Portugal 2013 – Lisboa


On the way to Lisbon we turned to the side from Rt. N3 and walked some in a cute town of Alenquer – it is by a small river, there is a working monastery on a mountain and a cemetery by its side, there was a wedding going on in the chapel and on the whole – the town was nice for walking in solitude: DSCF6947


Those are real flowers blooming in December by a chapel:


DSCF6938What a crop of oranges!

DSCF6943And then it was Lisbon. The first might we slept in Belem – because there are some museums on that end of the city and it was worth visiting St.Jerome’s monastery:


There was an extensive strike going on close to the monastery by the president’s house and a parade on this main street, go and guess…DSCF6962

DSCF6959This is the view from our window in Belem:


We tried to visit the palace of Queluz – it is very close to Belem by car, but ran out of time. just saw the gardens and the buildings from in front (reminds palaces in St. Petersburg in Russia):

DSCF6951In Belem across the street from the monastery there are huge modern buildings, with lots of space that seemed to me useless, that seemed the European money “laundered”. Just empty halls and a modern art museum. also useless. The only interesting spots seemed those “Japanese” gardens and the Christmas tree made from recycled plastic bottles:



The next day we found a hotel in the very very center of the city and would highly recommend it, called Albergaria Insulana. It is a small hotel sharing the building with some other businesses, but rooms and breakfast there were really good, and the location was especially good! So we returned the car and spent a day in Lisbon, walking different directions and admiring its different districts Baixa, Bairo Alto, Estrela, Alfama. THis is the elevator that lifts you to the upper part of the city:


Here is a different house in Alfama, now a museum:DSCF7036

A church in Alfama that got the only rays of sun we saw that day:DSCF7037

Alfama left me the best impression though it is considered a poor area. But the walks were the best. The narrow streets are cute, you always see the water -the sea or the wide river delta, lots of churches, restaurants and we even listened to Fado music there. Wonderful! It is a pity it was our last eve, we would have gone to listen more. DSCF7046

DSCF7051I also have to admit that it was raining a lot while we were in Lisbon and that didn’t add much charm to it. There are usually artists in the main street, of whom we saw someone evening. which was still bearable, but the next eve – poor guys, they prepared to perform and had to rush to gather their stuff and run away – the rain was non stop. But at least we saw some Christmas lights:





20121217_204518Here is the famous Brasiliere – the cafeteria, beloved by Lisbon’s intellectuals, in Baixa:DSCF7061

Before we returned the car -we used it to get to some museums that are not in the very center. One of them was Museum Arte Antigua – very worth visiting, lots of good art, Diurer, Bosch, Bregel including. Here is two pieces of H.Bosch’s “Hell” – the whole triptych is too big to be photographed:



This museum was not hard to find and drive out of the are, for it is close to the river. But the Museum of Gulbenkian…it is a collection of modern art.,a very good one, collected with good taste and displayed well, with walls even painted in different colors, very attractive! Why I said “but… ‘ because to find the way back from there to the center – it was painful. We missed a turn to some main street and that was it – drove for an hour in steep little streets with high rising apartment buildings and they all looked the same and it seemed there was no way out. Until some kind guy stopped by me analyzing the map on a corner and led us out of this maze. So here are some pictures from Gulbenkian and some jewelry and sculptures done by Lalique -the outstanding French juveller:




DSCF7005I’ll finish Lisbon’s description with a view from one of it’s parks and a typical inhabitant of those parks:


DSCF7018We left rainy Portugal but still 17C warm to the super cold Lithuanian winter – it was minus 12C and felt very very cold. Those were nice murals on the walls of metro station leading to the airport:





Portugal 2013 – Coimbra

We left Fatima for a day, to visit Coimbra. But maybe that was not a perfect idea. Fatima has a very good atmosphere, which is understandable, a pilgrimage town, lots of good energy. Therefore we decided to stay another night in the hotel of Sao Antonio in the very center – where we were the only guests. And the trip to Coimbra and back didn’t look a long trip. Well, it got long, because on the way back we got lost in Leiria…Completely lost in the dark of a December evening, coming and coming to the same place somewhere in the outskirts of Leiria. No signs, no directions, and the nice and helpful people in roadside cafes were useless. Whatever they told us – we did and came to the same place. It was horrible. had to go back to the highway and go to Fatima through the long way on the roads that were marked. So it goes…

On the way to Coimbra the smaller roads were marked well enough and we stopped in Pombal – named after their very big figure Marquez de Pombal, or vice verso. A cute town, a nice museum of folk art, very recommendable! DSCF6781

Then on the way we had to find Coinbriga – which was not very easy, but we did it. It is an ancient Roman ruin site – there was Roman city on the way from Rome to the sea shore, turned now into a museum. But because of the lack of funds, only partially is covered with roofs, lots of precious mosaics that were the floor of the mansion – are now under the elements…







DSCF6788While looking for Coimbriga and driving the main road back and forth we were astonished to see prostitutes here and there literally standing by the road. In the middle of the day and in the middle of nowhere, o big city around. We wondered – who are their clients?

DSCF6818At last we reached Coimbra, the city of the oldest university in Europe, or maybe only in Portugal. Here is the view from Santa Clara side. There is some interesting Santa Clara monastery there. but we couldn’t find a way to it…Several hours in Coimbra are definitely not enough, I would allocate a couple or three days.

So then we drove to the very center, easy to find, on the other side of the river and parked pour car immediately there, a comfortable location for university visitors. And went up the old winding streets:


DSCF6823The university plaza is spectacular, as well as all the corridors and halls that one can see entering the most of the doors. But some are for ticketed visitors only. Which is understandable. I saw the library in Rick Steve’s Europe. But in our case- wegot so tired. especially me, while climbing this rather steep hill, then looking frantically where they sell tickets for the visit – that when I saw where, which was on the other side of the gates, I lost interest in going all the long way back. Visitors usually come from a tram or bus stop, few of them climb, so maybe that is why they sell tickets from tat side:



The buildings there a huge and it takes a lot of walking to see the old town. So I went towards Nova Se -New Cathedral, saw it inside and also the museum there and then noticed an art museum close by, which was so worth visiting! There are many stories of different collections, from all ages and countries, but the most impressive were the cellars – the very bottom part of the museum – the ancient roman ruins,maybe of an ancient city.




Walking in Coimbra is a little more impressive than in other Portugal towns because of the spirit and creativity of young people -you never know what you see on the next corner:


DSCF6861And the buildings reminded mes some of Barcelona.

Portugal 2013 – a day of Monasteries

I have been not blogging for a while but as every job has to be finished – I’d like to finish describing our very saturated trip to Portugal, which happened already a year ago. There are some good tips for those who decide to go there.


So as I mentioned in my last Blog, we reached Nazare on the sea in the evening of December 11th. Saw the older ladies with with many skirts holding signs offering rooms, and also young ladies dressed in a modern way. The flat we rented was from a young lady – it had a kitchen and a view to the sea. But very cold…All the rooms in Portugal were very cold- what could we expect – it was December! The country is not used to cold weather and also – nobody travels in December. The beds were very hard. Everywhere we stayed. Maybe they like it. So the next morning we walked along the sea – there is a good tile walkway, or you can walk on the sand.


There is a town or extension of Nazare on the hill in front.One can take a funicular or drive up to there. We had our tiny car so we drove. it is called Sitio, has a nice square. church with a magic picture and a little chaplet with a magic Holy Mary:



DSCF6691 DSCF6688 It would be nice to stay there in a warmer month, so we rushed to do our sightseeing. This day was filled with monasteries and churches. First half an hour away is Alcobaca:

DSCF6702It is the biggest church in Portugal and the monastery was also outstanding. Known for the two sarcophagus of their king Pedro and his beloved Ines whom he married and crowned only after her death because his father killed her in order not to get a non royal into their family. But Pedro’s love was so great that here they are both buried in elaborately carved sarcophagus ‘s right by the main altar right in front of each other so that during the day of Rapture – they will wake up and see each other first of all:


DSCF6705The monastery is also very impressive but I guess – more like most of Portugal’s monasteries:


Here I am sitting in their kitchen on the edge of their water source – a spring came from a hole here directly into the water basin and was used for cooking. The lower picture is of their chimney – under which they cooked a whole pig or cow…Makes you wonder what a number of monks they had and explains why at some point in history their kings closed all monasteries and kicked out the monks.DSCF6720

DSCF6722The next stop – a small town spread out on picturesque hills -Porto de Mos – it was so nice, that one can allocate several days to stay there. As well as Don Kichote could stay there, too, for there were old fashioned windmills seen here and there on the hill tops. It had a cute green roofed castle and a typical cemetery by its side:


DSCF6724I like cemeteries, but to see coffins in those mausoleums,not old ones, but freshly buried – was a little too much…A very strange custom.


This next big church is in Batalha – a very impressive one, also with some king couple buried here- holding hands! But we were already filled up with monasteries so just visited and church and moved on. Somehow the little ones are perceptible to me:DSCF6754So we reached Fatima for the night. This is how we saw it that evening:




DSCF6773It was Christmas season.but evidently – not the season for pilgrimages. It was good to see it so spacious and empty, with lots of hotels around that were also empty. Ours had this colorful house in front,so playful:


That was a very saturated day, we even drank magical water from a fountain in the main plaza and listened to a rosary read in the chapel where Virgin Mary showed herself to pastinhos several times. It was a good day!