Tag Archives: Sintra

Lisbon, Fado and the amazing Atlantic Ocean

When we visited Portugal a few years ago, we spent the first days on the beach enjoying the sunny days and the great Atlantic Ocean.

Ile and the AO

The Atlantic Ocean is so beautiful. Some days it looks green, some days dark blue.

Portugal sea view

ps. click on the photos to enlarge them

After visiting the famous and beautiful Sintra, we wanted to see Lisbon, the capital of Portugal.

Ponte Vasco da Gama is a  very long bridge – more than 17 kilometers long. When you see it, you will be astonished. It is the longest bridge in Europe. 

Portugal Lisbon seaside_Mrs Hurmerinta

If you want to, you can also enjoy Lisbon from the air – with these cable cars:

Portugal Lisbon seaside

We had heard of an amazing place, which we wanted to check out: Oceanário de Lisboa. It is the largest indoor aquarium in Europe.

The Lisbon Oceanarium has a large collection of marine species — penguins and other birds; sea otters; sharks, rays and seahorses;  sea anemones and corals; octopuses; marine plants and terrestrial plants and other marine organisms – about 16,000 individuals of 450 species.

The Penguins:

Portugal Lisbon Oceanarium_Penguins

The sea otters:

Portugal Lisbon Zoo

There is so much to see in Lisbon. I recommend to visit at least Baixa and the Belém Tower, which was built 1515–1521. If you like Fado music, you will love Portugal.

After spending half a day in Lisbon, it was time to drive back to the Atlantic Ocean. July is quite hot in Portugal, so a swim in the ocean is one of the best things to do after a few hours in the hot cities.

View from the balcony towards the Atlantic

Praia Grande is a huge beach. Though there were lots of people every now and then, sometimes you felt like you were there alone – and that was amazing.

Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean

 

Portugal: Sintra, vinho verde and old port wine

SINTRA

Before we flew to Portugal, I read a little bit about Sintra. It is an old town, not far from the Atlantic coast and only 30 kilometers from Lisbon. Movies have been filmed in Sintra. The town is an UNESCO world heritage site.

Sintra_2
Pena Palace (a huge palace up on the hills) is something many tourist want to see in Sintra. Castelo dos Mouros and Sintra-Cascais natural park are also very famous. Some say Sintra is the most romantic place in the world. It is for sure an amazing city to visit. 

ps. to enlarge the photos, click on them 🙂

Sintran kaduilla

Palacio Nacional di Sintra is an old palace in the middle of the town. We decided to go inside.

Nacional palace Sintra_2

The rooms are quite amazing and the ceilings as well.

Nacional palace Sintra

The history of Sintra is quite colorful, just like the town itself.

Sintra

The houses are painted yellow, rose, blue, green and maroon. And just like the old castles and palaces, the houses takes your mind back in history, when King Afonso I, also called Afonso Henriques and Portuguese Afonso o Conquistador, conquered Sintra.

Sintra linnat

Many aristocrats and kings have lived in Sintra during the summer. The mild climate was appreciated.  Further south it was much hotter. Fabulous houses and amazing gardens were built. The days were spent playing bridge and visiting the sandy beaches by the Atlantic Ocean. 800 years later we enjoyed time on the same beaches.

Colares wine_2


VINHO VERDE

Very close to Praia Grande and our hotel, there is a small town named Colares. When you drive through the town, you see many vineyards.

We tasted this local wine, vinho verde, at dinner and liked the fresh wine. It is young and a little bit like sparkling wine. I was surprised how cheap it was. A local bottle of Vinho Verde costs less than four euros, even in the restaurants. (In Finland wine often costs over thirty euros in restaurants).


PORT WINE

Walking around in Sintra, we happened to see a small port wine shop with a Tax Free sign. We had not tasted port wine before, so we entered this small and old shop. What a shop it was. There were old dusty bottles, priced over 2000 euros, and new port wine bottles for less than 30 euros.

portviini

The owner of the shop told us how port wine is produced and after a few minutes we had three different port wines in front of us. We tasted them. And we loved all of them. We bought two bottles of ten year old port wine. Tasting them at home in Finland the next winter was a wonderful experience. We fell in love with port wine.  There are many different kinds of port wine, for example Ruby Style, Reserve, Late Bottled Vintage, Tawny Style and White Port. 

Portugal kallioranta_2

The day we visited Sintra, it was a little bit cloudy, which was perfect weather for walking around the town in July. Usually the days were quite hot. When we arrived back at our hotel, the clouds disappeared and the summer sun felt hot on the skin. We ran into the Atlantic Ocean. 

What a perfect day!

Ile and the AO

Portugal: Praia Grande and Cabo da Roca

HONEYMOON BY THE ATLANTIC OCEAN

We love the Mediterranean Sea. For our honeymoon we decided though to try something new and we flew to see the Atlantic Ocean and Portugal. We searched the Internet for hotels by the sea. I also asked tips from my Portuguese colleague. We were looking for a place on the west coast.

I tried to learn a little bit Portuguese before our trip. I started with these: bom dia (good morning), fala ingles (do you speak English), sim (yes), nao (no) and onde e (where is). The rest I looked up in the dictionary, which I had with me most of the days.

The seaside hotel Arribas at Praia Grande was our final choice, as it offered so many things we were looking for. The huge Atlantic Ocean was just some meters from the hotel, which also offered a swimming pool larger than we have ever seen. The swimming pool was 100 meters long. It is one of the largest saltwater swimming pools in Europe. The beach next to the hotel looked inviting.

Hotel pool and the PG beach

PORTUGAL – HERE WE COME

As always, it is fantastic when the travel day finally arrives. The sun was shining in Finland when we waited for the taxi to take us to the airport.

Waiting for the taxi to the aiport
We flew to Portugal with Finnair. By the time we got to the airport, clouds were spreading over the clear blue sky.

Flying with Finnair
TOWARDS PRAIA GRANDE

Praia Grande is one of the best beaches in Portugal. It takes less than one hour to drive there from the Lisbon International Airport. To visit the famous Costa do Estoril and Cascais is easy as they are just 20 minutes to the south from the hotel. The beautiful and historic town of Sintra is just a 15 minute drive to the east.

We took the evening flight and drove in the darkness towards the hotel. I had a map, but as it was quite dark and the street signs were not always seen, we got lost around Sao Pedro De Penaferrim. We experienced the friendliness of the Portuguese, when we stopped at a small cafe to ask for help. I did not speak Portuguese and the café owners did not speak English, but that did not stop them from helping us. Body language works well. On top of that we got some huge and tasty sandwiches with us. We had not eaten much during the day, so the simple sandwich tasted marvellous.

Just before reaching the Atlantic Ocean we drove through the small city of Colares.

Colares region by the sea
COLARES

Colares is a wine region. The region has Portugal’s highest wine classification as a Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC means the system of protected designation of origin for wines, cheeses, butters, and other agricultural products from Portugal).

Colares wine_2

Even before there was a “Portugal”, the region of Colares was a place of human movement and settlement. The Norwegian Sigurd I conquered and held Colares for a few months in 1108. The Moorish occupied the area later on and around 1147 the region fell in the hands of the Crown, as Afonso Henriques conquered it. In 1801 the municipality of Colares included 1930 inhabitants and by 1849 it had more than 3300 inhabitants. Nowadays around 7500 people live in the area.

PRAIA GRANDE

The sound of the waves of the Atlantic Ocean is something everyone should experience. We got a nice room towards the sea. It was amazing to just sit on the balcony and watch and listen to the Atlantic Ocean.

The AO

The Terrace Restaurant with a panoramic view over the sea is the perfect place to taste special dishes. You can choose between traditional Portuguese and international dishes.

Hotel dinnerYou can reach Praia Grande also without a car. Take the bus from the airport (Aerobus 1) to Entrecampos. Then take the train to Sintra. From Sintra you can take the bus to Praia Grande. Just as the name suggests, this is a large beach and is a particular favourite among surfers and bodyboarders and has become a regular host of championship events in these sports.

Praia grande

The hills on the south side of the beach are huge. We took a stroll on the sandy beach before hitting the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

First day at PG

CABO DA ROCA

Not far from the hotel you find the westernmost point of continental Europe. We had heard of it and wanted to see it. During the ancient Roman period the area was called Promontorium Magnum.

Driving to CdR

The place is so beautiful. In the west you see the huge Atlantic Ocean, in the other directions green hills and rocks surround you. The Cabo da Roca lighthouse overlooks the promontory towards the Atlantic Ocean.

Cabo da Roca from the sea

The cliffs here are more than 100 meters high and cut into crystalline rocks. We took pictures, enjoyed the scenery and felt the cool wind blowing from the Ocean. I could smell the salt of the sea.

Ile at CdR

I recommend to visit Cabo da Roca. You can eat at Restaurante Cabo Da Roca enjoying great food and fabulous scenery.

Next to the restaurant you find an old monument. Below the cross you find the text written by the 16th century Portuguese poet Luís Vaz de Camões (1524 – 1580):

Aqui…

Onde a terra se acaba e o mar começa…(Camoes)

Ponta mais ocidental do continente europeu

In English something like this:

Here…

Where land ends and the ocean begins…

The westernmost point of continental Europe

After our trip to Cabo da Roca we drove back to the hotel, put on our swimsuits and ran through the hot sand and dove into the Atlantic Ocean. Nothing feels better than the hot summer sun and the cool waves of the sea. After a few hours on the beach my skin was pink. July is quite hot in Portugal. At least for a Finn.

Ile and the AO