Wednesday 26 April 2023

March Wrap-Up - Portugal (Sintra and Batalha)

Wednesday 15th March - We drove from Aveiro to Carregal do Sal, the small town where I lived for 12 years prior to coming to Australia. I still have some family there (both my parents were actually born there although they live in Cascais (30km from Lisbon), and I still have many friends with whom I had arranged to meet up.

Karina and I stayed at the house of my second cousin and wife, who have a fantastic house with indoor pool. I even took part in an aerobics class he has twice a week in his pool. 

The small building where we used to live (2nd floor duplex above garage). My cousin's indoor pool

I met with my friends at a Cafe and we had a couple of hours to catch up on each other's news.

We had dinner out with my cousins - traditional Portuguese food at a small restaurant where just the entrees were enough to fill us up. But of course, we couldn't leave without dessert. To tell you the truth, I'm actually not a fan of some of the more traditional food like tripe, but I ate broad beans with chourizo.

Bones, Broad beans and chorizo, Tripe -  Fresh cheese with pumpkin jam, Creme brulee


Saturday 18th - After breakfast we drove 2,30h south to Cascais. Karina dropped me off at my parents and drove to Lisbon to meet up with university friends. 

That evening the whole family (my parents, sister,brother in law, Karina and I met at a Restaurant "Jardim da Luz" in Lisbon to have dinner with my brother-in-law - Jose's younger brother who lives in the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores. He flew over for the weekend to spend Father's Day with his daughter who is at University in Lisbon and to meet up with us too of course.

The interior of the restaurant was beautiful, and the food was good too.

Sunday 19th - Father's Day, and the family took Dad to brunch at Kafeine restaurant in the Cascais Marina

After brunch Karina said her goodbyes as she had to go to the airport, hand in the rented car and fly back to Cologne in the late afternoon. It was lovely spending those 2 weeks with her.

Cascais Marina

Brunch - bacon, mushrooms, eggs, avocado, halloumi cheese
A last photo on Father's day before Karina left

It was such a nice and sunny day and we headed to the nearby Marechal Carmona Park for a walk.  I found some murals too :)

Monday 20th - In the morning, I went with my parents for a walk in a park near their neighbourhood. 

Sign: Home is where the homes are

After lunch Dad and I took the train from Cascais to Lisbon and then the underground to go the inner-city suburb of Chiado to go the Eye Glass Factory, where he had a consultation and had new reading glasses made on the day. 

Buildings in Chiado area

On the way there Dad showed me the Basilica of Our Lady of the Martyrs, a Catholic church on Rua Garrett. It got its name in memory of all the soldiers that died in combat defending the Christian faith. The baroque church originally built there was destroyed in 1755 during the earthquake that destroyed most of Lisbon. The current basilica was built in 1784.

Basilica of Our Lady of the Martyrs

Wednesday 22nd - I accompanied Mom and Dad to a high school in S. Joao do Estoril (not far from Cascais) for a talk my Mom gave about Portuguese consul in Bordeaux Aristides Sousa Mendes, who saved Jewish people during the WWII.  At the age of 85 my Mom still worked on the Powerpoint presentation herself. 

I'm very proud of her achievements, I've never even tried doing a Powerpoint...

The teenagers listened intently and at the end even asked questions. Mom was presented with a bunch of flowers and a book about the Cascais coast.

Mom's presentation at the school

Thursday 23rd - My sister and I drove to Lisbon. She is an estate agent and had to be present with her buyer for the transfer of the house deeds. While she was there, I walked to Colombo shopping centre, the largest shopping centre in the Iberian Peninsula with 340 stores!  I went into a hardware store and I bought paints, brushes, etc as my sister had asked me to paint a rocking chair and a half-moon table she had.

She later met me at the shopping to look for lampshades for Mom, and as we couldn't find the right size we then drove to Ikea.

Colombo shopping centre
A sign for the suburb of Amadora not far from Colombo shopping centre

Friday 24th -Finished painting the half-moon table and the rocking chair.

At 5pm, my sister, brother-in-law and I (and their big dog Leah) drove to Vilamoura in the Algarve for the weekend. It was a warm weekend for the end of March.

Vilamoura Marina, Ice-cream, bike as a support table outside a restaurant
Prawn curry, view from my sister's apt to the pool, Leah

A tiny electric car, Prawn Açorda made with bread, dinner with Jose's older brother and wife

Saturday 25th - At dinner with Jose's older brother and sister-in-law, who live in Faro (Algarve) at a fish restaurant - Tintol.  We returned to Lisbon on Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday 28th - Visited the Quinta da Regaleira  (Regaleira Palace) in Sintra, with my sister. 

We parked the car in the town centre and took a tuk-tuk up the hill to the palace.

The owner of the palace - Antonio Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, was a Brazilian mine owner who was fascinated with the history of the Freemasons and the Knights Templar, and he let his imagination run wild in the house and garden - the beautiful 5 floor palace with turrets and gargoyles built between 1904 and 1910 (only the main floor is now accessible to the public and is sparsely furnished), the four hectare gardens, being the star of this Palace with caves, hidden passages, a well.....

Entry fee is 11 Euros and the visit can take up to 2 hours.

Side view of the palace

Some rooms inside the palace

The Chapel in the grounds

Door to the chapel, inside the chapel

Spiral staircase of the Initiation Well goes down 27 metres, leading to a cave under the gardens ending in a little lake and waterfall

Me inside one of the turrets

An intricate bench in the garden

Views of Sintra - bottom: Pena Palace, National Palace, Moor Castle

Our tuk-tuk - Tugatuk

Friday 31st - My parents, sister, brother in law and I left Cascais at 11am to Batalha, (1,45 north) as we had a wedding in Leiria that Saturday.

We stopped for lunch at Foz do Arelho (50min from Batalha), as the Airbnb would only be available from 3pm.

After lunch we drove to the beach to take photos.

The we drove to Batalha, where we had rented an Airbnb -  up to now the most beautiful place we have ever rented - modern, comfortable and tastefully furnished, and just a 5 min drive to the centre.

We unpacked, then drove to the supermarket to buy a few necessities and take photos of the Batalha Monastery.

Across from the supermarket I noticed this "cat shelter" for stray cats. The municipality supplies dry food for the pets and they can take shelter there at night.

The small town of Batalha was the setting for Portugal's most important battle in August 1385 - Battle of Aljubarrota, which secured independence from Castille (Spain). 

To commemorate this victory and honour his vow to the Virgin Mary, King John I initiates the construction of the Monastery in 1388, but it would only be finished in 1517!
It's one of the most impressive monasteries in Portugal, and is a Unesco World Heritage site.  Apart from the Monastery and the Museum there isn't much more to see in this town.

 Batalha Monastery with statue of Nuno Alvares Pereira

Here are buried King John I, his English wife Philippa of Leicester, and some of their 7 children - Prince Henry (The Navigator), Prince John, Princess Isabel and Prince Fernando, as well as Kings Afonso V, John II, Duarte I, and the unknown soldier.

Prince Henry, later known as Henry the Navigator, was the founder of the School of Sagres, and responsible for Portugal's maritime conquests.

General Nuno Alvares Pereira and Prince Henry the Navigator

Sign to Hotel Batalha

Easter Eggs in the main square, made by kids from the Primary schools

Spring Flowers

Also joining Tom's signs. Please check his blog for signs from around the world

Monday 24 April 2023

Monday Mural - Fauna and Flora in Mount Pleasant

I love murals and street art. If you like murals or have a mural you'd like to post, this meme is for you.  Just follow the Linky steps below.  Once you start looking you will find murals everywhere.  The "Monday Mural" meme goes live on Monday at 12,01AM, Perth,Western Australian time. Be sure to link back to this blog and visit your fellow posters. Looking forward to your mural finds this week. Thanks Sami.

Another mural from Kishorn Road in the suburb of Mount Pleasant, painted by West Australian artist Imogen Palmer.

Thursday 20 April 2023

March Wrap-Up - Portugal (Aveiro)

Tuesday 13 March - Two days after my Dad's 90th birthday party, Karina and I drove to Aveiro, a small city with about 55 thousand inhabitants in the centre of Portugal, about 2,30h north of Lisbon (about 50min south of Porto). 

Sometimes referred to as the Portuguese Venice, due to the small network of canals, instead of gondolas, Aveiro has the "moliceiros" - colourful boats which were traditionally used to harvest seaweed, but now used for canal cruises.

The city lies on the edge of the Ria de Aveiro, a saltwater lagoon, where salt, seaweed (for fertiliser) and fish are abundant. 

We stayed 2 days in a small Airbnb about a block or two from one of the canals, but the city is very walkable, with all the monuments in the historic centre within walking distance.

Pedestrian bridge at the end and one of the canals and the moliceiro boats

The Ria de Aveiro and some of the Art Nouveau buildings on the other side

While Karina worked from home during the day, I would do some sightseeing, and in the late afternoon she would join me.

I loved the art nouveau buildings by the main canal - there are 28 of them in the city center - such as the Art Nouveau Museum, the City Museum, the Fish Market...

The City Museum (middle building with brownish tiles)

Art Nouveau Museum - a small museum about art nouveau design and architecture. 

Another must see is the Aveiro Old Station, built in 1864, with its facade covered in blue tiles depicting everyday scenes of life in Aveiro.

Casa dos Arcos (House of Arches) - site of a former mill, known for its submerged arches that allowed the use of mills moved by the tide. It was sold to the Ministry of the Navy in 1925 and now houses the Captaincy of Aveiro.

The Aveiro Museum or Museum of Saint Joana - Fabulous museum! Entry fee was 7 euros, which gives you entry into another 4 or 5 museums.

Housed in a 15th century Monastery, it is dedicated to Princess Joana, daughter of King Afonso V. She refused a few offers of marriage from Kings of France and England as she wanted to be come a nun. She joined this Monastery in 1475, where she stayed until her death at the age of 38 in 1490, and she was beatified in 1673.

Exterior of Museum of Saint Joana and the internal patio with central fountain

Her tomb, a 17th century masterpiece takes centre place in a lavishly decorated room, and next door a gold-leafed chapel displays hand painted tiles (azulejos) depicting her life. 

The ornate St Joana's tomb

The main Chapel with the hand-painted azulejos and ornate gold-leafed carved ceiling.

A prayer room with wooden walls and painted ceilings

Aveiro is also a town with an abundance of very ornate churches.
Just across from the St Joana Museum is the Sao Domingos Church (St Dominic's Church), Aveiros's Cathedral. 
With a baroque style facade and simple interior with a high vaulted ceiling and a skylight above the altar. From the original 1423 church only a carved wall remains, and the side chapels display different architectural styles ranging from baroque to modern.

Cathedral (Sao Domingos Church)

Simple interior of the church with some side chapels

The old organ and the modern organ next to the altar and skylight above the altar

Igreja da Misericordia (Church of Mercy) -  Construction began in 1585 under Italian architect Filippo Terzio, but was only completed in 1653 under Portuguese master builder Manuel Azenha. Only in 1876 was the facade covered with tiles. The facade has a limestone portal with 4 columns with niches for statues, with the statue of Our Lady of Mercy in the middle.

Inside, a long and high nave with walls covered in azulejos (tiles) from the 16th century, with a very ornate vaulted ceiling above the altar, which is made of limestone from the nearby town of Ançã.

Igreja Nossa Senhora da Apresentacão (Church of Our Lady of Presentation) in the Vera Cruz Parish. Built in the  17th century, the interior has tiled walls, golden carved wood and baroque sculptures.

Church of São João Evangelista (Carmelite Church), a church in parish of Glória and Vera Cruz, declared a national monument in 1910. 
It was built by the widow of Prince of Tuscany Pietro de Medici (Beatriz de Lara Meneses) as a residence and destined by testament to become a convent in 1658. Construction lasted about 200 years and only finished in the 18th century. 
The lavish interior has lots of gold carvings and blue and white tiles (gold on blue being a synonym of perfection) contrasting with the colourful paintings on the ceiling and walls.

The Fish Market, a metal framed building from 1904, in the town's centre was closed for renovations, (the fish market has been moved to another market with better parking options) and once renovated this venue will be dedicated to restaurants only.

The Fish Market

I visited the local Market - plenty of fresh produce, flowers, fish and meat...
I bought some fruit and bought take-away lunch for Karina and I from one of the small eateries in the market. The double dose of chick-pea soup and codfish rice was so big it was enough for two meals for each of us.

Fresh fruit and veggies, flowers and our take-away soup and Codfish rice

A couple of bridges linking both sides of the canals are covered in colourful ribbons, a better option to heavy padlocks, and people can write names and messages on the ribbons.

Ribbon bridges

And you can't leave Aveiro without trying their speciality - Ovos Moles - made with sugar and egg yolks encased in a wafer like pastry shaped into nautical shapes like shells, wooden barrels...  A calorie bomb but delicious!

At one end of the canals in a residential area is a park with statues of the "ovos moles".

And here my favourite Portuguese pastry - Pastel de feijão (pastry made with white beans and almonds) served with hot chocolate. (Actually my breakfast one of the mornings)

                                                         On our last day Karina and I went on a 45 min long Moliceiro tour at the end of the day, which we really enjoyed. Our guide was knowledgeable and quite funny and alternated between languages quite easily. Price is 13 euros per adult.

Top right: a former factory now the Cultural and Congress Centre. 

Valentine's bridge at sunset - a yellow bridge with Eagle coat of arms in the middle

The modern residential area at the end of one of the canals

The steps "I love Aveiro" in the modern residential area and a tiled mural

The sun had set when we left the boat tour. The guide had suggested we climb to the garden (Olive tree garden) on top of the local shopping centre - Forum Aveiro - a lovely spot for some peace and quiet among the greenery as well as a great view over one of the canals.

Night photos in Aveiro:

On our last night we had a late night drink at a bar near our residence:

The following day we left Aveiro and drove about 15 minutes to the iconic Costa Nova beachknown for its candy-striped beach houses, formerly fishermen cottages.

We stopped for lunch at a lovely restaurant - Bronze - on the beach, then Karina had a phone meeting while I chatted to Jose on WhatsApp sitting on the sand. 


Lunch at Bronze on the Costa Nova Beach

Afterwards we left town and drove towards Carregal do Sal, (1,20h East) the small town where we lived for 12 years before coming to Australia.


Seen in a Music shop in Aveiro



The Moliceiros had funny and "dirty" sayings

I really loved this city - a town with good quality of life, spectacular monuments, rich with gold, tiles and carved wood, beautiful tiles everywhere, Art-Nouveau buildings, canals, friendly people, great food, relaxed atmosphere, young vibe probably due to the university....  and I found plenty of murals too, which was a bonus!

Tiles, tiles and more tiles...I never found the same one twice

Karina and I on the steps of "I love Aveiro" 

And in case you want to see more of Aveiro, this 4 minute aerial view from You tube is quite nice.

You tube video of Aveiro

Also joining Tom's signs. Please check his blog for signs from around the world