13.3.2016 – Well I’m afraid something interesting did happen last Sunday – the first was Sesimbra and the second was Cabo Espichel.
We drove for a couple of hours on a rutted, pot-holed main road and came into Sesimbra, a lovely seaside town with a huge number of seafood restaurants. As we wandered around it was obvious that this was where the Portuguese came on a family Sunday to take part in `lunch`.
We walked the length of the beach to the Port and saw people queuing to get into the majority of the restaurants who were still there when we walked back. There’s no urgency like there is in the U.K. to get eaten up and off for the next punter, it’s all very relaxed! We stopped for an ice cream and decided that we ought to get off before our car park became jammed.
It was rammed but I managed to get out and along the cliff road to Capo Espichel, a wild camp on a lighthouse car park that was…………….RAMMED with a capital R!!!! Everyone and his dog had come out to see the old church and lighthouse, but to be honest with views like these who could blame them!!!
Apparently 2 locals had a dream in the 15 century about a lady being taken up the cliffs on a donkey so someone built a Church!!
I happened to see this car at the bottom of this cliff so we had to get a photo.
We wandered the church and the lighthouse until the sun started to set and the crowds started to thin.
Anne popped out and tried for the sunset shot but was a little late I think.
I’ll kick her out of bed at 6 in the morning and see if she can get a sunrise!
14.3.2016 – Well it wasn’t Anne that got out of bed it was me! I wandered around the deserted car park and general area taking snaps of the sun coming up and a fantastic stealth van that was parked nearby.
After a steady wake up we got off bound for Lisbon. The road took us over a fantastic toll bridge adjacent to a large statue akin to the Jesus thingy in Rio de Janerio but not set on a mountain top!
We found our way around the ring road to the parking area next to the river. The drive was a bit hairy in places especially getting on the wrong dual carriageway but we had an early rest and then lunch.
Armed with fruit and camera we headed for the train station next to the car park and deciphered the ticket machine instructions to find a ride into the city was 1 euro 75 cents. A bargain indeed!!!
We rode the line from Belem to Cais do Sodre, a short walk along the river/sea front to the centre. We came out at a huge square fronted by a large bronze man on a horse, backed by a huge, beautiful arch decked with friezes. In the distance you can see the Castello de Sao Jorges (more of that later).
After the tourist info office I couldn’t resist this picture of local Polis Nacional cut backs!!
We walked through the main town to the Cathedral, dodging Tuk-tuks and trams on the way.
The Cathedral is not very inspiring but the organ was magnificent!!!
After the religious bit we walked to the Castle of St. George up on the hill. On the way we passed an archaeological dig that had uncovered a Roman Amphitheatre whilst mending the road!!
The castle provided wonderful views over the city and one or two surprises!!!
The weather had been a bit overcast and we were a bit cold in the wind so when a nice Kenyan chap offered us a sit down in a nice warm restaurant who were we to refuse. Nice warm, nice pizza and a very nice old, slightly drunk Portuguese bloke to chat to! What could be nicer!!
We walked back to the train station, re-charged our cards first time and caught the train back to the van. All in all a lovely day!! David (the Aussie who we met last week) had described Lisbon as grungy but with a charm all of its own – he was spot on!!!
15.3.2016 – On the way back to the van yesterday we had picked up the open top bus tour flyer and had got up with every intention of doing it but, as we stood waiting for the bus to come the heavens opened and it poured down. We had another 20 minutes to wait for the bus but we decided to get back to the van, dry off and make a decision after a coffee.
As it didn’t stop raining we decided to move on to an Aire at Sintra for the night, plus we needed a download!!!
The rain persisted as we made our way out of Lisbon, it didn’t stop the Portuguese driving like morons though, no lights, far too fast, and without a thought for anyone else on the road!! Anyway, rant over, we arrived at the Aire, a sportsground, shortly after lunchtime so that was first, then up and download then I found another Aire on Snooty actually in Sintra which, from the map seemed to have a lot of promise as a place. We set off but after negotiating a very tight car park in the bottom of a valley in Sintra we came back to the Aire!!!
Sintra certainly looked good and after we had parked up we walked back into the town. Sintra and the surrounding area are home to several Palaces and a Moorish Castle. The area has been a Unesco heritage site for 20 years and is fascinating.
We wandered about the place, up and down tiny lanes overlooking stupendous views over surrounding valleys.
There were all sorts of statues celebrating the 20 year mark, only one of which I really understood!!!
It’s all a bit strange really, you wander through this UNESCO heritage site looking at wonderful buildings that have been restored over the years then you happen across a wreck of a house that has just been left to fall down. Next there will be a brand new glass and steel monstrosity that never would have passed planning in the U.K.
The best of it is is that we haven’t seen the best bit yet, the Palace of Pena, which sits on a sheltered hillside and was home to the Portuguese royal family for several generations. We shall be having a look on the morrow!!
16.3.2016 – Were we ready for a climb? Yes we were! We found a trekking path up the hill in San Pedro right to the Palace Entrance. The path went through a wonderful, quiet valley then onto a car park full of buses and noisy schoolkids!! We joined the queue for tickets and were delighted to save a Euro as we bought them during happy hour, 0930 to 1030!!!! Then it was another climb to the Palace up hairpin bends, dodging the shuttle buses but it was well worth the climb! The place is awash with tiled walls, strange sculptures and wonderful architecture.
From here you can get a good view of the Moorish Castle.
We walked the wall for the views then wandered around the inside which was created by King Fernando the second in the 1800’s.
After a bite to eat we walked to the grounds and started climbing again to view the Palace from the Cruza Alta Cross, where a cross has stood since the 16th century.
The view of the Palace was simply stunning!!
We wandered back down through the gardens, grottos and lakes and finally to the duck pond with two castellated duck huts!!!
All in all this is a stunning place and deserves another visit to see the other four palaces and the castle sometime in the future!
17.3.2016 – Today, after much deliberation with the Aires books and Snooty we have decided to move on up and have a bit of a beach rest. Several places have been recommended to us as good places to visit but we can’t do everything in the first year so we are now at Parque Foz Do Arelho beach.
We are looking out over Lagoa de Obios, basically the lake of Obios which is a walled fort town on the edge of this natural sea/fresh water lake. It is stunning. We can see clam diggers on the opposite beach, birds a plenty, jumping fish and all for 3 euro a night!
The beach just goes on and on. We walked to a nearby café for coffee and out of the wind it was lovely and sunny. Hopefully we’ll be here for a couple of days.
18.3.2016 and 19.3.2016 – We have stayed here for the last two days and we’ll move on tomorrow. It is a very restful place even when it’s raining. We have walked the cliffs and found a boardwalk/viewing platform and some very nice cafes along the beach front. Incidentally my axle weight has grown considerably as this is a shelly beach!!!!!
20.3.2016 – Today we were up relatively early and off to Obidos, another walled town with a castle. We arrived and parked on the Aire next to the aquaduct/viaduct I don’t know which, and wandered over to the entrance to the town.
As its Palm Sunday we knew that something religious was occurring and as we walked through the town entrance our sense of smell was assailed by Juniper and Rosemary. This was because the cobbled streets had been strewn with said clippings plus palm fronds and Olive branches. There were a fair few people in the town and all the clippings were being crushed underfoot hence the wonderful smell in the air.
Obidos churches date back to the 13th century and there is a sense of calm solemnity here, unlike other so-called religious places we have been to. There is also a chocolate festival here in April!!!!
We walked up the main thoroughfare and into the castle grounds that are used in the festivals and for re-enactments. We climbed onto the walkway and proceeded to walk round the castle walls viewing the surrounding countryside. Nowhere was there a little man in a booth to take any money and we wandered at will. Alright it was a bit health and safetyless with 100 foot vertical drops off the inner edge of the castle walls onto cobbles but the signs said be careful, that was enough for me!!!!
There were microphones set up outside all the churches and a big sign announced a procession at 3.00 pm so we lunched then wandered back to the town where we witnessed the local clergy blessing the crowd by throwing holy water at them then walking the cross of Jesus through the town to the Church.
I got all excited because I saw this bad boy in the car park putting his armour on.
There’s going to be some battles and jousting and manly stuff thought I but no, he got dressed up, put a cup in front of himself then stood at the town gates for tourists like me to take photos of him.
Anyway, this was a good way to spend a Sunday!!
Sunday evening after Obidos we went to Intermarche in the next town, did a bit of shopping and the washing, all by 5.00 pm. So we decided to drive up to our next stop, Balatha where there was a Gothic monastery that had been UNESCO sited. We arrived on the Aire next to the sports field in the pouring rain. We got a pitch and settled in for the night.
Incidentally, if you happen to be following this blog, unfortunately I have nearly used my 3gb of WordPress storage so I have created motorhome ramblings 2. https://kimmsummerlin2.wordpress.com/ Which is available here.