Monday, 23 October 2017

Monday Mural - Under the Sea

Painted in July 2016 for the Muraliza Cascais project, by Portuguese artist and illustrator Kruella D'Enfer, this bright mural was painted at Travessa dos Bivalves 41, in the suburb of Torre, Cascais (Portugal).

For other murals from around the world please follow this link.


Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Portugal - Leaving Porto V

And the day arrived that we had to leave Porto. After packing our bags we relaxed for a short while on the terrace watching the trials for that weekend's Red Bull Air Race World championship, which was taking place that weekend of the 2nd and 3rd September.

Red Bull Air Race World championship

I had first seen these races over the Swan River when we arrived in Perth in 2007.
The event was held here in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010, but there were safety concerns when a race plane crashed into the Swan River in 2010 and there were no more races here.

The previous days we had seen things being installed in the middle of the Douro river, control towers coming up, etc, etc, so it was actually exciting to finally see some action.

My husband was thrilled he could see the first training session taking place that Friday, and sad I hadn't actually booked the apartment for the weekend....but I had no idea the race was taking place then. 

The Arrabida Bridge, and a place going through those inflatable towers 

Photo taken from our bedroom on the first floor with my husband, daughter and partner on the terrace watching the races
After a short while it was really time to say goodbye to Porto and the wonderful time we had there, and we headed to the city of Braga, about 50km North to meet up with a friend from the time when we lived in South Africa.

Our Porto apartment was just around the corner at the bottom of this road


When we arrived I contacted my friend and arranged to meet in the city centre to have lunch and to catch up on each other's lives.

The town was all decked out in white - flags, balloons, window decor - as "White Night festival" was being held that weekend too.
White Night festival
Braga - old monuments & modern solar panel tree

Me, my friend C, my daughter, my friend's husband M and my husband

After lunch it was time to have a coffee and cake at a pastry shop, and with so many choices it was difficult to choose just one! I went with the delicious "white bean cake".

Plenty of cakes, cheeses and Quince marmelade

And it was again time to leave and drive to Cascais (30km from Lisbon), where my family lives, and where we would stay for the next 15 days.

PS: Don't know if you heard about the terrible fires that affected the center and north of Portugal on Sunday and Monday (15th & 16th Oct) - The city of Braga (at top) was affected, but also the city of Leiria, where we had our first family and friends lunch was surrounded by fire. The town where we used to live in the center of Portugal (Carregal do Sal, between Viseu and Coimbra) and surrounding villages were also badly affected. From family and friends that live there I heard that about 70% of the forested area around it has been burned, some people lost their houses, many lost their crops, farm animals and there were 4 lives lost. In total 36 people died that weekend.
I was also sad to hear that "Quinta da Lontra" where we stayed with our family when attending our grandson's christening and our daughter's engagment, has also burned down.
I had sent the owners Toby and Nina a message as soon as I heard about fires in the area, but haven't yet heard from them. Hope they are safe, even though they lost their beautiful estate and business.

You can read about Leiria and Quinta da Lontra, the christening and my daughter's engagement party via these links:        

Monday, 16 October 2017

Monday Mural - Black or White

This mural painted on the building across from where my parents live, was my favourite of about 14 or so murals I came across in Cascais, Portugal. This was certainly my favourite. 

Painted by Moksha - "Black or White" can be found in Rua Maria Auxiliadora, Cascais.

For other murals from around the world check this link:

Thanks to Mariette who sent me a link about the artist.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Portugal - Porto IV

And finally we got to drive to the Douro wine region of Pinhão, 126km east of Porto.

Through winding roads next to slopes covered with grape vines we reached the picturesque town of Pinhao. On the banks of the Douro River, it's a quiet town, but due to it's location is essential to the transport of Port wine and a starting point for those who exploring the Douro valley by boat. 
It's also known for having one of the prettiest train stations in Portugal and also has a railway bridge that was designed by Gustave Eiffel himself in the 19th century.

Pinhão Train Station

The Douro landscapes are easily identified by the slopes which were built in the 1970's in a way that made it possible to plant terraced vineyards, with each terrace surrounded by shale walls. The area has been classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 2001.

Pinhao Train station, terraced vineyards

Tiled panels at Station

The train station, which opened in 1937 is famous for the 24 gorgeous panels of blue and white tiles (azulejos) depicting scenes from the harvesting of the grapes and daily life in rural areas.
We parked our car near the station, took photos, asked for recommendations for a restaurant for our lunch and then walked down to the river's edge.

Views of river from restaurant

We had lunch at Veladouro restaurant across the river beach - it was packed and service was slow, the food was reasonable, fish was fresh, but son in law ordered steak which was quite tough!
After lunch we drove uphill to Quinta do Seixo (Sandeman estate) to join a Port wine tour.

The 19th century bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel

View of village of Pinhao as we climbed to Sandeman estate, bridge designed by Eiffel (top left)

Quinta do Seixo (Sandeman estate)

Sandeman, is a brand of Port wines founded in 1790 by the Englishman George Sandeman. The logo features a caped man - Don - wearing a Portuguese student's black cape and a wide Spanish hat.
The company remained a family business until it was bought out by the drinks company Seagram in 1970 which then sold it to Sogrape in 2001. A descendant of the original Sandeman - George Thomas David Sandeman is a member of the board of Sogrape Vinhos (wines).

The tour guided by the Sandeman Don who explained the production process and the characteristics which make the Douro region so unique.
After the tour you can taste some Port wines  while enjoying the panoramic view of the valley and river.

A boat tour on the Douro

The train going past next to the Douro River

I just can't explain how beautiful the region is, and I don't think the photos convey that beauty and tranquility!
You can also take a train from Porto to this area and travel through some of the most beautiful scenery of Northern Portugal.

And it was time to return to Porto and prepare for dinner with our friends G & J who live there, the same ones with whom my daughter and I had coffee the day before.

While everyone got ready I took some photos from our terrace of the preparations going on on the Douro river for the Red Bull Air Race Championship that would be held there on the weekend (2nd & 3rd September). 

Dinner at Dona Porto/ Drinks at Hard Rock

And guess what?  They asked us to meet them at Dona Porto Restaurant (Rua Campo dos Mártires da Pátria 64) where they eat frequently. 
It was just a short walk for us, and the name sounded familiar, but it was only when we arrived there that we realized it was the same restaurant where we had our first lunch the day after our arrival in Porto.  Great dinner and once again I admired the decor and all the art they had on the walls, and even got an idea for a canvas with Portuguese azulejos ... (will show when I have done it).

Dona Porto restaurant

Image result for hard rock cafe, porto
Hard Rock Cafe - photo from net
After dinner we walked around the area to go and have a drink, but the places my friends knew were full even though it was a Thursday.
We finally settled on the Hard Rock Cafe at Rua do Almada, just off Avenida dos Aliados (Allied avenue) and sat outside. I had a Port Tonic (port wine & tonic water) - just one of the new cocktails made with Port Wine. It was nice, refreshing and not too alcoholic.

And it was after midnight when returned home. The next day we would be leaving Porto.