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Southern Portugal

Southern Portugal

In September of 2006 we made a short trip to southern Portugal, flying into Lisbon and renting a car to drive up to Coimbra and back while stopping at a number of scenic small towns in between. Overall the trip took 6-7 days.

Lisbon

We stayed three nights in Lisbon exploring the city as well as taking a day trip to Sintra. Lisbon is a fascinating city with treasures around every corner. We took the bus out to Belem where there are a number of noteworthy sites, including the chance to sample one of the iconic foods of Portugal, Pasteis de Nata, or egg custard tart. Our BnB was located just off one of the main squares which made it easy to navigate the city.

Fado singing in the Alfama.The muscians are on the right and different singers took part. Everyone else in the room semed to know the song and would sing along

Fado singing in the Alfama.The muscians are on the right and different singers took part. Everyone else in the room semed to know the song and would sing along

At night we looked for bars with fado singing, which we found in the Alfama neighborhood, the oldest neighborhood of Lisbon. We went to one cafe that had fado singing according to the guide book but for some reason they had canceled it that night. But when we asked the owner if there would be any singing, he was apologetic and said that after we finished dinner, he would take us to a place that he knew where we could experience it. We shared a table with a couple from Majorca who was also there for the singing. Oddly, the next evening as we were sitting at an outdoor table having dinner, who should come walking along but that same couple. In a city of several million, what’s the odds of that happening? We had a good chuckle over that.

In the Praca de Figueira

In the Praca de Figueira

Courtyard of Monastery of Jeronimos in Belem

Courtyard of Monastery of Jeronimos in Belem

Tomb of Vasco de Gama. located in the Monastery of Jeronimos in Belem

Tomb of Vasco de Gama. located in the Monastery of Jeronimos in Belem

Monastery of Jeronimos in Belem

Monastery of Jeronimos in Belem

Open air restaurant in Belem

Open air restaurant in Belem

The Monument to the Discoveries in Belem

The Monument to the Discoveries in Belem

Exploring Lisbon frugally

Exploring Lisbon frugally

Overlooking the Alfama neigborhood

Overlooking the Alfama neigborhood

The Alfama neighborhood

The Alfama neighborhood

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Lisbon at night, looking at Castle of Sao Jorge

Lisbon at night, looking at Castle of Sao Jorge

View of Lisbon from the Castle of Sao Jorge

View of Lisbon from the Castle of Sao Jorge

Castle of Sao Jorge

Castle of Sao Jorge

View of Lisbon from Castle of Sao Jorge

View of Lisbon from Castle of Sao Jorge

Castle of Sao Jorge

Castle of Sao Jorge

From Castle of Sao Jorge

From Castle of Sao Jorge

Castle of Sao Jorge

Castle of Sao Jorge

Castle of Sao Jorge

Castle of Sao Jorge

Castle of Sao Jorge

Castle of Sao Jorge

Narrow alleyways wind through the Alfama

Narrow alleyways wind through the Alfama

The owner of the small restaurant singing along to the fado singer

The owner of the small restaurant singing along to the fado singer

Even the waiters participate

Even the waiters participate

Sintra

The town of Sintra, which is about a half hour from Lisbon, is one of the most popular tourist spots in the country. It has a number of famous and worthwhile sights: the Pena National Palace, the ruins of the Castle of the Moors, and the Palace of Sintra.

Castelo de Pena

Castelo de Pena

Castelo de Pena

Castelo de Pena

Castelo de Pena

Castelo de Pena

Castelo de Pena

Castelo de Pena

The castle overlooks the Atlantic

The castle overlooks the Atlantic

Example of the famous blue Portuguese tile

Example of the famous blue Portuguese tile

The countryside overlooking the castle

The countryside overlooking the castle

Castelo de Pena

Castelo de Pena

Exploring the ruins of the Castle of the Moors

Exploring the ruins of the Castle of the Moors

Castle of the Moors

Castle of the Moors

Castelo de Pena dominates the hill

Castelo de Pena dominates the hill

View from the castle

View from the castle

Wedding in Sintra

Wedding in Sintra

Obidos and Nazare

Obidos is a small picturesque town with a well preserved town wall and medieval castle. It is a popular tourist destination as the town is medieval in character. Every year it hosts a two-week medieval festival though we were not there to see it.

Nazare is a well-known beach and fishing village on the Atlantic coast. It has a beautiful wide beach and a high bluff that overlooks the beach. A funicular takes people from the beach to the upper part of the town. In recent years Nazare has become famous for the high surf that comes rolling in from the Atlantic. The waves are reputed to be the largest in the world, as high as over 100 feet, and arise because of an off-shore underwater canyon. The waves are so high that the city has become the site of international surfing champioships.

Obidos castle

Obidos castle

Colorful street in Obidos

Colorful street in Obidos

Obidos Castle

Obidos Castle

Town wall

Town wall

Narrow street in Nazare

Narrow street in Nazare

Fishing gear on the beach

Fishing gear on the beach

More fishing gear

More fishing gear

View of the scenic beach at Nazare from the upper town.

View of the scenic beach at Nazare from the upper town.

Looking down

Looking down

Nazare alleyway

Nazare alleyway

Alcobaca and Conimbriga

The Monastery of Alcobaca is an important structure in Portuguese history. In the monastery are the tombs of King Pedro and the love of his life Ines de Castro. Pedro’s father, the King at the time, opposed his son’s marriage to Ines and ordered her murdered in front of her children. In retaliation when Pedro became King he ripped the hearts out of the killers while they were still alive and forced the nobles, clergy and peasants to kiss the dead queen’s hand. He’s sometimes known as ‘cruel Pedro’. Her tomb lies next to his in the Monastery and sits on images that represent her killers.

Conimbriga is the site of an extensive old Roman ruin. It is the best preserved Roman settlement in Portugal and has a large museum. The city walls are largely intact as well as the foundations and mosaic floors of many houses.

Monastery of Alcobaca

Monastery of Alcobaca

Tomb of King Pedro in Alcobaca.

Tomb of King Pedro in Alcobaca.

Tomb of the murdered wife of Pedro, Ines de Castro. The tomb rests on human figures that represent her killers.

Tomb of the murdered wife of Pedro, Ines de Castro. The tomb rests on human figures that represent her killers.

Interior of the Monastery of Alcobaca

Interior of the Monastery of Alcobaca

Glassware exhibition in Alcobaca

Glassware exhibition in Alcobaca

Roman ruins in Conimbriga

Roman ruins in Conimbriga

Roman mosaic tilework

Roman mosaic tilework

Roman ruins in Conimbriga

Roman ruins in Conimbriga

Roman ruins in Conimbriga

Roman ruins in Conimbriga

Reconstructed Roman ruins in Conimbriga

Reconstructed Roman ruins in Conimbriga

View of Coimbra from the university

View of Coimbra from the university

Coimbra

The oldest and most prestigious university in the country is in Coimbra. Apparently we were there just after the end of the semester and graduation so there were some events associated with graduation. It is a tradition for students to wander the town in black gowns and serenade passers-by. We ran into several groups of students, one of which asked us to take their picture while they posed in front of the university courtyard. We took their picture with my camera and emailed the picture to them afterward. I also bought a t-shirt that one of the groups was selling, from an engineering major. At the restaurant we dined in, there was a large table of celebrating students. At night we looked for fado singing but the character of the venue as well as the singing seemed quite different from what we saw in Lisbon.

Courtyard at the University of Coimbra

Courtyard at the University of Coimbra

Gathering of students at the University of Coimbra. Some of the students are wearing the ceremonial gown for going around the town.

Gathering of students at the University of Coimbra. Some of the students are wearing the ceremonial gown for going around the town.

Statue of King João III, who based the university in Coimbra.

Statue of King João III, who based the university in Coimbra.

Biblioteca Joanina at the University of Coimbra.

Biblioteca Joanina at the University of Coimbra.

View of the Univeristy of Coimbra campus

View of the Univeristy of Coimbra campus

Courtyard at the Unversity

Courtyard at the Unversity

Sunset over Coimbra

Sunset over Coimbra

At a restaurant near the university with a large group of students celebrating the end of the year

At a restaurant near the university with a large group of students celebrating the end of the year

Fado singing in Coimbra

Fado singing in Coimbra

Castelo de Almourol

The ruins of this medieval castle are located on a small island in the Tagus River. There is a small boat that ferries visitors from the mainland to the island.

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Evora

Our last stop before returning to Lisbon was to Evora, a UNESCO World Heritage Center with important Roman sites. Before going to Evora we made a stop at Almedres where there is a megalithic site known as the Cromelegue dos Almendres, which has a Stonehenge-like feel, though considerably smaller. The city also has an ancient Roman Temple in the middle and a massive Gothic cathedral with the Temple of Bones inside. There are also the remains of an old Roman aqueduct traversing the city

Cromlegue dos Almendres  near Evora

Cromlegue dos Almendres near Evora

Roman Temple

Roman Temple

Roman Temple at night

Roman Temple at night

Narrow street in Evora

Narrow street in Evora

Remains of old Roman aqueduct

Remains of old Roman aqueduct

Giraldo Square

Giraldo Square

Roman Temple

Roman Temple

Altar of the Chapel of Bones in Evora with Portuguese tile

Altar of the Chapel of Bones in Evora with Portuguese tile

Chapel of Bones in Evora

Chapel of Bones in Evora

Chapel of Bones in Evora

Chapel of Bones in Evora

Kangaroo Island, Australia

Kangaroo Island, Australia