Portugal Travel Series

Portugal travel series

In case this is your first visit to my blog… the month of November 2010 was been about Portugal. This month long series included travel tips and photo highlights along with special “Story Behind the Photo” posts.

Go back and read more or click on the name of one of the cities below for a direct link to the post. Enjoy!

What was covered this month on Portugal:

–      Lisbon

–       Sintra

–       Porto

–       Coimbra

–       Palace Hotel of Bussaco

To see more photos of Portugal visit The Monica Store or my stock photography site.

Travel Tips for the Palace Hotel of Bussaco in Portugal

Bussaco Palace Hotel in PortugalPalace Hotel of Bussaco – Portugal – Photography and Travel Tips

Palacio do Bucaco (Palace Hotel of Bussaco) is another fairytale palace in Portugal. If you have been following this Portugal series you will remember the post on Sintra, which described three storybook palaces, well the Bussaco palace is another one.

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Last summer I went to Coimbra and knew I wanted to see the Palacio do Bucaco and actually went within an hour of arriving in Coimbra. Luckily I went to the tourist information office for a map of Coimbra and inquired about the bus to Bussaco only to find out I had to go right away in order to see it, as the bus does not run on Sundays. Also the bus to Bussaco runs at odd times leaving you at the Palace for about four or five hours before you can return to Coimbra. (Buy the bus tickets at the bus station, which is about a 20-minute walk from the tourist information site).

The bus ride to Bussaco is quite nice with country views and you pass through a few towns. You also have the option of getting off to see Luso, the town below the Palace Hotel of Bussaco and the surrounding park.

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Bucaco Palace is now a luxury hotel and unless you stay there or eat an expensive meal at the restaurant (which serves small portions with strange sauces) you cannot see much of the inside. But it is worth stepping into the lobby and poking around before you are politely asked to leave.

There is a Carmelite convent attached to the hotel. The convent was established in 1628 and is now a museum. The hotel building itself is like a storybook palace with many carved details, gargoyles, and a twisting tower reaching towards the sky. The covered corridors outside are beautiful and one features panels with azulejos depicting scenes from Portuguese literature and historical events.

The surrounding grounds include hiking trails. The gardens right in front of the palace are beautiful and include a well-manicured maze of hedges.

Overall the Palace Hotel of Bussaco is an interesting place to visit and a bit surreal to see in person let alone in photos.

Travel Tips for Porto, Portugal – Part Three

Santo Ildegonson Church in Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal – Part Three – Photography and Travel Tips

This is part three of what to see in Porto, Portugal!

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When visiting Porto last summer I dragged my mom, who is often my travel-mate, to the main churches with azulejos – blue and white decorative tiles. Azulejo is both a Spanish and Portuguese painted ceramic tile work. These tiles are a main part of Portuguese architecture and used for exterior and interior decoration on churches and houses.

* Interesting fact – azulejos have been produced in Portugal for five centuries and still going! To read more about the history of azulejos click here.

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To see some of the best examples of the azulejos make sure to see the following sites and the Saint Benedict train station as mentioned in Part Two of Porto, Portugal.

1 – Carmo Church and Carmelitas Church – These churches are situated right next to each other and in fact look like one church from the outside. Carmo Church was built in the 18th century and one outer wall is a mural of blue and white tiles. These churches also site on the edge of a pleasant square and just cattycorner to the Livraria Lello bookshop (mentioned in part two).

2 – Santo Ildefonson Church – This 18th century church almost stands alone at the top of a hill in Porto and the façade and the sides show the blue and white tiles. It is a charming church, however I was unable to go inside, as it was not open when I went, but the outside is worth seeing anyway.

* This church is not far from the Majestic Café, which is a tourist attraction but of course for a reason. I would try to eat at the café if you can as it is a beautiful setting and the food is good and not expensive. I recommend sitting inside and if you go for an early dinner you are guaranteed a table and fast service (early meaning 7 or 7:30 as this is the time typically for drinks in Portugal).

3 – Capela das Almas – This church is probably one of the most photogenic in Porto although with the mobs of tourists it makes it a bit difficult. Nevertheless make sure to see this church as the azulejos are gorgeous and the interior is equally beautiful with more blue and white tiles!

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*Not far from this church is a traditional market, Mercado do Bolhao, which I recommend popping into. As a side note – if you are squeamish be warned that you will see whole fish, an array of seafood, live rabbit and chickens for sale, and more meat produce that does not hide the source of that food. But local markets are always fascinating and they show you a lot about a culture. So tour the market, many tourists do, and if you buy anything just make sure you wash or cook it before you eat it!

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Overall Porto is an interesting city with a lot to see. I was there almost three days and I didn’t see everything. I do recommend taking the city tour bus  – there are many routes some of which include going to castles outside of the city and driving along the shore.

Porto might not be the typical tourist stop but it has its charms and it does grow on you as you explore it. Hopefully this three part series encourages you to visit Porto, Portugal!

For more photos of Porto you can visit my stock photography site. For posters, cards, and canvas prints of Porto, Portugal visit The Monica Store.

Enjoy!

Travel Tips for Porto, Portugal – Part One

Porto, PortugalPorto, Portugal – Part One – Photography and Travel Tips

I went to Porto, Portugal this past summer planning to see all of the tiled churches and the wine boats and that is just what I did. I highly recommend visiting Porto if you like old world charm.

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Porto is the second largest city in Portugal. Porto spans the Douro River and reaches out to the ocean. Now fishing towns touch the outer limits of the city. If you visit Porto I suggest staying just outside the historical center and make sure you get a map from your hotel before you venture out and ask for directions as it takes at least a day to get your bearings.

The historical center is on a steep hill that meets the rivers edge. I would recommend getting lost in the historical center and exploring the streets but this will undoubtedly happen anyway.

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Main Sites in Porto’s historical center:

 

1 – Church of San Francisco – To visit the church you buy tickets in the convent right next to it, which is now a museum. What makes this church unique is that the entire interior is completely covered with wood and painted gold! It is truly astounding. No photos are allowed inside so you simply must visit it to see for yourself.

* Side note – There is an adorable English restaurant, Pimms, across the street from the Church of San Francisco that serves wonderful food (a very good vegetarian chilli!) and the all white interior is charming.

2 – Stock Exchange Palace/Palacio da Bolsa – You must be on a tour to visit the palace and when you purchase your tickets you will be given a tour time. This is a must see site and unfortunately no photographs are allowed inside so again you really have to go to see it! The Palace is still in use but you see the main rooms and they are all spectacular and the central courtyard has an exquisite mosaic floor. The palace also has an Arab room, which is breathtaking in all its detail and is shown with great pride as the last room on the tour.

3 – Ribeira – the Riberia is the portion of the city near the river and it is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. You will find classic tiled buildings lining the river. There are also boat tour companies along the river walkway.

4 – Ribeira de Gaia – This is the area right across the river from the Ribeira. I suggest walking across the D. Luis Iron Bridge, which is an impressive bridge with two levels to accommodate trains, cars, and pedestrians. Once on the other side of the river you will have a closer view of the old boats once used to transport wine barrels. You can also visit various wine cellars and taste the famous port wine.

After exploring the riverbanks, make your way up the hill to see more – to be discussed in Porto, Portugal Part Two.

* To see more photos of Porto visit my stock photography site by clicking here. And to buy a photo of Porto for home or office decoration click here for The Monica Store.

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Useful Links for Porto, Portugal:

 

1 – For a quick guide of what to see in Porto click here.

2 – To read more about Porto, Portugal click here.

3 – For a useful and simple guide to Porto, Portugal click here for Wikipedia’s travel guide.

Portugal Travel Series

Portugal - by Monica GoslinPortugal Series– Photography and Travel Tips

November 2010 is going to be about Portugal. This will be a month long series with travel tips and photo highlights along with special “Story Behind the Photo” posts.

I have only traveled to Portugal twice so far, so of course I have hopes of going back to see more. Portugal has an old-world charm.

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What will be covered this month on Portugal:

–       Lisbon

–       Sintra

–       Porto – click for part one of a three part series

–       Coimbra

–       Palace Hotel of Bussaco

So keep an eye on the blog for these posts along with the “stories behind the photos.”

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Enjoy! And remember to see more photos visit my other sites:

-The Monica Store – to buy canvas photos, framed photos, books, cards, magnets, and more!

– Monica Goslin Photography – stock photography