The sun was winning the battle for supremacy in the morning sky when I awoke to the sound of water dripping from the leaves of the plane tree in the garden. It’d rained heavily during the night following a magnificent thunder and lightning show. (Nov 12).
I had a leisurely breakfast on the balcony and could’ve stayed there all day as it grew hotter, basking in the warmth and reading. But I dragged myself away.
Coming down to earth after two fantastics weeks on the Lisbon coast, Carcavelos, Portugal is difficult! Our August holiday was great. As everyone mentions, this is a fantastic location, and it’s a lovely apartment – much bigger than I expected. It’s got shared gardens including a basketball hoop, and space for children to play in. We are a family of four, with Joseph, aged 10 and Katie, aged 7. Here are a few our our holiday highlights.
The beach at Carcavelos is long and lovely – there are great waves to jump in. It’s massive when the tide is out and perfect for playing ‘bat and ball’ or kicking a football. It’s fun to watch sunbathers retreat rapidly from the waters edge as the tide comes in – we got caught out a couple of times! Oh, and it’s sandy – great for sandcastle building. The breeze off the Atlantic keeps the heat down, but we didn’t find the sea too cold, and the sand isn’t too hot to walk on either. Continue reading
We came to Lisbon to celebrate Jenny’s 60th birthday in June 2011 and spent a very enjoyable week in Brid’s apartment that regretfully flew by far too quickly. John has experience as a geographical analyst – pulls lots of data together to determine the optimum location for some particular purpose. He surmises that Brid may have also exercised a degree of geographical analysis to end up in a similarly optimum location – close to a railway station, 20 mins to Lisbon’s Cais de Sodre station, 10 mins to Estoril and 15mins to the end of the coastal line at Cascais, 500 metres to Carcavelos beach and within easy reach of Sintra in the Serra hills, also in close proximity to a supermarket and numerous cafes and restaurants. Transport links were so good that for once we didn’t need to hire a car to mount our exploration. The neighbourhood is also quiet at night assuring a good night’s rest lying in the comfort of a memory foam mattress. Continue reading
It’s mid November and my intention is to see the local parish church of Our Lady of Remedies and to visit Carcavelos’ indoor market. The church’s panels of tiles proved such an attraction to the famous Portuguese writer, Jose Saramago, in 1979 that he made a special detour from Lisbon to see them when he undertook a tour of his homeland. He then wrote about them in ‘Journey to Portugal’. That book was translated into English in 2002.
The weather is beautiful and a lot warmer than we northern Europeans are used to at this time of year – (20C) and perfect for wandering in. The village is quiet and the tree leaves are turning. Luckily the church is open -it isn’t always. A service has just ended and worshippers, mostly older, smartly dressed women pour out. The 17th century tiles are every bit as spectacular as I’d been led to believe. The wall panel above the sacristy door represents the Stigmatisation of St. Francis, and the vault depicts the Adoration of the Magi and scenes of Christs’ Passion. Above the confessional niche is a blue and white tableau of St. Antony preaching to the fish. This is attributed to Gabriel del Barco. I managed to take some photos before the lights were turned off.
On hearing that we were to visit Carcavelos near Lisbon, our neighbours who visit the delightful town of Tavira in the south of Portugal gave us a cut-out from the Sunday Time travel section on the wonders of Sintra, just up the Lisbon coast. They had been close by when visiting the most westerly point of Europe, but they are in for a real treat when they actually go themselves. I’ve a feeling the hills may test them a little despite being used to the hills of the High Peak in Derbyshire – Sintra is close to the coast but the hills of Sintra are dramatic and steep for sure.
It’s the vantage point of the green and rocky hills of the Sierra da Sintra that that led to the Romans, Moors and later the Portuguese themselves to conquer them as commanding and strategic viewpoints. With the advent of the Lisbon-Sintra railway in the C19th the middle classes have used the relative cool of the hills for retreat in the summer months, a little like Shimla in India where the English civil service would retreat from Delhi in the summer. I think we must have gone on a particularly hot day as it didn’t really seem any cooler for us, but then we did walk up <some of> the hills!
When we then walked around the city to see our chosen highlights – especially the view from the Miradouro de Graca (the Graca Viewing point, which is situated on one of the highest hills in Lisbon and is one of the best viewing points of the city) you realise exactly how much ground you covered and the extent of what you did see on the sightseeing tour.
Arriving in Lisbon via the airport, my wife and I caught the airport shuttle service to Cais do Sodre, and even taking this direct route through the city centre took us past some great views of Lisbon. We knew we definitely had to take one of the open top double-decker tour buses around the sights, and with our airport bus ticket we could get a 25% discount on the yellow bus company tickets, so the next day we nipped back into Lisbon’s Cais do Sodre station from Carcavelos to do just that.
About to purchase our yellow bus tickets, we were made aware of the price equivalence of the CitySightseeing Portugal tours (red buses), so by accident rather than design we chose to go on the red bus sightseeing tours – they run both a red and a blue route covering just about all the city highlights. So this comment is really just about the red CitySightSeeing Portugal experience – click on the tour bus image for full details of route etc.