nibble a little. From there, it becomes a lot less funny, there is no way. Fortunately we have a GPS but we have to go through scrub that scratches and sometimes to the size. I do not like it so much that you do not always see where you put your feet, there are sometimes holes and the roots are not always stable. We pass the Lagoa Redonda, which is a natural lake, no dam. It does not advance in these crap of herbs, it's really very boring. Then comes the Lagoa Seca which, as the name suggests, is dry.
At the end of a long, painful walk in the undergrowth, we can see a small low wall and a wooden pontoon. We trace but we are stopped because it makes "fouac fouac" underfoot. Damn, there is a lot of water, we have to go around. Finally on the pontoon, finished these herbs scratching the calves! We pass above another lake that has its dam, its white "ford" with a red roof and a road that passes by. It's Covao do Curral.
We continue our walk to the 6th lake, Covao do Forno, which also has a dam. Finally, we arrive at 2 pm at our starting point after 4h30 walk and 6,8 miles. We will buy fresh drinks at the shop next to the dam and we nibble. At 2:30 pm, we take the road to Loriga. We take some pictures.
We continue to Unhais de Serra but there is nothing to see. We return to Covilha and camping at 5 pm. We take our showers and we leave at 6:10 pm to see the sunset on the road after Torre with a big rock photogenic. We have a drink while making photos.
We will then eat at the restaurant Luna Serra. The decor is medieval, it's rustic and nice. For 19 €, it is a buffet of starters, cheeses, desserts and we choose the dish on the menu. Back to the campsite at 10 pm. There is a lot of noise from the people at the bar.
Saturday september 15 : up at 6 am. Dismantling of the tent and departure at 8:20 am. We go back to Torre then Manteigas. We see a sign Poco do Inferno (waterfall). We follow the track but it is full of holes and pebbles. According to the GPS, the track seems very long, we turn around. We stop a little further at the source of Fonte Paulo Luis Martins to fill our bottles of water.
It is good and very cool. We arrive at Poco do Inferno. No need to take a track, parking is on the roadside! We put our shoes on, we take bottles and we go see the waterfall and in fact ... it is 60 feet from the parking! And besides, there is no water flowing but the small "pool" is pretty.
That's it, it's done! We will not be tired! We leave for Manteigas. Then we take the road to the Zézère Glacial Valley.
We can also see the Alforfa Glacial Valley. We have a picnic in Torre at 1 pm. In the buildings near the tower, there are traders of local products: cheese, dry meat, bread, crafts ... We leave early in the afternoon. The most beautiful part of the road is between Manteigas and Torre.
We then make a stop in Vide where a small river runs. It's hot 91° F. Then we go to Poco da Broca. There is a waterfall and some kinds of natural pools that delight the locals.
Next stop is at Foz d'Egua. It's also a natural pool with stone bridges.
It's cute, but very busy. The temperature rises to 99° F. We then go to Piodao. We first make some pictures of the village from a distance and then we visit it.
There are only stone houses and no cars in the streets because they are so small. It's very nice. We pause in a bar to eat an ice cream and have a drink. We leave at 5:25 pm. We leave Serra da Estrela. We head north and we arrive in the city of Viseu. We are looking for a hotel to spend the night. The 2 or 3 hotels where we go are already full. The guy in a hotel tells us that it will be complicated tonight because there is a concert and the hotels are full. Damn ! So we go to stop at the next city. It's Lamego. The 1st hotel where we stop is complete, definitely! The 2nd hotel indicated by the GPS of the car, we can not find it. Then we see a sign "camping". Let's go. It is on the heights of the city: Camping Lamego. We arrive late at 9 pm. The lady very friendly and speaks French tells us an easy location to mount the tent in the dark, it is a rotten location but we will not do the difficult. It's 19,50 € for 2, car + tent. We settle up the tent then we eat crackers and madeleines and we go to bed.
Sunday september 16 : up at 7 am. Disassembly of the tent. We discover the campground by day. It is very nice, in stairs with the super house of the owners, sanitary very clean. We have breakfast at the hut, we ordered bread and croissants. We go to see the Sanctuary of Lamego, we saw last night all enlightened. We regret not to have stopped doing photos at night. It is on several levels. It is very impressive.
Its bells sound by making a music. We leave Lamego at 9:40 am. On the advice of the lady of the campsite, we go to Peso da Regua in the Douro Valley, then we stop to see the lock at Folgosa do Douro. We see the cruising barges. We continue to Pinhao where we buy wine at Quinta dos Carvalhos (2 bottles at 14 and 15 €).
Departure at 12.15 pm for the Peneda Gerês National Park. We move to the campsite Ermida Gerês (20 €). Carlos who welcomes us speaks French and is friendly. The pitches are free, sanitary clean and hot showers at defined times. At 4:20 pm, we take the direction of the waterfall of Tahiti. But here, who says water, says crowd. A lot of locals bathe in what is left of water. Otherwise, it would be nice, it's a few pools that flow into each other.
Then we go to the waterfall do Arado. We park at the roundabout which serves as parking and we walk 0,6 mile to reach a stone bridge. From there, you have to take steps to see the waterfall. It is super big but there is only a small trickle of water.
We take the car back to Miradouro Pedra Bella. The view is nice but it is against the light. Back to the campsite at 6:30 pm.
Monday september 17 : up at 6:30 am. On our way we stop for pictures at Rio Caldo. Then we go to Vilarinho das Furnas to see a "sunken city", a submerged village because of the construction of the dam. We park at 9am at the dam and then continue on foot. We are alone. We see some remnants of stone walls.
Back at 10:50 am. On the way, we take a picture of a granary at Germil. Then join Soajo to see the famous espigueiros (name of these granaries). There are several in very good condition.
In one, we see corn. We then walk to a stone bridge, Ponte Ladeira (0,6 mile one way). There are pretty reflections.
Back in the village, we will eat at the restaurant Videira. We take a dish for 2, the Pocha da Cachena. It's beef and gilded vegetables and rice. And for dessert pineapple with Catalan cream. Everything is very good (35,80 €). We leave Soajo at 2:45 pm.
We go to Peneda to see the sanctuary on several levels but it is less impressive than that of Lamego.
Then we go to Castro Laboreiro to see 2 stone bridges. But one is inaccessible and the other, Ponte Nova, is against the light but otherwise it is not bad with 2 arches.
Finally, we take the road at 6:20 pm to Ponte de Braça to find a hotel. We take a room at Fonte Velha (50 € per night + 7 € for breakfast). The room is very classy. We will have dinner in town in a snack, kind of bifanas (8 €)! We pack because we leave Portugal tomorrow night.
Tuesday september 18 : up at 7 am. We take breakfast at the hotel, it's buffet. It's great ! Departure at 10am for Guimaraes. We visit the castle and the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza (12 € for us 2). The castle, in fact, it's just ramparts !
The palace is, on the other hand, very beautiful.
The dining room is beautiful with its wooden hull shaped ceiling.
Even the other rooms are cool. We will then walk in the historic center. We have lunch on a large square full of restaurant (salad and croque monsieur) in front of a church.
We leave at 3 pm towards Porto's airport. We are refueling. We leave the car at Sixt. Then the shuttle takes us to the airport at 4:20 pm. The 7:50 pm flight is on time and we arrive in Paris at 11 pm. Then one more hour of drive to be back home.
Copyright Magali and David BELLEC