Category Archives: Portugal

Lagos, Portugal

After a pleasant visit in Porto, we traveled south towards Lagos, with the sun leading the way.

About midway through our drive, we stopped to visit the Monastery of Batalha (Mosteiro da Batalha) in central Portugal.

Batalha Monastery

Batalha Monastery

Batalha Monastery

Western Facade of Batalha Monastery.  Statue of Nuno Alvares Pereira.

This massive monastery was built to commemorate the Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385.  Taking almost two centuries to construct, this Gothic structure is a marvel.  It was a fascinating stop on our journey to Lagos.

Lagos is located in the Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost region.  The Algarve is a popular tourist destination known for its sandy beaches, great golf courses, and picturesque coastline.  Lagos is one of the most visited areas in the Algarve.  It is a historic seafaring town, dating back some 2000 years.  Although our visit was brief, we managed to soak in some sun and a bit of the charm from this attractive, seaside town.  Here are the highlights in photos…

Lagos4 Lagos3 Streets of Lagos Lagos1

With its cobbled streets, coastal character, and relaxed vibe, Lagos is a wonderful  place to relax (although I hear it has a vibrant nightlife, especially in summer).

Old City Walls

Old City Walls (Constructed in the 16th Century)

Lagos Marina

Lagos Marina

Ponta de Piedade

Dramatic Cliffs of Ponta de Piedade.

Just hanging around

“Local Line Up”

Obrigado, Lagos…for some much-needed sun!

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Porto, Portugal

It’s been a few months, but k&mk are back…plus one. During the break, we added a family member, who we’ll call “little h” (in case you missed the new header).

Our first trip with the little guy was to Portugal. We started out in Porto, in the north, and traveled to Lagos, in the south, with the hope of finding some sun (a necessity during the wet UK winter).

Porto

Porto

The hilly city of Porto (also known as Oporto), located at the mouth of the Douro River, is one of Portugal’s oldest cities.  With its picturesque riverfront district, medieval alleyways, colorful buildings, and fascinating tile-work it is a lovely city to explore. Being the home of port wine also adds to its lists of attributes.  Here are some of the highlights from our trip…

Torres dos Clérigos

Tower of Clerics

The Tower of Clerics (Torre dos Clérigos) is the bell tower of Clérigos Church. Completed in 1763, this tower is an iconic landmark of Porto boasting the best panorama of the city (if you can climb the 230+ steps to the top).

Liberdade Square

Liberdade Square

Liberdade Square (Praça da Liberdade) is a popular square in Porto.  A statue of King Pedro IV stands in the center with the Avenue of the Allies (Avenida dos Aliados), a major, modern boulevard, to the north. Town Hall, with its tall bell tower, stands at the top of the avenue.

São Bento Station

São Bento Train Station

São Bento Station, the city’s main train station, is known for its impressive tiled panels in its main hall, called azulejos. Some 20,000 tiles representing scenes of Portugal’s history cover the walls.

Azulejos

Azulejos (painted, glazed, ceramic tiles)

Porto Cathedral

Porto Cathedral

Completed in the 13th Century, the fortress-like Porto Cathedral (Sé Catedral do Porto) is one of the city’s oldest structures.

Church of St. Francis

Church of St. Francis

The Church of Saint Francis (Igreja de São Francisco), widely known for its opulent Baroque interior, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ribeira District

Ribeira District

With its colorful buildings,  scenic riverfront location, cafés and restaurants, the Ribeira is a popular district in Porto.

Gaia

Gaia

Located across the Douro River from Porto is Gaia (Vila Nova de Gaia), home to the world-famous Port wine houses.  Port wine tasting was a highlight of our visit.  A must-do when in Porto!

Barcos Rabelos

Rabelo Boats

Rabelo boats (Barcos Rabelos) once transported port wine from the Alto Douro Wine Region to Gaia to be aged and stored.  These replicas make for the perfect photo op.

We had a wonderful time visiting this charming, riverside city.
Obrigado Porto!

Notable Eats
O Caracas Restaurant
Rua das Taipas, 27

Off to Lagos

Lisbon, Portugal

Our visit last weekend to Lisbon was a warm one, as temperatures soared to 90˚F (32˚C) in the capital city of Portugal…but no complaints here!

Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back some 3000 years.  Many have occupied, or conquered, this coastal city since its beginning (from the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans to the Moors) making its history a compelling one.

Built on seven hills that overlook the Tagus River (Rio Tejo), the city of Lisbon bears a resemblance to one of our favorite U.S. Cities, and not only because of its hills…more on this later.

Streets of Lisbon

With its brightly colored houses, narrow, twisting streets with clothes hanging out to dry, panoramic viewpoints, and old vs. new extremes, it’s easy to spend time just wandering around Lisbon’s different neighborhoods.  We did, and here are the highlights…

Tiled Pavement

Tiled Pavement

We were quick to notice Lisbon’s artistically tiled sidewalks and pedestrian areas everywhere we went.  This technique is a traditional style of pavement found throughout Portugal.  Each tile, generally black or white, is manually placed to create a design.  It must be an arduous job, but the results are striking.

Tile Buildings

Ceramic Painted Tiles

Staying on the topic of tiles…

Beautiful ceramic, painted tiles (called azulejos) adorn the exteriors and interiors of several buildings throughout Lisbon.  These ceramic tiles were introduced to Portugal in the 15th century and have made a unique impact on its architecture.

Castle of St. Jorge

Sao Jorge Castle

Castle of St. Jorge overlooks the city

The Castle of St. Jorge (Castelo de Sáo Jorge), in the Alfama district, overlooks the city of Lisbon and the Tagus River—offering spectacular views of both.  Built in the mid-11th century by the Moors (although first settlements at this site are thought to be much earlier), this massive structure has served as a defensive stronghold, a royal residence, military barracks, and now as a national monument and tourist attraction.

The 25th of April Bridge

25th of April Bridge

The 25th of April Bridge or Golden Gate or Bay Bridge...

The 25th of April (Ponte 25 de Abril) suspension bridge, connecting Lisbon to Almada, looks a lot like the bridges in a certain Northern California city where we used to live.  Its construction resembles the San Francisco Bay Bridge, but the color is Golden Gate all the way.  It was built by the same company that made the Bay Bridge…so maybe that has something to do with it.

Jerónimos Monastery

Jeronimos Monastery

Jerónimos Monastery

The Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos or Hieronymites Monastery), in the Belém quarter, is a distinct example of Portugal’s Manueline style of architecture.  Manueline architecture, named after King Manuel I, is unique to Portugal—also known as Portuguese Late Gothic.  It is noted for its elaborate carvings and maritime elements.

Tomb of Vasco Da Gama

Tomb of Vasco Da Gama and a guy with a checkered shirt

Jerónimos Monastery, with its close proximity to the Tagus River, was the place where arriving and departing seafarers once came to pray.  The tomb of Vasco Da Gama, one of Portugal’s most successful seafaring explorers, is found here.  (By the way, Vasco was Kevin’s favorite explorer.)

Belém Tower

Belem Tower

Belém Tower

Belém Tower, built in the early 16th century in the Manueline style, (Torre de Belém) was once used as a military stronghold to protect the entrance of the Tagus River.  It became a symbol of Portugal’s Age of Discovery and is now a major tourist attraction.

Portuguese Tarts

Portuguese Custard Tarts (Pastéis de Nata)

The popular Pastéis de Belém café, near the Jerónimos Monastery, has served up Portugal’s famous custard tarts (pastéis de nata) since 1837.  These warm, bite-size gems, sprinkled with powered sugar, are hard to resist.  Most pastry shops sell them, but Pastéis de Belém is known for being the best.  Mmmm…Delicioso!

Vasco Da Gama Bridge

Vasco Da Gama Bridge

Vasco Da Gama Bridge

Vasco Da Gama Bridge is another beautiful bridge in Lisbon.  It spans the Tagus River and, at 10.7 miles long (17.2 km), is the longest bridge in Europe.

Lisbon Oceanarium

Lisbon Oceanarium

Lisbon Oceanarium

Lisbon Oceanarium (Oceanário de Lisboa), located in the Park of the Nations, offers a fascinating look at different marine species from around the world.  The 11,000 square foot tank, in the center of the aquarium, is the main exhibit.  This massive tank creates the illusion of an endless ocean with an array of sea life that’s impressive.

Sea Otter

Sea Otter

I have to say the sea otter is my favorite.   They are just so darn cute!

Sea Otter

Time for an afternoon nap...

…and time to end this post.   It was a great trip!

Notable Eats:
Lisbon offers up some delicious food.  If you like fish, you can’t go wrong—seafood is a favorite here.  Also, Portugal is the home of port wine…enough said.

Pastéis de Belém – Portuguese Custard Tarts (Rua de Belem 84 84)
Sul (Rua do Norte 13, Bairro Alto disctrict)
Sacramento  (Calcada do Sacramento 46, Baixa-Chiado district)