December 30, 2017

Portugal 2017

clothing line

I never knew how picturesque Portugal was before my visit. It was hard to take a bad photo, which made it even more unfortunate that I lost my camera halfway through my trip. (Cue the sad violins.)

porto sunset
livraria lello douro valley

Photos from my phone will have to do and the beauty of Portugal shines right through. I started up north in Porto, a city known for port wines. As a huge Harry Potter nerd, I had to make the pilgrimage to Livrario Lello, which was where J.K Rowling wrote part of her books. The beautiful staircase in the bookstore was the inspiration for the staircase at Hogwarts. I also did a day trip out to the Douro Valley, one of the oldest wine regions in the world, and drank my fill of wine. Lots of wine was consumed on this trip.

biblioteca joanina
universidade de coimbra old library books

I stopped in Coimbra to visit Portugal's oldest university but my sole target was the Joanina Library, which was stunning. It's a must visit for bibliophiles. Fun fact: university students in Portugal wear capes, just like the students in Harry Potter.

tram 28
cobblestones lisbon by night
lisbon panaroma

Next up was Lisbon, a city filled with cobblestone roads and red rooftops. It was quite hilly, though come to think of it, every town I visited in Portugal was built on a hill. My calves got a good workout on this trip, to better burn off the calories from all the food I ate.

palacio de pena
sintra arch view castelos dos mouros

Sintra was another day trip, a town with a whimsical palace and a well-preserved Moorish castle. Climbing the fortress was like stepping back into medieval times.

ribeira grande
lagoa do fogo lagoa
sete cidades

I think my favourite part of the trip was the Azores, or specifically, Sao Miguel. The island was lush green with eye-popping views, in ways that seemed almost unreal. The weather was a bit temperamental during my stay - sunny one minute, raining the next, sometimes both at the same time - but it somehow made the island more magical. In the top photo of this set, you can actually see the rainstorm moving in, with giant waves crashing into the shore.

cha gorreana
furnas water poca da dona beija
sao miguel cows

Sao Miguel has the only tea plantations to exist in Europe and as a tea drinker, I stocked up on tea leaves. The island also has geothermal activity, which meant I spent an entire afternoon soaking in hot springs. The one thing that really stood out to me was that there were cows everywhere, just chilling in the fields, either on mountaintops or in view of the ocean. They were living the life.

steak from associacao agricola grilled squid
grilled fish limpets

With all the cows roaming out and about, it's not surprising that I had an amazing steak in the Azores, probably one of the best steaks of my life. Delicious seafood was served everywhere in Portugal so if you're a seafood lover (which I am), put Portugal on your bucketlist. What the country is most known for is bacalhau, or dried cod. It is said that there are more than 1000 dishes that can be made with bacalhau.

passion fruit cake chocolate biscuit cake
pastel de nata from manteigaria
bola de berlim pineapple farm

Sweet, baked goods were readily available, something I took advantage of, maybe a little too frequently. The great debate was where to find the best pastel de nata (egg tart). People wait in long lines at the Antiga Confeitaria de Belem (a.k.a. Pasteis de Belem) for their pasteis de nata, as this was where the tarts originate, but I actually preferred the ones at Manteigaria. Nature's dessert was also available, and I learned that the pineapples grown in greenhouses on Sao Miguel take up to two years to bear fruit (!).

azulejos in furnas portuguese mosaic pavements
tile panels at the porto cathedral
green door on yellow house in symmetry

My absolute favourite thing about Portugal was the gorgeous azulejos (ceramic tiles) that were found on walls in any place you can think of. I would have taken some home with me if I could. I also loved the architecture, the doors with character, the colours - basically everything. I'd like to go back someday to visit the beach coastal towns in the Algarve, one of the other islands in the Azores, or Madeira. A future trip to be made.

bombeiros voluntarios
teal door azulejos at the national tile museum
clinging raindrops


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